Great book but kinda sucks that its content is still very much applicable these days.

Noli Me Tangere was one of my many purchases and still unread books from 2018’s MIBF. It is a required reading back in high school but I really believe that a lot of books needs a rereading after some years to be able to understand it deeply. Though frankly I want to read it again because I already forgot most of the book heh.

The plot revolves around Crisostomo Ibarra, mixed-race heir of a wealthy clan, returning home after seven years in Europe and filled with ideas on how to better the lot of his countrymen. Striving for reforms, he is confronted by an abusive ecclesiastical hierarchy and a Spanish civil administration by turns indifferent and cruel. The novel suggests, through plot developments, that meaningful change in this context is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.


The version I have and read is the English translation. I tried to read the Tagalog translation available on iOS’ Books but I’m really ashamed to admit that I had a hard time processing that one. I think it’s the way words are spelled that puts me off, like the use of c instead of k. That’s not to say the English version was a smooth read either. I checked the Tagalog version several times to see if the translation was correct or even close.

Several takeaways:

  • I really like Rizal’s sense of humor. I (should) probably know this already from university since we had a subject covering his life but I was really surprised that the first 2 chapters were full on sarcasm. He was really able to ease you into the story with that.
  • Ibarra better have that character development in El Filibusterismo lol. I didn’t expect him to be that naive, borderline stupid can I just say? Or not as empathic as I would’ve wanted I guess. But yeah I know the story needed him to be that way. Bless Elias and his patience with him. It was a good showcase of how different perspectives are built based on one’s privilege. Their conversations were some of the best parts of the book.
  • The couple of paragraphs about Elias and Salome that were taken out from the published version was way better than the story of Ibarra and Maria Clara in the entire book. Again, I know they’re supposed to be the tragic couple, it’s part of the story but eh, I felt way more sad about Elias and Salome than I did for them. (I truly believe I have the wrong notion of these characters and story for years haha)
  • I thought Noli is a tad bit long. There are lot of characters I don’t really care much about. Maybe that’s a me problem. I really struggle with books, even shows, with way too many characters that I have to keep track of. Even some of the dialogues I found to be too long. I had to reread some parts to get a full grasp of its meaning. The content is really good though, but again requires focus to understand.
  • This is still very real a hundred years and more later since its publication and that’s just unfair. I found myself chuckling and just shaking my head reading Pilosopo Tasio’s great hope for the future educated youth. Ahh, our heroes must be tired rolling in their graves knowing where this nation has put the very country they died to fight for in.

I think this is the first time that I really went out and highlighted lines and written notes on the pages of the book I’m reading. I even added tabs so I can easily find my favorite lines! I used to be so careful as to not make even the slightest fold or wrinkle on the page. But what’s the point of spending money if I can’t even spoil it a little bit, no?

And to share some of my favorite, a couple albeit sad, passages from the book hailed as the most important novel in the history of the Philippines:

(I badly want to slap this passage to all the online trolls by the way)

I honor the father for the merit of his son, but I don’t honor the son because of the father. Let everyone be rewarded or punished because of what he himself does, not what others do.

Pilosopo Tasio

People believe that madness is when you don’t think as they do.

Pilosopo Tasio

“Don’t you think we should be happy from time to time, since there’s so much to cry about?”

“Being happy does not mean being a lunatic. It’s the same crazy orgy every year! And all this for what? To waste money, when there is so much misery and need?”

Deputy Mayor; Pilosopo Tasio

[…] and in life it’s not the criminals who provoke great hatred, it’s honest men.


You could say to me that as imperfect as our religion is now, it is preferable to the one we had. I believe that, and I agree with you, but the cost is too high if it means renouncing our nationality and our independence.


Before I knew you, when my poor mother was still alive, morning and evening were the greatest things God had created. […] But ever since I met you, morning and night have lost their enchantments, and only the evening is beautiful. Now I think that morning is meant only to prepare to enjoy the wonders of the evening, and night solely to dream of and enjoy memories and my awakened sensations.


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