May 2, 2002

The Godfather

I have never liked this particular godfather. This ninong was Dad's kuya because he somehow got the upperhand and married my Tita. But then again, he got the upperhand most of the time and was once our district's vicemayor in Rizal.

I was a kid then, one of those brooding incognitos. His cockiness never got to me. Even then, I was not awed. Nor proud. He always seemed like a no-good con man.

But as of late, his party threw him out. Only, he's so caught in the thrall of the mayor that he never realized that he was made to run for Board Member exactly so that they could get rid of him and he would still remain indebted.

Years later, he would remain that condescending drifter. I never considered him family because he always made me feel like he was too good for the rest of us.

Dad grew identified with the opposing party as years passed. The clan was in tumult. We smelled it miles away from here in Makati and it was no feat to say that something ugly was cooking. And the matriarch lay in the sick bed.

A Christmas before, I was in Batangas, and I looked upon Lola's face. She was growing senile. Maybe the years has given her the grace not to recognize us, not to know where the rest of her brood will find themselves after she was gone. We grew nameless for her. That was her comfort.

But we remained Aguinaldos, Vidanezes, Torreses, Yanezas. And the frutrated one, my godfather, would not fall with grace. No noblesse oblige, no high-nosed tranquility. Only a brutal belief in himself, in his power.

Where he gets off believing that, I do not know. The probably was fed that by his party. And we had our serving right after grandmother died in February.

Now, Dad's partymates lost in the numbers and I was sad for him because (although we differed politically) I hated Ninong and his mayor more. Ninong's mayor won. It was not election time and the kindly old mayor-that-was-not visited dad in lola's funeral. He came with a small party of friends, nothing fancy or pretentious as that was his style (and probably his undoing too, as voters have gone to expect grandiose shows from leaders-to-be).

It was pleasant because dad admired the man and the old man considered him a friend even after the campaign period. It grew less pleasant because the townsfolk flocked the funeral after the news filtered to the periphery.

Ex-vice-mayor came crashing down on the funeral, arms akimbo, pointing fingers, glaring eyes, raised voice, and accused the opposition of making a mockery of the funeral. Truth be told, it was his show of rage that did a disgrace to the services. We could welcome the visitors. We could even tolerate the usiseros though we knew they did not care for my grandmother. But he was family and here he was, feigning respect and love for lola. Pretending to be angry on her behalf.

He was angry on behalf of his mayor. His party. Himself. Being politically crude, he may have thought the boss would favor him again after his damned show.

Dad cleared the scene and showed the mayor off trusting he would understand. He discerned possible targets and asked them to leave to, just so the scene would stop. With much more difficulty, he persuaded the onlookers to leave, so that there won't be a crowd to play to.

But it didn't stop. The women tried their best. My aunts tried to calm him. Even his wife came to stop him. Nothing availed. When his bunso tried to escort him out of centerstage, he dashed her to the ground.

Aftermath. His wife left him and stayed where lola stayed. The youngest of his brood accompanied her. They are there, in the compound, under Dad's vigilance. Dad stays there in Rizal because he works closer to the province.

He came home during labor day and told us the news. My godfather was suing three people. One was Dad's partymate. The second was my tito in my mother's side who was also a firm partymate.

The last was my elder sister.

Now, my account was an unabashed one-sided picture that I put together from the stories. I was not there in that day of the funeral. I came in from work at the evening. I refused to write about it then because I couldn't erase some expletives and retain self-respect. I also couldn't edit whole scenes of mangling, godson's knee-to-the-privates, and some wholesome eye-poking in my "recommendation for future action."

As I said, this was a one-sided picture. The other side of the tableau is lodged somewhere in that mad brain harboring residual delusions of grandeur, maybe even harboring thoughts of rising again.

Well, we are not his ticket, and he sure is lucky it was my calm and composed sister who faced him then. Let him rot in hell for claiming that she cursed him. And if through some miracle he gets through Dad's wrath, he'll find his accused not wanting in guts and resources.

He's lucky it was Ate. Otherwise, he would be suing somebody for assault. That is, if he could make a move with dislocated sockets, broken shins, busted nose, and regular shots of morphine.

Well I can dream can't I?