Chapter 3: - Page 2 of 5

The Dinner

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Fray Sibyla was about to seat himself without paying any more attention to these protests when his eyes happened to encounter those of the lieutenant.  According to clerical opinion in the Philippines, the highest secular official is inferior to a friar-cook: cedant arma togae, said Cicero in the Senate—cedant arma cottae, say the friars in the Philippines.[2]

But Fray Sibyla was a well-bred person, so he said, Lieutenant, here we are in the world and not in the church.  The seat of honor belongs to you. To judge from the tone of his voice, however, even in the world it really did belong to him, and the lieutenant, either to keep out of trouble or to avoid sitting between two friars, curtly declined.

None of the claimants had given a thought to their host. Ibarra noticed him watching the scene with a smile of satisfaction.

How’s this, Don Santiago, aren’t you going to sit down with us?

But all the seats were occupied; Lucullus was not to sup in the house of Lucullus.

Sit still, don’t get up! said Capitan Tiago, placing his hand on the young man’s shoulder.  This fiesta is for the special purpose of giving thanks to the Virgin for your safe arrival.  Oy! Bring on the tinola!  I ordered tinola as you doubtless have not tasted any for so long a time.

A large steaming tureen was brought in.  The Dominican, after muttering the benedicite, to which scarcely any one knew how to respond, began to serve the contents.  But whether from carelessness or other cause, Padre Damaso received a plate in which a bare neck and a tough wing of chicken floated about in a large quantity of soup amid lumps of squash, while the others were eating legs and breasts, especially Ibarra, to whose lot fell the second joints.  Observing all this, the Franciscan mashed up some pieces of squash, barely tasted the soup, dropped his spoon noisily, and roughly pushed his plate away. The Dominican was very busy talking to the rubicund youth.

How long have you been away from the country? Laruja asked Ibarra.

[2] Arms should yield to the toga (military to civil power). Arms should yield to the surplice (military to religious power),—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

parang pamatáy ng sigâ