(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 Jan.10, 2021)
It was an unusually quiet New Year’s Eve, like a sign of the times to come.
The noise and din that had always accompanied the welcoming of a New Year was nowhere to be heard – no exploding firecrackers, no shrieks from torotots, no booms from bamboo cannons, no fireworks lighting up the night sky.
There was this report, however, that a 12-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet. It seems a policewoman indiscriminately fired her gun by way of celebrating the New Year.
Funny and morbid as it may sound, but it appears that the police kill the innocent even without meaning to.
About a year back, nearly a hundred thousand merrymakers gathered at Times Square, happily waiting for the midnight chime of the clock, and when the countdown ended, all were seen hugging, kissing, and holding one another tightly, hoping that 2020 would be better than 2019.
How painfully wrong they were.
Not a single soul in the world was aware of the pandemic about to engulf them, and except perhaps for the Chinese, absolutely had no idea that a deadly virus was set to descend upon mankind.
On the very last night of 2020, only 300 revelers showed up at Times Square, looking more like tourists than native New Yorkers.
In my own neighborhood, there was more gloom than joy. Barangay New Lucban is known for being irritatingly boisterous, drunk or sober.
Neighbors converse like they are miles apart from one another, screaming their lungs out every time they open their mouths.
Before the Covid-19, and before Saint Louis University Bakakeng campus, and residents, there were happy faces all around, only too eager to open their homes to students in search of boarding houses and bed spaces, making enough to pay water and electric bills, and for daily marketing.
When the Covid struck, universities closed doors to give way to health protocols, prompting the students to pack up and go back to their respective provinces, some leaving unpaid rentals and money borrowed from landlords.
Even the small carinderias were forced to quit shop, and my millionaire neighbor, who made it big in the banana cue business, was beginning to feel the pinch, but not much, since all his kids after finishing college, found employment abroad.
What he actually misses is his golf game, quite a big jump from sticking boiled bananas to swinging golf clubs, from pushing a cart to driving the latest SUV.
The city government is said to be making plans to revive the Panagbenga Flower Festival next month, but with lesser fanfare and more subdued than previous ones.
Great. But will tourists and visitors come to spend hard earned money, or just stay home and use the money for more necessary and other household items?
Kung tayo tayo lang, eh, if you had seen one, then you have seen all.
And what is a flower festival without the flowers – no flower decorated vehicles, no street dancing?
I sometimes wonder if the city mayor’s lack of hair is a reflection of his lack of something else.
Prepare for summer instead, and scratch the Panagbenga.
Inform the nation that Baguio is the best place to spend a Holy Week retreat, and all summer long, the weather is cool like no other.
And speaking of the weather, notice that the city is hot during the day, and chilling at night and in the early morning.
Others may dispute this, but I can’t think of any other country that has more pretty women than the Philippines.
College coeds, young moms, matrons, probinsiyanas, flight attendants, none can compare to their beauty.
But no other country in the world has more ogres and maniacs than us.
The men look at our girls as sex objects and are there for the taking.
Using wit, charm, and money to lure girls to bed, they resort to brute force when all else fails.
When you go out with the boys, make sure you are in numbers.
All by yourself, expect your drink to be spiked with drugs, expect to be gang raped, expect to probably lose your life.
To live longer, listen always to your mom, and don’t lie about your whereabouts.
Better yet, keep away from the men, and especially not with a bunch.
Stay safe, stay clean.