February 26, 2024

“A wonderful guy,” was what the late Joe Cariño, Jr., lawyer and realtor, eldest son of Dr. Jose Cariño, Sr. (the first and only Ibaloy mayor of Baguio), and at one time father of the five brightest kids in the city (their mom was a cum laude graduate of UP, a Kintanar from Cebu), said of my father.
My dearly departed Minda once described her father-in-law as a decent person and a perfect gentleman, and according to our son, Marc, that was what the mothers and aunts of his friends pretty much said the same thing of his grandpop.

When my dad passed away in 1972, I remember reading an editorial in the Baguio Midland Courier (written, I suspect, by Auntie Cecile A) referring to my dad as a “beloved” Baguio raconteur.
Like my dad, I too, am a gentleman but with nasty habits, and I am more of a wanderlust of sorts, far from being wonderful and all that is bright and beautiful.
A raconteur, yes, with never ending stories and tales. Of my father alone, I have a bagful to start.

In the summer of ‘56, I learned how to skate, even if my cousins would rather bike or go boating.
One day, at lunchtime, there was this box placed on top of my plate.
When I asked my mom about it, “fried chicken,” I think was her answer.
Unable to resist myself, I pry the box open, and to my delightful surprise, inside was a pair of red rascal skates.
My dad jestingly scolds me. “Now will you stop pestering your poor mother for 30 centavos every time you want to go skating?”
My mom winks at me. She knows I will still need the money for snacks.

I have told this story, of my dad many times over, and I shall again.
In a regional athletic meet held in the city many years back, one runner in the 10,000-meter run lagged so far behind that he still had a lap and a half to go ever after all the other runners had finished.
But even with all the hooting and jeers, the runner from Abra refused to give up, and in the last 100 meters, he summons all the remaining strength in his body, and sprints to the finish line, and all the more the crowd roars in laughter.
But not my old man. He takes off his hat, stands to full attention and loudly applauds the runner. Embarrassed by his actions, I drop my head to my lap.
Later in the afternoon on our way home, even with my mom proudly clinging to my father’s arm, I stay far back, still feeling the shame of what my dad did.

I didn’t know any better than that, but over the years, each time I recall the incident, I feel like banging my head against a wall, and the tears flow freely.
Let me end this Sunday’s Father’s Day column with a couple of stories about a father who was gentle of manner and a funny man whose heart was always in the right place.

During one Sunday mass at the Cathedral, while parish priest, Father Rafael, was delivering his sermon at the pulpit located at the center of the church, my father takes out a copy of the Midland Courier and begins reading it.
A visibly irked Father Rafael, with all his parishioners in attendance, yells at my old man, “Mr. Carantes, will you please put away your Midland Courier and pay attention to my sermon?”
It was my mom’s turn to drop her head to her lap.

In the second semester in my third year law, I received a letter from the Bureau of Private Schools informing me that all the credits, except for those earned in the second semester of my freshman year, were to be nullified, because when I enrolled in Law School, I still lacked three of Spanish, when I went to see Atty. Antonio Dumlao, head of the legal department, to explain that I had cross enrolled to complete the 24 units requirement, he told me that technically, I was not a degree holder when I first enrolled, and therefore unqualified to enter law school.
When I told my dad that I wasn’t going back to law school, he asked what my problem was. I showed him the letter from the Bureau.

I didn’t get to see my father for three days, but when he was back, he told me to go and see Atty. Dumlao again.
I naturally did so, but Atty. Dumlao said, your only hope is this.
I have prepared an appeal letter that you will sign to which I will attach my favorable endorsement.
The secretary is quite meticulous when signing documents, unless he needs to go in a hurry.
If he stays long, your goose and mine are cooked.

His secretary tells her boss, maybe I can find a way to help our “little” friend here.
She trots over to secretary Manuel’s office, and says to him, “Sir, you have a cabinet meeting at 11 this morning, and you are already running late.
The secretary scowls, and tells her, let me sign all these documents on my desk first.

Atty. Dumlao is quick to secure my papers, and hands me a copy.
I offer to take him and Ms. Secretary out to lunch, but both politely decline. There are no demands for anything, no grease money, not even a request for veggies and Baguio longganisa.
“Good luck,” they say to me, “Just remember us in your prayers.”
It saddens me there are no more people in government like Atty. Antonio Dumlao and his secretary, whose name I forgot to ask in my excitement.
Sir and ma’am, you are always in my prayers.
Happy Father’s Day.