Chapter 20: - Page 7 of 9

The Meeting in the Town Hall

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

That’s right! assented the youths. That’s what we want.

Excellent! added the elders.

What should we get from a week of comedies, as the teniente-mayor proposes? What can we learn from the kings of Bohemia and Granada, who commanded that their daughters’ heads be cut off, or that they should be blown from a cannon, which later is converted into a throne? We are not kings, neither are we barbarians; we have no cannon, and if we should imitate those people, they would hang us on Bagumbayan.  What are those princesses who mingle in the battles, scattering thrusts and blows about in combat with princes, or who wander alone over mountains and through valleys as though seduced by the tikbálang? Our nature is to love sweetness and tenderness in woman, and we would shudder at the thought of taking the blood-stained hand of a maiden, even when the blood was that of a Moro or a giant, so abhorred by us.  We consider vile the man who raises his hand against a woman, be he prince or alferez or rude countryman.  Would it not be a thousand times better to give a representation of our own customs in order to correct our defects and vices and to encourage our better qualities?

That’s right! That’s right! exclaimed some of his faction.

He’s right, muttered several old men thoughtfully.

I should never have thought of that, murmured Capitan Basilio.

But how are you going to do it? asked the irreconcilable.

Very easily, answered the youth.  I have brought here two dramas which I feel sure the good taste and recognized judgment of the respected elders here assembled will find very agreeable and entertaining.  One is entitled ‘The Election of the Gobernadorcillo,’ being a comedy in prose in five acts, written by one who is here present.  The other is in nine acts for two nights and is a fantastical drama of a satirical nature, entitled ‘Mariang Makiling,’[4] written by one of the best poets of the province.  Seeing that the discussion of preparations for the fiesta has been postponed and fearing that there would not be time enough left, we have secretly secured the actors and had them learn their parts.  We hope that with a week of rehearsal they will have plenty of time to know their parts thoroughly.  This, gentlemen, besides being new, useful, and reasonable, has the great advantage of being economical; we shall not need costumes, as those of our daily life will be suitable.

[4]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.

Learn this Filipino word:

pinatawag na ni Bathalà