A Summary and a Review/Reflection on El Filibusterismo
Crisostomo Ibarra is back and as Simoun. During the period in between the story
line of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which is 13 years, Ibarra left the Philippines
and became a wealthy jeweler. He came back to the Philippines as Senor Simoun, disguised
with a beard. He seems to have long abandoned his once vision of ending the despotism of
Spain with words and peace. He becomes hungry for vengeance for all the misfortune our
country has suffered under the tyranny of the Spaniards . And near the end of the novel,
when he discovers that his lover, Maria Clara, died in the convent, he becomes all the more
furious. Simoun is a confidant of the Captain-General. He encourages the government to
make bad decisions and to abuse their power so that it would spark a revolution among the
Basilio, now all grown up, is at first reluctant to join in on Simoun’s idea but ends up
being part of the plan.
Simoun started planning uprisings and stashed guns in the shop of an ally. At the
wedding reception of newlyweds (the bride being the ex-girlfriend of one of the friends of
Basillo—Isagani), Simoun tells Basilio that his plan was to conceal an explosive which
contains nitroglycerin inside a pomegranate-styled Kerosene lamp that Simoun will give to
the newlyweds as a gift during the wedding reception. The reception will take place at the
former home of the late Captain Tiago, which was now filled with explosives planted by
Simoun. According to Simoun, the lamp will stay lighted for only 20 minutes before it
flickers; if someone attempts to turn the wick, it will explode and kill everyone—important
members of civil society and the Church hierarchy—inside the house. Simoun leaves the
reception early and leaves a note with the words: “Mene Thecel Phares” which means “the
future is predetermined” and is generally implied that a bad event is going to happen.
Simoun signed it with his real name “Juan Crisostomo Ibarra”. The people at the reception
were shocked because Ibarra is supposedly dead. One of the priests who knew Ibarra
before the ending of Noli Me Tangere confirmed to the people that it was the writing of
Ibarra. The lamp started to dim… Outside the house, Basilio was about to walk away
because he knew the lamp was going to explode anytime soon when he saw Isagani, the
still heart-broken ex-boyfriend of the bride whose reception was still going on in the house
of Capitan Tiago. Isagani said that he just wanted to congratulate the newly-weds. Basilio
who then feared for the safety of his friend told him about the plan of Simoun. Isagani ran
to the house. A priest was about to fix the lamp but once Isagani got in, he found the lamp
and threw it out the window into the river outside the residence. Since the guards were
chasing Isagani, he himself jumped out of the window into the river as well. There was an
uprising planned by Simoun during the time of the reception. The band got caught and
confessed that Simoun lead them. Ibarra was now wanted both as himself and as Simoun.
Days passed and a good priest found Simoun walking along the shore, wounded and weak.
The noble priest tended to Simoun while the latter explained that he is Ibarra and that he
was greatly saddened and angry due to the failure of the revolution and that he was
questioning God as to why he was the one who is suffering and not the ones who have
forsaken the people of the Philippines. The priest explains that all punishments will come
in due time. Ibarra died as he weakly held the hand of the priest. The latter blessed the
former and threw away all the remaining jewels of Ibarra in the hopes that they may
always be used for good.
Everyone agrees on the fact that El Filibusterismo is far more dark and brutal that
Noli Me Tangere. With many events of murder, sexual abuse and suicide, El Filibusterismo
is a massive turning point not only for the plot but also for the characters. Crisostomo
Ibarra really did grow as a character in this book. He is obviously not the idealistic and
open man he was once before. He became vengeful, angry and in somewhat way, cunning.
And in my opinion, this transformation of his is very much human and real. After
everything he went through in Noli Me Tangere, it seems only fitting that he becomes the
man who is Simoun. I believe that when Ibarra went under alias Simoun, he did not just
strip himself of his birth name but he stripped himself of all of what was left of Juan
Crisostomo Ibarra. The way I see it, is that Ibarra is not Simoun and Simoun is not Ibarra.
They may share the same face, but if we are not speaking about physical attributes, then
the only thing they truly did have in common was love for the dear Maria Clara. But besides
that, they do not share the same mind, the same plans, the same soul, the same heart.
In terms of moral lesson, El Filibusterismo is what I’d choose over Noli Me Tangere.
El Filibusterismo showed us how anger and vengeance can take over a person’s being. I
also find very much delight in the conversation between Ibarra and Father Florentino:
As Ibarra asked on his death bed, “But how come He [God] had not punished those whose
evil surpasses mine?”
The priest said, “Do not blame him, His [God’s] punishments are meted out all in their due
We all want to do good. We all want to be righteous people who choose what is right over
what is wrong. But it is just so tiring being the good person. So sometimes, when
misfortune comes our way, we just find ourselves asking the heavens: “Why, oh why me,
God?! Have I not done enough good? Aren’t there others who deserve this more?” But like
what Father Florentino said, all punishments for all people will come when the time is
right. Being a good person is rewarding. Not entirely in the sense of blessings but in the
sense that you know that you did what is good and your heart just feels ever so light. This is
the stage that Ibarra underwent in the first book. But in the second book, he was just so
tired that he ended up being a person who he most likely, never wanted to be. At the end of
the book, I believe he ended up being the man we started with. He seemed to have no
anger, he seemed to be in a state of peace. I believe that doing your best to never tire in
doing good is one of the central themes of the book.
El Filibusterismo also shares the theme that ‘violence is not the answer’ with Noli
Me Tangere. Simoun’s grand plan thwarted. When he asked Father Florentino about this,
the friar answered with, “Perhaps He [God] saw there was no justice in the way you wanted
it done.” If you don’t remember, the way Simoun ‘wanted it done’ was by blowing up the
house of the late Capitan Tiago which had many Spaniards with important positions in said
house with dynamite. It doesn’t seem to have justice after all. Somebody may counter this
thought with “But the Spaniards were abusive!” but when you think of it, would we really
want to stoop down to that level of violence and rage? I think not.
El Filibusterismo is an exciting and raw book and I do plan on reading it again soon.