El Filibusterismo Chapter 1 summary

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The steamship Tabo is sailing on the Pasig River on its way to Laguna. On board the upper are his Excellency, the Captain-General, the jeweller Simoun, Dona Victorina, Don Custodio, writer Ben-Zayb, and the friars, Father Irene, Sibyla, Camorra and Salvi.

The group’s conversation turned to the lake. Dona Victorina, claiming superiority as always, remarked that there is not a decent lake in the country. But Simoun quickly suggested to make a new river-channel by digging a canal from the river, passing through Manila. This would save land and shorten communication, and even prevent the formation of sandbar.

Others thought it was a splendid idea, except for Don Custodio, who out of habit, attacked the project simply because it did not come from him. Ibarra answered all of his questions. His project would use the prisoners and convicts in order to save on cost. If there aren’t enough of them, increase the obligatory service from fifteen days to three or even four months.

When Don Custodio feared about an uprising, Simoun argued that the Egyptians and Jews did not rebel. And the time or rebellion is already far away. He added that it is the job of the friars to quell any rebellion.

Don Custodio, however, had another plan. He suggested all towns near the river would be compelled to raise ducks since ducks will deepen the channel themselves by digging for snails. When Dona Victorina heard about it, she feared that the ballot eggs will become abundant and its better to have the bar closed up entirely.

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