PURPOSE OF THE TEXT: Jose Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere during the time of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines. The novel is a reflection of what the Filipinos were going through during that time. He wrote it to open the eyes of the Filipinos to the reality that they were being oppressed. Rizal’s book persistently unmasks contemporary Spaniards in the Philippines of every kind. He exposes corruption and brutality of the civil guards which drive good men to crime and banditry.
He focuses on an administration crawling with self-seekers, out to make their fortune at the expense of the Filipinos, so that the few officials who are honest and sincere are unable to overcome the treacherous workings of the system, and their efforts to help the country often end up in frustration or in self-ruin.The Noli is Rizal’s exposé of corrupt friars who have made the Catholic religion an instrument for enriching and perpetuating themselves in power by seeking to mire ignorant Filipinos in fanaticism and superstition.
According to Rizal, instead of teaching Filipinos true Catholicism, they control the government by opposing all progress and persecuting members of the ilustrado unless they make themselves their servile flatterers.
Rizal exaggerated a bit, as in his portrayal of characters like the friars Damaso, Salvi, and Sibyla; the two women who were preoccupied with prayers and novenas, and, the Espadañas but, on the whole, the novel follows the basic rules of realism. Humor worked best where a more serious presentation of the general practices of religion during that time (and even up to present time) would have given the novel a darker and pessimistic tone. Rizal’s description of the lavish fiesta showed the comic antics at church and the ridiculous expense for one day of festivities.
TONE: The superstitious and hypocritical fanaticism of many who consider themselves religious people; the ignorance, corruption, and brutality of the Filipino civil guards; the passion for gambling unchecked by the thought of duty and responsibility; the servility of the wealthy Filipino towards friars and government officials; the ridiculous efforts of Filipinos to dissociate themselves from their fellowmen or to lord it over them–all these are ridiculed and disclosed. Nevertheless, Rizal clearly implies that many of these failings are traceable to the misguided policy of the government and the questionable practices of the friars.
TITLE: “Noli me tangere” is a Latin phrase that Rizal took from the Bible, meaning “Touch me not.” In John 20:13-17, the newly-risen Christ says to Mary Magdalene: “Touch me not; I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren, and say unto them I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.”
STORY/CONTENT: The first of two canonical 19th-century novels, Noli Me Tangere revolves around Crisostomo Ibarra who, after a seven-year stay in Europe to study, comes home to his town of San Diego, brimming with the desire to contribute to the development of the townspeople. More specifically, as a reformist, he aims to make education accessible to more people. His idealism, however, cannot bear fruit because of insidious forces bent on destroying him.
Ibarra learns that his father, Don Rafael, had been embroiled in a conflict with Padre Damaso, who eventually causes his humiliation and death. It is not only political power that the friar wields; he has also used power to seduce the mother of Maria Clara, Ibarra’s sweetheart. Ibarra has another enemy in the person of Padre Salvi, who lusts after Maria Clara. It is also Padre Salvi who almost causes Ibarra’s death at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the school. Things come to a head when Ibarra is implicated in a failed uprising instigated by Padre Salvi. The young man is imprisoned but is eventually rescued by Elias, whose life Ibarra has saved in the past. As the novel ends, the thoroughly disillusioned Ibarra sees a bleak future.
CHARACTERS: * Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, the main character, is a young illustrado who has been studying in Europe for 7 years according to the wishes of his father. Influenced by his father, his studies and his observations of other countries, he has developed patriotic and progressive ideas which he wishes to put into action in his country. He is very much like Rizal himself. Quoted as saying that to achieve liberation, they need the “catuiran ng lakas” , or the use of force. * María Clara de los Santos is Ibarra’s faithful, pure and modest sweetheart. She is the portrait of an ideal woman, partly drawn perhaps from Rizal’s love Leonor Rivera. * Padre Dámaso was once a good friend of Ibarra’s father. He was, until the start of the novel, the domineering and condescending curate of San Diego, where the property of the Ibarra family is located, and continues to be a powerful figure in San Diego. Biological father of María Clara, as he takes advantage of Doña Pia, mother of María Clara and wife of Capitán Tiago
* Padre Salví is the new parish priest of San Diego, who lusts after Maria Clara. * Elías, a common laborer whose family has suffered much, dreams of revolution. He may be said to represent another side of Rizal. * Pilosopong Tasio is an old man who received an excellent education in his youth but was persuaded into discontinuing his studies, which he was told would lead him away from his faith. The character is based on Rizal’s older brother, Paciano. * Sisa is the mother of two young boys who disappear. With her mother love, her grief and her frustration, she is thought to represent the suffering motherland. * Crispín- brother of Basilio. Dies at the hands of the “sacristan mayor” and Padre Salví. * Basilio- brother of Crispín and son of Sisa and Pedro. Last person to see Elías alive.
* Capitán Santiago de los Santos – also known as Capitan Tiago, he accepts María Clara as his own daughter. * Doña Victorina is a native woman who desperately tries to look like a Spaniard. She was so determined to marry a Spaniard that she was willing to settle, late in life, for a toothless stuttering man. She convinces him to pretend to be a doctor to raise their status and society. * Don Tiburcio is a former customs official who pretended to be a prestigious medical doctor in town as his bread and butter. He is the lame, stuttering husband of Doña Victorina. * Doña Consolación is the muse of the cuartel. She is the violent wife of the Alferez and has treated Sisa cruelly. * Alfonso Linares is the godson of Padre Damaso and a distant cousin of Don Tiburcio from Spain. He is hard pressed to be Maria Clara’s fiance instead of Ibarra. * Padre Sibyla is a Dominican friar who is the curate of Binondo. His character is a stark contrast to that of Padre Damaso.
PROBLEM: There was a cancer in the time of our national hero Jose Rizal that he elaborately depicted through his novel “Noli Me Tangere,” metastasized in every fiber of Philippine society back then, having its roots in the prolonged oppression of the Filipinos by our Spanish colonizers. Today, we see cancer in the Philippines again, and our people and environment have shriveled badly from this cancer, which is on its terminal stage.
What is the main problem with the Philippines? Put in another way, what is Philippine society’s cancer today? The main problem with the Philippines can be seen from the perspectives of different sectors; and thus, there can be many answers to this question.
From the point of view of the citizens, the main problem is the dirty politics of traditional politicians. There is no end to election fraud and accusations of election fraud. Then there are also politicians in power who bicker and accuse endlessly. Some even kill their political opponents, and the murders they commit to keep themselves in power are barbaric. Thus, our nation is in a constant mode of being destabilized from all sides – from those in power and those who are not in power.
From the point of view of entrepreneurs or the market, the main problem is graft and corruption in government offices. It has become abnormal not to pay “under-the-table” to get a business permit or a government clearance.
From the point of view of politicians, the main problem is a personality-based politics, wherein celebrities without any platform nor preparation for public service win by a landslide at the polls and end up mismanaging their public office and the public funds.
From the point of view of public administration employees or civil servants, the main problem is their low pay such that they need to earn extra from extortions and sideline-selling to adequately provide for their families.
From the point of view of the Church, the main problem is the Government’s interference on matters of faith as it pushes bills that undermine morality and one’s religious beliefs, although advocates of those bills see them as timely remedies to socio-economic problems.
Just like the Indian tale of “The Blind Men and The Elephant,” wherein not one of the six blindmen saw the elephant, but rather one claimed it was a wall, another a spear, another a snake, another a tree, another a fan, and the last one a rope, because each of them experienced only a part of the elephant and not its entirety, so also each sector of our society see but facets and symptoms of the cancer that has kept us way behind the nations that used to learn at our heels.
What is our cancer? What cannot we touch? Rizal’s writings and martyrdom sparked the hearts of the Filipinos towards a fight for freedom from our foreign oppressors. But ironically, whereas our people’s struggles before were against foreign domination, our modern-day “Noli Me Tangere” is about the Filipinos’ struggle against fellow Filipinos entrusted with the role to lead and serve the nation. This is our cancer today: Filipinos are against fellow Filipinos.
MESSAGE: Noli Me Tangere or Touch Me Not… was the a controversial novel of Rizal aside from the predicaments he encountered just to publish this novel. He did it to ridicule the friars and let the Filipinos be awoke of the oppression and learn to fight. It contained all the immoralities of the spaniards. So I think the messege we can get from it is learn how to fight in a peaceful manner, fighting doesnt need a bolos, a sumpit or lantakas but it can also be possible using your pen, your wisdom. As a Filipino we should learn to be united in deeds and be educated and learn to argue rationally.