(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. 6, 2008.)
For many Filipinos, the unseen sign posted at their front doors on the day of their birth ominously reads as follows: “Abandon all hope, all ye who are in born in these islands.”
But hope springs eternal from the human breast, and to millions of our countrymen trapped in the quicksand of misery, hope emerges from his heart every New Year, trusting that God, in all his goodness and kindness, will not allow His people to suffer damnation for the rest of their natural lives.
For eternity maybe, and only in the next life, after living a life of sin, and if only one fails to ask God’s forgiveness while breathing his last.
That is the Catholic way, that is also what makes us what we are as a people.
We sin a lot because we are children of a forgiving God.
Others try to preempt the future, wearing the “right color” as the New Year approaches, buying round fruits – 12 or 13 – and paying attention to what the feng shui experts say.
Horoscopes are not taken lightly, and having money in the pocket as the clock strikes 12 will mean financial stability all year round.
The wealthy and powerful have no such fantasies, sticking only to greasing and horse trading methods, which can be risky at times. But robbing the people blind is a sure thing – “walang mintis walang sabit,” as the local jargon goes.
There is little fear of getting caught, since many others who have gotten caught came away scot-free – like the Marcos cronies did, like the “kamag-anaks” did, and except for one or two, like generals do.
The biggest plunderer of all time, the convicted former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, is not only a free man today, he is even thinking of reclaiming his presidency, which he says was stolen from him.
It is crying wolf once too many, the thief himself claiming to be a victim of burglary, and the culprit is the one who set him free.
Will wonders – or should I say, political hocus pocus – never cease?
By the way, if he wants to run, let him run, and if he gets elected, Erap and the Filipino people truly deserve each other.
Today is the last day of Advent, Three Kings Day.
Following church tradition, Jan. 6 is the feast day of the Magi, and today being the first Sunday of the year, to which the last day of Advent has been moved by church edict, it is genuinely Three Kings Day today.
So, it is only fitting that we put a final sequel to our two-part Christmas story, more so since readers have been calling to ask how Mario’s life went and ended.
Mario’s father caught his new bride in bed with the judge, and shot both of them dead.
Pedro would later testify in court that the judge went for his gun just when Mario’s father barged through the door, and the latter beat him to the draw.
Under intense cross examination, Pedro stuck to his story, and Mario’s father was acquitted of parricide and murder charges, although the autopsy showed that the erstwhile Mrs. Lee suffered three fatal gunshot wounds – one in each breast, and another between her legs.
When a curious media asked why the judge’s manhood was practically unmarked, suffering a single gunshot wound dead center in his forehead, the doctor who did the autopsy answered that probably that wasn’t much to shoot at, the target being too small.
Tina naturally inherited her mother’s fortune, and she and her father confessor became lovers, keeping their affair away from the public eye.
But everyone knew, the whole city knew, her colleagues in the teaching profession knew, her own congregation knew, but kept their mouths shut.
Even men of the cloth take the vow of omerta when covering their own tracks.
Mario earned millions of dollars from his best-selling books, some of which were made blockbuster movies, and he made arrangements with his bank to send a monthly pension to his sister Martha, who was taking care of their mother.
On his 50th birthday, he married his Mexican housemaid Juanita, who loved and took care of Mario with all of her heart.
She also gave him a daughter, whom they named Maria, after Mario’s mom.
While studying in Harvard, Maria met a Filipino whom she fell in love with and later married. Their union was blessed with six children, and Mario and Juanita spoiled their grandchildren rotten.
Except for a 24-hour short stay during his mother’s funeral, Mario never came back to the Philippines, not even to attend the burial of his father, who died a broken man.
When he died, Mario left all his money to his daughter and grandchildren, with provisions that would make his widow live in comfort for the rest of her life, but a depressed and lonely Juanita followed her husband to the grave three months later.
Maria and her husband made the Philippines her home after Juanita’s passing.
Their three girls and eldest boy went to the University of the Philippines, Mario’s alma mater, and the two other boys to Saint Louis University, where their grandmother, Mario’s mom, was once a member of the faculty.
One of them would later go on to become the university’s first Bar topnotcher.
The youngest, who had an eye for women, became a priest.
Note: All the characters depicted in our little three part story are fictitious, and any similarity to any person, living or dead, is purely intentional.
Happy Three Kings!