Chapter 31: - Page 7 of 8

The Sermon

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Meanwhile, the preacher’s enthusiasm was rising by degrees.  He spoke of the times when every Filipino upon meeting a priest took off his hat, knelt on the ground, and kissed the priest’s hand.  But now, he added, you only take off your salakot or your felt hat, which you have placed on the side of your head in order not to ruffle your nicely combed hair! You content yourself with saying, ‘good day, among,’ and there are proud dabblers in a little Latin who, from having studied in Manila or in Europe, believe that they have the right to shake a priest’s hand instead of kissing it.  Ah, the day of judgment will quickly come, the world will end, as many saints have foretold; it will rain fire, stones, and ashes to chastise your pride! The people were exhorted not to imitate such savages but to hate and shun them, since they were beyond the religious pale.

Hear what the holy decrees say! When an Indian meets a curate in the street he should bow his head and offer his neck for his master to step upon.  If the curate and the Indian are both on horseback, then the Indian should stop and take off his hat or salakot reverently; and finally, if the Indian is on horseback and the curate on foot, the Indian should alight and not mount again until the curate has told him to go on, or is far away.  This is what the holy decrees say and he who does not obey will be excommunicated.

And when one is riding a carabao? asked a scrupulous countryman of his neighbor.

Then—keep on going! answered the latter, who was a casuist.

But in spite of the cries and gestures of the preacher many fell asleep or wandered in their attention, since these sermons were ever the same.  In vain some devout women tried to sigh and sob over the sins of the wicked; they had to desist in the attempt from lack of supporters.  Even Sister Puté was thinking of something quite different.  A man beside her had dropped off to sleep in such a way that he had fallen over and crushed her habit, so the good woman caught up one of her clogs and with blows began to wake him, crying out, Get away, savage, brute, devil, carabao, cur, accursed!

Naturally, this caused somewhat of a stir.  The preacher paused and arched his eyebrows, surprised at so great a scandal.  Indignation choked the words in his throat and he was able only to bellow, while he pounded the pulpit with his fists.  This had the desired effect, however, for the old woman, though still grumbling, dropped her clog and, crossing herself repeatedly, fell devoutly upon her knees.

Aaah! Aaah! the indignant priest was at last able to roar out as he crossed his arms and shook his head.  For this do I preach to you the whole morning, savages! Here in the house of God you quarrel and curse, shameless ones! Aaaah! You respect nothing! This is the result of the luxury and the looseness of the age! That’s just what I’ve told you, aah!

Learn this Filipino word:

lulunín ang baníg