Chapter 50: - Page 2 of 7

Elias’s Story

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Nevertheless, they had pity on her condition and waited for the birth of another child before they flogged her.  You know how the friars spread the belief that the Indians can only be managed by blows: read what Padre Gaspar de San Agustin says! [2]

A woman thus condemned will curse the day on which her child is born, and this, besides prolonging her torture, violates every maternal sentiment. Unfortunately, she brought forth a healthy child.  Two months afterwards, the sentence was executed to the great satisfaction of the men who thought that thus they were performing their duty.  Not being at peace in these mountains, she then fled with her two sons to a neighboring province, where they lived like wild beasts, hating and hated.  The elder of the two boys still remembered, even amid so much misery, the happiness of his infancy, so he became a tulisan as soon as he found himself strong enough.  Before long the bloody name of Balat spread from province to province, a terror to the people, because in his revenge he did everything with blood and fire.  The younger, who was by nature kind-hearted, resigned himself to his shameful fate along with his mother, and they lived on what the woods afforded, clothing themselves in the cast-off rags of travelers.  

[2] Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, O.S.A., who came to the Philippines in 1668 and died in Manila in 1724, was the author of a history of the conquest, but his chief claim to immortality comes from a letter written in 1720 on the character and habits of “the Indian inhabitants of these islands,” a letter which was widely circulated and which has been extensively used by other writers. In it the writer with senile querulousness harped up and down the whole gamut of abuse in describing and commenting upon the vices of the natives, very artlessly revealing the fact in many places, however, that his observations were drawn principally from the conduct of the servants in the conventos and homes of Spaniards. To him in this letter is due the credit of giving its wide popularity to the specious couplet:

El bejuco crece (The rattan thrives)

Donde el indio nace, (where the Indian lives,)

which the holy men who delighted in quoting it took as an additional evidence of the wise dispensation of the God of Nature, rather inconsistently overlooking its incongruity with the teachings of Him in whose name they assumed their holy office.

It seems somewhat strange that a spiritual father should have written in such terms about his charges until the fact appears that the letter was addressed to an influential friend in Spain for use in opposition to a proposal to carry out the provisions of the Council of Trent by turning the parishes in the islands over to the secular, and hence, native, clergy. A translation of this bilious tirade, with copious annotations showing to what a great extent it has been used by other writers, appears in Volume XL of Blair and Robertson’s The Philippine Islands.— TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

matimtimang birhen