The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
By Fedor Jagor et al

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Public Domain Books

Chapter XV

[A scientific priest-poet.] From Naga I visited the parish priest of Libmanan (Ligmanan), who, possessing poetical talent, and having the reputation of a natural philosopher, collected and named pretty beetles and shells, and dedicated the most elegant little sonnets. He favored me with the following narrative:–

[Prehistoric remains] In 1851, during the construction of a road a little beyond Libmanan, at a place called Poro, a bed of shells was dug up under four feet of mould, one hundred feet distant from the river. It consisted of Cyrenae (C. suborbicularis, Busch.), a species of bivalve belonging to the family of Cyclades which occurs only in warm waters, and is extraordinarily abundant in the brackish waters of the Philippines. On the same occasion, at the depth of from one and a half to three and a half feet, were found numerous remains of the early inhabitants–skulls, ribs, bones of men and animals, a child’s thighbone inserted in a spiral of brass wire, several stags’ horns, beautifully-formed dishes and vessels, some of them painted, probably of Chinese origin; striped bracelets, of a soft, gypseous, copper-red rock, gleaming as if they were varnished; [122] small copper knives, but no iron utensils; and several broad flat stones bored through the middle; [123] besides a wedge of petrified wood, embedded in a cleft branch of a tree. The place, which to this day may be easily recognized in a hollow, might, by excavation systematically carried on, yield many more interesting results. What was not immediately useful was then and there destroyed, and the remainder dispersed. In spite of every endeavor, I could obtain, through the kindness of Señor Fociños in Naga, only one small vessel. Similar remains of more primitive inhabitants have been found at the mouth of the Bigajo, not far from Libmánan, in a shell-bed of the same kind; and an urn, with a human skeleton, was found at the mouth of the Perlos, west of Sitio de Poro, in 1840. At the time when I wrote down these statements of the priest, neither of us was familiar with the discoveries made within the last few years relating to the lake dwellings (pile villages); or these notes might have been more exact, although probably they would not have been so easy and natural.

[Ancient Chinese jar.] Mr. W. A. Franks, who had the kindness to examine the vessel, inclines to the opinion that it is Chinese, and pronounces it to be of very great antiquity, without however, being able to determine its age more exactly; and a learned Chinese of the Burlingame Embassy expressed himself to the same effect. He knew only of one article, now in the British Museum, which was brought from Japan by Kaempfer, the color, glazing, and cracks in the glazing, of which (craqueles) corresponded precisely with mine. According to Kaempfer, the Japanese found similar vessels in the sea; and they value them very highly for the purpose of preserving their tea in them.

Morga writes:–

[Used as tea canisters.] “On this island, Luzon, particularly in the provinces of Manila, Pampánga, Pangasinán, and Ilócos, very ancient clay vessels of a dark brown color are found by the natives, of a sorry appearance; some of a middling size, and others smaller; marked with characters and stamps. They are unable to say either when or where they obtained them; but they are no longer to be acquired, nor are they manufactured in the islands. The Japanese prize them highly, for they have found that the root of a herb which they call Tscha (tea), and which when drunk hot is considered as a great delicacy and of medicinal efficacy by the kings and lords in Japan, cannot be effectively preserved except in these vessels; which are so highly esteemed all over Japan that they form the most costly articles of their show-rooms and cabinets. Indeed, so highly do they value them that they overlay them externally with fine gold embossed with great skill, and enclose them in cases of brocade; and some of these vessels are valued at and fetch from two thousand tael to eleven reals. The natives of these islands purchase them from the Japanese at very high rates, and take much pains in the search for them on account of their value, though but few are now found on account of the eagerness with which they have been sought for.”

[Strict search in Japan.] When Carletti, in 1597, went from the Philippines to Japan, all the passengers on board were examined carefully, by order of the governor, and threatened with capital punishment if they endeavored to conceal “certain earthen vessels which were wont to be brought from the Philippines and other islands of that sea,” as the king wished to buy them all.

[Prized by Japanese.] “These vessels were worth as much as five, six, and even ten thousand scudi each; but they were not permitted to demand for them more then one Giulio (about a half Paolo).” In 1615 Carletti met with a Franciscan who was sent as ambassador from Japan to Rome, who assured him that he had seen one hundred and thirty thousand scudi paid by the King of Japan for such a vessel; and his companions confirmed the statement. Carletti also alleges, as the reason for the high price, “that the leaf cia or tea, the quality of which improves with age, is preserved better in those vessels than in all others. The Japanese besides know these vessels by certain characters and stamps. They are of great age and very rare, and come only from Cambodia, Siam, Cochin-China, the Philippines, and other neighboring islands. From their external appearance they would be estimated at three or four quatrini (two dreier).... It is perfectly true that the king and the princes of that kingdom possess a very large number of these vessels, and prize them as their most valuable treasure and above all other rarities .... and that they boast of their acquisitions, and from motives of vanity strive to outvie one another in the multitude of pretty vessels which they possess. [124]

[Found in Borneo.] Many travellers mention vessels found likewise amongst the Dyaks and the Malays in Borneo, which, from superstitious motives, were estimated at most exaggerated figures, amounting sometimes to many thousand dollars.

[$3,500 for a jar] St. John [125] relates that the Datu of Tamparuli (Borneo) gave rice to the value of almost $3,500 for a jar, and that he possessed a second jar of almost fabulous value, which was about two feet high, and of a dark olive green. The Datu fills both jars with water, which, after adding plants and flowers to it, he dispenses [A speaking jar.] to all the sick persons in the country. But the most famous jar in Borneo is that of the Sultan of Brunei, which not only possesses all the valuable properties of the other jars but can also speak. St. John did not see it, as it is always kept in the women’s apartment; but the sultan, a credible man, related to him that the jar howled dolefully the night before the death of his first wife, and that it emitted similar tones in the event of impending misfortunes. St. John is inclined to explain the mysterious phenomenon by a probably peculiar form of the mouth of the vessel, in passing over which the air-draught is thrown into resonant verberations, like the Aeolian harp. The vessel is generally enveloped in gold brocade, and is uncovered only when it is to be consulted; and hence, of course, it happens that it speaks only on solemn occasions. St. John states further that the Bisayans used formerly to bring presents to the sultan; in recognition of which they received some water from the sacred jar to sprinkle over their fields and thereby ensure plentiful harvests. When the sultan was asked whether he would sell his jar for $100,000, he answered that no offer in the world could tempt him to part with it.

[Morga’s description.] Morga’s description suits neither the vessel of Libmánan nor the jar of the British Museum, but rather a vessel brought from Japan a short time ago to our Ethnographical Museum. This is of brown clay, small but of graceful shape, and composed of many pieces cemented together; the joints being gilt and forming a kind of network on the dark ground. How highly ancient pots of a similar kind, even of native origin, are esteemed in Japan down to the present day, is shown by the following certificate translated by the interpreter of the German Consulate:–

[A consecrated jar.] “This earthen vessel was found in the porcelain factory of Tschisuka in the province of Odori, in South Idzumi, and is an object belonging to the thousand graves.... It was made by Giogiboosat (a celebrated Buddhist priest), and after it had been consecrated to heaven was buried by him. According to the traditions of the people, this place held grave mounds with memorial stones. That is more than a thousand years ago. ....In the pursuit of my studies, I remained many years in the temple Sookuk, of that village, and found the vessel. I carried it to the high priest Shakudjo, who was much delighted therewith and always bore it about with him as a treasure. When he died it fell to me, although I could not find it. Recently, when Honkai was chief priest, I saw it again, and it was as if I had again met the spirit of Shakudjo. Great was my commotion, and I clapped my hands with astonishment; and, as often as I look upon the treasure, I think it is a sign that the spirit of Shakudjo is returned to life. Therefore I have written the history, and taken care, of this treasure.–Fudji Kuz Dodjin.”

Baron Alexander von Siebold communicates the following:–

[Tea societies.] The value which the Japanese attach to vessels of this kind rests upon the use which is made of them by the mysterious tea societies called Cha-no-yu. Respecting the origin of these societies, which still are almost entirely unknown to Europeans, different legends exist. They flourished, however, principally during the reign of the emperor Taikosama, who, in the year 1588, furnished the society of Cha-no-yu at Kitano near Myako with new laws. In consequence of the religious and civil wars, the whole of the people had deteriorated and become ungovernable, having lost all taste for art and knowledge, and holding only rude force in any esteem; brute strength ruling in the place of the laws. The observant Taikosama perceived that, in order to tame these rough natures, he must accustom them to the arts of peace, and thus secure prosperity to the country, and safety for himself and his successors. With this in view he recalled the Cha-no-yu society anew into life, and assembled its masters and those acquainted with its customs around him.

[Their object.] The object of the Cha-no-yu is to draw man away from the influences of the terrestrial forces which surround him, to plant within him the feeling of complete repose, and to dispose him to self-contemplation. All the exercises of the Cha-no-yu are directed to this object.

[Ceremonies.] Clothed in light white garments, and without weapons, the members of the Cha-no-yu assemble round the master’s house, and, after resting some time in the ante-room, are conducted into a pavilion appropriated exclusively to these assemblies. This consists of the most costly kinds of wood, but is without any ornament which could possibly be abstracted from it; without color, and without varnish, dimly lighted by small windows thickly overgrown with plants, and so low that it is impossible to stand upright. The guests tread the apartment with solemn measured steps, and, having been received by him according to the prescribed formulas, arrange themselves in a half-circle on both sides of him. All distinctions of rank are abolished. The ancient vessels are now removed with solemn ceremonies from their wrappings, saluted and admired; and, with the same solemn and rigidly prescribed formulas, the water is heated on the hearth appropriated to the purpose, and the tea taken from the vessels and prepared in cups. The tea consists of the young green leaves of the tea-shrub rubbed to powder, and is very stimulating in its effect. The beverage is taken amidst deep silence, while incense is burning on the elevated pedestal of honor, toko; and, after the thoughts have thus been collected, conversation begins. It is confined to abstract subjects; but politics are not always excluded.

[Reward of valor.] The value of the vessels employed in these assemblages is very considerable; indeed, they do not fall short of the value of our most costly paintings; and Taikosama often rewarded his generals with vessels of the kind, instead of land, as was formerly the practice. After the last revolution some of the more eminent Daimios (princes) of the Mikado were rewarded with similar Cha-no-yu vessels, in acknowledgment of the aid rendered to him in regaining the throne of his ancestors. The best of them which I have seen were far from beautiful, simply being old, weather-worn, black or dark-brown jars, with pretty broad necks, for storing the tea in; tall cups of cracked Craquelé, either porcelain or earthenware, for drinking the infusion; and deep, broad cisterns; besides rusty old iron kettles with rings, for heating the water: but they were enwrapped in the most costly silken stuffs, and preserved in chests lacquered with gold. Similar old vessels are preserved amongst the treasures of the Mikado and the Tycoon, as well as in some of the temples, with all the care due to the most costly jewels, together with documents relating to their history.

[Yamtik and Visita Bicul.] From Libmánan I visited the mountain, Yamtik (Amtik, Hantu), [126] which consists of lime, and contains many caverns. Six hours westward by water, and one hour S.S.W. on foot, brought us to the Visita Bícul, surrounded by a thousand little limestone hills; from which we ascended by a staircase of sinter in the bed of a brook, to a small cavern tenanted by multitudes of bats, and great long-armed spiders of the species Phrynus, known to be poisonous. [127]

[Ant activities.] A thick branch of a tree lying across the road was perforated from end to end by a small ant. Many of the natives did not venture to enter the cave; and those who did enter it were in a state of great agitation, and were careful first to enjoin upon each other the respect to be observed by them towards Calapnitan. [128]

[Superstitions.] One of the principal rules was to name no object in the cave without adding “Lord Calapnitan’s.” Thus they did not bluntly refer to either gun or torch, but devoutly said “Lord C.’s gun,” or “Lord C.’s torch.” At a thousand paces from this lies another cave, “San Vicente,” which contains the same insects, but another kind of bat. Both caves are only of small extent; but in Libmánan a very large stalactite cave was mentioned to me, the description of which, notwithstanding the fables mixed up with it, could not but have a true foundation. Our guides feigned ignorance of it; and it was not till after two days’ wandering about, and after many debates, that they came to the decision, since I adhered to my purpose, to encounter the risk; when, to my great astonishment, they conducted me back to Calapnitan’s cave; from which a narrow fissure, hidden by a projection of rock, led into one of the most gorgeous stalactite caves in the world. Its floor was everywhere firm and easy to the tread, and mostly dry; and it ran out into several branches, the entire length of which probably exceeds a mile; and the whole series of royal chambers and cathedrals, with the columns, pulpits, and altars which it contained, reflected no discredit upon its description. No bones or other remains were to be found in it. My intention to return subsequently with laborers, for the purpose of systematic excavation, was not carried out.

[Unsuccessful climb.] I was not lucky enough to reach the summit of the mountain, upon which was to be found a lake, “from where else should the water come?” For two days we labored strenuously at different points to penetrate the thick forest; but the guide, who had assured the priest in Libmanan that he knew the road, now expressed himself to the contrary effect. I therefore made the fellow, who had hitherto been unburdened, now carry a part of the baggage as a punishment; but he threw it off at the next turning of the road and escaped, so that we were compelled to return. Stags and wild boars are very numerous in these forests; and they formed the principal portion of our meals, at which, at the commencement of our expedition, we had as many as thirty individuals; who, in the intervals between them, affected to search for snails and insects for me, but with success not proportionate to their zeal.

[A clever pilfering servant.] Upon my departure from Daraga I took with me a lively little boy, who had a taste for the calling of a naturalist. In Libmanan he was suddenly lost, and with him, at the same time, a bundle of keys; and we looked for him in vain. The fact was, as I afterwards came to learn, that he went straight to Naga, and, identifying himself by showing the stolen keys, got the majordomo of my host to deliver to him a white felt hat; with which he disappeared. I had once seen him, with the hat on his head, standing before a looking-glass and admiring himself; and he could not resist the temptation to steal it.

[Trip with Internal Revenue Collector.] In the beginning of March I had the pleasure of accompanying the Collector (Administrador) of Camarines and a Spanish head-man, who were travelling across Daet and Mauban to the chief town. At five p.m. we left Butungan on the Bicol River, two leagues below Naga, in a falúa of twelve oars, equipped with one 6-pounder and two 4-pounders, and reinforced by armed men; and about six we reached Cabusao, at the mouth of the Bicol, whence we put to sea about nine. The falua belonged to the collector of taxes, and had, in conjunction with another under the command of the alcalde, to protect the north coast of the province against smugglers and pirates, who at this time of the year are accustomed to frequent the hiding-places of the bay of San Miguel. Two similar gun-boats performed the duty on the south coast of the province.

[Four volcanos.] Both the banks of the Bicol River are flat, and expand into broad fields of rice; and to the east are simultaneously visible the beautiful volcanos of Mayon, Iriga, Malina, and Isarog.

At daybreak we reached the bar of Daet, and, after two hours’ travelling, the similarly named chief city of the province of North Camarines, where we found an excellent reception at the house of the alcalde, a polished Navarrese; marred only by the tame monkey, who should have welcomed the guests of his master, turning his back towards them with studiously discourteous gestures, and going towards the door. However, upon the majordomo placing a spirit flask preserving a small harmless snake on the threshold, the monkey sprang quickly back and concealed himself, trembling, behind his master. [A danceless ball.] In the evening there was a ball, but there were no dancers present. Some Filipinas, who had been invited, sat bashfully at one end of the apartment and danced with one another when called upon, without being noticed by the Spaniards, who conversed together at the other end.

[Spanish prejudice against bathing.] Our departure hence was delayed by festivities and sudden showers for about two days, after which the spirited horses of the alcalde carried us within an hour on a level road north-west, to Talisáy, and in another hour to Indang, where a bath and breakfast were ready. Up to this time I had never seen a bath-room in the house of a Spaniard; whereas with the Northern Europeans it is never wanting. The Spaniards appear to regard the bath as a species of medicine, to be used only with caution; many, even to the present day, look upon it as an institution not quite Christian. At the time of the Inquisition frequent bathing, it is known, was a characteristic of the Moors, and certainly was not wholly free from danger. In Manila, only those who live near the Pasig are the exceptions to the rule; and there the good or bad practice prevails of whole families bathing, in the company of their friends, in the open air.

[An unfortified fort.] The road ends at Indáng. In two boats we went down the river till stopped by a bar, and there at a well-supplied table prepared for us by the kindness of the alcalde we awaited the horses which were being brought thither along a bad road by our servants. In the waste of Barre a tower, surrounded by two or three fishermen’s huts and as many camarines, has been erected against the Moros, who, untempted by the same, seldom go so far westward, for it consists only of an open hut covered with palm-leaves–a kind of parasol–supported on stakes as thick as one’s arm and fifteen feet high; and the two cannons belonging to it ought, for security, to be buried. We followed the sea-shore, which is composed of silicious sand, and covered with a carpet of creeping shore plants in full bloom. On the edge of the wood, to the left, were many flowering shrubs and pandanus with large scarlet-red flowers. After an hour we crossed the river Longos in a ferry, and soon came to the spur of a crystalline chain of mountains, which barred our road and extended itself into the sea as Point Longos. The horses climbed it with difficulty, and we found the stream on the other side already risen so high that we rode knee-deep in the water. After sunset we crossed singly, with great loss of time, in a miserable ferry-boat, over the broad mouth of the Pulundaga, where a pleasant road through a forest led us, in fifteen minutes, over the mountain-spur, Malanguit, which again projected itself right across our path into the sea, to the mouth of the Paracale. The long bridge here was so rotten that we were obliged to lead the horses over at wide intervals apart; and on the further side lies the place called Paracale, from which my companions continued their journey across Mauban to Manila.

[Red lead.] Paracale and Mambulao are two localities well known to all mineralogists, from the red lead ore occurring there. On the following morning I returned to Longos; which consists of only a few miserable huts inhabited by gold-washers, who go about almost naked, probably because they are laboring during the greater part of the day in the water; but they are also very poor.

[Gold mining.] The soil is composed of rubbish, decomposed fragments of crystalline rock, rich in broken pieces of quartz. The workmen make holes in the ground two and one-half feet long, two and one-half broad, and to thirty feet deep. At three feet below the surface the rock is generally found to contain gold, the value increasing down to eighteen feet of depth, and then again diminishing, though these proportions are very uncertain, and there is much fruitless search. The rock is carried out of the holes in baskets, on ladders of bamboo, and the water in small pails; but in the rainy season the holes cannot possibly be kept free from water, as they are situated on the slope of the mountain, and are filled quicker than they can be emptied. The want of apparatus for discharging water also accounts for the fact that the pits are not dug deeper.

[A primitive rock breaker.] The breaking of the auriferous rock is effected with two stones; of which one serves as anvil, and the other as hammer. The former, which is slightly hollowed in the center, is laid flat upon the ground; and the latter, four by eight by eight inches in dimensions, and therefore of about twenty-five pounds weight, is made fast with rattan to the top of a slender young tree, which lies in a sloping position in a fork, and at its opposite end is firmly fixed in the ground. The workman with a jerk forces the stone that serves for hammer down upon the auriferous rock, and allows it to be again carried upwards by the elasticity of the young tree.

[An arrastre.] The crushing of the broken rock is effected with an apparatus equally crude. A thick stake rises from the center of a circular support of rough-hewn stones (which is enclosed in a circle of exactly similar stones) having an iron pin at its top, to which a tree, bent horizontally in the middle, and downwards at the two ends, is fixed. Being set in motion by two carabaos attached in front, it drags several heavy stones, which are bound firmly to it with rattans, round the circle, and in this manner crushes the broken rock, which has been previously mixed with water, to a fine mud. The same apparatus is employed by the Mexican gold-washers, under the name of Rastra. [Gold-washing.] The washing-out of the mud is done by women. They kneel before a small wooden gutter filled with water up to the brim, and provided with boards, sloping downwards, in front of the space assigned to each woman; the gutter being cut out at these places in a corresponding manner, so that a very slender stream of water flows evenly across its whole breadth downwards over the board. With her hand the work-woman distributes the auriferous mud over the board, which, at the lower edge, is provided with a cross-piece; and, when the light sand is washed away, there remains a stratum consisting chiefly of iron, flint, and ore, which is taken up from time to time with a flat piece of board, and laid on one side; and at the end of the day’s work, it is washed out in a flat wooden dish (batea), and, for the last time, in a coco-shell; when, if they are lucky, a fine yellow dust shows itself on the edge. [129] During the last washing the slimy juice of the Gogo is added to the water, the fine heavy sand remaining suspended therein for a longer time than in pure water, and thus being more easily separated from the gold-dust. [130]

[The clean-up.] It is further to be mentioned that the refuse from the pits is washed at the upper end of the water-gutter, so that the sand adhering to the stones intended for pounding may deposit its gold in the gutter or on the washing-board. In order to melt the gold thus obtained into a lump, in which form it is bought by the dealers, it is poured into a small heart-shell (cardium), and, after being covered with a handful of charcoal, placed in a potsherd; when a woman blows through a narrow bamboo-cane on the kindled coals, and in one minute the work is completed. [131]

The result of many inquiries shows the profit per head to average not more than one and one-half reals daily. Further to the south-west from here, on the mountain Malaguit, are seen the ruins of a Spanish mining company; a heap of rubbish, a pit fifty feet deep, a large house fallen to ruin, and a stream-work four feet broad and six feet high. The mountain consists of gneiss much decomposed, with quartz veins in the stream-work, with the exception of the bands of quartz, which are of almost pure clay earth with sand.

[Edible bird’s nests.] On the sides hung some edible nests of the salangane, but not of the same kind as those found in the caverns on the south coast of Java. These, which are of much less value than the latter, are only occasionally collected by the Chinese dealers, who reckon them nominally at five cents each. We also found a few of the nest-building birds (Collocalia troglodytes, Gray). [132]

[Abandoned workings.] Around lay so large a number of workings, and there were so many little abandoned pits, wholly or half fallen to ruin, and more or less grown over, that it was necessary to step between with great caution. Some of them were still being worked after the mode followed at Lóngos, but with a few slight improvements. The pits are twice as large as those excavated there, and the rock is lifted, up by a pulley to a cylindrical framework of bamboo, which is worked by the feet of a lad who sits on a bank higher up.

[Lead and mica.] Ten minutes north of the village of Malaguit is a mountain in which lead-glance and red lead have been obtained; the rock consisting of micaceous gneiss much decomposed. There is a stream-work over one hundred feet in length. The rock appears to have been very poor.

The highly prized red-lead ores have been found on the top of this same hill, N. 30° W. from the village. The quarry was fallen to ruin and flooded with rain, so that only a shallow hollow in the ground remained visible; and after a long search amongst the bushes growing there a few small fragments were found, on which [Chrome-lead ore.] chrome-lead ore was still clearly to be recognized. Captain Sabino, the former governor of Paracale, a well-informed Filipino, who, at the suggestion of the alcalde, accompanied me, had for some years caused excavations to be carried on, in order to find specimens for a speculator who had in view the establishment of a new mining company in Spain; but the specimens which were found had not been removed, as speculation in mines in the Philippines had, in the interval, fallen into discredit on the Exchange of Madrid; and as yet only a little box full of sand, out of a few small drusy cavities, has been fixed upon and pounded, to be sold as variegated writing-sand, after being carefully sifted.

[A pretty fan-palm.] A peculiarly beautiful fan-palm grows on this hill. Its stem is from thirty to forty feet high, cylindrical and dark-brown, with white rings a quarter of an inch broad at distances of four inches, and, at similar intervals, crown-shaped bands of thorns two inches long. Near the crown-leaf the stem passes into the richest brown of burnt sienna.

[Rooming in a powder-magazine.] Notwithstanding a very bad road, a pleasant ride carried us from Paracale to the sea-shore, and, through a beautiful wood, to Mambulao, which lies W. by N. I alighted at the tribunal, and took up my lodgings in the room where the ammunition was kept, as being the only one that could be locked. For greater security, the powder was stored in a corner and covered with carabao-hide; but such were my arrangements that my servant carried about a burning tallow light, and his assistant a torch in the hand. When I visited the Filipino priest, I was received in a friendly manner by a young girl who, when I offered my hand, thanked me with a bow, saying, “Tengo las sarnas” ("I have the itch”). The malady, which is very common in the Philippines, appears to have its focus in this locality.

[Gneiss and crystalline rock.] A quarter of a league N.N.E. we came upon the ruins of another mining undertaking, the Ancla de Oro. Shaft and water-cutting had fallen in, and were thickly grown over; and only a few of the considerable buildings were still standing; and even those were ready to fall. In a circle some natives were busily employed, in their manner, collecting grains of gold. The rock is gneiss, weathered so much that it cannot be recognized; and at a thousand paces on the other side is a similar one, clearly crystalline.

[Hornblende and hornblende slate.] Half a league N. by E. from Mambulao is the lead-mountain of Dinianan. Here also all the works were fallen in, choked with mud and grown over. Only after a long search were a few fragments found with traces of red-lead ore. This mountain consists of hornblende rock; in one place, of hornblende slate, with very beautiful large crystals.

[Copper.] A league and a half S. from Mambulao a shallow hollow in the ground marks the site of an old copper-mine, which must have been eighty-four feet deep. Copper ores are found in several places in Luzon; and specimens of solid copper were obtained by me at the Bay of Luyang, N. of the Enseñada de Patag, in Caramuan.

[Unsuccessful copper-mining.] Very considerable beds of copper ore occur in Mancayán, in the district of Lepanto, and in the central mountain-range of Luzon between Cagayán and Ilocos, which have been worked by a mining company in Manila since 1850; but the operations seem to have been most unsuccessful. In 1867 the society expended a considerable capital in the erection of smelting furnaces and hydraulic machinery; but until a very recent date, owing to local difficulties, particularly the want of roads, it has not produced any copper. [133]

[Paying minus dividends.] In 1869 I heard, in London, that the undertaking had been given up. According to my latest information, however, it is certainly in progress; but the management have never, I believe, secured a dividend. The statement of 1872, in fact, shows a loss, or, as the Spaniards elegantly say, a dividendo pasivo.

[Igorot-mining successful.] What Europeans yet appear unable to accomplish, the wild Igorots, who inhabit that trackless range of mountains, have carried on successfully for centuries, and to a proportionally larger extent; and this is the more remarkable as the metal in that district occurs only in the form of flints, which even in Europe can be made profitable only by particular management, and not without expense.

[Long-established and considerable.] The copper introduced into commerce by the Igorots from 1840 to 1855, partly in a raw state, partly manufactured, is estimated at three hundred piculs yearly. The extent of their excavations, and the large existing masses of slag, also indicate the activity of their operations for a long period of time.

[Copper kettles attributed to Negritos.] In the Ethnographical Museum at Berlin is a copper kettle made by those wild tribes. Meyer, who brought it, states that it was made by the Negritos in the interior of the island, and certainly with hammers of porphyry, as they have no iron; and that he further found, in the collection of the Captain General of the Philippines, a large shallow kettle of three and one-half feet in diameter, which had been bought for only three dollars; whence it may be inferred that, in the interior of the island, the copper occurs in large masses, and probably solid; for how could those rude, uncultivated negritos understand the art of smelting copper?

[Copper-working a pre-Spanish art.] The locality of these rich quarries was still unknown to the Governor, although the copper implements brought thence had, according to an official statement of his in 1833, been in use in Manila over two centuries. It is now known that the copper-smiths are not Negritos but Igorots; and there can be no question that they practiced this art, and the still more difficult one of obtaining copper from flint, for a long period perhaps previous to the arrival of the Spaniards. They may possibly have learnt them from the Chinese or Japanese. The chief engineer, Santos [134], and many others with him, are of opinion that this race is descended from the Chinese or Japanese, from whom he insists that it acquired not only its features (several travellers mention the obliquely placed eyes of the Igorots), its idols, and some of its customs, but also the art of working in copper. At all events, the fact that a wild people, living isolated in the mountains, should have made such progress in the science of smelting, is of so great interest that a description of their procedure by Santos (essentially only a repetition of an earlier account by Hernandez, in the Revista Minera, i. 112) will certainly be acceptable.

[The Igorots’ Method.] The present mining district acquired by the society mentioned, the Sociedad Minero-metalurgica Cantabrofilipina de Mancayan, was divided amongst the Igorots into larger or smaller parcels strictly according to the number of the population of the adjacent villages, whose boundaries were jealously watched; and the possessions of each separate village were again divided between certain families; whence it is that those mountain districts exhibit, at the present day, the appearance of a honeycomb. To obtain the ore, they made cavities, in which they lighted fires in suitable spots, for the purpose of breaking the rock into pieces by means of the elasticity of the heated water contained in the crevices, with the additional assistance of iron implements. The first breaking-up of the ore was done in the stream-work itself, and the dead heaps lay piled up on the ground, so that, in subsequent fires, the flame of the pieces of wood always reached the summit; and by reason of the quality of the rock, and the imperfection of the mode of procedure, very considerable down-falls frequently occurred. The ores were divided into rich and quartziferous; the former not being again melted, but the latter being subjected to a powerful and persistent roasting, during which, after a part of the sulphur, antimony, and arsenic had been exhaled, a kind of distillation of sulphate of copper and sulphate of iron took place, which appeared as “stone,” or in balls on the surface of the quartz, and could be easily detached. [135]

[The Smelter.] The furnace or smelting apparatus consisted of a round hollow in clayey gound, thirty centimeters in diameter and fifteen deep; with which was connected a conical funnel of fire-proof stone, inclined at an angle of 30°, carrying up two bamboo-canes, which were fitted into the lower ends of two notched pine-stems; in these two slips, covered all over with dry grass or feathers, moved alternately up and down, and produced the current required for the smelting.

[Smelting.] When the Igorots obtained black copper or native copper by blasting, they prevented loss (by oxidation) by setting up a crucible of good fire-proof clay in the form of a still; by which means it was easier for them to pour the metal into the forms which it would acquire from the same clay. The furnace being arranged, they supplied it with from eighteen to twenty kilograms of rich or roasted ore, which, according to the repeated experiments of Hernandez, contained twenty per cent of copper; and they proceeded quite scientifically, always exposing the ore at the mouth of the funnel, and consequently to the air-drafts, and placing the coals at the sides of the furnace, which consisted of loose stones piled one over another to the height of fifty centimeters. The fire having been kindled and the blowing apparatus, already described, in operation, thick clouds of white, yellow, and orange-yellow smoke were evolved from the partial volatilization of the sulphur, arsenic, and antimony, for the space of an hour; but as soon as only sulphurous acid was formed, and the heat by this procedure had attained its highest degree, the blowing was discontinued and the product taken out. This consisted of a dross, or, rather, of the collected pieces of ore themselves, which, on account of the flinty contents of the stones composing the funnel, were transformed by the decomposition of the sulphurous metal into a porous mass, and which could not be converted into dross nor form combinations with silicious acid, being deficient in the base as well as in the requisite heat; and also of a very impure “stone,” of from four to five kilograms weight, and containing from fifty to sixty per cent of copper.

[The copper “stone”.] Several of these “stones” were melted down together for the space of about fifteen hours, in a powerful fire; and by this means a great portion of the three volatile substances above named was again evolved; after which they placed them, now heated red-hot, in an upright position, but so as to be in contact with the draught; the coals, however, being at the sides of the furnace. After blowing for an hour or half-an-hour, they thus obtained, as residuum, a silicate of iron with antimony and traces of arsenic, a “stone" containing from seventy to seventy-five per cent of copper, which they took off in very thin strips, at the same time using refrigerating vessels; and at the bottom of the hollow there remained, according as the mass was more or less freed from sulphur, a larger or smaller quantity (always, however, impure) of black copper.

[Purifying the product.] The purified stones obtained by this second process were again made red-hot by placing them between rows of wood, in order that they might not melt into one another before the fire had freed them from impurities.

The black copper obtained from the second operation, and the stones which were re-melted at the same time, were then subjected to a third process in the same furnace (narrowed by quarry stones and provided with a crucible); which produced a residuum of silicious iron and black copper, which was poured out into clay moulds, and in this shape came into commerce. This black copper contained from ninety-two to ninety-four per cent of copper, and was tinged by a carbonaceous compound of the same metal known by its yellow color, and the oxide on the surface arising from the slow cooling, which will occur notwithstanding every precaution; and the surface so exposed to oxidation they beat with green twigs. When the copper, which had been thus extracted with so much skill and patience by the Igorots, was to be employed in the manufacture of kettles, pipes, and other domestic articles, or for ornament, it was submitted to another process of purification, which differed from the preceding only in one particular, that the quantity of coals was diminished and the air-draught increased according as the process of smelting drew near to its termination, which involved the removal of the carbonaceous compound by oxidation. Santos found, by repeated experiment, that even from ores of the mean standard of twenty per cent, only from eight to ten per cent of black copper was extracted by the third operation; so that between eight to twelve per cent still remained in the residuum or porous quartz of the operation.

[Tagalog women traders.] It was difficult to procure the necessary means of transport for my baggage on the return journey to Paracale, the roads being so soaked by the continuous rains that no one would venture his cattle for the purpose. In Mambulao the influence of the province on its western border is very perceptible, and Tagalog is understood almost better than Bicol; the Tagalog element being introduced amongst the population by women, who with their families come here, from Lucban and Mauban, in the pursuit of trade. They buy up gold, and import stuffs and other wares in exchange. The gold acquired is commonly from fifteen to sixteen carats, and a mark determines its quality. The dealers pay on the average $11 per ounce; but when, as is usually the case, it is [Miners uncertain returns.] offered in smaller quantities than one ounce, only $10. [136] They weigh with small Roman scales, and have no great reputation for honesty.

North Camarines is thinly inhabited, the population of the mining districts having removed after the many undertakings which were artificially called into existence by the mining mania had been ruined. The goldwashers are mostly dissolute and involved in debt, and continually expecting rich findings which but very seldom occur, and which, when they do occur, are forthwith dissipated;–a fact which will acount for champagne and other articles of luxury being found in the shops of the very poor villagers.

Malaguit and Matango, during the dry season, are said to be connected by an extremely good road; but, when we passed, the two places were separated by a quagmire into which the horses sank up to their middle.

[Labo.] In Labo, a little village on the right bank of the river Labo (which rises in the mountain of the same name), the conditions to which we have adverted are repeated–vestiges of the works of former mining companies fast disappearing, and, in the midst, little pits being worked by the natives. Red lead has not been found here, but gold has been, and especially “platinum,” which some experiments have proved to be lead-glance. The mountain Labo appears from its bell-shape and the strata exposed in the river bed to consist of trachytic hornblende. Half a league W.S.W., after wading through mud a foot deep, we reached the mountain Dallas where lead-glance and gold were formerly obtained by a mining company; and to the present day gold is obtained by a few natives in the usual mode.

[Wild Cat Mining.] Neither in the latter province, nor in Manila, could I acquire more precise information respecting the histories of the numerous unfortunate mining enterprises. Thus much, however, appears certain, that they were originated only by speculators, and never properly worked with sufficient means. They therefore, of necessity, collapsed so soon as the speculators ceased from their operations.

[Small output.] North Camarines yields no metal with the exception of the little gold obtained by the natives in so unprofitable a manner. The king of Spain at first received a fifth, and then a tenth, of the produce; but the tax subsequently ceased. In Morga’s time the tenth amounted on an average to $10,000 ("which was kept quite secret”); the profit, consequently, to above $100,000. Gemelli Carreri was informed by the governor of Manila that gold to the value of $200,000 was collected annually without the help of either fire or quicksilver, and that Paracale, in particular, was rich in gold. No data exist from which I could estimate the actual rate of produce; and the answers to several inquiries deserve no mention. The produce is, at all events, very small, as well on account of the incompleteness of the mode of procedure as of the irregularity of labor, for the natives work only when they are compelled by necessity.

[Indang.] I returned down the stream in a boat to Indang, a comparatively flourishing place, of smaller population but more considerable trade than Daet; the export consisting principally of abacá, and the import of rice.

[Storms.] An old mariner, who had navigated this coast for many years, informed me that the same winds prevail from Daet as far as Cape Engaño, the north-east point of Luzon. From October to March the north-east wind prevails, the monsoon here beginning with north winds, which are of short duration and soon pass into the north-east; and in January and February the east winds begin and terminate the monsoon. The heaviest rains fall from October to January, and in October typhoons sometimes occur. Beginning from the north or north-east, they pass to the north-west, where they are most violent; and then to the north and east, sometimes as far as to the south-east, and even to the south. In March and April, and sometimes in the beginning of May, shifting winds blow, which bring in the south-west monsoon; but the dry season, of which April and May are the driest months, is uninterrupted by rain. Thunder storms occur from June to November; most frequently in August. During the south-west monsoon the sea is very calm; but in the middle of the north-east monsoon all navigation ceases on the east coast. In the outskirts of Baler rice is sown in October, and reaped in March and April. Mountain rice is not cultivated.


Preface  •  Chapter I  •  Chapter II  •  Chapter III  •  Chapter IV  •  Chapter V  •  Chapter VI  •  Chapter VII  •  Chapter VIII  •  Chapter IX  •  Chapter X  •  Chapter XI  •  Chapter XII  •  Chapter XIII  •  Chapter XIV  •  Chapter XV  •  Chapter XVI  •  Chapter XVII  •  Chapter XVIII  •  Chapter XIX  •  Chapter XX  •  Chapter XXI  •  Chapter XXII  •  Chapter XXIII  •  Chapter XXIV  •  Chapter XXV  •  Chapter XXVI  •  Chapter XXVII