the recent protest made by manila tour guide carlos celdran, where he stormed the manila cathedral while an ecumenical service was underway, bearing a “damaso” placard while asking the catholic church to stop interfering in the affairs of the state (especially on the reproductive health bill), made me want to re-read jose rizal’s “noli me tangere.”
between the two required readings in high school (noli me tangere and el filibusterismo), i liked the former better. “like” is a relative term here because i didn’t quite enjoy it as all literature shoud be relished. this was because i (and probably the rest of my batch) “liked” it out of fear. our teacher in the subject (bless his soul) had the reputation as the terror teacher of the school, who could recite passages from the book from route memory, and who did not hesitate to give failing grades for bungled recitations (which happened every class session). it was real funny because during morning prayers, instead of holding prayer booklets, most of the juniors and seniors would be holding their copies of the rizal books instead, and praying earnestly that they be spared from being called that day, or should they have that misfortune, to be able to answer the questions right 😀
thankfully, i survived both classes without as much scarring as the others 🙂 the key was to always apply the symbolisms given by the book to both past and present-day events — politics, governance and runnings of the state (since it was a satirical novel in the first place). i’m sure the same issues apply now (as celdran so dramatically points out, and as my good friends from ust like to tell me. he.he. ). it seems like oppression and self-pity, sadly, will always be staples of the national psyche, or as i like to call it, the pinoy telenovela reality show. we have a thing for api-apihan drama, where heaven and earth collide, sometimes quite literally.
(note: the book in the photo above is said to be one of the original prints of the manuscript, found in the syquia mansion museum in vigan, ilocos sur.)