Chapter 20: - Page 6 of 9

The Meeting in the Town Hall

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Yes, yes! cried the youths and elders with one voice.  The youths were delighted to hear an old man speak so.

What are we going to do with four hermanos mayores? went on the old man.  What is the meaning of those chickens, capons, and roast pigs, thrown into the lake? ‘Humbug!’ our neighbors would say.  And afterwards we should have to fast for six months! What have we to do with Sylla and the Romans? Have they ever invited us to any of their festivities, I wonder? I, at least, have never received any invitation from them, and you can all see that I’m an old man!

The Romans live in Rome, where the Pope is, Capitan Basilio prompted him in a low voice.  Now I understand! exclaimed the old man calmly.

They would make of their festivals watch-meetings, and the Pope would order them to throw their food into the sea so that they might commit no sin.  But, in spite of all that, your plan is inadmissible, impossible, a piece of foolishness!

Being so stoutly opposed, Don Filipo had to withdraw his proposal.  Now that their chief rival had been defeated, even the worst of the irreconcilable insurgents looked on with calmness while a young cabeza de barangay asked for the floor.

I beg that you excuse the boldness of one so young as I am in daring to speak before so many persons respected for their age and prudence and judgment in affairs, but since the eloquent orator, Capitan Basilio, has requested every one to express his opinion, let the authoritative words spoken by him excuse my insignificance.

The conservatives nodded their heads with satisfaction, remarking to one another: This young man talks sensibly.  He’s modest. He reasons admirably.

What a pity that he doesn’t know very well how to gesticulate, observed Capitan Basilio.  But there’s time yet! He hasn’t studied Cicero and he’s still a young man!

If I present to you, gentlemen, any program or plan, the young man continued, I don’t do so with the thought that you will find it perfect or that you will accept it, but at the same time that I once more bow to the judgment of all of you, I wish to prove to our elders that our thoughts are always like theirs, since we take as our own those ideas so eloquently expressed by Capitan Basilio.

Well spoken! Well spoken! cried the flattered conservatives. Capitan Basilio made signs to the speaker showing him how he should stand and how he ought to move his arm.  The only one remaining impassive was the gobernadorcillo, who was either bewildered or preoccupied; as a matter of fact, he seemed to be both.  The young man went on with more warmth:

My plan, gentlemen, reduces itself to this: invent new shows that are not common and ordinary, such as we see every day, and endeavor that the money collected may not leave the town, and that it be not wasted in smoke, but that it be used in some manner beneficial to all.

Learn this Filipino word:

hindî na makasampá sa pugad