Quack, Quack: A Character Analysis of Don Tiburcio de Espadaña

17 02 2008

A. Symbolism of the Character

A duck wearing a white coat. Don Tiburcio de Espadaña was the hen-pecked husband of Doña Victorina in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. He was under his wife’s orders of being a proud Spanish doctor in the Philippines.

Why did Don Tiburcio became a quack doctor?

Don Tiburcio came to the Philippines as a petty official in the Customs. He had a really bad fate that, besides experiencing severely from seasickness and breaking a leg during the travel, he had been dismissed from his work within a fortnight, just at the time when he found himself without a room. After his rough incident on his travel, he did not care to return to his motherland without being rich, so he decided to dedicate himself to something. Spanish pride hindered him to engage in physical labor, although the poor man would willingly have done any kind of job in order to survive.

At first he had worked at the cost of some of his fellow Spaniard, but he instead was struck with poverty, so instead of getting plump, he then grew thin. Since he had neither education nor cash nor references he was told by his countrymen, who wished to get rid of him, to go to the rural areas and act as a doctor of medicine. He declined at first, for he had no knowledge even when he worked for a short period that he had spent as an attendant in a hospital. His duties there having been to dust off the benches and light the fires. But as his desires were pressing and as his conscience were soon laid to rest by his friends. He finally gave in and went to the poor Filipino rural areas. He began by asking only modest charges, as his scruples dictated, but later, he ended by putting a higher charge on his visits. Thus he should have been a great physician and would probably have made a big amount of wealth if the medical authorities in Manila had not heard of his overpriced fees and the competition that he was causing other doctors. The truth soon reached the ears of the people and they began to have doubts about him, so in a little while he lost his practice and found himself into the rags again. It was at that time that he met Doña Victorina and her Spanish patriotism. Even after their financially-driven marriage, Don Tiburcio was persuaded to act like a doctor even by his own wife.

B. Values learned from the Character


Don Tiburcio, foreign and uneducated, had a hard time to adjust in the Philippines. He should have found his own individuality and also his limitations. A person can’t be himself if he doesn’t know, understand, and accept himself first.

Also, Don Tiburcio was easily bribed by his own countrymen who are also bad in deed. Don Tiburcio should have stopped caring about how people, Spaniard or Filipino alike, perceived him. The fact is, how others think really doesn’t matter. It’s impossible to be your own self when you’re caught up in wondering “Do they think I’m funny? Does he think I’m fat? Do they think I’m stupid?” To be yourself, you’ve got to let go of these concerns and just let your good behavior flow, with only your consideration of others as a filter—not their consideration of you.

Don Tiburcio should have stopped worrying about the worst that could happen, especially in social situations. Accepting your own limitations would let know that you’re not perfect and makes yourself feel more at ease, too.

2. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Don Tiburcio was indifferent with his wife’s persuasion of him being a medical doctor. He still continued to fool other people of him although he knew that it was wrong. Also, the medical authorities were indifferent too. They didn’t seek action against Don Tiburcio so thus, this fake medic still continued his medical practice and led the death of many sick Filipinos. Here says that, the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy; it is indifference. And the opposite of life is not death; it is indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.

3. In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.

Pride is not just an emotion but also a mortal sin. In Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, people who have excessive pride are punished by being broken on the wheel. This Spanish pride hindered Don Tiburcio to engage in physical labor and therefore became a bogus medical doctor.

4. Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.

The marriage of Don Tiburcio and Doña Victorina because of poverty and not because of love is not a happy marriage at all. Marriage is not just a contract but also a covenant between two people through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, etc.

C. Significant Role Portrayed by the Character

1. In Rizal’s time

a. Spanish Pride and Prejudice

It was all Spanish pride that disabled Don Tiburcio from manual labor. His character is a perfect example of the evil Spanish rule during Rizal’s time who deceived the Filipinos of the truth just for their selfish desires.

b. Filipinos’ Ignorance

On the other hand, Don Tiburcio’s fraud medical practice also showed the ignorance of the Filipinos on the national and international issues during the time of the colonization of Spain. Swindled by their mother country, the Philippines were considered a country of barbaric Indios by other foreign countries.

c. Racial Discrimination

Doña Victorina wanted to marry a Spaniard for the sake of being considered, too, as a high-class civilian. And so, she married Don Tiburcio, a Spaniard by blood, even though he was penniless and fraud.

Doña Victorina wanted to be considered as an elite in the Philippine society because of this reason: The treatment to the Filipinos by the Spaniards was nearly inhuman, cruel, and unjust. Being perceived just by the color of the skin during Rizal’s time was a big problem internationally and not just in our own native land. It had become the cause of abuse, violence, and slavery. We couldn’t blame Doña Victorina during her time because she herself was a Filipina by blood. It was on Don Tiburcio’s part if he will be also be blinded by the skin stereotyping during his time. But then, he also did so this married couple only used each other for their own personal reasons.

2. In the Present time

a. Right Legal Action on Fraud and Forgery

In our present time, fraud and forgery is very rampant, from birth certificates passports, credit cards, and documents to a person’s very own clothes, shoes, cellular phones and iPod. Even marriage contracts and college diplomas can be forged too! A well-established control and penalty should be done against this crime because it can lead not just the Filipino community to a very bad reputation and false truth but also to the foreign countries that are also having this same kind of problem as well. Filipinos should not be like a Don Tiburcio, a person who deceives other people because of his own selfish wants.

b. Materialism

Some Filipino people especially women love to follow the recent trends. Sometimes, they get overboard just to get what they want. What they want sometimes is not necessary for living and just for simply having one. This common attitude nowadays should also be controlled because it can lead to heinous crimes like stealing, robbery or theft. Like Don Tiburcio, these type of people will do anything to get what they want, mainly wealth, a big house, a highly-paying job, and expensive things that may not be necessarily essential for survival but only a demand for recognition and selfish pleasure.

c. Racial Discrimination

Still, up to the present time, the alarming problem of the Filipinos is racial discrimination. Like in the Spanish times, still, Filipinos tend to like things, ideas, or livelihood that is foreign to them. It may be seen now that most Filipinos like foreign products (and even foreign wives or husbands) more than their own because of the mentality that our own products are of inferior quality. It may not necessarily be on the color of the skin anymore today, but on the products patronized by our countrymen.

Further Character Analysis can be read in these links:

Don Tiburcio Powerpoint

Quack, Quack: A Character Analysis of Don Tiburcio de Espadaña




6 responses

17 02 2008

hey.. nice im just looking around when i saw your post..

theres nothing as essential as your write up that can be read all over the net that talks about don tiburcio…

i find your blog really helpful…

21 02 2008

thank you. i have uploaded about the lieutenant-general of the civil guard, too

16 02 2009

First of all I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this. I feel very ashamed because I failed to understand whole-heartedly Noli Me Tangere when I was in high school and tomorrow we would be having a report about the characters. I Got Don Tiburcio from the random draw lots and unfortunately, all I know of him is that he is a fake doctor and that’s all. But then, I saw your page while searching on yahoo and I saw all the guide questions of my teacher answered by you so I really want to thank you a lot! May God BLess you always and continue writting very helpful essays.


11 12 2009

Various of people write about this topic but you said some true words.

26 01 2011

hi! thanks for blogging this. my son is playing don tiburcio in a noli pictorial for their filipino project. this really helps a lot. god bless u.

2 02 2011

thank you 🙂 you were of great help 🙂

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