After the church service ends, everybody makes their way to the school because Father Salví is set to deliver a ceremony to bless the structure. The yellow man has created a large pulley system to lower a time capsule into the earth by the building in order to commemorate the day. As such, a heavy stone hangs suspended in the air over a large trench, waiting to be lowered into the ground. The architect praises the yellow man’s handiwork, asking him where he learned so much. The yellow man says that his father was taught by Ibarra’s grandfather, saying “In time you’ll see what my father taught me, you’ll see!”
The “yellow” man’s relation to Ibarra’s grandfather is a mysterious revelation, since Rizal has revealed very little about the deceased old man other than that he hanged himself in the woods of San Diego many years ago. Judging by how strongly the lieutenant reacts when Father Dámaso implies that Don Rafael committed suicide, though, it’s clear that suicide is greatly frowned upon in the community. In this way, Rizal associates the “yellow” man with disgrace—an association that is ominous considering that this man has been so integral to the school’s construction.
After Father Salví blesses the school, the revered Captain General says a few words before the town’s most influential members descend one by one into the trench to symbolically shovel a pile of dirt over the time capsule, which is to buried by the suspended stone after this process. Avoiding going into the pit, Ibarra offers a trowel to Father Salví, who reluctantly accepts it and descends, all the while looking at the stone above. After doing so, he asks if Ibarra is going to go down. The governor pipes up at this, further encouraging the young man.
There is no doubt Salví seems nervous in this moment, as he casts suspicious glances at the overhanging stone. This seems to indicate that Salví is perhaps implicated in the plot against Ibarra. Given that the mayor allows himself to be influenced so heavily by Salví—and given his encouragement that Ibarra descend down into the pit—it isn’t so much of a stretch to suspect that he too is in on the plan.
Ibarra goes down into the trench, eyeing Elías and the yellow man. Meanwhile, Elías watches the yellow man’s hand, which is placed on the lever that controls the pulley system. A big crash sounds suddenly and the stone hurdles to the ground. When the cloud of dust settles, the people see that Ibarra has survived. The yellow man, though, has been crushed by the stone. The people rejoice that Ibarra lives, saying, “The dead man is only an indio!” and pointing out that, unlike Ibarra, the yellow man didn’t attend that morning’s church service.
It comes as no surprise that the townspeople who witness this disaster attribute Ibarra’s safety to the fact that he attended church that morning—after all, this is a community that willingly relinquishes its power to the friars. Unable to explain how Ibarra survived, the citizens of San Diego attribute the miracle to the very institution that seems to be plotting his death: the church.