NMT Chapter 46: The Comment (See other Noli Me Tangere Chapter Summaries)
News about what Ibarra did to Padre Damaso quickly spreads. Some people said that Padre Damaso was already dead. Others gossiped that Padre Damaso figured in a fistfight with a Spanish mestizo, one of two who were from Manila. Yet others, like Don Felipo, were praising Ibarra. On the other hand, the town captain was criticizing Ibarra for his lack of self-control. Some mothers were crying at the thought that Ibarra's soul was destined to go straight to hell. Other women, like Capitana Maria, praised Ibarra. And yet others were certain that Ibarra was going to be excommunicated and also branded as a filibuster (filibustero).
Rizal makes skillful use of dialogue to bring out the story in this chapter.
Through dialogue, Rizal also highlights the silliness of some Filipinos due to the loss of their school, or due to the lack of interest in their studies.
Take note of Capitana Maria who is not like most old ladies.
Questions and Answers
What did the gossipers mean when they said (after they thought Padre Damaso was killed) that he did not do anything except pay for a debt? It can be said that Padre Damaso, in effect, killed Don Rafael, and that Ibarra was just exacting revenge.
Is it true that the Spanish mestizo whom Padre Damaso had a fistfight with could not speak Tagalog? No, it's not. The mestizo knows how to speak Tagalog. However, aside from being ashamed to admit that he was really a Tagalog (from San Pedro Makati) because indios were looked down upon by the Spaniards, the Tagalog of Padre Damaso was terrible. As a result, the "mestizo" got angry because he could distinguish between good and bad speech.
What did Rizal mean when he wrote that the student and the friar were made by God and the two boxed each other? He meant that the boastfulness of the student and the excessiveness of Padre Damaso were meant to clash. Those two were made...for each other. (If you miss the humor, don't feel too bad. Afterall, this was written more than a hundred years ago.)
How important to Rizal is public opinion? In the chapter, a student says that silence means consent. Don Felipo says that a country's virtue or "lowlessness" can be determined by the country's "public opinion." He added further that they should remember the good things done by Don Rafael, as well as the things being done by Ibarra. He implied that the country will take care of Ibarra.
The town captain, on the other hand, said that the frailocracy is always right. Don Felipo countered that such is the case because no one dares disagree with the friars. Don Felipo suggested that Filipinos should give their own opinions more weight sometimes.
When the town captain said that Don Felipo will be alone in his crusade, Don Felipo explained that such a statement will remain true for as long as fear and silence mean the same thing; for as long as people think only of themselves; and for as long as the lack of unity continues to make a nation weak.
In this case, "public opinion" (kuru-kurong bayan) requires national unity.
The town captain said that we must first take care of ourselves, before we care for others.
What did Don Felipo say about this? He said that true cowardice starts when one takes care of oneself too much, and ends in humiliation. He cited as an example the tribunal meeting: Since the town captain wanted to protect himself too much, the town captain did not dare disagree with the friars and the meeting was turned into a joke (or a mockery).
Whoever can do something to stop a crime, but did not do anything because he was afraid that he might be harmed, is still guilty of the "sin of omission" (not doing what you had to do).
Why did one woman envy Ibarra's mom (who already passed away)? Because she died before she could be humiliated by what her son did to a friar.
Which woman disagreed? Why? Capitana Maria disagreed with the envious woman saying that she will be proud of a son who defends the name and honor of his father even though that father has long died.
What did Capitana Maria say when Hermana Rufa (elder Rufa) said that it is a grave sin for Ibarra to lay his hands on the sacred friar? She said that a parent's memory is even more sacred, and that no one--not even the Pope himself--has the right to destroy the memory of a father.
How did Rizal view the ability of friars to forgive the sins of the people? Rizal does not believe in this. Through Capitana Maria Rizal says that only God--who tells us to give glory to our parents--can forgive Ibarra.
What other thoughts made Capitana Maria more admirable?
- She said that if ever Ibarra were excommunicated, she would still welcome him in her home. She will not give any value to the excommunication issued by the friars.
- If she had a daughter, then she would want Ibarra to be her son-in-law because a good son will become a good father.
- Her view of kids: Children should strive to become better than their parents.
- She said that it is through education (especially outside the country) that the youth can ever hope to be like Ibarra. In the Philippines, the only thing parents could teach their children is the cowardice of childhood--no responsibilities, ignorant, subservient thoughts.
- When Capitana Tinay told Cap. Maria that she apparently did not really love her twins--because Maria gave birth only to allow the twins to study in Europe, just like Ibarra, only to end up in jail or in the gallows (execution by hanging)--Cap. Maria answers that it is precisely because she suffered while giving birth to the twins that she took care of them and educated them (in the midst of their poverty), that proves how much she loves them.
- She also adds that each mother has her own way of loving her children: Some mothers love their kids for their own personal reasons. Capitana Maria said she loves her kids for the benefit of the kids. This was taught to Capitana Maria by her deceased husband.
- Here we see the influence of "Florante at Laura" (by Balagtas) on the writing style of Rizal when it comes to his views regarding love and lazy / selfish parents. Some parents look at their kids as "property" or assets to serve the parents and their dreams (i.e., some parents dictate what course/career their children will pursue...to benefit the parents and even if the child does not really like to take that course in college).
- Hermana Rufa noted that Capitana Maria's thinking was all wrong, and began to invoke some saints (Santisima Rosario, S. Francisco and Sta. Rita). Capitana Maria answered that she would rather be a good sister to people first before she will try to be a good sister to saints.
- Perhaps Rizal was comparing Capitana Maria not to typical Filipina moms, but to the mothers of Sparta. She is also the opposite of another mother, Sisa. Although both mothers undergo a lot of suffering, Maria's is justified while Sisa's is considered blind sacrifice.
(Makes me wonder if Rizal ever had a bad experience with someone named Sisa... I wonder if Ambeth Ocampo has any notes on the personal life of Rizal.)
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Manny M. Viloria