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 Aug. 16, 2009.)

I have always been attracted to older women, particularly motherly types.
I guess it was because my mom smothered her eldest son with love and affection, and maybe because my wife loves no less than I love her.
Strangely, others I fall in love with when they pass on to the great beyond.

I have never thought of Cory Aquino as a great leader, but in death we all happily discover that she loved her people as much as they love her, and that she was a joy to her husband Ninoy, a wonderful mother to her kids, and an understanding mother-in-law, especially to Kris’s husband, James Yap.
James is not of the same gentry as Cory’s other sons-in-law, but Cory made it a point to watch James play for the Purefoods Hotdogs, congratulated him when his team emerged victorious, consoled him in defeat, and always encouraged James to do his very best when playing for the flag and country.
In other words, she went out of her way not just to please favorite daughter Kris, but also to make James a welcome member of the family.
She reminded me a lot of my own mother-in-law, whose daughter married a bum, but always flung open her doors when he and his family came to visit, and was elated to see that he had transformed himself into a civilized lawyer (a contradiction in terms actually) who gave her two good-looking sons she doted upon.

I was overwhelmed with grief when it was announced on television that Eunice Kennedy Shriver had died.
Eunice was the mother of Maria Shriver, writer, champion of causes, wife to California Governor Arnold Z.
In her own right, Eunice championed the plight of cripples, founding them their own special Olympics.
This way they won’t feel useless or even helpless, only different, proudly different.
Eunice is survived by husband Sargeant Shriver, the first United States Peace Corps director, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

And there is of course, Hillary Clinton, of whom I have mixed feelings, since she can at times come on too strong for comfort.
In her African tour, she was annoyed by a question that asked what was her husband’s take on a particular issue. Her angry reply was that it is she who is the Secretary of State, and not Bill.
All she could have said was her husband did a great job working for the release of two U.S. journalists, and that she was proud of him.
What is it about most successful women that threatens or offends them when compared to their husbands?
Even my Minda, normally levelheaded, suffers from that syndrome on occasion.
When kidded that it was probably my piano “talents” that attracted her to me, she bluntly retorted that she could play the piano better.
Now I know how the serpent managed to tempt Eve. All the snake had to do was to convince her that the rib is more superior than the prototype.
Even today, the women still believe that myth.

One by one, all my childhood friends are moving into the next world – neighbors and cousins that I grew up with, playing little boys games, swimming in the Lucban river all of our young summers or after a long storm had passed, and in later years turning to girls and other more exciting vices of life.
Even today at my age, I at least hope that maybe I still have a few more good years left, perhaps a decade more, or with fingers crossed, twice that figure.
But looking at the list of friends and cousins gone ahead of me, it seems only my classmates at the old Baguio Central are left standing.

This year alone, I lost two first cousins of whom I have fond memories, and the year before that a first cousin who was like a brother to me, enjoying childhood adventures –together like hiking to Asin, while all our classmates were in school wishing they were with us.
And two years back, within a short span of four months, I lost a sister and a brother, remembering and missing them every time I go to the ancestral home for weekend lunch or dinner.
My sister Marichu always served me the best parts of the meal that my brother Pepito used to cook.

Monday morning, another cousin breathed his last, following two heart attacks that came one after the other.
My cousin Chubby introduced me to “MJ” (I actually liked it, but the last stick I had was in the eighties), taught me mahjong, sabong, pusoy, and red dog, a card game that no one plays anymore.
Chubby’s father was the manager of the old Baguio Hotel, a playground for us cousins for many years.
Here we gambled, ate, and on lucky days, roomed some girls, everything free of charge, including Chinese meals at 10 in the morning, and at 4 in the afternoon.
In some late evenings, we would pick the lock of the freezer of the hotel restaurant and dine on prawns, beef burgers, and fried chicken.

Chubby was a born comedian, and regaled everybody with hilarious tales about life and his own personal escapades.
His Chinese name was Kennong, but he was baptized Albert Ng, and like me, born in Kapangan, Benguet his mother’s hometown.
Name any gambling game and Chubby has played it. But why the name Chubby? It seemed the original Chubby, who was from Aurora Hill, suffered from a foot disability, so thenceforth, every disabled gangmate was called Chubby as in Chubby Checker, the King of Twist – the “cripples” tango.
Please, I say this with fondness and pain in my heart.
At an early age, Chubby was stricken with polio, which is probably why he was his father’s favorite son.
Chubby was a year or two younger than me, and I will miss his jokes and funny stories.
Clan gatherings will never be the same without him.