Chapter 6: - Page 4 of 5

Basilio

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

One of the two professors was very popular, beloved by all, passing for a sage, a great poet, and a man of advanced ideas.  One day when he accompanied the collegians on their walk, he had a dispute with some cadets, which resulted in a skirmish and a challenge.  No doubt recalling his brilliant youth, the professor preached a crusade and promised good marks to all who during the promenade on the following Sunday would take part in the fray.  The week was a lively one—there were occasional encounters in which canes and sabers were crossed, and in one of these Basilio distinguished himself.  Borne in triumph by the students and presented to the professor, he thus became known to him and came to be his favorite.  Partly for this reason and partly from his diligence, that year he received the highest marks, medals included, in view of which Capitan Tiago, who, since his daughter had become a nun, exhibited some aversion to the friars, in a fit of good humor induced him to transfer to the Ateneo Municipal, the fame of which was then in its apogee.

Here a new world opened before his eyes—a system of instruction that he had never dreamed of.  Except for a few superfluities and some childish things, he was filled with admiration for the methods there used and with gratitude for the zeal of the instructors.  His eyes at times filled with tears when he thought of the four previous years during which, from lack of means, he had been unable to study at that center.  He had to make extraordinary efforts to get himself to the level of those who had had a good preparatory course, and it might be said that in that one year he learned the whole five of the secondary curricula.  He received his bachelor’s degree, to the great satisfaction of his instructors, who in the examinations showed themselves to be proud of him before the Dominican examiners sent there to inspect the school.  One of these, as if to dampen such great enthusiasm a little, asked him where he had studied the first years of Latin.

In San Juan de Letran, Padre, answered Basilio.

Aha! Of course! He’s not bad,—in Latin, the Dominican then remarked with a slight smile.

From choice and temperament he selected the course in medicine.  Capitan Tiago preferred the law, in order that he might have a lawyer free, but knowledge of the laws is not sufficient to secure clientage in the Philippines—it is necessary to win the cases, and for this friendships are required, influence in certain spheres, a good deal of astuteness.  Capitan Tiago finally gave in, remembering that medical students get on intimate terms with corpses, and for some time he had been seeking a poison to put on the gaffs of his game-cocks, the best he had been able to secure thus far being the blood of a Chinaman who had died of syphilis.

Learn this Filipino word:

may lakás ng bibíg