Chapter 1: - Page 6 of 10

A Social Gathering

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

It was now the youth’s turn to look perplexed.  The lieutenant wrinkled his eyebrows a little more and the small man nodded toward Fray Damaso equivocally.  The Dominican contented himself with almost turning his back on the whole group.

Do you really believe so? the young man at length asked with great seriousness, as he looked at the friar with curiosity.

Do I believe so? As I believe the Gospel! The Indian is so indolent!

Ah, pardon me for interrupting you, said the young man, lowering his voice and drawing his chair a little closer, but you have said something that awakens all my interest.  Does this indolence actually, naturally, exist among the natives or is there some truth in what a foreign traveler says: that with this indolence we excuse our own, as well as our backwardness and our colonial system.  He referred to other colonies whose inhabitants belong to the same race—

Bah, jealousy! Ask Señor Laruja, who also knows this country.  Ask him if there is any equal to the ignorance and indolence of the Indian.

It’s true, affirmed the little man, who was referred to as Señor Laruja.  In no part of the world can you find any one more indolent than the Indian, in no part of the world.

Nor more vicious, nor more ungrateful!

Nor more unmannerly!

The rubicund youth began to glance about nervously.  Gentlemen, he whispered, I believe that we are in the house of an Indian.  Those young ladies—

Bah, don’t be so apprehensive! Santiago doesn’t consider himself an Indian—and besides, he’s not here.  And what if he were!  These are the nonsensical ideas of the newcomers.  Let a few months pass and you will change your opinion, after you have attended a lot of fiestas and bailúhan, slept on cots, and eaten your fill of tinola.

Ah, is this thing that you call tinola a variety of lotus which makes people—er—forgetful?

Nothing of the kind! exclaimed Fray Damaso with a smile.  You’re getting absurd.  Tinola is a stew of chicken and squash.  How long has it been since you got here?

Four days, responded the youth, rather offended.

Have you come as a government employee?

No, sir, I’ve come at my own expense to study the country.

Learn this Filipino word:

ginintuáng tinig