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Touch Me Not

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When we did the “My Manila Weekend” with Carlos Celdran, I bought two books as souvenir: the English translation of “Noli me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”. This was a translation done by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin.

The last time I read Noli and El Fili was in High School. It’s required High School reading for the Philippine schools.  I must admit that the beauty of Rizal’s books were lost on my feeble mind.  I was thinking that maybe if I read it now – as an adult – I can finally understand what it’s all about.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Reading – it in English also helps. 

This is in the opening chapter – and I totally dig the “Dona Victorina” chick.  If she was alive now – I bet she’ll be my friend.  Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“Here there is no need for introductions,” Padre Damaso interpolated, “Santiago is a good sort.”

“A man who did not invent gunpowder,” added Laruja.

Senor Laruja, you also,” exclaimed Dona Victorina with mild reproach, fanning herself, “How can the poor man invent gunpowder which, according to what they say, was invented by the Chinese long ago?”

The Chinese? Are you mad?” exclaimed Padre Damaso, “Forget it. It was invented by the Franciscans, one of my order, by a Padre I don’t recall, a certain Savalls, in the 7th century.”

A Franciscan! Well, this one could have been a missionary in China, this Padre Savalls,” replied the lady who did not easily give up on her own views.

Madam, you must be meaning Schwartz,” replied Padre Sibyla without looking at her.

I don’t know. Padre Damaso said Savalls. I can do no less than repeat.”

Well! Savalls or Chevas – what does it matter? One Letter does not make him Chinese,” replied the Franciscan with ill humor.

And it was in the 14th century and not in the 7th,” added the Dominican in a condescending tone, as if to mortify the other’s pride.

Well! a century more or a century less will not make him a Dominican!”

Man! Don’t be upset, Your Reverence!” said Padre Sibyla, smiling. “All the better that he invented it.  Thus he has saved his brothers that much labor.”

And Padre Sibyla, you say that it was done in the 14th century?” asked Dona Victorina with great interest. “Before or After Christ?”

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