Chapter 4:

Cabesang Tales

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Those who have read the first part of this story will perhaps remember an old wood-cutter who lived in the depths of the forest.[1]  Tandang Selo is still alive, and though his hair has turned completely white, he yet preserves his good health.  He no longer hunts or cuts firewood, for his fortunes have improved and he works only at making brooms.

His son Tales (abbreviation of Telesforo) had worked at first on shares on the lands of a capitalist, but later, having become the owner of two carabaos and several hundred pesos, determined to work on his own account, aided by his father, his wife, and his three children.  So they cut down and cleared away some thick woods which were situated on the borders of the town and which they believed belonged to no one.  During the labors of cleaning and cultivating the new land, the whole family fell ill with malaria and the mother died, along with the eldest daughter, Lucia, in the flower of her age.  This, which was the natural consequence of breaking up new soil infested with various kinds of bacteria, they attributed to the anger of the woodland spirit, so they were resigned and went on with their labor, believing him pacified.

But when they began to harvest their first crop a religious corporation, which owned land in the neighboring town, laid claim to the fields, alleging that they fell within their boundaries, and to prove it they at once started to set up their marks.  However, the administrator of the religious order left to them, for humanity’s sake, the usufruct of the land on condition that they pay a small sum annually—a mere bagatelle, twenty or thirty pesos.  Tales, as peaceful a man as could be found, was as much opposed to lawsuits as any one and more submissive to the friars than most people; so, in order not to smash a palyok against a kawali (as he said, for to him the friars were iron pots and he a clay jar), he had the weakness to yield to their claim, remembering that he did not know Spanish and had no money to pay lawyers.

Besides, Tandang Selo said to him, Patience! You would spend more in one year of litigation than in ten years of paying what the white padres demand.  And perhaps they’ll pay you back in masses! Pretend that those thirty pesos had been lost in gambling or had fallen into the water and been swallowed by a cayman.

The harvest was abundant and sold well, so Tales planned to build a wooden house in the barrio of Sagpang, of the town of Tiani, which adjoined San Diego.

Another year passed, bringing another good crop, and for this reason the friars raised the rent to fifty pesos, which Tales paid in order not to quarrel and because he expected to sell his sugar at a good price.

Patience! Pretend that the cayman has grown some, old Selo consoled him.

That year he at last saw his dream realized: to live in the barrio of Sagpang in a wooden house.  The father and grandfather then thought of providing some education for the two children, especially the daughter Juliana, or Juli, as they called her, for she gave promise of being accomplished and beautiful.  A boy who was a friend of the family, Basilio, was studying in Manila, and he was of as lowly origin as they.

[1] The reference is to the novel Noli Me Tangere (The Social Cancer), the author’s first work, of which, the present is in a way a continuation.—Tr.

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