(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 June 15, 2014)
Long before I turned into the a-hole that I once was (them were the days) my dad and I enjoyed some great times together, often eating out and taking in a movie after, my pockets stuffed with chocolate bars and comic books on our way home later in the afternoon.
The very first movie that my dad took me to was a Hollywood tearjerker titled “You are Always in My Heart,” which starred, if I recall rightly, the beautiful and legendary Susan Hayward.
My dad and I came out of the theater crying our hearts out, and my mom scolded her husband for traumatizing me, not being able to eat a bite at dinner. “Take your son to a happy movie, one that would help get rid of the hurt he is feeling at the moment.”
That was exactly what my dad did, and although I came out of the moviehouse again with tears in my eyes, they were happy ones. Haley Mills as “Pollyana” was a truly unforgettable and joyful flick for a growing up kid that was I was then.
My dad was a movie addict, and he infected me with it. Soon enough, I was swashbuckling with Errol Flynn over the seven seas, diving into the waters with a knife in my teeth as Gary Cooper and I swam together towards two Apache braves armed with knives in both hands, who had likewise plunged into the river from the other end.
I was also with “captain” Robert Taylor in his first moments at “Batanes,” and in my lustful years, I found myself romancing a moaning and writhing Sharon Stone in bed. Today I am in my second childhood, watching cartoon movies like “Frozen,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Ice Age,” a sort of throwback to my childhood years, endlessly watching Looney Tunes cartoons. Remember Bugs Bunny (“What’s up Doc?”) and Woody Woodpecker? When it comes to life and emotions, you learn a lot via movies. I am guessing my dad did.
I have written about this in the past, but today, on Father’s Day, it is worth retelling.
Way back in the 50s, my mom and dad with 12-year-old me in tow, went over to the Athletic Bowl to watch the ongoing Northern Luzon Athletic Meet.
The event that we came upon was a long distance run, and after a few laps, the runner from Abra began to fall behind, and pretty soon he was behind a full lap. After a quarter of an hour, the other runners had “breasted the tape” so to speak, but far from giving up, the Abra runner plodded on, to the boos and hoots of the crowd.
In the last 100 meters, summoning all his remaining strength, the poor runner sprinted to the finish line, all by himself, eliciting more jeers and laughter from the crowd.
It was then that my dad stood up and applauded the runner, taking his hat off first and rapidly clapping his hands like he wanted the runner to hear. Embarrassed by my dad’s actions, I dropped my face in my lap. Making our way home later in the afternoon, I distanced myself from my dad, thinking how foolish he had acted earlier that day.
But my mom proudly clung to my father’s arm, and seeing the look on her face, I realized I had judged my old man wrong. I quickly caught up with my folks, and took hold of my dad’s other arm. He didn’t see me flick a tear from my eye. It was a lesson I would never forget.
Although my dad had a wonderful early life – a young, good-looking Constabulary lieutenant driving his own runabout, top-down shiny black car, and gifted with impeccable southern manners, ala Clark Gable in “Gone in the Wind,” alas, everything changed when his dad, my lolo Quidno, passed away.
Over the years, his good luck turned sour – not becoming a lawyer after Law school, a painful defeat in his first and only political try, – hardly pressed trying to seek employment to feed seven hungry mouths. But out of the goodness of heart of one Felix Brawner Sr., my old man landed a job as public schools legal officer. Later on, his old friend, Pedro Claravall, got him a “better job” as chairman of the committee on Boarding Houses and Dormitories, just when Baguio was starting to boom as a university town.
For the record, it was my father who helped about 500 Ibaloys get their Igorot titles after they failed to meet the deadline to perfect their applications.
My dad was able to convince President Ramon Magsaysay during his Malacañang visit with the “Guy” to allow a grace period until such time the 500 Igorot applicants shall have completed their papers.
He could have made a fortune by getting a rightful share from each applicant, but that was not his style. My dad made many friends, who were always there to lend a helping hand in times of need, as he often did for others.
Jobless for some time after Law school, it was Mr. Aspillaga, Ching’s father and Doc Ronnie Paraan’s maternal uncle, who gave my father a job as confidential agent of the PVTA when Aspillaga was head of that government office. The mountain boy that my dad was, he couldn’t stand the Manila heat, and sadly resigned his position after a year. That was when old man Brawner Sr. came to the rescue.
My dad was the most decent human being I have ever known, and tears well in my eyes each time I remember him, and how unfairly I sometimes treated him during the times I didn’t know better. I may not be half the man my father was, but he has always been my guiding light. Whatever my dad was in life, I wouldn’t have wanted him any other way, a beloved raconteur and storyteller, a father for all seasons.
Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads in the world!