October 3, 2023

(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 Aug. 24, 2008)

In earlier days when most of mankind was naïve and innocent but pure of heart, signs meant exactly what they said.
But as time went on and people became more aware if not smarter because of advanced technology that constricted the world to a nearly small community, where countries were constantly in touch with one another bringing practically all earthlings closer communications, the Filipino was soon transformed into a smart aleck individual whose once meek voice, not surprisingly, turned into a loudmouth.

For example, a sign that reads: “Slow Men Working” meant exactly that, but pretty soon became a butt of jokes among motorists, referring to the meaning of “slow” as the bodywork of the poor street diggers.
Government did not find the comments humorous, and promptly changed the sign to “Slow Down, Men at Work.”
Still another sign that said “Slippery When Wet” sent the DOMS (dirty old men) into fits of laughter and lust, and once again government reacted by changing the sign to read “Road Slippery When Wet.”

And sometime too, nature itself intervenes.
A casino that prided itself in being open 24 hours a day by posting a neon sign that proclaimed “We Never Close,” suffered some embarrassment when the “c” went on the blink so that the sign then read “We Never Lose.”
Closer to home – and this is one for the books – when the Capitol building was constructed, the façade had an imposing sign that said “Benguet Capitol”, in big, bold letters.
One day, a really strong typhoon came along and broke off some of the letters, and it then read “Ben Itol.”
Unless you are an old-timer like me with Ibaloy blood running thru your veins, the joke is probably lost upon you.
You see, the Benguet governor at that time is the much-lamented Ben Palispis, who was quite known in his life as a ladies’ man, and “itol” is the Ibaloy word for horny.
Believe it or not, I heard the story from the Gob himself during one of his many jolly moods, and while expressing feigned anger, I suspect he enjoyed the joke immensely, albeit at his expense.

Even presidents are not spared by the dirty and naughty-minded.
President Elpidio Quirino was said to relieve himself on a golden chamber pot (arinola) each time he woke up in the middle of the night by simply raising his apron pajamas, but research would later prove that the story was nothing but a propaganda concoction of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) because they wanted Quirino out of office for his refusal to tow the American line, and his presidential opponent, Ramon Magsaysay, was a much easier guy to talk to.
To this day, Magsaysay remains the most beloved Philippine president, but Quirino will always be remembered as the president when the P120 a month minimum wage could support a family, with enough left to send the children through the grades and even high school.

Former President Diosdao Macapagal was dubbed as the poor boy from Lubao, Pampanga but one cannot say the same thing of his daughter, President Gloria Arroyo.
After all, she is married to a rich Tuason-Arroyo.
Poor Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. and Joseph “Erap” Estrada, notorious ladies’ men, and it was women that brought them down, one even outshone the two in what they were supposed to be good at.
Marcos and Erap got their fingers caught in the cookie jar – chopped off actually – but not so with their daintily manicured fingernails.
Please, I am not talking about Imelda Marcos.

After two weeks of showcasing the greatest sports spectacle ever, China brings down the curtains on the Beijing Olympics, firmly establishing itself as the world’s latest sports power.
But the pride of the Olympic village was swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps, although the credit to the lad’s record breaking eight medals belongs largely to his mom and two elder sisters, particularly. For Michael’s exemplary behavior and humility; also, to swimmer Jason Lesak for anchoring the two U.S. gold medal relays, and of course to the Chinese for their feng shui of eight that extended to Phelp’s good fortune.

Let’s not forget too the ever-gracious gymnast Shawn Johnson, embracing the winners without showing any trace of bitterness or disappointment, even after losing out on the gold by the slimmest of margins, twice by a fraction of .05.
And when she finally won a gold on her final event, she was magnanimous in victory – ever gracious, still smiling, ever so humble.
So young, and yet so mature.

Compare that to her American counterpart in the women’s pole event, who said it was time to kick Russian butt, and got her ass kicked by her closest rival instead, who understands English.
It was the nasty remarks of her American opponent that inspired the Russian medalist to do everything to win the gold and win the gold she did.
In the future, all American athletes should take lessons in sportsmanship and humility from Shawn and Dana Torres, the latter age 41, still competing with girls young enough to be her daughters.
Winning two silvers in two heartbreaking finishes that could have won her the gold, Torres, when later asked if this was her last Olympic stint, answered that she will only be 45 years old when the London Olympics comes around 4 years from now.
And last but not the least, the Chinese are unbeatable when putting up a show, complete with digital magic and voice substitutions.
Our hats off to the People’s Republic of China.