Chapter 49: - Page 7 of 9

The Voice of the Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

If you mean the protection that they afforded us against the encomenderos, [2] I might answer that through them we fell under the power of the encomenderos.  But no, I realize that a true faith and a sincere love for humanity guided the first missionaries to our shores; I realize the debt of gratitude we owe to those noble hearts; I know that at that time Spain abounded in heroes of all kinds, in religious as well as in political affairs, in civil and in military life.  But because the forefathers were virtuous, should we consent to the abuses of their degenerate descendants? Because they have rendered us great service, should we be to blame for preventing them from doing us wrong? The country does not ask for their expulsion but only for reforms required by the changed circumstances and new needs.

I love our native land as well as you can, Elias; I understand something of what it desires, and I have listened with attention to all you have said.  But, after all, my friend, I believe that we are looking at things through rather impassioned eyes.  Here, less than in other parts, do I see the necessity for reforms.

Is it possible, sir, asked Elias, extending his arms in a gesture of despair, that you do not see the necessity for reforms, you, after the misfortunes of your family?

Ah, I forget myself and my own troubles in the presence of the security of the Philippines, in the presence of the interests of Spain! interrupted Ibarra warmly.  To preserve the Philippines it is meet that the friars continue as they are.  On the union with Spain depends the welfare of our country.

When Ibarra had ceased Elias still sat in an attitude of attention with a sad countenance and eyes that had lost their luster.  The missionaries conquered the country, it is true, he replied, but do you believe that by the friars the Philippines will be preserved?

Yes, by them alone. Such is the belief of all who have written about the country.

[2] After the conquest (officially designated as the “pacification”), the Spanish soldiers who had rendered faithful service were allotted districts known as encomiendas, generally of about a thousand natives each. The encomendero was entitled to the tribute from the people in his district and was in return supposed to protect them and provide religious instruction. The early friars alleged extortionate greed and brutal conduct on the part of the encomenderos and made vigorous protests in the natives’ behalf.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

likaw ng bituka