I’m going to just list down details and insights that stood out to me. Here goes.
*statuses – ensign, magistrate, blah blah blah that is actually not blah blah blah. These are important. When you’re reading them, they seem minor because they are everywhere! It’s annoying finding them everywhere. However, one has to remember that this novel had political implications because it IS a political piece. So, look up those ranks.
- ensign – a junior officer in the infantry or navy…they get their title from their job: they carry the flag
- magistrate – civil officer in charge of administering the law…minor judicial officer–can do minor cases and do preliminary examinations of people involved in serious crimes
Ensign sounds like a pretty important word. They’re flagbearers which means that what they do in the novel is probably significant. The fact that they “carry the flag” means that the actions of the ensigns are a reflection of the country that they represent. The question is which country? It goes back to the question of identity, which interestingly enough, is still question that many Filipinos ask themselves especially because of the large number of us who immigrate to other countries looking for a better life. But to go into that would be a digression (and it’s probably a cliche topic). Sounds like another blog entry…
*the part about Father Damaso being a diva * I thought this part was hilarious.
The fun actually starts with a letter excerpt from a “correspondent” who had written to his newspaper director that he and others
“had the special pleasure of hearing the very revered father Firar Damaso Verdolagas, the town’s former priest, who has been transferred to a larger parish as a reward for his good service. This outstanding, holy orator, occupying the chair of the Holy Spirit, intoned a most eloquent and profound sermon that educated and astonished all the faithful, who waited anxiously to see the salutary font of enternal life issue from his lips. Sublime in its concepts, daring in its conceptions, groundbreaking it its phraseology, elegant of style, natural in his gestures, graceful in his speech, gallant in his ideas…a Spanish Bossuet(renowned French orator) who has justifiably gained his great reputation, not only among prominent Spaniards, but among these crude indios and the astute sons of the Celestial Empire.”
The over-done adjectives and flowery rhetoric was funny by itself. Makes you raise your eyebrows and say, “Oh really?” The next part makes the correspondence even more comedic because we see Father Damaso brought down to our level, the picture of a human being with insecuraties, NOT some demi-god put on a pedestal.
Father Damaso complained of a certain slight congestion contracted the night before. He had sung several lively peteneras, eaten three dishes of sorbet, and then attended the show for a short while. Because of it he had wanted to renounce his post as God’s interpreter to men, but not finding anyone else who could learn the life and miracles of San Diego–the parish priest knew them, of course, but he had to officiate–the other clerics unanimously decided that the timbre of Father Damaso’s voice was unmatched and it would be a great pity for him not to deliver such an eloquent sermon just as he had written and memorized it. So the elderly housekeeper prepared lemonades, rubbed his chest and neck with unguents and oils, wrapped him in warm towels, massaged him, and so on. Father Damaso ate raw eggs beaten into wine and the whole morning he neither spoke nor had breakfast. He hardly drank his glass of milk, his cup of hot chocolate, and his dozen little biscuits, heroically renouncing the fried chicken and half ration of Laguna cheese he had every morning because, according to the nurse, chicken and cheese have salt and fat and so can bring on a cough.
I think this part is echoed later on in another chapter (I’ll remember to mention this excerpt then). That chapter compared priests to actors in a way that readers should not miss.
*alms and indulgences…the church cheating people out of their money* There’s a part that talks about how people can get “alms” by buying “sacred habits” for a “fixed price” which goes up (but never down). Shrouds are also sold so that people can buy indulgences for the dead: the shabbier the shroud, the more expensive it will be. Rizal scathingly ends the paragraph by saying
We write this in case a pious reader needs such a sacred religious relic, or if some rascally European rag-picker wants to make his fortune by bringing to the Philippines a cargo of patched, grimy robes, they should cost at least sixteen pesos, according to how more or less ragged they [shrouds] are.
*something fishy with Father Salvi * A baby held in the hands of a young woman watching the parade cries out “Papa!” to Father Salvi. He didn’t know the young woman or the baby but the Padre blushes. p. 196