El Fili Chapter 9: Pilates

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The town is abuzz with talk about the misfortunes of Selo and his family, and already a number of people are claiming they are not to blame.

(Just like Pontius Pilate washing his hands of the matter concerning Christ’s crucifixion.)

Now take note of the following key points…

[To recap: Cabesang Tales' land was being unjustly taken away, so he decided to patrol his property. Although he was armed, eventually his weapons were confiscated. Since he was no longer armed, some bandits kidnapped him. To raise money for ransom, Juli decided to become the maid of Hermana Penchang in exchange for a loan.]

Anyway, on to the Pilates of the chapter…

The alferez or lieutenant of the guardia civil said he was merely following orders when he confiscated the weapons of Cabesang Tales. It was not his fault if Tales was subsequently kidnapped.

The person grabbing Tales’ land said that if Tales remained at home (and not patrolled the land), he would not have been kidnapped.

And what about Hermana Penchang, Juli’s new master/mistress? She does not feel responsible either for Juli’s circumstances. Instead, she blames Old Man Selo because he does not know how to pray (and neither did he teach Juli how to pray properly).

Hence, Hermana Penchang took it upon herself to teach Juli; she also asked Juli to read the book Tandang Basiong Macunat, a late 1800s Tagalog narrative about how Indios should trust only in the friars and shun learning (because it leads to sin).

It’s funny to read how Hermana Penchang appears scandalized when Juli does not pause at the “proper” words in the Hail Mary, or when Juli stresses the wrong syllable in some Latin prayers (i.e., Juli says menTIbus instead of MENtibus).

In case you’re curious, you’ll find the oremus gratiam… mentibus (”Let us pray: Pour forth we beseech you…”) prayers at the link below:



Anyway, Cabesang Tales does show up in his house. He discovers that his dad no longer speaks, that his land is being taken away, that he is being evicted from his home, and that Juli is now a lowly maid.


Can you blame him for just sitting down beside his dad and not saying anything the entire day?

(The next chapter talks about wealth and misery.)

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