IF THERE was a man I adore most aside from my husband, it was this self-subsisting man who is an embodiment of the famous commercial phrase “great things start from small beginnings.”
This man had caught my attention way back in the early 80s...his strong convictions...his sincerity towards the masses...his time tested principles...his family imbued values...his commitment to his vocation...his zeal and ardor in raising excellent children....I have never known such a selfless man who rose to fame and glory in his career and yet remained the man I used to know and will always know.
I saw him on the streets fighting for people’s rights for the lowly and the oppressed. I witnessed his strength of character as he fought for farmers and laborers. I was fascinated with his idealism and on what he truly believed. He was not the glitz and glamour boy-next-door guy but a complete package of wit, humor and wisdom.
My husband and I shared such fascination for this man that his story was part of the inspiring stories we imparted to our growing children back then. I’d like to share his story once more.
There was this man. He was the second child among four children. His father worked as a laborer and later served as a factory worker in a soda company while his mother was a telephone operator. As a brother, he cared so much for his siblings. He taught his sister how to write her name and developed the love for reading at a tender age. He set good examples of the importance of studying. His sister would often see him studying until dawn in their kitchen. She remembered that he would often listen to tape recorded lessons or read his books. While other teenagers his age are busy onto something, he would require his siblings to write five words per day and use the words in a sentence. He would always remind them that this technique will improve their vocabulary as he dearly imparted this message to his sister, “You should learn English well so that you will not be fooled. Do not be shy nor be intimidated by rich people.”
He spent his elementary years at City Central School and graduated with academic accolades in 1968. He obtained a scholarship for his secondary education at Xavier University Ateneo de Cagayan. He was an active writer for their school paper and among the top five graduates of XUHS Batch 1972. His mother could still vividly recall that the barong he wore on his graduation day almost ripped in pieces because of the numerous medals which were too heavy to bear. He was awarded a state scholarship in college along with Atty. Dominador Awiten, now one of the prominent figures in the Land Transportation Office. The said scholarship gave them entry to the University of Santo Tomas.
After a few months, he decided to return to his hometown and continue his college education at Xavier University. His flame for writing continued and he served as the editor of the “Crusaders.” His friends have a colorful account of his candidness in expressing his socio-political views. He was also an active figure in the Central Student Government. As his fellow state scholar, Atty. Awiten simply puts it “this man is always with true grit.”
Armed with nothing but his academic brilliance, steadfast character and drive for excellence, this man entered the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1978. He was able to prove to his fellow law students that Mindanaoans are at par with their counterparts from the north. He continued his flair for writing. He stayed in a dormitory within the university. He noticed that certain students were being given undue favor and allowed to occupy rooms individually even as the rooms were meant for two students. He spoke and wrote against this and as a result, while he was alone, he was ganged up by offended students who lost their privilege because of his whistle blowing. But the man was glad. He was able to end such practice.
The man, who is a harbinger of truth, resiliency and determination made it to the UP College of Law Batch of 1982. However, due to an incident with one of his professors, he was constrained to take the bar for something he dearly stood. The man explicitly stated his point in the campus paper and he allowed the publication of a cartoon editorial depicting one of his professors who had a reputation for reading novels in front of the class instead of teaching.
The professor was offended and this led to the professor filing a criminal case against him before a judicial court and a petition to prevent him from taking the Bar examinations. He was even arrested in his dormitory and his friends had to pay for his bail. The case was filed and he was still a law student. He appeared on his behalf and won the case which was dismissed.
Faith and fate complemented his efforts as he was among the topnotchers in the 1983 Bar Examinations. When he went to the Supreme Court for his oath taking with his wife who also passed the bar examinations, the secretary of former Supreme Court Justice Efren I. Plana convinced him to join his staff. Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas also talked to him and offered a staff position. They had read his pleadings in relation to the petition filed against him by the professor and they were really impressed. This man with all humility and sincerity simply declined the offer since he wanted to return to his hometown with his wife. They wanted to serve the Kagay- anons.
This man who could have lived an illustrious life has chosen to tread the road less traveled. He is often seen clad in a white shirt and slippers talking to farmers and laborers. He was very popular among the urban poor, youth sector, labor and farmer groups. He served as Chairman of Bagong Alyansa Makabayan, Misamis Oriental Alliance of Human Rights and also the Legal Counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno. He defended a lot of farmer groups, the longest of which is the Kamakawan farmers. He was always a frontliner and made sure that any attempts to landgrab and forcible eject the farmers without due process of law would be prevented.
The man encountered trials and hardships. He had fought and witnessed countless court battles. Even during his feeble state, when his health was compromised, he always appeared robust, reliable and available for those who need him. Together with his wife, who is one of the loveliest, smartest and bravest female counsels in town, they embody their law firm’s mantra “Good, brave, honest, clean lawyering.” He and his partners have made a mark in their more than three decades of practice through the difficult cases they have handled and conquered.
With such a stalwart character, the man worked and fought hard for his convictions. He was sincere, driven and determined. He was the compass of the family. He had seen success straight in the eye along with his brilliant wife who is an accomplished woman herself. They have five children – an engineer, three lawyers and a doctor who also topped the Medical Board Examination. Yet, the man’s humility never waned with such triumphs. Yet, he was always incredibly proud of his family especially on his children’s accomplishments. He was always there to cheer them up and celebrate success for life’s myriad of blessings.
This man continued with his journey -- this self-made man, this accomplished man. He was an extraordinary figure in the family. A doting son to an 86-year old-mom...a protective brother to his siblings...a loyal husband to one of the city’s most sought after lawyer...a supportive father...a genial grandfather to his five grandchildren.
There was a man...there was this man. He walked and lived among us. The story of his life’s struggles accompanied with the chances he took, the challenges he met and the changes he made is a priceless treasure to behold. This man’s guiding principle which I have repeatedly mumbled and became a guidepost “Those who have less in life, shall have more in law.” This man’s story is among my children’s favorite real stories. They’ve seen him talk. “They’ve seen him walk his talk.”
There was this man. Our kind of man. His laughter and funny antics we hear no more. His presence in family gatherings we see no more. His advice to my children we longed for more. But I will never get tired of telling his story once again...a story of love, commitment, passion and determination. This is his story and once more I will be telling this to my grandchildren as I animatedly begin my piece “There was a man...”
(This is a tribute to Atty. Mariano Bacarro Carrasco who succumbed to a heart attack on May 10, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Atty. Evangeline Tadlas-Carrasco, his children Apple, People, Jr, Welga, and Kim, and grandchildren Josh, Kassey, Anselma, Gideon, and Anita. Atty. Mariano Carrasco is the founder of The Carrasco & Geñoso Law Office formerly Carrasco Law Office; Carrasco & Carrasco Law Office which is now on its 36th year)