El Fili Chapter 22: The Performance

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Rizal details what happens inside the theater (Teatro Variedades). The term “Filipino Time” has been used to denigrate Filipinos who are late. Although it was attributed to our forebears, tardiness (as featured in this chapter summary) was the fault of the Spanish Kapitan Heneral. The performance could not begin unless this guest of honor was in the theater.

Now there’s something that has be to clarified regarding “Filipino” time…

Filipinos are not late. Filipinos are farmers who wake up at the crack of dawn. And if there’s a show at 7pm, you can expect Pinoys to line up and mill about the entrance at least an hour before. That’s why the term “Filipino time” is a misnomer.

This chapter also brings up love and jealousy, and foreshadows the failure of Simoun’s plans. We find Isagani, who is extremely distracted after seeing his love, Paulita, in the company of his rival. Although he is a major supporter of the proposal for a school, he does not participate in the discussion. It is his great love for Paulita which will foil the Simoun in the later chapters.

The characters of Tadeo and Juanito Pelaez are used to showcase certain personality traits: that of someone who can only criticize things in a theater, and that of a know-it-all who uses a tiny bit of knowledge (e.g., French) to impress Paulita and Dona Victorina.

Ben Zayb is also caricatured as a mindless critic. He knows nothing about the arts, yet he pretends to be competent enough to comment on the performance.

One of the performers, Serpolette (aka “Lily), is shown interacting with Padre Irene. Apparently the fraile has a history with Lily, perhaps when he was still in Europe. He even had to explain to Lily that he was a holy man now, which probably means he was not dressed up as a fraile?

Why was Pepay smiling even though she relayed the bad news to Macaraig? She did not understand what Don Custodio’s message meant (denial of the proposal for the school).

Who owned the empty balcony seat? Simoun. A woman came in late, and was wondering about that empty space in the high area at the back of the theater.

Why was Sandoval displeased with the performance? He couldn’t understand French. He also felt bad because he thought Juanita could understand it. If only he knew the truth…

Why did Pecson throw a smelly sock to Sandoval? It was a challenge. Sandoval (a Spaniard) earlier promised that if the proposal for the school was blocked, then he would still support and even push through with the project. Apparently, Sandoval hasn’t fulfilled his promise, hence the kachichas attack.

Why were the students unhappy about the “revised” proposal? The school will be run by the Dominicans at the University of Sto. Tomas, while all the costs will be shouldered by the students. In other words, there will be NO change in the way things are taught in the university.

By the way, why wasn’t Basilio in the theater?

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