Chapter 24: - Page 2 of 7


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Abstractedly he saluted two Jesuits, former teachers of his, and scarcely noticed a tandem in which an American rode and excited the envy of the gallants who were in calesas only.  Near the Anda monument he heard Ben-Zayb talking with another person about Simoun, learning that the latter had on the previous night been taken suddenly ill, that he refused to see any one, even the very aides of the General.  Yes! exclaimed Isagani with a bitter smile, for him attentions because he is rich.  The soldiers return from their expeditions sick and wounded, but no one visits them.

Musing over these expeditions, over the fate of the poor soldiers, over the resistance offered by the islanders to the foreign yoke, he thought that, death for death, if that of the soldiers was glorious because they were obeying orders, that of the islanders was sublime because they were defending their homes.[1]

A strange destiny, that of some peoples! he mused.  Because a traveler arrives at their shores, they lose their liberty and become subjects and slaves, not only of the traveler, not only of his heirs, but even of all his countrymen, and not for a generation, but for all time! A strange conception of justice! Such a state of affairs gives ample right to exterminate every foreigner as the most ferocious monster that the sea can cast up!

He reflected that those islanders, against whom his country was waging war, after all were guilty of no crime other than that of weakness.  The travelers also arrived at the shores of other peoples, but finding them strong made no display of their strange pretension.  With all their weakness the spectacle they presented seemed beautiful to him, and the names of the enemies, whom the newspapers did not fail to call cowards and traitors, appeared glorious to him, as they succumbed with glory amid the ruins of their crude fortifications, with greater glory even than the ancient Trojan heroes, for those islanders had carried away no Philippine Helen! In his poetic enthusiasm he thought of the young men of those islands who could cover themselves with glory in the eyes of their women, and in his amorous desperation he envied them because they could find a brilliant suicide.  

Ah, I should like to die, he exclaimed, be reduced to nothingness, leave to my native land a glorious name, perish in its cause, defending it from foreign invasion, and then let the sun afterwards illumine my corpse, like a motionless sentinel on the rocks of the sea!

The conflict with the Germans[2] came into his mind and he almost felt sorry that it had been adjusted: he would gladly have died for the Spanish-Filipino banner before submitting to the foreigner.

Because, after all, he mused, with Spain we are united by firm bonds—the past, history, religion, language—

[1] Referring to the expeditions—Misión Española Católica—to the Caroline and Pelew Islands from 1886 to 1895, headed by the Capuchin Fathers, which brought misery and disaster upon the natives of those islands, unprofitable losses and sufferings to the Filipino soldiers engaged in them, discredit to Spain, and decorations of merit to a number of Spanish officers.—Tr.

[2] Over the possession of the Caroline and Pelew Islands. The expeditions referred to in the previous note were largely inspired by German activity with regard to those islands, which had always been claimed by Spain, who sold her claim to them to Germany after the loss of the Philippines.—Tr.

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