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Father Dámaso

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Padre Dámaso is one of the notorious characters in the novel Noli Me Tangere. The novel was written by José Rizal, one of the leaders of the Propaganda Movement in the Philippines. Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not or "Social Cancer") is a controversial and anticlerical novel that exposed the abuses of the Spanish friars (belonging to the Roman Catholic Church) and the Spanish elite in colonial Philippines during the 19th century.

Father Dámaso
Noli Me Tangere character
Created by José Rizal
Portrayed by Oscar Reese
Aliases Padre Damaso
Gender Male
Occupation Priest
Children Maria Clara (Daughter)
Religion Roman Catholic
Nationality Spanish

The novel, according to the author, represented the state of Philippine society under Spanish colonial rule. It was intended as a liberal-nationalist wake-up call for the people of the Philippines. While the natives (indios) were trained to become secular clergy, Spanish priests in the powerful religious orders were given preferential treatment in the assignment to parishes.

Plot summaryEdit

Dámaso Verdolagas, a Franciscan Spanish priest, was the former curate of the town of San Diego. He was an enemy of Don Rafael Ibarra, Crisóstomo Ibarra's father; Don Rafael refuses to conform to the friars' power. After Rafael's death in jail, Dámaso ordered his corpse exhumed and transferred to the Chinese cemetery, which was reserved for "heathens". He was also the father of María Clara before his secret past was revealed when Father Salví discloses to María Clara that Dámaso is her true father. María Clara's mother, Doña Pía Alba, and Don Santiago de los Santos had been trying to have a child when Dámaso raped Doña Pia.

Near the end of the novel, he and María Clara had a dispute about her not marrying Alfonso Linares, and her going to the covenant, or dying. This event broke Dámaso's heart. At the end of the novel, after he was transferred to another town to be its curate, he was found dead with unknown causes, possibly depression or murder.

In popular cultureEdit

  • Dámaso was portrayed by Oscar Keese in the 1961 film adaptation of Noli Me Tangere.
  • The Tagalog term "Anak ni Padre Dámaso" ("child of Father Dámaso") has become a stereotype or cliché in the Philippines to refer to a white or half-white (Spanish: mestizo) child whose father is unknown. It can also refer to a child whose father was (or who was suspected to be) a Spanish clergyman.[citation needed]
  • Carlos Celdran was arrested for shouting and bearing a sign with the words "Dámaso" at the Manila Cathedral during an ecumenical service, to protest the bishops' stance against abortion and contraception on 30 September 2010.[1][2]


  1. ^ Tubeza, Philip; Yamsuan, Cathy C. (September 30, 2010). "Touchy 'Fili' tour guide arrested for 'Noli' poster". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on October 3, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Tour guide Carlos Celdran nabbed for interrupting mass". ABS-CBN News. September 30, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2010.