Chapter 27: - Page 3 of 8

The Friar and the Filipino

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Those which you voluntarily placed upon yourselves on joining the order, and those which afterwards, once in it, you have been willing to assume.  But, as a Filipino student, I don’t think myself called upon to examine your conduct with reference to your statutes, to Catholicism, to the government, to the Filipino people, and to humanity in general—those are questions that you have to settle with your founders, with the Pope, with the government, with the whole people, and with God.  As a Filipino student, I will confine myself to your duties toward us.  The friars in general, being the local supervisors of education in the provinces, and the Dominicans in particular, by monopolizing in their hands all the studies of the Filipino youth, have assumed the obligation to its eight millions of inhabitants, to Spain, and to humanity, of which we form a part, of steadily bettering the young plant, morally and physically, of training it toward its happiness, of creating a people honest, prosperous, intelligent, virtuous, noble, and loyal. Now I ask you in my turn—have the friars fulfilled that obligation of theirs?

We’re fulfilling—

Ah, Padre Fernandez, interrupted Isagani, you with your hand on your heart can say that you are fulfilling it, but with your hand on the heart of your order, on the heart of all the orders, you cannot say that without deceiving yourself.  Ah, Padre Fernandez, when I find myself in the presence of a person whom I esteem and respect, I prefer to be the accused rather than the accuser, I prefer to defend myself rather than take the offensive.  But now that we have entered upon the discussion, let us carry it to the end! How do they fulfill their obligation, those who look after education in the towns? By hindering it! And those who here monopolize education, those who try to mold the mind of youth, to the exclusion of all others whomsoever, how do they carry out their mission? By curtailing knowledge as much as possible, by extinguishing all ardor and enthusiasm, by trampling on all dignity, the soul’s only refuge, by inculcating in us worn-out ideas, rancid beliefs, false principles incompatible with a life of progress! Ah, yes, when it is a question of feeding convicts, of providing for the maintenance of criminals, the government calls for bids in order to find the purveyor who offers the best means of subsistence, he who at least will not let them perish from hunger, but when it is a question of morally feeding a whole people, of nourishing the intellect of youth, the healthiest part, that which is later to be the country and the all, the government not only does not ask for any bid, but restricts the power to that very body which makes a boast of not desiring education, of wishing no advancement.  What should we say if the purveyor for the prisons, after securing the contract by intrigue, should then leave the prisoners to languish in want, giving them only what is stale and rancid, excusing himself afterwards by saying that it is not convenient for the prisoners to enjoy good health, because good health brings merry thoughts, because merriment improves the man, and the man ought not to be improved, because it is to the purveyor’s interest that there be many criminals? What should we say if afterwards the government and the purveyor should agree between themselves that of the ten or twelve cuartos which one received for each criminal, the other should receive five?

Padre Fernandez bit his lip.  Those are grave charges, he said, and you are overstepping the limits of our agreement.

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