Chapter 17: - Page 2 of 4

The Quiapo Fair

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Juanito saw her and his hump increased when he spoke to her.  Paulita replied negligently, while Doña Victorina called to him, for Juanito was her favorite, she preferring him to Isagani.

What a girl, what a girl! muttered the entranced Padre Camorra.  

Come, Padre, pinch yourself and let me alone, said Ben-Zayb fretfully.

What a girl, what a girl! repeated the friar.  And she has for a sweetheart a pupil of mine, the boy I had the quarrel with.

Just my luck that she’s not of my town, he added, after turning his head several times to follow her with his looks.  He was even tempted to leave his companions to follow the girl, and Ben-Zayb had difficulty in dissuading him.  Paulita’s beautiful figure moved on, her graceful little head nodding with inborn coquetry.

Our promenaders kept on their way, not without sighs on the part of the friar-artilleryman, until they reached a booth surrounded by sightseers, who quickly made way for them.  It was a shop of little wooden figures, of local manufacture, representing in all shapes and sizes the costumes, races, and occupations of the country: Indians, Spaniards, Chinese, mestizos, friars, clergymen, government clerks, gobernadorcillos, students, soldiers, and so on.

Whether the artists had more affection for the priests, the folds of whose habits were better suited to their esthetic purposes, or whether the friars, holding such an important place in Philippine life, engaged the attention of the sculptor more, the fact was that, for one cause or another, images of them abounded, well-turned and finished, representing them in the sublimest moments of their lives—the opposite of what is done in Europe, where they are pictured as sleeping on casks of wine, playing cards, emptying tankards, rousing themselves to gaiety, or patting the cheeks of a buxom girl.  No, the friars of the Philippines were different: elegant, handsome, well-dressed, their tonsures neatly shaven, their features symmetrical and serene, their gaze meditative, their expression saintly, somewhat rosy-cheeked, cane in hand and patent-leather shoes on their feet, inviting adoration and a place in a glass case. Instead of the symbols of gluttony and incontinence of their brethren in Europe, those of Manila carried the book, the crucifix, and the palm of martyrdom; instead of kissing the simple country lasses, those of Manila gravely extended the hand to be kissed by children and grown men doubled over almost to kneeling; instead of the full refectory and dining-hall, their stage in Europe, in Manila they had the oratory, the study-table; instead of the mendicant friar who goes from door to door with his donkey and sack, begging alms, the friars of the Philippines scattered gold from full hands among the miserable Indians.

Look, here’s Padre Camorra! exclaimed Ben-Zayb, upon whom the effect of the champagne still lingered.  He pointed to a picture of a lean friar of thoughtful mien who was seated at a table with his head resting on the palm of his hand, apparently writing a sermon by the light of a lamp.  The contrast suggested drew laughter from the crowd.

Padre Camorra, who had already forgotten about Paulita, saw what was meant and laughing his clownish laugh, asked in turn, Whom does this other figure resemble, Ben-Zayb?

Learn this Filipino word:

lamáng-kati