Chapter 15: - Page 2 of 6

Señor Pasta

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Yes, he said, pursing his lips and scratching his head, there is no one who surpasses me in love for the country and in aspirations toward progress, but—I can’t compromise myself, I don’t know whether you clearly understand my position, a position that is very delicate, I have so many interests, I have to labor within the limits of strict prudence, it’s a risk—

The lawyer sought to bewilder the youth with an exuberance of words, so he went on speaking of laws and decrees, and talked so much that instead of confusing the youth, he came very near to entangling himself in a labyrinth of citations.

In no way do we wish to compromise you, replied Isagani with great calmness.  God deliver us from injuring in the least the persons whose lives are so useful to the rest of the Filipinos! But, as little versed as I may be in the laws, royal decrees, writs, and resolutions that obtain in this country, I can’t believe that there can be any harm in furthering the high purposes of the government, in trying to secure a proper interpretation of these purposes.  We are seeking the same end and differ only about the means.

The lawyer smiled, for the youth had allowed himself to wander away from the subject, and there where the former was going to entangle him he had already entangled himself.

That’s exactly the quid, as is vulgarly said. It’s clear that it is laudable to aid the government, when one aids it submissively, following out its desires and the true spirit of the laws in agreement with the just beliefs of the governing powers, and when not in contradiction to the fundamental and general way of thinking of the persons to whom is intrusted the common welfare of the individuals that form a social organism.  Therefore, it is criminal, it is punishable, because it is offensive to the high principle of authority, to attempt any action contrary to its initiative, even supposing it to be better than the governmental proposition, because such action would injure its prestige, which is the elementary basis upon which all colonial edifices rest.

Confident that this broadside had at least stunned Isagani, the old lawyer fell back in his armchair, outwardly very serious, but laughing to himself.

Isagani, however, ventured to reply.  I should think that governments, the more they are threatened, would be all the more careful to seek bases that are impregnable.  The basis of prestige for colonial governments is the weakest of all, since it does not depend upon themselves but upon the consent of the governed, while the latter are willing to recognize it.  The basis of justice or reason would seem to be the most durable.

The lawyer raised his head. How was this—did that youth dare to reply and argue with him, him, Señor Pasta? Was he not yet bewildered with his big words?

Young man, you must put those considerations aside, for they are dangerous, he declared with a wave of his hand.  What I advise is that you let the government attend to its own business.

Learn this Filipino word:

kumagát sa pain