Article written by: Michelle Camille Correa
ASEAN-Korea blog correspondent, the Philippines
Friendships exist among different cultures. And in the Philippines, friendships are made especially Filipino by the “barkada” concept. Simply put, a “barkada” is a group of friends who stick with each other through thick and thin, good times and bad. They do fun things together and help each other during difficult times.
In a sense, a “barkada” is like someone’s extended family because each person in the group knows each member’s fun side, boring side, soft side, hard side, uniqueness and quirks—and still, they accept each member of the group wholeheartedly.
A “barkada’s” typical activities range from hanging out at someone’s house to listen to music, watch TV shows or movies, eat or simply to chat. At times, the group goes out together, either to the mall or out-of-town, such as the public park or the beach or anywhere else outdoors.
The good and the bad
Of course, the barkada culture comes with the good and the bad. First, the good. Number one is the sense of belongingness that a “barkada” gives a person. As part of a group, he or she has a support system during sunny times and stormy times.
In sunny times, laughter comes from the fun things that the group does together. In stormy times, the “barkada” helps each other sort out issues and solve probles. This “extended family” thus helps each member grow and develop as persons. A “barkada” is a group where great learning about life also comes from.
However, if taken to extremes, a “barkada” can be bad, too. A person can prioritize his or her “barkada” too much and thus spend more time with this group than with other relationships in his or her life, such as relationships in the family, work, and school.
Prioritizing the “barkada” can range from simply hanging out too much with this group of friends, which results to having less time for studies, especially for students whose main task is to learn at this stage in their lives. It can also be as bad as undergoing peer pressure to experiment with smoking and drinking.
In terms of support networks, being in a “barkada” can also bring out a certain degree of misplaced loyalty in times of trouble. For example, even if someone’s friend did something wrong, that friend tends to be supported (if loyalty is taken to the extreme).
This does not happen in all cases, though. In some cases, loyalty can entail helping a member of the group improve and correct mistakes by acknowledging it and supporting him or her towards making sure what was done wrong will eventually return to what is right.
A “barkada” then, is a group of friends who spend time together and who help each other in times of need. They are one’s “extended family” in the sense that each member knows each other well, and wholeheartedly accept each member, with all his or her accompanying strengths and flaws.
How are friendships like in your own country? Do you have something similar to a “barkada”? Please tell us more about it in the comments section below. =)