Chapter 34: - Page 5 of 8

The Dinner

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Another countryman here joined in the conversation, saying, It’s all settled, cumare,[1] my son has got to be a doctor, there’s nothing like being a doctor!

Doctor! What are you talking about, cumpare? retorted Petra.  There’s nothing like being a curate!

A curate, pish! A curate? The doctor makes lots of money, the sick people worship him, cumare!

Excuse me! The curate, by making three or four turns and saying deminos pabiscum,[2] eats God and makes money.  All, even the women, tell him their secrets.

And the doctor? What do you think a doctor is? The doctor sees all that the women have, he feels the pulses of the dalagas! I’d just like to be a doctor for a week!

And the curate, perhaps the curate doesn’t see what your doctor sees? Better still, you know the saying, ‘the fattest chicken and the roundest leg for the curate!’

What of that? Do the doctors eat dried fish? Do they soil their fingers eating salt?

Does the curate dirty his hands as your doctors do? He has great estates and when he works he works with music and has sacristans to help him.

But the confessing, cumare? Isn’t that work?

No work about that! I’d just like to be confessing everybody! While we work and sweat to find out what our own neighbors are doing, the curate does nothing more than take a seat and they tell him everything.  Sometimes he falls asleep, but he lets out two or three blessings and we are again the children of God! I’d just like to be a curate for one evening in Lent!

But the preaching? You can’t tell me that it’s not work.  Just look how the fat curate was sweating this morning, objected the rustic, who felt himself being beaten into retreat.

Preaching! Work to preach! Where’s your judgment? I’d just like to be talking half a day from the pulpit, scolding and quarreling with everybody, without any one daring to reply, and be getting paid for it besides.  I’d just like to be the curate for one morning when those who are in debt to me are attending mass! Look there now, how Padre Damaso gets fat with so much scolding and beating.

[1] Cumare and cumpare are corruptions of the Spanish comadre and compadre, which have an origin analogous to the English gossip in its original meaning of sponsor in baptism. In the Philippines these words are used among the simpler folk as familiar forms of address, friend, neighbor.TR.

[2] Dominus vobiscum.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibulóng nang malakás