Noli Me Tangere: An Intellectual Analysis by Francesca Pangilinan

Text Analysis

Francesca S. Pangilinan, SP-CA2

Last January, Guerrero Publishing Inc. launched a campaign to once again uplift the Filipino spirit. They released new editions of Leon Maria Guerrero’s renowned translated version of Jose Rizal’s classic novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Their aim is to encourage Filipinos to see for themselves why those novels are still relevant today. A way for an effective campaign, they chose Carlos Celdran, who was in the midst of great controversy at that time, to star in their print ads. We know Mr. Celdran as the man who raised a “Damaso” placard in front of church officials. It was his protest against the church’s interference with politics, specifically in the RH Bill.

 The print ads showed Mr. Celdran holding up a placard indicating a character in Rizal’s novels and its equivalent in the modern society. An example is the “Donya Victorina” ad. 

There are four significant details. First, Carlos Celdran holding up a “Donya Victorina” placard. It’s a sign of rebellion as it serves as a reminder of Mr. Celdran’s protest at the Manila Cathedral. The second one is the society matron who is an example of the modern Donya Victorina. She’s an elitist based on the outfit, the jewelry, the car, the place, and even the way she holds her abaniko. In the novel, Donya Victorina prefers her non-existing Spanish roots over her Filipino roots. That makes her a product of colonial mentality. Another thing is her being a social climber. She married a doctor to elevate her status in the society. The text “Born 1886, still alive today.” states the relevance of Noli Me Tangere at the present time. The last significant detail is the Noli Me Tangere book. For students, it’s a burden as they are required to read and summarize each chapter in able to have good grades in their Filipino subject. In general, Filipinos recognize it as their inheritance from Rizal.  

The idea of Donya Victorina as a symbol of rich people is a connotation that has been naturalized. Our society has established this division between the rich and the poor for so long. We have this picture of the rich stepping on the poor to get to the top. The rich has the access to whatever they want while the poor suffers from deprivation. For us, that is the reality. And that is why this ad uses the Noli Me Tangere as a wake-up call to identify the Donya Victorinas of our time. At the same time, we are offered the choice to do something by changing the image of this character through the rich people of today who should more likely extend their hands to those less fortunate.