While it is true that we should not trust easily the people we meet online, some of them are great exceptions. In fact, a friendship with other people online can possibly be a priceless gift we are going to receive.
In this blog post, I am going to share one of the purposes I chose to visit Singapore first among other countries in Asia. It was to meet my Chinese friend whom I did not see for 5 years. Our friendship started online and was developed through time.
A friendship that started last 2010
It was one of those moving moments in my life when I had to take my friend Harry to NAIA terminal 3 for his flight going back to China. His two months stay with us in the Philippines created a monumental friendship filled with funny and sweet memories. I did learn a lot about the culture in China through our conversations. With him, I experienced how it was to have a younger brother. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay in the Philippines forever. On that particular day, we would soon be having our inevitable parting.
We arrived at the airport with no hassle at all. There was still enough time so we were able to stroll around. He showed me the different areas in the airport as if he already visioned that one day I would be going abroad too. Within few minutes we were going to say goodbye to one another. How I wish I could stop the earth from revolving or the time from running.
“Don’t be sad like this. We will meet again.” Harry said as we walked toward the shuttle bus where I was going to ride back to the LRT Station.
“No. I don’t think so we are going to meet again.” I told him with the reassurance that we would not meet again. I said those words because I did not want to expect. Failed expectations hurt. There was a moment of silence. Then, I bid goodbye to him.
Thinking that it would be the last, I tried not to look back once more. My heart twisted and I felt something heavy within. I wish he could stay longer. Losing him was like losing a family member. As much as I could, I tried to control the tears but it instantly streamed down my cheeks.
I remembered how I felt the day he arrived in our house from the airport. There was an air of excitement having a visitor to stay with us from another country. He was a young, vibrant and a jolly Chinese guy. We were compelled to speak English in the house for the sake of my new friend. It was a struggle for my parents and there were times I would be the interpreter. Since I was the only one who could exchange long stories with him, he preferred to be with me all the time – at work, in the university or even in the church or market.
Harry gained many friends during his stay in the Philippines. He was amiable so it was easy to get along with him. My colleagues and even my students did not notice how time passed by whenever Harry was around. When he was here, he was treated like a celebrity with people flocking around him and listening to him talk in English.
He also loved to go with me in Philippine Normal University where I was studying because he could do his readings there while waiting for my class to end. There were times he would be lucky enough to escape the security guard and he would walk fast beside me not breathing at all for fear that he would be recognized as an outsider. There was also a time he was unfortunate and I had to talk to the security guard to make excuses just for Harry to get inside the university. Anyway, my friend Harry does not look like a terrorist. He is just an ordinary man who loves to drink tea and hates ice. He was afraid of cockroaches too.
I arrived home with a heavy heart. It was like our friendship already ended. I did not know if I would see him again. When? Where? Only God knows. My mom told me it was always better to pick up a friend on his arrival rather than going with him to the airport on his departure date.The house which was once filled with laughter and stories about China turned very emptied, quiet. There was no longer a person who entertained me when I felt upset or stress after a long day at work. The person who would always find ways to make me happy already went back to China.
Harry got busy preparing his requirements as a graduating student in his university. After a year, he traveled to Singapore to pursue his Masters Degree while I continued my study in my Masters every Saturday and my full-time job. It was difficult during the first few weeks and I doubt if I did laugh even a bit those times. I just missed my friend. He once sent me a letter and greeting cards and there were times he would call on phone. How I wish he would visit again or I could see him soon but my priority that time was to graduate first in my study.
5 Years Later.
It was an early Sunday when I went to Church of the Sacred Heart with my boyfriend. The place of worship was peaceful. Books were piled on each pew for the people to use during the mass. Everyone was seated quietly. We occupied the vacant seats. There were 3 books to be used during the mass and I was confused what to pick so I have to look at the two women beside me.
After the holy communion, I overheard them telling to one another that we might be foreigners. I smiled at them and they smiled back. Feeling that they wanted to communicate with us, I told them our nationalities. One of them was a Filipina too and we exchanged a little conversation after the mass before we parted ways.
Steven and I spent another time walking from the church to the Centerpoint Mall, and then to the Orchard Getaway. Singapore as far as I have observed was really a country of real cleanliness and order. I wonder when can be my country be like Singapore.
We bought our lunch at a food stall called Red Ring Treasures Cutlet Noodles at a price of 5.50SGD. I love the chicken but I did not eat much the noodles because it tasted greasy.
We have been waiting for a phone call from my friend Harry.From time to time, I checked my phone for any messages from him.
We kept on roaming around the beauty of Singapore, and this time, it was in Kampong Glam and Arab Street. The temple looks majestic from where we were standing. Even though it was dazzling by the bright midday, we still felt its tranquility.
We went to the Sultan Mosque, a religious building for the Muslims and towards the Malay Heritage Center painted in yellow.The style of this building reminded me of my grandparents’ ancestral house. Inside of this center were different artifacts, an LCD screen showing old movies, paintings, and archived photos.
I felt dead tired and when I seat on an empty chair inside the building, I saw that I got a blister already on my foot.
Steven shook his head when he saw the blisters. “We had been doing a lot of walking here in Singapore so you got blisters,” he said feeling worried.
After few minutes resting inside the center, he asked me to go outside. We walked further. The heat was so intense that I just wished to stay somewhere cold. As we strolled, we saw many small shops that sell unique stuff– the quarter’s indie stores selling carpets, big antique jars, clothes and textiles.
Steven entered a store which was too congested. When he returned, he had with him an alligator bandage. He applied it to the blisters I got and then took my hand. At a slower pace, we proceeded out and checked our Singapore Map.
We were already in Bugis Junction when Harry called again asking where were we. Steven and I waited for him outside Bugis Mall. I was anxious and excited at the same time. Five years had already passed by when we last saw each other and I wonder if we would have some sort of tearful reunion.
“Ana Rose, I think it is Harry.” My boyfriend told me while I busied myself looking at the cars passing by. I looked at the direction Steven pointed and I saw the familiar man who had been a part of our family a long time ago. It was Harry. I recognized him as he walked closer to us. His face turned bright upon seeing us. No tearful reunion as what I was thinking. But the feeling was great seeing my friend once again. How time flies! Being reunited with my long-lost friend bring back wonderful memories of yesteryear.
Nothing changed much with Harry except that he got a bigger body and smoother skin. He was still very chatty and funny. There were many stories that he shared with us about Singapore and his life. I could not interfere in. He was still the old Harry that speaks English very fast. Steven and I just spent most of the time listening to him. Then, he invited us to eat in Song Fa Bak Kut Teh.
The three of us walked briskly toward the restaurant, both Harry and I chattering away, cutting each other off with one story after another. We never ran out of topics to discuss until we finally got a chance to sit on one of the tables in the busy Song Fa bak kut teh.
“Thank you for being with Ana Rose in Singapore,” Harry told Steven while we were waiting for our food. “It should be my responsibility to pick her up at the airport but I have been really busy.” Harry continued.
The two of them talked as if I was not in the scene. I chuckled on my seat. It should be me and Harry who should be exchanging talks a lot. But it happened to be my boyfriend and him who was having a heartily conversation.
“Your boyfriend is good. He is a real gentleman.” Harry commented when Steven left us to get spoons and forks.
“Yes, he is,” I affirmed with a smile. I felt so thankful for the birthday gift that I received and for all the attention that Steven generously gave to me on the duration of this trip.
I was very surprised to know that Harry would go to China by the next day to help his parents with their family business. Steven and I were just in time in Singapore to meet him. Time was very short for our meeting. I wish we could spend even few more hours with Harry. But he had to see his supervisor at work. Even he left us very early, I still felt happy that I was able to see him once more.
Meeting my friend made my trip in Singapore more memorable. For the second time around, Harry and I parted ways. I do not know when will we meet again. There is just one thing I am sure of. Our friendship will stay strong no matter how far we are from each other.
My three-day stay in Singapore was a very short one. My heart was heavy to leave the lion country.Why did the days pass too quickly while I was still having fun? Deep in my heart, I was also wondering if my boyfriend enjoyed the trip. All he did was to capture a photo of me on his phone. Indeed, I got a thousand photos in Singapore in which some were stolen shots and some were not.
Steven and I were already in the airport when Harry sent a message.
“I wish you have a good time in Singapore.”
“Yes, I enjoyed Singapore a lot.”
“Sorry, If I had enough time I would hang out with you.” Is it time to board?”
“Not yet. I would like to visit you in China.”
“Are you sure? You are really welcome.”
Once again, I glimpsed around observing the beautiful Changi airport. I took some time to look again at our photos. Singapore became more beautiful because of the memories it gave to me.
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