El Fili Chapter 10: Wealth and Misery

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Simoun visits the house of Cabesang Tales (located between the towns of San Diego and Tiani). Tales is impoverished, but Simoun brings food and other necessities, along with cases of jewelry. (Simoun did this because he wanted to get to know Tales better.)

So, what did Simoun do next..?

Simoun shows off his revolver or pistol to Tales. Soon, the jewelry buyers arrive: Capitan Basilio (father of Sinang), Capitana Tika (mom of Sinang), Sinang (and her husband and child), and Hermana Penchang (who wants to buy a diamond ring for the Blessed Virgin at Antipolo). It’s some kind of status symbol for them ~ they can say that they bought jewelry from the adviser of the Capitan Heneral. Ah, the travails of “branded” fashion…

Simoun opens the two pieces of luggage filled with jewelries of different types, shapes and histories.

Tales looks at the riches and feels that Simoun is using those to make Tales feel more miserable about his situation. To think all this was happening on the eve of Tales’ eviction. All it would take was but one tiny diamond to ransom Juli from her employer and to sustain Tales’ old father, Selo, till the end of his days. Tales feels insulted, to say the least.

(Folks, please read the description of the jewelry. Note also the “speech” Simoun made in not-so-good Tagalog. He must’ve looked really weird with his blue-tinted glasses and fiery speech about how a handful of his jewels can “drown in tears all the inhabitants of the Philippines!” Geez. Weirdo.)

Some of the jewelry mentioned:

* Necklace of Cleopatra
* Rings found in the ruins of Carthage
* Some treasures brought back by Hannibal after the Battle of Cannae
* Ring of Sulla
* Earrings found in the villa of Annius Mucius Papilinus in Pompeii
* Sapphire from Ceylon, emeralds from Peru, ruby, turquoises from Persia, diamonds (black, rosy, green)
* Ring of the Princess of Lamballe
* Pendants to a lady-in-waiting of Marie Antoinette
* Oriental mother-of-pearl
* Others from the Golconda mines

None of the buyers were interested in the old, historical jewels, so Simoun brought out the modern ones. No appreciation for antiquity, it seems. How can you blame the buyers? There weren’t even enough museums at that time.

(This is probably Rizal’s way of showing the lack of “culture” prevalent in Philippine society at that time. Hmmm… at that time? Heh.)

Simoun also wanted to buy something, so he asked Cabesang Tales if he had any jewelry for sale. Sinang reminds Tales about the locket given to Juli (recall that this locket was given by Maria Clara to a leper, who gave it to Basilio, who then gifted it to his sweetheart Juli… Whew!).

Simoun immediately offered Five Hundred Pesos (afterall, that was the locket of his love, Maria Clara, who had since become a nun). He alternatively offered any other jewel.

Hermana Penchang reminds Tales that Juli chose to become a maid/slave over selling that locket, so Tales decides to consult first with Juli.

Tales goes out to meet his daughter, but along the way sees the friar and the new tenant of Tales’ land. Those insensitive two laugh at Tales when they see him. Tales felt as if some guy took his wife to a private room and laughed at him before entering the room.

Tales does not go to see his daughter. Instead, he follows those two men.

The following day, Tales is missing. And so is Simoun’s revolver!

In the holster, Simoun finds a note from Tales (aka Telesforo Juan de Dios). Tales apologized for taking the revolver and explained he needed it because he was joining the bandits. Aside from the note, Tales also left–as payment–the locket Simoun wanted.

Simoun muses that he has finally found the man he’s been looking for: a man of action, a man of integrity, a man who can keep his end of the bargain.

(When Tales swore that his land will be taken away over his dead body, his act of gun-stealing shows that Tales doesn’t simply make threats; he keeps promises.)

Simoun orders his servants to proceed to Los BaƱos via the lake. He, on the other hand, decides to travel on land (along with his precious gems) because he hopes to meet the bandits so that he can invite them to his cause (revolution).

Simoun is delighted to discover that the guardia civil have arrested Old Man Selo. He realizes that this will anger Sales even more.

It turns out that Tales murdered three people the previous evening: the friar, the new tenant, and his wife. It was a gruesome murder: their mouths were filled with soil, the wife’s neck was slashed, and the other two had been shot in the head.Beside the wife’s corpse was a note with Tales’ name finger-traced in blood.

The chapter ends with a sarcastic assurance to the citizens of Calamba that they will not be blamed for the crime committed by Tales. Rizal was hinting that these citizens were NOT the equivalent of Tales… for they had suffered more than Tales.

But these citizens are like Tales in the sense that they still have not obtained justice. There is also some reference to Mariano Herbosa, husband of Rizal’s sister Lucia. Mariano’s eldest daughter was Delfina Herbosa de Natividad (1879 to 1900) who, at the age of 7, helped sew the first Philippine flag!

(Mariano died from cholera, but was not buried in the town cemetery because he did not receive the Last Sacraments. Yeah, right. How convenient that Rizal’s brod-in-law, because of some timing issue, had to be buried out of town [on the hillock Lichiria].)

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