Chapter 20: - Page 5 of 9

The Meeting in the Town Hall

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The conservatives could no longer restrain themselves.  Some of them rose and began to whisper together.  Moreover, in order that our visitors may see that we are a liberal people and have plenty of money, continued the speaker, raising his voice and casting a rapid glance at the whispering group of elders, I propose: first, four hermanos mayores[3] for the two days of the fiesta; and second, that each day there be thrown into the lake two hundred fried chickens, one hundred stuffed capons, and forty roast pigs, as did Sylla, a contemporary of that Cicero, of whom Capitan Basilio just spoke.

That’s it, like Sylla, repeated the flattered Capitan Basilio.

The surprise steadily increased.

Since many rich people will attend and each one will bring thousands of pesos, his best game-cocks, and his playing-cards, I propose that the cockpit run for fifteen days and that license be granted to open all gambling houses—

The youths interrupted him by rising, thinking that he had gone crazy.  The elders were arguing heatedly.

And, finally, that we may not neglect the pleasures of the soul—

The murmurs and cries which arose all over the hall drowned his voice out completely, and tumult reigned.

No! yelled an irreconcilable conservative.  I don’t want him to flatter himself over having run the whole fiesta, no! Let me speak! Let me speak!

Don Filipo has deceived us, cried the liberals.  We’ll vote against his plan. He has gone over to the old men. We’ll vote against him!

The gobernadorcillo, more overwhelmed than ever, did nothing to restore order, but rather was waiting for them to restore it themselves.

The captain of the cuadrilleros begged to be heard and was granted permission to speak, but he did not open his mouth and sat down again confused and ashamed.

By good fortune, Capitan Valentin, the most moderate of all the conservatives, arose and said: We cannot agree to what the teniente-mayor has proposed, as it appears to be exaggerated.  So many bombs and so many nights of theatrical performances can only be desired by a young man, such as he is, who can spend night after night sitting up and listening to so many explosions without becoming deaf.  I have consulted the opinion of the sensible persons here and all of them unanimously disapprove Don Filipo’s plan.  Is it not so, gentlemen?

[3] The hermano mayor was a person appointed to direct the ceremonies during the fiesta, an appointment carrying with it great honor and importance, but also entailing considerable expense, as the appointee was supposed to furnish a large share of the entertainments. Hence, the greater the number of hermanos mayores the more splendid the fiesta,—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

halagáng kambíng