Noli Me Tangere: Notes


[1]–Quoted by Macaulay: Essay on the Succession in Spain.

[2]–The ruins of the Fuerza de Playa Honda, ó Real de Paynavén, are still to be seen in the present municipality of Botolan, Zambales. The walls are overgrown with rank vegetation, but are well preserved, with the exception of a portion looking toward the Bankal River, which has been undermined by the currents and has fallen intact into the stream.

[3]–Relation of the Zambals, by Domingo Perez, O.P.; manuscript dated 1680. The excerpts are taken from the translation in Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLVII, by courtesy of the Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

[4]–“Estadismo de las Islas Filipinas, ó Mis Viages por Este Pais, por Fray Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga, Agustino calzado.” Padre Zuñiga was a parish priest in several towns and later Provincial of his Order. He wrote a history of the conquest, and in 1800 accompanied Alava, the General de Marina, on his tours of investigation looking toward preparations for the defense of the islands against another attack of the British, with whom war threatened. The Estadismo, which is a record of these journeys, with some account of the rest of the islands, remained in manuscript until 1893, when it was published in Madrid.

[5]–Secular, as distinguished from the regulars, i.e., members of the monastic orders.

[6]–Sinibaldo de Mas, Informe sobre el estado de las Islas Filipinas en 1842, translated in Blair and Robertson’s The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXVIII, p. 254.

[7]–Sic. St. John xx, 17.

[8]–This letter in the original French in which it was written is reproduced in the Vida y Escritos del Dr. José Rizal, by W. E. Retana (Madrid, 1907).

[9]–Filipinas dentro de Cien Años, published in the organ of the Filipinos in Spain, La Solidaridad, in 1889–90. This is the most studied of Rizal’s purely political writings, and the completest exposition of his views concerning the Philippines.

[10]–An English version of El Filibusterismo, under the title The Reign of Greed, has been prepared to accompany the present work.

[11]–“Que todo el monte era orégano.” W.E. Retana, in the appendix to Fray Martinez de Zuñiga’s Estadismo, Madrid, 1893, where the decree is quoted. The rest of this comment of Retana’s deserves quotation as an estimate of the living man by a Spanish publicist who was at the time in the employ of the friars and contemptuously hostile to Rizal, but who has since 1898 been giving quite a spectacular demonstration of waving a red light after the wreck, having become his most enthusiastic, almost hysterical, biographer: “Rizal is what is commonly called a character, but he has repeatedly demonstrated very great inexperience in the affairs of life. I believe him to be now about thirty-two years old. He is the Indian of most ability among those who have written.”

[12]–From Valenzuela’s deposition before the military tribunal, September sixth, 1896.

[13]–Capilla: the Spanish practise is to place a condemned person for the twenty-four hours preceding his execution in a chapel, or a cell fitted up as such, where he may devote himself to religious exercises and receive the final ministrations of the Church.

[14]–But even this conclusion is open to doubt: there is no proof beyond the unsupported statement of the Jesuits that he made a written retraction, which was later destroyed, though why a document so interesting, and so important in support of their own point of view, should not have been preserved furnishes an illuminating commentary on the whole confused affair. The only unofficial witness present was the condemned man’s sister, and her declaration, that she was at the time in such a state of excitement and distress that she is unable to affirm positively that there was a real marriage ceremony performed, can readily be accepted. It must be remembered that the Jesuits were themselves under the official and popular ban for the part they had played in Rizal’s education and development and that they were seeking to set themselves right in order to maintain their prestige. Add to this the persistent and systematic effort made to destroy every scrap of record relating to the man–the sole gleam of shame evidenced in the impolitic, idiotic, and pusillanimous treatment of him–and the whole question becomes such a puzzle that it may just as well be left in darkness, with a throb of pity for the unfortunate victim caught in such a maelstrom of panic-stricken passion and selfish intrigue.

[15]–A similar picture is found in the convento at Antipolo.– Author’s note.

[16]–A school of secondary instruction conducted by the Dominican Fathers, by whom it was taken over in 1640. “It had its first beginning in the house of a pious Spaniard, called Juan Geronimo Guerrero, who had dedicated himself, with Christian piety, to gathering orphan boys in his house, where he raised, clothed, and sustained them, and taught them to read and to write, and much more, to live in the fear of God.”–Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLV, p. 208.–TR.

[17]–The Dominican friars, whose order was founded by Dominic de Guzman.–TR.

[18]–In the story mentioned, the three monks were the old Roman god Bacchus and two of his satellites, in the disguise of Franciscan friars,–TR.

[19]–According to a note to the Barcelona edition of this novel, Mendieta was a character well known in Manila, doorkeeper at the Alcaldía, impresario of children’s theaters, director of a merry-go-round, etc.–TR.

[20]–See Glossary.

[21]–The “tobacco monopoly” was established during the administration of Basco de Vargas (1778–1787), one of the ablest governors Spain sent to the Philippines, in order to provide revenue for the local government and to encourage agricultural development. The operation of the monopoly, however, soon degenerated into a system of “graft” and petty abuse which bore heartily upon the natives (see Zuñiga’s Estadismo), and the abolition of it in 1881 was one of the heroic efforts made by the Spanish civil administrators to adjust the archaic colonial system to the changing conditions in the Archipelago.–TR.

[22]–As a result of his severity in enforcing the payment of sums due the royal treasury on account of the galleon trade, in which the religious orders were heavily interested, Governor Fernando de Bustillos Bustamente y Rueda met a violent death at the hands of a mob headed by friars, October 11, 1719. See Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLIV; Montero y Vidal, Historia General de Filipinas, Vol. I, Chap. XXXV.–TR.

[23]–A reference to the fact that the clerical party in Spain refused to accept the decree of Ferdinand VII setting aside the Salic law and naming his daughter Isabella as his successor, and, upon the death of Ferdinand, supported the claim of the nearest male heir, Don Carlos de Bourbon, thus giving rise to the Carlist movement. Some writers state that severe measures had to be adopted to compel many of the friars in the Philippines to use the feminine pronoun in their prayers for the sovereign, just whom the reverend gentlemen expected to deceive not being explained.–TR.

[24]–An apothegm equivalent to the English, “He’ll never set any rivers on fire.”–TR.

[25]–The name of a Carlist leader in Spain.–TR.

[26]–A German Franciscan monk who is said to have invented gunpowder about 1330.

[27]–“He says that he doesn’t want it when it is exactly what he does want.” An expression used in the mongrel Spanish-Tagalog ‘market language’ of Manila and Cavite, especially among the children,– somewhat akin to the English ‘sour grapes.’–TR.

[28]–Arms should yield to the toga (military to civil power). Arms should yield to the surplice (military to religious power),–TR.

[29]–For Peninsula, i.e., Spain. The change of n to ñ was common among ignorant Filipinos.–TR.

[30]–The syllables which constitute the first reading lesson in Spanish primers.–TR.

[31]–A Spanish colloquial term (“cracked”), applied to a native of Spain who was considered to be mentally unbalanced from too long residence in the islands,–TR.

[32]–This celebrated Lady was first brought from Acapulco, Mexico, by Juan Niño de Tabora, when he came to govern the Philippines in 1626. By reason of her miraculous powers of allaying the storms she was carried back and forth in the state galleons on a number of voyages, until in 1672 she was formally installed in a church in the hills northeast of Manila, under the care of the Augustinian Fathers. While her shrine was building she is said to have appeared to the faithful in the top of a large breadfruit tree, which is known to the Tagalogs as “antipolo”; hence her name. Hers is the best known and most frequented shrine in the country, while she disputes with the Holy Child of Cebu the glory of being the wealthiest individual in the whole archipelago.

There has always existed a pious rivalry between her and the Dominicans’ Lady of the Rosary as to which is the patron saint of the Philippines, the contest being at times complicated by counterclaims on the part of St. Francis, although the entire question would seem to have been definitely settled by a royal decree, published about 1650, officially conferring that honorable post upon St. Michael the Archangel (San Miguel). A rather irreverent sketch of this celebrated queen of the skies appears in Chapter XI of Foreman’s The Philippine Islands.–TR.

[33]–Santa Cruz, Paco, and Ermita are districts of Manila, outside the Walled City.–TR.

[34]–John xviii. 10.

[35]–A town in Laguna Province, noted for the manufacture of furniture.–TR.

[36]–God grant that this prophecy may soon be fulfilled for the author of the booklet and all of us who believe it. Amen.– Author’s note.

[37]–“Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “blessed are the possessors.”–TR.

[38]–The annual celebration of the Dominican Order held in October in honor of its patroness, the Virgin of the Rosary, to whose intervention was ascribed the victory over a Dutch fleet in 1646, whence the name. See Guía Oficial de Filipinas, 1885, pp. 138, 139; Montero y Vidal, Historia General de Filipinas, Vol. I, Chap. XXIII; Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXXV, pp. 249, 250.–TR.

[39]–Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose chief business is preaching and teaching. They entered the Philippines in 1862.–TR.

[40]–“Kaysaysay: A celebrated sanctuary in the island of Luzon, province of Batangas, jurisdiction, of Taal, so called because there is venerated in it a Virgin who bears that name ….

“The image is in the center of the high altar, where there is seen an eagle in half-relief, whose abdomen is left open in order to afford a tabernacle for the Virgin: an idea enchanting to many of the Spaniards established in the Philippines during the last century, but which in our opinion any sensible person will characterize as extravagant.

“This image of the Virgin of Kaysaysay enjoys the fame of being very miraculous, so that the Indians gather from great distances to hear mass in her sanctuary every Saturday. Her discovery, over two and a half centuries ago, is notable in that she was found in the sea during some fisheries, coming up in a drag-net with the fish. It is thought that this venerable image of the Filipinos may have been in some ship which was wrecked and that the currents carried her up to the coast, where she was found in the manner related.

“The Indians, naturally credulous and for the most part quite superstitious, in spite of the advancements in civilization and culture, relate that she appeared afterwards in some trees, and in memory of these manifestations an arch representing them was erected at a short distance from the place where her sanctuary is now located.”–Buzeta and Bravo’s Diccionario, Madrid, 1850, but copied “with proper modifications for the times and the new truths” from Zuñiga’s Estadismo, which, though written in 1803 and not published until 1893, was yet used by later writers, since it was preserved in manuscript in the convent of the Augustinians in Manila, Buzeta and Bravo, as well as Zuñiga, being members of that order.

So great was the reverence for this Lady that the Acapulco galleons on their annual voyages were accustomed to fire salutes in her honor as they passed along the coast near her shrine.–Foreman. The Philippine Islands, quoting from the account of an eruption of Taal Volcano in 1749, by Fray Francisco Vencuchillo.

This Lady’s sanctuary, where she is still “enchanting” in her “eagle in half-relief,” stands out prominently on the hill above the town of Taal, plainly visible from Balayan Bay.–TR.

[41]–A Tagalog term meaning “to tumble,” or “to caper about,” doubtless from the actions of the Lady’s devotees. Pakil is a town in Laguna Province.–TR.

[42]–A work on scholastic philosophy, by a Spanish prelate of that name.–TR.

[43]–The nunnery and college of St. Catherine of Sienna (“Santa Catalina de la Sena”) was founded by the Dominican Fathers in 1696.–TR.

[44]–The “Ateneo Municipal,” where the author, as well as nearly every other Filipino of note in the past generation, received his early education, was founded by the Jesuits shortly after their return to the islands in 1859.–TR.

[45]–The patron saint of Tondo, Manila’s Saint-Antoine. He is invoked for aid in driving away plagues,–TR.

[46]–Now Plaza Cervantes.–TR.

[47]–Now Plaza Lawton and Bagumbayan; see note, infra.–TR.

[48]–The Field of Bagumbayan, adjoining the Luneta, was the place where political prisoners were shot or garroted, and was the scene of the author’s execution on December 30, 1906. It is situated just outside and east of the old Walled City (Manila proper), being the location to which the natives who had occupied the site of Manila moved their town after having been driven back by the Spaniards– hence the name, which is a Tagalog compound meaning “new town.” This place is now called Wallace Field, the name Bagumbayan being applied to the driveway which was known to the Spaniards as the Paseo de las Aguadas, or de Vidal, extending from the Luneta to the Bridge of Spain, just outside the moat that, formerly encircled the Walled City.–TR.

[49]–Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.–TR.

[50]–We have been unable to find any town of this name, but many of these conditions.–Author’s note.

San Diego and Santiago are variant forms of the name of the patron saint of Spain, St. James.–TR.

[51]–The “sacred tree” of Malaya, being a species of banyan that begins life as a vine twining on another tree, which it finally strangles, using the dead trunk as a support until it is able to stand alone. When old it often covers a large space with gnarled and twisted trunks of varied shapes and sizes, thus presenting a weird and grotesque appearance. This tree was held in reverent awe by the primitive Filipinos, who believed it to be the abode of the nono, or ancestral ghosts, and is still the object of superstitious beliefs,

[52]–“Petty governor,” the chief municipal official, chosen annually from among their own number, with the approval of the parish priest and the central government, by the principalía, i.e., persons who owned considerable property or who had previously held some municipal office. The manner of his selection is thus described by a German traveler (Jagor) in the Philippines in 1860: “The election is held in the town hall. The governor or his representative presides, having on his right the parish priest and on his left a clerk, who also acts as interpreter. All the cabezas de barangay, the gobernadorcillo, and those who have formerly occupied the latter position, seat themselves on benches. First, there are chosen by lot six cabezas de barangay and six ex-gobernadorcillos as electors, the actual gobernadorcillo being the thirteenth. The rest leave the hall. After the presiding officer has read the statutes in a loud voice and reminded the electors of their duty to act in accordance with their consciences and to heed only the welfare of the town, the electors move to a table and write three names on a slip of paper. The person receiving a majority of votes is declared elected gobernadorcillo for the ensuing year, provided that there is no protest from the curate or the electors, and always conditioned upon the approval of the superior authority in Manila, which is never withheld, since the influence of the curate is enough to prevent an unsatisfactory election.”–TR.

[53]–St. Barbara is invoked during thunder-storms as the special protectress against lightning.–TR.

[54]–In possibility (i.e., latent) and not: in fact.–TR.


“For this are various penances enjoined;
And some are hung to bleach upon the wind;
Some plunged in waters, others purged in fires,
Till all the dregs are drained, and all the rust expires.”

Dryden, Virgil’s Aeneid, VI.

[56]–“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”–Luke xxiii, 43.

[57]–It should be believed that for some light faults there is a purgatorial fire before the judgment.

[58]–Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth.–Matt, xvi, 19.

[59]–Even up to purgatory.

[60]–Dream or reality, we do not know whether this may have happened to any Franciscan, but something similar is related of the Augustinian Padre Piernavieja.–Author’s note.

Fray Antonio Piernavieja, O.S.A., was a parish curate in the province of Bulacan when this work was written. Later, on account of alleged brutality similar to the incident used here, he was transferred to the province of Cavite, where, in 1896, he was taken prisoner by the insurgents and by them made “bishop” of their camp. Having taken advantage of this position to collect and forward to the Spanish authorities in Manila information concerning the insurgents’ preparations and plans, he was tied out in an open field and left to perish of hunger and thirst under the tropical sun. See Guía Oficial de Filipinas, 1885, p. 195; El Katipunan ó El Filibusterismo en Filipinas (Madrid, 1897), p. 347; Foreman’s The Philippine Islands, Chap. XII.–TR.

[61]–The Philippine civet-cat, quite rare, and the only wild carnivore in the Philippine Islands.–TR.

[62]–The common crowd is a fool and since it pays for it, it is proper to talk to it foolishly to please it.

[63]–“The schools are under the inspection of the parish priests. Reading and writing in Spanish are taught, or at least it is so ordered; but the schoolmaster himself usually does not know it, and on the other hand the Spanish government employees do not understand the vernacular. Besides, the curates, in order to preserve their influence intact, do not look favorably upon the spread of Castilian. About the only ones who know Spanish are the Indians who have been in the service of Europeans. The first reading exercise is some devotional book, then the catechism; the reader is called Casaysayan. On the average half of the children between seven and ten years attend school; they learn to read fairly well and some to write a little, but they soon forget it.”–Jagor, Viajes por Filipinas (Vidal’s Spanish version). Jagor was speaking particularly of the settled parts of the Bicol region. Referring to the islands generally, his “half of the children” would be a great exaggeration.–TR.

[64]–A delicate bit of sarcasm is lost in the translation here. The reference to Maestro Ciruela in Spanish is somewhat similar to a mention in English of Mr. Squeers, of Dotheboys Hall fame.–TR.

[65]–By one of the provisions of a royal decree of December 20, 1863, the Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristina, by Gaspar Astete, was prescribed as the text-book for primary schools, in the Philippines. See Blair and Robertson’s The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLVI, p. 98; Census of the Philippine Islands (Washington, 1905), p. 584.–TR.

[66]–The municipal police of the old régime. They were thus described by a Spanish writer, W. E. Retana, in a note to Ventura F. Lopez’s El Filibustero (Madrid, 1893): “Municipal guards, whose duties are principally rural. Their uniform is a disaster; they go barefoot; on horseback, they hold the reins in the right hand and a lance in the left. They are usually good-for-nothing, but to their credit it must be said that they do no damage. Lacking military instruction, provided with fire-arms of the first part of the century, of which one in a hundred might go off in case of need, and for other arms bolos, talibons, old swords, etc., the cuadrilleros are truly a parody on armed force.”–TR.

[67]–Headman and tax-collector of a district, generally including about fifty families, for whose annual tribute he was personally responsible. The “barangay” is a Malay boat of the kind supposed to have been used by the first emigrants to the Philippines. Hence, at first, the “head of a barangay” meant the leader or chief of a family or group of families. This office, quite analogous to the old Germanic or Anglo-Saxon “head of a hundred,” was adopted and perpetuated by the Spaniards in their system of local administration.–TR.

[68]–The hermano mayor was a person appointed to direct the ceremonies during the fiesta, an appointment carrying with it great honor and importance, but also entailing considerable expense, as the appointee was supposed to furnish a large share of the entertainments. Hence, the greater the number of hermanos mayores the more splendid the fiesta,–TR.

[69]–Mt. Makiling is a volcanic cone at the southern end of the Lake of Bay. At its base is situated the town of Kalamba, the author’s birthplace. About this mountain cluster a number of native legends having as their principal character a celebrated sorceress or enchantress, known as “Mariang Makiling.”–TR.

[70]–With uncertain pace, in wandering flight, for an instant only –without rest.

[71]–The chinela, the Philippine slipper, is a soft leather sole, heelless, with only a vamp, usually of plush or velvet, to hold it on.–TR.

[72]–“All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” The words inscribed over the gate of Hell: Dante’s Inferno, III, 9.–TR.

[73]–“Listening Sister,” the nun who acts as spy and monitor over the girls studying in a convent.–TR.

[74]–“Más sabe el loco en su casa que el cuerdo en la ajena.” The fool knows more in his own house than a wise man does in another’s.– TR.

[75]–The College of Santo Tomas was established in 1619 through a legacy of books and money left for that purpose by Fray Miguel de Benavides, O. P., second archbishop of Manila. By royal decree and papal bull, it became in 1645 the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, and never, during the Spanish régime, got beyond the Thomistic theology in its courses of instruction.–TR.

[76]–Take heed lest you fall!

[77]–Ferdinand and Isabella, the builders of Spain’s greatness, are known in Spanish history as “Los Reyes Católicos.”–TR.

[78]–These spectacular performances, known as “Moro-Moro,” often continued for several days, consisting principally of noisy combats between Moros and Christians, in which the latter were, of course, invariably victorious. Typical sketches of them may be found in Foreman’s The Philippine Islands, Chap. XXIII, and Stuntz’s The Philippines and the Far East, Chap. III.–TR.

[79]–“The Willow.”

[80]–The capital of Laguna Province, not to be confused with the Santa Cruz mentioned before, which is a populous and important district in the city of Manila. Tanawan, Lipa, and Batangas are towns in Batangas Province, the latter being its capital.–TR.

[81]–“If on your return you are met with a smile, beware! for it means that you have a secret enemy.”–From the Florante, being the advice given to the hero by his old teacher when he set out to return to his home.

Francisco Baltazar was a Tagalog poet, native of the province of Bulacan, born about 1788, and died in 1862. The greater part of his life was spent in Manila,–in Tondo and in Pandakan, a quaint little village on the south bank of the Pasig, now included in the city, where he appears to have shared the fate largely of poets of other lands, from suffering “the pangs of disprized love” and persecution by the religious authorities, to seeing himself considered by the people about him as a crack-brained dreamer. He was educated in the Dominican school of San Juan de Letran, one of his teachers being Fray Mariano Pilapil, about whose services to humanity there may be some difference of opinion on the part of those who have ever resided in Philippine towns, since he was the author of the “Passion Song” which enlivens the Lenten evenings. This “Passion Song,” however, seems to have furnished the model for Baltazar’s Florante, with the pupil surpassing the master, for while it has the subject and characters of a medieval European romance, the spirit and settings are entirely Malay. It is written in the peculiar Tagalog verse, in the form of a corrido or metrical romance, and has been declared by Fray Toribio Menguella, Rizal himself, and others familiar with Tagalog, to be a work of no mean order, by far the finest and most characteristic composition in that, the richest of the Malay dialects.–TR.

[82]–Every one talks of the fiesta according to the way he fared at it.

[83]–A Spanish prelate, notable for his determined opposition in the Constituent Cortes of 1869 to the clause in the new Constitution providing for religious liberty.–TR.

[84]–“Camacho’s wedding” is an episode in Don Quixote, wherein a wealthy man named Camacho is cheated out of his bride after he has prepared a magnificent wedding-feast.–TR.

[85]–The full dress of the Filipino women, consisting of the camisa, pañuelo, and saya suelta, the latter a heavy skirt with a long train. The name mestiza is not inappropriate, as well from its composition as its use, since the first two are distinctly native, antedating the conquest, while the saya suelta was no doubt introduced by the Spaniards.

[86]–The nunnery of St. Clara, situated on the Pasig River just east of Fort Santiago, was founded in 1621 by the Poor Clares, an order of nuns affiliated with the Franciscans, and was taken under the royal patronage as the “Real Monasterio de Santa Clara” in 1662. It is still in existence and is perhaps the most curious of all the curious relics of the Middle Ages in old Manila.–TR.

[87]–The principal character in Calderon de la Barca’s La Vida es Sueño. There is also a Tagalog corrido, or metrical romance, with this title.–TR.

[88]–The Douay version.–TR.

[89]–“Errare humanum est”: “To err is human.”

[90]–To the Philippine Chinese “d” and “l” look and sound about
the same.–TR.

[91]–“Brothers in Christ.”

[92]–“Venerable patron saint.”

[93]–Muy Reverendo Padre: Very Reverend Father.

[94]–Very rich landlord. The United States Philippine Commission, constituting the government of the Archipelago, paid to the religious orders “a lump sum of $7,239,000, more or less,” for the bulk of the lands claimed by them. See the Annual Report of the Philippine Commission to the Secretary of War, December 23, 1903.–TR.

[95]–Cumare and cumpare are corruptions of the Spanish comadre and compadre, which have an origin analogous to the English “gossip” in its original meaning of “sponsor in baptism.” In the Philippines these words are used among the simpler folk as familiar forms of address,
“friend,” “neighbor.”–TR.

[96]–Dominus vobiscum.

[97]–The Spanish proverb equivalent to the English “Birds of a feather flock together.”–TR.

[98]–For “filibustero.”

[99]–Tarantado is a Spanish vulgarism meaning “blunderhead,” “bungler.” Saragate (or zaragate) is a Mexican provincialism meaning “disturber,” “mischief-maker.”–TR.

[100]–Vete á la porra is a vulgarism almost the same in meaning and use as the English slang, “Tell it to the policeman,” porra being the Spanish term for the policeman’s “billy.”–TR.

[101]–For sospechoso, “a suspicious character.”–TR.

[102]–Sanctus Deus and Requiem aeternam (so called from their first words) are prayers for the dead.–TR.

[103]–Spanish etiquette requires that the possessor of an object immediately offer it to any person who asks about it with the conventional phrase, “It is yours.” Capitan Tiago is rather overdoing his Latin refinement.–TR.

[104]–A metrical discourse for a special occasion or in honor of some distinguished personage. Padre Zuñiga (Estadismo, Chap. III) thus describes one heard by him in Lipa, Batangas, in 1800, on the occasion of General Alava’s visit to that place: “He who is to recite the loa is seen in the center of the stage dressed as a Spanish cavalier, reclining in a chair as if asleep, while behind the scenes musicians sing a lugubrious chant in the vernacular. The sleeper awakes and shows by signs that he thinks he has heard, or dreamed of hearing, some voice. He again disposes himself to sleep, and the chant is repeated in the same lugubrious tone. Again he awakes, rises, and shows that he has heard a voice. This scene is repeated several times, until at length he is persuaded that the voice is announcing the arrival of the hero who is to be eulogized. He then commences to recite his loa, carrying himself like a clown in a circus, while he sings the praises of the person in whose honor the fiesta has been arranged. This loa, which was in rhetorical verse in a diffuse style suited to the Asiatic taste, set forth the general’s naval expeditions and the honors he had received from the King, concluding with thanks and acknowledgment of the favor that he had conferred in passing through their town and visiting such poor wretches as they. There were not lacking in it the wanderings of Ulysses, the journeys of Aristotle, the unfortunate death of Pliny, and other passages from ancient history, which they delight in introducing into their stories. All these passages are usually filled with fables touching upon the marvelous, such as the following, which merit special notice: of Aristotle it was said that being unable to learn the depth of the sea he threw himself into its waves and was drowned, and of Pliny that he leaped into Vesuvius to investigate the fire within the volcano. In the same way other historical accounts are confused. I believe that these loas were introduced by the priests in former times, although the fables with which they abound would seem to offer an objection to this opinion, as nothing is ever told in them that can be found in the writings of any European author; still they appear to me to have been suited to the less critical taste of past centuries. The verses are written by the natives, among whom there are many poets, this art being less difficult in Tagalog than in any other language.”–TR.

[105]–“The old man of the village,” patriarch.–TR.

[106]–The secular name of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order.–TR.

[107]–A Spanish official, author of several works relating to the Philippines, one of which, Recuerdos de Filipinas (Madrid, 1877 and 1880), a loose series of sketches and impressions giving anything but a complimentary picture of the character and conduct of the Spaniards in the Islands, and in a rather naive and perhaps unintentional way throwing some lurid side-lights on the governmental administration and the friar régime,–enjoyed the distinction of being officially prohibited from circulation in the archipelago.–TR.

[108]–“Magcanta-ca!” “(You) sing!”–TR.

[109]–Europea: European woman.–TR.

[110]–In 1527–29 Alvaro de Saavedra led an unsuccessful expedition to take possession of the “Western Isles.” The name “Filipina,” in honor of the Prince of the Asturias, afterwards Felipe II (Philip II), was first applied to what is probably the present island of Leyte by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, who led another unsuccessful expedition thither in 1542–43, this name being later extended to the whole group.–TR.

[111]–A barrio of Tanawan, Batangas, noted for the manufacture of horsewhips.–TR.

[112]–The actors named were real persons. Ratia was a Spanish-Filipino who acquired quite a reputation not only in Manila but also in Spain. He died in Manila in 1910.–TR.

[113]–In the year 1879.–Author’s note.

[114]–A similar incident occurred in Kalamba.–Author’s note.

[115]–“The Maid of Saragossa,” noted for her heroic exploits during the siege of that city by the French in 1808–09.–TR.

[116]–A region in southwestern Spain, including the provinces of Badajoz and Caceres.–TR.

[117]–Author of a little book of fables in Castilian verse for the use of schools. The fable of the young philosopher illustrates the thought in Pope’s well-known lines:

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”–TR.

[118]–Bones for those who come late.

[119]–According to Spanish custom, a matron is known by prefixing her maiden name with de (possessive of) to her husband’s name.–TR.

[120]–The marble-shop of Rodoreda is still in existence on Calle Carriedo, Santa Cruz.–TR.

[121]–There is a play on words here, Campanario meaning belfry and Torre tower.–TR.

[122]–The Roman Catholic decalogue does not contain the commandment forbidding the worship of “graven images,” its second being the prohibition against “taking His holy name in vain.” To make up the ten, the commandment against covetousness is divided into two.–TR.

[123]–The famous Virgin of Saragossa, Spain, and patroness of Santa Cruz, Manila.–TR.

[124]–In 1883 the old system of “tribute” was abolished and in its place a graduated personal tax imposed. The certificate that this tax had been paid, known as the cédula personal, which also served for personal identification, could be required at any time or place, and failure to produce it was cause for summary arrest. It therefore became, in unscrupulous hands, a fruitful source of abuse, since any “undesirable” against whom no specific charge could be brought might
be put out of the way by this means.–TR.

[125]–Tanawan or Pateros?–Author’s note. The former is a town in Batangas Province, the latter a village on the northern shore of the Lake of Bay, in what is now Rizal Province.–TR.

[126]–The Spanish Parliament.–TR.

[127]–Lásak, talisain, and bulik are some of the numerous terms used in the vernacular to describe fighting-cocks.–TR.

[128]–Another form of the corruption of compadre, “friend,” “neighbor.”–TR.

[129]–It is a superstition of the cockpit that the color of the victor in the first bout decides the winners for that session: thus, the red having won, the lásak, in whose plumage a red color predominates, should be the victor in the succeeding bout.–TR.

[130]–The dark swallows will return.

[131]–General Carlos Maria de let Torte y Nava Carrada, the first “liberal” governor of the Philippines, was Captain-General from 1869 to 1871. He issued an amnesty to the outlaws and created the Civil Guard, largely from among those who surrendered themselves in response to

[132]–After the conquest (officially designated as the “pacification”), the Spanish soldiers who had rendered faithful service were allotted districts known as encomiendas, generally of about a thousand natives each. The encomendero was entitled to the tribute from the people in his district and was in return supposed to protect them and provide religious instruction. The early friars alleged extortionate greed and brutal conduct on the part of the encomenderos and made vigorous protests in the natives’ behalf.–TR.

[133]–Horse and cow.

[134]–Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, O.S.A., who came to the Philippines in 1668 and died in Manila in 1724, was the author of a history of the conquest, but his chief claim to immortality comes from a letter written in 1720 on the character and habits of “the Indian inhabitants of these islands,” a letter which was widely circulated and which has been extensively used by other writers. In it the writer with senile querulousness harped up and down the whole gamut of abuse in describing and commenting upon the vices of the natives, very artlessly revealing the fact in many places, however, that his observations were drawn principally from the conduct of the servants in the conventos and homes of Spaniards. To him in this letter is due the credit of giving its wide popularity to the specious couplet:

El bejuco crece (The rattan thrives
Donde el indio nace, Where the Indian lives,)

which the holy men who delighted in quoting it took as an additional evidence of the wise dispensation of the God of Nature, rather inconsistently overlooking its incongruity with the teachings of Him in whose name they assumed their holy office.

It seems somewhat strange that a spiritual father should have written in such terms about his charges until the fact appears that the letter was addressed to an influential friend in Spain for use in opposition to a proposal to carry out the provisions of the Council of Trent by turning the parishes in the islands over to the secular, and hence, native, clergy. A translation of this bilious tirade, with copious annotations showing to what a great extent it has been used by other writers, appears in Volume XL of Blair and Robertson’s The Philippine Islands.–TR.

[135]–The Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion Concordia, situated near Santa Aria in the suburbs of Manila, was founded in 1868 for the education of native girls, by a pious Spanish-Filipino lady, who donated a building and grounds, besides bearing the expense of bringing out seven Sisters of Charity to take charge of it.–TR.

[136]–The execution of the Filipino priests Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, in 1872.–TR.

[137]–The fair day is foretold by the morn.

[138]–Paracmason, i.e. freemason.

[139]–Scholastic theologians.–TR.

[140]–And yet it does move!

[141]–I am a man and nothing that concerns humanity do I consider foreign to me.

[142]–A portion of the closing words of Virgil’s third eclogue, equivalent here to “Let the curtain drop.”–TR.

[143]–“Whatever is hidden will be revealed, nothing will remain unaccounted for.” From Dies Irae, the hymn in the mass for the dead, best known to English readers from the paraphrase of it in Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel. The lines here quoted were thus metrically translated by Macaulay:

“What was distant shall be near, What was hidden shall be clear.”–TR.

[144]–A common nickname. See the Glossary, under Nicknames.–TR.

[145]–The Marianas, or Ladrone Islands, were used as a place of banishment for political prisoners.–TR.

[146]–“Evil Omen,” a nickname applied by the friars to General Joaquin Jovellar, who was governor of the Islands from 1883 to 1885. It fell to the lot of General Jovellar, a kindly old man, much more soldier than administrator, to attempt the introduction of certain salutary reforms tending toward progress, hence his disfavor with the holy fathers. The mention of “General J—-” in the last part of the epilogue probably refers also to him.–TR.
[147]–A celebrated Italian astronomer, member of the Jesuit
Order. The Jesuits are still in charge of the Observatory of Manila.– TR.

[148]–“Our Lady of the Girdle” is the patroness of the Augustinian Order.–TR.

[149]–This image is in the six-million-peso steel church of St. Sebastian in Manila. Something of her early history is thus given by Fray Luis de Jesus in his Historia of the Recollect Order (1681): “A very holy image is revered there under the title of Carmen. Although that image is small in stature, it is a great and perennial spring of prodigies for those who invoke her. Our religious took it from Nueva España (Mexico), and even in that very navigation she was able to make herself known by her miracles …. That most holy image is daily frequented with vows, presents, and novenas, thank-offerings of the many who are daily favored by that queen of the skies.”– Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXI, p. 195.

[150]–The oldest and most conservative newspaper in Manila at the time this work was written.–TR.

[151]–Following closely upon the liberal administration of La Torre, there occurred in the Cavite arsenal in 1872 a mutiny which was construed as an incipient rebellion, and for alleged complicity in it three native priests, Padres Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, were garroted, while a number of prominent Manilans were deported.–TR.

[152]–What do I see? . . . Wherefore?

[153]–What do you wish? Nothing is in the intellect which has not first passed through the senses; nothing is willed that is not already in the mind.

[154]–Where in the world are we?

[155]–The uprising of Ibarra suppressed by the alferez of the Civil Guard? And now?

[156]–Friend, Plato is dear but truth is dearer … It’s a bad business and a horrible result from these things is to be feared.

[157]–Against him who denies the fundamentals, clubs should be used as arguments.

[158]–Latin prayers. “Agnus Dei Catolis” for “Agnus Dei qui tollis” (John I. 29).

[159]–Woe unto them! Where there’s smoke there’s fire! Like seeks like; and if Ibarra is hanged, therefore you will be hanged.

[160]–I do not fear death in bed, but upon the mount of Bagumbayan.

[161]–The first part of a Spanish proverb: “Gifts break rocks, and enter without gimlets.”

[162]–What is written is evidence! What medicines do not cure, iron cures; what iron does not cure, fire cures.

[163]–In extreme cases, extreme measures.

[164]–Do you wish to keep it also, traitress?

[165]–Go, accursed, into the fire of the kalan.

[166]–The first part of a Spanish proverb: “Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos,” “Rear crows and they will pick your eyes out.”– TR.

[167]–Believe me, cousin . . . what has happened, has happened; let us give thanks to God that you are not in the Marianas Islands, planting camotes. (It may be observed that here, as in some of his other speeches, Don Primitivo’s Latin is rather Philippinized.)–TR.

[168]–The original is in the lingua franca of the Philippine Chinese, a medium of expression sui generis, being, like, Ulysses, “a part of all that he has met,” and defying characteristic translation: “No siya ostí gongon; miligen li Antipolo esi! Esi pueli más con tolo; no siya ostí gongong!”–TR.

[169]–“Si esi no hómole y no pataylo, mujé juete-juete!”

[170]–The Spanish battle-cry: “St. James, and charge, Spain!”–TR.

[171]–The “wide rock” that formerly jutted out into the river just below the place where the streams from the Lake of Bay join the Mariquina to form the Pasig proper. This spot was celebrated in the demonology of the primitive Tagalogs and later, after the tutelar devils had been duly exorcised by the Spanish padres, converted into a revenue station. The name is preserved in that of the little barrio on the river bank near Fort McKinley.–TR.

[172]–A Christmas carol: “Christmas night is coming, Christmas night is going.”–TR.

[173]–Public Opium-Smoking Room.

[174]–January 2, 1883.–Author’s note.






One response to “Noli Me Tangere: Notes”

  1. Jim Paul Otico Somogod Avatar
    Jim Paul Otico Somogod

    What are the qualifications for joining? I’m interested, I am a member of the International Order of Jacques DeMolay in the Philippines.

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