“When you ask God for a gift, be thankful if He sends, not diamonds, pearls, or riches, but the love of real true friends.” ~ Helen Steiner Rice
Outside the Heathrow terminal in London, a new friend, Winnie Englis, whom I have never personally met before, waited patiently for us to come out after going thru U.K. Immigration. She is the cousin of Jebee “Kenji” Solis, founder and Chairman of Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards, Inc. (PEBA, Inc), who graciously introduced me to Winnie thru emails and FB messages. Through our constant exchanges of messages at Facebook months before our trip, our friendship began. This is really one of the amazing wonders of cyberspace where we meet people and forge new friendships. When we finally met Winnie for the first time, the freezing cold wind of London was nipped off by the warmth of her welcome.
Winnie has been working in London for the past 12 years as a nurse. She took days off from work to fetch me and my friend Ester from the airport, welcomed us in her lovely flat, cooked our breakfasts and took us around London. Among the memorable places she took me: Hampton Court Palace and Gardens, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Cambridge University, St. James Park, etc. She also accompanied me to Newport, Wales to visit my sister-in-law and her family. Though heavy with child, Winnie lovingly took care of me and Ester like her own true sisters.
Cleofe, is another nurse-friend who helped and guided us through the maze of the tube trains and the bus routes. She is the ultimate guide, who knows London like the back of her hand and can give you on-the-spot advise as to where to shop, where to dine, where to go… She was a schoolmate during high school days, she being younger by two years. Students of Science High School back then were closely-knit as the school population was small. Cleofe and I lost touch after graduation. I went to college far from home, worked in several cities, married and raised kids in another island. I came back to my hometown when I became a lawyer. Cleofe and I only got reconnected in 2009, a few months before she left for London. True to her promise before she left, she became our indefatigable guide and most of all a friend whom we shared lots of laughter as we travelled in London.