Chapter 12: - Page 2 of 7

Placido Penitente

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Placido was proceeding along the Paseo de Magallanes toward the breach—formerly the gate—of Santo Domingo, when he suddenly felt a slap on the shoulder, which made him turn quickly in ill humor.

Hello, Penitente! Hello, Penitente!

It was his schoolmate Juanito Pelaez, the barbero or pet of the professors, as big a rascal as he could be, with a roguish look and a clownish smile.  The son of a Spanish mestizo—a rich merchant in one of the suburbs, who based all his hopes and joys on the boy’s talent—he promised well with his roguery, and, thanks to his custom of playing tricks on every one and then hiding behind his companions, he had acquired a peculiar hump, which grew larger whenever he was laughing over his deviltry.

What kind of time did you have, Penitente? was his question as he again slapped him on the shoulder.

So, so, answered Placido, rather bored. And you?

Well, it was great! Just imagine—the curate of Tiani invited me to spend the vacation in his town, and I went.  Old man, you know Padre Camorra, I suppose? Well, he’s a liberal curate, very jolly, frank, very frank, one of those like Padre Paco.  As there were pretty girls, we serenaded them all, he with his guitar and songs and I with my violin.  I tell you, old man, we had a great time—there wasn’t a house we didn’t try!

He whispered a few words in Placido’s ear and then broke out into laughter.  As the latter exhibited some surprise, he resumed: I’ll swear to it! They can’t help themselves, because with a governmental order you get rid of the father, husband, or brother, and then—merry Christmas! However, we did run up against a little fool, the sweetheart, I believe, of Basilio, you know? Look, what a fool this Basilio is! To have a sweetheart who doesn’t know a word of Spanish, who hasn’t any money, and who has been a servant! She’s as shy as she can be, but pretty.  Padre Camorra one night started to club two fellows who were serenading her and I don’t know how it was he didn’t kill them, yet with all that she was just as shy as ever.  But it’ll result for her as it does with all the women, all of them!

Juanito Pelaez laughed with a full mouth, as though he thought this a glorious thing, while Placido stared at him in disgust.

Listen, what did the professor explain yesterday? asked Juanito, changing the conversation.

Yesterday there was no class.

Oho, and the day before yesterday?

Man, it was Thursday!

Learn this Filipino word:

batà