January 29, 2023

(Editors’ note: The Midland Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on Dec.20, 2020)

It was the night before Christmas, and save for the mice, all were stirring – having an intimate dinner at the Country Club or in some fancy resto with a special someone, doing late Christmas shopping, or just doing the malls, happy to be where everyone else seem to be.


Juan never liked Christmas in the city. He found the occasion lonely and cold, and yearned to go back home to the province.
But what for? His folks have long since passed away, and his only sister was sharing the ancestral abode with a long-haired fellow who did nothing but strum his guitar all day, singing with a voice that clearly was not blessed by the heavens.


Staying in his rented apartment watching T.V. would only make his solitude more painful, and the only way Juan could save the hurt in his heart was to mingle with the holiday throng, ogling all the pretty girls passing by.
Juan couldn’t help but laugh that the girls were all pretty while wearing masks, their eyes beautifully made up, only to look not so pretty with their masks off.
Best to keep hidden pudgy noses and thick lips, and a well adorned mask always did the trick.


What to do in the meantime before calling it a night. Best to sit down in a coffee shop and read the papers.
But where can one buy a copy when all the newsstands were either closed or shut down, upon orders of City Hall headed by a balding fellow who deemed himself pope, infallible when making decisions, and has not the character to take criticism well.
It seemed stupid to disagree with his honor, suffering from a fault lawyers and PMAyers share, and at times, with media – to be right even when wrong.
Sila lang kasi ang marunong, kaya tahimik lang tayong common citizens.


Buti pa ang doctor, mistakes are buried together with their patients, or like the prelates, whose preachings you should heed but not thread their wayward ways.
Just like politics, celibacy is honored more in the breach.


Looking at his watch, Juan decided to check out if a bookstore was still open, maybe buy a pocketbook to read while passing time before heading for home.
Along the way Juan amused himself with a silly thought – that just like the virus jumping from one sitio to another, so too does the mayor – aching to jump from City Hall to the Senate.
Well, he at least speaks the king’s language better than one other elected general.
Shit happens.
OK, so he might have a hard time getting re-elected, but given his well publicized career, he could be a shoo-in for or the Senate.


True, he did come in as whiff of fresh air, following two decades rule of an entrenched politician, but the air is starting to smell salty if not foul, like the stench of uncollected garbage before his time.
Good luck to him. Like they say, garbage in, garbage out.
I know that I am being naughty if not harsh, but unless you are an Acop, a Diciano, or a Martin, I have always had this thing about 3, 4, or 5 starrers, who like the Covid, infect the government upon retiring at the age of 56.


Lining up at the pay counter after picking up a couple of best sellers, Juan felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning around to see who it was, imagine his pleasant surprise to see his old high school buddy, smiling and sporting a happy face.
Juan could only blurt, “Why are you not wearing a mask?”


Rubbing elbows firstly, the two could only hug each other tightly, and were soon engaged in an animated conversation.
“Where have you been you bastard,” one said to the other, “Do you have family – wife, kids?”
On cue, Juan’s buddy brought out a photo of a smiling cute baby, and family pictures enjoying a picnic or having fun at the beach.
“How about you Juan, don’t tell me you have remained single all these years?”
“I just didn’t get to meet the right girl,” Juan replied almost in a whisper.
“I guess I am doomed to die a lonely death, no one to mourn over me, no wife and grown up kids to give me a last kiss, and tearfully watch when they put me to the ground.”
“Even if I am cremated, there will be no one to get the urn containing my ashes. You think the funeral people would agree to scatter my ashes around the lake where we used to go boating with other classmates.”


“Given today’s material world,” his buddy said to Juan, draping an arm around his shoulders, “a little extra will do the trick. For every request made dead or alive, comes a corresponding payment.”
“That’s OK, I won’t be needing the money to where I am going.”
“Hey,” Juan says to his friend, “Can we have dinner together, you know, for old times’ sake.”
“I’m sorry Juan, but I really need to get back to my family. I know how lonely you are, but hey, wait for the New Year. Every New Year brings hope, and who knows, God willing, you might yet meet someone who will come into your life, maybe a nice lady with whom you could spend your twilight years together.”
“Never lose hope my friend. Go to church, prayers will still your unhappy heart. I expect that the next time we meet, you will be a much happier man.”
The two friends hug, and tear drops from Juan’s eye. Maybe it was time to go back to his faith, to remember that a baby called Jesus had come to save Juan and others like him.
Maligayang Pasko!

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