Chapter 1: - Page 5 of 10

A Social Gathering

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

But that only goes to show—

Wait, wait! Don’t be so hasty! My successor remained a shorter time, and when he left he had more attendance, more tears, and more music.  Yet he had been more given to whipping and had raised the fees in the parish to almost double.

But you will allow me—

But that isn’t all.  I stayed in the town of San Diego twenty years and it has been only a few months since I left it.

Here he showed signs of chagrin.

Twenty years, no one can deny, are more than sufficient to get acquainted with a town.  San Diego has a population of six thousand souls and I knew every inhabitant as well as if I had been his mother and wet-nurse.  I knew in which foot this one was lame, where the shoe pinched that one, who was courting that girl, what affairs she had had and with whom, who was the real father of the child, and so on—for I was the confessor of every last one, and they took care not to fail in their duty.  Our host, Santiago, will tell you whether I am speaking the truth, for he has a lot of land there and that was where we first became friends.  - Well then, you may see what the Indian is: when I left I was escorted by only a few old women and some of the tertiary brethren—and that after I had been there twenty years!

But I don’t see what that has to do with the abolition of the tobacco monopoly,[7] ventured the rubicund youth, taking advantage of the Franciscan’s pausing to drink a glass of sherry.

Fray Damaso was so greatly surprised that he nearly let his glass fall.  He remained for a moment staring fixedly at the young man.

What? How’s that? he was finally able to exclaim in great wonderment. Is it possible that you don’t see it as clear as day? Don’t you see, my son, that all this proves plainly that the reforms of the ministers are irrational?

[7] 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.

Learn this Filipino word:

tawang malutóng