The Social Cancer
Jose Rizal

Part 11 out of 11

first, the "head of a barangay" meant the leader or chief of a family
or group of families. This office, quite analogous to the old Germanic
or Anglo-Saxon "head of a hundred," was adopted and perpetuated by
the Spaniards in their system of local administration.--TR.

[68]--The hermano mayor was a person appointed to direct the
ceremonies during the fiesta, an appointment carrying with it great
honor and importance, but also entailing considerable expense,
as the appointee was supposed to furnish a large share of the
entertainments. Hence, the greater the number of hermanos mayores
the more splendid the fiesta,--TR.

[69]--Mt. Makiling is a volcanic cone at the southern end of
the Lake of Bay. At its base is situated the town of Kalamba, the
author's birthplace. About this mountain cluster a number of native
legends having as their principal character a celebrated sorceress
or enchantress, known as "Mariang Makiling."--TR.

[70]--With uncertain pace, in wandering flight, for an instant only
--without rest.

[71]--The chinela, the Philippine slipper, is a soft leather sole,
heelless, with only a vamp, usually of plush or velvet, to hold it

[72]--"All hope abandon, ye who enter here." The words inscribed
over the gate of Hell: Dante's Inferno, III, 9.--TR.

[73]--"Listening Sister," the nun who acts as spy and monitor over
the girls studying in a convent.--TR.

[74]--"Más sabe el loco en su casa que el cuerdo en la ajena." The
fool knows more in his own house than a wise man does in another's.--

[75]--The College of Santo Tomas was established in 1619 through
a legacy of books and money left for that purpose by Fray Miguel de
Benavides, O. P., second archbishop of Manila. By royal decree and
papal bull, it became in 1645 the Royal and Pontifical University
of Santo Tomas, and never, during the Spanish régime, got beyond the
Thomistic theology in its courses of instruction.--TR.

[76]--Take heed lest you fall!

[77]--Ferdinand and Isabella, the builders of Spain's greatness,
are known in Spanish history as "Los Reyes Católicos."--TR.

[78]--These spectacular performances, known as "Moro-Moro," often
continued for several days, consisting principally of noisy combats
between Moros and Christians, in which the latter were, of course,
invariably victorious. Typical sketches of them may be found in
Foreman's The Philippine Islands, Chap. XXIII, and Stuntz's The
Philippines and the Far East, Chap. III.--TR.

[79]--"The Willow."

[80]--The capital of Laguna Province, not to be confused with
the Santa Cruz mentioned before, which is a populous and important
district in the city of Manila. Tanawan, Lipa, and Batangas are towns
in Batangas Province, the latter being its capital.--TR.

[81]--"If on your return you are met with a smile, beware! for it
means that you have a secret enemy."--From the Florante, being the
advice given to the hero by his old teacher when he set out to return
to his home.

Francisco Baltazar was a Tagalog poet, native of the province of
Bulacan, born about 1788, and died in 1862. The greater part of his
life was spent in Manila,--in Tondo and in Pandakan, a quaint little
village on the south bank of the Pasig, now included in the city,
where he appears to have shared the fate largely of poets of other
lands, from suffering "the pangs of disprized love" and persecution
by the religious authorities, to seeing himself considered by the
people about him as a crack-brained dreamer. He was educated in the
Dominican school of San Juan de Letran, one of his teachers being Fray
Mariano Pilapil, about whose services to humanity there may be some
difference of opinion on the part of those who have ever resided in
Philippine towns, since he was the author of the "Passion Song" which
enlivens the Lenten evenings. This "Passion Song," however, seems
to have furnished the model for Baltazar's Florante, with the pupil
surpassing the master, for while it has the subject and characters
of a medieval European romance, the spirit and settings are entirely
Malay. It is written in the peculiar Tagalog verse, in the form of a
corrido or metrical romance, and has been declared by Fray Toribio
Menguella, Rizal himself, and others familiar with Tagalog, to be
a work of no mean order, by far the finest and most characteristic
composition in that, the richest of the Malay dialects.--TR.

[82]--Every one talks of the fiesta according to the way he fared
at it.

[83]--A Spanish prelate, notable for his determined opposition in
the Constituent Cortes of 1869 to the clause in the new Constitution
providing for religious liberty.--TR.

[84]--"Camacho's wedding" is an episode in Don Quixote, wherein a
wealthy man named Camacho is cheated out of his bride after he has
prepared a magnificent wedding-feast.--TR.

[85]--The full dress of the Filipino women, consisting of the
camisa, pañuelo, and saya suelta, the latter a heavy skirt with a
long train. The name mestiza is not inappropriate, as well from its
composition as its use, since the first two are distinctly native,
antedating the conquest, while the saya suelta was no doubt introduced
by the Spaniards.

[86]--The nunnery of St. Clara, situated on the Pasig River just
east of Fort Santiago, was founded in 1621 by the Poor Clares,
an order of nuns affiliated with the Franciscans, and was taken
under the royal patronage as the "Real Monasterio de Santa Clara"
in 1662. It is still in existence and is perhaps the most curious of
all the curious relics of the Middle Ages in old Manila.--TR.

[87]--The principal character in Calderon de la Barca's La Vida
es Sueño. There is also a Tagalog corrido, or metrical romance,
with this title.--TR.

[88]--The Douay version.--TR.

[89]--"Errare humanum est": "To err is human."

[90]--To the Philippine Chinese "d" and "l" look and sound about
the same.--TR.

[91]--"Brothers in Christ."

[92]--"Venerable patron saint."

[93]--Muy Reverendo Padre: Very Reverend Father.

[94]--Very rich landlord. The United States Philippine Commission,
constituting the government of the Archipelago, paid to the religious
orders "a lump sum of $7,239,000, more or less," for the bulk of
the lands claimed by them. See the Annual Report of the Philippine
Commission to the Secretary of War, December 23, 1903.--TR.

[95]--Cumare and cumpare are corruptions of the Spanish comadre and
compadre, which have an origin analogous to the English "gossip" in
its original meaning of "sponsor in baptism." In the Philippines these
words are used among the simpler folk as familiar forms of address,
"friend," "neighbor."--TR.

[96]--Dominus vobiscum.

[97]--The Spanish proverb equivalent to the English "Birds of a
feather flock together."--TR.

[98]--For "filibustero."

[99]--Tarantado is a Spanish vulgarism meaning "blunderhead,"
"bungler." Saragate (or zaragate) is a Mexican provincialism meaning
"disturber," "mischief-maker."--TR.

[100]--Vete á la porra is a vulgarism almost the same in meaning
and use as the English slang, "Tell it to the policeman," porra being
the Spanish term for the policeman's "billy."--TR.

[101]--For sospechoso, "a suspicious character."--TR.

[102]--Sanctus Deus and Requiem aeternam (so called from their
first words) are prayers for the dead.--TR.

[103]--Spanish etiquette requires that the possessor of an
object immediately offer it to any person who asks about it with the
conventional phrase, "It is yours." Capitan Tiago is rather overdoing
his Latin refinement.--TR.

[104]--A metrical discourse for a special occasion or in honor of
some distinguished personage. Padre Zuñiga (Estadismo, Chap. III) thus
describes one heard by him in Lipa, Batangas, in 1800, on the occasion
of General Alava's visit to that place: "He who is to recite the loa
is seen in the center of the stage dressed as a Spanish cavalier,
reclining in a chair as if asleep, while behind the scenes musicians
sing a lugubrious chant in the vernacular. The sleeper awakes and
shows by signs that he thinks he has heard, or dreamed of hearing, some
voice. He again disposes himself to sleep, and the chant is repeated
in the same lugubrious tone. Again he awakes, rises, and shows that
he has heard a voice. This scene is repeated several times, until at
length he is persuaded that the voice is announcing the arrival of
the hero who is to be eulogized. He then commences to recite his loa,
carrying himself like a clown in a circus, while he sings the praises
of the person in whose honor the fiesta has been arranged. This loa,
which was in rhetorical verse in a diffuse style suited to the Asiatic
taste, set forth the general's naval expeditions and the honors he
had received from the King, concluding with thanks and acknowledgment
of the favor that he had conferred in passing through their town and
visiting such poor wretches as they. There were not lacking in it
the wanderings of Ulysses, the journeys of Aristotle, the unfortunate
death of Pliny, and other passages from ancient history, which they
delight in introducing into their stories. All these passages are
usually filled with fables touching upon the marvelous, such as the
following, which merit special notice: of Aristotle it was said that
being unable to learn the depth of the sea he threw himself into its
waves and was drowned, and of Pliny that he leaped into Vesuvius
to investigate the fire within the volcano. In the same way other
historical accounts are confused. I believe that these loas were
introduced by the priests in former times, although the fables with
which they abound would seem to offer an objection to this opinion,
as nothing is ever told in them that can be found in the writings
of any European author; still they appear to me to have been suited
to the less critical taste of past centuries. The verses are written
by the natives, among whom there are many poets, this art being less
difficult in Tagalog than in any other language."--TR.

[105]--"The old man of the village," patriarch.--TR.

[106]--The secular name of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the
Franciscan order.--TR.

[107]--A Spanish official, author of several works relating to the
Philippines, one of which, Recuerdos de Filipinas (Madrid, 1877 and
1880), a loose series of sketches and impressions giving anything but
a complimentary picture of the character and conduct of the Spaniards
in the Islands, and in a rather naive and perhaps unintentional way
throwing some lurid side-lights on the governmental administration
and the friar régime,--enjoyed the distinction of being officially
prohibited from circulation in the archipelago.--TR.

[108]--"Magcanta-ca!" "(You) sing!"--TR.

[109]--Europea: European woman.--TR.

[110]--In 1527--29 Alvaro de Saavedra led an unsuccessful
expedition to take possession of the "Western Isles." The name
"Filipina," in honor of the Prince of the Asturias, afterwards
Felipe II (Philip II), was first applied to what is probably the
present island of Leyte by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, who led another
unsuccessful expedition thither in 1542--43, this name being later
extended to the whole group.--TR.

[111]--A barrio of Tanawan, Batangas, noted for the manufacture of

[112]--The actors named were real persons. Ratia was a
Spanish-Filipino who acquired quite a reputation not only in Manila
but also in Spain. He died in Manila in 1910.--TR.

[113]--In the year 1879.--Author's note.

[114]--A similar incident occurred in Kalamba.--Author's note.

[115]--"The Maid of Saragossa," noted for her heroic exploits during
the siege of that city by the French in 1808--09.--TR.

[116]--A region in southwestern Spain, including the provinces of
Badajoz and Caceres.--TR.

[117]--Author of a little book of fables in Castilian verse for
the use of schools. The fable of the young philosopher illustrates
the thought in Pope's well-known lines:

"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace."--TR.

[118]--Bones for those who come late.

[119]--According to Spanish custom, a matron is known by prefixing
her maiden name with de (possessive of) to her husband's name.--TR.

[120]--The marble-shop of Rodoreda is still in existence on Calle
Carriedo, Santa Cruz.--TR.

[121]--There is a play on words here, Campanario meaning belfry
and Torre tower.--TR.

[122]--The Roman Catholic decalogue does not contain the commandment
forbidding the worship of "graven images," its second being the
prohibition against "taking His holy name in vain." To make up the ten,
the commandment against covetousness is divided into two.--TR.

[123]--The famous Virgin of Saragossa, Spain, and patroness of
Santa Cruz, Manila.--TR.

[124]--In 1883 the old system of "tribute" was abolished and in its
place a graduated personal tax imposed. The certificate that this
tax had been paid, known as the cédula personal, which also served
for personal identification, could be required at any time or place,
and failure to produce it was cause for summary arrest. It therefore
became, in unscrupulous hands, a fruitful source of abuse, since any
"undesirable" against whom no specific charge could be brought might
be put out of the way by this means.--TR.

[125]--Tanawan or Pateros?--Author's note. The former is a town
in Batangas Province, the latter a village on the northern shore of
the Lake of Bay, in what is now Rizal Province.--TR.

[126]--The Spanish Parliament.--TR.

[127]--Lásak, talisain, and bulik are some of the numerous terms
used in the vernacular to describe fighting-cocks.--TR.

[128]--Another form of the corruption of compadre, "friend,"

[129]--It is a superstition of the cockpit that the color of
the victor in the first bout decides the winners for that session:
thus, the red having won, the lásak, in whose plumage a red color
predominates, should be the victor in the succeeding bout.--TR.

[130]--The dark swallows will return.

[131]--General Carlos Maria de let Torte y Nava Carrada, the first
"liberal" governor of the Philippines, was Captain-General from 1869 to
1871. He issued an amnesty to the outlaws and created the Civil Guard,
largely from among those who surrendered themselves in response to

[132]--After the conquest (officially designated as the
"pacification"), the Spanish soldiers who had rendered faithful
service were allotted districts known as encomiendas, generally of
about a thousand natives each. The encomendero was entitled to the
tribute from the people in his district and was in return supposed
to protect them and provide religious instruction. The early friars
alleged extortionate greed and brutal conduct on the part of the
encomenderos and made vigorous protests in the natives' behalf.--TR.

[133]--Horse and cow.

[134]--Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, O.S.A., who came to the
Philippines in 1668 and died in Manila in 1724, was the author of a
history of the conquest, but his chief claim to immortality comes from
a letter written in 1720 on the character and habits of "the Indian
inhabitants of these islands," a letter which was widely circulated
and which has been extensively used by other writers. In it the
writer with senile querulousness harped up and down the whole gamut
of abuse in describing and commenting upon the vices of the natives,
very artlessly revealing the fact in many places, however, that his
observations were drawn principally from the conduct of the servants
in the conventos and homes of Spaniards. To him in this letter is
due the credit of giving its wide popularity to the specious couplet:

El bejuco crece (The rattan thrives
Donde el indio nace, Where the Indian lives,)

which the holy men who delighted in quoting it took as an additional
evidence of the wise dispensation of the God of Nature, rather
inconsistently overlooking its incongruity with the teachings of Him
in whose name they assumed their holy office.

It seems somewhat strange that a spiritual father should have written
in such terms about his charges until the fact appears that the letter
was addressed to an influential friend in Spain for use in opposition
to a proposal to carry out the provisions of the Council of Trent by
turning the parishes in the islands over to the secular, and hence,
native, clergy. A translation of this bilious tirade, with copious
annotations showing to what a great extent it has been used by other
writers, appears in Volume XL of Blair and Robertson's The Philippine

[135]--The Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion Concordia, situated
near Santa Aria in the suburbs of Manila, was founded in 1868 for
the education of native girls, by a pious Spanish-Filipino lady,
who donated a building and grounds, besides bearing the expense of
bringing out seven Sisters of Charity to take charge of it.--TR.

[136]--The execution of the Filipino priests Burgos, Gomez, and
Zamora, in 1872.--TR.

[137]--The fair day is foretold by the morn.

[138]--Paracmason, i.e. freemason.

[139]--Scholastic theologians.--TR.

[140]--And yet it does move!

[141]--I am a man and nothing that concerns humanity do I consider
foreign to me.

[142]--A portion of the closing words of Virgil's third eclogue,
equivalent here to "Let the curtain drop."--TR.

[143]--"Whatever is hidden will be revealed, nothing will remain
unaccounted for." From Dies Irae, the hymn in the mass for the dead,
best known to English readers from the paraphrase of it in Scott's
Lay of the Last Minstrel. The lines here quoted were thus metrically
translated by Macaulay:

"What was distant shall be near,
What was hidden shall be clear."--TR.

[144]--A common nickname. See the Glossary, under Nicknames.--TR.

[145]--The Marianas, or Ladrone Islands, were used as a place of
banishment for political prisoners.--TR.

[146]--"Evil Omen," a nickname applied by the friars to General
Joaquin Jovellar, who was governor of the Islands from 1883 to
1885. It fell to the lot of General Jovellar, a kindly old man,
much more soldier than administrator, to attempt the introduction of
certain salutary reforms tending toward progress, hence his disfavor
with the holy fathers. The mention of "General J----" in the last
part of the epilogue probably refers also to him.--TR.

[147]--A celebrated Italian astronomer, member of the Jesuit
Order. The Jesuits are still in charge of the Observatory of Manila.--

[148]--"Our Lady of the Girdle" is the patroness of the Augustinian

[149]--This image is in the six-million-peso steel church of
St. Sebastian in Manila. Something of her early history is thus given
by Fray Luis de Jesus in his Historia of the Recollect Order (1681):
"A very holy image is revered there under the title of Carmen. Although
that image is small in stature, it is a great and perennial spring
of prodigies for those who invoke her. Our religious took it from
Nueva España (Mexico), and even in that very navigation she was able
to make herself known by her miracles .... That most holy image is
daily frequented with vows, presents, and novenas, thank-offerings
of the many who are daily favored by that queen of the skies."--
Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXI, p. 195.

[150]--The oldest and most conservative newspaper in Manila at the
time this work was written.--TR.

[151]--Following closely upon the liberal administration of La
Torre, there occurred in the Cavite arsenal in 1872 a mutiny which
was construed as an incipient rebellion, and for alleged complicity
in it three native priests, Padres Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, were
garroted, while a number of prominent Manilans were deported.--TR.

[152]--What do I see? . . . Wherefore?

[153]--What do you wish? Nothing is in the intellect which has
not first passed through the senses; nothing is willed that is not
already in the mind.

[154]--Where in the world are we?

[155]--The uprising of Ibarra suppressed by the alferez of the
Civil Guard? And now?

[156]--Friend, Plato is dear but truth is dearer ... It's a bad
business and a horrible result from these things is to be feared.

[157]--Against him who denies the fundamentals, clubs should be
used as arguments.

[158]--Latin prayers. "Agnus Dei Catolis" for "Agnus Dei qui tollis"
(John I. 29).

[159]--Woe unto them! Where there's smoke there's fire! Like seeks
like; and if Ibarra is hanged, therefore you will be hanged.

[160]--I do not fear death in bed, but upon the mount of Bagumbayan.

[161]--The first part of a Spanish proverb: "Gifts break rocks,
and enter without gimlets."

[162]--What is written is evidence! What medicines do not cure,
iron cures; what iron does not cure, fire cures.

[163]--In extreme cases, extreme measures.

[164]--Do you wish to keep it also, traitress?

[165]--Go, accursed, into the fire of the kalan.

[166]--The first part of a Spanish proverb: "Cría cuervos y te
sacarán los ojos," "Rear crows and they will pick your eyes out."--

[167]--Believe me, cousin . . . what has happened, has happened;
let us give thanks to God that you are not in the Marianas Islands,
planting camotes. (It may be observed that here, as in some of his
other speeches, Don Primitivo's Latin is rather Philippinized.)--TR.

[168]--The original is in the lingua franca of the Philippine
Chinese, a medium of expression sui generis, being, like, Ulysses, "a
part of all that he has met," and defying characteristic translation:
"No siya ostí gongon; miligen li Antipolo esi! Esi pueli más con tolo;
no siya ostí gongong!"--TR.

[169]--"Si esi no hómole y no pataylo, mujé juete-juete!"

[170]--The Spanish battle-cry: "St. James, and charge, Spain!"--TR.

[171]--The "wide rock" that formerly jutted out into the river
just below the place where the streams from the Lake of Bay join the
Mariquina to form the Pasig proper. This spot was celebrated in the
demonology of the primitive Tagalogs and later, after the tutelar
devils had been duly exorcised by the Spanish padres, converted into
a revenue station. The name is preserved in that of the little barrio
on the river bank near Fort McKinley.--TR.

[172]--A Christmas carol: "Christmas night is coming, Christmas
night is going."--TR.

[173]--Public Opium-Smoking Room.

[174]--January 2, 1883.--Author's note.


Back to Full Books