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Cover of Noli Me Tangere

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When Dr. Jose Rizal was 26, he published his first novel “Noli Me Tangere” in Belgium in the year 1887. It was the Book that gave a spark in the Philippine Revolutions. It talked about the Spaniard’s arrogance and despicable use of religion to achieve their own desires and rise to power. It mostly talked about the life of Crisostomo Ibarra, a member of the Insulares (Creoles) social class, and a series of unf ortunate events that he encountered through the works of a Franciscan friar, namely Padre Damaso Verdolagas, and by the Spanish conquistadors.

Noli Me Tangere, a Latin phrase used by Jose Rizal as a title for his first novel, was actually the words used by Jesus Christ to Mary Magdalene when she saw him resurrected from the dead. It roughly translated as “Touch Me Not” in English. These words were said because Jesus, although raised in body and in spirit, was not the same for as he was before. Being glorified, waiting for the right time to ascend to Heaven and such, he did not allow himself yet to be known until the Great Commission.

The Cover Symbols
It was popular belief that the silhouette of the woman in the cover of Noli Me Tangere is the unfortunate Maria Clara, Crisostomo Ibarra’s lover. “Padre Cura! Padre Cura!’ [Padre Salvi] the Spaniards cried to him; but he did not mind them. He ran in the direction of the Capitan Tiago’s house. There he breathed a sigh of relief. He saw through the transparent gallery an adorable silhouette full of grace and the lovely contours of Maria Clara and that of her aunt bearing glasses and cups.”

This symbolism at the lower part of the cover is to be a representation for pri ests using religion in a dirty way, specifically Padre Damaso.
“However, Padre Damaso is not mysterious like those monks; he is jolly and if the sound of his voice is brusque like that of a man who has never bitten his tongue and who believes everything he utters is sacrosanct and cannot be improved upon, his gay and frank laughter erases this disagreeble impression, even to the extent thatone feels bound to forgive him his sockless feet and a pair of hairy legs which would fetch the fortune of a M endiata in the Quiapo fair.”

An obvious take on the arrogance of those in authority.
“The Alferez [Dona Consolacion’s husband] picked up his helmet, straightened himself a bit and marched off with loud giant strides. After a few minutes he returned, not making the least sound. He had removed his boots. The servants, accustomed to these spectacles [violent arguments between the Alferez and Dona Consolacion], were usually bored, but the removal of the boots called their attention. They winked at each other.”

The cruelties present in the novel best explains the symbol Rizal used in the cover. “Dona Consolacion took a few turns in the room twisting the whip in her calloused hands and, stopping all of a sudden in front of Sisa, told her in Spanish, ‘Dance!’ “Dona Consolacion raised the whip — that terrible whip familiar to thieves and soldiers, made in Ulango and perfected by the Alferez with twisted wires… And she started to whip lightly the naked feet of the mad woman, whose face contracted with pain,obliging her to defen d herself with her hands.”

Another symbolism for cruelties. It is a representation of Jesus Christ’s scourging before his imminent crucifixion.
Elias “Since he was poor and could not pay for able lawyers, he was condemned to be scourged in public and taken through the streets of Manila. Not long long ago this was in use, this infamous punishment the people call “caballoy vaca,” a thousand times worse than death itself. My grandfather, abandoned by all except his young wife, was tied to a horse, followed by a cruel multitude, and flogged on every street corner, before other men, his brothers, and in the neighborhood if the numerous temples of a God of peace.”

Rizal’s representation of slavery and imprisonment.
“Then you see the streets being tamped down by a chain gang of prisoners with shaved heads, clad in short-sleeved shirts and drawers reaching to the knees, with numbers and letters in blue; chains around their legs, half-wrapped in dirty rags to reduce the abrasion, or perhaps the coldness of the iron; joined in pairs, sun-burnt, prostrate from heat and fatigue, given lashes, and beaten with a club by another prisoner who perhaps found comfort in ill-treating others.”

One thing comes to mind when bamboo stalks are talked about: Resilience. Bamboo clumps of luxuriant foliage grew alongside the highway. In other times she would stop in their shade. Here she (Sisa) and her lover would rest; with a tender exchange of words he would relieve her of her basket of fruits and vegetables — ay! that was like dream. The lover became husband; the husband was made into a barangay head and then misfortune started knocking at her door. “As the sun’s heat was becoming intense, the soldiers asked her if she wanted rest.” No, thank you!’ she replied with a shudder. “When they approached the town she was seized with terror; she looked in anguish around her; vast ricefields, a small irrigation canal, thin trees — there was not a precipice or a boulder in sight against which she could smash herself.”

The one that killed the Christ Jesus. It was a representation of suffering and death. It also represent a grave. Magnifies the discrimination towards Filipinos, Chinese Mestizos and Spaniards during this time towards a proper burial.

“Ibarra descended, followed by an old man-servant. He dismissed the carriage with the gesture and headed towards the cemetery, silent and grave. “‘My sickness and my preoccupations have not allowed me to return, ‘the old man was saying timidly. ‘Capitan Tiago said he would have atomb built, but I planted flowers and had a cross made. “Ibarra proceeded towards the gravedigger who was regarding them with curiosity, and greeted them, removing his salakot. “‘Can you tell is which is the grave that had the cross?’ asked the servant “‘A big cross?’ (Asked the gravedigger.) “‘Yes, a big one,’ happily confirmed the servant, looking meaningfully at Ibarra, whose features had brightened. “‘A cross with designs on it, tied with rattan?’ the gravedigger asked again. “‘That’s it, that’s it! Like this, like this,’ the servant traced on the earth the shape of a Byzantine cross. “‘And over the grave were flowers planted?’ “‘Adelfas, sampagas, and pensamientos, that’s it!’ added the servant filled with joy. He offered him a cigar. “‘Tell us which is the grave and where the cross is.’ “The gravedigger rubbed his ears and replied yawning: ‘Well, the cross — I have already burned it.’ “‘Burned it? Why did you burn it?’ Because the chief parish priest so ordered.

A reference to the Olympic torch, it tells everyone the beginning of the defense of honors and the start of proving themselves worthy of victory. Rage and passion are most abundant in this phase. Represents a phrase that could possibly mean everything to every single suffering Filipinos: “The rise of the revolution is now at hand.”

They roughly represent faith, honor and fidelity. P0melo blossoms are utilized as loose potpourri or a mixture of dried flower petals and spices used to scent the air. It is commonly used in prayers and cleansing. The laurel leaves, also known as bay leaves, are used as crowns during the Ancient Greek Olympics wherein the best of the best are treated as heroes. Filipinos in this time wants to embody these three virtues that Rizal represented as two plants.

A unique behavior in sunflowers, known as phototropism, is a motif that has appeared in many ancient myths and is viewed as a symbol of loyalty and constancy. The sunflower’s petals have been likened to bright yellow rays of sunshine, which evoke feelings of warmth and happiness. In addition, the sunflower is often associated with adoration and longevity. Rizal’s observation towards the happiness of the Filipinos are, in the Spanish times, are only fulfilled through their giving in and bowing down to the more powerful entity: Spain.

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