One of my very best friends is leaving the Philippines today, after about seven years of living here. I’m sad to see him go, because we have been like brothers over the years. My friend’s name is Gene Wilson.
Gene and I first met each other online, but before the Internet was really a public entity. We met on Compuserve in the early 90’s. In about 1998 or so, Gene came and visited me at my home in Washington State. He had just purchased a Motor Home, and was touring the country in it. It was the fist time that we had met in person.
In 2000, Feyma and I pulled up stakes and moved to the Philippines. We originally made our home in General Santos City. That very year, Gene decided to make a trip over here to see us and check out the place. He had been to the Philippines before, but I believe that this was his first time to come to Mindanao.
By 2001, Gene had more or less made the Philippines his home as well. He spent a lot of time traveling Luzon and the Visayas, and some trips to Mindanao as well. Then, in November 2001, I had a stroke and was in serious condition. Gene had been trying to get ahold of me via cellphone, but was getting no answer. Finally, one day while I was in the hospital, my cellphone was on, and Gene called me. Upon learning of what happened, he immediately flew to General Santos to see me. While Gene and I had known each other online and seen each other a time or two, we were not too close of friends at the time. However, when I saw that Gene really made an effort to be there for me when I was in need, that really sealed a very special friendship!
As it turned out, both Gene and I ended up living in Davao City. We actually lived just a couple of blocks from each other, and over the years, our friendship become closer and closer. We did all kinds of activities together, and we were always there for each other whenever the other needed some kind of help. I think that both of us had a positive impact on the other in terms of our outlook on life, our health, and other things. We were role models for each other, and also a friend to lean on when needed.
A couple of years ago, we did have a bit of a problem in our friendship, and we went through some time when we did not see each other for quite a while. But, we renewed our friendship, and it was as strong as ever, perhaps stronger than ever before, I’d say.
Recently, Gene decided that it was time for him, his fiancée and his son to go live in the USA. While no plans are forever, he feels that he is moving back to the States permanently, although that could change after time passes. I expect that he will miss living in the Philippines, and might return, but there is no certain plan for that. Gene wants to go back so that his future wife, and their son can enjoy some of the benefits of life in the USA, and I understand that. I do think he is doing the right thing, although we’ll have to see what the future holds.
Last Saturday, Gene and his family left Davao for the last time, flying up to Manila to take care of some final business in the Philippines before getting on an airplane to start their new journey in the USA. Today, they will board that plane, and in 24 hours or so they will touch down on a tarmac somewhere in the USA to start a whole new life. I wish them nothing but the best!
While my friend may be distant in terms of miles, he will always be in my heart and my mind. I will always value his friendship, and appreciate the kindness that he has offered me over the past 7 years while we have lived near each other and fostered a friendship that will continue for a lifetime!
Good luck, Gene!