Chapter 25:

Smiles and Tears

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

The sala of the Pansiteria Macanista de Buen Gusto [1] that night presented an extraordinary aspect.  Fourteen young men of the principal islands of the archipelago, from the pure Indian (if there be pure ones) to the Peninsular Spaniard, were met to hold the banquet advised by Padre Irene in view of the happy solution of the affair about instruction in Castilian.  They had engaged all the tables for themselves, ordered the lights to be increased, and had posted on the wall beside the landscapes and Chinese kakemonos this strange versicle:


In a country where everything grotesque is covered with a mantle of seriousness, where many rise by the force of wind and hot air, in a country where the deeply serious and sincere may do damage on issuing from the heart and may cause trouble, probably this was the best way to celebrate the ingenious inspiration of the illustrious Don Custodio.  The mocked replied to the mockery with a laugh, to the governmental joke with a plate of pansit, and yet—!

They laughed and jested, but it could be seen that the merriment was forced.  The laughter had a certain nervous ring, eyes flashed, and in more than one of these a tear glistened.  Nevertheless, these young men were cruel, they were unreasonable! It was not the first time that their most beautiful ideas had been so treated, that  their hopes had been defrauded with big words and small actions: before this Don Custodio there had been many, very many others.

In the center of the room under the red lanterns were placed four round tables, systematically arranged to form a square.  Little wooden stools, equally round, served as seats.  In the middle of each table, according to the practise of the establishment, were arranged four small colored plates with four pies on each one and four cups of tea, with the accompanying dishes, all of red porcelain.  Before each seat was a bottle and two glittering wine-glasses.

[1] These establishments are still a notable feature of native life in Manila. Whether the author adopted a title already common or popularized one of his own invention, the fact is that they are now invariably known by the name used here. The use of macanista was due to the presence in Manila of a large number of Chinese from Macao.—Tr.


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