Chapter 6: - Page 2 of 5

Basilio

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

A boy from the provinces who knew not a single word of Spanish, and sickly besides! Discouraged, hungry, and miserable, he wandered about the streets, attracting attention by the wretchedness of his clothing.  How often was he tempted to throw himself under the feet of the horses that flashed by, drawing carriages shining with silver and varnish, thus to end his misery at once! Fortunately, he saw Capitan Tiago, accompanied by Aunt Isabel.  He had known them since the days in San Diego, and in his joy believed that in them he saw almost fellow-townsfolk.  He followed the carriage until he lost sight of it, and then made inquiries for the house.  As it was the very day that Maria Clara entered the nunnery and Capitan Tiago was accordingly depressed, he was admitted as a servant, without pay, but instead with leave to study, if he so wished, in San Juan de Letran. [1]

Dirty, poorly dressed, with only a pair of clogs for footwear, at the end of several months’ stay in Manila, he entered the first year of Latin.  On seeing his clothes, his classmates drew away from him, and the professor, a handsome Dominican, never asked him a question, but frowned every time he looked at him. In the eight months that the class continued, the only words that passed between them were his name read from the roll and the daily adsum with which the student responded.  With what bitterness he left the class each day, and, guessing the reason for the treatment accorded him, what tears sprang into his eyes and what complaints were stifled in his heart! How he had wept and sobbed over the grave of his mother, relating to her his hidden sorrows, humiliations, and affronts, when at the approach of Christmas Capitan Tiago had taken him back to San Diego! Yet he memorized the lessons without  omitting a comma, although he understood scarcely any part of them.  But at length he became resigned, noticing that among the three or four hundred in his class only about forty merited the honor of being questioned, because they attracted the professor’s attention by their appearance, some prank, comicality, or other cause.  The greater part of the students congratulated themselves that they thus escaped the work of thinking and understanding the subject.  One goes to college, not to learn and study, but to gain credit for the course, so if the book can be memorized, what more can be asked—the year is thus gained. [2]

[1] The Dominican school of secondary instruction in Manila.—Tr.

[2] The studies of secondary instruction given in Santo Tomas, in the college of San Juan de Letran, and of San José, and in the private schools, had the defects inherent in the plan of instruction which the friars developed in the Philippines. It suited their plans that scientific and literary knowledge should not become general nor very extensive, for which reason they took but little interest in the study of those subjects or in the quality of the instruction. Their educational establishments were places of luxury for the children of wealthy and well-to-do families rather than establishments in which to perfect and develop the minds of the Filipino youth. It is true they were careful to give them a religious education, tending to make them respect the omnipotent power (sic) of the monastic corporations.

The intellectual powers were made dormant by devoting a greater part of the time to the study of Latin, to which they attached an extraordinary importance, for the purpose of discouraging pupils from studying the exact and experimental sciences and from gaining a knowledge of true literary studies.

The philosophic system explained was naturally the scholastic one, with an exceedingly refined and subtile logic, and with deficient ideas upon physics. By the study of Latin, and their philosophic systems, they converted their pupils into automatic machines rather than into practical men prepared to battle with life.—Census of the Philippine Islands (Washington, 1905), Volume III, pages 601, 602.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibakô