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"The Noli Me Tangere by Jose P.

Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, is the

novel with the greatest impact on Filipino political thinking in the 19th and
20th centuries, as well as the widest influence on contemporary fiction, drama,
opera, dance and film. Its popularity was rooted in its reflection of the times
in which it was written, and has continued because of the characters Rizal
created, set in situations that still ring true today."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 1. A Gathering
by Manuel Viloria
August 8, 2000
The novel begins like a number of Philippine novels, with heavy emphasis on
setting. It is late October (almost All Souls Day), and Don Santiago de los
Santos (otherwise known as Capitan Tiago), is hosting a dinner at his house on
Anloague Street. The descriptions of the house could be likened to the status
of Philippine society under Spanish rule--open to all, just like Philippine
(It will be later revealed that the dinner is in honor of Juan Crisostomo
Ibarra, the novel's lead character, who is returning to the Philippines from
Europe. We are also given a glimpse of Philippine society during the late 1800s
-- people go to parties even<
if not invited, hosts end up not eating, party costs are quite high to
accommodate the gatecrashers.)
Among the characters we meet are a Teniente Guevara, Padre Sibyla (Dominican)
and Padre Damaso (Franciscan). Padre
Damaso spent 20 years as parish priest in San Diego. The angry conversation
between Padre Damaso and the soldier reveals that a good man, whose son was in
Europe, died. His body was exhumed by the San Diego parish priest and ordered
buried elsewhere. We also meet the infamous Doa Victorina, a Filipina who
tries so hard to be European.
An argument erupts between Padre Damaso and Teniente Guevara (this highlights
the conflict between Church and State). If you
remember history, there was a bloody struggle for the Spanish throne between
the liberal supporters of Queen Cristina and the
friar-backed Carlist movement.
There are frequent changes in the Spanish monarchy and Capitan Henerales
turnover is high. Naturally, since these men remain in
power for only a short while, some take advantage of their position by engaging
in corruption.
Padre Damaso is very angry this evening. For 20 years he served as parish
priest of the town of San Diego. Padre Damaso had branded someone as a heretic
who later died in jail. Since the friar was not around, the "heretic" was
buried in the church cemetery. When Padre Damaso returned to the town, he
ordered the herectic's body exhumed and buried in the Chinese cemetery.
This was reported by Teniente Guevara to the Capitan Heneral, who then orders
the transfer of Padre Damaso out of the town of San Diego.
In the coming chapters, you will discover the identity of the heretic....

Chapter 2. Crisostomo Ibarra

We meet Juan Crisostomo Ibarra y Magsalin, the son of the late Don Rafael
Ibarra (the man whose body was exhumed). Crisostomo gets confused when Padre
Damaso, the friar whom Crisostomo thought was a close friend of his deceased
father, said that Don Rafael was never a close friend of his.
Fortunately, the soldier had kinder words to say about Don Rafael. Another good
friend of Don Rafael, Capitan Tinong of Tondo, invited Crisostomo for
tomorrow's lunch. Crisostomo declined, saying he was leaving for San Diego
the following day.
An attendant announced that dinner was served.
Some Notes:
Padre Sibyla, Padre Damaso, and Teniente Guevara were surprised to see
Crisostomo Ibarra accompanied by Capitan Tiago. This means they did not know
the purpose of the dinner.
Ibarra spent seven years in Europe.
Filipina (Magsalin).

Ibarra's name shows that his mother is a

Questions and Answers

1. Why did Ibarra think that his father was a close friend of Padre Damaso?
When Ibarra was a child until he left for Europe, Padre
Damaso would often join the Ibarras for lunch and dinner. Ibarra often
heard his father, Don Rafael, conversing amiably with
Padre Damaso.
2. Why did Padre Damaso deny that Don Rafael was his friend? It turns out
that the heretic who died in jail, and whose body was
ordered exhumed by Padre Damaso is Don Rafael. What happened to the
relationship between Padre Damaso and Don Rafael
during the seven years that Crisostomo Ibarra was away will be revealed
in later chapters.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 3. The Dinner
Capitan Tiago ordered tinola served. It was a dish which Ibarra had not eaten
in a long time because of his extended stay in Europe. Tinola contains chicken,
white squash and broth.
Table conversation covered where Ibarra went (Northern Europe, Germany and
Russian Poland), as well as newsworthy items learned by Ibarra: "...the
prosperity or the misery of a people is in direct proportion to its liberties
or concerns, and consequently to the sacrifices or selfishness of its
Padre Damaso belittled Ibarra's trips abroad saying that these were useless
because what Ibarra learned could be also known without having to travel
Instead of arguing with the friar, Ibarra left after graciously excusing
himself from the crowd. Capitan Tiago tried to stop him, saying that Maria
Clara was coming soon, but Ibarra still left. Teniente Guevara followed him.
One of the guests (a red-haired writer named Laruja) present will later write

an article about how tinola can ruin a feast and why indios should not be
allowed to read or travel outside the Philippines.
Some Notes:
Padre Damaso is no longer the parish priest of San Diego (town of Capitan Tiago
in their province). However, he was still invited to the dinner because he was
the confessor of the late wife of Capitan Tiago.
Maria Clara is the sweetheart of Crisostomo Ibarra.
Questions and Answers:
1. Why did Ibarra say that his country has forgotten him? For one year, he
did not receive any news from the Philippines while he
was in Europe. None of his acquaintances let him know that his father had
2. How did Rizal show appreciation for the heritage of every country that he
visited? Like Ibarra, Rizal made it a point to study the
history of a country before visiting it.
3. What was Rizal's point in introducing the red-haired writer in this
chapter? He wanted to point out that at that time, our
history was being written by foreigners who had spent so little time in
the country. An example of this would be the historical
account stating that Magellan discovered the Philippines in 1521. How
could he have discovered it when there were already
Filipinos on the islands when Magellan arrived?
4. Why were there many Filipinos who were not educated by their parents during
the Spanish occupation? The "indiyo" mothers
were convinced by the friars that education was bad for the children.
5. What were the different types of people in society? Peninsular - born in
Spain; living in the Philippines Indiyo - "Natives" born in
the Philippines.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 4. Heretic and Subversive
Ibarra walks the streets of Manila and notes how nothing has changed in the
past seven years. He is approached by Teniente Guevarra and learns for the
first time about what happened to his father, Don Rafael.
An illiterate Spanish tax collector hurt a young boy who was making fun of him.
Before he could inflict additional pain on the boy, Don Rafael intervened. In
the process, the tax collector was pushed and he died after his head hit a
Don Rafael was jailed, people who used to openly respect him came out and
denounced him, while Padre Damaso branded him a heretic for not going to
Teniente Guevarra tried to get Don Rafael out of jail, was chastised by others,
but eventually succeeded in securing Don Rafael's release from prison.
However, Don Rafael died in jail.

Some Notes:
Teniente Guevarra does not know why Padre Damaso was angry at Don Rafael
because long before the incident with the tax collector, Don Rafael was no
longer going to confession. Padre Damaso would often dine at the Ibarra
residence. The rift appeared only after the young Ibarra left for Europe.
Don Pedro Eibarramendia was a spaniard who married a Filipina or Mestisa. They
were the parents of Don Saturnino Ibarra who married a woman from Manila. Don
Saturnino is the father of Don Rafael Ibarra who married a Filipina surnamed
Magsalin. Their child is Crisostomo Ibarra (who can be said to be more Filipino
than Spanish).
Questions and Answers:
1. Why was Ibarra surprised to find out that his father died in jail? Before
Ibarra left for Europe, his father, Don Rafael, was
respected by many people in their province (even by the friars and some
important government officials). He could not accept
how his father, a good and just man, could end up in jail.
2. What did Teniente Guevarra mean by "one cannot be honest in the Philippines
and not go to jail?" Due to corruption and
injustices committed by the government and the friars, any person of
integrity would dare speak out. This was considered
an act of treason so these people were jailed for speaking against the
3. Accdg to Teniente Guevarra, although Don Rafael was admired and respected
by many people, he still had enemies. Who were
they? They were a few evil spaniards and friars who were envious of Don
Rafael's wealth. He was well-loved by the natives
because of the kindness he showed them. This, however, served to make the
indios more aware of the evils of the other
spaniards. Some people were also mad at Don Rafael because of the
wrongdoings of his grandfather.
4. What was held against Don Rafael? The murder of the spanish tax collector belief in God; no confession.
Subversion...(1) speaking out against the friars and against government;
(2) reading El Correo de Ultramar, a radical newspaper;
(3) sending Ibarra to Swiss Germany, centers of free thought and
protestantism; (4) picture of a Filipino priest (possible
Father Burgos); and (5) wearing a barong tagalog (attire of the indios
because only spaniards were allowed to wear their shirts
tucked in).
He was found in the possession of a picture of a priest and How did Rizal show
appreciation for the heritage of every country that he visited? Like Ibarra,
Rizal made it a point to study the history of a country before visiting it.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 5. A Star in the Dark Night
Ibarra asks to be brought to the Fonde de Lala hotel, where he fails to notice
the noise and music coming from the house of Capitan Tiago (which can be seen
from Ibarra's hotel). He is bothered by thoughts or visions of his father, Don
Rafael, suffering in jail and eventually dying there.
In the house of Capitan Tiago, people admire the beautiful Maria Clara.

However, instead of Capitan Tiago beaming with pride, it is Padre Damaso who is
seen smiling like someone most fortunate.
In this chapter, Rizal introduces a young Franciscan friar, Padre Salvi, parish
priest of the town of San Diego.
Some Notes:
It is possible that Padre Salvi arrived late, which explains why he was not
able to participate in the grabbing of seats of honor at the dinner table. It
would help the reader to pay close attention to the way Rizal describes this
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 6. Capitan Tiago
Capitan Tiago and Dona Pia have long been without child. Padre Damaso advised
them to hear mass at Ubando (or Obando, Bulacan). Soon after, Dona Pia
conceived, but ever since became depressed. She died after giving birth to a
baby girl, Maria Clara, who was raised by her aunt, Tia Isabel. Padre Damaso
became the godfather of the child, while Crisostomo Ibarra became a
childhood friend of Maria Clara.
Where is Ubando, Bulacan?
Click here to ask the Web
Some Notes:
Rizal describes the many superstitious beliefs of the religious folk, as well
as the corruption in the government which is made widespread by people like
Capitan Tiago.
The full name of Capitan Tiago is Santiago de los Santos ("all of the saints")
which is Rizal's way of hinting that he will use this character when tackling
issues of faith or religion.
Rizal deliberately made unclear the circumstances surrounding Dona Pia's death,
in order to heighten the reader's anticipation. The truth is, Dona Pia died
because she was extremely upset with giving birth to an illegitimate child; the
child of Padre Damaso. Note the superstitions related to "paglilihi" (the
cravings of a pregnant woman which affect the physical appearance of her
- Dona Pia kept looking at icons of saints and of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Godchildren look like their godfather or godmother.
What is paglilihi?
Click here to ask the Web
Here are the characteristics of Capitan Tiago:

Gets along with those in power

Skilled in business

Capitan Tiago and Don Rafael agreed that their children (Maria Clara and

Crisostomo Ibarra) will one day marry each other, and that both fathers will
join businesses for the benefit of their two children.
Questions and Answers:
1. Why is Capitan Tiago considered to be in good terms with God? This
derogatory statement refers to the fact that God does not
borrow money from Capitan Tiago. In addition, his wealth is used to give
back to God in the form of masses, novenas, prayers,
indulgencias, expensive clothes for the wooden saints, and such. His
actions served to enrich the friars.
2. Why does Rizal say that Capitan Tiago realizes that in the calendar, there
are a lot of saints who are probably doing nothing
in heaven? There are far too many saints listed in the calendar (at least
one saint per day). This belief stems from the perception
that saints are extremely jealous of other saints.
3. What is the meaning of the statement that Capitan Tiago realizes that in
order to become a saint, one either cuts or is cut?
Saint Peter the Martyr was a saint who was hacked in the head by a pagan.
Simon Peter (disciple of Jesus Christ) who was
entrusted with the key to heaven, also became a saint even if he cut the
ear of Malko in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Who is one-eared Malchus, according to the Catholic encyclopedia?
Click here to ask the Web
4. Why is Capitan Tiago on good terms with the government? From the highest
official down to the lowest government servant is
treated the same way by Capitan Tiago. Capitan Tiago always bows, obeys,
agrees, never argues, gives money, and does not
read publications from Europe (lest such writings free his mind and allow
him to question the way things are in his country).
5. Why did Dona Pia talk about the fisherman (in Macbeth) who, after finding a
great treasure, refuses to sing? A poor fisherman
who is happy spends his time singing joyous songs. Just like others,
though, he dreams of becoming rich one day. When he is
able to find a treasure, he then discovers fear and soon loses his ability
or desire to sing once again. This is similar to Dona Pia's
situation where her prime desire is to have a child. However, when she
finally conceives, a depression envelops her all the way to
her grave. From here we can see that Rizal is familiar with Shakespeare.
Who is Macbeth?
Click here to ask the Web
6. Did Capitan Tiago and Don Rafael consult with Maria Clara and Crisostomo
Ibarra regarding the arranged wedding plans as
agreed by the two fathers? No. This was the practice at that time. It just
so happened that the two children were in love with
one another so they didn't mind the pre-arrangement.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 7. Idyll in an Azotea

Ibarra and Maria Clara get to speak privately in the azotea of Capitan Tiago's
house. This is their first meeting after seven years. They exchanged proof that
each remembered the other one after all this time. When Maria Clara read the
only letter Ibarra wrote to her, he suddenly remembered his dead father. It
was nearing All Souls Day so Ibarra excused himself and told Maria Clara
that he will go to San Diego to take care of his father's grave.
When is All Souls Day?
Some Notes:
A major portion of this chapter concerns the old letter of
Ibarra to Maria
The reader will note a different (if almost playful) side
of Maria Clara,
which belies the common perception that she is refined,
prim and
Capitan Tiago cannot really be considered as someone from
San Diego
because Maria Clara visits that town only during vacations.
Questions and Answers:
1. How did Ibarra prove that he never, not even for an instant, ever forgot
about Maria Clara? He said that the vow he made before his
mother's corpse that he will love Maria Clara and make her happy no matter
what happens to him served as a shield or amulet
which helped him even while he was far away, in a land of numerous
beautiful women.
2. And what did Maria Clara do to prove her own love for Ibarra? She recounted
their childhood experiences (fights or otherwise).
She also said that even if she was punished severely after confessing in
the confessional her love for the young man, she
refused to ever forget him. (This summary does not do justice to the
actual text. Please read the book, ok?)
3 .What other proofs did Ibarra display? He showed the old leaves which Maria
Clara placed in his hat after they swam in the river
(they were with Ibarra's mother at that time) more than seven years ago.
4. And what did Maria Clara show in return? She got Ibarra's old letter (kept
near her chest).
5. What did Ibarra place in his letter to Maria Clara? He clarified why his
father (Don Rafael) urged him to study in Europe even
though Ibarra badly wanted to just stay in the Philippines with his father
and his beloved.
6. And what reasons did Ibarra give for leaving the Philippines? Ibarra's
father admonished him that, as a man, he had to think of
the future, his moral debt to his country, and to learn things that he
cannot possibly learn while in the Philippines (Don Rafael
had little faith in the Philippine educational system).

8. Why does Rizal say that Capitan Tiago realizes that in the calendar, there
are a lot of saints who are probably doing nothing
in heaven? There are far too many saints listed in the calendar (at least
one saint per day). This belief stems from the perception
that saints are extremely jealous of other saints.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 8. Memories
After visiting Maria Clara, Ibarra proceeds to San Diego. Along the way, one
thing is quite evident: After being away for seven years, Ibarra saw no changes
Some Notes:
This chapter shows a country's lack of progress during those times. Rizal
likens the "good Filipino" to the Barkas Bridge -- it is dilapidated but
continues to serve others, rises and falls at the whim of the Pasig river's
tide, and sometimes gets destroyed by the river. At that time, Filipinos
continued to serve the oppressive government.
Questions and Answers:
1. What did the old priest mean when he advised Ibarra: "Do not forget that if
knowledge is the patrimony of humanity, it is
inheried only by those who have the heart"? Everyone has the opportunity
to learn or be educated. However, studying is
not easy -- you need perseverance, self-denial and much sacrifice. You
need money for tuition and books, and you have to
avoid giving into the temptation of an easy life (parties, booze, know, FUN stuff). As a result, only those
who have the will and a keen desire to learn will be able to finish their
studies and achieve knowledge.
2. What lesson is Rizal trying to impart with the priest's: "I have tried to
transmit to you what I have received from my teachers;
the riches I have endeavored to augment as much as I could, and I am
passing it on to the following generation. You will do
the same with those who come after you, and you can triple it, for you are
going to very rich countries"? In other words, this
is the responsibility of an effective and meaningful citizenry. A citizen
should strive to become learned or to educate herself
so that she can contribute to the betterment or welfare of generations who
will follow her.
3. Explain: "They come in search of gold; go to their country to look for that
other gold which we lack. Remember, however, that
all that glitters is not gold." While the Spaniards are mining the gold in
the Philippines, the Filipinos should go to Spain or to
Europe and study there in order to get the gold otherwise known as
Knowledge. Note that the last saying admonishes Ibarra
to discern which learnings in Europe are valuable and which are worthless.
4. Who is this old priest? From his statement can triple it, for you
are going to very rich countries... look for that other gold
which we lack... we can guess that the priest is a Filipino who got
educated in the Philippines. One can speculate that this
priest refers to someone like Padre Burgos who was executed in Bagumbayan

(Take note of the line: That man had died in

Bagumbayan [in reference to the old priest]).
5. Explain: "No, despite everything, the country first; first the Philippines,
Spain's daughter; first the Spanish nation! No, that
which is fated does not tarnish the Motherland. No!" Ibarra believes that
the execution of the old priest was a tragedy and an
insult to good sense. His great love for mother country Spain, however,
prevented the senseless death of the priest from
detracting from the dignity of Spain. While Ibarra loved the priest, and
even if he owed the priest a lot because of the many
lessons in life that he received, he never allowed revolutionary feelings
to surface because his love for Spain and the
Philippines was greater.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 9. Some Country Matters
Ibarra sees Padre Damaso riding in his victoria, a low, light, four-wheeled
carriage (with a foldable calash top, seating for two passengers and a perched
seat in front for the driver. See photo).
Padre Damaso, on the other hand, sees Tia Isabel and Maria Clara (they were
going to the convent to get Maria Clara's things).
This chapter focuses on three major conversations between or among:
- Padre Damaso and Capitan Tiago (in Tiago's house/office)
- Padre Hernando Sibyla and an old, eextremely sick Dominican (in
- Capitan Heneral and his men<
Padre Damaso and Capitan Tiago
Padre Damaso does not want Maria Clara to marry Ibarra and is displeased with
Capitan Tiago for not informing him of a marriage
agreement made with Don Rafael (Ibarra's father). It is unclear why Capitan
Tiago chose not to consult with Padre Damaso about
such an agreement in the past. But, true to his form, Capitan Tiago obeys the
priest and extinguishes the candle he previously
ordered lit for Ibarra's safe journey to San Diego (Ibarra's hometown).
(For those unfamiliar with this practice, a candle is usually lit and
placed on an altar, sometimes in front of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. Some prayers are said for someone's safe journey, since there
were bandits about and who knows what
other dangers lurk at each bend. As long as the candle remained lit, it was
believed that the traveler was protected.)
The chapter ends with Tiago blowing out the candle and muttering that there is
still time and the journey is long. (What a future
father-in-law, eh?)
Padre Sibyla and the Very Sick, Old Dominican
We don't know what the old priest is sick of, but that's not the point of this
chapter. Here we see the Ibarra is completely
unaware that the priests are plotting against him. Those Dominicans are deathly

afraid of Ibarra because they know

he--with his education--is not ignorant of his situation. Also, Ibarra might
later rise as a leader for the indios.
The Dominicans, knowing about the misfortune of Don Rafael and knowing
character of Ibarra, already foresaw the brewing conflict
between the young man and Padre Damaso.
Nevertheless, the Dominicans were confident about controlling Ibarra, through
Maria Clara and Capian Tiago. Or so thought the
old priest.
Padre Sibyla sees Ibarra as someone with finesse (good breeding). After all,
Ibarra was quite subtle in his verbal fight with Padre
Damaso earlier. Sibyla also considers Ibarra as an "obedient child" who will
not fight outright with the friars.
The old Dominican mentioned that he prefers an open fight rather than the
useless praise of his friends, which tends to make the
priests soft and unaware that they are starting to lose their hold on the
(So watch out when things seem to go too well for you. You'll never know...
After all, whom the gods wish to destroy, they first
make mad.)
Also, since the Spanish government is concerned with maintaining power over the
Philippines, they will help the priests if ever the
indios rise in revolt. If there is no conflict, however, the government might
not see the need for the Spanish priests, and
will just rely on the Filipino priests to keep the rest of the population
Padre Sibyla worries, however, that the government might side with the indios.
Remember that the Church and State are not
really the best of friends:
The friars murdered Capitan Heneral Bustamante in Malacanan before. Capitan
Heneral Ma. de la Torre was well-loved by the indios
because he was just (and didn't always support the friars).
Realize that the Filipinos lacked two important things in their bid for
political justice and economic freedom:
- Lack of country-wide unity. The peoople were geographically scattered by
the Spaniards.
- No identified Leader.>
Anyway, note Rizal's dig at the frailocracy when the priest uttered that God
should have mercy on them (the priests).
Capitan Heneral and his men
The Capitan Heneral was aware of the insulting remarks made by Padre Damaso
against him, because Laruja (the writer) told the
Capitan Heneral's adjutant about it. The story did not come from Teniente
Guevara because it was beneath him to "snitch" on
Padre Damaso.
(In the vernacular, he did not want to make "sipsip" to the Capitan Heneral.)

The Capitan Heneral revealed to his men that he was unhappy with the situation
in the Philippines and that the country should
be thrown into chaos so that the priests can be kicked out, just as was done by
the Europeans to the priests there.
However, reasoned the Capitan Heneral, since this was the fate of the
Philippines, he decided to just close his eyes to the matter,
just as his predecessors did.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 10. The Town
This chapter describes the town of San Diego and the lineage of Crisostomo
Ibarra (surprisingly, each generation bore only one child).
We learn that at that time, there was no such town called San Diego in the
Philippines. We can assume, however, that the town is located near the shore of
Laguna Lake, because this is where the guardia civiles chased Ibarra and Elias
when the former escaped from prison.
Note also that each town is initially taken care of by a Pilipino priest. Once
the town prospers, the Spanish friars take over.
Rizal likens Philippine culture to a swaying, wooden bridge. Pinoys enjoy
scenes of tragedy or misfortune. We tend to laugh at disabled people (this was
during Rizal's time and perhaps even up to today) -- the kids swimming in the
lake laughed at an old woman who was having a hard time crossing the bridge;
they should've helped her instead. Rizal pointed it out in hopes that
people would correct this kind of behavior. Did he succeed?
Ibarra's ancestor, who first came to San Diego, had lived long in the
Philippines. He was very fluent with the Tagalog language.
How the Ibarras acquired the forest in San Diego. The first Ibarra in San Diego
gave cash, jewelry and clothes to those who claimed to own the forest.
People, however, feared the forest. You know how forests are: cold, dark,
eerie, strange sounds... and don't forget those malaria-bearing mosquitoes.
A description of Don Saturnino. Spanish mestizo, probably the Fernando Jose
type (hello there, Rosalinda fans!) He was very strict, but was also
hardworking. He helped contribute to San Diego's progress.
Don Saturnina's wife. We can't tell for sure if she was a Filipina from Manila,