February 24, 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 Oct. 16, 2011.)

All women think they are beautiful, including the plain-looking ones, not if they can help it.
Many years back, being a manicurista was a somewhat demeaning occupation, only a bit higher than the lowly kaminero with the abaca raincoat.
Today, with the population multiplied several times over, and nearly every girl star-gazing towards showbiz fame, and more so the men who go for pedicures and manicures to boost their egos, working in a beauty parlor means good enough wages, maybe even better than a regular City Hall employee with meager pay, or a long-suffering school teacher forgotten by her own government.


Given the right haircut and facial, a woman can be made to look pretty, and with the latest fashion clothes and lots of jewelry dripping from ear to neck, appear attractive enough to turn the heads of the men.
For the moneyed, a surgical visit to the Dr. Vicky Belo clinic can do wonders for the ugly of face and fat of body, although others get rid of the unwanted flab by working out and taking slimming pills that hasten weight loss.


Alas, nothing much Dr. Belo can do for her own self, but all that income she earns can make any girl desirable and seductive, even by Hayden Kho’s standards.
Quite frankly, there is no such thing as natural beauty anymore. Even the young refuse to shy away from cosmetics and heavy makeup, with layers of pancake fencing crimson lips that are as thick as the makeup itself.
Matrons, bulging bodies and all, try to stave off age by coloring their hair and wearing fake eyelashes by charcoal black shadow, but liver spots and wrinkled hands betray their antiquity.


Strangely, some men try to look macho by sporting long hair and donning body-hugging black outfits, coupled with heavy gold necklaces that probably cost a fortune, giving the wearer a foolish appearance. Others even wear anklets, and their choice of colors border on the feminine. No, no, they are not gay, just shamelessly MBSS – metro sexual, says “time.”
The latest fad, FYI, is that bald is sexy – I mean the pate, not the pocket.


But the come-on trap, yesterday and today, is still the automobile, but not just a car, perhaps a Ferrari or Lamborghini, mind you cars are now unisex, meaning flashy low-slung racers are for all genders and not just for Aga Khang. Old jalopies like Volkswagens, box Lancers, and owner-type jeeps may be lifting for the male spirit, but will not merit a second glance from the ladies, oh, the “Chedeng” will, more so if it is a top-down shiny silver coupe or one with a sliding sky roof.


Here again, my “friendly” anti-Chinese sentiments surfaces. I am appalled that in this country of brown natives, it is the Chinese who drive the latest model cars, escort the prettiest girls, and dine in classy and expensive restaurants. But then the Chinese – or their parents – worked hard to get where they are. No way you can own a fleet of expensive wheels by just dreaming about it. Work, work, work, is the key – or following the Pinoy way, steal, rob, peddle contraband, but be careful not to get caught. Ah, but how many thieves and other crooks have gotten away with their loot.


The thing about the Chinese is that, rather amazingly, they are not into crime – except maybe some Mainland groupies who are into drugs. The greater majority, however, do not mulct, kidnap, carjack, dip fingers into government coffers, and were if not for Atong Ang and a few of his brethren, are not into gambling activities, unless otherwise patronizing the casinos and cockfight derbies.


But we digress. In my younger days, when I first began to notice beauty, I could count with my fingers the beautiful girls in Baguio. Today, using my nearly sparse hair, the counting could last for days. Really, today’s girls are prettier, taller, and bolder, with each one trying to outdo the other with frequent visits to the parlor and purchasing the newest fashion designs. Funny, but the girls I had crushes on before? I could kill myself just thinking why I would get drunk at the Sky View or at La Casita simply because my affection went unreciprocated.
How disgustingly aged they have become. Yet it could be that in my twilight years, I have become picky or gone blind, or just getting even and mean.


What I am saying is that there is nothing Dr. Vicki Belo can do about the tragedy that seems to have befallen all the girls who broke my heart many times over in the past.
But again, like I said, wealth goes a long way in helping a woman retain her beauty.
I remember one occasion, when I was kidding Pura Molintas, wife of then Benguet governor Rocky, and Cara, better half of Cong Ronnie Cosalan, that if I were single, I wouldn’t know whom to court, since both are equally beautiful.
Quicker than a mongoose, Rene Cortes, apparently eavesdropping on our little conversation, sidles up to me and whispers in my ear, “Brenda Palispis is the prettiest of all.” But of course, Brenda, heiress to the fabled Palispis fortune. Stay put where you are, Brenda. In heaven, riches and looks do not count.