June 1, 2023

Apache Brave Manuel “Manny” Carantes was the eldest son of Busa Carantes, who owned an array of apartment houses that were fully rented out, and was at the same time the manager of the Benguet Development Corporation, which operated a gasoline station along busy Harrison Road.
Unlike today where gasoline stations are sprawling like mushrooms, the three big oil companies – ESSO, Shell, Caltex – only had one gas station in each city or town.
No Total, No Phoenix, no other.

And so it was that Manny, at age 18, had a station wagon all his own, courtesy of his old man, on his promise to drive him to office every morning and fetch him at 5 p.m.
But as is always the case, children never make good their promises to their parents, more so in Manny’s case because he was a lover of night life, coming home at wee hours in the morning and sleeping all day long.

But Manny wasn’t an only son. He had three elder sisters – Josephine, Lilian, and Catherine.
Josephine was a school teacher who preferred staying home on weekends; Lilian was the resident dentist at the San Lazaro hospital in Manila; and Catherine was the modern type Igorota – fashionably dressed, pretty of face, a lighted Chesterfield cigarette between her fingers while guzzling beer with cousins who idolized her.

Quite surprisingly, Manny had no interest in gambling, but had an eye for beauty fascinated by southern belles who were loose of tongue and whatever else.
But it was his younger brother, who inherited our lolo Quidno’s passion for games of chance – from cards to cockfighting, and spending most nights at the casino.
There was also Elaine, a youngest sister who died at age 16, whose wake and funeral was the first one I attended for a deceased close kin.
My next would come five years later in 1965, when my apo Kensha passed away just when she was about to reach a hundred years of life.
Her wake took all of 26 days – two or three pigs butchered every day, and a cow twice a week, to feed a large throng of relatives and friends come to pay their respects to the widow of Quidno Carantes, a flamboyant man about town who wore white snazzy suits that went with his imported cowboy boots from Texas and Stetson hats of different styles.
He often travelled to Manila to attend horseracing events at the San Lazaro racetracks, losing more than he won.
His vast landholdings included the southern part of Session Road, extending all the way to where the Cathedral and SM are now, a large part of Country Club, and his first residence is where the Rizal Park is today.
With everything gone to charity and gambling, and hoodwinked by friends who often got him drunk, he retreated to his last refuge – in New Lucban.

But back to Apache Brave Manny. His Apache chums were the two Berts – Floresca and Nievera – yep, the motormouth’s dad.
One was glib of tongue, the other had a great singing voice. Making good use of their talents, they won their way to the hearts of the lonely and beautiful.
Both are likewise gone, and of the 50’s and 60’s Apache tribe, only two remain as far as I know – Mang Condring Bueno and Sunny San Pedro.
Apache Manny was 84 when he breathed his last from cardiac arrest.
I have often wondered why Ibaloys are born rich, live well, and die poor. God Bless, kapitan.

We are in the first of the so called Brrrr months, which marks an unofficial start of the Christmas season.
Malls and other business establishments will soon be decorated with red and green. And there will be Yuletide carols over the air and TV stations, are set with their countdowns before Christmas, and we shall again be happy to hear the voice of exemplary Filipino and family man Jose Mari Chan.
It may not really be a Merry Christmas, given the pandemic, but even in times of distress, us Pinoys will always find ways to be happy.
We wish one and all an early Happy Holidays.
For now, stay healthy, be hopeful, stay alive.

On a last note, may we express our disappointment that those we trusted to bring us to the promised land turn out to be nothing but common thieves.
By the way Mr. or Atty. Roque, just because his predecessor was likewise a common thief does not make your boss a lesser one.