Yes, your friends all made it under the timeline, but times have changed now:
Here's a very good read on the current situation (and not only for PH applicants, but for many international applicants): http://allnurses.com/international-n...ng-885162.html
You can certainly try and apply, just know that since the strict enforcement of the concurrency rules (set in 1987), that since Nov. 2011, there's been very few PH applicants getting approved in CA. If you graduated with your BSN prior to 2005, you may be okay otherwise, it's a gamble with your money as the application fees whether approved or denied, is not refundable
, as so clearly stated in the application forms.
You have the option to apply to other states, but endorsing back into CA is not an option as it will be rejected for the same reason of the above. Once the CA BRN looks at your transcripts, you may be lacking only one course up to 4 courses. Those courses may be made up, but join the other few thousands looking in CA, as there are other countries involved, with very limited classes (average size is 12, with representatives from other countries) and some with long waiting list (1-2-3 plus years) and some can cost upwards to $14,000 (if you can find a cheaper community college it's much less, but more waiting)
You can try the LVN exam, find a LVN job, then try to enroll in a LVN-RN program. Not easy either but do-able if you can wait it in terms of years. It's school time all over again.
You'll find more reads in the World forum under the Nurse Registration tab.