Chapter 6: - Page 6 of 9

Capitan Tiago

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

So the authorities saw in him a safe man, gifted with the best of dispositions, peaceful, tractable, and obsequious, who read no books or newspapers from Spain, although he spoke Spanish well.  Indeed, they rather looked upon him with the feeling with which a poor student contemplates the worn-out heel of his old shoe, twisted by his manner of walking.  In his case there was truth in both the Christian and profane proverbs beati pauperes spiritu and beati possidentes,[6] and there might well be applied to him that translation, according to some people incorrect, from the Greek, Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good-will on earth! even though we shall see further along that it is not sufficient for men to have good-will in order to live in peace.

The irreverent considered him a fool, the poor regarded him as a heartless and cruel exploiter of misery and want, and his inferiors saw in him a despot and a tyrant.  As to the women, ah, the women! Accusing rumors buzzed through the wretched nipa huts, and it was said that wails and sobs might be heard mingled with the weak cries of an infant.  More than one young woman was pointed out by her neighbors with the finger of scorn: she had a downcast glance and a faded cheek.  But such things never robbed him of sleep nor did any maiden disturb his peace.  It was an old woman who made him suffer, an old woman who was his rival in piety and who had gained from many curates such enthusiastic praises and eulogies as he in his best days had never received.

Between Capitan Tiago and this widow, who had inherited from brothers and cousins, there existed a holy rivalry which redounded to the benefit of the Church as the competition among the Pampanga steamers then redounded to the benefit of the public.  Did Capitan Tiago present to some Virgin a silver wand ornamented with emeralds and topazes? At once Doña Patrocinio had ordered another of gold set with diamonds! If at the time of the Naval procession[7] Capitan Tiago erected an arch with two façades, covered with ruffled cloth and decorated with mirrors, glass globes, and chandeliers, then Doña Patrocinio would have another with four facades, six feet higher, and more gorgeous hangings.  Then he would fall back on his reserves, his strong point, his specialty—masses with bombs and fireworks; whereat Doña Patrocinia could only gnaw at her lips with her toothless gums, because, being exceedingly nervous, she could not endure the chiming of the bells and still less the explosions of the bombs.

[6]Blessed are the poor in spirit and blessed are the possessors.TR.

[7] The annual celebration of the Dominican Order held in October in honor of its patroness, the Virgin of the Rosary, to whose intervention was ascribed the victory over a Dutch fleet in 1646, whence the name. See Guía Oficial de Filipinas, 1885, pp. 138, 139; Montero y Vidal, Historia General de Filipinas, Volume I, Chapter XXIII; Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXXV, pages 249, 250.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

mabigát ang salapî