There’s something in the Filipino cultural and personal pysche that draws us into finding and keeping cliques. Cliques are groups in social interaction.
Sociologically, cliques are observed as groups of individuals in interaction, sharing common interest, purpose views or beliefs. The discipline of Communication sees them as networks of individuals that lie within the boundaries of a larger group. Their existence operate in the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that allow for self-extension, self-multiplication and self-construction.
At the core, our nearest Filipino term for cliques would be of magkakaibigan or mga kaibigan – an objective reference for friends or peers. However, in the surface the local terms barkada, dabarkads, tropa, kaberks, and many others are more popularly used than that of mga kaibigan, and they are evidences of how we value the collective and how inclined are we to form and stick with cliques. Hence, barkadismo finds place in the local lexicon to refer to the communicative behavior of Filipino cliques.
Barkadismo is a jargon that activists use to refer to the tendency of young people to be with their peers and spend their time in less socially significant activities. For the activists barkadismo is a threat to their ‘progressive’ cause since the cliques interest leans on the pleasure of enjoying time with friends, instead of being politically involved in various social advocacies.
Inclusively, individuals in a clique are driven by the sense of belongingness. Exclusively, cliques perform a function to distinguish members of the group from the rest who composed the larger group. Barkadas are common among the Filipino adolescents and the youth, and the same reference is carried into adulthood to signify very close associations with some individuals.
The barkada is the Filipino indigenous way of cliquing or forming groups with an egalitarian concept for mutual care, loyalty and friendship which may often be stronger than like that of blood relationship (Alsaybar, 1999). Barkadismo is also jaded with some negative concepts such as peer pressure, gangsterism, avoidance of school, bullying, and other socially deviant behavior. Most development studies and psychological works have focused on these. On the other hand, some people have great experiences wiht it and it persists as a natural social behavior.
Like any social phenomenon, barkadismo will have many facets to explore. It may have some unpleasant run-offs, but it may have more significance in our social life as it prevails. On this assumption, barkadismo has yet to be examined as to how it influences the self-concepts of its members and the construction of the Filipino identity that we have now.
The barkada is not just a group for the Filipino, within the relationship rich memories, thrills, adventures and dreams are shared. That even if time passes, the old barkada is something Filipinos still want to spend some time with. In OPM (Original Pilipino Music), a song of the APO Hiking Society about the barkada remains popular that it has been revived and appreciated by the present generation of the Filipino youth.