Chapter 21: - Page 3 of 9

Manila Types

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Yet the French operetta also counted numerous partizans.  The officers of the army and navy, among them the General’s aides, the clerks, and many society people were anxious to enjoy the delicacies of the French language from the mouths of genuine Parisiennes, and with them were affiliated those who had traveled by the M.M. [3] and had jabbered a little French during the voyage, those who had visited Paris, and all those who wished to appear learned.

Hence, Manila society was divided into two factions, operettists and anti-operettists.  The latter were supported by the elderly ladies, wives jealous and careful of their husbands’ love, and by those who were engaged, while those who were free and those who were beautiful declared themselves enthusiastic operettists.  Notes and then more notes were exchanged, there were goings and comings, mutual recriminations, meetings, lobbyings, arguments, even talk of an insurrection of the natives, of their indolence, of inferior and superior races, of prestige and other humbugs, so that after much gossip and more recrimination, the permit was granted, Padre Salvi at the same time publishing a pastoral that was read by no one but the proof-reader.  There were questionings whether the General had quarreled with the Countess, whether she spent her time in the halls of pleasure, whether His Excellency was greatly annoyed, whether there had been presents exchanged, whether the French consul—, and so on and on.  Many names were bandied about: Quiroga the Chinaman’s, Simoun’s, and even those of many actresses.

Thanks to these scandalous preliminaries, the people’s impatience had been aroused, and since the evening before, when the troupe arrived, there was talk of nothing but attending the first performance.  From the hour when the red posters announced Les Cloches de Corneville the victors prepared to celebrate their triumph.  In some offices, instead of the time being spent in reading newspapers and gossiping, it was devoted to devouring the synopsis and spelling out French novels, while many feigned business outside to consult their pocket-dictionaries on the sly.  So no business was transacted, callers were told to come back the next day, but the public could not take offense, for they encountered some very polite and affable clerks, who received and dismissed them with grand salutations in the French style.  The clerks were practising, brushing the dust off their French, and calling to one another oui, monsieur, s’il vous plait, and pardon! at every turn, so that it was a pleasure to see and hear them.

[3] Messageries Maritimes, a French line of steamers in the Oriental trade.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

baligtád ang bulsá