Episode 137 – Thursday, March 9th, 2017 (7373)
Meeting new people means the beginning of new friendship. Yeah, every stranger meets another stranger to become new friends either accidental or intentional. It is called acquaintance where strange people are getting to know each other personally but who has not yet become close friends on the first time. This is a person that he/she doesn’t know too much but can identify them. This was what I had encountered last February 25 when I attended Love Life Retreat with other single (and pretend to be “single”) people mingled to become my batch mates (Batch 4) as well as my new friends. As of now, most of them have already connections with me just days after our retreat where we have communicated thru text or group chat messages to have our bonding times especially attending at the Feast. This has been the beginning of my new friendship with them since the retreat.
But before the happen last month, I just want to share my experiences about meeting new people from the past where some of them are still my friends (or having contact thru Facebook) until now. There are two things to have social contact with the strangers or unknown people thru acquaintance: formal and informal. In the formal acquaintance, this is where one person gathers to meet one another or a bunch of new people thru a formal occasion such as first day of school, first working day in a new job, retreat, in the party or even in the Feast. On the other side, the informal acquaintance is where he/she meets a stranger thru an accident (such as textmates) or being introduced thru a common friend. For this episode, I will discuss my acquaintances in a formal way where I gathered to meet a group of new individuals in an event. This was started when I became foreign exchange student way back in 2004.
AFS Philippines (2004-2005)
This is an international NGO, volunteer-based organization that promotes intercultural learning and peace for exchange students abroad. Within 2004, I was one of many candidates to pass the exams and interviews that we had to become exchange student and a year stay in the United States. When I was selected with other 40 exchange students from different parts of the country, we had an acquaintance to meet each other despite of different culture, dialect, and religion. We met for the first time during our 5-day orientation in Quezon City. At one time, there’s one Muslim student from Mindanao who became my roommate when we stayed during our orientation in various times, and I seemed him to be a simple and witty man despite of our differences. In the past years, although I have connected only few of them (thru Facebook), I still remember them – 40 of them and the coordinators who helped and taught us – as part of my life and friendship.
Foreign exchange students (2004-2005)
When we arrived in the U.S. for the first time, we met other exchange students from Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia for our pre-arrival orientation which was lasted for four days in Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. We observed them in their different culture and language that they had (most of them were Muslims), and they became our acquaintances as well. After a long week of being together, we, the Filipino exchange students, needed to separate as we would go to our respective host families. I went to Birmingham, Alabama with my fellow Filipina exchange student from Mindanao and few others from the countries that I’ve mentioned earlier.
While living in Talladega, Alabama, we met other exchange students from Germany, Poland, and South Korea during the orientation for the first week of our stay. In October 2004, I was with them where we had some bonding moments in Tennessee with Mr. Wally White for four days. During Christmas season, we had our first (and only) Christmas party where we exchanged our gifts to fellow foreign exchange students who stayed within Alabama area. A month later, we went to Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama, for our mid-year orientation where we met another batch of exchange students who lived from other parts of that state (some others stayed for only six months). We also socialized with them during the mid-year and summer party in June, weeks before going back home.
ASD students and staffs (2004-2005)
On August 13, 2004, I arrived at Birmingham, Alabama where I met my host family – the Woolmakers (Danny, Lyn (both are deaf), and their only son, Austin) to stay with them for almost a year. On the next day, I and Lyn Woolmaker went to Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) in Talladega where she worked there in middle school. This would be my host school where I would study there for my senior (fourth) year high school, and this would be the start of my new school life at ASD where I would meet most of ASD students and staffs. Most of them, especially ASD staffs, became my close friends that I often talked them about my funny moments and my past problems back at home.
In senior year, I met my batch mates in Grade 12 (Batch of 2005) where they were only 20 students to be graduated on May 2005. Six of them became my classmates – Dax, Beau, Andrew (our class valedictorian), Eatrice, Laura, and Tiffany (our class salutatorian and my teammate in Academic Bowl). I also met other students from lower than Grade 12 like the one who became my first American deaf crush and also my teammate in Academic Bowl.
With my non-deaf classmates (2005-2006)
When I came back home from my wonderful experiences in the U.S., I thought I would go back to my old deaf school to continue my high school studies for fourth year (my ASD graduation was not accredited in my curriculum in the Philippines due of exchange program). However, my school life was again adjusted into new one. After long years studying in a deaf school, I was transferred to a non-deaf school in my hometown, Santa Rosa, Laguna, where I met my new classmates who were non-deaf. While my past life was the usage of sign language for my deaf classmates and friends, I felt “culture shock” because I was now belonging to the “new world” with my non-deaf friends. When I came for my first school day after my homecoming on July 11, 2005, I introduced myself in front of my new classmates without using sign language. It’s strange, wasn’t it? But I needed to adjust from years of being “deaf” student into a new one. Little by little, I had to acquaintance most of my new classmates as well as other students from the lower level and teachers.
Because of the adjustment, my life was “restarted” into a new one which was so-called “Post-Deaf World Era” (“Post-Deaf School Era” until my college graduation in 2010) where my school life was no longer to belong to the old ones which was so-called “Deaf World”.
PUP-Santa Rosa (2006-2010)
After my high school graduation in 2006, none of my high school classmates or even schoolmates followed me to study at Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Santa Rosa Campus. On the first day of school, I had no idea who the students were to become my new classmates in our course, Information Technology (I.T.). There were no acquaintances in every individual, but sometimes they composed into a group because they already knew each other since elementary or high school. However, I first contacted with the one who later became my close friend. I joined with Anna, Pamela, and Jobelle to be my acquaintances to become my classmates. In later school days, little by little, I met almost all of my classmates who later became my close friends like Hector, Benjamin, Aldrin, and many others who were, not just serious in their studies, but funny in their personalities.
Within four years that we’re together as I.T. classmates, we had so many good (and few bad) memories inside and outside the campus as well as our strong friendship. Most of them are still my friends keeping in touch on Facebook. Some are already gone from my friendship because of some issues that I didn’t appreciate, but nonetheless, they were already part of my college life.
Officemates in Alabang (2010-2012)
Months after college graduation, I found a job where I learned graphics and designing in printing. When I first entered in a graphic company in Alabang, there were some familiar faces that I saw because some of them were my former classmates and my friends from PUP-Sta. Rosa. But I also met new people to become my new officemates when I was trained for SuperMedia. My first ever group that later became my officemates was a group of 6 trainees – Jin, Marlon, Jun, Marie Kristine, and Gizelle. We spread together as one group during our training days until we were chosen to work for SuperMedia team.
Within months of my stint at SuperMedia, there were so many changes especially when I worked all three projects in SuperMedia. During that time, I had acquaintance with my fellow graphic artists, proofreaders, team leaders, and other colleagues who became my office buddies. However, there were some to leave from the team or project, either they resigned and moved to other company or were forcibly terminated. I was so happy to be part of SuperMedia team until June 2011 when I was forced to move to Dex One as most projects in SuperMedia would be dissolved and almost all of my work colleagues were affected.
On the following month, I and other two graphic artists from SuperMedia had our training for Dex One, but both of them gave up and resigned to work other companies. So, I was the one remained to work for Dex One together with two proofreaders from the dissolved project. During the sleepless and stressful nights, I was unhappy to work with my new team led by Romy Enriquez (Team Romy). I usually sat with proofreaders who became my first friends during my first weeks at Dex. However, few months later, I began to get closer with my teammates and other colleagues. I was too shy back then, but later I realized I needed to adjust and to have bonding with them where I joined their happy moments even after our working hours. But there’s no forever, not just for our friendship, but also our team together at work.
When we began to be moved to other projects, I felt I was not satisfied on this kind of action made from the company. Even though our friendship remained intact, it was affected by the mismanaged decisions causing our team to be transferred to other projects rather than Dex where we really belonged. Because of my frustration, I decided to apply other company to work, and I did it. On the final day of my work at Alabang, I really thanked my work colleagues who became part of my friendship and my life. Some of them are still my friends (connected thru Facebook), but I needed to move on to another chapter in my career life.
Officemates in Mandaluyong (2012-2013)
After almost two years of working in Alabang, I shifted to my second work at Mandaluyong where I met new officemates and new friends as well. When I entered there for my first ever working day, I didn’t know who they were, but I met the one who would be my colleague in the team. We’re together in times when we’re in training; however, we were separated in different shifts. A month later, one of my former officemates from my former work in Alabang followed to apply the new work in Mandaluyong. He’s Jonathan, and he was my close friend from Team Romy of Dex One. Even though we worked in different schedule, we worked together one time in December 2012 when I was placed in the evening shift.
My job stint in Mandaluyong was quite memorable because I had my good officemates that they invited me to have some bonding moments. However, I was not so happy and satisfied on the environment because of conflicts. Aside of strict quality implementation and inconvenience, I was bullied by some officemates (including the one who was a lesbian) because of being a silent and shy-type person. And another, I felt that most of my colleagues in the team were not so friendly at all (because I had no close friends there, and my close ones had their different working schedules). That’s why I gave up my second job in Mandaluyong where I stayed there for only a year. After my resignation, I became jobless for months and was patiently searching for the new one. But while I was out of work, there’s one thing that I was so blessed to have new and nice friends.
The Feast (2013-Present)
During Holy Week of 2013, my former college classmate invited me and some of our batch mates to attend Kerygma Lenten Recollection where, during that time, I was unaware about the event. (Read Episode 4 and Episode 105 about my story) There were lots of new people that I met who later would become my close friends. And the rest is history.
In the past almost four years attending the Feast, I met so many attendees and servants to have acquaintance to become my friends from its former location in Central Mall Biñan until its present site at SM City Santa Rosa. Some of my old friends were already gone, either no longer attending Feast or having some conflicts that affected our friendship, but most people who attend the Feast for their first time (since its relocation in mid-2015) came into my life to become my new buddies (my avid reader is the one). And just recently last month, I attended the Love Life Retreat Batch 4 for my first time where I met new single people to become my new friends as well as we began our new friendships.
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I’m so blessed that I have many friends where I can talk, confess, and share my feelings, experiences, and problems. Being socialize to other people is really the efficient way to have a social contact or acquaintance to become a new friend, as well as possible to become my “one true love” in the future (for ladies only, of course). From being strangers to friends is really admirable so that I’m so happy to be a part of their friendships. Well, that’s my story (episode) for this day, and happy new friendship!