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Page 3 of Fray Botod, meaning Big-Bellied Friar, a character sketch written by Graciano Lopez Jaena in 1874 when he was only eighteen years old. In this work, he caricatured the typical friar of the day as abusive, cruel, lazy, indifferent, greedy and lustful. He particularly abhored the abuses and greediness of the friars that his first written work was against this group of people.


Part 3

- See there, he's coming out again of the parish house accompanied by that young lady who's whining and crying bitterly. Fr. Botod is caressing her, consoling her, but she is insensible and indifferent to everything; her moaning is subdued by fear, she obeys and follows the friar automatically. This time they are not alone but followed by several girls, vyingly beautiful, some of them very young, others bigger, but all of them are very pretty and well-dressed.

- Now he gets into the omnibus with them; they're going for a drive and to the country for lunch.

-But who are those girls and why are they in Fr. Botod's parish house?

- They are his canding-canding.

- What are canding-canding?

- In the Castilian language the expression can mean or it is equivalent to kids, she-kids.

- If you're not going to explain it clearly, it is Greek to me. Why does the bedeviled friar have in his possession those innocent creatures and why are such angelic girls called she kids?

- They're simply called she-kids because, as time goes on, when they reach marriageable age . . . do you hear, do you understand now? He has them in his possession because they are the daughters of poor families. Under the pretext of educating them, teaching them the Christian Doctrine, the catechism, how to read, write and other things and deceiving their unfortunate parents, he takes them willingly or by force.

- But is there no woman teacher in this town?

- Yes, there is but the old woman and Fr. Botod are hand in glove,

- This is unheard of, horrible! But why don't they denounce to the authorities these barbarities of Bobooo or of that lascivious friar?

- Who'll accuse the Father? In the town no one will dare touch him. Woe to him who would dare!

- Is this common, general, in Philippine towns?

- I don't dare say so because since I was born, I haven't gone out of this town; but by what I have heard from others, I venture to say that it is, it is general.

- An affront! What baseness! ... So that those beautiful rosebuds perform for that cynical friar the same role as the Oriental dancers in India?

- I don't know who are the Oriental dancers, for that reason I can't say they're the same, I'm tempted to ask you to explain to me a little of the history of India, but above all of the Oriental dancers, because I'm curious to know the sad role those poor girls play there.

- Gladly. Surely the friars here, considering their behaviour toward the Filipino people, considering their villainy, are nothing' more than a rough, loathsome copy of the Brahmans OJ' priests and the rajahs of India.

"According to legend the Oriental dancers are of heavenly origin, being descendants of the apsaras, courtesans or dancers or India's heaven. The poets believe that they came from the sea, while the devas, spirits of inferior regions, and the azuras, evil spirits, constantly fighting with the gods, striking the white waves of foam, trying to get the amrita or ambrosia.

"Immediately after they were born, they began dancing on the waves, and they were so beautiful and seductive that the devas and azuras, forgetting their tasks, fought each other fiercely for their possession.

"The victorious devas took them to their chief Indra who made them dancers of heaven, joining them to the gandharbasor heavenly musicians, the only ones who until then had had the privilege of entertaining the court.

"One of these goddesses, having had intercourse with a mortal, who had been seduced by her songs, gave birth to a girl who, unable to live in heaven on account of her earthly origin, was entrusted to some Brahmans who educated her inside a pagoda, and there since her early years instinctively began dancing before the statues of the gods.

"From her numerous love affairs she had seven daughters whom she taught how to dance like her in the ceremonies of the temple,and three sons who naturally became musicians."

"From them descended the devadassi or dancers and the present musicians of the pagados.

"The dancers never marry. Enlisted in the service of the gods, they cannot be in man's power; but they were allowed full and complete liberty to enter into temporary relations with men, provided they would never deny their favors to the Brahmans upon whom they depended.

"Originally they should never give themselves to men other than the Brahmans, and those who observed that law were considered virgins.

"The Brahmans were the first to prostitute their harem for profit."

- You're right my friend. The comparison is apt: the Oriental dancers and the canding-canding have a fine though sad similarity; they performed the same functions; those for the Brahmans and rajahs and these for the Reverend Parish Priest. There is no difference at all. While those were consecrated at birth to the Indian gods like the Vestal Virgins, these here are canding-canding against the family will, pulled out of their homes through deceits, false promises and almost always by superior force.

- It's obvious you feel the blow, so much infamy pierces your heart.

- I'm not sorry for myself; I'm sorry for my people, for my vilified country. It cost the parents of these unhappy and unfortunate creatures a flood of bitter tears and mental aberration; there's no martyrdom comparable to theirs; nor anguish like theirs as they find themselves powerless to prevent the sacrifice of the innocence of their dearly beloved children.
Fray Botod Part    |  12  |  3  |  4  |  5  |







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