Before the meeting at city hall begins, the two factions of influential authorities separate into groups. The older men represent the town’s conservatives while the younger men represent San Diego’s liberal component—these two sides are notorious for never seeing eye to eye. Don Filipo, the deputy mayor, complains to his friends about the mayor, who’s older and more conservative. The meeting they’re about to have is in regards to San Diego’s large fiesta, which traditionally celebrates the religious holidays of November with expensive fireworks and musicians and other extravagancies. The liberals resent these lavish customs, which are encouraged by the church and drain economic resources from the rest of the town. Don Filipo tells his comrades that Tasio advised him to propose the conservatives’ idea—that the town should spend large amounts of money on the fiesta—because he’s confident the old men will disagree with whatever he says.
Much like the conversation between the nuns about plenary indulgences, this scene examines the church’s relationship to money, this time putting these considerations in the context of the government. It’s clear that the friars have a strong influence over the conservative governmental officials, as evidenced by the latter’s willingness to spend absurd amounts of money to celebrate religious holidays.
The mayor begins the meeting. As he pauses to cough, Captain Basilio—one of the conservatives and an old rival of Don Rafael’s—rises and delivers a long-winded introduction that opens the floor to discussions regarding the fiesta. Don Filipo then takes the floor and says that the town’s youth wish to spend the majority of San Diego’s budget on theater performances, fireworks, and other ridiculous celebratory luxuries. As planned, the old men reject this idea, and the entire room erupts in argument until a quiet young liberal of a low station requests permission to speak. Hoping to undermine Don Filipo’s authority, the old men give the man the floor, which he uses to propose the liberal party’s actual idea, a much more reasonable festival. Still trying to insult Don Filipo’s honor, the conservatives accept the young man’s suggestion.
Again, Rizal satirizes the—in this case bureaucratic—tendency to lose sight of what one actually wants in order to preserve various social norms and spite perceived enemies. The conservatives want so badly to disagree with the liberals that they undermine their own beliefs. In the same way that the nuns obsess over economic and materialistic concerns that they think make them appear pious (thereby forgetting their primary commitment to spirituality), the conservatives distract themselves from their own ideals by going out of their way to oppose the town’s liberal component.
Although Don Filipo successfully tricked the conservative old men into approving a reasonable budget for the fiesta, the mayor speaks up and says that the proposal won’t go through because the priest wants something else. “Is the priest paying for the festival or are we? Has he donated even a quarter?” shouts Tasio. Ignoring this, the mayor informs his listeners that the priest has ordered a number of expensive religious services and performances and that the issue is not up for debate. The mayor says that he was going to tell them this at the beginning, but Captain Basilio’s long interruption rendered this impossible. The young men say that they won’t pay for such a fiesta, but the mayor reminds them that their contributions have already been collected.
The mayor’s uncompromising devotion to Father Salví once again demonstrates just how much power the church has, even when it comes to governmental matters. Worse, even the liberals are at the command of the church, since their money has already been collected—this means that they truly have no way of asserting what they want. As such, the friars render political debate useless, essentially hoarding all the power and not allowing anybody else to partake in the town’s decision-making process.
At the end of the meeting, Ibarra approaches the schoolmaster and asks him if he has anything he wants to send to the provincial capital, since Ibarra is going there. “You have some business there?” asks the schoolmaster. “We have some business there!” Ibarra says without explanation. Meanwhile, Tasio and Don Filipo make their way home together. On their way, Tasio bemoans the fact that the mayor—Don Filipo’s boss—is a slave to the priest.
Yet again, Rizal uses vague dialogue—in this case Ibarra’s statement that he and the school master have “business” in the capital—to hint at a storyline that hasn’t been fully revealed yet. Nonetheless, it’s fair to assume that his use of the pronoun “we,” which unites him with the schoolmaster, indicates that whatever he’s planning has to do with education in San Diego.