El Fili Chapter 24: Dreams

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The jealous Isagani is fuming because of what he saw at the theater, and he plans to give Paulita a piece of his mind when they meet in Luneta. But Paulita turns the tables on him…

(Take note of the symbolisms used in this chapter.)

She acts as if she were jealous, and accuses him of staring at the French girls.

She explains that she agreed to go with Juanito, so that she will be able to meet Isagani. She adds that it is Donya Victorina who is in love with Juanito. Paulita and Isagani both laugh.

How’s that for girl power, eh?

Anyway, they discuss their dreams and hopes for the future. Isagani talks about settling in the provinces; Paulita prefers to travel by train.

Isagani describes a future of a network of train tracks spanning the country, of bays and rivers filled with commercial ships, of a Philippines as progressive as England, thanks to the support of Spain.

Paulita scoffs at Isagani’s dreams. She says that according to her Tia Torina, the country will remain enslaved. Isagani counters that Paulita’s aunt thinks that way, because she cannot live without slaves.

Isagani holds on to his dreams. He is too in love with Paulita. That same love makes him spout romantic notions of a wonderful future for the country.

Their dream-like conversation comes to an abrupt end with a shout from Donya Victorina. Isagani gets to ride with Paulita in the carriage, and he starts daydreaming (or it is nightdreaming because it is evening?) and hardly hears the questions of Donya Victorina.

He was probably still fantasizing about Paulita and staring at her, that he didn’t realize they had already reached Plaza Santa Cruz.


This chapter contrasts the two kinds of youth: those who care about their country, and those who think only of themselves.

Rizal uses Isagani as a symbol of the Filipino youth who has dreams of progress and greatness for their beloved country, the Philippines. Does this mean that Paulita symbolizes the Philippines?

You’ll also find here Rizal’s prediction that the forested areas of Quezon City and Mandaluyong would someday be developed. He should’ve also gone into real estate, don’t you think?

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