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El Filibusterismo was Rizal's second novel published in Ghent, Belgium in 1891 with the financial help

of Valentin Ventura. It is a sequel to his first novel, Noli Me Tangere.

The main character of El Filibusterismo is Simoun, a rich jeweler from Cuba. He was Crisostomo
Ibarra of Noli Me Tangere who, with Elias' help, escaped from the pursuing soldiers at Laguna Lake,
dug up his buried treasure, and sailed to Cuba where he became rich and made friends with many
Spanish officials. After many years, he returns to the Philippines in disguise. He has become so
powerful because he became an adviser of the governor-general. On the outside, Simoun is a friend
of Spain. But deep in his heart, he is secretly planning a bitter revenge against the Spanish
authorities. His obsessions are 1) to incite a revolution against the Spanish authorities, and 2) to
rescue Maria Clara from the Sta.Clara convent.
The novel begins on board the dipper-shaped steamer, Tabo, sailing upstream the Pasig River from
Manila to Laguna Lake. Among the passengers are:
Simoun, the rich jeweler;
Do?a Victorina, the ridiculously pro-Spanish native woman who is going to Laguna in search of her
henpecked husband, Tiburcio de Espada?a, who left her;
Paulita Gomez, Do?a Victorina's niece;
Ben Zayb, a Spanish journalist who ridicules Filipinos;
Padre Sybila, Vice Rector of the Univeristy of Santo Tomas;
Padre Camorra, the parish priest of Tiani town;
Don Custodio, a pro-Spanish Filipino holding a high government position;
Padre Salvi, a thin Franciscan priest and a former cura of San Diego;
Padre Irene, a kind frier who was a friend of the Filipino students;
Padre Florentino, a retired scholarly and patriotic Filipino priest;
Isagani, lover of Paulita; he is a poet and a nephew of Padre Florentino; and
Basilio, the elder of the two sons of the late Sisa, he is a promising medical student whose medical
education is financed by his patron, Capitan Tiago.
Simoun, wealthy and mysterious, is a close friend of the Spanish governor general. He was
nicknamed Brown Cardinal and Black Eminence because of his influence in Malaca?ang. By using
his political influence and wealth, he encourages corruption in the government ans hastens the moral
degradation of the country so that the people may become desperate and fight. He smuggles
ammunitions into the country with the help of a rich Chinese merchant, Quiroga, who wants very
much to be Chinese consul of Manila. Simoun's initial attempt to start the uprising did not push
through because at the lat hour he heard the sad news that Maria Clara died in the convent. In his
agonizing moment of bereavement, he did not give the signal for the attack.
After his illness brought about by the death of Maria Clara, Simoun fine-tunes his plan to overthrow
the government. On the occasion of the wedding of Paulita Gomez and Juanito Pelaez, he gives a
wedding gift to them a beautiful lamp. Only he and his confidential associate, Basilio (Sisa's son who
joined the revolutionalry cause), know that when the wick of his lamp burns lower, the nitroglycerine
hidden in a secret compartment of the lamp will explode. Thus, all the guests where the wedding
feast is being held will be killed, including the governor-general, the friars, ans the government
officials. At the same time, Simoun's followers will attack the government buildings in Manila.
As the wedding feast begins, Isagani, who has been rejected by Paulita because of his liberal ideas,
is standing outside the house, sadly watching the merriment inside. Basilio chances upon Isagani
and, warns him to go away because the lighted lamp will soon explode. Upon learning the secret of
the lamp, Isagani realizes that her former girlfriend, Paulita was in grave danger. He rushes into the
house to save her life. He steals the lamp and hurls it into the river where it explodes. The
revolutionary plot was thus discovered.

Ben Zayb
A writer.
Cabesang Tales
Real name is Telesforo Juan de Dios (Chap 10: Wealth and Misery).
Captain of the Ship TABO
Chap 1 depicts him as a soft-spoken yet sarcastic fellow (see how he handles the questions of
Doa Victorina).
Capitan General
Don Custodio
A politician who argues with Simoun in Chap 1 regarding the dredging of the Pasig river.
Don Tiburcio de Espadaa
Hen-pecked husband of Doa Victorina. Lame. Went into hiding somewhere in Laguna after
he (surprisingly) hit her with his crutch.
Doa Victorina
A contemptible Filipina who tries so hard to come across as European. As a result, her true
race cannot be classified by Quatrefages (the French ethnologist) and Virchow (German
ethnologist). Married to Don Tiburcio de Espadaa.
Padre Camorra
The friar-gunner.
Padre Irene
"Ruddy, well-shaved face."
Padre Salvi
A thin Franciscan with a ghoulish voice. He's in love/lust with Maria Clara.
Padre Sybila
A Dominican. Vice-Rector of the University.
Paulita Gomez
Beautiful, young, and rich orphan. Niece of Doa Victorina.
The jeweller. He is Ibarra (Noli Me Tangere). Chap 1 describes him as having long, white
hair, a black beard. He even wears blue-tinted sunglasses. Cool! ;-)
Speaks with a mixed accent: English and Latin American

The novel opens with the steamship Tabo heading up the Pasig river on its way to La Laguna one December
morning. Take note of the possible parallelism between the ship and the government ruling in the Philippines during
Rizals time: full of hot air, tyrannical, pretentious.
We meet Doa Victorina, the only lady in the European group on the upper deck (guess who have to stay below
deck). She is depicted as a foul-mouthed, extravagant, heavily made-up, disdainful, and insufferable Indio who tries
to pass herself off as a European through her wigs and clothes. She is accompanied by her niece, the beautiful and
rich Paulita Gomez. Doa Victorina is the wife of Don Tiburcio de Espadaa, who left her after many years of
marriage and who was now hiding (maybe) in Laguna.

Among the other characters introduced are: Don Custodio, an official counsellor; Ben Zayb, an exceedingly
intelligent (in his own mind) writer whose pseudonym is an anagram of the surname Ybaez; Father Irene, the
canon; and the jeweller Simoun who sports long, white hair and a sparse black beard and who wears a pair of huge
blue-tinted sunglasses (in the 1800s? Hmmm.). Anyway, Simouns great influence over His Excellency, the Capitan-
General was known in Manila. Thus, people held him in high regard.
Discussing the issue of the lake and the slowness of ship travel were Ben Zayb, Padre Camorra, and Padre Salvi, a
Franciscan. Simoun cuts in and offers a rather radical solution: dig a new river channel and close the Pasig even if it
means destroying villages and committing people to forced and unpaid labor.
What follows is a debate between Simoun and Don Custodio on whether the indios were going to revolt or not.
Padre Sibyla, a Dominican, was concerned that the people might rise up as before, but Simoun dismissed the
possibility with a what are you friars for if the people can rise in revolt?
After Simoun left the fuming group, Don Custodio offers his own solution: Get people to raise ducks. Since ducks
feed on snails, the people will help deepen the river as they will remove or dig up the sandbars which contain the
snails. Doa Victorina wasnt exactly fond of the idea since she considers balut (duck) eggs disgusting.
Below deck we find those belonging to the lower rungs of the social ladder. Unlike the airy upper deck, the
conditions below deck are far from comfortable because of the heat from the boilers and the stifling stench of
various nose crinkling scents. (The descriptions in the novel are much more vivid, so please read it.)
The readers attention is focused on two characters: Basilio, a student of medicine and Isagani, a poet from the
Ateneo. Conversing with them is the rich Capitan Basilio.
The main point of discussion is the establishment of an academy for the teaching of Spanish.
While Capitan Basilio is convinced that such a school will never be set-up, Isagani expects to get the permit,
courtesy of Father Irene. Father Sibyla is also against this, which is why Father Irene is on his way to Los Baos to
see the Governor General.
To support the funding of the project, every student was asked to contribute fifteen centavos. Even the professors
offered to help (half were Filipinos and half were Spaniards from Spain). The building itself will be one of the houses
of the wealthy Makaraig.
(Note: Some people in Spain were in favor of teaching Spanish to the Filipinos. Compare them with Spaniards
based in the Philippines who did not want the Filipinos to learn their language.)
Isagani is in love with Paulita Gomez, but his uncle, Father Florentino is against it. Father Florentino would rather
not go on deck because he might bump into Doa Victorina who might ask him about her husband, Don Tiburcio
(who happens to be hiding in Father Florentinos house).
Coming from the upper deck, Simoun finds Basilio who then introduces Isagani to him. Isagani takes offense when
Simoun talks about the poverty in Basilios province. (Read their resulting argument about water and beer.)
After Simoun leaves, Basilio chastises Isagani for treating the jeweller that way. Basilio emphasizes Simouns
position in society be calling him the Brown Cardinal, or Black Eminence of the Governor-General. This is in
reference to His Grey Eminence, a Capuchin adviser of Cardinal Richelieu, a once all-powerful Prime Minister of
They are interrupted when Isagani is informed by a servant that his uncle, Father Florentino needed him. Take note
of the description of Fr. Florentino as well as the story of how he lost the woman he loved because he became a
Additional background info: Father Florentino retired from his parish soon after the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 fearing
that the revenues from his parish would attract attention. He was possibly worried by the fact that he was a Filipino
priest and that in the Cavite Mutiny, three Filipino priests identified with the movement to turn the parishes over to
the native clergy were charged and executed.
The legend-loving skipper of the vessel sees Fr. Florentino and asks him to go on deck lest the friars assume this
Filipino priest did not want to mingle with them. Fr. Florentino then instructs Isagani not to go near the lounge
because that would be tantamount to abusing the hospitality of the skipper who would surely invite Isagani.
Actually, Isagani felt it was his uncles way of preventing him from speaking with Doa Victorina.
Padre Florentino sees the guests laughing above deck. The friars are complaining about the increasing social
awareness of the Filipinos and about the investigation on the finances of the church. Simoun arrives and is told how
unfortunate he is to have missed seeing the places the ship had passed. Simoun replies that places are worthless,
unless there are legends associated with them. The Kapitan of the ship then relates the Legend of the Wide Rock, a
place considered sacred by the natives of long ago; the abode of some spirits. During the time of bandits, the fear of
spirits disappeared, and criminals inhabited the place.
The Kapitan also talks about the Legend of Doa Geronima. Padre Florentino is asked to give the details: Doa
Geronima had a lover in Spain, who later became an archbishop in Manila. The woman goes to see him to ask that
he fulfill his promise of marrying her. Instead, he sends the woman to live in a cave near the Pasig river.
Ben Zayb liked the legend. Doa Victorina grew envious because she also wanted to live in a cave. Simoun asks
Padre Florentino if it wouldnt have been better if the woman were placed in a monastery such as Sta. Clara. Padre
Salvi explained that he cannot judge the actions of an archbishop. To change the topic, he narrates the legend of St.
Nicholas (San Nicolas) who rescued a Chinese from a crocodile. Legend has it that the crocodile turned to stone
when the Chinese prayed to the saint.
When the group reached the lake, Ben Zayb asked the Kapitan where in the lake a certain Guevarra, Navarra or
Ibarra was killed. (Refer to the Noli Me Tangere)
The Kapitan shows the spot, while Doa Victorina peers into the water, searching for any trace of the killing (thirteen
years after the event occurred). Padre Sibyla adds that the father is now with the corpse of the son (in the Noli Me
Tangere, the corpse of Ibarras fatherDon Rafaelwas thrown in the lake). Thats the cheapest burial, quips Ben
Zayb. People laugh. Simoun pales and does not say anything. The Kapitan thinks Simoun is just seasick.
Some Notes
Here you will see the disappearance of the ancestral belief in spirits and superstitions, only to be replaced by
modern (but even more bothersome) superstitions such as panreligion. Read the legends of both Doa Geronima
and St. Nicholas.
Questions and Answers
1. Why did talk center on legends on the deck of the ship? This was deliberate on the part of Simoun. He was
familiar with the legends about the Pasig river and he hoped that one of the legendsthat pertaining to Doa
Geronimawill be mentioned. Simoun wanted to use that legend to ease his anger towards the holier-than-thou
Padre Salvi, whom Simoun suspected of taking advantage of Maria Clara in the Sta. Clara Convent.
2. How is the Legend of Wide Rock (Malapad na Bato) similar to the history of the Philippines? Before, Wide Rock
was considered a home for spirits (good and evil), as well as a nest of superstitious beliefs. The Philippines was
also like that before the Spaniards came. People believed in supernatural beings (i.e., kapre, tiyanak, tikbalang,
When Wide Rock became the hideout of thieves, people realized that there was no such thing as evil spirits
because nothing bad happened to the criminals who lived at Wide Rock. Boatmen traveling on the Pasig river
feared instead the bandits who would block and kill those who ventured near Wide Rock. The Philippines, through
the introduction of Christianity, stopped believing in spirits and superstitions (really?). The Spaniards represent the
bandits whom the people now fear, and in the story of Cabesang Tales youll understand why.