El Fili Chapter 38: A Twist of Fate (Sawimpalad)

Gusto Mo Bang Kumita Sa Internet
Nang Pa-Facebook, Facebook Lamang?

Click Here Now!

You'll learn about how the lives of certain characters are met with a string of bad luck. What makes it even more painfully poignant is that their misfortune is brought about by their own hand, or by their own doing.

We learn that the bandit Matanglawin (Kabesang Tales) has attacked several places in Luzon. He murdered the justice of the peace in the town of Tiani, burned some places to the ground, and hopped from province to province. He moves about freely: sometimes he's in Batangas, next he's in Cavite, and is soon spotted in Tayabas, Pangasinan, or in far-away Bicol.

He always manages to evade the Spanish authorities. In their frustration, the guardia civil apprehend about six or seven innocent farmers after a recent attack by Matanglawin.

Here's how they mistreat the farmers…

They make the Filipino farmers walk (hatless and barefoot) under the glare of the noonday sun during the blistering summer month of May. The farmers are bound to one another, their elbows tied behind their backs. They cannot even wipe the sweat that stings their eyes.

When one of the farmers falls (due to hunger or fatigue, or both), the entire group is whipped. Those who are still standing break into a run, and end up dragging their fallen comrades along the rocky dry soil.

Mautang, one of the sadistic Filipino guardia civil, relishes the scene. He is countered by another soldier, a more even-tempered Carolinian named Tano. Mautang explains that he wants to goad the prisoners into escaping, so that the guardia civil would finally have a reason to shoot the fugitives down.

One of the farmers says that these Filipino guards are more cruel than their Spanish counterparts, when he is not allowed to relieve his full bladder. The guards explained that they were not in a safe area, because they were surrounded by tall mountains. Typical ambush scenario, so you know what's coming next…

A shot is fired. Mautang is hit in the chest, blood spurts out of his mouth.

The cabo or superior of the soldiers points to the farmers and orders his men to shoot them. “Fuego!” The farmers are gunned down.

The guardia civil rush up the mountain while being fired upon by the hidden ambushers.

A man appears in the talampas, or plateau of the mountain, and waves his gun.

Tano is ordered by the cabo, or head of the guardia civil, to shoot the man, after the three other soldiers failed to kill the shouting man. No one could understand what the man was shouting.

Tano is surprised when he sees the man. He hesitates. The cabo points his gun to the sharpshooter Tano, and once again orders him to shoot. Tano follows the order, the man falls and rolls away from the plateau. He shouts something, which stuns Tano.

The bandits run away, and the guardia civil rush up the mountain. Another man appears in the plateau, and raises his spear. The soldiers gun him down.

A guardia civil finally reaches the top of the mountain, sees a dying old man, and bayonets him. The old man does not even wince. He just looks at Tano and points to an area behind the plateau.

Key Points

At that time, people were already aware of the prison in cold Siberia, Russia (the Soviet Union). Rizal wanted to paint a harsher scene, where Filipino prisoners are subjected to intense heat and cruelty.

Rizal also uses this chapter to point out the stupidity and cruelty of the Filipino guardia civil.

(Actually, this tends to happen when people are placed in situations where you have prisoners and guards. No matter what your nationality is, if you play the role of a “prison guard” there's a pretty high possibility that you will turn sadistic.)

Tano is called Carolino because he served in the Carolinas or Caroline Islands.

This poignant chapter can be compared with the Noli Me Tangere's “Noche Buena.” It talks about families separating in times of adversity, and reuniting in tragedy. The twist of fate or irony (parikala) is shown when Tano ends up killing his own father, Kabesang Tales.

Questions and Answers

1. Why did Matanglawin kill the judge in Tiani? That judge ruled that the Dominicans owned the land of Kabesang Tales.

2. Why was Kabesang Tales successful as a bandit? Since the indios were not allowed to bear arms or carry weapons, they simply left their village whenever they heard that Matanglawin was attacking a nearby village.

3. What did the banditry of Kabesang Tales accomplish? Just as Simoun planned, the Philippines suffered even more. People lived in fear, farmlands were left unproductive, businesses failed, the destabilized government was shown to be inept, injustice was done to the innocent farmers…

In other words, all that made the country ripe for a revolution.

4. Why were the guardia civil treating the prisoners inhumanely? Mautang wanted to tempt the prisoners into fighting or escaping, and that would give the soldiers a reason to shoot the prisoners.

5. Why do you think Rizal named this character Mautang? That's the Tagalog word which means “deep in debt.”

6. Who was Tandang Selo pointing out to Tano? Tandang Selo was the old man who was bayoneted by one of the guardia civil. He was pointing to a spot behind the plateau where Kabesang Tales was felled by the bullet of Tano. If you remember, the bandits scampered away after Tano shot a man.

7. What was Kabesang Tales shouting before he got shot? We can only guess. Perhaps he was shouting the name of his son, Tano.

(How's that for drama, eh? If Rizal were to write teleseryes today, would the Filipino viewing public patronize stories with sad endings?)

Gusto Mo Bang Kumita Sa Internet
Nang Pa-Facebook, Facebook Lamang?

Click Here Now!

Did you find the info here useful? Please click on the LIKE button to show your support. Thanks!