December 5, 2022

(Editors’ note: The 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. 23, 2012).

At eleven o’clock in the morning, and Mario and his friend are spending time in a downtown bar, a half full bottle of Scotch between them, their second for the day.
“Look Mario,” his friend says to him, “Aren’t you scared of dying? I mean at your age, you shouldn’t be drinking too heavily.”
“We will all die anyway,” Mario retorts, “And how and when we will die is already chiseled in the tablets of heaven. Leading a sober life doesn’t exactly prolong it, you know.”


“Not according to the doctors,” his friend shoots back. “Medical bulletins say that if you stay away from vices, like cigarettes and liquor, that could mean five to 10 more years added to your average lifespan.”

Taking a large swig, Mario laughingly replies, “You don’t get it, do you? If it is written in the books that you have die at 50, neither smoking nor drinking have anything to do with it.”
“And in your case friend, since you drink only “moderately” and no longer smoke, you will probably die from losing your shirt at the cockfights.”


Mario’s friend looks at him with a wicked smile, and mockingly retorts,” I can lose everything, including my pants betting at the cockpit arena, and still manage to survive, but if my wife leaves me, then I guess it’s time to go. Better than being standing dead, as the aficionados would say.”
“That’s being unfair,” Mario answers back, “What happened to me and my wife wasn’t my fault at all. In her life, she felt she no longer needed me, so she just upped and left. I won’t deny that I had a few shortcomings, but I suppose she just got tired of my face.”
Pouring himself another drink, Mario’s friend says in a hardly audible voice, “I don’t think your shortcomings had anything to do with her decision to leave, more like you got caught with your pants down. Anyway, I am feeling uncomfortable about this talk, so maybe we should shift our conversation to more interesting topics.”


Mario doesn’t respond, and his friend plows on. “You think the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill reflects upon the leadership of the Church? Over the years it seems to have lost control over its flock, and even simple edicts like proper attire during Sunday mass are being ignored by the Catholic faithful, who wear skimpy dresses and shorts and slippers while attending services. And many receive Holy Communion while in a state of sin, like couples who left their respective spouses and currently live together, pretending that the community isn’t at all scandalized by their illicit relationship.”


Mario frowns, and tells his friend, “You think maybe God is no longer around, or just doesn’t give a damn what is happening to the world He created.” Could there be some truth that the world will end soon?”
“There you go being the pessimist again,” his friend laughs, “God is still in the midst of us, but because of free will, we have a choice between sticking it out with Him, or moving over to the devil’s corner.”
“You pick between worldly pleasure with all its riches and glory, or spiritual fulfillment. The first, no matter how joyful, is temporary, while the other is forever.”


“Since when did you become a preacher?” Mario sneers, “But I guess you are right. A nun once said to me that there is no satiety when it comes to money or power, unlike if you put God in your heart, then there is nothing more to hanker for. Question is, how exactly do you put God in your heart?”
“I have an answer to that,” His friend’s face lights up. “First, you pray every chance you get. It doesn’t matter where you are, in church, or riding a bus. And then you examine yourself. What are the things you are doing that are not pleasing to Him? Once you identified them, make sure they end up in the trash can. No retrieving, not even if it makes you unhappy. Pretty soon you will notice the change in yourself – more fulfilling, more at peace.”
“So what can we do with the bottle?” Mario grins. His friend stands up, pours the last of the Scotch in his glass, raises it up by way of a toast, and proclaims, “May Scotch never touch our lips again.”
Knowing his friend, Mario surmised he meant the tape, not the malt.
Talk about moving over to Satan’s side of the fence.
Merry Christmas!