(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 June 1, 2008)
After years of holding out, Des Bautista finally decided to accept the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of the University of Baguio.
Of all the Bautista siblings, I consider Des as the brainiest, perhaps a biased opinion, since Des and I were childhood friends and classmates at the old Baguio Central School.
My friendship with the Bautistas is unique in the sense that I am a friend to each one, but in different or varying circumstances.
The eldest, Fernando Jr. or Fer to his friends, and I were buddies during our Diliman days, even if we belonged to warring fraternities.
Fer was with the Upsilon Sigma Phi, while I was initiated and inducted into Sigma Rho on my freshman year.
These two fraternities seem to be always at odds with one another, fighting over everything that included either the chairmanship of the student government, or the presidency of a residential hall or dormitory, and even more trivial, who was better at billiards.
Academics wise, neither fraternity could top the other. Both frats required brains from every neophyte applying for membership, but there was this running joke that with the Upsilon, you needed to be rich as well.
But I had personal friends in the Upsilon, in much the same way that Fer and other Upsilonians had friends in the Sigma Rho fraternity.
During rumbles, we avoided getting into each other’s way.
Anyway, Fer and I had some fun times together, since we practically enjoyed the same things – drinking, Jal-alai, poker, ogling the girls, and skipping classes.
Fer was “Baguio boy” to his frat, and I was “Igorot boy” to mine.
My friendship with Rey Bautista came about only – more correctly, was revived – when I joined the UB faculty and later on the Jaycees, of which Rey was an active organizer and leader, although we were schoolmates during our BCS days, but then Rey was a grade higher than Des and I.
Talking to Rey is one continuing education in Ethics and Morals, and in its strict, almost fanatical, sense.
On the other hand, my idea of Ethics and Morals is sharing your blessings with others in whatever form.
I like to think however, that Rey and I understand each other as old Baguio family friends do, the seeming conflict notwithstanding.
Behn, the architect, is the typical Baguio boy making good in Manila, who comes home only on occasion.
Behn is the kind of guy who remains a friend no matter how or what you are, albeit quite modest in his success.
Behn always has a ready wave or handshake for friends he would see or meet every time he visits the old hometown.
Herminio or “Herr”, is the Bautista with the great sense of humor, and being with Herr is always a jolly moment, given his infectious laughter.
Like his old man, Herr listens to what others have to say, and values the opinion of others.
The youngest brother, Jojo, who like Fer, the eldest, has passed on to the next world, was a Bautista who loved being what he was, and easily got along with everyone, no matter their walk in life.
Jojo, it seemed to me then, had this notion that life is too short to be taken seriously.
Not that it was a death wish, but he was right about that.
And the last but not the least, is Virgilio or Gil, educator and civic leader.
It is difficult to categorize Gil apart from his brothers, because Gil is a combination of all the Bautista siblings – brainy, ethical, friendly, funny, and occasionally moody.
The shortest of the Bautistas, in life, however, Gil stands tall, never coming up short – not with a baker’s dozen kids as a living proof.
But back to Des, himself an Upsilonian. Looking his age at 66, Des is a loving father and a reformed husband, a doting grandfather, a successful businessman, and at long last, is paying back UB what the latter has generously given to him.
I am sure that as Chairman of the Board, UB will soar to greater heights – if not plummet, as his friends would probably kid him.
And now the bad guys.
There are scams and there are scams.
First, there’s a tax scam where a collecting agent gets 25 percent of the unpaid taxes, he will be able to collect, obviously one more accommodation for somebody close to City Hall.
And, if you think that the Gloriaville land scam was big, this one is even bigger, courtesy of questionable and fraudulent documents, something that the DENR should investigate before millions changes hands, and the buyers would end up with nothing but a worthless piece of coarse paper.
And what would you call a telecommunications company that is able to put up a tower within a residential area, causing grave danger to the residents of the neighborhood?
It seems that LBZSA issued an exemption form to Sun Cellular and Smart, based only on a resolution of the barangay council, who did not even bother to consult nearby residents.
Nick Poblador, my old UP professor, and an affected resident, almost by his lonesome, is up against the two giant firms, but like little David will tell you, all Goliaths are nothing but bullies.