THROUGH feedbacks, former Mayor Greg Abalos of La Trinidad, Benguet and Connie Angeles of SM Foundation almost told me the love story of widow Datsu Infante-Molintas pony boy Mike Molintas should have not been broken into two parts but printed as a whole in one issue.
“Ituloy mon a,” Abalos said while Angeles wrote, “Ay manong, nambitin pa.”
“I remember this story, Ninong,” wrote Annabelle Codiase-Bangsoy who once wrote the the romance for a national daily. “Aw8 your SUSUNOD NA KABANATA,” scribbled Sunstar baguio publisher Reinaldo Bautista, my teacher at the University of Baguio Science high which he founded. “I can relate to your story, classmate! Waiting for the next chapter.” – Rhoda Joseph. “Bitin”. – Mercy Bastian. “Waiting for the next chapter, episode” – Diane Miles, Gloria Taqued. “Where is the itutuloy?” – Dr. Lilian Velasco. “Waiting for the next episode,” – Marilou Serrano.
Whatever, the couple’s story has been told and retold on this space each time Valentine’s Day approached these recent years, saving me from writing a new column piece to fill up my weekly space. Sharing with romantics a true love story focused on a widow’s might and resolve to hold her family together amidst seemingly unending vicissitudes has been a privilege.
I had known Mike Molintas since we were young pony boys renting out horses at the Wright Park bridle path. He would enliven our gin-laced evening bonfires belting out Hank Williams and fix our saddles, reins and stirrups in his leather shop that now serves as home to his widow and sons.
Aside from trying to teach me the ropes in breaking -in wild horses, Mike gave me his newly washed and pressed jacket the morning after he saw me walking home soaked in the rain. He watched as I led several riding enthusiasts around the Wright Park oval, and then asked if I could buy, with my earnings, his jacket for P5. He claimed he badly needed money. It was an alibi, I realized later, for his wish to give me something to protect me from the next rains.
That gesture seared into my brain like branding iron, to the point I murmured during his wake my resolve to help his youngest son, Nino Joshua, recover from his life-threatening heart ailment.
During Nino’s pre-surgery check-ups, we would deposit him and his mother to the home of Datsu’s aunt, nationalist Maria Feria, in an exclusive subdivision in Makati. After Nino’s recovery Feria bought the kid’s family a farm-lot in Tubao, La Union which Datsu developed into a piggery and fruit orchard.
Nino’s aunt, Emilia, gifted him with a cow which the boy raised until it multiplied into a dozen, including a twin. Reason enough for one of the boy’s elder brothers to rib him, suggesting it was time to slaughter one head.
“Ayoko,” Nino replied. When his brother insisted, Nino told him, “para rin sa mga anak mo kaya ko pinararami ‘yang mga baka.”
The boy, however, knew when it was time to sell one of his cows. That was when his mother told him they were traveling to Baguio as she needed a medical check-up for her back pain.
They were waiting for the bus when Nino gripped his mother’s hand, transferring a wad, saying it was for her medical needs.
“Hindi ko malaman ang gagawin ko; napaiyak na lang ako at niyakap ko ang aking anak,” Datsu recalled.
At Nino’s birthday three years back, Datsu told me her siblings were asking her to bring her orphaned family to Bacolod and there administer what remained of the clan’s real property. It was a gesture of reconciliation, an acceptance over her having followed her heart and risked being disinherited. (e-mail: email@example.com for comments.)