El Filibusterismo

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Date Submitted: 04/23/2009 10:56 PM

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El Filibusterismo as fiction

If El Filibusterismo is the sequel to Noli me Tangere, should one first read Noli me Tangere? No, that is not necessary because Rizal’s second novel can stand on its own. There are references to characters in the Noli me Tangere that would make the reader curious, but El Filibusterismo is complete in itself. Even for those who have not read the first novel, Simoun, the protagonist in El Filibusterismo is clearly portrayed so that it is quite easy to imagine him as the young Crisostomo Ibarra in Noli me Tangere.

Both novels make a good read, with an ample mix of romance, humor, and satire. For his second novel, however, Rizal borrowed quite a lot from the plot and main characters of Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Montecristo, with Simoun as “the avenging black angel”. Both the Noli and the Fili were used, quite obviously, as a medium for describing life in Manila and nearby provinces under the oppresive rule of the Spanish colonizers, and to mock the miserable attempts of some Indios to try to be like their colonizers. "Indio" was the term used for natives; "Filipinos" meant those of Spanish blood born in Las Islas Filipinas. Both novels can also be read as history, more specifically as historical fiction, considering that a great deal were based on actual characters and events.

I find Noli me Tangere more dramatic, and the scornful laughter applies to both the two Doñas—Victorina and Consolacion—as well as to the mad Sisa and to Maria Clara, the beautiful and kind but simpering ninny who is generally regarded as the “heroine” in the novel. On the other hand, El Filibusterismo has a more serious theme, focused on the issue of education (or lack of it) that could either lead to revolution or a total reform of the social system by the Spanish government.

El Filibusterismo as history and satire

El Filibusterismo is a historical novel. Imaginary characters are developed within events...

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