NMT Chapter 11: The Sovereigns: Divide and Rule (See other Noli Me Tangere Chapter Summaries)
(Napanuod mo na ba yung kwento ni Pareng Ed, isang masipag at matiyagang OFW na naubos ang pera nung na-ospital ang kanyang anak, pero nakabangon mula sa kahirapan gamit ang isang… panuorin mo ang kwento niya dito.)
The chapter begins by explaining who are the people who are NOT in power in the town of San Diego. And these are: Don Rafael, Kapitan Tiyago, and the town mayor (a.k.a. gobernadorcillo). The ones who are truly in power are Padre Salvi (the parish priest) and the Alferez (ensign / 2nd lieutenant).
It’s eye-opening how rich people like Don Rafael (father of Crisostomo Ibarra) can appear powerless and friendless because they’re too nice to people around them. Or how Kapitan Tiyago can receive benefits from the townsfolk, and still have people calling him names (e.g., Sakristan Tiago) behind his back. Or how non-corrupt town mayors can simply follow orders from the Provincial Governor (alkalde mayor).
Questions and Answers
What are the Alferez and Padre Salvi competing for? It’s the classic power struggle between the Church and the State. They’re both powerful, and each wants to be The Only One In Power. They try to show the people that they are composed and powerful, so they appear civil and shake one another’s hand in public.
How did the Alferez try to destroy the reputation of Padre Salvi? He would tell others possibly false stories about how Padre Salvi orders their servants to serve low-quality tsokolate to visitors they discriminate against.
Possibly false, because stories of tsokolate eh versus tsokolate ah are often told about other frailes. So it’s not specifically Padre Salvi.
Tsokolate EH stands for “espeso” (which means thick), while Tsokolate AH stands for “aguado” (which means watered down).
When the Alferez warned the listeners of his story about Padre Bernardo Salvi, some versions of Noli Me Tangere said the listeners got worried about being poisoned by Padre Salvi. Other versions showed the listeners were worried Padre Salvi might throw cups at them.
The Alferez also described Padre Salvi as a little friar who couldn’t even kill a house fly. He also quoted Padre Salvi as calling their servant “Fulanito” which translates to “Little so-and-so” (as if the fraile didn’t even know the name of their servant.
How did the Alferez make life difficult for Padre Salvi? When the Alferez heard from his Filipina wife Donya Consolacion that she saw Padre Salvi walking around at night disguised as a local (wearing light piña shirt and an ordinary hat — Why was the parish priest disguising himself at night?), the Alferez imposed curfew at 9pm.
How did Padre Salvi make life difficult for the Alferez? When Padre Salvi saw the Alferez in church, Padre Salvi would order the sakristans to lock the doors, and then Padre Salvi would deliver such long sermons.
How different was Padre Salvi from Padre Damaso, the former parish priest of San Diego whom Padre Salvi replaced? Padre Salvi punished errant sakristans mainly by making them pay fines, while Padre Damaso would punish them by punching them or whipping them with his cane. But please note that sometimes Padre Salvi would also beat the sakristans. Though not done as often as Padre Damaso, Padre Salvi would use even more force when thrashing the helpless sakristans.
How did the Alferez show cruelty to people? He would beat up his wife, fight with her in public, make his guardia civil soldiers march under the heat of the noon-day sun while he would rest in the shade, beat up sakristans and force them to clean the floors of his house or even the barracks (kartel).
How did Donya Consolacion show cruelty to people? She would look angrily at the young men and women walking in front of her house and hurl angry words at them, while chomping on a cigar.
What makes people powerful in San Diego? They have the ability to instill fear in the people by their cruel actions.
Manny M. Viloria