Philippine Culture
  El Filibusterismo
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Chapter 7: Idyll in an Azotea

Ibarra and Maria Clara get to speak privately in the azotea of Capitan Tiago's house. This is their first meeting after seven years. They exchanged proof that each remembered the other one after all this time. When Maria Clara read the only letter Ibarra wrote to her, he suddenly remembered his dead father. It was nearing All Souls Day so Ibarra excused himself and told Maria Clara that he will go to San Diego to take care of his father's grave.

Some Notes

  • A major portion of this chapter concerns the old letter of Ibarra to Maria Clara.

  • The reader will note a different (if almost playful) side of Maria Clara, which belies the common perception that she is refined, prim and proper.

  • Capitan Tiago cannot really be considered as someone from San Diego because Maria Clara visits that town only during vacations.

Questions and Answers

  1. How did Ibarra prove that he never, not even for an instant, ever forgot about Maria Clara? He said that the vow he made before his mother's corpse that he will love Maria Clara and make her happy no matter what happens to him served as a shield or amulet which helped him even while he was far away, in a land of numerous beautiful women.

  2. And what did Maria Clara do to prove her own love for Ibarra? She recounted their childhood experiences (fights or otherwise). She also said that even if she was punished severely after confessing in the confessional her love for the young man, she refused to ever forget him. (This summary does not do justice to the actual text. Please read the book, ok?)

  3. What other proofs did Ibarra display? He showed the old leaves which Maria Clara placed in his hat after they swam in the river (they were with Ibarra's mother at that time) more than seven years ago.

  4. And what did Maria Clara show in return? She got Ibarra's old letter (kept near her chest).

  5. What did Ibarra place in his letter to Maria Clara? He clarified why his father (Don Rafael) urged him to study in Europe even though Ibarra badly wanted to just stay in the Philippines with his father and his beloved.

  6. And what reasons did Ibarra give for leaving the Philippines? Ibarra's father admonished him that, as a man, he had to think of the future, his moral debt to his country, and to learn things that he cannot possibly learn while in the Philippines (Don Rafael had little faith in the Philippine educational system).
  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. 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.

  12. 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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