Chapter 20: - Page 8 of 9

The Meeting in the Town Hall

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

I’ll pay for the theater! shouted Capitan Basilio enthusiastically.

If you need cuadrilleros, I’ll lend you mine, cried their captain.

And I—and I—if art old man is needed— stammered another one, swelling with pride.

Accepted! Accepted! cried many voices.

Don Filipo became pale with emotion and his eyes filled with tears.

He’s crying from spite, thought the irreconcilable, so he yelled, Accepted! Accepted without discussion! Thus satisfied with revenge and the complete defeat of his rival, this fellow began to praise the young man’s plan.

The latter continued his speech: A fifth of the money collected may be used to distribute a few prizes, such as to the best school child, the best herdsman, farmer, fisherman, and so on.  We can arrange for boat races on the river and lake and for horse races on shore, we can raise greased poles and also have other games in which our country people can take part.  I concede that on account of our long-established customs we must have some fireworks; wheels and fire castles are very beautiful and entertaining, but I don’t believe it necessary to have bombs, as the former speaker proposed.  Two bands of music will afford sufficient merriment and thus we shall avoid those rivalries and quarrels between the poor musicians who come to gladden our fiesta with their work and who so often behave like fighting-cocks, afterwards going away poorly paid, underfed, and even bruised and wounded at times.  With the money left over we can begin the erection of a small building for a schoolhouse, since we can’t wait until God Himself comes down and builds one for us, and it is a sad state of affairs that while we have a fine cockpit our children study almost in the curate’s stable.  Such are the outlines of my plan; the details can be worked out by all.

A murmur of pleasure ran through the hall, as nearly every one agreed with the youth.

Some few muttered, Innovations! Innovations! When we were young—

Let’s adopt it for the time being and humiliate that fellow, said others, indicating Don Filipo.

When silence was restored all were agreed.  There was lacking only the approval of the gobernadorcillo.  That worthy official was perspiring and fidgeting about.  He rubbed his hand over his forehead and was at length able to stammer out in a weak voice: I also agree, but—ahem!

Every one in the hall listened in silence.

But what? asked Capitan Basilio.

Very agreeable, repeated the gobernadorcillo, that is to say—I don’t agree—I mean—yes, but— Here he rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand.  But the curate, the poor fellow went on, the curate wants something else.

Learn this Filipino word:

bombo