Chapter 27: - Page 4 of 8

The Friar and the Filipino

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

No, Padre, not if I continue to deal with the student question.  The friars—and I do not say, you friars, since I do not confuse you with the common herd—the friars of all the orders have constituted themselves our mental purveyors, yet they say and shamelessly proclaim that it is not expedient for us to become enlightened, because some day we shall declare ourselves free! That is just the same as not wishing the prisoner to be well-fed so that he may improve and get out of prison.  Liberty is to man what education is to the intelligence, and the friars’ unwillingness that we have it is the origin of our discontent.

Instruction is given only to those who deserve it, rejoined Padre Fernandez dryly.  To give it to men without character and without morality is to prostitute it.

Why are there men without character and without morality?

The Dominican shrugged his shoulders.  Defects that they imbibe with their mothers’ milk, that they breathe in the bosom of the family—how do I know?

Ah, no, Padre Fernandez! exclaimed the young man impetuously.  You have not dared to go into the subject deeply, you have not wished to gaze into the depths from fear of finding yourself there in the darkness of your brethren.  What we are, you have made us.  A people tyrannized over is forced to be hypocritical; a people denied the truth must resort to lies; and he who makes himself a tyrant breeds slaves.  There is no morality, you say, so let it be—even though statistics can refute you in that here are not committed crimes like those among other peoples, blinded by the fumes of their moralizers.  But, without attempting now to analyze what it is that forms the character and how far the education received determines morality, I will agree with you that we are defective.  Who is to blame for that? You who for three centuries and a half have had in your hands our education, or we who submit to everything? If after three centuries and a half the artist has been able to produce only a caricature, stupid indeed he must be!

Or bad enough the material he works upon.

Stupider still then, when, knowing it to be bad, he does not give it up, but goes on wasting time.  Not only is he stupid, but he is a cheat and a robber, because he knows that his work is useless, yet continues to draw his salary.  Not only is he stupid and a thief, he is a villain in that he prevents any other workman from trying his skill to see if he might not produce something worth while! The deadly jealousy of the incompetent!

The reply was sharp and Padre Fernandez felt himself caught.  To his gaze Isagani appeared gigantic, invincible, convincing, and for the first time in his life he felt beaten by a Filipino student.  He repented of having provoked the argument, but it was too late to turn back. In this quandary, finding himself confronted with such a formidable adversary, he sought a strong shield and laid hold of the government.

Learn this Filipino word:

kulang sa pitó, labis sa waló