Chapter 7: - Page 5 of 8

Simoun

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Here’s why I let you live, Basilio, and by such imprudence I expose myself to the risk of being some day betrayed by you.  But you know who I am, you know how much I must have suffered—then believe in me! You are not of the common crowd, which sees in the jeweler Simoun the trader who incites the authorities to commit abuses in order that the abused may buy jewels.  I am the Judge who wishes to castigate this system by making use of its own defects, to make war on it by flattering it. I need your help, your influence among the youth, to combat these senseless desires for Hispanization, for assimilation, for equal rights.  By that road you will become only a poor copy, and the people should look higher.  It is madness to attempt to influence the thoughts of the rulers—they have their plan outlined, the bandage covers their eyes, and besides losing time uselessly, you are deceiving the people with vain hopes and are helping to bend their necks before the tyrant.  What you should do is to take advantage of their prejudices to serve your needs.  Are they unwilling that you be assimilated with the Spanish people? Good enough! Distinguish yourselves then by revealing yourselves in your own character, try to lay the foundations of the Philippine fatherland! Do they deny you hope? Good! Don’t depend on them, depend upon yourselves and work! Do they deny you representation in their Cortes? So much the better! Even should you succeed in sending representatives of your own choice, what are you going to accomplish there except to be overwhelmed among so many voices, and sanction with your presence the abuses and wrongs that are afterwards perpetrated? The fewer rights they allow you, the more reason you will have later to throw off the yoke, and return evil for evil.  If they are unwilling to teach you their language, cultivate your own, extend it, preserve to the people their own way of thinking, and instead of aspiring to be a province, aspire to be a nation! Instead of subordinate thoughts, think independently, to the end that neither by right, nor custom, nor language, the Spaniard can be considered the master here, nor even be looked upon as a part of the country, but ever as an invader, a foreigner, and sooner or later you will have your liberty! Here’s why I let you live!

Basilio breathed freely, as though a great weight had been lifted from him, and after a brief pause, replied: Sir, the honor you do me in confiding your plans to me is too great for me not to be frank with you, and tell you that what you ask of me is beyond my power.  I am no politician, and if I have signed the petition for instruction in Castilian it has been because I saw in it an advantage to our studies and nothing more.  My destiny is different; my aspiration reduces itself to alleviating the physical sufferings of my fellow men.

The jeweler smiled. What are physical sufferings compared to moral tortures? What is the death of a man in the presence of the death of a society? Some day you will perhaps be a great physician, if they let you go your way in peace, but greater yet will be he who can inject a new idea into this anemic people! You, what are you doing for the land that gave you existence, that supports your life, that affords you knowledge? Don’t you realize that that is a useless life which is not consecrated to a great idea? It is a stone wasted in the fields without becoming a part of any edifice.  

Learn this Filipino word:

mahinà ang kapit