April 17, 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 Aug. 27, 2017.)

Atty. Moises “Mang Mos” Cating celebrated his 85th birthday the other Sunday, a rare blessing for an Ibaloy, most of whom die before their time, given their enormous appetite even while living on a mountain resort said to be 5,000 feet above sea level.

A lethal combination – height and good food, usually leading to a stroke or a heart attack, as the natives refer to cardiac arrest.

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For the rest of the world, having one’s cake and eating it too is near impossible, but for Mang Mos, that is par for the course, the lucky dog (Please, I say this with awe and admiration).

A successful lawyer, businessman, and civic leader, Mang Mos is married to the beautiful and ever young Zeny Cating (The story is that the fountain of youth is located somewhere in Ilocos Sur, Zeny’s home province, where she and a few other virgins bathed at the age of 16).

Together, Mang Mos and Zeny raised their kids to become upright citizens, all of whom are doing very well in their chosen careers.

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I failed to attend Mang Mos’ cowboy birthday party at the Baguio Country Club, since my swollen left foot would not fit in my Texas boots, and it would not look good for someone 10 years younger than Mang Mos to be limping towards a table laden with lechon and other unhealthy food.

Way back in the old west, a cowboy struggling on one foot (Anthony Quinn, for example) got fed up with the jeering, he decided to shoot it out in the saloon after having one drink too many, and got himself killed.

In this country, cripples or people with disabilities are not looked upon with fondness by the normal in body but sick of mind.

There I go again, rumbling one more true-to-life nonsense.

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Anyway, live to a hundred Mang Mos, a fitting reward for an altar boy who was once a protégé of the much loved and lamented “Ibaloy” William Brasseur, working as an assistant in the Registrar’s Office of Saint Louis College, while attending law school at the same time.

There were only six of them in law school then. All were part of the law basketball team, and about the only time that Mang Mos was fielded was when one of the players had fouled out.

Except for former fiscal Danny Zarate, the other members of that team have passed on to the next world – former Batasan Secretary Tony de Guzman, former RTC Judges Domingo “Roy” Masadao, and Fernando Cabato and ball captain Flotz Aquino.

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Oh, for the record, Mang Mos is from Atok, Benguet where the Cariños and Caranteses likewise were before migrating to Baguio.

Like me, Mang Mos tried his hand in politics once, only to fall short by the slimmest of margins, losing out to Bantas Suanding for the vice governorship.

And that was it for Mang Mos, who is now also retired from law practice.

While not exactly in the pink of health, bad knees and all, his mind still works fine, and is currently in the midst of a battle to make sure that Baguio, once a green city, will not become the Sahara of the North.

Fought not with water pistols, but with heart and dedication.

Belated birthday greetings manong, and many more to come!

Today marks the 30th death anniversary of the late Atty. Luisito “Bembo” Afable, whose column “Rhyme and Reason” occupied this space for many years until his passing in 1987.

Cheers, kaanakan.