Chapter 6: - Page 4 of 9

Capitan Tiago

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Capitan Tiago never went near this image from fear of a miracle.  Had not other images, even those more rudely carved ones that issue from the carpenter shops of Paete,[4] many times come to life for the confusion and punishment of incredulous sinners? It is a well-known fact that a certain image of Christ in Spain, when invoked as a witness of promises of love, had assented with a movement of the head in the presence of the judge, and that another such image had reached out its right arm to embrace St. Lutgarda.  And furthermore, had he not himself read a booklet recently published about a mimic sermon preached by an image of St. Dominic in Soriano? True, the saint had not said a single word, but from his movements it was inferred, at any rate the author of the booklet inferred, that he was announcing the end of the world.[5]  Was it not reported, too, that the Virgin of Luta in the town of Lipa had one cheek swollen larger than the other and that there was mud on the borders of her gown? Does not this prove mathematically that the holy images also walk about without holding up their skirts and that they even suffer from the toothache, perhaps for our sake? Had he not seen with his own eyes, during the regular Good-Friday sermon, all the images of Christ move and bow their heads thrice in unison, thereby calling forth wails and cries from the women and other sensitive souls destined for Heaven? More? We ourselves have seen the preacher show to the congregation at the moment of the descent from the cross a handkerchief stained with blood, and were ourselves on the point of weeping piously, when, to the sorrow of our soul, a sacristan assured us that it was all a joke, that the blood was that of a chicken which had been roasted and eaten on the spot in spite of the fact that it was Good Friday—and the sacristan was fat! So Capitan Tiago, even though he was a prudent and pious individual, took care not to approach the kris of St. Michael.  Let’s take no chances, he would say to himself, I know that he’s an archangel, but I don’t trust him, no, I don’t trust him.

Not a year passed without his joining with an orchestra in the pilgrimage to the wealthy shrine of Antipolo.  He paid for two thanksgiving masses of the many that make up the three novenas, and also for the days when there are no novenas, and washed himself afterwards in the famous bátis, or pool, where the sacred Image herself had bathed.  Her votaries can even yet discern the tracks of her feet and the traces of her locks in the hard rock, where she dried them, resembling exactly those made by any woman who uses coconut-oil, and just as if her hair had been steel or diamonds and she had weighed a thousand tons.  We should like to see the terrible Image once shake her sacred hair in the eyes of those credulous persons and put her foot upon their tongues or their heads.  There at the very edge of the pool Capitan Tiago made it his duty to eat roast pig, sinigang of dalag with alibambang leaves, and other more or less appetizing dishes.  The two masses would cost him over four hundred pesos, but it was cheap, after all, if one considered the glory that the Mother of the Lord would acquire from the pin-wheels, rockets, bombs, and mortars, and also the increased profits which, thanks to these masses, would come to one during the year.

[4] A town in Laguna Province, noted for the manufacture of furniture.—TR.

[5] God grant that this prophecy may soon be fulfilled for the author of the booklet and all of us who believe it.  Amen.—Author’s note.

Learn this Filipino word:

paa't kamay