(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 May 19, 2013).
(S)ali-dom-(may) is an old Benguet and Ilocano song that bewails a husband’s marital woes whose wife had run off with a soldier, leaving the poor fellow high and dry. It is unclear if the soldier forcibly abducted the wife, or if the wife willingly eloped with the soldier. Whatever, the husband felt betrayed, pitifully left holding an empty bag.
The last friends and loyal supporters of the husband saw of his wife and the soldier, they were locked in conspirational embrace, cooing the same mountain dialect, and sporting similar red attires.
Treachery and betrayal date all the way back to Biblical times, when the Apostle Peter denied Christ three times as the cock crowed. But so remorseful was Peter afterwards that it is said the tears that flowed from his eyes made little canals on both his cheeks.
But there are no such etches on the face of a crocodile curiously shedding tears for a long-time ally and supposed friend, but hey, it is only the second time that the latter has been double-crossed. I do not think, however, that there will be a third time, and maybe it is high time to turn the tables.
Bearing witness to rampant vote-buying will be the ultimate revenge.
A son of a losing candidate who was expected to win, given his father’s track record, laments the change in the dynamics of Baguio politics. “Unlike in the old days,” he bares his heart out, “reputation and character were the qualities that meant a lot to the voters. Today, leading an honest and clean life will not get you elected.”
Unbelievable, but true.
He adds that accepting jueteng payola, receiving bribes, fathering a son by his mistress, plus being the owner of many mansions, will still bring in the votes, provided however, that you deny, deny, and deny, at the same time picturing yourself a pious family man, an environmentalist, fighting corruption and poverty at every turn, topping it off with claims that you are against gambling in any form, that way you come up on top over the rest of the field.
The secret is to lie, and to lie well – sans blinking, not casting your eyes on the ground, and no fidgeting. Men of God and of the cloak do it, men in suits and barongs do it, and successful politicians even more so. But more than anything, you need lots of money to capture large blocs of votes clustered together for a common cause – to sell their souls.
In other words, if you do not have the stomach, the logistics, and willingness to stab your closest friend and ally in the back, stay out of politics.
Although summer should officially come to an end in June, the rains have cut summer short right in the middle of May. The sun is no longer scorching, albeit still warm, and people are now bringing jackets and umbrellas to office. The taxi people are happy since walking home after work can get you drenched by a sudden downpour. The fare may be a bit high, but certainly much lesser than the cost of medicine.
Because of the just past political campaign, many were not able to go on long or just weekend vacations, although the last weekend provided a three-day break for some lowland folk, many coming up to Baguio even if it means sacrificing their right of suffrage, nurturing the belief that whoever gets elected will not alter their lives anyway.
Still others took time out to visit their home provinces where they are registered voters. Our two boys were forced to act as cook and waiter respectively (with some help from the two young sons of a neighbor) in the modest eatery that they jointly own and operate, since all their regular help went home to Masbate to vote. It seems certain politicians were willing to fork out P20,000 for voters in groups of three. Poor guys, if they only know the price they paid for their little loot.
The death of a loved one who is also loved by the people will likely elect his or her survivor to public office, like Cory after Ninoy’s assassination, PNoy after Cory’s death, Leni Robredo whose husband Jess died in a plane crash, and Grace Poe, daughter of the deceased Ronnie Poe. Take note again that all these dearly departed were much loved by the Filipino people.
In the case of Jun Magsaysay, his dad died in 1957, and more than half of today’s voters were born after that year, meaning they do not remember “the guy” because he never was part of their lives.