Chapter 32: - Page 3 of 8

The Derrick

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

This incredible defect, however improbable it may seem to us now, must have existed, if we take into consideration the circumstances surrounding those beings, whom I scarcely dare to call human! In those primitive times men were still (or at least so they believed) in direct communication with their Creator, since they had ministers from Him, beings different from the rest, designated always with the mysterious letters M. R. P.,[1] concerning the meaning of which our learned men do not agree.  According to the professor of languages whom we have here, rather mediocre, since he does not speak more than a hundred of the imperfect languages of the past, M. R. P. may signify Muy Rico Propietario.[2] These ministers were a species of demigods, very virtuous and enlightened, and were very eloquent orators, who, in spite of their great power and prestige, never committed the slightest fault, which fact strengthens my belief in supposing that they were of a nature distinct from the rest.  If this were not sufficient to sustain my belief, there yet remains the argument, disputed by no one and day by day confirmed, that these mysterious beings could make God descend to earth merely by saying a few words, that God could speak only through their mouths, that they ate His flesh and drank His blood, and even at times allowed the common folk to do the same.’

These and other opinions the skeptical Sage put into the mouths of all the corrupt men of the future.  Perhaps, as may easily be the case, old Tasio was mistaken, but we must return to our story.

In the kiosks which we saw two days ago occupied by the schoolmaster and his pupils, there was now spread out a toothsome and abundant meal.  Noteworthy is the fact that on the table prepared for the school children there was not a single bottle of wine but an abundance of fruits.  In the arbors joining the two kiosks were the seats for the musicians and a table covered with sweetmeats and confections, with bottles of water for the thirsty public, all decorated with leaves and flowers.  The schoolmaster had erected near by a greased pole and hurdles, and had hung up pots and pans for a number of games.

The crowd, resplendent in bright-colored garments, gathered as people fled from the burning sun, some into the shade of the trees, others under the arbor.  The boys climbed up into the branches or on the stones in order to see the ceremony better, making up in this way for their short stature.  They looked with envy at the clean and well-dressed school children, who occupied a place especially assigned to them and whose parents were overjoyed, as they, poor country folk, would see their children eat from a white tablecloth, almost the same as the curate or the alcalde.  Thinking of this alone was enough to drive away hunger, and such an event would be recounted from father to son.

[1] Muy Reverendo Padre: Very Reverend Father.

[2] Very rich landlord. The United States Philippine Commission, constituting the government of the Archipelago, paid to the religious orders a lump sum of $7,239,000, more or less, for the bulk of the lands claimed by them. See the Annual Report of the Philippine Commission to the Secretary of War, December 23, 1903.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

nagbukás ng dibdíb