Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Capitán Ipe, the Charitable (1917)

Manuel Palanyag was a poor father, to whom god had given many children, but who, reduced to utmost poverty, absolutely lacked the resources with which to assuage his hunger, that of his wife, who had just given birth to a healthy and beautiful baby, and of his other ten offsprings, all little ones.
            He looked for work and could not find any.
            He knocked on the doors of the rich, but as soon as they saw him, they told him:
            “But, you beg for alms, you are so strong, still young, and quite robust? Are you not ashamed to do that? Why do you not work?”
            “I long to work, I am anxious to work, but I cannot find work. I have a wife in bed and all my eleven small children ask me for food, what can I do but to resort to charity so that they will not die of hunger?”
            “We do not believe you. In Manila nobody who is industrious dies of hunger; here there is enough work. And so as you well know it, you can leave; we do not want to support loafers.”
            Those who used to speak that way were not right. Manuel Palanyag had told the truth. He looked for a job three days ago and did not  find any. The Chinese sari-sari store vendor did not want to give him anything on credit; he had learned about his terrible misery. He was desperate and full of the most intense pain. It was not only that people had refused to help him, but they had also unjustly and severely censured him. Criminal thoughts crossed his mind, but because he was by nature honest, immediately he rejected these, choosing his death and that of the family that he loved, before doing any action that for always would disgrace him. He returned to the miserable and unhealthy hovel where he lived with his family. Upon entering, he was surrounded immediately by his children asking for food.
            “We are hungry, Tatay,” --- they shouted at him.
            Sobbing, he answered:
            “Wait, my children, wait a little bit more.”
            And he told his wife sadly, what had happened to him when he begged for alms.

Pascual H. Poblete
Revista Filipina, Manila
December 30, 1917

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

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