June 22, 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 Jan. 27, 2019).

I have no idea how my parents felt when they got married, since I wasn’t around at that time. No, I am not trying to be funny. In my lifetime I have seen the eldest son of a marrying couple acting as ring bearer, and the eldest daughter as flower girl.
But according to stories told to me by relatives who were present when Pedro Carantes, Sr. and Catalina Torralba tied the knot, my dad was rather excited, albeit looking dapper in his neatly pressed suit and slick black hair combed and parted at the middle, while my mom, in her simple bridal dress, was cool as a cucumber.
With eight kids, following one after the other in a nearly yearly basis, I guess my mom wasn’t that cool after all. Sorry ma, hehe.

When I got married, I was excited and scared, happy to be joined in union with my sweetheart of seven years, but frightened to death of the responsibilities of being a husband and an eventual father.
But my Minda always had this calming effect on me, and not worry about what the future held in store for us.
Two hearts becoming one, she said, can overcome even the most daunting of obstacles – that plus prayers and hard work, words not in the vocabulary of us Caranteses.

I remember an incident when our Melpether was still studying at Diliman. The car that we gave him, mortgaged to us by a friend badly in need of money, was carnapped.
After seeking advice from his older brother, Mel musters enough courage to call me.
I let my temper get the better of me, and fly off the handle, scolding him for being so careless, and why wasn’t his car equipped with anti-carnapping devices, like a wheel lock.
My voice rises three decibels higher, and I am nearly screaming.
My Minda gently takes the phone off my hands and she says to our son, “Mel, are you okay? Were you harmed by the carnappers? I am glad you are all right. Forget the car, don’t worry about it. After you report the matter to the police, go back to your dorm and get some sleep. I will take care of your dad.”
My Minda hands me back the phone, and she whispers in my ear, “You should be thankful your son isn’t hurt. Better the car than him.”
I am overwhelmed with shame, and I tell Mel that his mother is right. I quickly apologize, adding I wasn’t myself earlier.

His brother Marco takes it all in. He takes me aside, and drapes a hand around my shoulder.
“Old man,” he snickers, “Should I go around the neighborhood and tell everyone that mom is smarter than you are?”
“Yeah?” I shoot back, “If she’s so damn smart, why did she marry me?”
Marco and I have a good laugh, but we both know the truth.
We miss you Minda Baltazar Carantes, now more than ever.

The age of discernment, isn’t just between nine and 15, it actually starts earlier, at least when it comes to telling the difference between right and wrong.
But when adults take advantage of children, the truth becomes what they are told, and promises of reward will sway them into doing what the adults want to be done.
Incentive is what kids aspire for, to get good grades if it means a nice gift from dad, or to dip fingers into someone’s pocket, provided he will be given a cut for his efforts.
This is practically true in today’s difficult times.
We need to bring back the death penalty – for strangers making use of children for their nefarious activities, and a lifetime imprisonment for parents who close their eyes to it simply because they need money.
If you want to get rid of social and other problems that seem to grow with the years, you need to fix the economy first, which you can only do if you get rid of corruption, from kotong cops to congressmen, and make sure that no crime will go unpunished.
If you are truly a tough guy, Mr. Rodrigo Duterte sir, we dare you to burn down every mansion owned by a government official, confiscate SUVs whose owners are graduates of a certain military school, and line up against the wall not drug users, but drug dealers.
If half the population, the upper crust anyway, have to go, then so be it.
Behind every great fortune, is a great crime.
Honestly earned income, yes, but no such thing as honestly earned millions and billions and billions.
We ask, how much taxes were paid by the richest man in the country?
We are not anti-rich, we are anti-greedy rich.