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Honoring my Mother| When six degrees got hotter

There is just no place to hide when you’re a long-time resident of Davao.

The chances that your friend’s own set of friends and acquaintances through the years could have a direct link to you (aside from him, of course) is just too eerie. I know that two years ago, I wrote about how small the world really is, with all of us being inter-linked in such a way that even the most common social connections that we have, become comparable to that of a big beehive nest, where everyone at any one time, may have interacted with each other.

At least in this part of the world, the mere mention of someone’s name will sometimes snowball into several “I know him” acknowledgments and then proceed to tracing up how that guy was related or linked to everyone in the room. Yup eerie, almost like Genealogy 101.

This is one phenomenon common among peoples. I remember in secondary school, my brother and I accompanied Lolo Ute (grandpa) to his little town in Batangas, in Luzon, on the occasion of its fiesta. At lunchtime, we entered a whole street block where almost everyone was a relative. As we were formally introduced in each house that we entered (people from faraway Davao were a rarity then, almost like big foot riding a unicorn), a three-generation roster of relatives rolled off the elders’ tongue, checking out where we rightfully belonged. Then many more years later, when the office where I worked assisted in finding out how long a particular tribe had lived in one area in Zamboanga, we were able to get a five-generation spread of the tribal leaders’ residency.

In all, conversations revolving around “how we know a guy” is like connecting the dots, so to speak, and livens up any meet. Last weekend, my younger brother’s birthday had been such a case. As we happened to casually mention someone’s family name (because his mom had died), it turned out that his parents and my sister-in-law’s family had been neighbors once, his dad and his elder sister had been my acquaintances during my many years in a company, and that she had married the uncle of an ex-girlfriend. All the while, the person we were talking about in the first place was an old friend whom I played tennis with and the former boss of my partner.

The term “I know a guy…” has taken deeper meaning. Lastly, as you finish reading this, try checking out your friends’ list and look at all the mutual friends you have down the line. Prepare to be amazed. Or scared.

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