Time Shrugs off Alcohol Tax Increase


Last Sunday, an adult bunch, holding their regular meeting at La Trinidad, Benguet, invited a grimy-faced guy for talks after they finished their agenda.

Arriving early at the venue where the adults convened, the grimy-faced guy cooled his heels outside the venue and waited for the adults to wrap up their meeting.

But the adults meeting stretched. As he waited, watching vehicles and pedestrians pass on, he sensed  Time seemed to whisper.

And Time said to the grimy-faced fool, “Do you know me? No? Well, I am Time, whom you have often so neglected, treated frivolously, then thrown by the wayside; after which you then wished for again with earnestness.”

“I am Time, as tender and uncertain as a frail bud, and like the bud, when gone, am not to be recalled. But I see you are disposed to be merry with my honest and old acquaintance, Miss Day.”

“Tis well. I, Time, approve on it. For Miss Day is venerable who I have known and admired for ages. And she will be admired for generation to come until I, myself, shall be Time no more.”

“Rejoice with Miss Day, my friend, for my past, present and future existence shall be collected to a point so that wisdom of ancestry, civility of modernity and hopes of futurity shall correspond and Old Yesterday will be invited to the marriage of Today and Tomorrow.”

“I am Time, and onwards, the minutes and seconds shall march forward in favor of the grand children of happy hours that you might enjoy in a gangsa, and I, myself, will beat Time to the gong. . .”

The grimy-faced guy’s reverie was cut short when the adult bunch, filed out from their venue.  One of them, Messina Kultip, from Benguet, in her late fifties and still sprite as a young lady, saw him and said, “Ni, adda ka metten gayam. Umay ka ta adda  mapanan tayo nga kasar.”

Enjoying the harmony of the marriage festivity where they went, one burly person in the huge throng who espied the grimy fellow heartily thumbed his back heavily with his thick hand (Aray ko po!) and demanded to know if Herald Express’s Daily Laborer Column still holds an unwavering dictum that all have the privilege of having their side heard.

“Op kors, op kors, no doubt about it!” the grimy guy profoundly assured them.

Current events readers in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 know fully well Daily Laborer Column, since established years ago by Herald Express, affords them a venue to be informed, ventilate their views and feelings and be amused, as well.

That what makes this Herald Express’s column stand apart from others.

While it informs, it, too, amuses, with dashes of humor. And in amusing, making sure, nobody is offended. That’s what makes it distinct and likable to Herald Express readers.

With that in mind, the burly person, Bartelo   Ochapas, who hails from the Mountain Province and friend of the grimed fellow, and attendee to the marriage fest, said, “Stands to no good reason, why you, the columnist that we love to chase to be hanged, is notoriously known in CAR and R-1   for fleeing from everybody when we just want to share with you contents of a bottle wine and ventilate our mild and cheery grumbles about alcohol tax increase.”

In the marriage festivity, bottles were opened to toast the newlyweds.

While the women grouped themselves in chitter-chatters, the men gravitated to renewing friendship, taking a sip here and there until their talk centered on alcohol tax increase.

“Ta awan ma-aramidan tayo panggep ti panag-ngina ti arak, then we might as well very happily protest, in like manner that we happily drink to our protestation,” declared another friend, Alvin Dumi-is, from Benguet, in smattering of Ilocano and English.

They compared their plight to the public utility vehicles drivers who made their hurrah last Monday, ventilated their grievances regarding the jeep modernization plan and as a result, schooldays for the elementary sector that Monday was eventually cancelled.

Thenceforth, they said, they, too, have their grievance, if albeit, too slight a degree.

They presume alcohol tax increase don’t sit well with many Cordilleran and lowlander kababayans who have tasted of that sparkling liquid and have found it romantically tickles soothingly the throat, more tickling than kisses of their Missus.

They determine “alcohol tax increase is a serious affair, as serious as in, say, a man hollering to the world he wants marriage with another man,” and never mind contradicting provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines.

Many in that group likens it to taxing necessities of life and strikes at the very root of conviviality and good fellowship.

Now, the grime-faced guy to whom they aired their plight and pen-named Ah Kong, and who, whenever he had tasted of that sparkling liquid, stands before an electric post of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) and lecture the electric post on how electricity travels from the copper wires.

He would usually start by waggling his finger at the BENECO post and admonishing, “Now, you shut up your yakking mouth and listen while I explain the science of electricity traveling from another BENECO post to your post . . .etc.”

Returning to the adults grievance, the merry makers in the marriage fest explain further in great detail that city and rural gentlemen and gentlewomen like enhenyero, karpintero, drayber, doktor, nurse, mangu-pisina, aglin-linis ti kalsada, gasoline boy/girl, aglaklako and persons of every rank must be feeling the pinch of the alcohol tax increase.

Nodding approvingly, Ah complimented their feelings, saying, “Pangasi yu met a ta saan tayo lipatan inayon dagiti abogado ken abogada, the great pleaders at the bar, to whom plenty of wine is essential to overcome their bashfulness. For how can a good lawyer, an arbiter at that, accomplish his/her benevolent purpose of reconciling contending parties without that bottle to drink to peace, eh?”

One of the individuals, Timothy Alkiso, 58, a businessman from the lowlands, took a dig at the grimy-faced guy, laughingly said, “Ya, indeed, for how can Ah Kong write classical Latin that he couldn’t even understand, if he isn’t inspired by a bottle of animated liquid!”

And Ah added still, to the grumble, saying, “And how cruel it is to deprive the hardworking politician of a comfortable glass of passionate liquid, after the duty of the day; when the politician had been exhausting his energy in preachin’ up temperance and sobriety, with utmost exertion.”

One of the individuals, Mr.  Garfield Abinso, 60, a vegetable farmer doing good and from the Cordillera, after listening to his co-individuals’ lively debate, spoke: “And how can the poor mannalon, since the reduction of the price of rice as a result of the Rice Tariffication Law of senator Cynthia Villar, afford himself a glass or two of the bottled water, when at the most, a regular bottle of cheap arak   is shared by as many ten mannalon to soothe their aching backs.”

But such being the present case at hand, the matured adults conceded that, “after all, taxes must be imposed on the necessities as well as luxuries of life and let us then make the best of what can’t be avoided.”

“What can’t be avoided?” Seemed like the grimy-faced guy heard that phrase before. Yes, t’was then in a courtroom, he heard of it.

That time, a woman was found guilty in court for driving under the influence of liquor. Asked about her occupation, she said she was a teacher.

In glee, the judge rose from the bench and said, “Madam, I have waited in expectancy for years for a school teacher to appear before this court.”

Smiling with true delight, the judge said, “ Now,  this  can’t be avoided, but it must be done. Madam, sit down at that table and write, ‘I will NOT drive when under the influence of liquor’ five hundred times, with the word not in capital letters!”

That “what can’t be avoided” then, the adults contemplate, is that the dearness of liquor may be attended with the same beneficial effects and make us more sparing in the use of it, or find some substitute.

Substitute? Well, by golly, the adults talk about sparingly use of commercial liquor or look for substitute, now found them talking about local products known for years in Cordillera and the lowlands:  the tapey, lambanog and basi.

“Ha!”, the individuals proclaim, “these homemade products which, after all, the tax people of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) can’t touch!”

“But they are welcome to drinking it when they come a-visiting our homes, that’s a fact, and nothing but the fact,” they chimed in glee.