Book 15: Life and Death


CHAPTER 1.  Okay, Who Took My Balisong??

Part 1.  Hark The Angel In Batangas

            Centuries and centuries ago, as time is counted by the very young, one fine Christmas eve in Batangas, Mr. Makalintal received a Christmas present from his wife Mrs. Makalintal.  That was a long time ago, before Christmas became Xmas, before Christ found himself replaced by X, the Unknown Quantity.  Mr. Makalintal was the recipient, not of a Hallmark Xmas Card, but of a beautiful bouncing baby boy that looked like a little angel.

            “What a beautiful little angel,” said old Mac, “Let us call him Angel.”

            Well now, “Angel” is a very general term, and it covers many kinds of angels, Mrs. Mac observed.  There is the valiant band of Angels who took the side of God, Avenging Angels like Michael the Archangel (who as San Miguel later found himself selling beer and gin), Joe and Anita Meily, Father Bob and Maria K. K.

            Then there are the Fallen Angels who challenged the Martial Law of the Almighty, such as Lucifer, Hitler, Mussolini, and many of America’s friends: Batista, Trujillo, Papa Doc Duvalier, Pinochet, Ngo Diem, Van Thieu, Cao Ky, Obote and Botha.  There are many many more enumerated in the list of Cardinal Sinners compiled by Cardinal Sin himself, but these are to be published only at the risk of being detained on a PDA.

            Then there are the Neutral Angels who refused to take  part in the Heavenly Battle: the fence-sitters, the uninvolved, the unaligned, who never earned the rewards of Heaven nor the penalties of Hell.  So they had to wander in limbo forever as witches, leprechauns, goblins, fairies and fairy godmothers … neither here nor there, like couturiers and hairdressers, and those little people only Leo Parungao and Rip Van Winkle would associate with.

            Lastly there are the Little Angels who were too young to fight, and apparently never grew up either: the Seraphim and the Cherubim.  Ah, I bet you never knew that, I bet you never even noticed those pesky little sprites messing with the robes and gowns of our Lord and our Lady, trying not to be kicked or stepped on.  You know, the little ones with itsy bitsy wings who would rather show their assholes than their tootsie wootsies.

            The Seraphs are of the highest order of angels, they’re the ones with dimples and cute curls.  The Cherubs are angels of the second order, just below the seraphs, sweet and innocent, as bald as a new born babe.  “Let’s call him Serapio,” suggested Mr. Makalintal, but Mrs. Mac answered, “No, this baby of ours is kalbo, and will be probably so for the rest of his life.  And like a cherub that he is, he may have to play second fiddle as Speaker/Vice President to a Seraphic Head of State someday.  So let’s just call him Querube.”

            And so they did.  Thus was baptized Querube Makalintal, my favorite Batangueño, the great jurist who never ruffled any feathers, who never ran away with anyone’s wife nor declared Martial Law, but who became as Speaker the de facto Vice President to Marcos..  He is my favorite Batangueño, not only because he wears a hat indoors like I do, but also because he is not like the rest of the Batangueños, who though likeable, are as a rule disruptive of my life, as well as the life of the nation.

Part 2.  Batangueños Are Too Much

            Let’s face it, the Batangueños are simply out of step with the rest of the nation.  When most Filipinos already surrendered to the Americans and ready to start life as Little  Brown Brothers, a Batangueño General Tomas Mascardo insisted on carrying on the fight.  Apolinario Mabini would continue to fight the lost cause and die defiant to the end without taking the oath of allegiance to Mother America.

            Jose P. Laurel, Claro M. Recto, and Jose W. Diokno would fight against parity rights and the American Bases, and wave the banner of Nationalism, even when it became increasingly clear that the rest of the Flips just want to give this country lock, stock and barrel to Gung-ho American Militarists, curmudgeonly American Multinationals and to the heavy handed IMF.

            Let’s face it.  The Batanguenos are way off.  When they are bright, they are much too bright.  Recto graduated Maxima Cum Laude, not just Summa Cum Laude which means the Highest, but Maxima which means the Highest Possible, the Ultimate.  One does not get this honor unless he gets a grade of 100% in ALL subjects in all the 4 years of the course; and Recto did this THRICE, twice in Ateneo and once in the UST.

            This fellow Jose W (for Wright, not Wrong) Diokno, would be TWICE a Topnotcher.  He took the bar exams without a law degree, and topped the bar.  Then he took the C.P.A. board exams the following year, and topped that too, the most difficult of all exams to pass.  One of the reasons Filipinos in the CIA thoroughly resent Recto and Diokno is because these two Nationalists have a lot more brains than they are entitled to.  When the Lord was distributing brains, these two were probably filching more brains than they ought to have, when the Lord was not looking, leaving practically nothing for Filipino CIA agents and their American masters.

            Let’s face it, Batangueños just overdo it.  When they get into politics, they flood it, and get more than their share of important positions.  Imagine a Senate with a couple of Laurels, a Diokno, a Recto, a Kalaw-Katigbak and her sister-in-law; a Cabinet with Teodoro Kalaw, Maximo Kalaw, Antonio de las Alas, Sixto Roxas, Arturo Tangco, Manuel Collantes, and Kalaw-Katigbak’s son-in-law.  Too much.

            How do they do it?  What makes the Batangueños tick??

            “Caviteños!” answered a Caviteño who refuses to be identified. “The Batangueño is strictly a product of the Caviteño.  The Batangueño is what the Caviteño makes him.”  And he explains thus: