April 14, 2024

(Editors’ note: Cesar Carantes is pitching in this tribute to his brother, the late Victor T. Carantes, former DENR-Cordillera Regional Technical Director for Lands, who passed away on Dec. 10, 2023. The author is also the younger brother of the late former City Chief Prosecutor and Midland Courier columnist Benedicto T. Carantes).

I never thought that his heart would give up so soon because he never suffered an attack before.
Most often he could hardly breathe and it’s the only reason he would be rushed to the hospital. He just got out from the hospital about a week or two this month when he was rushed to the hospital again on a Friday.
Two days after, he expired when his heart ceased to pump.
I knew him as a silent, edgy, and nervous brother with a temper. Perhaps it’s the reason why he slurred or stuttered. A man of few words but when he loses his temper it’s hard to control.
One of his neighbors in Aurora Hill then claimed that he unceasingly beat a guy to a pulp when he got irritated by said guy. He gets physical mostly when he was younger. I guess it’s an outlet for he seldom expresses himself in words.
When manong Victor was in Manila to take the Bar, my late brother Bennie and his wife, the late manang Minda, will drop by his boarding house and they will find him a nervous wreck. They have to give him valium to loosen him up.
He somehow regained a degree of confidence when he became the director of the Lands Management Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
I wanted to make peace with him since we were at odds for a couple of years or so and manong Bennie wanted us to let bygones be bygones before his demise.
But it was too late because suddenly he left this world.
When Dada, one of his two daughters, requested me to hold his hand in his casket as a sign of reconciliation before the burial, I guess I’d rather put my head over his chest and asked for forgiveness, since I know that holding his hand, I could feel the coldness and the stiffness of death and I get a bit freaked-out I told myself.
So, I did.
I have mixed emotions about his demise. We will miss him because he is still relevant, to the Ibaloys in particular. I wish him happiness wherever he is. He is the most good-looking brother comparatively speaking.
Our father once said “Saan kon samet anak datoy Ninay” to my mom in jest. He was the third child and I am the youngest in a brood of seven. He was a neat guy and was meticulous about personal hygiene.
He liked to cook and he wanted the kitchen to be ever in order and he kept it that way. Several times I would catch him toss the longanisa into the air and catch it with his mouth and we both would laugh. Albeit he lacks the height, he loves basketball. He was a member of their basketball team while taking up pre-law in Baguio Colleges Foundation then. With his good looks he has fans of the opposite sex. He was slim then.
He started to gain weight after his marriage. Since his appetite got the best of him. He took the Bar and failed all the times that he tried. He was crushed.
With his wife, and a son, then Vrendel, he decided to go Mankayan, Benguet to live with his wife and mother-law for a few years. It was the nadir of his life. They came back to the city with the help of his mother-in-law, when he caught up with himself and soon had a job in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
As things got better with their three kids, they rented a house in Aurora Hill. When the owner returned from the United States, they went on to rent a house in Gibraltar where his kids learned how to ride horses and his youngest child, Kathleen, would get the eggs of the hens being bred for cockfighting and fry it for breakfast. He often gave in as far as his kids’ requests are concerned.
My brother was the silent type. He hardly spoke in a conversation and he talked only when needed. He was calm but he has a temper. He can explode anytime when irritated by someone who caught his ire.
Of course, manong Victor would invite us often when he was with the DENR as well as in his house across the street during his birthdays and of his kids and eat and be united again as a family.
Together with his closest friend, Arch. Rolly Bautista, who is in the U.S. when he passed away, a partner in business and a recognized partner in cockfighting. Both of them don’t talk so much and just a glance at each other and they understood each other, vibes na vibes sila. That’s how close they were.
Death is inevitable and only God knows when our time on Earth is up and why. I lost two brothers in a span of three years and it’s a bit “heavy” for me. This Christmas would seemingly be bleak and empty without them. Christmas will never be the same with their demise. We will remember manong Victor as well as manong Bennie perhaps with tears almost swelling from our eyes because it is his birthday on Christmas day.
But life has to go on and I will, in all humility ask for the mercy of the Almighty and pray daily for the repose of their souls.
As we advance with the years may we ask for the Divine mercy of the Almighty that we will live more than we expect it to on this Earth and see the sons and daughters of manong Bennie, manong Victor and my older sister Marichu raise a family and grow up as decent and dignified individuals.
Goodbye for now manong Victor. We will miss you as a silent guy and disciplinarian brother. Thank you for the love and the memories.
May manong Victor rest in peace in God’s keeping. May the good Lord guide and safeguard the family he left behind. Amen.