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It was bolt- a thunder bolt. A rain of bricks, a lightning zap. A pummeling of mountains, a heaving, violent storm
at sea- a whiplash. A typhoon, an earthquake. The end of the world. And I was in ruins. It struck me dumb. It
changed my life and the world was new when I was done. And when I raised myself from bed two days later, I
thought; its only a novel. If I ever met him, what would my lie be? I lay back in bed. But what a novel! And I curse
him, the writer- what was his name- for doing what I hadnt done, for putting my world into words before I even had
the sense to know what the world was. That was his triumph- hed laid out a trail, and all we had to do was follow in
his wake. Even then, I already felt the bitter envy, the acid retch of the latecomer artist, the one who will always be
under the influence by mere chronology, always slightly suspect, a borrower, never lender be. After him, all Filipinos
are tardy ingrates. What is the definition of art? Art is a reproach to those who receive it. That was his curse upon us
all. I was weak, as if drugged. I realized: I hadnt eaten in two days. Then I got out of bed and boiled barako for me.
Later I was all the rage in the coffee shops, in the bazaars of Binondo. People did not even hide it- crowds of
men, and not just students, not just boys, some women even, with their violent fans- gesticulating in public,
throwing up their hands, putting up fists in debate. Put your knuckles where our mouth is. We were loud,
obstreperous, heedless. We were literary critics. We were cantankerous: rude and raving. Ad no matter on which
side you were, with the crown or with the infidels, Spain or spolarium, all of us, each one, seemed revitalized by
spleen, hatched from the wombs of long, venomous silence. And yes, suddenly a world opened up to me, after the
novel, to which before I had been blind.
Still I rushed into other debates, for instance with Benigno and Agapito, who had now moved into my rooms.
Remembering Father Gaspars cryptic injunction- throw it away to someone else, so that in this manner the book
traveled rapidly in those dark days of its first printing, now so nostalgically glorious, though then I had no clue that
these were historic acts, the act of reading, or that the book would become such a collectors item, or otherwise I
would have wrapped it in the parchment and sealed it for the highest bidder, what the hell, I only knew holding the
book could ever likely constitute a glorious crime- in short, I lent it to Benigno.

1. Why did the Noli Me Tangere have such a big impression on the narrator? Could you relate to the narrators
experience of reading? Why or why not?
2. Have you ever felt the same about a book that you had heard? What book was it? Why did it leave such a
huge impression on you?
3. What does the line Art is a reproach to those who receive it mean? Should art be a reproach? Should we
relate art to society? Explain your views.
4. When you read about how so many people were affected by the Noli Me Tangere, what was your reaction?
Do you think a book can ever elicit such a strong response from the Philippines?
5. When the narrator says that the act of reading was a historic act, what did he mean? Do you think this is true
even today?
6. During those times, do you think you would have been moved to fight against government after reading the
7. They say that the act of reading gives people more empathy and makes them more critical and reflective, do
you think this is true? In what way?
8. Given this excerpt, what do you think is the importance of literature to society? Is this still applicable today?
9. Why is the Noli Me Tangere, a book that was banned in the past, now a required reading in Philippine
schools? Why did the Catholic Church go against making the Noli a requirement?
10. Do you think there should eve r be a time when certain books should be banned? Why or why not?

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