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PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Implications of Noli Me Tangere both to the Filipino People and to the

Philippine Society

Throughout the Philippine literature, one of the famous novels that had been

the center of interest both in the past and in the present is the Noli Me Tangere. For

more than a millennium since it made its first appearance, it has become widely known

as a great novel because of how it accurately depicted the situation of the state of the

Philippines during the Spanish colonialism.

A novel written by the proclaimed national hero of the Philippines and the first

Asian nationalist, Dr. Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda or simply just

Dr. Jose Rizal aimed to inspire the Filipinos to wake up and realize what the real

situation of our beloved country was when we were under the authority of the

Spaniards. His strong love for the Philippines and for its people made him write the

novel with the intent of exposing the Spanish colonial abuse that’s happening

throughout the country.

Gathering all his past experiences even when he was still a student such as

social discrimination, brutal actions and unfair social treatments, Rizal emphasized a

devastating critical analysis in the Noli Me Tangere. Truly, it had a great significance

in obtaining Rizal’s vision of empowering the country, in which later turned into wanting

total independence (Francia, 2009).

During his lifetime, Dr. Jose Rizal has acquired wide range of knowledge in

different disciplines. He is also considered as one of the most well-known advocate

for reforms in the country during the Spanish colonization. Even at a very early age,

Rizal had already begun to understood what was happening all over the country. At
BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
the age of eight, he began to write his first poem entitled “Sa Aking Kabata” because

he wanted to express his very own ideals of nationalistic sentiments. Eventually, when

Rizal was studying in the Central University of Madrid, he started to write socially

related literary works, and one of it is his Noli Me Tangere (Reyno, 2012).

The novel Noli Me Tangere is a Spanish novel written in Madrid, Spain starting

in 1884 while Rizal was studying for medicine. It was later published in 1897 in Berlin,

Germany. One of ideas that served as Rizal’s inspiration in writing the famous novel

came from another novel entitled “Uncle Tom's Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Just

like in the novel how “Uncle Tom's Cabin” which promotes anti-slavery and anti-

discrimination, Rizal wanted to expose the abusive actions of the Spanish government

and put a stop to the miserable condition of the country (Mañebog, 2013).

Indeed, Noli Me Tangere portrays Rizal’s deepest feelings and insights which

he had been carrying together with personal anguish, griefs, and political afflictions.

He wrote it in order for the Spanish government to realize its own actions and provide

better treatment towards the indios.

According to the article from The Manila Times that was written by Michael

“Xiao” Chua, the fact that he wrote the novel in Spanish and not in Tagalog or any

Filipino language means that the novel was not meant for us Filipinos to be its target

audience, but rather he wanted to the Spanish government to read it, hoping that they

may reflect on their actions and bestow the indios equal rights and equal standing in

the society.

His primary intentions of writing the first book can be found in one of his letter

to a friend Resurreccion Hidalgo saying “I have endeavored to answer the calumnies


BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
which for centuries had been heaped on us and our country; I have described the

social condition, the life, our beliefs, our hopes, our desires, our grievances, our griefs;

I have unmasked hypocrisy which, under the guise of religion, came to impoverish and

to brutalize us.”

However, as we know, the Spanish government failed to meet Rizal’s

expectations. Rizal then realized that his dream for the country may not be achievable

with the kind of government they have. Knowing this, he changed his plans and

resorted to revolution and total independence against the authority of the Spaniards

(mindanaofilmsmil, 2017).

For us to fully grasp the main idea of why Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere, we must

examine the different implications of the novel to the Filipino people and to the

Philippine society both in the past and present.

In the early times of the Spanish era before the start of the Philippine revolution,

Noli Me Tangere played a crucial role in convincing the Filipino people to stand up

against the abusive Spanish government. He found a way, through his literary works,

to lit the fire within the hearts of the people in the country. His book became a catalyst

of social awakening for the people to desire for freedom and independence

(mindanaofilmsmil, 2017). One of the things that made the book to be able have a

great impact on its audience, especially to the indios, is that Rizal wrote it in a way that

most of the people can relate to the story based on their experiences from their daily

living in the society.

According to an article from Driftwood Journeys, Rizal’s novel provides an

accurate depiction of the classical Filipino culture through the use of its characters.
BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
One of which is the protagonist Juan Crisostomo Ibarra. He represents most of the

Filipinos who has a liberal mind, outspoken and idealistic principles. Another is Maria

Clara, the symbol of every Filipina women and can be seen as caring, loving, and

loyal. On the other hand, his father Padre Damaso was portrayed as a priest who did

not have any self-control and were unable to resist the temptation of worldly desires.

In other words, Padre Damaso is one of those traitorous people who chose to be

blinded by their desire of wealth and power.

Though the story and the characters are fictional and made up, however, the

dire situation they experienced, injustice, abuse of power, sufferings and

discrimination among the lower class people in the novel represented exactly the

former state of the Philippines under the power of the Spaniards (mindanaofilmsmil,

2017).

After of which Rizal had finished writing the novel, he was very eager to publish

it. Though one of the biggest problem is the money, he found a way reproduce the

book through the help of his friend Maximo Viola who lent him a total amount of Php

300 to print 2,000 copies (Dumlao & Reyes, 1960).

According to an article from Driftwood Journeys, Noli Me Tangere is one of

Rizal’s biggest milestone in his life. He knew that his work will be ground-breaking,

and will serve as a key to open new paths, ideas, and solutions to the problems of the

country. According to his letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt. “The novel is the first impartial

and bold account of the life of the Tagalogs. The Filipinos will find in it the history of

the last ten years.” He knew that his novel will continue to influence the Philippine

society for several years.


BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
However, knowing its content and how the story was depicted, Rizal probably

would have expected that his book will not be welcomed in the Philippines. After the

friars, priest, and other leaders had evaluated the novel, it was banned in most parts

of the country. His novel indirectly attacks the church and the government. The leaders

were anxious that Rizal’s work may encourage the Filipinos to revolt against the

Spanish government. Though it was blocked by the Spanish authorities, some copies

had circulated around the country and made its way to the Filipino people.

Despite of the results, Rizal somewhat achieved his mission, though his original

intention were only reforms for the betterment of the Philippine society. The circulation

of the book made a spark in the heart of the people who had been suffering from the

cruel hands of their abusive leaders (mindanaofilmsmil, 2017).

Rizal made the Noli Me Tangere not only to serve as a catalyst for social

awakening, but also for us to realize our own flaws and weaknesses. According to Ma.

Cielito Reyno, Rizal probably observed that in spite of suffering maltreatment and

injustice, most of the people were afraid of voicing out their opinions since, given the

kind of system they have, it might be considered as an act of protesting against the

friars or the government. The lack of education of the people, which is only a privilege

during that era, kept the people in the dark about their rights. It made them like a

machine, being too submissive and ignorant to the point of being ashamed of their

own proud heritage that existed even before the arrival of the Spaniards.

The novel brought us enlightenment and showed us the naked truth of our

society. It unmasked the hypocrisy, corruption, and tyranny that hides under the cloak

of religion that made us slaves in our own beloved fatherland. Now that we’ve been
BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
freed from the shackles of abuse, injustice, and discrimination, that is through the effort

of our ancestors who fought in order to achieve all we experience right now, is Noli Me

Tangere still relevant to today’s society now that we’ve managed to accomplish

freedom?

Yes, absolutely it is. Today’s era is very different from what had been described

in books during the Spanish period. We have the freedom to voice out our opinions,

free to anything, etc. Though its notable that our current society have changed a lot in

a positive way, there are still problems that slows down our progress as a country such

as political conflicts, lack of education, corruption, etc. This is where the Rizal’s novel

comes in. We might not notice but based on facts mentioned before, history repeats

itself. We are still facing the same problems. History itself should be a lesson to us not

to repeat the mistakes we did before. Our own faults may lead to our own downfall,

which is why through his literary works, Rizal wanted to teach us to be courageous at

all times. The courage to follow the deeds of Dr. Jose Rizal is one of the most important

legacies of Noli Me Tangere in today’s generation. It makes us overcome our fears

and suppress the cowardice the reigns within us. Courage was not just seen in Rizal’s

works but in his life as well (Raga, 2008).

Though Rizal wanted to have total independence for the country, he wanted to

do it in a peaceful way. Rizal would’ve been proud of the Philippines if he witnessed

the EDSA I, EDSA II revolution. During these times, the Philippines stood as one and

thousands of people gathered in the EDSA to put a stop to the tyranny of former

president Ferdinand E. Marcos. This is what he wanted to happen in the future

generations, to muster up the courage and if possible, fight a peaceful battle. Just as

what an old priest said to Juan Crisostomo Ibarra in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere,
BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
“Knowledge is the heritage of mankind, but only the courageous inherit it.” It is

important for us to understand, especially to the youth of the country, that courage can

bring change ourselves and to the society, and only those who are brave can do it

(Raga, 2008).

Noli Me Tangere was really an effective strategy of Dr. Jose Rizal to instill the

love for our own country, to have a deep sense of gratitude to the society, to have a

sense nationalism, and to have the courage to fight for all of those things. It is an eye-

opener, a tool to spread social awareness, and to fight for our own rights as people of

the country. It is a book that does not aim for temporary solutions but strives for longer

ones.

Both in the past and present, the novel unified the Filipino people in order to

forge our own national identity. According to an article from the Driftwood Journeys,

Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere had brought us to “an overall systematic, and a totally

irretraceable caricature of a colonial Philippine society”. We, as citizens of the country,

should not forget the heroic deeds that Rizal died for, to continue the fight the he

started and to continue to nurture the courage he planted in our hearts. With this, we

can continuously move towards a better future.


BANGAY, PRINCE KENNETH G. PI 100 | C-2 | T TH
GRADUATING STUDENT 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Works Cited:

Dumlao, R. R., & Reyes, A. D. (1960). RIZAL, MARTYR AND HERO.


Francia, L. H. (n.d.). Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by Jose Rizal - Reading Guide -
PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books. Retrieved May 17, 2019, from
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/291131/noli-me-tangere-touch-me-
not-by-jose-rizal/9780143039693/readers-guide/
Mañebog, J. D. (2013, July 27). The Noli Me Tangere. Retrieved May 17, 2019, from
https://ourhappyschool.com/literature/noli-me-tangere

Mindanaofilmsmil. (2017, February 24). A Content Analysis of Noli Me Tangere,


focusing on Filipino Nationalism/ Corruption : "The Philippines Journey to
Metamorphosis". Retrieved May 17, 2019, from
https://mindanaofilmsmil.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/the-philippines-journey-to-
metamorphosis/

Noli Me Tangere: The Catalyst of Social Awakening among Filipinos. (2017, March 14).
Retrieved May 17, 2019, from http://driftwoodjourneys.com/noli-me-tangere-the-
catalyst-of-social-awakening-among-filipinos/
Reyno, H. (2012, September 19). For Love of Country. Retrieved May 17, 2019, from
http://nhcp.gov.ph/for-love-of-country/

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