Chapter 23: - Page 2 of 10

Fishing

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

We ought to have heard mass first, sighed Aunt Isabel, clasping her hands.

There’s yet time, ma’am.  Albino has been a theological student in his day and can say it in the boat, remarked another youth, pointing to the tall, thin one who had first spoken.  The latter, who had a clownish countenance, threw himself into an attitude of contrition, caricaturing Padre Salvi.  Ibarra, though he maintained his serious demeanor, also joined in the merriment.

When they arrived at the beach, there involuntarily escaped from the women exclamations of surprise and pleasure at the sight of two large bankas fastened together and picturesquely adorned with garlands of flowers, leaves, and ruined cotton of many colors.  Little paper lanterns hung from an improvised canopy amid flowers and fruits.  Comfortable seats with rugs and cushions for the women had been provided by Ibarra.  Even the paddles and oars were decorated, while in the more profusely decorated banka were a harp, guitars, accordions, and a trumpet made from a carabao horn.  In the other banka fires burned on the clay kalanes for preparing refreshments of tea, coffee, and salabat.  

In this boat here the women, and in the other there the men, ordered the mothers upon embarking.  Keep quiet! Don’t move about so or we’ll be upset.

Cross yourself first, advised Aunt Isabel, setting the example.

Are we to be here all alone? asked Sinang with a grimace.  Ourselves alone? This question was opportunely answered by a pinch from her mother.

As the boats moved slowly away from the shore, the light of the lanterns was reflected in the calm waters of the lake, while in the eastern sky the first tints of dawn were just beginning to appear.  A deep silence reigned over the party after the division established by the mothers, for the young people seemed to have given themselves up to meditation.

Take care, said Albino, the ex-theological student, in a loud tone to another youth.  Keep your foot tight on the plug under you.

What?

It might come out and let the water in.  This banka has a lot of holes in it.

Oh, we’re going to sink! cried the frightened women.

Don’t be alarmed, ladies, the ex-theological student reassured them to calm their fears.  The banka you are in is safe.  It has only five holes in it and they aren’t large.

Five holes! Jesús! Do you want to drown us? exclaimed the horrified women.

Learn this Filipino word:

saanmáng gubat ay may ahas