Sep 22nd, 2005 | By | Category: Ireland

Back in July, we had a group of Filipino friends for supper; it was a great evening. There was a buzz, a sense of laughter and togetherness that there used to be with people here, before Irish people became rich and serious. (On the latest UN figures Ireland has the second highest GDP per capita in the world!)

I wondered what it was that the Filipinos still possess that the Irish have lost. When I came across this definition at, I think I understood.

‘barkadahan, a Filipino way of life that is based on compatriotism that fills the common tao’s need to belong. It is this sense of belongingness that made the Filipino endure a long tumultuous past of colonialism followed by an even more deprecating self-infliction of poor governance under a dictatorship whose primary goal was to shamelessly enrich himself. It is this sense of belongingness that made the Filipino rise over the remnants of a dilapidated country under a dictator whose guile was complemented by an equally, if not greedier wife, who managed to fool even herself that she is of noble origins. A foreigner not attuned to the ways of the pinoy would be skeptical. However, a close scrutiny of this phenomenon will prove that we endured all these social maladies because of our own brand of camaraderie. Why not? Among the potent tools of the barkada is the ability to laugh at himself/herself with his/her compatriots in times of the most humiliating experience making the experience a welcome respite from a serious and cruel world.

Irish people used to have the quality of ‘barkadahan’. In the Irish pubs in Manchester 25 years ago you would have found that sense of belongingness, now there are few people in this part of Dublin who would care to remember the days when everyone who could left the country and when Irish communities banded together in diverse corners of the world.

The barkada seems a quality Christians should possess.

Paul writes to the church at Corinth, ‘as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything’.

Maybe it’s not just a national heritage that has been lost during the economic boom years here; maybe it’s also the Christian heritage.

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