Sunday, July 24, 2005

[Blog Entry] Of Acquaintances and Friends, Of Days Gone By, Reflections

Of Acquaintances and Friendships

Just met one of my blockmates a few hours ago. One phenomenon that surprises me is people’s ability to bond with each other. Or rather the irony of it all. You see me and the blockmate I just met aren’t really good friends. We see each other, talk to each other occasionally, but someone I’d classify more under acquaintance than friend. Yet when we met awhile ago, it’s as if we were good friends, talking more than the usual, catching up on each other’s lives.

Yet this isn’t the first time I experienced this phenomenon. When I entered college, I saw lots of batchmates from high school strolling around campus. These are batchmates, mind you, and not classmates (although I do have stronger ties to some of my batchmates more than my actual classmates in high school). More often than not, the only thing I know about them is their name and the section they belonged to (and the occasional horror/embarrassing moment or two). Yet when we’re put in the same room together, we start talking as if we were good friends who’ve known each other for a long time. More often than not, I just play along with it. But it’s a real shock. I mean you never talked to me in high school. Now it’s as if we’re best buddies, and all of it is due to the fact that we’re both in unknown territory and share a common history.

To be fair, there are things we can talk about. Despite being distant, we have a communal knowledge due to the fact that we came from the same institution. For example, for my high school batchmates, we pretty much know each other’s antics, so when I talk about person A, another batchmate would know what I’m talking about. The same goes for acquaintances in college whom I now meet.

There’s a strong need to bridge the gap, yet what many ignore (or rather choose to ignore) is the fact that there wasn’t that kind of relationship to begin with. But friendships are born from stranger circumstances, and in trying to establishing something that wasn’t there in the first place, we actually form new ones and fiction transforms into reality.

Of Days Gone By

I ran into my old friend and boss the other day, Teddy Sy, owner of Comic Alley. I remember the days back when I was still lurking around the corners of Virra Mall, haunting the Comic Alley shop playing Magic: The Gathering and looking for anime finds. Comic Alley was my first real job, albeit a short-lived one (for two summers, I was proudly a Comic Alley sales clerk). To this very day, I wish I could go back to the time I was still working there (albeit perhaps with a higher salary than what I was being paid).

I really love Comic Alley. It’s now grown into something bigger though. Back in the day, there was just the shop in Virra Mall, and they were just opening shop in SM North. Nowadays, nearly every SM has a Comic Alley, and they do provide a convenient source for anime merchandise and the like.

In the present though, the face of the anime industry has changed. I still drop by occasionally at the Comic Alley branches to take a look at what’s new, but in general, Comic Alley is for the masses. The more elite groups of anime fandom will usually go for cheaper forms of entertainment, whether it’s downloading scanlations from the Internet, downloading fansubbed episodes from BitTorrent, even downloading entire soundtrack’s off MIRC. Or they’d just buy the real thing (well, Comic Alley has a bunch of stuff from Hong Kong and Taiwan, which makes many of their items cheaper and more affordable).

Even when I stopped working at Comic Alley, I was nonetheless supporting it in the mailing lists and groups I was in. And strangely enough, I also left a legacy, which was the database of anime soundtracks you could order from them. They’re importing from various outfits nowadays though, so that database is now obsolete.


When I reflect on the past, I see a strange irony. It seems that I did manage to accomplish a lot before (well, perhaps not as much as the likes of Elbert Or or Andrew Drilon), and the present me pales in comparison to what I was previously capable of. In my youth, I had naivety that did not hamper me from accomplishing my goals. Sure, I made lots of mistakes, but I also managed to do much. There was my job in Comic Alley. I was news editor for the school paper. I was active in the anime community (setting up EB’s and the like). I made my own anime/manga fanzine (with the help or friends of course). I volunteered to set up anime film showings. I was a member of the Glee Club. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t graduated from high school yet.

Six years later, you’d expect the same person to achieve more. Unfortunately, it’s a complete reversal, and I seem to live up to my name of being a stalker: watching but not acting.


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