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ON THE UPPER DECK
That fine morning, the steamer named Tabo was navigating the Pasig River with a large crowd going to Laguna. It has two decks; the upper and the lower decks.In the lower deck, were the Chinese, mestizos and the Indios who were wedged between boxes and merchandise.In the upper deck, protected from the sun by an awning, sat the passengers who wore European style clothes. It is also there where one can find the friars and government clerks.The captain has been an old sailor who has travelled in other oceans.In this upper deck, Dona Victorina was shouting to the bankeros, rafts operators, the Indios paddling about, laundrywomen and even bathers in the Pasig River banks.She was shouting not only because she was nervous but she craved for attention from the members of the group. There were the three friars, Don Custodio who was sleeping; Ben Zayb ( Ibanez) who regarded himself as the thinker; Father Irene, the priest with a neat cassock and Simoun, the wealthy jeweler who has white hair and is fond of wearing goggles that covered not only his eyes but a portion of his face as well .Simoun is known to be an adviser of the Captain General.Dona Victorina dyed her hair red, applied red rouge on her face and fancied that she is a European. She did not consider herself an Indio.She is pissed and reprimanded the captain every time he asked the steermen to go to one direction where the water was not shallow.Dona Victorina is tolerated only in a society because of her ward, the wealthy and beautiful Paulita Gomez.Her husband Don Tiburcio de Espadana has fled after he whacked the wife with his crutch. The poor man could no longer her impositions and caprices that he lost his patience. Now he is into hiding.Ben-Zayb was arguing with a young friar, Father Camorra. It was only with the intervention of a Franciscan friar when the exchange of ideas and opinions stopped. The Franciscan friar was Father Salvi. Ben Zayb stopped arguing out of respect to the old friar.Simoun joined the discussion by suggesting that the problem can be solved by digging a new river channel and covered the old one.Ben Zayb and the rest of the group except for Don Custodio thought that was a brilliant plan.Don Custodio told Simoun that the people page 2 back
might rebel if the river channel is going to be built without giving the laborers remunerations should the prisoners and convicts are not enough to carry out the project.The more Don Custodio did not approve of the suggestion when Simoun did not care if there will be uprising because of the outrage of people.
ON THE LOWER DECK
Majority of the passengers were at the lower deck. They were seated on benches hugging their valises, boxes and baskets or were resting near their feet.The human odor were mixed with smells of oil and merchandise. Many Chinese were sleeping while others were watching the river banks or playing the cards.The students who were wearing white were jumping over the baskets and boxes. They were happy for the brief vacation.Two of these students were quietly talking to an old man. The first one was wearing all black. He is Basilio, a medical student who is successful in his practice. The other one who was taller is Isagani, a student from Ateneo. They were talking to Captain Basilio.Basilio told Isagani that Captain Tiago is now heavily dependent on opium that he preferred alone in his home by making a lot of excuses to send him away.They also talked about the students’ plan to put up a an academy of Spanish.The two students were positive that they will be granted the permit despite the disagreement of Captain Basilio who felt negative about the project.It was Father Irene who was tasked to talk to the General. Father Sybila, according to Captain Basilio is opposed to the plan.Another problem raised by Captain Basilio was the funding for which Basilio has already taken care of. The money will be contributed by the students and the...
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