September 30, 2023

Past Apache chief Rudy Paraan almost always when we meet up asks me, “When will you be back with your Charivaried?” Perhaps someday he intends to read it. Of course, my reply to him and the other readers, “First things first – get things back to order – fall down, standup, recover, pay-off the debts financial or otherwise, take care of old and new clients, makeup with family and friends, babysit the Bar for Anton and more.” I write the piece somewhere in Guanzhong, China and as I pound on the Ipad, I know it’s time to be back in the paper.
Baguio Midland Courier publisher, Toni, said “Welcome back” and I say, “Thank you. It’s good to be back.”
The column’s title Charivaried circa 2014 when the late Charles took me in, stemmed out of charivari or shivaree or chavaree. It is a legal term used in Criminal Law which was originally a French folk custom, a noisy mock serenade for newlyweds. It was also sometimes used as a form of social coercion, to force an as-yet-unmarried couple to wed. “Charivari” is the original French word, while “shivaree” was used in the United States and “chivaree” in Ontario, Canada.
In charivari in the Middle Ages, people the community gather around to “celebrate” a marriage, usually one they regard as questionable, gathering outside the window of the couple. They bang metal implements or use other items to create noise in order to keep the couple awake all night. Later it became a form of protest against socially disapproved marriages, for example the marriage of widows before completing the socially acceptable period of mourning. Thus, charivari became also known as “riding the stang,” a ritual in which a person (typically a wife) had been accused of scolding, or beating, or otherwise abusing the other sex or belittle those who married but could not consummate their marriage, she is made to “ride the stang.”
“Ride the stang” simply meant that a woman would be placed backwards on a horse and paraded through a town being mocked at. Charivari in the Revised Penal Code concept talks of discordant noise and cacophony which disturbs the peace and aggravates crimes. Charivaried in this column will talk about anything under the sun but will leave out to Benny Carantes the juicier stuff.
Christmas is in the air even here at the Pullman Hotel where a huge 20-footer white Christmas tree dominates the lobby. Adorned with green, blue and red trimmings and balls, it attracts patrons, old and young for selfies on their smart phones. Frank Sinatra’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” pervades the air and the freezing weather makes one wish he is back home. Trying not to look being in a hurry, we meet up with our counterparts in Shenzen and fly out via the riot-torn Hong Kong by the end of the week.
Almost half a century ago, in Trancoville, my brother Eric and the other Interior brats – Efren and Estong Crisolo, Benjie Caballes and more would go caroling around the neighborhood using tansan or flattened Coca-Cola crowns looped in laundry wire as maracas. The repertoire would be “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The night is capped by “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Once in a while, if the house owner is taking his time to decide if he would be a Scrooge or share his blessings with a bunch of kids, we would do the “Apo di kam agpili ti ited yu aginaldo mi, uray nu kendi, uray nu kuwarta pada-pada awaten mi.”
Times have changed and now, carolers are wearing barong or three-piece suits or worse, wear police uniforms. Joke of course. We receive our largess usually averaging 10 to 15 centavos or max of P1, which was big money then for poor kids like us and the last spiel of course is, “Tenkyu, tenkyu ang babait ninyo.”
The lessons of the season is a writing on the wall. It’s time to thank people who mean a lot to us for the goodness of their souls, share the laughter and the joy and simply be happy.
And, to those asking, “Non, je ne regrette rien,” No, regrets! Sigh.