July 25, 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 Sept. 17, 2017.)

Even if they share the same agenda or are one in purpose, people actually think differently from each other. A mind of their own, so to speak.
But the uniform actions of a group of individuals seem to belie these.
Politicians in power talk and act the same way – booming voice, an arrogant posture, big words, perhaps by way of conveying to all and sundry that they are smart (not quite) and several notches up the totem pole.
Even worse, these politicians think the law applies differently in their favor.

Accumulating wealth and holding on to power are what blinds them. One might say however that there are two kinds of politicians, but equally in pursuit of a common agenda.
The first kind is the humble kuno politico, bowing his head in the presence of elders and before men of cloak. He could be the richest man in the region, but he keeps everything under wraps – no Rolex watch on his wrist, no classy SUV except when he leaves the city, no big mansions for all to behold, ownership papers registered in the name of a trusted underling.
His antics make his critics puke, but his loyal followers worship him like a god.
He is the perfect politician, one who has mastered the game, even if his former benefactors have fallen by the wayside.
But like the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., he is staying on too long, and one day, as surely as the sun rises and falls, he will suffer the same fate – sickness first, then ouster.
Not that I wish him ill, just a friendly advice, from a concerned cockfight aficionado – quit while you are ahead.

The other kind of politician is the opposite of the first, one who never got over being a fiscal when elected as mayor of his town, and who never got over being mayor after his election as President.
His critics of the yellow kind suspect that his drug war is just a ploy by way of disguising a bigger agenda involving his own close-knit family.
Although he is not saying so forthrightly, his nemesis, one Sonny Trillanes, likewise aching to succeed him if not in the next then perhaps after that, keeps on asking, where is all your money coming from.
To which President Rody Duterte angrily retorts, if you can find it, you can have it. But, he adds, where is all your money in foreign banks coming from? And pronto Sen. Sonny Trillanes executes a waiver. He is not an Academy graduate for nothing, a master of propaganda and psywar.
Kawawang Pinoy, caught in the middle of a senseless battle. “Kuya, ano nga ba talaga?”

But let us go to the other sips.
Isip police. The story is told that while he was beating up a militant, the policeman kept on accusing him of being a communist.
No longer able to stand the pain, the poor kid blurted “Hindi po sir, anti-communist ho ako,” to which the policeman replies without letup on his brutality, “Maski ba anong klaseng communist ka, idiot.”
Idiot? No, Duterte, was never a policeman, who in the early days, drove around in a stainless jeep, but now owns a Fortuner.
“Get out of the way, I am passing through,” says the sticker on his bumper.
Just like in the old west where palefaces claimed that the only good Indian is a dead Indian, so too do policemen believe that the only way to make good a criminal is to make sure he is dead.
Or like what, Trump the nut, loves to imply, the only good Muslim….

When Marcos Sr. created the barangays, it gave a chance for the low life to seek public office. Thus would a neighborhood toughie would get elected councilman, and later on barangay chairman.
Once a kapitan, he assumes the feeling of self-importance. After all, among his constituents are lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and other professionals.
In Bakun, Benguet, for example, as stories went, lawyers are never elected mayor, only grade six dropouts do.
But going back to our kapitan. Pretty soon he becomes a pampered individual invited to parties and gatherings by the mayor or congressman.
“O, sori hindi ko naman linalahat.”

And there is the Arab factor. In need of workers, rich Middle East countries offered jobs that promised high wages, and as thousands of our countrymen flew to Saudi Arabia (Katas ng Saudi) they were soon remitting dollars to loved ones left behind, who quickly put up modest houses.
He is naturally envied by his neighbor, the lawyer, still renting an apartment.
But wait and see, the lawyer vows. In the meantime, however, the migrant worker, on short vacation, finds himself surrounded by relatives and neighbors, even as he regales them of the many dangers he had to face.
Soon he, too, is overcome with a feeling of self-importance.
Later on, the women follow suit – working as domestic helpers, caregivers, or as nurses or hospital attendants.
But for the women, there is no feeling of self-importance as dollar earners, merely a desire to make life a little better for family.

So there you have it, the isip-isip of the Filipino.
Isip kuarta, isip tulisan, isip pamilya, isip diktador, isip forever, isip siga, pero hindi isip Diyos. At higit sa lahat, isip makasarili.
North Korea, are you listening? Please train your missiles on us with a “sword of Damocles” hanging over our heads, we might yet become a better people, knowing that annihilation is just a few miles and moments away.
OK, so isip sira ulo.