July 21, 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 Sept. 2, 2007)

Except for the time that my parents stayed in my mother’s hometown in Balaoan, La Union where they fled to when the Japanese Imperial forces invaded the country, and during my student days in Diliman, I have lived all my life in Baguio, and nothing compares to the good old days of the fifties and sixties.
I remember shining shoes and hawking newspapers in the summer of the fifties, and making as much as 50 centavos a day from either occupation, enough for pancit miki at the old Bontoc Restaurant, or to take in a war movie at the Plaza Cinema.
Other fun consisted of reading comic books for hire – two for five centavos – watching basketball and volleyball games at the old Burnham grounds while selling ice drop, or swimming in the Lucban River and taking on the bigger Trancoville boys over territorial water rights.

With the coming of the 60s came too such other dimensions in life, like being more careful of one’s appearance and taking notice of the girls.
The big shots of today were nowhere to be found then; Peter Rey’s mom was still talking piano lessons and probably never heard of Baguio Central School boy Reinaldo Bautista, who was not as well known as Fer or Des.
The only Tabandas that I knew were the gasoline Tabandas, who would later transform into Volkswagen tabandas.
I had plans of courting anew Tonyboy Tabora’s aunt, Mila or Ging, but Lando Duculan kept getting in the way, making me back off like a scared rabbit.
I could never take competition when pursuing a girl, also the reason why I dislike Ateneo and La Salle students because the Diliman beauties were paying more attention to them and looking beyond us home grown boys like me and my Rho Sig brods since we were allegedly not of fine gentry and had uncouth manners.

Anyway, the great Bontoc invasion had not yet started, and the early Mountain Province settlers were mostly confined to Brookside.
No Domogans and Weygans then, only Lardizabals and de Guzmans lording it over the Ibaloy country, who were only too happy to step aside and let the Ilocanos rule.
Sensing the timidity of the Ibaloys, the Bontoks decided to fight, the war for their Igorot brethren against the lowland mafia, and they in fact succeeded, only there was no sharing of spoils after, a debauchery that was meekly accepted by the eat-all-you-can Ibaloys, enough to keep them happy, and soon were swallowed whole by the shrewd and cunning natives of the north.

The takeover is almost complete, and there will be no more reason to replace the “Umalis Ka” signs with “Kala Djo” welcome mats.
Still, the fight may not really be over, so Happy Birthday, Baguio.