April 18, 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 March 3, 2013).

God –let me tell you – plays favorites, and especially favors disciples who do things that are pleasing to His eyes – the kindhearted, the charitable, and particularly those who love their fellowmen as much as they love themselves – if not more so.
How the Lord dispenses rewards to His favorites may be indiscernible to the envious eye, but none know it better than those who gain favor in the eyes of the Maker. Mga anak ng Diyos or children of God, they are called.
Microsoft top honcho Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, for example, not the money really, but the peace of mind and soul, supporting worthy projects that would benefit all mankind.

In contrast, the Grim Reaper plays no favorites, and will come and fetch you anytime he damn pleases. He cares not if you are a judge or a fiscal, a young practitioner or a jolly, elderly Apache brave.
I was having lunch at the Star Café Thursday noon, and just as I was fishing for my wallet to pay the bill, the waiter tells me that everything has been taken care of, and points to the best-loved face in the Apache tribe.

Uncle Peping Romero honors me with a big smile and a casual wave, and I go over to say thank you. “Look at you,” I rib him, “still kicking and strong as an ox. It’s hardly a secret,” I gush, “only a bad grass like you can live longer than the rest of us.” He laughs, and invites me to his next birthday, still months away. His wife, daughter, and son-in-law are with him, and not being a spring chicken myself, “I surely will,” I reply, “that is,” I kiddingly add, “if I will still be around by then.”

Next Sunday, I open the Midland Courier, and as is my habit, I first scan the obituary pages, I was shocked to see uncle Peping’s face, and his obituary declares that he died the next day, or just after we saw each other. While uncle Peps spots me a good 15 years, I still could hardly believe my eyes.
Was uncle Peps accidentally run over by a car, or he just died – just like that – laughing one moment – all is well with the world – and the next day, he breathes his last. Did he even get to say goodbye to those who mattered most in his life? His family? His Apache kin?

It is the 23rd of February, and practically all the Baguio and Benguet lawyers are at the Justice Hall to elect a new chapter president (the columnist below Pablito and me, Atty.Bandonill, is the newly-elected Integrated Bar of the Philippines president).
Before the polls close, the lawyers are being their raucous selves – laughing and chattering, swapping stories, ogling their pretty colleagues if not flirting with them. Dean Abelardo Estrada is in faded jeans, topped with a yellow shirt, looking younger than his actual years. I see no signs of ill health, but Abe has always had problems with his heart, romantic fellow that he is.

The next I hear of the dean. He is in the intensive care unit at Notre Dame Hospital, comatose. Four o’clock Thursday morning, Abe’s heart stops beating. I am enveloped by fear, and look over my shoulder, paranoid about seeing a specter carrying a scythe. I make the sign of the cross, and desperately ask God, Please Lord, not just yet. Not before I become a grandfather.”
I scurry out of the Justice Hall building, quickly hail a passing cab, and instruct the driver to ferry me over to the Pink Sisters chapel. I pay the fare without waiting for change, and go down on both knees as soon as I am inside God’s abode. I utter a prayer to steady my nerves, yet there is no mistaking the tremor in my heart.

But then I remembered. In my high school Religion and church history class, I recall hearing my teacher say that those who are obedient to their parents and constantly pray for them, will enjoy a long life. It is a promise, the teacher glowingly imparts, that Jesus himself made. Thenceforth I started praying for my parents, even up to now, with both gone to their final resting place.
I believe and rely on the promise of the Lord. Why not, I am one of only six first cousins who have lived up to their 70s– Labo, Julie, Begong, Pete, Manuel, and myself – all of our other cousins either died in their 50s or 60s, if not earlier.
If you truly want to live long lives, I urge you to be an obedient son or daughter, and pray, pray, pray, whenever and wherever, for your parents.