Rizal prefaces Noli Me Tangere with a short dedication to the Philippines. He writes that there are certain kinds of cancer that are incredibly vulnerable and sensitive to touch, growths aggravated by even the slightest contact. Rizal says he often thinks of his country in these terms, stating that he believes the Philippines suffers from a “social cancer.” And because he wants “good health” for his nation, he resolves to “reproduce [its] current condition faithfully, without prejudice” so that he might “lift the veil hiding [its] ills, and sacrifice everything to the truth.”
This preface to Noli Me Tangere ensures that readers understand that the novel is intentionally political. Although the pages that follow this short chapter often preoccupy themselves with melodramatic love scenes and action plots, it’s clear from the very first pages that Rizal is primarily interested in exploring what was then the taboo topic of political corruption in the Philippines.