Chapter 19: - Page 3 of 8

The Fuse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Cabesang Andang then resumed her lamentations.  She did not ask that he declare himself a partizan of the friars, she was not one herself—it was enough to know that for one good friar there were ten bad, who took the money from the poor and deported the rich.  But one must be silent, suffer, and endure—there was no other course.  She cited this man and that one, who by being patient and humble, even though in the bottom of his heart he hated his masters, had risen from servant of the friars to high office; and such another who was rich and could commit abuses, secure of having patrons who would protect him from the law, yet who had been nothing more than a poor sacristan, humble and obedient, and who had married a pretty girl whose son had the curate for a godfather.  So Cabesang Andang continued her litany of humble and patient Filipinos, as she called them, and was about to cite others who by not being so had found themselves persecuted and exiled, when Placido on some trifling pretext left the house to wander about the streets.

He passed through Sibakong,[2] Tondo, San Nicolas, and Santo Cristo, absorbed in his ill-humor, without taking note of the sun or the hour, and only when he began to feel hungry and discovered that he had no money, having given it all for celebrations and contributions, did he return to the house.  He had expected that he would not meet his mother there, as she was in the habit, when in Manila, of going out at that hour to a neighboring house where panguingui was played, but Cabesang Andang was waiting to propose her plan.

She would avail herself of the procurator of the Augustinians to restore her son to the good graces of the Dominicans.

Placido stopped her with a gesture.  I’ll throw myself into the sea first, he declared.  I’ll become a tulisan before I’ll go back to the University.

Again his mother began her preachment about patience and humility, so he went away again without having eaten anything, directing his steps toward the quay where the steamers tied up.  The sight of a steamer weighing anchor for Hongkong inspired him with an idea—to go to Hongkong, to run away, get rich there, and make war on the friars.

The thought of Hongkong awoke in his mind the recollection of a story about frontals, cirials, and candelabra of pure silver, which the piety of the faithful had led them to present to a certain church.  The friars, so the silversmith told, had sent to Hongkong to have duplicate frontals, cirials, and candelabra made of German silver, which they substituted for the genuine ones, these being melted down and coined into Mexican pesos.  Such was the story he had heard, and though it was no more than a rumor or a story, his resentment gave it the color of truth and reminded him of other tricks of theirs in that same style.  The desire to live free, and certain half-formed plans, led him to decide upon Hongkong.  If the corporations sent all their money there, commerce must be flourishing and he could enrich himself.

[2] Now Calle Tetuan, Santa Cruz. The other names are still in use.—Tr.

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