Basilio is the oldest son of Sisa and is one of the young sacristans of San Diego in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. Despite the treasure Elias had pointed out to him, he works hard and with the help of Capitan Tiago, took up medicine at the Ateneo Municipal in El Filibusterismo.
When Basilio was introduced in this story, he was 10 years old. His features resembled his youngest brother Crispin but with certain firmness and depth. He wears patched and threadbare clothes. He is said to have strong and clear steps but had become lame at the end of Noli me Tangere.
In El Filibusterismo, Basilio is presented as a 23-year old medical student who wears an all black outfit. But in the beginning of the novel, he is shabbily dressed, dirty and had a single pair of bakya. Gradually, his wardrobe increased and his appearance became respectable.
Basilio is protective of both his mother and brother. He despises his father immensely for making their life miserable. Although young, he is resilient, as he escaped the guards who managed to graze his forehead. He works instead of his father to provide for his poor mother.
In El Filibusterismo, Basilio has become persevering and studious despite the hardships he had experienced at San Juan de Letran. His exposure in performing autopsies had removed his belief in superstitions. Padre Irene describes him as being too deep and introspective. He is also patient with Capitan Tiago who would often abuse him whenever the doses of opium are reduced and prudent whenever his benefactor is hooked. Unlike other students of his time, the man is calm and composed.
Role in the novel
In Noli Me Tangere
Basilio appears with his brother in Chapter 15 as the drenched sacristans of the convent. He last saw his brother being dragged away by the cruel senior sacristan. He was almost killed by the guards when he ran home during the curfew. He had dreamt of what became of Crispin. He had made plans for a brighter future for his mother and brother, as a herdsman for Crisostomo Ibarra and away from the convent where he worked.
Basilio disappeared to escape the guards that had been pursuing him due to the accusations of stealing. He appears at Chapter 63 where he bade farewell to the old man, Tandang Selo, who nursed him back to health in the mountains. He had visited the empty hut and learned of his mother's insanity. When he heard Sisa's song, he recognized his mother. However, since his mother had grown scared of soldiers, she runs away from them but Basilio ran after her until the chase ended in a balete tree where the latter fell in order to catch her. When he awoke, his mother's already dead. In his grief, a man instructed him to make a funeral pyre and to get the gold near the foot of the balete tree for his studies.
In El Filibusterismo
Basilio returns in El Filibusterismo 13 years older and a student of Medicine from the Ateneo. He had followed the advice of Elias and went to Manila to study. When he was taken in by Capitan Tiago, he was able to study at the San Juan de Letran. He eventually took up medicine where he was lauded for initiating alternative cures and successful treatments. When he discovers Simoun’s identity by accident, the latter invites him to join the revolution to which the former declined. He had been engaged with Juli, his former childhood friend in the mountains where he once lived.
Basilio and his other friends had wanted to establish a school that will allow natives to learn the Spanish language. This school had been opposed by the Dominican priests but had been successful, although they are appointed not as teachers but merely caretakers. He then receives pamphlets from Simoun but manages to inform him that Maria Clara had died. When seditious posters were displayed in the city, the students who held their mock celebration at the panciteria had been arrested, including Basilio who did not attend. Although a high official had intervened in his behalf, he remained longer in Bilibid until Simoun helped him. His incarceration had caused Capitan Tiago’s death and Juli’s suicide, as the latter avoided being raped by Padre Camorra.
Basilio’s release from jail had encouraged him to join Simoun’s revolution. When informed of the jeweler’s plan to kill everybody in Paulita’s wedding reception, he had managed to warn Isagani, who was his close friend. The latter throws the explosive lamp in the river and destroys Simoun’s plans.
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