Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Father Dámaso Character Analysis

A Spanish friar living in the Philippines, Father Dámaso is an arrogant and pedantic priest who, despite having lived amongst Filipinos and hearing their confessions for over twenty years, is barely able to speak or understand Tagalog, the country’s native language. A shameless loudmouth, he is unafraid of slandering nonreligious citizens who he thinks undermine his power. Ibarra learns that this is exactly what happened between his father, Don Rafael, and Dámaso—because Rafael refused to go to confession and supported secular means of empowering Filipino citizens, Dámaso jumped at the opportunity to cast Rafael as a heretic and a subversive. As such, Dámaso is Ibarra’s most evident and outspoken rival, a fact Dámaso seems to leverage by taunting the young man at a dinner party one night, making allusions to Rafael’s death and insulting Ibarra’s project to build a school. Unfortunately, Ibarra is unable to ignore these provocations, and his violent response leads to his own excommunication. To make matters worse for Ibarra, Father Dámaso is very well-connected in San Diego, and he is María Clara’s godfather, which puts him in a position of power over Ibarra’s engagement (indeed, he forbids her from marrying Ibarra). María Clara later discovers that Dámaso is her real father, a fact she hopes to keep quiet at all costs because it would disgrace her deceased mother’s honor and her father’s respectability, so Dámaso gets away with his corruption.

Father Dámaso Quotes in Noli Me Tangere

The Noli Me Tangere quotes below are all either spoken by Father Dámaso or refer to Father Dámaso. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Noli Me Tangere published in 2006.
Chapter 4 Quotes

In addition, Don Rafael was an honest man, more just than many men who go to confession. He held himself up to a rigorous moral standard and when the unpleasantness began he often said to me: “Señor Guevara, do you think God pardons a crime, a murder, for example, solely because one tells it to a priest, who is, in the end, a man, and who has the duty to keep it to himself, and who is afraid of burning in hell, which is an act of attrition, who is a coward, and certainly without shame? I have another conception of God,” he would say, “to me one does not correct one wrong by committing another, nor is one pardoned by useless weeping or by giving alms to the church.” He gave this example: “If I kill the head of a family, if I make a woman into a destitute widow and happy children into helpless orphans, will I have satisfied eternal justice if I let them hang me, or confide my secret to someone who has to keep it to himself, or give alms to the priests, who need it the least, or buy myself a papal pardon, or weep night and day? And what about the widow and children? My conscience tells me I should replace as much as possible the person I have murdered and dedicate myself completely and for my whole life to the welfare of the family whose misfortune I have created. And even then, even then, who will replace the love of a husband and father?”

Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
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To be a heretic anywhere is a great disgrace, especially at that time, when the mayor made a great show of his religious devotion and prayed in the church with his servants and said the rosary in a great loud voice, perhaps so that everyone could hear him and pray with him. But to be a subversive is worse than being a heretic and killing three tax collectors who know how to read, write, and sign their names. Everyone deserted him. His papers and books were confiscated. They accused him of subscribing to the Overseas Mail, of reading the Madrid newspapers, of having sent you to German Switzerland, of having been in possession of letters and a portrait of a condemned priest, and who knows what else! They found accusations in everything, even of his wearing a peninsular-style shirt. If he had been anyone other than your father, he would have been set free almost immediately, especially since a doctor had attributed the death of the unfortunate tax collector to a blockage. But because of his wealth, his confidence in justice, and his hatred of anything that was not legal or just, they ruined him.

Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 25 Quotes

“Because sane people,” he went on with a bitter irony, “will think you are crazy, too. People believe that madness is when you don’t think as they do, which is why they take me for a madman. And I’m grateful for that, because, well, the day on which they restore my reason is the day they deprive me of the small bit of freedom I’ve purchased at the price of a reputation as a sane person. And who knows if they are right? I neither think nor live according to their laws. My principles, my ideals, are different. Among them the mayor enjoys a reputation as a sane individual, since he has not learned anything more than how to serve chocolate and suffer Father Dámaso’s ill humor.”

Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 35 Quotes

“But, gentlemen,” the mayor interrupted. “What can we do? What can the town do? Whatever happens, the friars are always right!”

“They are always right because we always let them be right,” Don Filipo answered with impatience, emphasizing the word “always.” “Let us be in the right for a change and then let’s talk!”

The mayor scratched his head and, looking at the ceiling, replied sourly, “Ay, the heat of blood! It seems like we don’t even know what country we’re in; we don’t even know our own countrymen. The friars are rich and united, and we are divided and poor. Sure, try to defend him and you’ll see how everyone will abandon you to your task.”

“Sure,” Don Filipo exclaimed bitterly, “it will always happen if you think that way, while fear and restraint are synonymous. Everyone pays more attention to something bad rather than to a needed good thing. Suddenly it’s all fear and lack of trust. Everyone thinks about himself, and no one about other people. That’s why we’re so weak!”

Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
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Father Dámaso Character Timeline in Noli Me Tangere

The timeline below shows where the character Father Dámaso appears in Noli Me Tangere. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: A Gathering
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
...a quiet but argumentatively cunning Dominican friar named Fray Sibyla, a loudmouthed Franciscan friar named Fray Dámaso , and two civilians, one of whom has just arrived in the Philippines for the... (full context)
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Father Dámaso explains to his listeners that his first post in the Philippines was in a small... (full context)
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Continuing his rant, Father Dámaso says that “indios are very lazy.” The foreigner who is new to the Philippines challenges... (full context)
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For the first time all evening, Fray Dámaso falls silent before slamming his fist into his chair and cryptically shouting, “Either there is... (full context)
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As Father Dámaso and the lieutenant approach the possibility of a fistfight, Father Sibyla intervenes with philosophical and... (full context)
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Continuing with his story, the lieutenant says that Father Dámaso exhumed this distinguished man’s body from the cemetery. The Captain General knew about this, and... (full context)
Chapter 2: Crisóstomo Ibarra
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...the crowd, the entire room is silent except for several cries of surprise or bewilderment. Father Dámaso , for his part, goes pale. Seeing him, Ibarra bounds over with a smile, extending... (full context)
Chapter 3: Dinner
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The two friars, Father Sibyla and Father Dámaso , verbally spar with one another for the seat at the head of the table,... (full context)
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...its inhibitions and, along the same lines, of the sacrifice or selfishness of its ancestors.” Father Dámaso pipes up at this, saying, “That’s it? It doesn’t seem worth it to waste all... (full context)
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In response to Father Dámaso ’s rude interjection, Ibarra maintains his composure, despite the fact that he wants to tell... (full context)
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Isolation Theme Icon
...Diego. In his absence, the dinner guests talk about the scandalous exchange between Ibarra and Father Dámaso . A foreign young man with blond hair chastises Filipinos like Ibarra for showing an... (full context)
Chapter 4: Heretic and Subversive
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Isolation Theme Icon
...enemies. This was exacerbated by the fact that he refused to go to confession, which Father Dámaso greatly resented. As a result, the angry friar made “veiled allusions” to Don Rafael in... (full context)
Chapter 5: A Star in the Dark Night
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...of Filipinos, Spaniards, Chinese people, soldiers, priests, and a young beautiful woman standing next to Father Dámaso , who is smiling in her presence. Instead, though, Ibarra sees an image of his... (full context)
Chapter 8: Memories
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...noticing. Now Ibarra crosses resplendent carriages pulled by beautiful ponies and even thinks he spies Father Dámaso riding in a particularly classy victoria. He goes by a tobacco factory whose offensive smells... (full context)
Chapter 9: National Affairs
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Father Dámaso pulls up to Captain Tiago’s home in his victoria, passing Aunt Isabel and María Clara... (full context)
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...undergoing surgery. Sibyla then informs the old man of the incident the previous night between Father Dámaso and Ibarra, and the two priests agree that having Ibarra in the church would greatly... (full context)
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...attention to the Captain General, who hears from somebody present at the dinner party that Father Dámaso spoke unfavorably about him. He laughs this off, saying, “Women and friars can do no... (full context)
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Back at Captain Tiago’s house, Father Dámaso finishes speaking with his host. “You have been warned!” he tells Tiago. “All this could... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Storm Brews
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...the man cowers on his knees. Salví then tells Ibarra that it was his predecessor, Father Dámaso , who ordered Don Rafael’s exhumation. Realizing his mistake but neglecting to apologize, Ibarra rushes... (full context)
Chapter 18: Souls in Torment
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...sermon at the town’s big fiesta, a celebration of the community’s patron saint. They choose Father Dámaso because he is well-spoken in his sermons. “But we can’t understand what he’s saying,” one... (full context)
Chapter 19: Adventures of a Schoolmaster
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Revolution and Reform Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...learn Spanish, the schoolmaster started teaching Spanish instead of using Tagalog. Several days later, though, Father Dámaso called upon him. He greeted the priest in Spanish, to which Dámaso said, “When you... (full context)
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...account of education in San Diego, the schoolmaster explains to Ibarra that his encounter with Father Dámaso redoubled his motivation to be a good teacher. As such, he read many of Old... (full context)
Chapter 24: In The Forest
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
...Father Salví asks the ensign if he knows anything about a criminal who apparently attacked Father Dámaso on the road the previous day. The ensign hasn’t even heard of this offense, and... (full context)
Chapter 28: Correspondences
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...seeing him—because he has apparently been sick for the last couple of days—and says that Father Dámaso has been keeping her company in the meantime. (full context)
Chapter 29: Morning
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...the church fills up for the festival’s concluding high mass. Unfortunately, it seems as if Father Dámaso , the featured speaker, may be unable to preach due to a slight congestive illness.... (full context)
Chapter 30: In The Church
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...quickly that it’s difficult for attendees to breathe. Ibarra sits in a corner, and when Father Dámaso ascends to the pulpit, the two men make eye contact. Dámaso winks at him, as... (full context)
Chapter 31: The Sermon
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Father Dámaso begins the sermon in Latin before transitioning to Spanish, lightly demeaning the ensign and the... (full context)
Chapter 34: The Banquet
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...a large dinner. All of the town’s most important people are in attendance, except for Father Dámaso . During the meal, Captain Tiago receives a telegram saying the Captain General will arrive... (full context)
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At a certain point in the dinner, Father Dámaso arrives uninvited. He sits down just as the other guests raise a toast to Ibarra,... (full context)
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“Get back!” Ibarra yells to the crowd as he holds down Father Dámaso . He assures his audience that he is of sound mind and body, and he... (full context)
Chapter 36: The First Cloud
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...Clara from speaking to Ibarra until this excommunication has been lifted. To make matters worse, Father Dámaso —María Clara’s godfather—calls off the young lovers’ engagement. Even Father Sibyla tells Tiago he must... (full context)
Chapter 37: His Excellency
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Revolution and Reform Theme Icon
...When they finally do come in, he treats them brusquely, immediately asking which one is Fray Dámaso . They say Dámaso is absent because he isn’t feeling well, and the Captain General... (full context)
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...improve the town by selflessly building a school. He assures Ibarra that the “unpleasantness” with Father Dámaso will cease to be a problem, for he will speak with the archbishop and have... (full context)
Chapter 42: The De Espadañas
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...never takes place, though, and Linares remains with the couple. At lunch, Linares asks after Father Dámaso and learns from Father Salví that the priest will be stopping by that afternoon. As... (full context)
Chapter 43: Plans
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Father Dámaso goes straight to his goddaughter’s bed and says, “María, my child, you cannot die!” with... (full context)
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Having heard this exchange between Father Dámaso and Linares, Father Salví paces back and forth until a man greets him. It is... (full context)
Chapter 51: Changes
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...him at first. He says that he thinks Ibarra will even be able to convince Father Dámaso to allow his marriage to María Clara—if, that is, he asks for Dámaso’s forgiveness. When... (full context)
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...be best if he forgot about her. She also tells him that Captain Tiago and Father Dámaso want María Clara to marry Linares, but she hasn’t yet decided. At Ibarra’s request, Sinang... (full context)
Chapter 62: Father Dámaso Explains Himself
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...other than the newspaper she holds, which reports that Ibarra has drowned in the lake. Father Dámaso comes up behind her and surprises her, but upon seeing her hesitancy to greet him,... (full context)
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María Clara tells Father Dámaso that, now that Ibarra has died, she has only two options: “the convent or the... (full context)
Epilogue
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...true epilogue is impossible.” Nonetheless, he reports on the whereabouts of several characters, starting with Father Dámaso , who travels to Manila when María Clara enters the convent. Father Salví also goes... (full context)