Chapter 24: - Page 6 of 7


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Then, but when? When I’m an old woman?

Ah, you don’t know what we can do in a few years, replied the youth.  You don’t realize the energy and enthusiasm that are awakening in the country after the sleep of centuries.  Spain heeds us; our young men in Madrid are working day and night, dedicating to the fatherland all their intelligence, all their time, all their strength.  Generous voices there are mingled with ours, statesmen who realize that there is no better bond than community of thought and interest. Justice will be meted out to us, and everything points to a brilliant future for all.  It’s true that we’ve just met with a slight rebuff, we students, but victory is rolling along the whole line, it is in the consciousness of all! The traitorous repulse that we have suffered indicates the last gasp, the final convulsions of the dying.  Tomorrow we shall be citizens of the Philippines, whose destiny will be a glorious one, because it will be in loving hands.  Ah, yes, the future is ours! I see it rose-tinted, I see the movement that stirs the life of these regions so long dead, lethargic. I see towns arise along the railroads, and factories everywhere, edifices like that of Mandaloyan! I hear the steam hiss, the trains roar, the engines rattle! I see the smoke rise—their heavy breathing; I smell the oil—the sweat of monsters busy at incessant toil.  This port, so slow and laborious of creation, this river where commerce is in its death agony, we shall see covered with masts, giving us an idea of the forests of Europe in winter.  This pure air, and these stones, now so clean, will be crowded with coal, with boxes and barrels, the products of human industry, but let it not matter, for we shall move about rapidly in comfortable coaches to seek in the interior other air, other scenes on other shores, cooler temperatures on the slopes of the mountains.  The warships of our navy will guard our coasts, the Spaniard and the Filipino will rival each other in zeal to repel all foreign invasion, to defend our homes, and let you bask in peace and smiles, loved and respected.  Free from the system of exploitation, without hatred or distrust, the people will labor because then labor will cease to be a despicable thing, it will no longer be servile, imposed upon a slave.  Then the Spaniard will not embitter his character with ridiculous pretensions of despotism, but with a frank look and a stout heart we shall extend our hands to one another, and commerce, industry, agriculture, the sciences, will develop under the mantle of liberty, with wise and just laws, as in prosperous England. [5]

[5] There is something almost uncanny about the general accuracy of the prophecy in these lines, the economic part of which is now so well on the way to realization, although the writer of them would doubtless have been a very much surprised individual had he also foreseen how it would come about.  But one of his own expressions was fire and steel to the cancer, and it surely got them.

On the very day that this passage was translated and this note written, the first commercial liner was tied up at the new docks, which have destroyed the Malecon but raised Manila to the front rank of Oriental seaports, and the final revision is made at Baguio, Mountain Province, amid the cooler temperatures on the slopes of the mountains.  As for the political portion, it is difficult even now to contemplate calmly the blundering fatuity of that bigoted medieval brand of patriotism which led the decrepit Philippine government to play the Ancient Mariner and shoot the Albatross that brought this message.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

mga mayroón