It begins with a reception given by Capitan Tiago (Santiago de los Santos) at his house in Calle Analogue (now Juan Luna Street) on the last day of October. The reception or dinner is given in honor of Crisostomo Ibarra, a young and rich Filipino who had just returned after seven years of study in Europe. Ibarra was the only son of Don Rafael Ibarra, friend of Capitan Tiago, and a fiancé of beautiful Maria Clara, supposed daughter of Capitan Tiago.
Among the guests during the reception were Padre Damaso, a fat Franciscan friar who had been parish priest for 20 years of San Diego (Calamba), Ibarra’s native town; Padre Sybila, a young Dominican parish priest of Binondo; Señor Guevara, as elderly and kind lieutenant of the Guardia Civil; Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, a bogus Spanish physician, lame, and henpecked husband of Doña Victorina; and several ladies.
Ibarra, upon his arrival, produced a favorable impression among the guests, except Padre Damaso, who has rude to him. In accordance with a German custom, he introduced himself to the ladies.
During the dinner the conversation centered on Ibarra’s studies and travels abroad. Padre Damaso was in bad mood because he got a bony neck and a hard wing of the chicken tinola. He tried to discredit Ibarra’s remarks.
After dinner, Ibarra left Capitan Tiago’s house to return to his hotel. On the way, the kind Lieutenant Guevara told him the sad story of his father’s death in San Diego. Don Rafael, his father, was a rich and brave man. He defended a helpless boy from the brutality of an illiterate Spanish tax collector, pushing the latter and accidentally killing him. Don Rafael was thrown in prison, where he died unhappily. He was buried in consecrated ground, but his enemies, accusing him being a heretic, had his body removed from the cemetery.
On hearing about his father’s sad story, Ibarra thanked the kind Spanish lieutenant and vowed to find out the truth about his father’s death.
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