Chapter 16: - Page 2 of 9

The Tribulations of a Chinese

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

And Quiroga was right! That fat gentleman who is now praising him and speaking of the advisability of a Chinese consulate in Manila, intimating that to manage it there could be no one but Quiroga, is the Señor Gonzalez who hides behind the pseudonym Pitilí when he attacks Chinese immigration through the columns of the newspapers.  That other, an elderly man who closely examines the lamps, pictures, and other furnishings with grimaces and ejaculations of disdain, is Don Timoteo Pelaez, Juanito’s father, a merchant who inveighs against the Chinese competition that is ruining his business.  The one over there, that thin, brown individual with a sharp look and a pale smile, is the celebrated originator of the dispute over Mexican pesos, which so troubled one of Quiroga’s protéges: that government clerk is regarded in Manila as very clever.  That one farther on, he of the frowning look and unkempt mustache, is a government official who passes for a most meritorious fellow because he has the courage to speak ill of the business in lottery tickets carried on between Quiroga and an exalted dame in Manila society.  The fact is that two thirds of the tickets go to China and the few that are left in Manila are sold at a premium of a half-real.  The honorable gentleman entertains the conviction that some day he will draw the first prize, and is in a rage at finding himself confronted with such tricks.

The dinner, meanwhile, was drawing to an end. From the dining-room floated into the sala snatches of toasts, interruptions, bursts and ripples of laughter.  The name of Quiroga was often heard mingled with the words consul, equality, justice.  The amphitryon himself did not eat European dishes, so he contented himself with drinking a glass of wine with his guests from time to time, promising to dine with those who were not seated at the first table.

Simoun, who was present, having already dined, was in the sala talking with some merchants, who were complaining of business conditions: everything was going wrong, trade was paralyzed, the European exchanges were exorbitantly high.  They sought information from the jeweler or insinuated to him a few ideas, with the hope that these would be communicated to the Captain-General.  To all the remedies suggested Simoun responded with a sarcastic and unfeeling exclamation about nonsense, until one of them in exasperation asked him for his opinion.

My opinion? he retorted.  Study how other nations prosper, and then do as they do.

And why do they prosper, Señor Simoun?

Simoun replied with a shrug of his shoulders.

Learn this Filipino word:

kapit