What does Celestino Fabia meant when he said that his wife will be pleased to meet "a first class filipino" in the story "Scent of Apples"?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Celestino Fabia, who calls himself "just a Filipino farmer", is a very humble man. He is overjoyed when he hears that Santos would be flying in to give his speech. This is mainly because, to Fabia, Santos represents the best that their country could offer; he beat the odds, and became a success. The pride and patriotism of Fabia is made even more real and strong when in the presence of someone that has become known to the world precisely for being Filipino. However, Fabia is just as outspoken as Santos and, at first, their generation gap sort of gets in the way, mainly because Fabia is not quite sure that Santos has "the whole picture" of how the Philippines, particularly the women, have changed throughout time. This, however, is atoned for thanks to both men's natural charisma and the warm reception that the Americans present at the presentation render them. 

When Fabia invites Santos to have dinner with his family out in the farm in Kalamazoo, he is elated that he will, for the first time, show his wife a Filipino who is basically a celebrity; one that is neither a farmer, nor a wild refugee, nor a political victim. 

"Oh, Ruth can't believe it," he kept repeating as he led me to his car--a nondescript thing in faded black that had known better days and many hands. "I says to her, I'm bringing you a first class Filipino, and she says, aw, go away, quit kidding, there's no such thing as first class Filipino.

This is why he is particularly proud to introduce Santos both to his wife, and to his children. Santos is the much-needed role model of success that all Filipinos can look up to, and try to emulate. 

But Roger, that's my boy, he believed me immediately. What's he like, daddy, he asks. Oh, you will see, I says, he's first class. Like you daddy? No, no, I laugh at him, your daddy ain't first class. Aw, but you are, daddy, he says. So you can see what a nice boy he is, so innocent. 

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