El Fili Chapter 21: Manila Characters

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The Who’s Who of Manila gathered that evening in the Teatro de Variedades to watch Les Cloches de Corneville (translated as “The Bells of Corneville”, where the bells refer to the shape of the female dancers’ loose skirts). Rizal introduces the Spanish character Camarroncocido, so named because his complexion resembles that of steamed shrimp. He is an example of a Spaniard who does not value his nationality.

Here’s additional info about Camarroncocido…

Although Camarroncocido (note the double R) is of royal lineage, he ended up working as a contractual in the Philippines, putting up posters of the upcoming shows of the Teatro.

This is in contrast with another Spaniard, Don Custodio, an ordinary Spanish citizen who took advantage of his nationality in gaining wealth and power in the Philippines.

What did Rizal criticize about Camarroncocido’s behavior? Rizal criticized Camarroncocido’s apathetic nature. He does not care about current or upcoming events (which he himself witnessed) that do not directly concern him, even if those events have an impact on the country or may potentially harm other people.

How is Manila society divided? The religious group was against the showing of Les Cloches, while those who wanted to watch the show were divided into:

- Those curious about why the show was being banned, and

- Those who wanted to watch so they can know why the show should be banned.

Similar to today, when people start censoring shows they only end up whetting the appetite of the viewers.

Who did Camarroncocido notice milling about in the darkness near the theater? He noticed the followers of Simoun. They told the soldiers that the Capitan Heneral was going to instigate some kind of civil disturbance so that he’ll be able to prolong his hold on power and keep himself from being shipped back to Spain.

They did this so that the soldiers will not repel the forces of Kabesang Tales, because the soldiers will think Tales is just following the orders of the Capitan Heneral.

In addition, the soldiers will end up fighting the religious orders who attempt to counter the attack of Kabesang Tales, because the soldiers will mistakenly believe that the frailes are trying to ruin the plan of the Capitan Heneral.

How did Tadeo manage to enter the theater? Since Basilio wanted to study, he did not join Macaraig. That’s one unused theater ticket which Isagani gave to Tadeo.

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