The Social Cancer
Part 10 out of 11
"I'm also leaving the town," answered the ex-alferez, swelling up. "The
government needs me to command a flying column to clean the provinces
Fray Sibyla looked him over rapidly from head to foot and then turned
his back completely.
"Is it known for certain what will become of the ringleader, the
filibuster?" inquired a government employee.
"Do you mean Crisostomo Ibarra?" asked another. "The most likely and
most just thing is that he will be hanged, like those of '72."
"He's going to be deported," remarked the old lieutenant, dryly.
"Deported! Nothing more than deported? But it will be a perpetual
deportation!" exclaimed several voices at the same time.
"If that young man," continued the lieutenant, Guevara, in a loud
and severe tone, "had been more cautious, if he had confided less
in certain persons with whom he corresponded, if our prosecutors did
not know how to interpret so subtly what is written, that young man
would surely have been acquitted."
This declaration on the part of the old lieutenant and the tone
of his voice produced great surprise among his hearers, who were
apparently at a loss to know what to say. Padre Salvi stared in
another direction, perhaps to avoid the gloomy look that the old
soldier turned on him. Maria Clara let her flowers fall and remained
motionless. Padre Sibyla, who knew so well how to be silent, seemed
also to be the only one who knew how to ask a question.
"You're speaking of letters, Señor Guevara?"
"I'm speaking of what was told me by his lawyer, who looked after the
case with interest and zeal. Outside of some ambiguous lines which this
youth wrote to a woman before he left for Europe, lines in which the
government's attorney saw a plot and a threat against the government,
and which he acknowledged to be his, there wasn't anything found to
accuse him of."
"But the declaration of the outlaw before he died?"
"His lawyer had that thrown out because, according to the outlaw
himself, they had never communicated with the young man, but with
a certain Lucas, who was an enemy of his, as could be proved, and
who committed suicide, perhaps from remorse. It was proved that the
papers found on the corpse were forged, since the handwriting was
like that of Señor Ibarra's seven years ago, but not like his now,
which leads to the belief that the model for them may have been that
incriminating letter. Besides, the lawyer says that if Señor Ibarra
had refused to acknowledge the letter, he might have been able to do
a great deal for him--but at sight of the letter he turned pale,
lost his courage, and confirmed everything written in it."
"Did you say that the letter was directed to a woman?" asked a
Franciscan. "How did it get into the hands of the prosecutor?"
The lieutenant did not answer. He stared for a moment at Padre Salvi
and then moved away, nervously twisting the sharp point of his gray
beard. The others made their comments.
"There is seen the hand of God!" remarked one. "Even the women
"He had his house burned down, thinking in that way to save himself,
but he didn't count on the guest, on his querida, his babaye,"
added another, laughing. "It's the work of God! Santiago y cierra
Meanwhile the old soldier paused in his pacing about and approached
Maria Clara, who was listening to the conversation, motionless in
her chair, with the flowers scattered at her feet.
"You are a very prudent girl," the old officer whispered to her. "You
did well to give up the letter. You have thus assured yourself an
With startled eyes she watched him move away from her, and bit her
lip. Fortunately, Aunt Isabel came along, and she had sufficient
strength left to catch hold of the old lady's skirt.
"Aunt!" she murmured.
"What's the matter?" asked the old lady, frightened by the look on
the girl's face.
"Take me to my room!" she pleaded, grasping her aunt's arm in order
"Are you sick, daughter? You look as if you'd lost your bones! What's
"A fainting spell--the people in the room--so many lights--
I need to rest. Tell father that I'm going to sleep."
"You're cold. Do you want some tea?"
Maria Clara shook her head, entered and locked the door of tier
chamber, and then, her strength failing her, she fell sobbing to the
floor at the feet of an image.
"Mother, mother, mother mine!" she sobbed.
Through the window and a door that opened on the azotea the moonlight
entered. The musicians continued to play merry waltzes, laughter
and the hum of voices penetrated into the chamber, several times her
father, Aunt Isabel, Doña Victorina, and even Linares knocked at the
door, but Maria did not move. Heavy sobs shook her breast.
Hours passed--the pleasures of the dinner-table ended, the sound of
singing and dancing was heard, the candle burned itself out, but the
maiden still remained motionless on the moonlit floor at the feet of
an image of the Mother of Jesus.
Gradually the house became quiet again, the lights were extinguished,
and Aunt Isabel once more knocked at the door.
"Well, she's gone to sleep," said the old woman, aloud. "As she's
young and has no cares, she sleeps like a corpse."
When all was silence she raised herself slowly and threw a look about
her. She saw the azotea with its little arbors bathed in the ghostly
light of the moon.
"An untroubled future! She sleeps like a corpse!" she repeated in a
low voice as she made her way out to the azotea.
The city slept. Only from time to time there was heard the noise of a
carriage crossing the wooden bridge over the river, whose undisturbed
waters reflected smoothly the light of the moon. The young woman
raised her eyes toward a sky as clear as sapphire. Slowly she took
the rings from her fingers and from her ears and removed the combs
from her hair. Placing them on the balustrade of the azotea, she
gazed toward the river.
A small banka loaded with zacate stopped at the foot of the landing
such as every house on the bank of the river has. One of two men who
were in it ran up the stone stairway and jumped over the wall, and a
few seconds later his footsteps were heard on the stairs leading to
Maria Clara saw him pause on discovering her, but only for a
moment. Then he advanced slowly and stopped within a few paces of
her. Maria Clara recoiled.
"Crisostomo!" she murmured, overcome with fright.
"Yes, I am Crisostomo," replied the young man gravely. "An enemy,
a man who has every reason for hating me, Elias, has rescued me from
the prison into which my friends threw me."
A sad silence followed these words. Maria Clara bowed her head and
let her arms fall.
Ibarra went on: "Beside my mother's corpse I swore that I would make
you happy, whatever might be my destiny! You can have been faithless
to your oath, for she was not your mother; but I, I who am her son,
hold her memory so sacred that in spite of a thousand difficulties I
have come here to carry mine out, and fate has willed that I should
speak to you yourself. Maria, we shall never see each other again--
you are young and perhaps some day your conscience may reproach you
--I have come to tell you, before I go away forever, that I forgive
you. Now, may you be happy and--farewell!"
Ibarra started to move away, but the girl stopped him.
"Crisostomo," she said, "God has sent you to save me from
desperation. Hear me and then judge me!"
Ibarra tried gently to draw away from her. "I didn't come to call
you to account! I came to give you peace!"
"I don't want that peace which you bring me. Peace I will give
myself. You despise me and your contempt will embitter all the rest
of my life."
Ibarra read the despair and sorrow depicted in the suffering girl's
face and asked her what she wished.
"That you believe that I have always loved you!"
At this he smiled bitterly.
"Ah, you doubt me! You doubt the friend of your childhood, who
has never hidden a single thought from you!" the maiden exclaimed
sorrowfully. "I understand now! But when you hear my story, the sad
story that was revealed to me during my illness, you will have mercy
on me, you will not have that smile for my sorrow. Why did you not
let me die in the hands of my ignorant physician? You and I both
would have been happier!"
Resting a moment, she then went on: "You have desired it, you have
doubted me! But may my mother forgive me! On one of the sorrowfulest
of my nights of suffering, a man revealed to me the name of my real
father and forbade me to love you--except that my father himself
should pardon the injury you had done him."
Ibarra recoiled a pace and gazed fearfully at her.
"Yes," she continued, "that man told me that he could not permit our
union, since his conscience would forbid it, and that he would be
obliged to reveal the name of my real father at the risk of causing
a great scandal, for my father is--" And she murmured into the
youth's ear a name in so low a tone that only he could have heard it.
"What was I to do? Must I sacrifice to my love the memory of my
mother, the honor of my supposed father, and the good name of the
real one? Could I have done that without having even you despise me?"
"But the proof! Had you any proof? You needed proofs!" exclaimed
Ibarra, trembling with emotion.
The maiden snatched two papers from her bosom.
"Two letters of my mother's, two letters written in the midst of her
remorse, while I was yet unborn! Take them, read them, and you will
see how she cursed me and wished for my death, which my father vainly
tried to bring about with drugs. These letters he had forgotten in a
building where he had lived; the other man found and preserved them
and only gave them up to me in exchange for your letter, in order
to assure himself, so he said, that I would not marry you without
the consent of my father. Since I have been carrying them about with
me, in place of your letter, I have, felt the chill in my heart. I
sacrificed you, I sacrificed my love! What else could one do for a
dead mother and two living fathers? Could I have suspected the use
that was to be made of your letter?"
Ibarra stood appalled, while she continued: "What more was left for me
to do? Could I perhaps tell you who my father was, could I tell you
that you should beg forgiveness of him who made your father suffer
so much? Could I ask my father that he forgive you, could I tell him
that I knew that I was his daughter--him, who desired my death so
eagerly? It was only left to me to suffer, to guard the secret, and
to die suffering! Now, my friend, now that you know the sad history
of your poor Maria, will you still have for her that disdainful smile?"
"Maria, you are an angel!"
"Then I am happy, since you believe me--"
"But yet," added the youth with a change of tone, "I've heard that
you are going to be married."
"Yes," sobbed the girl, "my father demands this sacrifice. He has
loved me and cared for me when it was not his duty to do so, and I
will pay this debt of gratitude to assure his peace, by means of this
new relationship, but--"
"I will never forget the vows of faithfulness that I have made to you."
"What are you thinking of doing?" asked Ibarra, trying to read the
look in her eyes.
"The future is dark and my destiny is wrapped in gloom! I don't know
what I should do. But know, that I have loved but once and that without
love I will never belong to any man. And you, what is going to become
"I am only a fugitive, I am fleeing. In a little while my flight will
have been discovered. Maria--"
Maria Clara caught the youth's head in her hands and kissed him
repeatedly on the lips, embraced him, and drew abruptly away. "Go,
go!" she cried. "Go, and farewell!"
Ibarra gazed at her with shining eyes, but at a gesture from her
moved away--intoxicated, wavering.
Once again he leaped over the wall and stepped into the banka. Maria
Clara, leaning over the balustrade, watched him depart. Elias took
off his hat and bowed to her profoundly.
The Chase on the Lake
"Listen, sir, to the plan that I have worked out," said Elias
thoughtfully, as they moved in the direction of San Gabriel. "I'll
hide you now in the house of a friend of mine in Mandaluyong. I'll
bring you all your money, which I saved and buried at the foot of
the balete in the mysterious tomb of your grandfather. Then you will
leave the country."
"To go abroad?" inquired Ibarra.
"To live out in peace the days of life that remain to you.
You have friends in Spain, you are rich, you can get yourself
pardoned. In every way a foreign country is for us a better fatherland
than our own."
Crisostomo did not answer, but meditated in silence. At that moment
they reached the Pasig and the banka began to ascend the current. Over
the Bridge of Spain a horseman galloped rapidly, while a shrill,
prolonged whistle was heard.
"Elias," said Ibarra, "you owe your misfortunes to my family, you have
saved my life twice, and I owe you not only gratitude but also the
restitution of your fortune. You advise me to go abroad--then come
with me and we will live like brothers. Here you also are wretched."
Elias shook his head sadly and answered: "Impossible! It's true that I
cannot love or be happy in my country, but I can suffer and die in it,
and perhaps for it--that is always something. May the misfortunes of
my native land be my own misfortunes and, although no noble sentiment
unites us, although our hearts do not beat to a single name, at least
may the common calamity bind me to my countrymen, at least may I weep
over our sorrows with them, may the same hard fate oppress all our
"Then why do you advise me to go away?"
"Because in some other country you could be happy while I could not,
because you are not made to suffer, and because you would hate your
country if some day you should see yourself ruined in its cause,
and to hate one's native land is the greatest of calamities."
"You are unfair to me!" exclaimed Ibarra with bitter reproach. "You
forget that scarcely had I arrived here when I set myself to seek
"Don't be offended, sir, I was not reproaching you at all. Would
that all of us could imitate you! But I do not ask impossibilities
of you and I mean no offense when I say that your heart deceives
you. You loved your country because your father taught you to do so;
you loved it because in it you had affection, fortune, youth, because
everything smiled on you, your country had done you no injustice;
you loved it as we love anything that makes us happy. But the day in
which you see yourself poor and hungry, persecuted, betrayed, and
sold by your own countrymen, on that day you will disown yourself,
your country, and all mankind."
"Your words pain me," said Ibarra resentfully.
Elias bowed his head and meditated before replying. "I wish to
disillusion you, sir, and save you from a sad future. Recall that
night when I talked to you in this same banka under the light of
this same moon, not a month ago. Then you were happy, the plea of
the unfortunates did not touch you; you disdained their complaints
because they were the complaints of criminals; you paid more attention
to their enemies, and in spite of my arguments and petitions, you
placed yourself on the side of their oppressors. On you then depended
whether I should turn criminal or allow myself to be killed in order
to carry out a sacred pledge, but God has not permitted this because
the old chief of the outlaws is dead. A month has hardly passed and
you think otherwise."
"You're right, Elias, but man is a creature of circumstances! Then
I was blind, annoyed--what did I know? Now misfortune has torn
the bandage from my eyes; the solitude and misery of my prison have
taught me; now I see the horrible cancer which feeds upon this society,
which clutches its flesh, and which demands a violent rooting out. They
have opened my eyes, they have made me see the sore, and they force me
to be a criminal! Since they wish it, I will be a filibuster, a real
filibuster, I mean. I will call together all the unfortunates, all who
feel a heart beat in their breasts, all those who were sending you to
me. No, I will not be a criminal, never is he such who fights for his
native land, but quite the reverse! We, during three centuries, have
extended them our hands, we have asked love of them, we have yearned
to call them brothers, and how do they answer us? With insults and
jests, denying us even the chance character of human beings. There
is no God, there is no hope, there is no humanity; there is nothing
but the right of might!" Ibarra was nervous, his whole body trembled.
As they passed in front of the Captain-General's palace they thought
that they could discern movement and excitement among the guards.
"Can they have discovered your flight?" murmured Elias. "Lie down,
sir, so that I can cover you with zacate. Since we shall pass near
the powder-magazine it may seem suspicious to the sentinel that there
are two of us."
The banka was one of those small, narrow canoes that do not seem to
float but rather to glide over the top of the water. As Elias had
foreseen, the sentinel stopped him and inquired whence he came.
"From Manila, to carry zacate to the judges and curates," he answered,
imitating the accent of the people of Pandakan.
A sergeant came out to learn what was happening. "Move on!" he said
to Elias. "But I warn you not to take anybody into your banka. A
prisoner has just escaped. If you capture him and turn him over to
me I'll give you a good tip."
"All right, sir. What's his description?"
"He wears a sack coat and talks Spanish. So look out!" The banka moved
away. Elias looked back and watched the silhouette of the sentinel
standing on the bank of the river.
"We'll lose a few minutes' time," he said in a low voice. "We must
go into the Beata River to pretend that I'm from Peñafrancia. You
will see the river of which Francisco Baltazar sang."
The town slept in the moonlight, and Crisostomo rose up to admire the
sepulchral peace of nature. The river was narrow and the level land
on either side covered with grass. Elias threw his cargo out on the
bank and, after removing a large piece of bamboo, took from under
the grass some empty palm-leaf sacks. Then they continued on their way.
"You are the master of your own will, sir, and of your future," he said
to Crisostomo, who had remained silent. "But if you will allow me an
observation, I would say: think well what you are planning to do--
you are going to light the flames of war, since you have money and
brains, and you will quickly find many to join you, for unfortunately
there are plenty of malcontents. But in this struggle which you are
going to undertake, those who will suffer most will be the defenseless
and the innocent. The same sentiments that a month ago impelled me to
appeal to you asking for reforms are those that move me now to urge
you to think well. The country, sir, does not think of separating from
the mother country; it only asks for a little freedom, justice, and
affection. You will be supported by the malcontents, the criminals,
the desperate, but the people will hold aloof. You are mistaken if,
seeing all dark, you think that the country is desperate. The country
suffers, yes, but it still hopes and trusts and will only rebel when
it has lost its patience, that is, when those who govern it wish it
to do so, and that time is yet distant. I myself will not follow you,
never will I resort to such extreme measures while I see hope in men."
"Then I'll go on without you!" responded Ibarra resolutely.
"Is your decision final?"
"Final and firm; let the memory of my mother bear witness! I will
not let peace and happiness be torn away from me with impunity,
I who desired only what was good, I who have respected everything
and endured everything out of love for a hypocritical religion
and out of love of country. How have they answered me? By burying
me in an infamous dungeon and robbing me of my intended wife! No,
not to avenge myself would be a crime, it would be encouraging them
to new acts of injustice! No, it would be cowardice, pusillanimity,
to groan and weep when there is blood and life left, when to insult
and menace is added mockery. I will call out these ignorant people,
I will make them see their misery. I will teach them to think not of
brotherhood but only that they are wolves for devouring, I will urge
them to rise against this oppression and proclaim the eternal right
of man to win his freedom!"
"But innocent people will suffer!"
"So much the better! Can you take me to the mountains?"
"Until you are in safety," replied Elias.
Again they moved out into the Pasig, talking from time to time of
"Santa Ana!" murmured Ibarra. "Do you recognize this building?" They
were passing in front of the country-house of the Jesuits.
"There I spent many pleasant and happy days!" sighed Elias. "In my
time we came every month. Then I was like others, I had a fortune,
family, I dreamed, I looked forward to a future. In those days I saw
my sister in the near-by college, she presented me with a piece of
her own embroidery-work. A friend used to accompany her, a beautiful
girl. All that has passed like a dream."
They remained silent until they reached Malapad-na-bato. Those
who have ever made their way by night up the Pasig, on one of those
magical nights that the Philippines offers, when the moon pours out
from the limpid blue her melancholy light, when the shadows hide the
miseries of man and the silence is unbroken by the sordid accents
of his voice, when only Nature speaks--they will understand the
thoughts of both these youths.
At Malapad-na-bato the carbineer was sleepy and, seeing that the banka
was empty and offered no booty which he might seize, according to the
traditional usage of his corps and the custom of that post, he easily
let them pass on. Nor did the civil-guard at Pasig suspect anything,
so they were not molested.
Day was beginning to break when they reached the lake, still and calm
like a gigantic mirror. The moon paled and the east was dyed in rosy
tints. Some distance away they perceived a gray mass advancing slowly
"The police boat is coming," murmured Elias. "Lie down and I'll cover
you with these sacks."
The outlines of the boat became clearer and plainer.
"It's getting between us and the shore," observed Elias uneasily.
Gradually he changed the course of his banka, rowing toward
Binangonan. To his great surprise he noticed that the boat also
changed its course, while a voice called to him.
Elias stopped rowing and reflected. The shore was still far away and
they would soon be within range of the rifles on the police boat. He
thought of returning to Pasig, for his banka was the swifter of the
two boats, but unluckily he saw another boat coming from the river
and made out the gleam of caps and bayonets of the Civil Guard.
"We're caught!" he muttered, turning pale.
He gazed at his robust arms and, adopting the only course left,
began to row with all his might toward Talim Island, just as the sun
The banka slipped rapidly along. Elias saw standing on the boat,
which had veered about, some men making signals to him.
"Do you know how to manage a banka?" he asked Ibarra.
"Because we are lost if I don't jump into the water and throw them
off the track. They will pursue me, but I swim and dive well. I'll
draw them away from you and then you can save yourself."
"No, stay here, and we'll sell our lives dearly!"
"That would be useless. We have no arms and with their rifles they
would shoot us down like birds."
At that instant the water gave forth a hiss such as is caused by
the falling of hot metal into it, followed instantaneously by a
"You see!" said Elias, placing the paddle in the boat. "We'll see each
other on Christmas Eve at the tomb of your grandfather. Save yourself."
"God has carried me safely through greater perils."
As Elias took off his camisa a bullet tore it from his hands and
two loud reports were heard. Calmly he clasped the hand of Ibarra,
who was still stretched out in the bottom of the banka. Then he arose
and leaped into the water, at the same time pushing the little craft
away from him with his foot.
Cries resounded, and soon some distance away the youth's head appeared,
as if for breathing, then instantly disappeared.
"There, there he is!" cried several voices, and again the bullets
The police boat and the boat from the Pasig now started in pursuit of
him. A light track indicated his passage through the water as he drew
farther and farther away from Ibarra's banka, which floated about as
if abandoned. Every time the swimmer lifted his head above the water
to breathe, the guards in both boats shot at him.
So the chase continued. Ibarra's little banka was now far away
and the swimmer was approaching the shore, distant some thirty
yards. The rowers were tired, but Elias was in the same condition,
for he showed his head oftener, and each time in a different direction,
as if to disconcert his pursuers. No longer did the treacherous track
indicate the position of the diver. They saw him for the last time
when he was some ten yards from the shore, and fired. Then minute
after minute passed, but nothing again appeared above the still and
solitary surface of the lake.
Half an hour afterwards one of the rowers claimed that he could
distinguish in the water near the shore traces of blood, but his
companions shook their heads dubiously.
Padre Damaso Explains
Vainly were the rich wedding presents heaped upon a table; neither
the diamonds in their cases of blue velvet, nor the piña embroideries,
nor the rolls of silk, drew the gaze of Maria Clara. Without reading
or even seeing it the maiden sat staring at the newspaper which gave
an account of the death of Ibarra, drowned in the lake.
Suddenly she felt two hands placed over her eyes to hold her fast
and heard Padre Damaso's voice ask merrily, "Who am I? Who am I?"
Maria Clara sprang from her seat and gazed at him in terror.
"Foolish little girl, you're not afraid, are you? You weren't expecting
me, eh? Well, I've come in from the provinces to attend your wedding."
He smiled with satisfaction as he drew nearer to her and held out
his hand for her to kiss. Maria Clara approached him tremblingly and
touched his hand respectfully to her lips.
"What's the matter with you, Maria?" asked the Franciscan, losing his
merry smile and becoming uneasy. "Your hand is cold, you're pale. Are
you ill, little girl?"
Padre Damaso drew her toward himself with a tenderness that one would
hardly have thought him capable of, and catching both her hands in
his questioned her with his gaze.
"Don't you have confidence in your godfather any more?" he asked
reproachfully. "Come, sit down and tell me your little troubles as
you used to do when you were a child, when you wanted tapers to make
wax dolls, You know that I've always loved you, I've never been cross
His voice was now no longer brusque, and even became tenderly
modulated. Maria Clara began to weep.
"You're crying, little girl? Why do you cry? Have you quarreled
Maria Clara covered her ears. "Don't speak of him not now!" she cried.
Padre Damaso gazed at her in startled wonder.
"Won't you trust me with your secrets? Haven't I always tried to
satisfy your lightest whim?"
The maiden raised eyes filled with tears and stared at him for a long
time, then again fell to weeping bitterly.
"Don't cry so, little girl. Your tears hurt me. Tell me your troubles,
and you'll see how your godfather loves you!"
Maria Clara approached him slowly, fell upon her knees, and raising
her tear-stained face toward his asked in a low, scarcely audible tone,
"Do you still love me?"
"Then, protect my father and break off my marriage!" Here the
maiden told of her last interview with Ibarra, concealing only her
knowledge of the secret of her birth. Padre Damaso could scarcely
credit his ears.
"While he lived," the girl continued, "I thought of struggling, I
was hoping, trusting! I wanted to live so that I might hear of him,
but now that they have killed him, now there is no reason why I should
live and suffer." She spoke in low, measured tones, calmly, tearlessly.
"But, foolish girl, isn't Linares a thousand times better than--"
"While he lived, I could have married--I thought of running away
afterwards--my father wants only the relationship! But now that
he is dead, no other man shall call me wife! While he was alive I
could debase myself, for there would have remained the consolation
that he lived and perhaps thought of me, but now that he is dead--
the nunnery or the tomb!"
The girl's voice had a ring of firmness in it such that Padre Damaso
lost his merry air and became very thoughtful.
"Did you love him as much as that?" he stammered.
Maria Clara did not answer. Padre Damaso dropped his head on his
chest and remained silent for a long time.
"Daughter in God," he exclaimed at length in a broken voice, "forgive
me for having made you unhappy without knowing it. I was thinking
of your future, I desired your happiness. How could I permit you
to marry a native of the country, to see you an unhappy wife and a
wretched mother? I couldn't get that love out of your head even though
I opposed it with all my might. I committed wrongs, for you, solely
for you. If you had become his wife you would have mourned afterwards
over the condition of your husband, exposed to all kinds of vexations
without means of defense. As a mother you would have mourned the fate
of your sons: if you had educated them, you would have prepared for
them a sad future, for they would have become enemies of Religion and
you would have seen them garroted or exiled; if you had kept them
ignorant, you would have seen them tyrannized over and degraded. I
could not consent to it! For this reason I sought for you a husband
that could make you the happy mother of sons who would command and
not obey, who would punish and not suffer. I knew that the friend of
your childhood was good, I liked him as well as his father, but I have
hated them both since I saw that they were going to bring about your
unhappiness, because I love you, I adore you, I love you as one loves
his own daughter! Yours is my only affection; I have seen you grow--
not an hour has passed that I have not thought of you--I dreamed
of you--you have been my only joy!"
Here Padre Damaso himself broke out into tears like a child.
"Then, as you love me, don't make me eternally wretched. He no longer
lives, so I want to be a nun!"
The old priest rested his forehead on his hand. "To be a nun, a
nun!" he repeated. "You don't know, child, what the life is, the
mystery that is hidden behind the walls of the nunnery, you don't
know! A thousand times would I prefer to see you unhappy in the world
rather than in the cloister. Here your complaints can be heard, there
you will have only the walls. You are beautiful, very beautiful, and
you were not born for that--to be a bride of Christ! Believe me,
little girl, time will wipe away everything. Later on you will forget,
you will love, you will love your husband--Linares."
"The nunnery or--death!"
"The nunnery, the nunnery, or death!" exclaimed Padre Damaso. "Maria,
I am now an old man, I shall not be able much longer to watch over
you and your welfare. Choose something else, seek another love,
some other man, whoever he may be--anything but the nunnery."
"The nunnery or death!"
"My God, my God!" cried the priest, covering his head with his hands,
"Thou chastisest me, so let it be! But watch over my daughter!"
Then, turning again to the young woman, he said, "You wish to be a nun,
and it shall be so. I don't want you to die."
Maria Clara caught both his hands in hers, clasping and kissing them
as she fell upon her knees, repeating over and over, "My godfather,
I thank you, my godfather!"
With bowed head Fray Damaso went away, sad and sighing. "God, Thou
dost exist, since Thou chastisest! But let Thy vengeance fall on me,
harm not the innocent. Save Thou my daughter!"
High up on the slope of the mountain near a roaring stream a hut built
on the gnarled logs hides itself among the trees. Over its kogon
thatch clambers the branching gourd-vine, laden with flowers and
fruit. Deer antlers and skulls of wild boar, some with long tusks,
adorn this mountain home, where lives a Tagalog family engaged in
hunting and cutting firewood.
In the shade of a tree the grandsire was making brooms from the fibers
of palm leaves, while a young woman was placing eggs, limes, and some
vegetables in a wide basket. Two children, a boy and a girl, were
playing by the side of another, who, pale and sad, with large eyes
and a deep gaze, was seated on a fallen tree-trunk. In his thinned
features we recognize Sisa's son, Basilio, the brother of Crispin.
"When your foot gets well," the little girl was saying to him,
"we'll play hide-and-seek. I'll be the leader."
"You'll go up to the top of the mountain with us," added the little
boy, "and drink deer blood with lime-juice and you'll get fat, and
then I'll teach you how to jump from rock to rock above the torrent."
Basilio smiled sadly, stared at the sore on his foot, and then turned
his gaze toward the sun, which shone resplendently.
"Sell these brooms," said the grandfather to the young woman, "and
buy something for the children, for tomorrow is Christmas."
"Firecrackers, I want some firecrackers!" exclaimed the boy.
"I want a head for my doll," cried the little girl, catching hold of
her sister's tapis.
"And you, what do you want?" the grandfather asked Basilio, who at
the question arose laboriously and approached the old man.
"Sir," he said, "I've been sick more than a month now, haven't I?"
"Since we found you lifeless and covered with wounds, two moons have
come and gone. We thought you were going to die."
"May God reward you, for we are very poor," replied Basilio. "But now
that tomorrow is Christmas I want to go to the town to see my mother
and my little brother. They will be seeking for me."
"But, my son, you're not yet well, and your town is far away. You
won't get there by midnight."
"That doesn't matter, sir. My mother and my little brother must be
very sad. Every year we spend this holiday together. Last year the
three of us had a whole fish to eat. My mother will have been mourning
and looking for me."
"You won't get to the town alive, boy! Tonight we're going to have
chicken and wild boar's meat. My sons will ask for you when they come
from the field."
"You have many sons while my mother has only us two. Perhaps she
already believes that I'm dead! Tonight I want to give her a pleasant
surprise, a Christmas gift, a son."
The old man felt the tears springing up into his eyes, so, placing
his hands on the boy's head, he said with emotion: "You're like an
old man! Go, look for your mother, give her the Christmas gift--
from God, as you say. If I had known the name of your town I would
have gone there when you were sick. Go, my son, and may God and the
Lord Jesus go with you. Lucia, my granddaughter, will go with you to
the nearest town."
"What! You're going away?" the little boy asked him. "Down there are
soldiers and many robbers. Don't you want to see my firecrackers? Boom,
"Don't you want to play hide-and-seek?" asked the little girl. "Have
you ever played it? Surely there's nothing any more fun than to be
chased and hide yourself?"
Basilio smiled, but with tears in his eyes, and caught up his
staff. "I'll come back soon," he answered. "I'll bring my little
brother, you'll see him and play with him. He's just about as big as
"Does he walk lame, too?" asked the little girl. "Then we'll make him
'it' when we play hide-and-seek."
"Don't forget us," the old man said to him. "Take this dried meat as
a present to your mother."
The children accompanied him to the bamboo bridge swung over the
noisy course of the stream. Lucia made him support himself on her arm,
and thus they disappeared from the children's sight, Basilio walking
along nimbly in spite of his bandaged leg.
The north wind whistled by, making the inhabitants of San Diego
shiver with cold. It was Christmas Eve and yet the town was wrapped
in gloom. Not a paper lantern hung from the windows nor did a single
sound in the houses indicate the rejoicing of other years.
In the house of Capitan Basilio, he and Don Filipo--for the
misfortunes of the latter had made them friendly--were standing
by a window-grating and talking, while at another were Sinang, her
cousin Victoria, and the beautiful Iday, looking toward the street.
The waning moon began to shine over the horizon, illumining the clouds
and making the trees and houses east long, fantastic shadows.
"Yours is not a little good fortune, to get off free in these
times!" said Capitan Basilio to Don Filipo. "They've burned your books,
yes, but others have lost more."
A woman approached the grating and gazed into the interior. Her
eyes glittered, her features were emaciated, her hair loose and
dishevelled. The moonlight gave her a weird aspect.
"Sisal" exclaimed Don Filipo in surprise. Then turning to Capitan
Basilio, as the madwoman ran away, he asked, "Wasn't she in the house
of a physician? Has she been cured?"
Capitan Basilio smiled bitterly. "The physician was afraid they
would accuse him of being a friend of Don Crisostomo's, so he drove
her from his house. Now she wanders about again as crazy as ever,
singing, harming no one, and living in the woods."
"What else has happened in the town since we left it? I know that we
have a new curate and another alferez."
"These are terrible times, humanity is retrograding," murmured Capitan
Basilio, thinking of the past. "The day after you left they found the
senior sacristan dead, hanging from a rafter in his own house. Padre
Salvi was greatly affected by his death and took possession of all
his papers. Ah, yes, the old Sage, Tasio, also died and was buried
in the Chinese cemetery."
"Poor old man!" sighed Don Filipo. "What became of his books?"
"They were burned by the pious, who thought thus to please God. I was
unable to save anything, not even Cicero's works. The gobernadorcillo
did nothing to prevent it."
Both became silent. At that moment the sad and melancholy song of
the madwoman was heard.
"Do you know when Maria Clara is to be married?" Iday asked Sinang.
"I don't know," answered the latter. "I received a letter from her
but haven't opened it for fear of finding out. Poor Crisostomo!"
"They say that if it were not for Linares, they would hang Capitan
Tiago, so what was Maria Clara going to do?" observed Victoria.
A boy limped by, running toward the plaza, whence came the notes of
Sisa's song. It was Basilio, who had found his home deserted and in
ruins. After many inquiries he had only learned that his mother was
insane and wandering about the town--of Crispin not a word.
Basilio choked back his tears, stifled any expression of his sorrow,
and without resting had started in search of his mother. On reaching
the town he was just asking about her when her song struck his
ears. The unhappy boy overcame the trembling in his limbs and ran to
throw himself into his mother's arms.
The madwoman left the plaza and stopped in front of the house of
the new alferez. Now, as formerly, there was a sentinel before the
door, and a woman's head appeared at the window, only it was not the
Medusa's but that of a comely young woman: alferez and unfortunate
are not synonymous terms.
Sisa began to sing before the house with her gaze fixed on the
moon, which soared majestically in the blue heavens among golden
clouds. Basilio saw her, but did not dare to approach' her. Walking
back and forth, but taking care not to get near the barracks, he
waited for the time when she would leave that place.
The young woman who was at the window listening attentively to the
madwoman's song ordered the sentinel to bring her inside, but when
Sisa saw the soldier approach her and heard his voice she was filled
with terror and took to flight at a speed of which only a demented
person is capable. Basilio, fearing to lose her, ran after her,
forgetful of the pains in his feet.
"Look how that boy's chasing the madwoman!" indignantly exclaimed
a woman in the street. Seeing that he continued to pursue her, she
picked up a stone and threw it at him, saying, "Take that! It's a
pity that the dog is tied up!"
Basilio felt a blow on his head, but paid no attention to it as he
continued running. Dogs barked, geese cackled, several windows opened
to let out curious faces but quickly closed again from fear of another
night of terror.
Soon they were outside of the town. Sisa began to moderate her flight,
but still a great distance separated her from her pursuer.
"Mother!" he called to her when he caught sight of her. Scarcely had
the madwoman heard his voice when she again took to flight.
"Mother, it's I!" cried the boy in desperation, but the madwoman
did not heed him, so he followed panting. They had now passed the
cultivated fields and were near the wood; Basilio saw his mother enter
it and he also went in. The bushes and shrubs, the thorny vines and
projecting roots of trees, hindered the movements of both. The son
followed his mother's shadowy form as it was revealed from time to
time by the moonlight that penetrated through the foliage and into
the open spaces. They were in the mysterious wood of the Ibarra family.
The boy stumbled and fell several times, but rose again, each time
without feeling pain. All his soul was centered in his eyes, following
the beloved figure. They crossed the sweetly murmuring brook where
sharp thorns of bamboo that had fallen on the sand at its margin
pierced his bare feet, but he did not stop to pull them out.
To his great surprise he saw that his mother had plunged into the
thick undergrowth and was going through the wooden gateway that opened
into the tomb of the old Spaniard at the foot of the balete. Basilio
tried to follow her in, but found the gate fastened. The madwoman
defended the entrance with her emaciated arms and disheveled head,
holding the gate shut with all her might.
"Mother, it's I, it's I! I'm Basilio, your son!" cried the boy as he
let himself fall weakly.
But the madwoman did not yield. Bracing herself with her feet on
the ground, she offered an energetic resistance. Basilio beat the
gate with his fists, with his Mood-stained head, he wept, but in
vain. Painfully he arose and examined the wall, thinking to scale it,
but found no way to do so. He then walked around it and noticed that
a branch of the fateful balete was crossed with one from another
tree. This he climbed and, his filial love working miracles, made
his way from branch to branch to the balete, from which he saw his
mother still holding the gate shut with her head.
The noise made by him among the branches attracted Sisa's
attention. She turned and tried to run, but her son, letting himself
fall from the tree, caught her in his arms and covered her with kisses,
losing consciousness as he did so.
Sisa saw his blood-stained forehead and bent over him. Her eyes seemed
to start from their sockets as she peered into his face. Those pale
features stirred the sleeping cells of her brain, so that something
like a spark of intelligence flashed up in her mind and she recognized
her son. With a terrible cry she fell upon the insensible body of
the boy, embracing and kissing him. Mother and son remained motionless.
When Basilio recovered consciousness he found his mother lifeless. He
called to her with the tenderest names, but she did not awake. Noticing
that she was not even breathing, he arose and went to the neighboring
brook to get some water in a banana leaf, with which to rub the pallid
face of his mother, but the madwoman made not the least movement and
her eyes remained closed.
Basilio gazed at her in terror. He placed his ear over her heart,
but the thin, faded breast was cold, and her heart no longer beat. He
put his lips to hers, but felt no breathing. The miserable boy threw
his arms about the corpse and wept bitterly.
The moon gleamed majestically in the sky, the wandering breezes sighed,
and down in the grass the crickets chirped. The night of light and joy
for so many children, who in the warm bosom of the family celebrate
this feast of sweetest memories--the feast which commemorates the
first look of love that Heaven sent to earth--this night when in all
Christian families they eat, drink, dance, sing, laugh, play, caress,
and kiss one another--this night, which in cold countries holds such
magic for childhood with its traditional pine-tree covered with lights,
dolls, candies, and tinsel, whereon gaze the round, staring eyes in
which innocence alone is reflected--this night brought to Basilio
only orphanhood. Who knows but that perhaps in the home whence came
the taciturn Padre Salvi children also played, perhaps they sang
"La Nochebuena se viene,
La Nochebuena se va." 
For a long time the boy wept and moaned. When at last he raised his
head he saw a man standing over him, gazing at the scene in silence.
"Are you her son?" asked the unknown in a low voice.
The boy nodded.
"What do you expect to do?"
"In the cemetery?"
"I haven't any money and, besides, the curate wouldn't allow it."
"If you would help me--"
"I'm very weak," answered the unknown as he sank slowly to the ground,
supporting himself with both hands. "I'm wounded. For two days I
haven't eaten or slept. Has no one come here tonight?"
The man thoughtfully contemplated the attractive features of the boy,
then went on in a still weaker voice, "Listen! I, too, shall be dead
before the day comes. Twenty paces from here, on the other side of the
brook, there is a big pile of firewood. Bring it here, make a pyre,
put our bodies upon it, cover them over, and set fire to the whole--
fire, until we are reduced to ashes!"
Basilio listened attentively.
"Afterwards, if no one comes, dig here. You will find a
lot of gold and it will all be yours. Take it and go to school."
The voice of the unknown was becoming every moment more
unintelligible. "Go, get the firewood. I want to help you."
As Basilio moved away, the unknown turned his face toward the east
and murmured, as though praying:
"I die without seeing the dawn brighten over my native land! You,
who have it to see, welcome it--and forget not those who have fallen
during the night!"
He raised his eyes to the sky and his lips continued to move, as if
uttering a prayer. Then he bowed his head and sank slowly to the earth.
Two hours later Sister Rufa was on the back veranda of her house
making her morning ablutions in order to attend mass. The pious woman
gazed at the adjacent wood and saw a thick column of smoke rising
from it. Filled with holy indignation, she knitted her eyebrows
"What heretic is making a clearing on a holy day? That's why so many
calamities come! You ought to go to purgatory and see if you could
get out of there, savage!"
Since some of our characters are still living and others have been lost
sight of, a real epilogue is impossible. For the satisfaction of the
groundlings we should gladly kill off all of them, beginning with Padre
Salvi and ending with Doña Victorina, but this is not possible. Let
them live! Anyhow, the country, not ourselves, has to support them.
After Maria Clara entered the nunnery, Padre Damaso left his town
to live in Manila, as did also Padre Salvi, who, while he awaits a
vacant miter, preaches sometimes in the church of St. Clara, in whose
nunnery he discharges the duties of an important office. Not many
months had passed when Padre Damaso received an order from the Very
Reverend Father Provincial to occupy a curacy in a remote province. It
is related that he was so grievously affected by this that on the
following day he was found dead in his bedchamber. Some said that
he had died of an apoplectic stroke, others of a nightmare, but his
physician dissipated all doubts by declaring that he had died suddenly.
None of our readers would now recognize Capitan Tiago. Weeks before
Maria Clara took the vows he fell into a state of depression so great
that he grew sad and thin, and became pensive and distrustful, like
his former friend, Capitan Tinong. As soon as the doors of the nunnery
closed he ordered his disconsolate cousin, Aunt Isabel, to collect
whatever had belonged to his daughter and his dead wife and to go to
make her home in Malabon or San Diego, since he wished to live alone
thenceforward, tie then devoted himself passionately to liam-pó and
the cockpit, and began to smoke opium. He no longer goes to Antipolo
nor does he order any more masses, so Doña Patrocinia, his old rival,
celebrates her triumph piously by snoring during the sermons. If at
any time during the late afternoon you should walk along Calle Santo
Cristo, you would see seated in a Chinese shop a small man, yellow,
thin, and bent, with stained and dirty finger nails, gazing through
dreamy, sunken eyes at the passers-by as if he did not see them. At
nightfall you would see him rise with difficulty and, supporting
himself on his cane, make his way to a narrow little by-street to
enter a grimy building over the door of which may be seen in large
red letters: FUMADERO PUBLICO DE ANFION. This is that Capitan
Tiago who was so celebrated, but who is now completely forgotten,
even by the very senior sacristan himself.
Doña Victorina has added to her false frizzes and to her
Andalusization, if we may be permitted the term, the new custom
of driving the carriage horses herself, obliging Don Tiburcio to
remain quiet. Since many unfortunate accidents occurred on account
of the weakness of her eyes, she has taken to wearing spectacles,
which give her a marvelous appearance. The doctor has never been
called upon again to attend any one and the servants see him many
days in the week without teeth, which, as our readers know, is a
very bad sign. Linares, the only defender of the hapless doctor,
has long been at rest in Paco cemetery, the victim of dysentery and
the harsh treatment of his cousin-in-law.
The victorious alferez returned to Spain a major, leaving his
amiable spouse in her flannel camisa, the color of which is now
indescribable. The poor Ariadne, finding herself thus abandoned,
also devoted herself, as did the daughter of Minos, to the cult of
Bacchus and the cultivation of tobacco; she drinks and smokes with
such fury that now not only the girls but even the old women and
little children fear her.
Probably our acquaintances of the town of San Diego are still alive,
if they did not perish in the explosion of the steamer "Lipa," which
was making a trip to the province. Since no one bothered himself to
learn who the unfortunates were that perished in that catastrophe or to
whom belonged the legs and arms left neglected on Convalescence Island
and the banks of the river, we have no idea whether any acquaintance
of our readers was among them or not. Along with the government and
the press at the time, we are satisfied with the information that
the only friar who was on the steamer was saved, and we do not ask
for more. The principal thing for us is the existence of the virtuous
priests, whose reign in the Philippines may God conserve for the good
of our souls.
Of Maria Clara nothing more is known except that the sepulcher seems
to guard her in its bosom. We have asked several persons of great
influence in the holy nunnery of St. Clara, but no one has been
willing to tell us a single word, not even the talkative devotees
who receive the famous fried chicken-livers and the even more famous
sauce known as that "of the nuns," prepared by the intelligent cook
of the Virgins of the Lord.
Nevertheless: On a night in September the hurricane raged over
Manila, lashing the buildings with its gigantic wings. The thunder
crashed continuously. Lightning flashes momentarily revealed the havoc
wrought by the blast and threw the inhabitants into wild terror. The
rain fell in torrents. Each flash of the forked lightning showed a
piece of roofing or a window-blind flying through the air to fall
with a horrible crash. Not a person or a carriage moved through the
streets. When the hoarse reverberations of the thunder, a hundred
times re-echoed, lost themselves in the distance, there was heard
the soughing of the wind as it drove the raindrops with a continuous
tick-tack against the concha-panes of the closed windows.
Two patrolmen sheltered themselves under the eaves of a building near
the nunnery, one a private and the other a distinguido.
"What's the use of our staying here?" said the private.
"No one is moving about the streets. We ought to get into a house. My
querida lives in Calle Arzobispo."
"From here over there is quite a distance and we'll get wet," answered
"What does that matter just so the lightning doesn't strike us?"
"Bah, don't worry! The nuns surely have a lightningrod to protect
"Yes," observed the private, "but of what use is it when the night
is so dark?"
As he said this he looked upward to stare into the darkness. At
that moment a prolonged streak of lightning flashed, followed by a
"Nakú! Susmariosep!" exclaimed the private, crossing himself and
catching hold of his companion. "Let's get away from here."
"Come, come away from here," he repeated with his teeth rattling
"What have you seen?"
"A specter!" he murmured, trembling with fright.
"On the roof there. It must be the nun who practises magic during
The distinguido thrust his head out to look, just as a flash of
lightning furrowed the heavens with a vein of fire and sent a horrible
crash earthwards. "Jesús!" he exclaimed, also crossing himself.
In the brilliant glare of the celestial light he had seen a white
figure standing almost on the ridge of the roof with arms and face
raised toward the sky as if praying to it. The heavens responded with
lightning and thunderbolts!
As the sound of the thunder rolled away a sad plaint was heard.
"That's not the wind, it's the specter," murmured the private, as if
in response to the pressure of his companion's hand.
"Ay! Ay!" came through the air, rising above the noise of the rain,
nor could the whistling wind drown that sweet and mournful voice
charged with affliction.
Again the lightning flashed with dazzling intensity.
"No, it's not a specter!" exclaimed the distinguido.
"I've seen her before. She's beautiful, like the Virgin! Let's get
away from here and report it."
The private did not wait for him to repeat the invitation, and both
Who was moaning in the middle of the night in spite of the wind and
rain and storm? Who was the timid maiden, the bride of Christ, who
defied the unchained elements and chose such a fearful night under the
open sky to breathe forth from so perilous a height her complaints
to God? Had the Lord abandoned his altar in the nunnery so that He
no longer heard her supplications? Did its arches perhaps prevent the
longings of the soul from rising up to the throne of the Most Merciful?
The tempest raged furiously nearly the whole night, nor did a single
star shine through the darkness. The despairing plaints continued to
mingle with the soughing of the wind, but they found Nature and man
alike deaf; God had hidden himself and heard not.
On the following day, after the dark clouds had cleared away and the
sun shone again brightly in the limpid sky, there stopped at the door
of the nunnery of St. Clara a carriage, from which alighted a man
who made himself known as a representative of the authorities. He
asked to be allowed to speak immediately with the abbess and to see
all the nuns.
It is said that one of these, who appeared in a gown all wet and torn,
with tears and tales of horror begged the man's protection against
the outrages of hypocrisy. It is also said that she was very beautiful
and had the most lovely and expressive eyes that were ever seen.
The representative of the authorities did not accede to her request,
but, after talking with the abbess, left her there in spite of her
tears and pleadings. The youthful nun saw the door close behind him
as a condemned person might look upon the portals of Heaven closing
against him, if ever Heaven should come to be as cruel and unfeeling
as men are. The abbess said that she was a madwoman. The man may
not have known that there is in Manila a home for the demented;
or perhaps he looked upon the nunnery itself as an insane asylum,
although it is claimed that he was quite ignorant, especially in a
matter of deciding whether a person is of sound mind.
It is also reported that General J---- thought otherwise, when the
matter reached his ears. He wished to protect the madwoman and asked
for her. But this time no beautiful and unprotected maiden appeared,
nor would the abbess permit a visit to the cloister, forbidding it
in the name of Religion and the Holy Statutes. Nothing more was said
of the affair, nor of the ill-starred Maria Clara.
abá: A Tagalog exclamation of wonder, surprise, etc., often used to
introduce or emphasize a contradictory statement.
abaka: "Manila hemp," the fiber of a plant of the banana family.
achara: Pickles made from the tender shoots of bamboo, green papayas,
alcalde: Governor of a province or district with both executive and
alferez: Junior officer of the Civil Guard, ranking next below
alibambang: A leguminous plant whose acid leaves are used in cooking.
alpay: A variety of nephelium, similar but inferior to the Chinese
among: Term used by the natives in addressing a priest, especially
a friar: from the Spanish amo, master.
amores-secos: "Barren loves," a low-growing weed whose small, angular
pods adhere to clothing.
andas: A platform with handles, on which an image is borne in a
asuang: A malignant devil reputed to feed upon human flesh, being
especially fond of new-born babes.
até: The sweet-sop.
Audiencia: The administrative council and supreme court of the
Ayuntamiento: A city corporation or council, and by extension the
building in which it has its offices; specifically, in Manila,
azotea: The flat roof of a house or any similar platform; a
babaye: Woman (the general Malay term).
baguio: The local name for the typhoon or hurricane.
bailúhan: Native dance and feast: from the Spanish baile.
balete: The Philippine banyan, a tree sacred in Malay folk-lore.
banka: A dugout canoe with bamboo supports or outriggers.
Bilibid: The general penitentiary at Manila.
buyo: The masticatory prepared by wrapping a piece of areca-nut with
a little shell-lime in a betel-leaf: the pan of British India.
cabeza de barangay: Headman and tax collector for a group of about
fifty families, for whose "tribute" he was personally responsible.
camisa: 1. A loose, collarless shirt of transparent material worn by
men outside the trousers.
2. A thin, transparent waist with flowing sleeves, worn by women.
camote: A variety of sweet potato.
capitan: "Captain," a title used in addressing or referring to the
gobernadorcillo or a former occupant of that office.
carambas: A Spanish exclamation denoting surprise or displeasure.
carbineer: Internal-revenue guard.
cedula: Certificate of registration and receipt for poll-tax.
chico: The sapodilla plum.
Civil Guard: Internal quasi-military police force of Spanish officers
and native soldiers.
cochero: Carriage driver: coachman.
Consul: A wealthy merchant; originally, a member of the Consulado,
the tribunal, or corporation, controlling the galleon trade.
cuadrillero: Municipal guard.
cuarto: A copper coin, one hundred and sixty of which were equal in
value to a silver peso.
cuidao: "Take care!" "Look out!" A common exclamation, from the
dálag: The Philippine Ophiocephalus, the curious walking mudfish that
abounds in the paddy-fields during the rainy season.
dalaga: Maiden, woman of marriageable age.
dinding: House-wall or partition of plaited bamboo wattle.
director, directorcillo: The town secretary and clerk of the
distinguido: A person of rank serving as a private soldier but
exempted from menial duties and in promotions preferred to others of
escribano: Clerk of court and official notary.
filibuster: A native of the Philippines who was accused of advocating
their separation from Spain.
gobernadorcillo: "Petty governor," the principal municipal official.
gogo: A climbing, woody vine whose macerated stems are used as soap;
guingón: Dungaree, a coarse blue cotton cloth.
hermano mayor: The manager of a fiesta.
husi: A fine cloth made of silk interwoven with cotton, abaka, or
ilang-ilang: The Malay "flower of flowers," from which the well-known
essence is obtained.
Indian: The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the
Philippines was indio (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously,
the name Filipino being generally applied in a restricted sense to
the children of Spaniards born in the Islands.
kaingin: A woodland clearing made by burning off the trees and
underbrush, for planting upland rice or camotes.
kalan: The small, portable, open, clay fireplace commonly used
kalao: The Philippine hornbill. As in all Malay countries, this bird
is the object of curious superstitions. Its raucous cry, which may
be faintly characterized as hideous, is said to mark the hours and,
in the night-time, to presage death or other disaster.
kalikut: A short section of bamboo in which the buyo is mixed;
a primitive betel-box.
kamagon: A tree of the ebony family, from which fine cabinet-wood is
obtained. Its fruit is the mabolo, or date-plum.
kasamá: Tenants on the land of another, to whom they render payment
in produce or by certain specified services.
kogon: A tall, rank grass used for thatch.
kris: A Moro dagger or short sword with a serpentine blade.
kundíman: A native song.
kupang: A large tree of the Mimosa family.
kuriput: Miser, "skinflint."
lanson: The langsa, a delicious cream-colored fruit about the size
of a plum. In the Philippines, its special habitat is the country
around the Lake of Bay.
liam-pó: A Chinese game of chance (?).
lomboy: The jambolana, a small, blue fruit with a large stone.
Malacañang: The palace of the Captain-General in Manila: from the
vernacular name of the place where it stands, "fishermen's resort."
mankukúlan: An evil spirit causing sickness and other misfortunes,
and a person possessed of such a demon.
morisqueta: Rice boiled without salt until dry, the staple food of
Moro: Mohammedan Malay of southern Mindanao and Sulu.
mutya: Some object with talismanic properties, "rabbit's foot."
nakú: A Tagalog exclamation of surprise, wonder, etc.
nipa: Swamp-palm, with the imbricated leaves of which the roots and
sides of the common Filipino houses are constructed.
nito: A climbing fern whose glossy, wiry leaves are used for making
fine hats, cigar-cases, etc.
novena: A devotion consisting of prayers recited on nine consecutive
days, asking for some special favor; also, a booklet of these prayers.
oy: An exclamation to attract attention, used toward inferiors and in
familiar intercourse: probably a contraction of the Spanish imperative,
pakó: An edible fern.
palasán: A thick, stout variety of rattan, used for walking-sticks.
pandakaki: A low tree or shrub with small, star-like flowers.
pañuelo: A starched neckerchief folded stiffly over the shoulders,
fastened in front and falling in a point behind: the most distinctive
portion of the customary dress of the Filipino women.
papaya: The tropical papaw, fruit of the "melon-tree."
paracmason: Freemason, the bête noire of the Philippine friar.
peseta: A silver coin, in value one-fifth of a peso or thirty-two
peso: A silver coin, either the Spanish peso or the Mexican dollar,
about the size of an American dollar and of approximately half
piña: Fine cloth made from pineapple-leaf fibers.
proper names: The author has given a simple and sympathetic touch to
his story throughout by using the familiar names commonly employed
among the Filipinos in their home-life. Some of these are nicknames
or pet names, such as Andong, Andoy, Choy, Neneng ("Baby"), Puté,
Tinchang, and Yeyeng. Others are abbreviations or corruptions of
the Christian names, often with the particle ng or ay added, which
is a common practice: Andeng, Andrea; Doray, Teodora; Iday, Brigida
(Bridget); Sinang, Lucinda (Lucy); Sipa, Josefa; Sisa, Narcisa; Teo,
Teodoro (Theodore); Tiago, Santiago (James); Tasio, Anastasio; Tiká,
Escolastica; Tinay, Quintina; Tinong, Saturnino.
Provincial: Head of a religious order in the Philippines.
querida: Paramour, mistress: from the Spanish, "beloved."
real: One-eighth of a peso, twenty cuartos.
sala: The principal room in the more pretentious Philippine houses.
salabat: An infusion of ginger.
salakot: Wide hat of palm or bamboo and rattan, distinctively Filipino.
sampaguita: The Arabian jasmine: a small, white, very fragrant flower,
extensively cultivated, and worn in chaplets and rosaries by the
women and girls--the typical Philippine flower.
santol: The Philippine sandal-tree.
sawali: Plaited bamboo wattle.
sinamay: A transparent cloth woven from abaka fibers.
sinigang: Water with vegetables or some acid fruit, in which fish
are boiled; "fish soup."
Susmariosep: A common exclamation: contraction of the Spanish, Jesús,
María, y José, the Holy Family.
tabí: The cry of carriage drivers to warn pedestrians.
talibon: A short sword, the "war bolo."
tapa: Jerked meat.
tápis: A piece of dark cloth or lace, often richly worked or
embroidered, worn at the waist somewhat in the fashion of an apron:
a distinctive portion of the native women's attire, especially among
tarambulo: A low weed whose leaves and fruit pedicles are covered
with short, sharp spines.
teniente-mayor: Senior lieutenant, the senior member of the town
council and substitute for the gobernadorcillo.
tikas-tikas: A variety of canna bearing bright red flowers.
tertiary brethren: Members of a lay society affiliated with a
regular monastic order, especially the Venerable Tertiary Order of
timbaín: The "water-cure," and hence, any kind of torture. The primary
meaning is "to draw water from a well," from timba, pail.
tikbalang: An evil spirit, capable of assuming various forms,
but said to appear usually in the shape of a tall black man with
disproportionately long legs: the "bogey man" of Tagalog children.
tulisan: Outlaw, bandit. Under the old régime in the Philippines the
tulisanes were those who, on account of real or fancied grievances
against the authorities, or from fear of punishment for crime,
or from an instinctive desire to return to primitive simplicity,
foreswore life in the towns "under the bell," and made their homes
in the mountains or other remote places. Gathered in small bands with
such arms as they could secure, they sustained themselves by highway
robbery and the levying of blackmail from the country folk.
zacate: Native grass used for feeding livestock.
--Quoted by Macaulay: Essay on the Succession in Spain.
--The ruins of the Fuerza de Playa Honda, ó Real de Paynavén, are
still to be seen in the present municipality of Botolan, Zambales. The
walls are overgrown with rank vegetation, but are well preserved, with
the exception of a portion looking toward the Bankal River, which has
been undermined by the currents and has fallen intact into the stream.
--Relation of the Zambals, by Domingo Perez, O.P.; manuscript
dated 1680. The excerpts are taken from the translation in Blair and
Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLVII, by courtesy of the
Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio.
--"Estadismo de las Islas Filipinas, ó Mis Viages por Este Pais,
por Fray Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga, Agustino calzado." Padre Zuñiga
was a parish priest in several towns and later Provincial of his
Order. He wrote a history of the conquest, and in 1800 accompanied
Alava, the General de Marina, on his tours of investigation looking
toward preparations for the defense of the islands against another
attack of the British, with whom war threatened. The Estadismo,
which is a record of these journeys, with some account of the rest of
the islands, remained in manuscript until 1893, when it was published
--Secular, as distinguished from the regulars, i.e., members of
the monastic orders.
--Sinibaldo de Mas, Informe sobre el estado de las Islas Filipinas
en 1842, translated in Blair and Robertson's The Philippine Islands,
Vol. XXVIII, p. 254.
--Sic. St. John xx, 17.
--This letter in the original French in which it was written is
reproduced in the Vida y Escritos del Dr. José Rizal, by W. E. Retana
--Filipinas dentro de Cien Años, published in the organ of the
Filipinos in Spain, La Solidaridad, in 1889--90. This is the most
studied of Rizal's purely political writings, and the completest
exposition of his views concerning the Philippines.
--An English version of El Filibusterismo, under the title The
Reign of Greed, has been prepared to accompany the present work.
--"Que todo el monte era orégano." W.E. Retana, in the appendix
to Fray Martinez de Zuñiga's Estadismo, Madrid, 1893, where the decree
is quoted. The rest of this comment of Retana's deserves quotation
as an estimate of the living man by a Spanish publicist who was at
the time in the employ of the friars and contemptuously hostile
to Rizal, but who has since 1898 been giving quite a spectacular
demonstration of waving a red light after the wreck, having become
his most enthusiastic, almost hysterical, biographer: "Rizal is what
is commonly called a character, but he has repeatedly demonstrated
very great inexperience in the affairs of life. I believe him to
be now about thirty-two years old. He is the Indian of most ability
among those who have written."
--From Valenzuela's deposition before the military tribunal,
September sixth, 1896.
--Capilla: the Spanish practise is to place a condemned person
for the twenty-four hours preceding his execution in a chapel, or
a cell fitted up as such, where he may devote himself to religious
exercises and receive the final ministrations of the Church.
--But even this conclusion is open to doubt: there is no proof
beyond the unsupported statement of the Jesuits that he made a written
retraction, which was later destroyed, though why a document so
interesting, and so important in support of their own point of view,
should not have been preserved furnishes an illuminating commentary
on the whole confused affair. The only unofficial witness present was
the condemned man's sister, and her declaration, that she was at the
time in such a state of excitement and distress that she is unable to
affirm positively that there was a real marriage ceremony performed,
can readily be accepted. It must be remembered that the Jesuits were
themselves under the official and popular ban for the part they had
played in Rizal's education and development and that they were seeking
to set themselves right in order to maintain their prestige. Add to
this the persistent and systematic effort made to destroy every scrap
of record relating to the man--the sole gleam of shame evidenced in
the impolitic, idiotic, and pusillanimous treatment of him--and the
whole question becomes such a puzzle that it may just as well be left
in darkness, with a throb of pity for the unfortunate victim caught
in such a maelstrom of panic-stricken passion and selfish intrigue.
--A similar picture is found in the convento at Antipolo.--
--A school of secondary instruction conducted by the Dominican
Fathers, by whom it was taken over in 1640. "It had its first beginning
in the house of a pious Spaniard, called Juan Geronimo Guerrero,
who had dedicated himself, with Christian piety, to gathering orphan
boys in his house, where he raised, clothed, and sustained them, and
taught them to read and to write, and much more, to live in the fear
of God."--Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLV,
--The Dominican friars, whose order was founded by Dominic de
--In the story mentioned, the three monks were the old Roman
god Bacchus and two of his satellites, in the disguise of Franciscan
--According to a note to the Barcelona edition of this
novel, Mendieta was a character well known in Manila, doorkeeper
at the Alcaldía, impresario of children's theaters, director of a
--The "tobacco monopoly" was established during the
administration of Basco de Vargas (1778--1787), one of the ablest
governors Spain sent to the Philippines, in order to provide revenue
for the local government and to encourage agricultural development. The
operation of the monopoly, however, soon degenerated into a system
of "graft" and petty abuse which bore heartily upon the natives
(see Zuñiga's Estadismo), and the abolition of it in 1881 was one
of the heroic efforts made by the Spanish civil administrators to
adjust the archaic colonial system to the changing conditions in the
--As a result of his severity in enforcing the payment of sums
due the royal treasury on account of the galleon trade, in which
the religious orders were heavily interested, Governor Fernando de
Bustillos Bustamente y Rueda met a violent death at the hands of
a mob headed by friars, October 11, 1719. See Blair and Robertson,
The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLIV; Montero y Vidal, Historia General
de Filipinas, Vol. I, Chap. XXXV.--TR.
--A reference to the fact that the clerical party in Spain
refused to accept the decree of Ferdinand VII setting aside the Salic
law and naming his daughter Isabella as his successor, and, upon the
death of Ferdinand, supported the claim of the nearest male heir,
Don Carlos de Bourbon, thus giving rise to the Carlist movement. Some
writers state that severe measures had to be adopted to compel many
of the friars in the Philippines to use the feminine pronoun in their
prayers for the sovereign, just whom the reverend gentlemen expected
to deceive not being explained.--TR.
--An apothegm equivalent to the English, "He'll never set any
rivers on fire."--TR.
--The name of a Carlist leader in Spain.--TR.
--A German Franciscan monk who is said to have invented gunpowder
--"He says that he doesn't want it when it is exactly what he
does want." An expression used in the mongrel Spanish-Tagalog 'market
language' of Manila and Cavite, especially among the children,--
somewhat akin to the English 'sour grapes.'--TR.
--Arms should yield to the toga (military to civil power). Arms
should yield to the surplice (military to religious power),--TR.
--For Peninsula, i.e., Spain. The change of n to ñ was common
among ignorant Filipinos.--TR.
--The syllables which constitute the first reading lesson in
--A Spanish colloquial term ("cracked"), applied to a native
of Spain who was considered to be mentally unbalanced from too long
residence in the islands,--TR.
--This celebrated Lady was first brought from Acapulco, Mexico,
by Juan Niño de Tabora, when he came to govern the Philippines in
1626. By reason of her miraculous powers of allaying the storms she was
carried back and forth in the state galleons on a number of voyages,
until in 1672 she was formally installed in a church in the hills
northeast of Manila, under the care of the Augustinian Fathers. While
her shrine was building she is said to have appeared to the faithful in
the top of a large breadfruit tree, which is known to the Tagalogs as
"antipolo"; hence her name. Hers is the best known and most frequented
shrine in the country, while she disputes with the Holy Child of Cebu
the glory of being the wealthiest individual in the whole archipelago.
There has always existed a pious rivalry between her and the
Dominicans' Lady of the Rosary as to which is the patron saint of the
Philippines, the contest being at times complicated by counterclaims
on the part of St. Francis, although the entire question would seem
to have been definitely settled by a royal decree, published about
1650, officially conferring that honorable post upon St. Michael the
Archangel (San Miguel). A rather irreverent sketch of this celebrated
queen of the skies appears in Chapter XI of Foreman's The Philippine
--Santa Cruz, Paco, and Ermita are districts of Manila, outside
the Walled City.--TR.
--John xviii. 10.
--A town in Laguna Province, noted for the manufacture of
--God grant that this prophecy may soon be fulfilled for
the author of the booklet and all of us who believe it. Amen.--
--"Blessed are the poor in spirit" and "blessed are the
--The annual celebration of the Dominican Order held in
October in honor of its patroness, the Virgin of the Rosary, to whose
intervention was ascribed the victory over a Dutch fleet in 1646,
whence the name. See Guía Oficial de Filipinas, 1885, pp. 138, 139;
Montero y Vidal, Historia General de Filipinas, Vol. I, Chap. XXIII;
Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXXV, pp. 249,
--Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose chief
business is preaching and teaching. They entered the Philippines in
--"Kaysaysay: A celebrated sanctuary in the island of Luzon,
province of Batangas, jurisdiction, of Taal, so called because there
is venerated in it a Virgin who bears that name ....
"The image is in the center of the high altar, where there is seen an
eagle in half-relief, whose abdomen is left open in order to afford a
tabernacle for the Virgin: an idea enchanting to many of the Spaniards
established in the Philippines during the last century, but which in
our opinion any sensible person will characterize as extravagant.
"This image of the Virgin of Kaysaysay enjoys the fame of being very
miraculous, so that the Indians gather from great distances to hear
mass in her sanctuary every Saturday. Her discovery, over two and a
half centuries ago, is notable in that she was found in the sea during
some fisheries, coming up in a drag-net with the fish. It is thought
that this venerable image of the Filipinos may have been in some ship
which was wrecked and that the currents carried her up to the coast,
where she was found in the manner related.
"The Indians, naturally credulous and for the most part quite
superstitious, in spite of the advancements in civilization and
culture, relate that she appeared afterwards in some trees, and
in memory of these manifestations an arch representing them was
erected at a short distance from the place where her sanctuary is now
located."--Buzeta and Bravo's Diccionario, Madrid, 1850, but copied
"with proper modifications for the times and the new truths" from
Zuñiga's Estadismo, which, though written in 1803 and not published
until 1893, was yet used by later writers, since it was preserved in
manuscript in the convent of the Augustinians in Manila, Buzeta and
Bravo, as well as Zuñiga, being members of that order.
So great was the reverence for this Lady that the Acapulco galleons
on their annual voyages were accustomed to fire salutes in her honor
as they passed along the coast near her shrine.--Foreman. The
Philippine Islands, quoting from the account of an eruption of Taal
Volcano in 1749, by Fray Francisco Vencuchillo.
This Lady's sanctuary, where she is still "enchanting" in her "eagle
in half-relief," stands out prominently on the hill above the town
of Taal, plainly visible from Balayan Bay.--TR.
--A Tagalog term meaning "to tumble," or "to caper about,"
doubtless from the actions of the Lady's devotees. Pakil is a town
in Laguna Province.--TR.
--A work on scholastic philosophy, by a Spanish prelate of that
--The nunnery and college of St. Catherine of Sienna ("Santa
Catalina de la Sena") was founded by the Dominican Fathers in
--The "Ateneo Municipal," where the author, as well as nearly
every other Filipino of note in the past generation, received his early
education, was founded by the Jesuits shortly after their return to
the islands in 1859.--TR.
--The patron saint of Tondo, Manila's Saint-Antoine. He is
invoked for aid in driving away plagues,--TR.
--Now Plaza Cervantes.--TR.
--Now Plaza Lawton and Bagumbayan; see note, infra.--TR.
--The Field of Bagumbayan, adjoining the Luneta, was the place
where political prisoners were shot or garroted, and was the scene
of the author's execution on December 30, 1906. It is situated just
outside and east of the old Walled City (Manila proper), being the
location to which the natives who had occupied the site of Manila
moved their town after having been driven back by the Spaniards--
hence the name, which is a Tagalog compound meaning "new town." This
place is now called Wallace Field, the name Bagumbayan being applied
to the driveway which was known to the Spaniards as the Paseo de las
Aguadas, or de Vidal, extending from the Luneta to the Bridge of Spain,
just outside the moat that, formerly encircled the Walled City.--TR.
--Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.--TR.
--We have been unable to find any town of this name, but many
of these conditions.--Author's note.
San Diego and Santiago are variant forms of the name of the patron
saint of Spain, St. James.--TR.
--The "sacred tree" of Malaya, being a species of banyan that
begins life as a vine twining on another tree, which it finally
strangles, using the dead trunk as a support until it is able to
stand alone. When old it often covers a large space with gnarled and
twisted trunks of varied shapes and sizes, thus presenting a weird
and grotesque appearance. This tree was held in reverent awe by the
primitive Filipinos, who believed it to be the abode of the nono, or
ancestral ghosts, and is still the object of superstitious beliefs,
--"Petty governor," the chief municipal official, chosen annually
from among their own number, with the approval of the parish priest
and the central government, by the principalía, i.e., persons who
owned considerable property or who had previously held some municipal
office. The manner of his selection is thus described by a German
traveler (Jagor) in the Philippines in 1860: "The election is held
in the town hall. The governor or his representative presides, having
on his right the parish priest and on his left a clerk, who also acts
as interpreter. All the cabezas de barangay, the gobernadorcillo, and
those who have formerly occupied the latter position, seat themselves
on benches. First, there are chosen by lot six cabezas de barangay and
six ex-gobernadorcillos as electors, the actual gobernadorcillo being
the thirteenth. The rest leave the hall. After the presiding officer
has read the statutes in a loud voice and reminded the electors of
their duty to act in accordance with their consciences and to heed
only the welfare of the town, the electors move to a table and write
three names on a slip of paper. The person receiving a majority
of votes is declared elected gobernadorcillo for the ensuing year,
provided that there is no protest from the curate or the electors,
and always conditioned upon the approval of the superior authority
in Manila, which is never withheld, since the influence of the curate
is enough to prevent an unsatisfactory election."--TR.
--St. Barbara is invoked during thunder-storms as the special
protectress against lightning.--TR.
--In possibility (i.e., latent) and not: in fact.--TR.
"For this are various penances enjoined;
And some are hung to bleach upon the wind;
Some plunged in waters, others purged in fires,
Till all the dregs are drained, and all the rust expires."
Dryden, Virgil's Aeneid, VI.
--"Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."--Luke xxiii, 43.
--It should be believed that for some light faults there is a
purgatorial fire before the judgment.
--Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth.--Matt, xvi, 19.
--Even up to purgatory.
--Dream or reality, we do not know whether this may have happened
to any Franciscan, but something similar is related of the Augustinian
Padre Piernavieja.--Author's note.
Fray Antonio Piernavieja, O.S.A., was a parish curate in the province
of Bulacan when this work was written. Later, on account of alleged
brutality similar to the incident used here, he was transferred
to the province of Cavite, where, in 1896, he was taken prisoner
by the insurgents and by them made "bishop" of their camp. Having
taken advantage of this position to collect and forward to the
Spanish authorities in Manila information concerning the insurgents'
preparations and plans, he was tied out in an open field and left to
perish of hunger and thirst under the tropical sun. See Guía Oficial
de Filipinas, 1885, p. 195; El Katipunan ó El Filibusterismo en
Filipinas (Madrid, 1897), p. 347; Foreman's The Philippine Islands,
--The Philippine civet-cat, quite rare, and the only wild
carnivore in the Philippine Islands.--TR.
--The common crowd is a fool and since it pays for it, it is
proper to talk to it foolishly to please it.
--"The schools are under the inspection of the parish
priests. Reading and writing in Spanish are taught, or at least it
is so ordered; but the schoolmaster himself usually does not know
it, and on the other hand the Spanish government employees do not
understand the vernacular. Besides, the curates, in order to preserve
their influence intact, do not look favorably upon the spread of
Castilian. About the only ones who know Spanish are the Indians who
have been in the service of Europeans. The first reading exercise
is some devotional book, then the catechism; the reader is called
Casaysayan. On the average half of the children between seven and ten
years attend school; they learn to read fairly well and some to write
a little, but they soon forget it."--Jagor, Viajes por Filipinas
(Vidal's Spanish version). Jagor was speaking particularly of the
settled parts of the Bicol region. Referring to the islands generally,
his "half of the children" would be a great exaggeration.--TR.
--A delicate bit of sarcasm is lost in the translation here. The
reference to Maestro Ciruela in Spanish is somewhat similar to a
mention in English of Mr. Squeers, of Dotheboys Hall fame.--TR.
--By one of the provisions of a royal decree of December 20,
1863, the Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristina, by Gaspar Astete,
was prescribed as the text-book for primary schools, in the
Philippines. See Blair and Robertson's The Philippine Islands,
Vol. XLVI, p. 98; Census of the Philippine Islands (Washington, 1905),
--The municipal police of the old régime. They were thus
described by a Spanish writer, W. E. Retana, in a note to Ventura
F. Lopez's El Filibustero (Madrid, 1893): "Municipal guards,
whose duties are principally rural. Their uniform is a disaster;
they go barefoot; on horseback, they hold the reins in the right
hand and a lance in the left. They are usually good-for-nothing,
but to their credit it must be said that they do no damage. Lacking
military instruction, provided with fire-arms of the first part of
the century, of which one in a hundred might go off in case of need,
and for other arms bolos, talibons, old swords, etc., the cuadrilleros
are truly a parody on armed force."--TR.
--Headman and tax-collector of a district, generally including
about fifty families, for whose annual tribute he was personally
responsible. The "barangay" is a Malay boat of the kind supposed to
have been used by the first emigrants to the Philippines. Hence, at
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