Chapter 11:

The Rulers

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Divide and rule.

(The New Machiavelli.)

Who were the caciques of the town?

Don Rafael, when alive, even though he was the richest, owned more land, and was the patron of nearly everybody, had not been one of them.  As he was modest and depreciated the value of his own deeds, no faction in his favor had ever been formed in the town, and we have already seen how the people all rose up against him when they saw him hesitate upon being attacked.

Could it be Capitan Tiago? True it was that when he went there he was received with an orchestra by his debtors, who banqueted him and heaped gifts upon him.  The finest fruits burdened his table and a quarter of deer or wild boar was his share of the hunt.  If he found the horse of a debtor beautiful, half an hour afterwards it was in his stable.  All this was true, but they laughed at him behind his back and in secret called him Sacristan Tiago.

Perhaps it was the gobernadorcillo?[1]  No, for he was only an unhappy mortal who commanded not, but obeyed; who ordered not, but was ordered; who drove not, but was driven.  Nevertheless, he had to answer to the alcalde for having commanded, ordered, and driven, just as if he were the originator of everything.  Yet be it said to his credit that he had never presumed upon or usurped such honors, which had cost him five thousand pesos and many humiliations.  But considering the income it brought him, it was cheap.

Well then, might it be God? Ah, the good God disturbed neither the consciences nor the sleep of the inhabitants.  At least, He did not make them tremble, and if by chance He might have been mentioned in a sermon, surely they would have sighed longingly, Oh, that only there were a God! To the good Lord they paid little attention, as the saints gave them enough to do.  For those poor folk God had come to be like those unfortunate monarchs who are surrounded by courtiers to whom alone the people render homage.

[1]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.


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