April 17, 2024

(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 Jan. 20, 2019.)

In my grade school years, I often found myself being bullied by other boys bigger than me. Perhaps aside from my frail frame, I also had a face that was a picture of innocence and naiveté, a prime target for bullies looking for prey who couldn’t fight back.
Every afternoon after class dismissal, there was this bully waiting for me at the fork linking New Lucban and T. Alonzo Streets, a place that I needed to pass to reach home.

More than the taunting and the shoving – the bully also relished putting me down on my butt to show off his amateur judo skills – was the dread in my heart when making my way home after class at the old Baguio Central School.

Quite happily, the heavens eventually answered my prayers.
One Saturday morning, my cousin Robert and I, on our way to my Apo’s house where she was hosting a cañao (which was often, since every dream for her had a meaning, and only a canao would appease the gods and please her deceased husband Quidno. But ascending to stories, even all the canaos in the world would not open the pearly gates for him, but with a large clan of Caranteses, Bajatings, Suellos, Camdases, Aragoneses, Diazes, Pilantas and other relatives from Itogon and Loakan praying for the repose of his soul, St. Peter might yet reconsider).
I always wonder why Ibaloys can’t be one in politics like the way they unite together during canaos. We passed by the bully. Sensing my fear, Robert asked me if I was afraid of the guy.
The cat had my tongue then, so I merely nodded.

Quick as a fox, my cousin was soon upon the bully, hitting him with two hard punches to the face. Caught by surprise, the bully tried to fight back, but a roundhouse right sent him sprawling to the ground.
With vengeance in my mind, I picked up a pine branch lying on the road, and started hitting him with it – on his arms, his back, and even on his face.
Imagine my joy when the next time I met the bully, with head bowed, he moved over to the other side of the road.

When I told my other cousins what Robert did, they all laughed and said, “Robert is a spoiled son of our rich uncle Bensa, and in a way, he is a bully himself.”

When I moved to Saint Louis University on my sixth grade, I had a classmate half a head shorter than me, and it was my turn to play bully.
Tired of my bullying, little Bambao challenged me to a fist fight. I laughed at the little fellow, but he quickly put up his dukes. Even before I could throw a punch, a flurry of blows hit me on the face, and all the stars in the heavens appeared before my eyes.
I came out of the scuffle with a black eye, a bloodied nose, and a split lip.
That put an end to my bullying days.