Chapter 39: - Page 4 of 7

Doña Consolacion

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

With these doubts he went to consult the sergeant Gomez, who, as a youth, had wanted to be a curate. Without deigning to look at the corporal the sergeant blew out a mouthful of smoke and answered with great pompousness, In ancient times it was pronounced Filipi instead of Felipe. But since we moderns have become Frenchified we can’t endure two i’s in succession, so cultured people, especially in Madrid—you’ve never been in Madrid?—cultured people, as I say, have begun to change the first i to e in many words. This is called modernizing yourself.

The poor corporal had never been in Madrid—here was the cause of his failure to understand the riddle: what things are learned in Madrid! So now it’s proper to say—

In the ancient style, man! This country’s not yet cultured! In the ancient style, Filipinas! exclaimed Gomez disdainfully.

The corporal, even if he was a bad philologist, was yet a good husband. What he had just learned his spouse must also know, so he proceeded with her education: Consola, what do you call your damned country?

What should I call it? Just what you taught me: Felifinas!

I’ll throw a chair at you, you ———! Yesterday you pronounced it even better in the modern style, but now it’s proper to pronounce it like an ancient: Feli, I mean, Filipinas!

Remember that I’m no ancient! What are you thinking about?

Never mind! Say Filipinas!

I don’t want to. I’m no ancient baggage, scarcely thirty years old! she replied, rolling up her sleeves and preparing herself for the fray.

Say it, you ———, or I’ll throw this chair at you!

Consolacion saw the movement, reflected, then began to stammer with heavy breaths, Feli-, Fele-, File

Pum! Crack! The chair finished the word. So the lesson ended in fisticuffs, scratchings, slaps. The corporal caught her by the hair; she grabbed his goatee, but was unable to bite because of her loose teeth. He let out a yell, released her and begged her pardon. Blood began to flow, one eye got redder than the other, a camisa was torn into shreds, many things came to light, but not Filipinas.

Learn this Filipino word:

butót balát