Chapter 9: - Page 3 of 4

Local Affairs

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Both remained silent for a time, then the sick man continued: Besides, we need their attacks, to keep us awake; that makes us see our weaknesses so that we may remedy them.  Exaggerated flattery will deceive us and put us to sleep, while outside our walls we shall be laughed at, and the day in which we become an object of ridicule, we shall fall as we fell in Europe.  Money will not flow into our churches, no one will buy our scapularies or girdles or anything else, and when we cease to be rich we shall no longer be able to control consciences.

But we shall always have our estates, our property.

All will be lost as we lost them in Europe! And the worst of it is that we are working toward our own ruin.  For example, this unrestrained eagerness to raise arbitrarily the rents on our lands each year, this eagerness which I have so vainly combated in all the chapters, this will ruin us! The native sees himself obliged to purchase farms in other places, which bring him as good returns as ours, or better.  I fear that we are already on the decline; quos vult perdere Jupiter dementat prius.[1]  For this reason we should not increase our burden; the people are already murmuring.  You have decided well: let us leave the others to settle their accounts in that quarter; let us preserve the prestige that remains to us, and as we shall soon appear before God, let us wash our hands of it—and may the God of mercy have pity on our weakness!

So your Reverence thinks that the rent or tax—

Let’s not talk any more about money, interrupted the sick man with signs of disgust.  You say that the lieutenant threatened to Padre Damaso that—

Yes, Padre, broke in Fray Sibyla with a faint smile, but this morning I saw him and he told me that he was sorry for what occurred last night, that the sherry had gone to his head, and that he believed that Padre Damaso was in the same condition.  ‘And your threat?’ I asked him jokingly. ‘Padre,’ he answered me, ‘I know how to keep my word when my honor is affected, but I am not nor have ever been an informer—for that reason I wear only two stars.’

After they had conversed a while longer on unimportant subjects, Fray Sibyla took his departure.

It was true that the lieutenant had not gone to the Palace, but the Captain-General heard what had occurred.  While talking with some of his aides about the allusions that the Manila newspapers were making to him under the names of comets and celestial apparitions, one of them told him about the affair of Padre Damaso, with a somewhat heightened coloring although substantially correct as to matter.

From whom did you learn this? asked his Excellency, smiling.

From Laruja, who was telling it this morning in the office.

[1] Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

marumíng basahan