Chapter 15: - Page 5 of 6

Señor Pasta

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

What the devil! Let them do as you have done, let them singe their eyebrows studying and come to be bald like myself, stuffing whole paragraphs into their memories! I believe that if you talk Spanish it is because you have studied it—you’re not of Manila or of Spanish parents! Then let them learn it as you have, and do as I have done: I’ve been a servant to all the friars, I’ve prepared their chocolate, and while with my right hand I stirred it, with the left I held a grammar, I learned, and, thank God! have never needed other teachers or academies or permits from the government.  Believe me, he who wishes to learn, learns and becomes wise!

But how many among those who wish to learn come to be what you are? One in ten thousand, and more!

Pish! Why any more? retorted the old man, shrugging his shoulders.  There are too many lawyers now, many of them become mere clerks.  Doctors? They insult and abuse one another, and even kill each other in competition for a patient.  Laborers, sir, laborers, are what we need, for agriculture!

Isagani realized that he was losing time, but still could not forbear replying: Undoubtedly, there are many doctors and lawyers, but I won’t say there are too many, since we have towns that lack them entirely, and if they do abound in quantity, perhaps they are deficient in quality.  Since the young men can’t be prevented from studying, and no other professions are open to us, why let them waste their time and effort? And if the instruction, deficient as it is, does not keep many from becoming lawyers and doctors, if we must finally have them, why not have good ones? After all, even if the sole wish is to make the country a country of farmers and laborers, and condemn in it all intellectual activity, I don’t see any evil in enlightening those same farmers and laborers, in giving them at least an education that will aid them in perfecting themselves and in perfecting their work, in placing them in a condition to understand many things of which they are at present ignorant.

Bah, bah, bah! exclaimed the lawyer, drawing circles in the air with his hand to dispel the ideas suggested.  To be a good farmer no great amount of rhetoric is needed.  Dreams, illusions, fancies! Eh, will you take a piece of advice?

He arose and placed his hand affectionately on the youth’s shoulder, as he continued: I’m going to give you one, and a very good one, because I see that you are intelligent and the advice will not be wasted.  You’re going to study medicine? Well, confine yourself to learning how to put on plasters and apply leeches, and don’t ever try to improve or impair the condition of your kind.  When you become a licentiate, marry a rich and devout girl, try to make cures and charge well, shun everything that has any relation to the general state of the country, attend mass, confession, and communion when the rest do, and you will see afterwards how you will thank me, and I shall see it, if I am still alive.  Always remember that charity begins at home, for man ought not to seek on earth more than the greatest amount of happiness for himself, as Bentham says.  If you involve yourself in quixotisms you will have no career, nor will you get married, nor will you ever amount to anything.  All will abandon you, your own countrymen will be the first to laugh at your simplicity.  Believe me, you will remember me and see that I am right, when you have gray hairs like myself, gray hairs such as these!

Learn this Filipino word:

waláng balón ng salapî