May 28, 2024

(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 Nov.3, 2013.)

By the time you read this, All Saints’ Day is over.
On the day following last Monday’s political exercise, not a few of the losing candidates died slow deaths, dying on the inside, wondering what went wrong with their campaigns, blaming all else except themselves. On the other hand, the dead came back to life last Nov. 1, with visiting relatives bringing food and drinks, talking to them like they were still here and had not gone on to the next world.

A since deceased law professor in a Manila university always made it a point to tell his students that he would accept only two valid excuses for being absent from his class. The first, he said was death, and the other was marriage, since marriage is worse than death.
At that time, the professor was probably right about his thesis, at least until a third party entered into the picture, namely politics. Any politician will tell you that there is more pain in politics than in marriage and death combined.

Sleepless nights, woeful days, ostracization, a suffering heart. A politician actually inflicts pain upon himself when in the course of his campaign, he starts foisting one lie after another in the form of false promises, if only to get the nod of the voters, and in turn, the voters add to his pain by likewise prevaricating, assuring the poor fellow he has their votes and support, and will surely win.

The result of any election conveys only bone message – that the winners lie better than the losers. Lies, lies, everywhere and pretty soon the liars will start believing their own lies.
“I am not a thief,” says one, and “may my stomach burst,” says another. Pinocchio and George Washington must be laughing in their graves. Wasn’t Ali Baba a leader of 40 thieves? How many surround the current two leaderships?

Benguet folks have this notion that only those bearing the same family names are related to one another.
For example, the Caranteses of Itogon, Benguet and Baguio are blood relatives but the Cariños of Baguio may not exactly be related to the Cariños of the lowlands. And perhaps because they are landed clans – once upon a time anyway – the Cariños, Caoilis, Fianzas, and Caranteses are said to be related either by blood or affinity. Include the Okubo, Afable, and Hamada families.
But counting every leaf and branch of the Carantes and Bajateng family tree, the Suellos, Aquiapaos, Pidazos, Baduas, Saundings, Palispis, Molintases, and Camdases and Aragoneses, Abaloses, Luboses, Bolticans, and Tanduyogs are all relatives, as are the Pilantos, Bendains, and Binayans of Loakan, and so too the Abances of Asin.

Suello Patriarch Wakat was a sibling of my Apo Kensha and his only son Ben, and daughters married an Aquiapao, a Suanding, Pidazo, and Badua. Walsy Camdas was married to my auntie Nenita, third daughter of Cuidno Carantes and Kensha Bajateng, the youngest sibling of my father, Pedro, and Walshy’s younger brother, Phillip, was married to my cousin, Almay Pilanta. All Balaoan old-timers are my relatives on my mom’s side of the family.

What sets apart the Cariños and the Caranteses was that the Cariños involved themselves in law and journalism, while us Caranteses, except for my hardworking uncle Busa, would rather eat, drink, and be merry, meaning sleeping until noon after gambling all night long, infecting along the way, other relatives.
True, my lolo Cuidno was all of the above, but I understand that his modest landholdings included the right side of Session Road, the Luneta Hill (yes, where the SM now stands) part of John Hay, Lucban Valley, and the Country Club site. He was also the first municipal presidente of Baguio, which is why one city street is named after him.

Oh yes, we are also related to the Diazes of La Trinidad, who, in yesteryears, were our country mice cousins while we were the boorish city rats. Well, our country mice cousins still own hectares of land in La Trinidad, while we have become just plain rodents. Rats!

Last Wednesday, our Suello relatives held a cañao in Atab, (Suello Village), a ritual that must be followed when you dig up the bones of ancestors either to transfer or clean their remains, and I guess it will probably be sometime before I dig up my dad’s grave, since coffee and biscuits are not accepted fare when you do something like that.
Unlike our Suello kin, I can’t afford to butcher a cow and half a dozen black pigs for that purpose, not unless Mr. Black grants me a loan.

But when my father comes to me in a dream, then we will do what needs to be done. Family tradition is always important.
Anyway, our prayers for all the dearly departed, relatives or otherwise, and to all the unlucky candidates in the just concluded barangay polls, console yourself with one thought – there is no coming back from the dead, but in politics you can try and try until you “success,” an old Sagada saying, popularized by popular and lamented politician Alfredo Lamen.
Oh yes, success is relative. “The more success, the more relatives,” a quotation from the late Bembo Afable – lawyer, columnist, and windmill fighter.