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Conclusion 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 5 (Conclusion)

Gambling is the daily amusement of the Reverent Friars in Philippine towns, except on Sundays when everyone goes to the cockpit with his fighting cock. Monte and fighting cocks are Fr. Botod's intimate friends.

How the Father performs his duties as parish priest:

Tilin! Tilin! Tilin!

The bell at the convent door rings violently.

-Open, boy, he may be a player.

The boy leads to the gaming room an old man who is panting, apparently due to a long walk.

-Good evening, sir. What do you want?

-Confession, sir?

-Go, boy, call Fr. Marcelino, the coadjutor.

-He's not in, sir.

-Why isn't he in?

-Fr. Marcelino, sir, is busy with another confession. Then, wait for him.

-I can't wait, sir.

-Why can't you wait, rogue, savage?

-Because the patient, sir, is agonizing; he's dying.

-Well, let him die and go to Hell; I don't care to hear confessions.

-Sir, have pity, pity, sir.

-Gracious, go and read the Act of Contrition to the patient and from here I give him absolution.

-Sir, sir.

-Move on, nag, don't bother me anymore; I'm losing, damned jack! Hey, brute, go away.

-Boy, open the door to this old man.

You see here a good sample of Fr. Botod's religious beliefs. Letting a Christian patient who is asking for the comfort of religion die without confession, because of the jack of clubs.

After he has died:

-Sir, that man has died.

-Well, and so what?

-The family, sir, would like three priests to fetch the remains from the house, that there should be an encounter, and Requiem Mass with the body lying in state.

-Has the family of the deceased plenty of money?

-Fair, sir, the family wants three priests.

-I'll do it; there can't be three priests.

-The widow, sir, wants Fr. Marcelino to be the officiating priest.

-No, I don't like it; these things are my concern; the coadjutor has nothing to do with it

-But, sir ....Not at all, not at all, not at all.

-Well, sir, how much, sir?

-One hundred-fifty pesos, second class funeral, with old silver cape.

-Three priests, sir?

-It can't be three; I alone am worth three.

-Fr. Marcelino, sir, charges only fifty pesos for three priests and first class funeral.

-You and the coadjutor go to blazes; you're absurd; Fr.Marcelino is good for nothing.

-Pardon me, sir.

-All right, bring the money; if you don't bring the money first, your dead will not be buried; do you understand?

-All right, sir, I'll consult with the family.

-What consultations, what excuses! Enough said, bring the one hundred-fifty pesos; if you don't, the corpse will rot in your house; and you and your whole family will all go to jail.

-Sir (in repentant tone), have pity, sir, the deceased didn't leave much money sir.

-All right, borrow money from the relatives.

-They don't want to lend any.

-Well! Well! Sell the ricefield of the deceased and there'll be money; look for a money-lender, rake; if not, I don't bury your dead.

-All right, sir.

He kisses the hand of the priest and the poor man leaves. Three hours later, the coadjutor, informed of the demands of the parish priest and the insults hurled against him, quarreled with him scandalously. After getting drunk with liquor and tuba, which he does every day, Fr. Marcelino went straight to the convent. The coadjutors of the Filipino secular clergy wallowed in vice in the same degree as the friars themselves. The bad example spreads. The Indio priests follow the example of their superiors, the friars; they have bad habits like those of the friars, if not worse. They said that Fr. Marcelino, very drunk, looked for Fr. Botod, ready to face him, to slap the fat-cheeked father right on his big abdomen. Fr. Botod, as soon as he decried the coadjutor staggering on the plaza, guessing what he was up to, ordered the boy to close the door of the parish house with the express order not to allow the coadjutor to come in. Fr. Marcelino, greatly irritated by this order, shouted outrageously close to the convent to the great scandal of the passerby.

-Come down, come down, Botod, if you're brave; shameless friar, filthy fellow, stingy, infamous, wicked, come, come, come and I'm going to break your neck, friar blockhead, coward, you haven't a shred of shame ....The mouth of Fr. Marcelino, smelling of alcohol and tuba, was throwing out such insults and many more.

In the face of all these diatribes Fr. Botod kept silent; but scarcely three days have passed, the coadjutor was summoned by the bishop and confined in the Seminary. The funeral was pompous, but the family of the deceased got into debt.

How Fr. Botod entertains and celebrates the feast of the town's patron saint:

In the following manner:

-Listen, boy, tell the gobernadorcillo to prepare fodder for the horses of the priests who're coming for the fiesta.

-Listen, sacristan!

-Sir, is Your Reverence calling? Notify Aunt Imay (Gerónima), capitana Biay (María) the head waiting-maid of the Virgin, Aunt Mamay (Romana), Chief Brother Orong and Chief Sister Tayang (Clara) to send to the convent plenty of ham, mangoes, bananas, eight roast piglets, assorted cheese, canned food of all kinds, because the Father has many guests.

-I'm going to run, sir.

-Listen, don't forget to tell Capitán Bociong (Tiburcio) to send me a Macao cook.

Thus he entertains his guests splendidly at the expense of his parishioners.

How he does business:

Unfairly.

All for himself and nothing for the others. He is a usurer. Here's how he operates:

"A" goes to him at the convent.

-I've land, sir, but I can't sow.

-Why?

-I've no money, sir.

-And what do you want?

-Borrow money, sir.

-How much money do you need?

-Three hundred pesos, sir.

-That's much money.

-It's little, sir; the land has a sowing capacity of fifty cavanes of palay.

-All right; under what conditions do you want to borrow the money?

-Borrow three hundred pesos and return to you, sir, six hundred pesos when I harvest and sell the grain, sir.

-It doesn't suit me; if you wish, I give you the amount you ask on condition that you sell me the palay at harvest time at two reales fuertes a cavan. Do you understand?

-A big loss, sir.

-If you accept, there's the money; if you don't, get out and don't bother me.

The poor man (thinking and sad) replied:

-All right, I accept, sir, because I've no alternative, sir.

Botod goes to his chest, counts the money, hands it to the man, saying:

-Be careful with your pledges! Don't fail me, for this is the money of the Virgin; I try to invest it in order to build a beautiful church worthy of the Queen of Heavens, the Mother of our Saviour.

-Thank you, Father.

Botod even in money matters and usurious business invokes religion and the Virgin. When harvest time comes, Fr. Botod's barn and warehouses are full of grain and sugar. He strikes while the iron is hot, making huge profits. A cavan of rice that cost him five reales he sells for twenty-five reales. A four hundred per cent profit. Vile tricks of the Virgin! If by chance that borrower could not get anything from his cultivated land because of some freaks of the weather, the interests on the borrowed capital increase in prodigious progression. The following year the interest is raised to six times compound interest. An atrocity, a huge mass that crushes. All for the Virgin! It is not the Virgin who eats it but the one who invented it: Botod.

How he plays politics:

He is more clever than Cánovas; he has more gall than Sagasta. Notwithstanding, he is a dolt, like his King and Lord, Charles Policeman.

-Hey, boy, boy!

-You call, sir?

-Yes, go to the Tribunal, look for the Directorcillo and tell him to come.

-He's here, sir.

-Let him come in.

A little man of about forty-five years, wearing eyeglasses and carrying a bundle of papers under the arm, enters timidly the office of the friar. He is the Directorcillo who will report official matters to his Reverence.

-Good morning, Father.

-Good morning, Botod replies dryly. Are you bringing with you the official correspondence? Hand them to me.

The Directorcillo gives him the file. Botod reads them and says:

-This official letter of the Governor ordering the repair of the streets should not be answered. I still need the laborers to repair the kitchen of the convent.

-Sir, the Governor will fine the Capitán (Gobernadorcillo).

-Let him do it; he has money to pay. Don't carry out this order of the Judge to apprehend the bandit Cabugao. He's under my protection and Cabugao is not a bandit.

-The Judge will get angry, Father.

-Let him get angry. Tell him he couldn't be caught.

-Cabugao, sir, is in your kitchen, Father.

-Don't answer me; keep your mouth shut and obey me, carry out my orders and in that way you serve God and the Virgin.

God and the Virgin are always on his lips even in his notoriously unjust and nefarious acts.

How he lies and boasts:

Preaching--

-Rustic Indios, we're all rich in Spain; there, in that land of the Virgin, no one is poor; all of us are swimming in gold.

Heavens! How this friar fibs! exclaims a pious listener.

Botod continues:

-We have come to this barbarous land to win souls for Heaven to be loved by our Great Father Saint Augustine.

-Gracious, Manola! exclaims a Spaniard who happened to hear that nonsense of Fr. Botod.

The sermon continues:

-We have come to civilize you, rustics, Indios, carabaos, rogues. You're all slaves of Spain, of ours, of our Great Father Saint Augustine; do you understand?

-Amen.

It was the first time in fifteen years that he had been parish priest that he spoke from the pulpit and he uttered only great lie.

Between a Spaniard and the Father:

-Fr. Botod, why don't you educate or enlighten and give good schools to your town? It isn't suitable, my countryman. Your mission is to teach the people under your spiritual administration.

-Reasons of high politics forbid us. When the Indio becomes educated, learns to speak Spanish, we're lost.

-Why, Father?

-Because they'll rebel against us and endanger the integrity of the motherland.

-I don't believe it; it is you who will lose your property and other "bargains", but as to Spain. . .

-What? Aren't we Spain herself? Well, well, well! well!

The interest of the friars is the interest of Spain; it cannot be changed.

How Fr. Botod eats:

In the morning one big cup of thick chocolate with three or four pieces of rice cakes.

At lunch and dinner he gobbles his food rather than eats; he drinks a lot of thick Aragon wine, ten dishes every meal and fifteen with the dessert.

Abundant food even without condiments. He likes very much mustard, pepper, ginger, and hot red pepper. Much excitant food.

Afterwards he indulges in the "beautiful fantasies of the houris of Mohammed's heaven."

Because Fr. Botod is a Christian in in due form and at bottom, in his intimate life he is a Mohammedan.

How he takes his siesta:

It is the custom in the Philippines to sleep and rest at midday. It is the vice of easy life.

Fr. Botod never misses a siesta.

Fr. Botod's siesta is all an ineffable drowsiness in the midst of the caresses of his canding-canding. It was at these siestas that the she-kids, like the Oriental dancers, the devadassi of India, perform their delicate functions around the sacred person of the Filipino Brahman. Even at the risk of being censured as immodest and a disciple of Zolá, I wish to describe here the mysteries of Fr. Botod'sbedroom.

Let us break into his room that is full of allegorical prints more or less obscene. Here, a copy of Resurrección Hidalgo's Lasvírgenescristianasexpuestas al populacho.

Over there, a passage from the Old Testament: Susana entre susancianosseductores; hither, another biblical passage showing the scene of the Incest committed by Absalom on the wives of his father David on the roof garden of the palace.

Over there, The Wife of Putifar half-nude pursuing Joseph.

On the consoles and tables are somewhat crude sculptures, nude angels among Igorot idols representing procreation; scattered among Breviario and Vademecum, Liturgía y Moral de Lárraga are pornographic booklets. In the middle of that richly furnished room stands a precious bedstead of Kamagong exquisitely carved with Greco-Roman and Chinese designs in high relief. The bed is adorned with a rich border of jusi and silk and a canopy of delicate pink gauze whose ends are trimmed with lace, coquettishly gathered, and tassels.

The bed with its decorations and the room with its pictures present an exciting, provocative scene. The spectacle begins:

Look at him there through the transparent mosquito net: the obese Fr. Botod in his undergarments, stretched on his back on such a magnificent and soft bed, resting his huge head on a rich pillow, his feet on another pillow, and on both sides long pillows. On a night table with marble top are a whip with four straps and a scratcher within reach of his hand. The whip is to lash the she-kids if they are rebellious or stubborn. The scratcher is to deaden the itching that constantly tortures the heavy body of His Reverence.

Note: he breathes with difficulty and sonorously.

Today he has eaten excessively and he is digesting deliciously. It is well known that his gluttonous stomach has a force of two hundred thousand horse power. His huge abdomen undulates like aplacid lake; its undulations are perfectly marked. But this is not the best.

-Look and marvel:

-The she-kids now begin to perform their duties. Their functions are varied.

-Look: Quicay (Francisca) fans him; Paula is tickling the sole of his feet; Loleng (Dolores) is rubbing his head; Titang (Enriqueta) is removing his lice, whether or not he has any; Manay (Romana) is tickling his ears with a little feather; Arang (Clara) is pulling his fingers, gently pinching the palm of his hand, arms and armpit. Ansay (Venancia) pulls out with a grain of palay the fine hairs of his face; and finally, the beautiful and most gracious Biay (María) strokes and restrokes with a very fine silky brush his curled-up abdomen.

-Now, now, the Father, tired of lying on his back, stretches out face downward.

-Minsay (Clemencia) takes the scratcher and begins applying it on His Reverence's adipose back, full of rash and gravelly granules. Calay (Pascuala), the charming pubescent Calay in a merry and melancholy voice, slips to the ears of the drowsy Botod stories of fairies, enchantments and witchcraft.

In the midst of these delights produced through various ways, Botod sank into sweet and placid giddiness, dreaming of earthly joys.

-Such are the functions of the she-kids around Fr. Botod, besides other things that I know which I do not tell.

Finally a loud snorting of His Reverence, followed by noisy breathing with rhythmic snores, a sign that the Father is asleep. Then the complicated chores of the girls stop and on tiptoes slowly leave the room. Hardly are the poor girls out of sight when a secret door opens through a mysterious spring.

Two big middle-aged women of uncouth beauty enter. They sit on chairs near His Reverence's bed, silently, mutely watching the sleeping Father and awaiting his orders upon awakening. They are the official concubines of the Father.

-Here you see sketched in large strokes the intimate life of Fr. Botod. Other mysterious pleasures of his bedroom I leave to the imagination of the curious reader.

-Thank you, thank you, my friend, for your exquisite attention. Now it is my turn to reciprocate the favor by resuming my interrupted account of the dancers of Triquimale.

After what has been seen and observed, it is fitting to describe the scenes in the life of those unfortunate creatures which I'm going to do with great pleasure.

-I repeat that the miserable role of the canding-canding and that of the Oriental dancers among those priests of different religions are similar, although what happens here is a sad parody of that in India.

-I have no doubt that the friars have the crazy idea of converting these Islands into a place of iniquity. By their deeds and acts I can see that they wish to be Brahmans rather than ministers of Christ.

-Going back to the Oriental dancers, say, my friend, what I've seen in a reserved place in the palace of a rajah was a scene very similar to what you've just described.

-Let me tell you the means to which one must resort to be able to see a spectacle as original as that.

-It's necessary to live there for a long time, to familiarize oneself with the customs and language of the country in order not to be considered a stranger. Then you may be able to persuade some rich Indian or rajah to introduce you to the dancers in his house and allow them to perform before your astonished eyes as they create a palpitating atmosphere of passion and frenetic rapture.

-Another way is to bribe the Brahmans of a pagoda located far from the city or village and perhaps one night you would be admitted into the interior of the temple. There had been such instances.

-The true dancer is not allowed to dance in public. Having to excite the senses that later she satisfies, she needs darkness and mystery; it's necessary that she gets excited gradually, that her waist tremble on her hips, that her breast palpitate, that all her muscles shake, that her body bend under the physical excitement of a frenetic ecstacy.

-Another girl dances half-bent with her hair hanging loose on her bare back, dragging herself on the mat covering the floor of the hall, twisting her body like a lascivious cat, darting to the spectators, her big black eyes loaded with lightning and fire, and she knows how to make them appear moist with languor and desire. Now she raises her eyes toward Heaven like an inspired Virgin, assuming, splendid postures of invocation and daring. Now she is a delirious mad woman who swoons under the influence of unknown pleasures like the maids of Louvain or the inspired maids of the Cemetery of San Medardo.

-Then follow the most seductive, most delicate, most provocative bendings of the body, lingering on those that best show the curve of the hips, the flexibility of the figure and of the movements and the gorgeousness of the whole performance.

-Once at midday when all noises cease, when the siesta begins, when everything is parched and tilts on account of the burning sun of India, which wastes away the body and weakens the mind, the verandah is covered with vetiver curtains which are sprinkled with water now and then by an athletic man, nude until the waist.

-We are stretched on mats in the middle of a hall of white marble, surrounded by other rooms with terraces in front that shut off the light from us, except that filtering through two or three layers of tapestry. The punkah was kept vigorously in motion over ourheads by men who are relieved every hour.

Wandering with languor, their breasts throbbing with feverish excitement, the limbs trembling by the effect of hashish, as if it were the beginning of a nervous crisis, and you will have a vague idea of the strange and fascinating spectacle that we witnessed.

-Those girls were excited to the point of delirium by a preparation consisting of extracts of ginger, Spanish fly and hemp; and such was the skill of those who administered this preparation that it produced no immediate bad effects; but indeed after prolonged use, its harmful effects became noticeable.

-It is impossible to bear with impunity the sight of such excesses.

-These emotions repeated excessively, are bound to lead to a brutalized old age, common among rich Orientals whose lives are wholly dedicated to physical pleasures.

-But there is still more.

For these priestesses of love the dance should end in the complete exhaustion of their strength. If they withstand the first raptures and swooning, they afterward begin to rotate with incredible speed until, exhausted and seized with vertigo, they collapse half-nude on the floor.

-I've finished. Now you know, my friend, that there are also in the pagodas of the Vedas canding-canding with more exquisite and superior education, with a more subtle knowledge of the secret art of love than those here.

-It's admirable, a wonderful coincidence that there were also paintings and views in our convents similar to those you've just told me about.

-I would like to see them.

-It's impossible; the sanctuary of the can-can, of the mata la culebra is not open to the profane

-Well, patience, I'm satisfied with what I've seen.

Ah! I forgot one precious detail of Fr. Botod's bedroom: do you know how the room of that Spanish Brahman smells?

-I didn't notice it, having lost my sense of smell on account of this persistent cold.

Well, that beautiful room smells of ginger, cadlum and garlic.

-I understand; those spices are the favorite of the priests of Venus; their smell is the most pleasant incense to this goddess of love.

How a friar punishes:

Barbarously.

Because an Indio failed to work in his estate for three days, he deprived him of his wages and administered fifty strokes on the bare buttocks of the unfortunate laborer.

Consider this:

-Hey, man, why haven't you reported for work for three days?

-My wife was sick, sir.

-Hey, boy!

-Sir?

-The bench and the whip.

-Ala, ala! Get down flat.

-Sir, sir, my wife was sick.

-That's a lie.

-Ala, get down!

The poor devil gets down face downward on the bench, Fr. Botod himself removing his trousers and shorts, so that his buttocks were exposed and tying his feet and head to the bench.

-And you, sacristan, get the whip and give him fifty lashes. I remind you that the whip has three lashes, so that not fifty strokes but one hundred fifty were applied.

What brutality!

-Enough sir, enough sir; aráy! aráy! aráy! How painful sir, enough sir! enough!

-Keep quiet, brute, beast!

-Boy, bring red pepper and vinegar.

Over the bruised parts caused by the lashes on the buttocks of the unfortunate fellow, the inhuman friar pours the vinegar and rub on them the hot pepper, thus causing the unlucky fellow to see stars in the sky.

-Pity, pity, sir! Enough, enough, Father! Aráy! Aráy! Aráy!

The hapless fellow rolled about in pain, struggling in vain to untie himself.

After this inhuman treatment, the sacristan resumed the lashing until completing the sentence of fifty.

Terrible moments! The man gets excited; he turns over impetuously, his whole body is in nervous spasm, screams, ayes, moans are dying out in his throat. Because, when the strength is exhausted, unconsciousness and fainting follow.

The sight of that man whose buttocks are all sore inspires compassion and pity.

He is raving and blood is oozing from his wounds.

The friar was amused by his cruelty, laughing like a fool.

A dismal image of the past Inquisition! Fr. Botod is worse than a hyena.

Epilogue:

Days later, as we strolled in the environs of the town through thousands of coconut, mango and mabolo trees that border extensive fields of sugarcane, we saw seated on a milestone the svelte young woman who at the beginning of this sketch we spied talking obstinately with Fr. Botod.

Now withered, crumpled, with anguish all over her face, her countenance was an epic poem of sorrow.

Like the Samaritan woman of the Bible, there was beside her feet a pitcher of water and a packet of cooked rice with a small salted and dried fish lay on her knees. Her food was untouched; her spirit was in the grip of an intense sadness; her eyes fastened on the sky seemed to be asking for vengeance and justice.

Our imprudent indiscretion drew her out of her ecstatic tribulation.

-Beautiful young woman! exclaimed my friend.

As if awakened from deep slumber, confused, irresolute, stupified, her eyes opened wide looking at us with amazement.

Immediately she tried to run away, but we stopped her. I said to her gently:

-Young woman, don't be afraid of us, we're not going to hurt you; tell us only what Fr. Botod did to you the other day?

-Ay, sir, sir, don't ask me, I'm very unfortunate; he did me something that I'm ashamed to tell you, but Manuel will avenge me.

My friend, unable to restrain himself, furious, exclaimed:

-Wretched friar!

Upon hearing this, the young woman became very excited. She disengaged herself from our grasp; aghast, hair disheveled, tears flowing out of her eyes, her hands stretched upward to the sky, she ran, ran terrified, shouting:

-The friar, the friar, the friar! Help, help, help! Botod, Botod, Botod, Botod, Botod! ! !She was insane. Damned friar! Damned.

Fray Botod Part    |  12  |  3  |  4  |  5  |







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