7 alternate endings to Jose Rizal’s “El Filibusterismo”

It was like a high school rite of passage to read Rizal’s revolution-stirring novels Noli and El Fili. The characters, the plots, the talasalitaan (vocabulary)! All of those things were part of the experience. We’re all pretty much aware of the turn of events in each novel and how things were eventually resolved.

Yet, sometimes I still lie awake at night asking myself: What if things had ended differently? What if certain key events were shifted to extremes or changed altogether? Here are x alternate endings to Rizal’s novel, El Filubusterismo.

7. Girl power ending – Maria Clara and Juli vs. the Padres and the Patriarchy

Maria Clara and Juli are iconic women in Noli and El Fili. The demure Maria Clara and the hardworking Juli have received the short end of the stick in terms of the story with both of them dying because of the torment of some lustful priests (boo).

Many of us think that they deserved more than to be killed off in the unfortunate ways they did. So, one alternate ending is to bring these ladies some retribution. Juli is done with all of Padre Camorra’s creepy advances and finds some way to track the locket back to Maria Clara in the convent. She breaks in, convinces our dear Maria Clara to accompany her, and they take down their abusers (Salvi and Camorra) metaphorical (or maybe even literal, depending on how axed she is) guns a-blazing.

6. The make-it-big ending

At the end of the novel, Simoun/Ibarra find Padre Florentino and confesses his entire story to him. He even hands the priest all his riches before finally passing away. Padre Florentino takes these treasures and tosses them into the ocean as a symbol of us not being ready for the transformative power of these riches but, hopefully, we will be in the future.

An ending I pictured was: Padre Florentino makes a break for it with the treasure that Simoun leaves with him. Instead of throwing it into the ocean, he runs off, boards a ship to Europe, and lives it up far away from the drama. A good character like him deserves to be chilling on the beach and retiring.

5. The ending we deserved – Elias (and Salome)’s revenge

You know what I’m still mad about? Elias dying in Noli. He didn’t deserve that death. And Simoun just isn’t edgy enough (even with those dark glasses) to have that same spirit as Elias. So this is the ending I want: Elias comes back from the dead. And he wins the whole damn thing. With Salome at his side on horseback with a bolo in her left hand and her rage in the other. All I need.

4. Isagani isn’t a softboi ending

This will also ensure that Simoun’s plan actually goes off (pun unintended). After Paulita Gomez blows Isagani off because of their disagreements (and their debate about trains LOL), Isagani angsts about and realizes he isn’t about to cut his hair to get emo bangs and write poems about Paulita all day along.

Instead, he doesn’t interfere with the lamp-bomb going off but he’ll watch from the distance, wistfully, while getting an undercut and drinking his protein shake. He’s over his feelings but a part of him will always remember her even as the revolution is happening around him.

3. The chaos ending

Simoun, in his stewing rage, miscalculates everything in the lamp and it explodes just as Simoun brings it in. Yikes. He’s, of course, plagued by the pain of losing his lover in the convent and the anger he feels so he could possibly make just a little mistake with measuring chemicals that they activate a little too early.

He’ll be going down with the proverbial ship is what I’m saying. Which, I think, ties up the narrative pretty well, too. He condemns the people in this reign of greed when he has inspired it, too. And he knows it.

2. Only just a dream

Crisostomo Ibarra wakes up in his carriage going to Kapitan Tiago’s house, shaken by the idea of him growing his hair out to that ridiculous length, donning glasses, and only having one name (gasp)! Oh, and the idea of even trying to take down the evils of society in such a violent way.

Turns out the entirety of El Fili is a fever dream that Ibarra cooks up in his head Post-Europe and in the heady excitement of seeing his lover again. Or is it prophecy?

1. Everything is the same except…

The whole plot is retained except that, the entire time, Padre Sibyla was an alien. That’s all.

Which ending is your favorite? Let me know!


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