Chapter 4: - Page 4 of 7

Cabesang Tales

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Cabesang Tales’ constant reply was: If every day I give alms to a beggar to escape annoyance, who will oblige me to continue my gifts if he abuses my generosity?

From this stand no one could draw him, nor were there any threats that could intimidate him.  In vain Governor M—— made a trip expressly to talk to him and frighten him.  His reply to it all was: You may do what you like, Mr. Governor, I’m ignorant and powerless.  But I’ve cultivated those fields, my wife and daughter died while helping me clear them, and I won’t give them up to any one but him who can do more with them than I’ve done.  Let him first irrigate them with his blood and bury in them his wife and daughter!

The upshot of this obstinacy was that the honorable judges gave the decision to the friars, and everybody laughed at him, saying that lawsuits are not won by justice.  But Cabesang Tales appealed, loaded his shotgun, and patrolled his fields with deliberation.

During this period his life seemed to be a wild dream. His son, Tano, a youth as tall as his father and as good as his sister, was conscripted, but he let the boy go rather than purchase a substitute.  

I have to pay the lawyers, he told his weeping daughter.  If I win the case I’ll find a way to get him back, and if I lose it I won’t have any need for sons.

So the son went away and nothing more was heard of him except that his hair had been cropped and that he slept under a cart.  Six months later it was rumored that he had been seen embarking for the Carolines; another report was that he had been seen in the uniform of the Civil Guard.

Tano in the Civil Guard! ’Susmariosep! exclaimed several, clasping their hands.  Tano, who was so good and so honest! Requimternam!

The grandfather went many days without speaking to the father, Juli fell sick, but Cabesang Tales did not shed a single tear, although for two days he never left the house, as if he feared the looks of reproach from the whole village or that he would be called the executioner of his son.  But on the third day he again sallied forth with his shotgun.

Murderous intentions were attributed to him, and there were well-meaning persons who whispered about that he had been heard to threaten that he would bury the friar-administrator in the furrows of his fields, whereat the friar was frightened at him in earnest.  As a result of this, there came a decree from the Captain-General forbidding the use of firearms and ordering that they be taken up.  Cabesang Tales had to hand over his shotgun but he continued his rounds armed with a long bolo.

What are you going to do with that bolo when the tulisanes have firearms? old Selo asked him.

I must watch my crops, was the answer.  Every stalk of cane growing there is one of my wife’s bones.

The bolo was taken up on the pretext that it was too long.  He then took his father’s old ax and with it on his shoulder continued his sullen rounds.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibulóng nang malakás