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Young Filipinos have a long adolescence. They enjoy a long period of immunity -a time when adolescents can get away with childish, irresponsible behavior because they are not yet considered adults and therefore not expected to behave accordingly. Most Filipino boys remain dependent on their parents until they marry or at least finish their schooling, which for the majority is at the completion of law or five years of tertiary education.
As most Filipino boys do not have to work their way through college, they have a lot of time to spend with friends. Peers figure largely in this phase. There is usually a prominent peer group called barkada to which one belongs. These cliques or bark ads are tightly knit-the members are very close to each other and go everywhere together. They develop their own slang, they have private jokes. They exercise control over the behaviour of members, mainly by teasing. There is usually no formal leader, though there may be one or two more respected members.
The barkada can be a powerful force. It operates on the principles of group pressure and conformity. For example, the group may resent a member having a girlfriend because he is not spending as much time with them, forcing him to choose between his girlfriend and his barkada. Or a member may be pressured into drinking, smoking or doing something he would normally not approve of. Because of the Filipino need to belong to someone, the barkada is an essential part of an adolescent's life. Not to belong to any group is to feel like an outcast-loners and individualists (those who want to be different) are considered weird by Filipinos. The society exerts tremendous pressure to conform. Once one belongs to a barkada one is ensured support and the fun of shared experiences.
Filipinos do not like being alone, perhaps because of the population density and the fact that from birth they are constantly surrounded by people. They do not like eating alone, they will not see a movie alone, they always have to be with someone-a friend or a relative. They do not enjoy experiences not shared wish others. They feel uncomfortable eating beside someone who is not, so they wilt always offer to share their food or cajole their companion into having a bit of something The Filipino will nor try anything new alone but with his barkada to back him up, he will.
Girls also have barkadas which perform the same functions as those described above, the only differences being due to differences in sex roles. Often, barkadas of opposite sexes will go out together and this is the usual social avenue for young people to meet.