Philippine Culture
  El Filibusterismo
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Chapter 6: Capitan Tiago

Capitan Tiago and Dona Pia have long been without child. Padre Damaso advised them to hear mass at Ubando (or Obando, Bulacan). Soon after, Dona Pia conceived, but ever since became depressed. She died after giving birth to a baby girl, Maria Clara, who was raised by her aunt, Tia Isabel. Padre Damaso became the godfather of the child, while Crisostomo Ibarra became a childhood friend of Maria Clara.

Some Notes

  • Rizal describes the many superstitious beliefs of the religious folk, as well as the corruption in the government which is made widespread by people like Capitan Tiago.

  • The full name of Capitan Tiago is Santiago de los Santos ("all of the saints") which is Rizal's way of hinting that he will use this character when tackling issues of faith or religion.

  • Rizal deliberately made unclear the circumstances surrounding Dona Pia's death, in order to heighten the reader's anticipation. The truth is, Dona Pia died because she was extremely upset with giving birth to an illegitimate child; the child of Padre Damaso. Note the superstitions related to "paglilihi" (the cravings of a pregnant woman which affect the physical appearance of her child):
    • Dona Pia kept looking at icons of saints and of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    • Godchildren look like their godfather or godmother

  • Here are the characteristics of Capitan Tiago:
    • Gets along with those in power
    • Intelligent
    • Obedient
    • Skilled in business

  • Capitan Tiago and Don Rafael agreed that their children (Maria Clara and Crisostomo Ibarra) will one day marry each other, and that both fathers will join businesses for the benefit of their two children.

Questions and Answers

  1. Why is Capitan Tiago considered to be in good terms with God? This derogatory statement refers to the fact that God does not borrow money from Capitan Tiago. In addition, his wealth is used to give back to God in the form of masses, novenas, prayers, indulgencias, expensive clothes for the wooden saints, and such. His actions served to enrich the friars.

  2. Why does Rizal say that Capitan Tiago realizes that in the calendar, there are a lot of saints who are probably doing nothing in heaven? There are far too many saints listed in the calendar (at least one saint per day). This belief stems from the perception that saints are extremely jealous of other saints.

  3. What is the meaning of the statement that Capitan Tiago realizes that in order to become a saint, one either cuts or is cut? Saint Peter the Martyr was a saint who was hacked in the head by a pagan. Simon Peter (disciple of Jesus Christ) who was entrusted with the key to heaven, also became a saint even if he cut the ear of Malko in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  4. Why is Capitan Tiago on good terms with the government? From the highest official down to the lowest government servant is treated the same way by Capitan Tiago. Capitan Tiago always bows, obeys, agrees, never argues, gives money, and does not read publications from Europe (lest such writings free his mind and allow him to question the way things are in his country).

  5. Why did Dona Pia talk about the fisherman (in Macbeth) who, after finding a great treasure, refuses to sing? A poor fisherman who is happy spends his time singing joyous songs. Just like others, though, he dreams of becoming rich one day. When he is able to find a treasure, he then discovers fear and soon loses his ability or desire to sing once again. This is similar to Dona Pia's situation where her prime desire is to have a child. However, when she finally conceives, a depression envelops her all the way to her grave. From here we can see that Rizal is familiar with Shakespeare.

  6. Did Capitan Tiago and Don Rafael consult with Maria Clara and Crisostomo Ibarra regarding the arranged wedding plans as agreed by the two fathers? No. This was the practice at that time. It just so happened that the two children were in love with one another so they didn't mind the pre-arrangement.

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