El Fili Chapter 17: The Quiapo Fair

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It is the month of January, and twelve people leave the house of Quiroga. They make their way through the Quiapo fair, towards the tent of Mr. Leeds.

The chapter describes the lewd behavior of Padre Camorra, who ogles the young lasses. He gets more excited when he sees the beautiful Paulita Gomez, escorted by the overly jealous Isagani and Doña Victorina.

But there’s more…

The slightly tipsy group visits various stalls in the fair, and they make fun of each other by saying that such-and-such sculpture looks like so-and-so.

Padre Camorra and Ben Zayb talk about a display called “The Philippine Press”, but they think the word “press” refers to the flat iron held by a disheveled old woman.

They see a picture of someone who looks like Simoun, and that’s when they notice that he is no longer with the group.

What facet of the Philippines did Rizal feature in this chapter? Rizal focused on sculptors of figurines or images.

What does “La Prenza Filipina” (”The Philippine Press”) represent? It represents the state of journalism in the Philippines:

* Old / Old-fashioned
* Blind in one eye / lack of truth in reporting
* Dirty

Even the journalist Ben Zayb did not understand that it was actually an attack on Philippine journalists.

Please take note of the image called “Abaca Country”: The Filipinos in the Philippines, a land of abaca, are tied by foreigners using abaca, a natural resource of the country.

Who do you think made that image? Was it an artist in the Quiapo fair, or was it something Rizal created in his own mind, and expressed as a political statement “hidden” in the novel?

Anyway, Simoun is missing because he’s preparing for the next chapter, when the group gets drawn into the mysterious tent of Mr. Leeds.

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