Chapter 25: - Page 6 of 8

In the House of the Sage

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

God, the government, and Religion will not allow that day to come! replied Ibarra, impressed in spite of himself.  The Philippines is religious and loves Spain, the Philippines will realize how much the nation is doing for her.  There are abuses, yes, there are defects, that cannot be denied, but Spain is laboring to introduce reforms that will correct these abuses and defects, she is formulating plans, she is not selfish!

I know it, and that is the worst of it! The reforms which emanate from the higher places are annulled in the lower circles, thanks to the vices of all, thanks, for instance, to the eager desire to get rich in a short time, and to the ignorance of the people, who consent to everything.  A royal decree does not correct abuses when there is no zealous authority to watch over its execution, while freedom of speech against the insolence of petty tyrants is not conceded.  Plans will remain plans, abuses will still be abuses, and the satisfied ministry will sleep in peace in spite of everything.  Moreover, if perchance there does come into a high place a person with great and generous ideas, he will begin to hear, while behind his back he is considered a fool, ‘Your Excellency does not know the country, your Excellency does not understand the character of the Indians, your Excellency is going to ruin them, your Excellency will do well to trust So-and-so,’ and his Excellency in fact does not know the country, for he has been until now stationed in America, and besides that, he has all the shortcomings and weaknesses of other men, so he allows himself to be convinced.  His Excellency also remembers that to secure the appointment he has had to sweat much and suffer more, that he holds it for only three years, that he is getting old and that it is necessary to think, not of quixotisms, but of the future: a modest mansion in Madrid, a cozy house in the country, and a good income in order to live in luxury at the capital—these are what he must look for in the Philippines.  Let us not ask for miracles, let us not ask that he who comes as an outsider to make his fortune and go away afterwards should interest himself in the welfare of the country.  What matters to him the gratitude or the curses of a people whom he does not know, in a country where he has no associations, where he has no affections? Fame to be sweet must resound in the ears of those we love, in the atmosphere of our home or of the land that will guard our ashes; we wish that fame should hover over our tomb to warm with its breath the chill of death, so that we may not be completely reduced to nothingness, that something of us may survive.  Naught of this can we offer to those who come to watch over our destinies.  And the worst of all this is that they go away just when they are beginning to get an understanding of their duties. But we are getting away from our subject.

But before getting back to it I must make some things plain, interrupted the youth eagerly.  I can admit that the government does not know the people, but I believe that the people know the government even less.  There are useless officials, bad ones, if you wish, but there are also good ones, and if these are unable to do anything it is because they meet with an inert mass, the people, who take little part in the affairs that concern them.  But I didn’t come to hold a discussion with you on that point, I came to ask for advice and you tell me to lower my head before grotesque idols!

Yes, I repeat it, because here you must either lower your head or lose it.

Learn this Filipino word:

malabnáw ang utak