Chapter 16: - Page 3 of 9

The Tribulations of a Chinese

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

The port works, which weigh so heavily upon commerce, and the port not yet completed! sighed Don Timoteo Pelaez.  A Penelope’s web, as my son says, that is spun and unspun.  The taxes—

You complaining! exclaimed another.  Just as the General has decreed the destruction of houses of light materials![2] And you with a shipment of galvanized iron!  

Yes, rejoined Don Timoteo, but look what that decree cost me! Then, the destruction will not be carried out for a month, not until Lent begins, and other shipments may arrive.  I would have wished them destroyed right away, but—Besides, what are the owners of those houses going to buy from me if they are all poor, all equally beggars?

You can always buy up their shacks for a trifle.

And afterwards have the decree revoked and sell them back at double the price—that’s business!

Simoun smiled his frigid smile.  Seeing Quiroga approach, he left the querulous merchants to greet the future consul, who on catching sight of him lost his satisfied expression and assigned a countenance like those of the merchants, while he bent almost double.

Quiroga respected the jeweler greatly, not only because he knew him to be very wealthy, but also on account of his rumored influence with the Captain-General.  It was reported that Simoun favored Quiroga’s ambitions, that he was an advocate for the consulate, and a certain newspaper hostile to the Chinese had alluded to him in many paraphrases, veiled allusions, and suspension points, in the celebrated controversy with another sheet that was favorable to the queued folk.  Some prudent persons added with winks and half-uttered words that his Black Eminence was advising the General to avail himself of the Chinese in order to humble the tenacious pride of the natives.

To hold the people in subjection, he was reported to have said, there’s nothing like humiliating them and humbling them in their own eyes.

[2] Houses of bamboo and nipa, such as form the homes of the masses of the natives.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

nagdaán sa butas ng karayom