Chapter 24: - Page 4 of 7


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

What do you think of Juanito Pelaez? she asked him suddenly.

Juanito! Isagani knew not what to reply.  He was tempted to tell all the evil he knew of Pelaez, but a feeling of delicacy triumphed in his heart and he spoke well of his rival, for the very reason that he was such. Doña Victorina, entirely satisfied and becoming enthusiastic, then broke out into exaggerations of Pelaez’s merits and was already going to make Isagani a confidant of her new passion when Paulita’s friend came running to say that the former’s fan had fallen among the stones of the beach, near the Malecon.  Stratagem or accident, the fact is that this mischance gave an excuse for the friend to remain with the old woman, while Isagani might talk with Paulita.  Moreover, it was a matter of rejoicing to Doña Victorina, since to get Juanito for herself she was favoring Isagani’s love.

Paulita had her plan ready.  On thanking him she assumed the role of the offended party, showed resentment, and gave him to understand that she was surprised to meet him there when everybody was on the Luneta, even the French actresses.

You made the appointment for me, how could I be elsewhere?

Yet last night you did not even notice that I was in the theater.  I was watching you all the time and you never took your eyes off those cochers.

So they exchanged parts: Isagani, who had come to demand explanations, found himself compelled to give them and considered himself very happy when Paulita said that she forgave him.  In regard to her presence at the theater, he even had to thank her for that: forced by her aunt, she had decided to go in the hope of seeing him during the performance.  Little she cared for Juanito Pelaez!

My aunt’s the one who is in love with him, she said with a merry laugh.

Then they both laughed, for the marriage of Pelaez with Doña Victorina made them really happy, and they saw it already an accomplished fact, until Isagani remembered that Don Tiburcio was still living and confided the secret to his sweetheart, after exacting her promise that she would tell no one.  Paulita promised, with the mental reservation of relating it to her friend.

This led the conversation to Isagani’s town, surrounded by forests, situated on the shore of the sea which roared at the base of the high cliffs.  Isagani’s gaze lighted up when he spoke of that obscure spot, a flush of pride overspread his cheeks, his voice trembled, his poetic imagination glowed, his words poured forth burning, charged with enthusiasm, as if he were talking of love to his love, and he could not but exclaim:

Oh, in the solitude of my mountains I feel free, free as the air, as the light that shoots unbridled through space! A thousand cities, a thousand palaces, would I give for that spot in the Philippines, where, far from men, I could feel myself to have genuine liberty.  There, face to face with nature, in the presence of the mysterious and the infinite, the forest and the sea, I think, speak, and work like a man who knows not tyrants.

Learn this Filipino word:

hindî magkabibíg