Chapter 31: - Page 3 of 4

The High Official

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Yes, General, but the country—

Tut, tut, tut, tut! The country—what have I to do Avith the country? Have I perhaps contracted any obligations to it? Do I owe my office to it? Was it the country that elected me?

A brief pause ensued, during which the high official stood with bowed head.  Then, as if reaching a decision, he raised it to stare fixedly at the General. Pale and trembling, he said with repressed energy: That doesn’t matter, General, that doesn’t matter at all! Your Excellency has not been chosen by the Filipino people, but by Spain, all the more reason why you should treat the Filipinos well so that they may not be able to reproach Spain.  The greater reason, General, the greater reason! Your Excellency, by coming here, has contracted the obligation to govern justly, to seek the welfare—

Am I not doing it? interrupted his Excellency in exasperation, taking a step forward.  Haven’t I told you that I am getting from the good of one the good of all? Are you now going to give me lessons? If you don’t understand my actions, how am I to blame? Do I compel you to share my responsibility?

Certainly not, replied the high official, drawing himself up proudly.  Your Excellency does not compel me, your Excellency cannot compel me, me, to share your responsibility.  I understand mine in quite another way, and because I have it, I’m going to speak—I’ve held my peace a long time.  Oh, your Excellency needn’t make those gestures, because the fact that I’ve come here in this or that capacity doesn’t mean that I have given up my rights, that I have been reduced to the part of a slave, without voice or dignity,

I don’t want Spain to lose this beautiful empire, these eight millions of patient and submissive subjects, who live on hopes and delusions, but neither do I wish to soil my hands in their barbarous exploitation.  I don’t wish it ever to be said that, the slave-trade abolished, Spain has continued to cloak it with her banner and perfect it under a wealth of specious institutions.  No, to be great Spain does not have to be a tyrant, Spain is sufficient unto herself, Spain was greater when she had only her own territory, wrested from the clutches of the Moor.  I too am a Spaniard, but before being a Spaniard I am a man, and before Spain and above Spain is her honor, the lofty principles of morality, the eternal principles of immutable justice! Ah, you are surprised that I think thus, because you have no idea of the grandeur of the Spanish name, no, you haven’t any idea of it, you identify it with persons and interests.  To you the Spaniard may be a pirate, he may be a murderer, a hypocrite, a cheat, anything, just so he keep what he has—but to me the Spaniard should lose everything, empire, power, wealth, everything, before his honor! Ah, my dear sir, we protest when we read that might is placed before right, yet we applaud when in practise we see might play the hypocrite in not only perverting right but even in using it as a tool in order to gain control.  For the very reason that I love Spain, I’m speaking now, and I defy your frown!

Learn this Filipino word:

magaán ang bibíg