The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
By Fedor Jagor et al
Public Domain Books
Manila in 1842
By Com. Charles Wilkes, U.S.N.
(Narrative of U. S. Exploring Expedition, Vol. V, Chaps. 8 and 9.)
[Port rules.] At daylight, on January 13, we were again under way, with a light air, and at nine o’clock reached the roadstead, where we anchored in six fathoms water, with good holding-ground. Being anxious to obtain our letters, which, we were informed at Oahu, had been sent to Manila, I immediately dispatched two boats to procure them. On their way to the mole, they were stopped by the captain of the port, Don Juan Salomon, who requested them, in a polite manner, to return, and informed the officers that, agreeably to the rules of the port, no boat was permitted to land until the visit of the health-officer had been made, etc.
[Official courtesies.] The captain of the port, in a large barge, was soon seen pulling off in company with the boats. He boarded us with much ceremony, and a few moments sufficed to satisfy him of the good health of the crew, when he readily gave his assent to our visiting the shore. Every kind of assistance was offered me, on the part of the government, and he, in the most obliging manner, gave us permission to go and come when we pleased, with the simple request that the boats should wear our national flag, that they might at all times be known, and thus be free from any interruption by the guards. The boats were again dispatched for the consul and letters, and after being anxiously watched for, returned; every one on board ship expecting his wishes to be gratified with news from home; but, as is usual on such occasions, the number of the happy few bore no comparison to that of the many who were disappointed.
Our vice-consul, Josiah Moore, Esq., soon paid us a visit, and gave us a pressing invitation to take up our quarters on shore while we remained. To this gentleman and Mr. Sturges I am greatly indebted for much of the information that will be detailed in the following chapter.
[American hemp ships.] A number of vessels were lying in the roads, among which were several Americans loading with hemp. There was also a large English East Indiaman, manned by Lascars, whose noise rendered her more like a floating Bedlam than any thing else to which I can liken it.
[A Spanish oriental city.] The view of the city and country around Manila partakes both of a Spanish and an Oriental character. The sombre and heavy-looking churches, with their awkward towers; the long lines of batteries mounted with heavy cannon; the massive houses, with ranges of balconies; and the light and airy cottage, elevated on posts, situated in the luxuriant groves of tropical trees–all excite a desire to become better acquainted with the country.
[Surroundings.] Manila is situated on an extensive plain, gradually swelling into distant hills, beyond which, again, mountains rise in the back ground to the height of several thousand feet. The latter are apparently clothed with vegetation to their summits. The city is in strong contrast to this luxuriant scenery, bearing evident marks of decay, particularly in the churches, whose steeples and tile roofs have a dilapidated look. The site of the city does not appear to have been well chosen, it having apparently been selected entirely for the convenience of commerce, and the communication that the outlet of the lake affords for the batteaux that transport the produce from the shores of the Laguna de Bay to the city.
[Canals.] There are many arms or branches to this stream, which have been converted into canals; and almost any part of Manila may now be reached in a banca.
In the afternoon, in company with Captain Hudson, I paid my first visit to Manila. The anchorage considered safest for large ships is nearly three miles from the shore, but smaller vessels may lie much nearer, and even enter the canal; a facility of which a number of these take advantage, to accomplish any repairs they may have occasion to make.
[Typhoons.] The canal, however, is generally filled with coasting vessels, batteaux from the lake, and lighters for the discharge of the vessels lying in the roads. The bay of Manila is safe, excepting during the change of the monsoons, when it is subject to the typhoons of the China Seas, within whose range it lies. These blow at times with much force, and cause great damage. Foreign vessels have, however, kept this anchorage, and rode out these storms in safety; but native as well as Spanish vessels, seek at these times the port of Cavite, about three leagues to the southwest, at the entrance of the bay, which is perfectly secure. Here the government dockyard is situated, and this harbor is consequently the resort of the few gunboats and galleys that are stationed here.
[Twin piers.] The entrance to the canal or river Pasig is three hundred feet wide, and is enclosed between two well-constructed piers, which extend for some distance into the bay. On the end of one of these is the light-house, and on the other a guard-house. The walls of these piers are about four feet above ordinary high water, and include the natural channel of the river, whose current sets out with some force, particularly when the ebb is making in the bay.
[Suburbs.] The suburbs, or Binondo quarter, contain more inhabitants than the city itself, and is the commercial town. They have all the stir and life incident to a large population actively engaged in trade, and in this respect the contrast with the city proper is great.
[Walled city.] The city of Manila is built in the form of a large segment of a circle, having the chord of the segment on the river: the whole is strongly fortified, with walls and ditches. The houses are substantially built after the fashion of the mother country. Within the walls are the governor’s palace, custom-house, treasury, admiralty, several churches, convents, and charitable institutions, a university, and the barracks for the troops; it also contains some public squares, on one of which is a bronze statue of Charles IV.
The city is properly deemed the court residence of these islands; and all those attached to the government, or who wish to be considered as of the higher circle, reside here; but foreigners are not permitted to do so. The houses in the city are generally of stone, plastered, and white or yellow washed on the outside. They are only two stories high, and in consequence cover a large space, being built around a patio or courtyard.
[Dwellings.] The ground-floors are occupied as storehouses, stables, and for porters’ lodges. The second story is devoted to the dining-halls and sleeping apartments, kitchens, bath-rooms, etc. The bed-rooms have the windows down to the floor, opening on wide balconies, with blinds or shutters. These blinds are constructed with sliding frames, having small squares of two inches filled in with a thin semi-transparent shell, a species of Placuna; the fronts of some of the houses have a large number of these small lights, where the females of the family may enjoy themselves unperceived.
[Business.] After entering the canal, we very soon found ourselves among a motley and strange population. On landing, the attention is drawn to the vast number of small stalls and shops with which the streets are lined on each side, and to the crowds of people passing to and fro, all intent upon their several occupations. The artisans in Manila are almost wholly Chinese; and all trades are local, so that in each quarter of the Binondo suburb the privilege of exclusive occupancy is claimed by some particular kinds of shops. In passing up the Escolta (which is the longest and main street in this district), the cabinet-makers, seen busily at work in their shops, are first met with; next to these come the tinkers and blacksmiths; then the shoe-makers, clothiers, fishmongers, haberdashers, etc. These are flanked by outdoor occupations; and in each quarter are numerous cooks, frying cakes, stewing, etc., in movable kitchens; while here and there are to be seen betel-nut sellers, either moving about to obtain customers, or taking a stand in some great thoroughfare. The moving throng, composed of carriers, waiters, messengers, etc., pass quietly and without any noise: they are generally seen with the Chinese umbrella, painted in many colors, screening themselves from the sun. The whole population wear slippers, and move along with a slipshod gait.
The Chinese are apparently far more numerous than the Malays, and the two races differ as much in character as in appearance: one is all activity, while the other is disposed to avoid all exertion. They preserve their distinctive character throughout, mixing but very little with each other, and are removed as far as possible in their civilities; the former, from their industry and perseverance, have almost monopolized all the lucrative employments among the lower orders, excepting the selling of fish and betel-nut, and articles manufactured in the provinces.
On shore, we were kindly received by Mr. Moore, who at once made us feel at home. The change of feeling that takes place in a transfer from shipboard in a hot climate, after a long cruise, to spacious and airy apartments, surrounded by every luxury that kind attentions can give, can be scarcely imagined by those who have not experienced it.
As we needed some repairs and supplies, to attend to these was my first occupation. Among the former, we required a heavy piece of blacksmith-work, to prepare which, we were obliged to send our armourers on shore. The only thing they could procure was a place for a forge; but coal, and every thing else, we had to supply from the ship. I mention these things to show that those in want of repairs must not calculate upon their being done at Manila with dispatch, if they can be accomplished at all.
[City of Manila.] The city government of Manila was established June 24, 1571, and the title under which it is designated is, “The celebrated and forever loyal city of Manila.” In 1595, the charter was confirmed by royal authority; and all the prerogatives possessed by other cities in the kingdom were conferred upon it in 1638. The members of the city council, by authority of the king, were constituted a council of advisement with the governor and captain-general. The city magistrates were also placed in rank next the judges; and in 1686 the jurisdiction of the city was extended over a radius of five leagues. In 1818, the members of the council were increased and ordered to assume the title of “Excellency.” Manila has been one of the most constantly loyal cities of the Spanish kingdom, and is, in consequence, considered to merit these additional royal favors to its inhabitants.
[Commerce.] In 1834, the Royal Tribunal of Commerce was instituted, to supersede the old consulate, which had been established since 1772, The Royal Tribunal of Commerce acts under the new commercial code, and possesses the same privileges of arbitration as the old consulate. It consists of a prior, two consuls, and four deputies, elected by the profession. The three first exercise consular jurisdiction, the other four superintend the encouragement of commerce. The “Junta de Comercio" (chamber of commerce) was formed in 1835. This junta consits of the Tribunal of Commerce, with four merchants, who are selected by the government, two of whom are removed annually. The prior of the Tribunal presides at the Junta, whose meetings are required to be held twice a month, or oftener if necessary, and upon days in which the Tribunal is not in session. The two courts being under the same influences, and having the same officers, little benefit is to be derived from their double action, and great complaints are made of the manner in which business is conducted in them.
[Magellan.] Of all her foreign possessions, the Philippines have cost Spain the least blood and labor. The honor of their discovery belongs to Magellan whose name is associated with the straits at the southern extremity of the American continent, but which has no memorial in these islands. Now that the glory which he gained by being the first to penetrate from the Atlantic to the Pacific, has been in some measure obliterated by the disuse of those straits by navigators, it would seem due to his memory that some spot among these islands should be set apart to commemorate the name of, him who made them known to Europe. This would be but common justice to the discoverer of a region which has been a source of so much honor and profit to the Spanish nation, who opened the vast expanse of the Pacific to the fleets of Europe, and who died fighting to secure the benefits of his enterprise to his king and country.
Magellan was killed at the island of Mactan, on April 26, 1521; and Duarte, the second in command, who succeeded him, imprudently accepting an invitation from the chief of Cebu to a feast, was, with twenty companions, massacred. Of all the Spaniards present, only one escaped. After these and various other misfortunes, only one vessel of the squadron, the Victoria, returned to Spain. Don Juan Sebastian del Cano, her commander, was complimented by his sovereign by a grant for his arms of a globe, with the proud inscription, commemorative of his being the first circumnavigator, “Primus Me Circumcedit.”
[Other expeditions.] Two years afterwards, a second expedition was fitted out, under the command of Loaisa, who died after they had passed through the Straits of Magellan, when they had been a year on their voyage. The command then fell upon Sebastian, who died in four days after his predecessor. Salazar succeeded to the command, and reached the Ladrone Islands, but shortly after leaving there he died also. They came in sight of Mindanao, but contrary winds obliged them to go to the Moluccas. When arrived at the Portuguese settlements, contentions and jealousies arose, and finally all the expedition was dispersed, and the fate of all but one of the vessels has become doubtful. None but the small tender returned, which, after encountering great difficulties, reached New Spain.
The third expedition was fitted out by Cortes, then viceroy of Mexico, and the command of it given to Saavedra. This sailed from the port of Silguattanjo, on the 31st of October, 1528, and stopped at the Ladrone Islands, of which it took possession for the crown of Spain. It afterwards went to Mindanao, and then pursued its voyage to Timor, where part of the expedition of Loaisa was found remaining. From Timor they made two attempts to return to New Spain, both of which failed. The climate soon brought on disease, which carried off a great number, and among them Saavedra. Thus the whole expedition was broken up, and the survivors found their way to the Portuguese settlements.
The fourth expedition was sent from New Spain, when under the government of Don Antonio de Mendoza, for the purpose of establishing a trade with the new islands, and it received orders not to visit the Moluccas. This expedition sailed in 1542, under the command of Villalobos. It reached the Philippine Islands without accident, and Villalobos gave them that name after Philip II, then prince of Asturias. Notwithstanding his positive instructions to the contrary, he was obliged to visit the Moluccas, and met the same treatment from the Portuguese that had been given to all whom they believed had any intention to interfere in their spice trade. The squadron touched at Amboina, where Villalobos died, an event which caused the breaking up of the expedition; and the few Spaniards that remained embarked in the Portuguese vessels to return home.
The fifth and last expedition was ordered by Philip II to be sent from Mexico, when under the government of Don Luis de Velasco, for the final conquest and settlement of the Philippines. With this expedition was sent Andres Urdaneta, a friar, whose reputation stood very high as a cosmographer: he had belonged to the ill-fated expedition of Loaisa. This was the largest that had yet been fitted out for this purpose, numbering five vessels and about four hundred men. The command of it was intrusted to [Legaspi.] Legaspi, under whom it sailed from the port of Natividad, on November 21, 1564, and upon whom was conferred the title of governor and adelantado of the conquered lands, with the fullest powers. On the 13th of February, 1565, he arrived at the island of Tandaya, one of the Philippines: from thence he went to Leyte; there he obtained the son of a powerful chief as a guide, through whom he established peace with several of the native rulers, who thereafter aided the expedition with all the means in their power. At Bohol they built the first church. There he met and made peace with a chief of Luzon, with whom he went to that island. (Facts here are confused.–C.)
He now (April, 1565) took possession of all the island in the name of the crown of Spain, and became their first governor. In this conquest, motives different from those which governed them on the American continent, seemed to have influenced the Spaniards. Instead of carrying on a cruel war against the natives, they here pursued the policy of encouraging and fostering their industry. Whether they felt that this policy was necessary for the success of their undertaking, or were influenced by the religious fathers who were with them, is uncertain; but their measures seem to have been dictated by a desire to promote peace and secure the welfare of the inhabitants. There may be another cause for this course of action, namely, the absence of the precious metals, which held out no inducement to those thirsting for inordinate gain. This may have had its weight in exempting the expedition in its outset from the presence of those avaricious spirits which had accompanied other Spanish expeditions, and been the means of marking their progress with excessive tyranny, bloodshed, and violence. It is evident to one who visits the Philippines that some other power besides the sword has been at work in them; the natives are amalgamated with the Spaniards, and all seem disposed to cultivate the land and foster civilization. None of the feeling that grows out of conquest is to be observed in these islands; the two races are identified now in habits, manners, and religion, and their interests are so closely allied that they feel their mutual dependence upon each other.
The establishment of the new constitution in Spain in the year 1825 has had a wonderful effect upon these colonies, whose resources have within the last ten years been developed, and improvements pushed forward with a rapid step. Greater knowledge and more liberal views in the rulers are alone wanting to cause a still more rapid advance in the career of prosperity.
As our visit was to Luzon, we naturally obtained more personal information respecting it than the other islands. We learned that the northern peninsula  was composed of granite and recent volcanic rocks, together with secondary and tertiary deposits, while the southern peninsula is almost wholly volcanic.
The northern contains many valuable mines of gold, lead, copper, and iron, besides coal. A number of specimens of these, and the rocks which contain them, were presented to the Expedition by Señores Araria and Roxas of Manila.
So far as our information and observations went, the whole of the Philippine Islands are of similar geological formation. In some of the islands the volcanic rock prevails, while in others coal and the metalliferous deposits predominate. On some of them the coal-beds form part of the cliffs along the shore; on others, copper is found in a chlorite and talcose slate. The latter is more particularly the case with Luzon, and the same formation extends to Mindoro. Much iron occurs on the mountains. Thus among the (Upland) natives, who are yet unsubdued by the Spaniards, and who inhabit these mountains, it is found by them of so pure a quality that it is manufactured into swords and cleavers. These are, occasionally, obtained by the Spaniards in their excursions into the interior against these bands.
[Tufa.] The country around Manila is composed of tufa of a light gray color, which being soft and easily worked, is employed as the common building material in the city. It contains, sometimes, scoria and pumice, in pieces of various sizes, besides, occasionally, impressions of plants, with petrified woods. These are confined to recent species, and include palms, etc.
This tufa forms one of the remarkable features of the volcanoes of the Philippine Islands, showing a strong contrast between them and those of the Pacific isles, which have ejected little else than lava and scoria.
Few portions of the globe seem to be so much the seat of internal fires, or to exhibit the effects of volcanic action so strongly as the Philippines. During our visit, it was not known that any of the volcanoes were in action; but many of them were smoking, particularly that in the district of Albay, called Isaroc. Its latest eruption was in the year 1839; but this did little damage compared with that of 1814, which covered several villages, and the country for a great distance around, with ashes. This mountain is situated to the south-east of Manila one hundred and fifty miles, and is said to be a perfect cone, with a crater at its apex.
[Resources.] It does not appear that the islands are much affected by earth-quakes, although some have occasionally occurred that have done damage to the churches at Manila.
The coal which we have spoken of is deemed of value; it has a strong resemblance to the bituminous coal of our own country, possesses a bright lustre, and appears very free from all woody texture when fractured. It is found associated with sandstone, which contains many fossils. Lead and copper are reported as being very abundant; gypsum and limestone occur in some districts. From this, it will be seen that these islands have everything in the mineral way to constitute them desirable possessions.
With such mineral resources, and a soil capable of producing the most varied vegetation of the tropics, a liberal policy is all that the country lacks. The products of the Philippine Islands consist of sugar, coffee, hemp, indigo, rice, tortoise-shell, hides, ebony, saffron-wood, sulphur, cotton, cordage, silk, pepper, cocoa, wax, and many other articles. In their agricultural operations the people are industrious, although much labor is lost by the use of defective implements. The plough, of very simple construction, has been adopted from the Chinese; it has no coulter, the share is flat, and being turned partly to one side, answers, in a certain degree, the purpose of a mould-board. This rude implement is sufficient for the rich soils, where the tillage depends chiefly upon the harrow, in constructing which a thorny species of bamboo is used. The harrow is formed of five or six pieces of this material, on which the thorns are left, firmly fastened together. It answers its purpose well, and is seldom out of order. A wrought-iron harrow, that was introduced by the Jesuits, is used for clearing the ground more effectually, and more particularly for the purpose of extirpating a troublesome grass, that is known by the name of cogon (a species of Andropogon), of which it is very difficult to rid the fields. The bolo or long-knife, a basket, and hoe, complete the list of implements, and answer all the purposes of our spades, etc.
[Draft animals.] The buffalo was used until within a few years exclusively in their agricultural operations, and they have lately taken to the use of the ox; but horses are never used. The buffalo, from the slowness of his motions, and his exceeding restlessness under the heat of the climate, is ill adapted to agricultural labor; but the natives are very partial to them, notwithstanding they occasion them much labor and trouble in bathing them during the great heat. This is absolutely necessary, or the animal becomes so fretful as to be unfit for use. If it were not for this, the buffalo would, notwithstanding his slow pace, be most effective in agricultural operations; he requires little food, and that of the coarsest kind; his strength surpasses that of the stoutest ox, and he is admirably adapted for the rice or paddy fields. They are very docile when used by the natives, and even children can manage them; but it is said they have a great antipathy to the whites, and all strangers. The usual mode of guiding them is by a small cord attached to the cartilage of the nose. The yoke rests on the neck before the shoulders, and is of simple construction. To this is attached whatever it may be necessary to draw, either by traces, shafts, or other fastenings. Frequently this animal may be seen with large bundles of bamboo lashed to them on each side. Buffaloes are to be met with on the lake with no more than their noses and eyes out of the water, and are not visible until they are approached within a few feet, when they cause alarm to the passengers by raising their large forms close to the boat. It is said that they resort to the lake to feed on a favorite grass that grows on its bottom in shallow water, and which they dive for. Their flesh is not eaten, except that of the young ones, for it is tough and tasteless. The milk is nutritious, and of a character between that of the goat and cow.
The general appearance of the buffalo is that of a hybrid of the bull and rhinoceros. Its horns do not rise upwards, are very close at the root, bent backwards, and of a triangular form, with a flat side above. One of the peculiarities of the buffalo is its voice, which is quite low, and in the minor key, resembling that of a young colt. It is as fond of mire as swine, and shows the consequence of recent wallowing, in being crusted over with mud. The skin is visible, being but thinly covered with hair; its color is usually that of a mouse; in some individuals darker.
[Rice.] Rice is, perhaps, of their agricultural products, the article upon which the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands most depend for food and profit; of this they have several different varieties; which the natives distinguish by their size and the shape of the grain: the birnambang, lamuyo, malagequit, bontot-cabayo, dumali, quinanda, bolohan, and tangi. The three first are aquatic; the five latter upland varieties. They each have their peculiar uses. The dumali is the early variety; it ripens in three months from planting, from which circumstance it derives its name: it is raised exclusively on the uplands. Although much esteemed, it is not extensively cultivated, as the birds and insects destroy a large part of the crop.
The malagequit is very much prized, and used for making sweet and fancy dishes; it becomes exceedingly glutinous, for which reason it is used in making whitewash, which it is said to cause to become of a brilliant white, and to withstand the weather. This variety is not, however, believed to be wholesome. There is also a variety of this last species which is used as food for horses, and supposed to be a remedy and preventive against worms.
The rice grounds or fields are laid out in squares, and surrounded by embankments, to retain the water of the rains or streams. After the rains have fallen in sufficient quantities to saturate the ground, a seed-bed is generally planted in one corner of the field, in which the rice is sown broadcast, about the month of June. The heavy rains take place in August, when the fields are ploughed, and are soon filled with water. The young plants are about this time taken from the seed-bed, their tops and roots trimmed, and then planted in the field by making holes in the ground with the fingers and placing four or five sprouts in each of them; in this tedious labor the poor women are employed, whilst the males are lounging in their houses or in the shade of the trees.
The harvest for the aquatic rice begins in December. It is reaped with small sickles, peculiar to the country, called yatap; to the back of these a small stick is fastened, by which they are held, and the stalk is forced upon it and cut. The spikes of rice are cut with this implement, one by one. In this operation, men, women, and children all take part.
The upland rice requires much more care and labor in its cultivation. The land must be ploughed three or four times, and all the turf and lumps well broken up by the harrow.
During its growth it requires to be weeded two or three times, to keep the weeds from choking the crop. The seed is sown broadcast in May. This kind of rice is harvested in November, and to collect the crop is still more tedious than in the other case, for it is always gathered earlier, and never reaped, in consequence of the grain not adhering to the ear. If it were gathered in any other way, the loss by transportation on the backs of buffaloes and horses, without any covering to the sheaf, would be so great as to dissipate a great portion of the crop.
It appears almost incredible that any people can remain in ignorance of a way of preventing so extravagant and wasteful a mode of harvesting. The government has been requested to prohibit it on account of the great expense it gives rise to; but whether any steps have ever been taken in the matter, I did not learn. It is said that not unfrequently a third part of the crop is lost, in consequence of the scarcity of laborers; while those who are disengaged will refuse to work, unless they receive one-third, and even one-half of the crop, to be delivered free of expense at their houses. This the planters are often obliged to give, or lose the whole crop. Nay, unless the harvest is a good onc, reapers are very unwilling to engage to take it even on these terms, and the entire crop is lost. The laborers, during the time of harvest, are supported by the planter, who is during that time exposed to great vexation, if not losses. The reapers are for the most part composed of the idle and vicious part of the population, who go abroad over the country to engage themselves in this employment, which affords a livelihood to the poorer classes; for the different periods at which the varieties of rice are planted and harvested, gives them work during a large portion of the year.
After the rice is harvested, there are different modes of treating it. Some of the proprietors take it home, where it is thrown into heaps, and left until it is desirable to separate it from the straw, when it is trodden out by men and women with their bare feet. For this operation, they usually receive another fifth of the rice.
Others stack it in a wet and green state, which subjects it to heat, from which cause the grain contracts a dark color, and an unpleasant taste and smell. The natives, however, impute these defects to the wetness of the season.
The crop of both the low and upland rice, is usually from thirty to fifty for one: this is on old land; but on that which is newly cleared or which has never been cultivated, the yield is far beyond this. In some soils of the latter description, it is said that for a chupa (seven cubic inches) planted, the yield has been a caban. The former is the two-hundred-and-eighth part of the latter. This is not the only advantage gained in planthing rich lands, but the saving of labor is equally great; for all that is required is to make a hole with the fingers, and place three or four grains in it. The upland rice requires but little water, and is never irrigated.
The cultivator in the Philippine Islands is always enabled to secure plenty of manure; for vegetation is so luxuriant that by pulling the weeds and laying them with earth, a good stock is quickly obtained with which to cover his fields. Thus, although the growth is so rank as to cause him labor, yet in this hot climate its decay is equally rapid, which tends to make his labors more successful.
The rice-stacks form a picturesque object on the field; they are generally placed around or near a growth of bamboo, whose tall, graceful, and feathery outline is of itself a beautiful object, but connected as it is often seen with the returns of the harvest, it furnishes an additional source of gratification.
The different kinds of rice, and especially the upland, would no doubt be an acquisition to our country. At the time we were at Manila, it was not thought feasible to pack it, for it had just been reaped, and was so green that it would not have kept.  Although rice is a very prolific crop, yet it is subject to many casualties, from the locusts and other insects that devour it; the drought at other times affects it, particularly the aquatic varieties. There is a use to which the rice is applied here, which was new to us, namely, as a substitute for razors; by using two grains of it between the fingers, they nip the beard, or extract it from the chin and face.
[Manila hemp.] Among the important productions of these islands, I have mentioned hemp, although the article called Manila hemp must not be understood to be derived from the plant which produces the common hemp (Cannabis), being obtained from a species of plantain (Musa textilis), called in the Philippines “abacá.” This is a native of these islands, and was formerly believed to be found only on Mindanao; but this is not the case, for it is cultivated on the south part of Luzon, and all the islands south of it. It grows on high ground, in rich soil, and is propagated by seeds. It resembles the other plants of the tribe of plantains, but its fruit is much smaller, although edible. The fibre is derived from the stem, and the plant attains the height of fifteen or twenty feet. The usual mode of preparing the hemp is to cut off the stem near the ground, before the time or just when the fruit is ripe. The stem is then eight or ten feet long below the leaves, where it is again cut. The outer coating of the herbaceous stem is then stripped off, until the fibers or cellular parts are seen, when it undergoes the process of rotting, and after being well dried in houses and sheds, is prepared for market by assorting it, a task which is performed by the women and children. That which is intended for cloth is soaked for an hour or two in weak lime-water prepared from sea-shells, again dried, and put up in bundles. From all the districts in which it grows, it is sent to Manila, which is the only port whence it can legally be exported. It arrives in large bundles, and is packed there, by means of a screw-press, in compact bales, for shipping, secured by rattan, each weighing two piculs.
The best Manila hemp ought to be white, dry, and of a long and fine fiber. This is known at Manila by the name of lupis; the second quality they call bandala.
The exportation has much increased within the last few years, in consequence of the demand for it in the United States; and the whole crop is now monopolized by the two American houses of Sturges & Co., and T. N. Peale & Co., of Manila, who buy all of good quality that comes to market. This is divided between the two houses, and the price they pay is from four to five dollars the picul. The entire quantity raised in 1840 was eighty-three thousand seven hundred and ninety piculs; in 1841, eighty-seven thousand.
The quantity exported to the United States in 1840, was sixty-eight thousand two hundred and eighty piculs, and in 1841, only sixty-two thousand seven hundred piculs; its value in Manila is about three hundred thousand dollars. Twenty thousand piculs go to Europe. There are no duties on its exportation.
That which is brought to the United States is principally manufactured in or near Boston, and is the cordage known as “white rope.” The cordage manufactured at Manila is, however, very superior to the rope made with us, although the hemp is of the inferior kind. A large quantity is also manufactured into mats.
In the opinion of our botanist, it is not probable that the plant could be introduced with success into our country, for in the Philippines it is not found north of latitude 14° N.
[Coffee.] The coffee-plant is well adapted to these islands. A few plants were introduced into the gardens of Manila, about fifty years ago, since which time it has been spread all over the island, as is supposed by the civet-cats, which, after swallowing the seeds, carry them to a distance before they are voided.
The coffee of commerce is obtained here from the wild plant, and is of an excellent quality. Upwards of three thousand five hundred piculs are now exported, of which one-sixth goes to the United States.
[Sugar.] The sugar-cane thrives well here. It is planted after the French fashion, by sticking the piece diagonally into the ground. Some, finding the cane has suffered in times of drought, have adopted other modes. It comes to perfection in a year, and they seldom have two crops from the same piece of land, unless the season is very favorable.
There are many kinds of cane cultivated, but that grown in the valley of Pampanga is thought to be the best. It is a small red variety, from four to five feet high, and not thicker than the thumb. The manufacture of the sugar is rudely conducted; and the whole business, I was told, was in the hands of a few capitalists, who, by making advances, secure the whole crop from those who are employed to bring it to market. It is generally brought in moulds, of the usual conical shape, called pilones, which are delivered to the purchaser from November to June, and contain each about one hundred and fifty pounds. On their receipt, they are placed in large storehouses, where the familiar operation of claying is performed. The estimate for the quantity of sugar from these pilones after this process is about one hundred pounds; it depends upon the care taken in the process.
[Cotton.] Of cotton they raise a considerable quantity, which is of a fine quality, and principally of the yellow nankeen. In the province of Ilocos it is cultivated most extensively. The mode of cleaning it of its seed is very rude, by means of a hand-mill, and the expense of cleaning a picul (one hundred and forty pounds) is from five to seven dollars. There have, as far as I have understood, been no endeavors to introduce any cotton-gins from our country.
[Wages.] It will be merely necessary to give the prices at which laborers are paid, to show how low the compensation is, in comparison with those in our own country. In the vicinity of Manila, twelve and a half cents per day is the usual wages; this in the provinces falls to six and nine cents. A man with two buffaloes is paid about thirty cents. The amount of labor performed by the latter in a day would be the ploughing of a soane, about two-tenths of an acre. The most profitable way of employing laborers is by the task, when, it is said, the natives work well, and are industrious.
The manner in which the sugar and other produce is brought to market at Manila is peculiar, and deserves to be mentioned. In some of the villages, the chief men unite to build a vessel, generally a pirogue, in which they embark their produce, under the conduct of a few persons, who go to navigate it, and dispose of the cargo. In due time they make their voyage, and when the accounts are settled, the returns are distributed to each according to his share. Festivities are then held, the saints thanked for their kindness, and blessings invoked for another year. After this is over, the vessel is taken carefully to pieces, and distributed, among the owners, to be preserved for the next season.
The profits in the crops, according to estimates, vary from sixty to one hundred per cent.; but it was thought, as a general average, that this was, notwithstanding the great productiveness of the soil, far beyond the usual profits accruing from agricultural operations. In some provinces this estimate would hold good, and probably be exceeded.
[Indigo.] Indigo would probably be a lucrative crop, for that raised here is said to be of quality equal to the best, and the crop is not subject to so many uncertainties as in India: the capital and attention required in vats, etc., prevent it from being raised in any quantities. Among the productions, the bamboo and rattan ought to claim a particular notice from their great utility; they enter into almost every thing. Of the former their houses are built, including frames, floors, sides, and roof; fences are made of the same material, as well as every article of general household use, including baskets for oil and water. The rattan is a general substitute for ropes of all descriptions, and the two combined are used in constructing rafts for crossing ferries.
I have thus given a general outline of the capabilities of this country for agricultural operations, in some of the most important articles of commerce; by which it will be seen that the Philippine Islands are one of the most favored parts of the globe.
[Locusts.] The crops frequently suffer from the ravages of the locusts, which sweep all before them. Fortunately for the poorer classes, their attacks take place after the rice has been harvested; but the cane is sometimes entirely cut off. The authorities of Manila, in the vain hope of stopping their devastations, employ persons to gather them and throw them into the sea. I understood on one occasion they had spent eighty thousand dollars in this way, but all to little purpose. It is said that the crops rarely suffer from droughts, but on the contrary the rains are thought to fall too often, and to flood the rice fields; these, however, yield a novel crop, and are very advantageous to the poor, viz.: a great quantity of fish, which are called dalag, and are a species of Blunnius; they are so plentiful, that they are caught with baskets: these fish weigh from a half to two pounds, and some are said to be eighteen inches long; but this is not all; they are said, after a deep inundation, to be found even in the vaults of churches.
The Philippines are divided into thirty-one provinces, sixteen of which are on the island of Luzon, and the remainder comprise the other islands of the group and the Ladrones.
[Population.] The population of the whole group is above three millions, including all tribes of natives, mestizos, and whites. The latter-named class are but few in number, not exceeding three thousand. The mestizos were supposed to be about fifteen or twenty thousand; they are distinguished as Spanish and Indian mestizos. The Chinese have of late years increased to a large number, and it is said that there are forty thousand of them in and around Manila alone. One-half of the whole population belongs to Luzon. The island next to it in the number of inhabitants is Panay, which contains about three hundred and thirty thousand. Then come Cebu, Mindanao, Leyte, Samar, and Negros, varying from the above numbers down to fifty thousand. The population is increasing, and it is thought that it doubles itself in seventy years. This rate of increase appears probable, from a comparison of the present population with the estimate made at the beginning of the present century, which shows a growth in the forty years of about one million four hundred thousand.
The native population is composed of a number of distinct tribes, the principal of which in Luzon are Pangasinan, Ilocos, Cagayan, Tagalog, and Pampangan.
The Igorots, who dwell in the mountains, are the only natives who have not been subjected by the Spaniards. The other tribes have become identified with their rulers in religion, and it is thought that by this circumstance alone has Spain been able to maintain the ascendency with so small a number, over such a numerous, intelligent, and energetic race as they are represented to be. This is, however, more easily accounted for, from the Spaniards fostering and keeping alive the jealousy and hatred that existed at the time of the discovery between the different tribes.
It seems almost incredible that Spain should have so long persisted in the policy of allowing no more than one galleon to pass annually between her colonies, and equally so that the nations of Europe should have been so long deceived in regard to the riches and wealth that Spain was monopolizing in the Philippines. The capture of Manila, in 1762, by the English, first gave a clear idea of the value of this remote and little-known appendage of the empire.
The Philippines, considered in their capacity for commerce, are certainly among the most favored portions of the globe, and there is but one circumstance that tends in the least degree to lessen their apparent advantage; this is the prevalence of typhoons in the China seas, which are occasionally felt with force to the north of latitude 10° N. South of that parallel, they have never been known to prevail, and seldom so far; but from their unfailing occurrence yearly in some part of the China seas, they are looked for with more or less dread, and cause each season a temporary interruption in all the trade that passes along the coast of these islands.
The army is now composed entirely of native troops, who number about six thousand men, and the regiments are never suffered to serve in the provinces in which they are recruited, but those from the north are sent to the south, and vice versa. There they are employed to keep up a continual watch on each other; and, speaking different dialects, they never become identified.
They are, indeed, never allowed to remain long enough in one region, to imbibe any feelings in unison with those of its inhabitants. The hostility is so great among the regiments, that mutinies have occurred, and contests arisen which have produced even bloodshed, which it was entirely out of the power of the officers to prevent. In cases of this kind, summary punishment is resorted to.
[Conditions not peaceful.] Although the Spaniards, as far as is known abroad, live in peace and quiet, this is far from being the case; for rebellion and revolts among the troops and tribes are not unfrequent in the provinces. During the time of our visit one of these took place, but it was impossible to learn anything concerning it that could be relied upon, for all conversation respecting such occurrences is interdicted by the government. The difficulty to which I refer was said to have originated from the preaching of a fanatic priest, who inflamed them to such a degree that they overthrew the troops and became temporarily masters of the country. Prompt measures were immediately taken, and orders issued to give the rebels no quarter; the regiments most hostile to those engaged in the revolt were ordered to the spot; they spared no one; the priest and his companions were taken, put to death, and according to report, in a manner so cruel as to be a disgrace to the records of the nineteenth century. Although I should hope the accounts I heard of these transactions were incorrect, yet the detestation these acts were held in, would give some color to the statements.
The few gazettes that are published at Manila are entirely under the control of the government; and a resident of that city must make up his mind to remain in ignorance of the things that are passing around him, or believe just what the authorities will allow to be told, whether truth or falsehood. The government of the Philippines is emphatically an iron rule: how long it can continue so, is doubtful.
[The governor-general.] One of my first duties was to make an official call upon His Excellency Don Marcelino Oroa, who is the sixty-first governor of the Philippine Islands. According to the established etiquette, Mr. Moore, the vice-consul, announced our desire to do so, and requested to be informed of the time when we would be received. This was accordingly named, and at the appointed hour we proceeded to the palace in the city proper. On our arrival, we were announced and led up a flight of steps, ample and spacious, but by no means of such splendor as would indicate the residence of vice-royalty. The suite of rooms into which we were ushered were so dark that it was difficult to see. I made out, however, that they were panelled, and by no means richly furnished. His excellency entered from a side-door, and led us through two or three apartments into his private audience-room, an apartment not quite so dark as those we had come from: our being conducted to this, I was told afterwards, was to be considered an especial mark of respect to my country. His reception of us was friendly. The governor has much more the appearance of an Irishman than of a Spaniard, being tall, portly, of a florid complexion. He is apparently more than sixty years of age. He was dressed in a full suit of black, with a star on his breast.
Mr. Moore acted as interpreter, and the governor readily acceded to my request to be allowed to send a party into the interior for a few days; a permission which I almost despaired of receiving, for I knew that he had refused a like application some few months before. The refusal, however, I think was in part owing to the character of the applicants, and the doubtful object they had in view. I impute the permission we received to the influence of our consul, together with Mr. Sturges, whose agreeable manners, conciliatory tone, and high standing with the authorities, will, I am satisfied, insure us at all times every reasonable advantage or facility.
The term of the governor in office is three years, and the present incumbent was installed in 1841. This length of time is thought to be sufficient for any one of them to make a fortune. The office is held by the appointment of the ministry in Spain, and with it are connected perquisites that are shared, it is said, by those who confer them.
After having paid our respects to his excellency, we drove to visit several other officers of the government, who received us without ceremony. We generally found them in loose morning-gowns, smoking, and cigars were invariably offered us; for this habit appears in Manila to extend to all ranks. Even in the public offices of the custom-house it was the fashion, and cigars, with a machero for striking a light, or a joss-stick kept burning, were usually seen in every apartment.
[Courteous Spanish officials.] To the captain of the port, Don Juan Salomon, I feel under many obligations for his attentions. I was desirous of obtaining information relative to the Sulu Seas, and to learn how far the Spanish surveys had been carried. He gave me little hopes of obtaining any; but referred me to Captain Halcon, of the Spanish Navy, who had been employed surveying some part of the coast of the islands to the north. The latter whom I visited, on my making the inquiry of him, and stating the course I intended to pursue, frankly told me that all the existing charts were erroneous. He only knew enough of the ground to be certain that they were so, and consequently useless. He advised my taking one of the native pilots, who were generally well acquainted with the seas that lay more immediately in my route. The captain of the port was afterwards kind enough to offer to procure me one.
The intercourse I had with these gentlemen was a source of much gratification, and it gives me great pleasure to make this public expression of it. To both, my sincere acknowledgments are due for information in relation to the various reefs and shoals that have been recently discovered, and which will be found placed in their true position on our charts.
During our stay at Manila, our time was occupied in seeing sights, shopping, riding, and amusing ourselves with gazing on the throng incessantly passing through the Escolta of the Binondo suburb, or more properly, the commercial town of Manila.
[Cigar factories.] Among the lions of the place, the great royal cigar manufactories claim especial notice from their extent and the many persons employed. There are two of these establishments, one situated in the Binondo quarter, and the other on the great square or Prado; in the former, which was visited by us, there are two buildings of two stories high, besides several storehouses, enclosed by a wall, with two large gateways, at which sentinels are always posted. The principal workshop is in the second story, which is divided into six apartments, in which eight thousand females are employed. Throughout the whole extent, tables are arranged, about sixteen inches high, ten feet long, and three feet wide, at each of which fifteen women are seated, having small piles of tobacco before them. The tables are set crosswise from the wall, leaving a space in the middle of the room free. The labor of a female produces about two hundred cigars a day; and the working hours are from 6 a.m., till 6 p.m., with a recess of two hours, from eleven till one o’clock. The whole establishment is kept very neat and clean, and every thing appears to be carried on in the most systematic and workmanlike manner. Among such numbers, it has been found necessary to institute a search on their leaving the establishment to prevent embezzlement, and this is regularly made twice a day, without distinction of sex. It is a strange sight to witness the ingress and egress of these hordes of females; and probably the world cannot elsewhere exhibit so large a number of ugly women. Their ages vary from fifteen to forty-five. The sum paid them for wages is very trifling. The whole number of persons employed in the manufactories is about fifteen thousand; this includes the officers, clerks, overseers, etc.
As nearly as I could ascertain, the revenue derived from these establishments is half a million of dollars.
The natives of the Philippines are industrious. They manufacture an amount of goods sufficient to supply their own wants, particularly from Panay and Ilocos. These for the most part consist of cotton and silks, and a peculiar article called piña. The latter is manufactured from a species of Bromelia (pineapple), and comes principally from the island of Panay. The finest kinds of piña are exceedingly beautiful, and surpass any other material in its evenness and beauty of texture. Its color is yellowish, and the embroidery is fully equal to the material. It is much sought after by all strangers, and considered as one of the curiosities of this group. Various reports have been stated of the mode of its manufacture, and among others that it was woven under water, which I found, upon inquiry, to be quite erroneous. The web of the piña is so fine, that they are obliged to prevent all currents of air from passing through the rooms where it is manufactured, for which purpose there are gauze screens in the windows. After the article is brought to Manila, it is then embroidered by girls; this last operation adds greatly to its value. We visited one of the houses where this was in progress, and where the most skilful workwomen are employed.
On mounting the stairs of bamboos, every step we took produced its creak; but, although the whole seemed but a crazy affair, yet it did not want for strength, being well and firmly bound together. There were two apartments, each about thirteen by twenty-five feet, which could be divided by screens, if required. At the end of it were seen about forty females, all busily plying their needles, and so closely seated as apparently to incommode each other. The mistress of the manufactory, who was quite young, gave us a friendly reception, and showed us the whole process of drawing the threads and working the patterns, which, in many cases, were elegant.
A great variety of dresses, scarfs, caps, collars, cuffs, and pocket-handkerchiefs, were shown us. These were mostly in the rough state, and did not strike us with that degree of admiration which was expected. They, however, had been in hand for six months, and were soiled by much handling; but when others were shown us in the finished state, washed and put up, they were such as to claim our admiration.
I was soon attracted by a very different sight at the other end of the apartment. This was a dancing-master and his scholar, of six years old, the daughter of the woman of the house. It was exceedingly amusing to see the airs and graces of this child.
For music they had a guitar; and I never witnessed a ballet that gave me more amusement, or saw a dancer that evinced more grace, ease, confidence, and decided talent, than did this little girl. She was prettily formed, and was exceedingly admired and applauded by us all. Her mother considered her education as finished, and looked on with all the admiration and fondness of parental affection.
On inquiry, I found that the idea of teaching her to read and write had not yet been entertained. Yet every expense is incurred to teach them to use their feet and arms, and to assume the expression of countenance that will enable them to play a part in the afterscenes of life.
This manufactory had work engaged for nine months or a year in advance. The fabric is extremely expensive, and none but the wealthy can afford it. It is also much sought after by foreigners. Even orders for Queen Victoria and many of the English nobility were then in hand; at least I so heard at Manila. Those who are actually present have, notwithstanding, the privilege of selecting what they wish to purchase; for, with the inhabitants here, as elsewhere, ready money has too much attraction for them to forego the temptation.
Time in Manila seems to hang heavily on the hands of some of its inhabitants; their amusements are few, and the climate ill adapted to exertion. The gentlemen of the higher classes pass their morning in the transaction of a little public business, lounging about, smoking, etc. In the afternoon, they sleep, and ride on the Prado; and in the evening, visit their friends, or attend a tertulia. The ladies are to be pitied; for they pass three-fourths of their time in déshabillé, with their maids around them, sleeping, dressing, lolling, and combing their hair. In this way the whole morning is lounged away; they neither read, write, nor work. In dress they generally imitate the Europeans, except that they seldom wear stockings, and go with their arms bare. In the afternoon they ride on the Prado in state, and in the evening accompany their husbands. Chocolate is taken early in the morning, breakfast at eleven, and dinner and supper are included in one meal.
Mothers provide for the marriage of their daughters; and I was told that such a thing as a gentleman proposing to any one but the mother, or a young lady engaging herself, is unknown and unheard of. The negotiation is all carried forward by the mother, and the daughter is given to any suitor she may deem a desirable match. The young ladies are said to be equally disinclined to a choice themselves, and if proposals were made to them, the suitor would be at once referred to the mother. Among the lower orders it is no uncommon thing for the parties to be living without the ceremony of marriage, until they have a family and no odium whatever is attached to such a connexion. They are looked upon as man and wife, though they do not live together; and they rarely fail to solemnize their union when they have accumulated sufficient property to procure the requisite articles for housekeeping.
[The Luneta.] Three nights in each week they have music in the plaza, in front of the governor’s palace, by the bands of four different regiments, who collect there after the evening parade. Most of the better class resort here, for the pleasure of enjoying it. We went thither to see the people as well as to hear the music. This is the great resort of the haut ton, who usually have their carriages in waiting, and promenade in groups backwards and forwards during the time the music is playing. This is by far the best opportunity that one can have for viewing the society of Manila, which seems as easy and unrestrained as the peculiar gravity and ceremonious mode of intercourse among the old Spaniards can admit. Before the present governor took office, it had been the custom to allow the bands to play on the Prado every fine evening, when all the inhabitants could enjoy it until a late hour; but he has interdicted this practice, and of course given much dissatisfaction; he is said to have done this in a fit of ill temper, and although importuned to restore this amusement to the common people, he pertinaciously refuses.
The bands of the regiments are under the direction of Frenchmen and Spaniards: the musicians are all natives, and play with a correct ear.
Our afternoons were spent in drives on the Prado, where all the fashion and rank of Manila are to be met, and where it is exceedingly agreeable to partake of the fresh and pure air after a heated day in the city. The extreme end of the Prado lies along the shore of the bay of Manila, having the roadstead and ships on one side, and the city proper with its fortifications and moats on the other. This drive usually lasts for an hour, and all sorts of vehicles are shown off, from the governor’s coach and six, surrounded by his lancers, to the sorry chaise and limping nag. The carriage most used is a four-wheeled biloche, with a gig top, quite low, and drawn by two horses, on one of which is a postilion; these vehicles are exceedingly comfortable for two persons. The horses are small, but spirited, and are said to be able to undergo great fatigue, although their appearance does not promise it. This drive is enlivened by the music of the different regiments, who are at this time to be seen manoeuvering on the Prado. The soldiers have a very neat and clean appearance; great attention is paid to them, and the whole are well appointed. The force stationed in Manila is six thousand, and the army in the Philippines amounts to twenty thousand men. The officers are all Spaniards, generally the relations and friends of those in the administration of the government. The pay of the soldiers is four dollars a month, and a ration, which is equal to six cents a day. As troops I was told, they acquitted themselves well. The Prado is laid out in many avenues, leading in various directions to the suburbs, and these are planted with wild almond trees, which afford a pleasant shade. It is well kept, and creditable to the city.
In passing the crowds of carriages very little display of female beauty is observed, and although well-dressed above, one cannot but revert to their wearing no stockings beneath.
On the Prado is a small theatre, but so inferior that the building scarce deserves the name: the acting was equally bad. This amusement meets with little encouragement in Manila and, I was told, was discountenanced by the Governor.
[A tertulia.] I had the pleasure during our stay of attending a tertulia in the city. The company was not a large one, comprising some thirty or forty ladies and about sixty gentlemen. It resembled those of the mother country. Dancing was introduced at an early hour, and continued till a few minutes before eleven o’clock, at which time the gates of the city are always shut. It was amusing to see the sudden breaking up of the party, most of the guests residing out of the city. The calling for carriages, shawls, hats, etc., produced for a few minutes great confusion, every one being desirous of getting off at the earliest moment possible, for fear of being too late. This regulation, by which the gates are closed at so early an hour, does not appear necessary, and only serves to interrupt the communication between the foreign and Spanish society as the former is obliged, as before observed, to live outside of the city proper. This want of free intercourse is to be regretted, as it prevents that kind of friendship by which many of their jealousies and prejudices might be removed.
The society at this tertulia was easy, and so far as the enjoyment of dancing went, pleasant; but there was no conversation. The refreshments consisted of a few dulces, lemonade, and strong drinks in an anteroom. The house appeared very spacious and well adapted for entertainments, but only one of the rooms was well lighted. From the novelty of the scene, and the attentions of the gentleman of the house, we passed a pleasant evening.
The natives and mestizos attracted much of my attention at Manila. Their dress is peculiar: over a pair of striped trousers of various colors, the men usually wear a fine grass-cloth shirt, a large straw hat, and around the head or neck a many colored silk handkerchief. They often wear slippers as well as shoes. The Chinese dress, as they have done for centuries, in loose white shirts and trousers. One peculiarity of the common men is their passion for cock-fighting; and they carry these fowls wherever they go, after a peculiar fashion under their arm.
[Cock-figghting.] Cock-fighting is licensed by the government, and great care is taken in the breeding of game fowls, which are very large and heavy birds. They are armed with a curved double-edged gaff. The exhibitions are usually crowded with half-breeds or mestizos, who are generally more addicted to gambling than either the higher or lower classes of Spaniards. It would not be an unapt designation to call the middling class cock-fighters, for their whole lives seem to be taken up with the breeding and fighting of these birds. On the exit from a cockpit, I was much amused with the mode of giving the return check, which was done by a stamp on the naked arm, and precludes the possibility of its transfer to another person. The dress of the lower order of females is somewhat civilized, yet it bore so strong a resemblance to that of the Polynesians as to recall the latter to our recollection. A long piece of colored cotton is wound round the body, like the pareu, and tucked in at the side: this covers the nether limbs; and a jacket fitting close to the body is worn, without a shirt. In some, this jacket is ornamented with work around the neck; it has no collar, and in many cases no sleeves, and over this a richly embroidered cape. The feet are covered with slippers, with wooden soles, which are kept on by the little toe, only four toes entering the slipper, and the little one being on the outside. The effect of both costumes is picturesque.
[Ducks.] The market is a never failing place of amusement to a foreigner, for there a crowd of the common people is always to be seen, and their mode of conducting business may be observed. The canals here afford great facilities for bringing vegetables and produce to market in a fresh state. The vegetables are chiefly brought from the shores of the Laguna de Bay, through the river Pasig. The meat appeared inferior, and as in all Spanish places the art of butchering is not understood. The poultry, however, surpasses that of any other place I have seen, particularly in ducks, the breeding of which is pursued to a great extent. Establishments for breeding these birds are here carried on in a systematic manner, and are a great curiosity. They consist of many small enclosures, each about twenty feet by forty or fifty, made of bamboo, which are placed on the bank of the river, and partly covered with water. In one corner of the enclosure is a small house, where the eggs are hatched by artificial heat, produced by rice-chaff in a state of of fermentation. It is not uncommon to see six or eight hundred ducklings all of the same age. There are several hundreds of these enclosures, and the number of ducks of all ages may be computed at millions. The manner in which they are schooled to take exercise, and to go in and out of the water, and to return to their house, almost exceeds belief. The keepers or tenders are of the Tagalog tribe, who live near the enclosures, and have them at all times under their eye. The old birds are not suffered to approach the young, and all of one age are kept together. They are fed upon rice and a small species of shell-fish that is found in the river and is peculiar to it. From the extent of these establishments we inferred that ducks were the favorite article of food at Manila, and the consumption of them must be immense. The markets are well supplied with chickens, pigeons, young partridges, which are brought in alive, and turkeys. Among strange articles that we saw for sale, were cakes of coagulated blood. The markets are well stocked with a variety of fish, taken both in the Laguna and bay of Manila, affording a supply of both the fresh and salt water species, and many smaller kinds that are dried and smoked. Vegetables are in great plenty, and consist of pumpkins, lettuce, onions, radishes, very long squashes, etc.; of fruits, they have melons, chicos, durians, marbolas, and oranges.
[Fish.] Fish are caught in weirs, by the hook, or in seines. The former are constructed of bamboo stakes, in the shallow water of the lake, at the point where it flows through the Pasig river. In the bay, and at the mouth of the river, the fish are taken in nets, suspended by the four corners from hoops attached to a crane, by which they are lowered into the water. The fishing-boats are little better than rafts, and are called sarabaos.
The usual passage-boat is termed banca, and is made of a single trunk. These are very much used by the inhabitants. They have a sort of awning to protect the passenger from the rays of the sun; and being light are easily rowed about, although they are exceedingly uncomfortable to sit in, from the lowness of the seats, and liable to overset, if the weight is not placed near the bottom. The outrigger was very often dispensed with, owing to the impediment it offered to the navigation of their canals; these canals offer great facilities for the transportation of burdens; the banks of almost all of them are faced with granite. Where the streets cross them, there are substantial stone bridges, which are generally of no more than one arch, so as not to impede the navigation. The barges used for the transportation of produce resemble our canal-boats, and have sliding roofs to protect them from the rain.
Water, for the supply of vessels, is brought off in large earthen jars. It is obtained from the river, and if care is not taken, the water will be impure; it ought to be filled beyond the city. Our supply was obtained five or six miles up the river, by a lighter, in which were placed a number of water-casks. It proved excellent.
The trade of Manila extends to all parts of the world.
There are many facilities for the transaction of business, as far as the shipment of articles is concerned; but great difficulties attend the settling of disputed accounts, collecting debts, etc., in the way of which the laws passed in 1834 have thrown many obstacles. All commercial business of this kind goes before, first, the Junta de Comercio, and then an appeal to the Tribunal de Comercio. This appeal, however, is merely nominal; for the same judges preside in each, and they are said to be susceptible of influences that render an appeal to them by honest men at all times hazardous. The opinion of those who have had the misfortune to be obliged to recur to these tribunals is, that it is better to suffer wrong than encounter both the expense and vexation of a resort to them for justice. In the first of these courts the decision is long delayed, fees exacted, and other expenses incurred; and when judgment is at length given, it excites one party or the other to appeal: other expenses accrue in consequence, and the advocates and judges grow rich while both the litigants suffer. I understood that these tribunals were intended to simplify business, lessen the time of suits, and promote justice; but these results have not been obtained, and many believe that they have had the contrary effect, and have opened the road to further abuses.
[Environs.] The country around Manila, though no more than an extended plain for some miles, is one of great interest and beauty, and affords many agreeable rides on the roads to Santa Ana and Mariquina. Most of the country-seats are situated on the Pasig river; they may indeed be called palaces, from their extent and appearance. They are built upon a grand scale, and after the Italian style, with terraces, supported by strong abutments, decked with vases of plants. The grounds are ornamented with the luxuriant, lofty, and graceful trees of the tropics; these are tolerably well kept. Here and there fine large stone churches, with their towers and steeples, are to be seen, the whole giving the impression of a wealthy nobility, and a happy and flourishing peasantry.
[The cemetery.] In one of our rides we made a visit to the Campo Santo or cemetery, about four miles from Manila. It is small, but has many handsome trees about it; among them was an Agati, full of large white flowers, showing most conspicuously. The whole place is as unlike a depository of the dead as it well can be. Its form is circular, having a small chapel, in the form of a rotunda, directly opposite the gate, or entrance. The walls are about twenty feet high, with three tiers of niches, in which the bodies are enclosed with quicklime. Here they are allowed to remain for three years, or until such time as the niches may be required for further use. Niches may be purchased, however, and permanently closed up; but in the whole cemetery there were but five thus secured. This would seem to indicate an indifference on the part of the living, for their departed relatives or friends; at least such was my impression at the time. The center of the enclosure is laid out as a flower-garden and shrubbery, and all the buildings are washed a deep buff-color, with white cornices; these colors, when contrasted with the green foliage, give an effect that is not unpleasing. In the chapel are two tombs, the one for the bishop, and the other for the governor. The former, I believe, is occupied, and will continue to be so, until another shall follow him; but the latter is empty, for, since the erection of the cemetery, none of the governors have died. In the rear of the chapel is another small cemetery, called Los Angeles; and, further behind, the Osero. The former is similar to the one in front, but smaller, and appropriated exclusively to children; the latter is an open space, where the bones of all those who have been removed from the niches, after three years, are east out, and now lie in a confused heap, with portions of flesh and hair adhering to them. No person is allowed to be received here for interment, until the fees are first paid to the priest, however respectable the parties may be; and all those who pay the fees, and are of the true faith, can be interred. I was told of a corpse of a very respectable person being refused admittance, for the want of the priest’s pass, to show that the claim had been satisfied, and the coffin stopped in the road until it was obtained. We ourselves witnessed a similar refusal. A servant entered with a dead child; borne on a tray, which he presented to the sacristan to have interred, the latter asked him for the pass, which not being produced, he was dismissed, nor was he suffered to leave his burden until this requisite could be procured from the priest, who lived opposite. The price of interment was three dollars, but whether this included the purchase of the niche, or its rent for the three years only, I did not learn.
The churches of Manila can boast of several fine-toned bells, which are placed in large belfries or towers. There was one of these towers near the Messrs. Sturges’, where we stayed; and the manner in which the bell was used, when swung around by the force of two or three men, attracted our attention; for the ringers occasionally practised feats of agility by passing over with the bell, and landing on the coping on the opposite side. The tower being open, we could see the manoeuver from the windows, and, as strangers, went there to look on. One day, whilst at dinner, they began to ring, and as many of the officers had not witnessed the fact, they sought the windows. This excited the vanity of those in the belfry, who redoubled their exertions, and performed the feat successfully many times, although in some instances they narrowly escaped accident, by landing just within the outside coping. This brought us all to the window, and the next turn, more force having been given to the bell, the individual who attempted the feat was thrown headlong beyond the tower, and dashed to pieces on the pavement beneath. Although shocked at the accident, I felt still more so when, after a few minutes, the bell was again heard making its usual sound, as if nothing had occurred to interrupt the course of its hourly peals.
[Monasteries.] In company with Dr. Tolben, I visited one of the convents where he attended on some of the monks who were sick; he seemed well acquainted with them all. I was much struck with the extent of the building, which was four stories high, with spacious corridors and galleries, the walls of which were furnished with pictures representing the martyrdom of the Dominican friars in Japan. These were about seventy in number, in the Chinese style of art, and evidently painted by some one of that nation, calling himself an artist. From appearances, however, I should think they were composed by the priests, who have not a little taxed their invention to find out the different modes in which a man can be put to death. Many evidently, if not all, had been invented for the pictures. So perplexed had they apparently been, that in one of the last it was observed that the executioner held his victim at arms’ length by the heels, and was about to let him drop headforemost into a well. From the galleries we passed into the library, and thence into many of the rooms, and finally we mounted to the top of the monastery, which affords a beautiful view of the bay, city, and suburbs. There I was presented to three of the friars, who were pleasant and jolly-looking men. Upon the roof was a kind of observatory, or look-out, simply furnished with billiard-tables and shuffleboards, while the implements for various other games lay about on small tables, with telescopes on stands, and comfortable arm-chairs. It was a place where the friars put aside their religious and austere character or appearance, and sought amusement. It was a delightful spot, so far as coolness and the freshness of the sea air were concerned, and its aspect gave me an insight behind the curtain of these establishments that very soon disclosed many things I was ignorant of before. All the friars were of a rotund form, and many of them bore the marks of good living in their full, red, and bloated faces. It seems to be generally understood at Manila, that they live upon the fat of the land. We visited several of the rooms, and were warmly greeted by the padres, one of whom presented me with a meteorological table for the previous year.
The revenues of all these religious establishments are considerable; the one I visited belonged to the Dominicans, and was very rich. Their revenues are principally derived from lands owned by them, and the tithes from the different districts which they have under their charge, to which are added many alms and gifts. On inquiry, I found their general character was by no means thought well of, and they had of late years lost much of the influence that they possessed before the revolution in the mother country.
Among the inhabitants we saw here, was a native boy of the Igorots, or mountain tribe. He is said to be a true Negrito. (Another confusion of facts.–C.)
[Mountaineers.] The Spaniards, as has been stated, have never been able to subdue this tribe, who are said to be still as wild as on their first landing; they are confined almost altogether to the plains within or near the mountains, and from time to time make inroads in great force on the outer settlements, carrying off as much plunder as possible. The burden of this often causes them to be overtaken by the troops. When overtaken, they fight desperately, and were it not for the fire-arms of their adversaries, would give them much trouble. Few are captured on such occasions, and it is exceedingly difficult to take them alive, unless when very young. These mountains furnish them with an iron ore almost pure, in manufacturing which they show much ingenuity. Some of their weapons were presented to the Expedition by Josiah Moore, Esq. These are probably imitations of the early Spanish weapons used against them. From all accounts, the natives are of Malay origin, and allied to those of the other islands of the extensive archipelago of the Eastern Seas; but the population of the towns and cities of the island are so mixed, from the constant intercourse with Chinese, Europeans, and others, that there is no pure blood among them. When at Manila, we obtained a grammar of the Tagalog language, which is said to be now rarely heard, and to have become nearly obsolete. This grammar is believed to be the only one extant, and was procured from a padre, who presented it to the Expedition. (Tagalog is here mistaken for a mountaineer’s dialect.–C.)
The Pampangans are considered the finest tribe of natives; they are excessively fond of horse-racing, and bet very considerable sums upon it; they have the reputation of being an industrious and energetic set of men.
[Revenue.] The mode of raising revenue by a poll-tax causes great discontent among all classes, for although light, it is, as it always has been elsewhere, unpopular. All the Chinese pay a capitation tax of four dollars. The revenue from various sources is said to amount to one million six hundred thousand dollars, of which the poll-tax amounts to more than one-half, the rest being derived from the customs, tobacco, etc. There is no tax upon land. It was thought at Manila that a revenue might be derived by indirect taxation, far exceeding this sum, without being sensibly felt by the inhabitants. This mode is employed in the eastern islands under the English and Dutch rule, and it is surprising that the Spaniards also do not adopt it, or some other method to increase resources that are so much needed. Whenever the ministry in Spain had to meet a claim, they were a few years ago in the habit of issuing drafts on this colonial government in payment. These came at last in such numbers, that latterly they have been compelled to suspend the payment of them.
The revenue of the colonial government is very little more than will meet the expenses; and it is believed that, notwithstanding these unaccepted claims, it received orders to remit the surplus, if any, to Spain, regardless of honor or good faith.
[Government.] The government of the Philippines is in the hands of a governor-general, who has the titles of viceroy, commander-in-chief, sub-delegate, judge of the revenue from the post-office, commander of the troops, captain-general, and commander of the naval forces. His duties embrace every thing that relates to the security and defence of the country. As advisers, he has a council called the Audiencia.
The islands are divided into provinces, each of which has a military officer with the title of governor, appointed by the governor-general. They act as chief magistrates, have jurisdiction over all disputes of minor importance, have the command of the troops in time of war, and are collectors of the royal revenues, for the security of which they give bonds, which must be approved of by the comptroller-general of the treasury. The province of Cavite is alone exempt from this rule, and the collection of tribute is there confided to a police magistrate.
Each province is again sub-divided into pueblos, containing a greater or less number of inhabitants, each of which has again its ruler, called a gobernadorcillo, who has in like manner other officers under him to act as police magistrates. The number of the latter are very great, each of them having his appropriate duties. These consist in the supervision of the grain fields, coconut groves, betel-nut plantations, and in the preservation of the general order and peace of the town. So numerous are these petty officers, that there is scarcely a family of any consequence, that has not a member who holds some kind of office under government. This policy, in case of disturbances, at once unites a large and influential body on the side of the government, that is maintained at little expense. The gobernadorcillo exercises the municipal authority, and is especially charged to aid the parish priest in every thing appertaining to religious observances, etc.
In the towns where the descendants of the Chinese are sufficiently numerous, they can, by permission of the governor, elect their own petty governors and officers from among themselves.
In each town there is also a headman (cabeza de barangay), who has the charge of fifty tributaries, in each of which is included as many families. This division is called a barangay. This office forms by far the most important part of the machinery of government in the Philippine Islands, for these headmen are the attorneys of these small districts, and become the electors of the gobernadorcillos, and other civil officers. Only twelve, however, of them or their substitutes, are allowed to vote in each town.
The office of head-man existed before the conquest of the island, and the Spaniards showed their wisdom in continuing and adapting it to their system of police. The office among the natives was hereditary, but their conquerors made it also elective, and when a vacancy now occurs through want of heirs, or resignation, it is filled up by the superintendent of the province, on the recommendation of the gobernadorcillo and the headman. This is also the case when any new office is created. The privileges of the headmen are great; themselves, their wives, and their first-born children, are exempted from paying tribute to the crown, an exoneration which is owing to their being collectors of the royal revenues. Their duties consist in maintaining good order and harmony, in dividing the labor required for the public benefit equally, adjusting differences, and receiving the taxes.
The gobernadorcillo takes cognizance of all civil cases not exceeding two taels of gold, or forty-four dollars in silver; all criminal cases must be sent to the chief of the province. The headmen formerly served for no more than three years, and if this was done faithfully, they became and were designated as principals, in virtue of which rank they received the title of Don.
The election takes place at the court-house of the town; the electors are the gobernadorcillo whose office is about to expire, and twelve of the oldest headmen, cabezas de barangay, collectors of tribute for the gobernadorcillo they must select, by a plurality of votes, three individuals, who must be able to speak, read, and write the Spanish language. The voting is done by ballot, in the presence of the notary (escribano), and the chief of the province, who presides. The curate may be present, to look after the interest of the church but for no other purpose. After the votes are taken, they are sealed and transmitted to the governor-general, who selects one of the three candidates, and issues a commission. In the more distant provinces, the chief of the district has the authority to select the gobernadorcillo, and fill up the commission, a blank form of which, signed by the governor-general, is left with him for that purpose.
The headmen may be elected petty governors, and still retain their office, and collect the tribute or taxes; for it is not considered just, that the important office of chief of Barangay should deprive the holder of the honor of being elected gobernadorcillo.
The greater part of the Chinese reside in the province of Tondo, but the tribute is there collected by the alcalde mayor, with an assistant taken from among the officers of the royal treasury.
The poll-tax on the Chinese amounts to four dollars a head; it was formerly one-half more. Tax-lists of the Chinese are kept, in which they are registered and classified; and opposite the name is the amount at which the individual is assessed.
The Spanish government seems particularly desirous of giving consequence even to its lowest offices; and in order to secure it to them, it is directed that the chiefs of provinces, shall treat the gobernadorcillos with respect, offering them seats when they enter their houses or other places, and not allowing them to remain standing; furthermore, the parish curates are required to treat them with equal respect. So far as concerns the provinces, the government may be called, notwithstanding the officers, courts. etc., monastic. The priests rule, and frequently administer punishment, with their own hands, to either sex, of which an instance will be cited hereafter.
[A country excursion.] As soon as we could procure the necessary passports, which were obligingly furnished by the governor to “Don Russel Sturges y quatro Anglo Americanos,” our party left Manila for a short jaunt to the mountains. It was considered as a mark of great favor on the part of his excellency to grant this indulgence, particularly as he had a few months prior denied it to a party of French officers. I was told that he preferred to make it a domestic concern, by issuing the passport in the name of a resident, in order that compliance in this case might not give umbrage to the French. It was generally believed that the cause of the refusal in the former instance was the imprudent manner in which the French officers went about taking plans and sketches, at the corners of streets, etc., which in the minds of an unenlightened and ignorant colonial government, of course excited suspicion. Nothing can be so ridiculous as this system of passports; for if one was so disposed, a plan, and the most minute information of every thing that concerns the defences of places, can always be obtained at little cost now-a-days; for such is the skill of engineers, that a plan is easily made of places, merely by a sight of them. We were not, however, disposed to question the propriety of the governor’s conduct in the former case, and I left abundantly obliged to him for a permission that would add to our stock of information.
It was deemed at first impossible for the party to divide, as they had but one passport, and some difficulties were anticipated from the number being double that stated in the passport. The party consisted of Messrs. Sturges, Pickering, Eld, Rich, Dana, and Brackenridge. Mr. Sturges, however, saw no difficulty in dividing the party after they had passed beyond the precincts of the city, taking the precaution, at the same time, not to appear together beyond the number designated on the paper.
On the 14th, they left Manila, and proceeded in carriages to Santa Ana, on the Pasig, in order to avoid the delay that would ensue if they followed the windings of the river in a banca, and against the current.
At Santa Ana they found their bancas waiting for them, and embarked. Here the scene was rendered animated by numerous boats of all descriptions, from the parao to the small canoe of a single log.
There is a large population that live wholly on the water: for the padrones of the parao have usually their families with them, which, from the great variety of ages and sexes, give a very different and much more bustling appearance to the crowd of boats, than would be the case if they only contained those who are employed to navigate them. At times the paraos and bancas, of all sizes, together with the saraboas and pativas (duck establishments), become jumbled together, and create a confusion and noise such as is seldom met with in any other country.
[Duck farms.] The pativas are under the care of the original inhabitants, to whom exclusively the superintendence of the ducklings seems to be committed. The pens are made of bamboo, and are not over a foot high. The birds were all in admirable order, and made no attempt to escape over the low barrier, although so light that it was thought by some of our gentlemen it would not have sufficed to confine American ducks, although their wings might have been cut. The mode of giving them exercise was by causing them to run round in a ring. The good understanding existing between the keepers and their charge was striking, particularly when the former were engaged in cleansing the pens, and assisting the current to carry off the impurities. In the course of their sail, it was estimated that hundreds of thousands of ducks of all ages were seen.
The women who were seen were usually engaged in fishing with a hook and line, and were generally standing in the water, or in canoes. The saraboas were here also in use. The run of the fish is generally concentrated by a chevaux-de-frise to guide them towards the nets and localities where the fishermen place themselves.
At five o’clock they reached the Laguna de Bay, where they took in a new crew, with mast and sail. This is called twenty-five miles from Manila by the river; the distafice in a bird’s flight is not over twelve. The whole distance is densely peopled, and well cultivated. The crops consist of indigo, rice, etc., with groves of the betel, palm, coconut, and quantities of fruit trees.
The shores of the lake are shelving, and afford good situations for placing fish-weirs, which are here established on an extensive scale. These weirs are formed of slips of bamboo, and are to be seen running in every direction to the distance of two or three miles. They may be said to invest entirely the shores of the lake for several miles from its outlet, and without a pilot it would be difficult to find the way through them. At night, when heron and tern were seen roosting on the top of each slat, these weirs presented rather a curious spectacle.
The Laguna de Bay is said to be about ten leagues in length by three in width, and trends in a north-northwest and south-southeast direction.
After dark, the bancas separated. Mr. Sturges, with Dr. Pickering and Mr. Eld, proceeded to visit the mountain of Maijaijai, while Messrs. Rich, Dana, and Brackenridge, went towards the Taal Volcano. The latter party took the passport, while the former relied upon certain letters of introduction for protection, in case of difficulty.
Mr. Sturges, with his party, directed his course to the east side of the lake, towards a point called Jalajala, which they reached about three o’clock in the morning, and stopped for the crew to cook some rice, etc. At 8 o’clock a.m., they reached Santa Cruz, situated about half a mile up a small streamlet, called Paxanau. At this place they found Don Escudero to whom they had a letter of introduction, and who holds a civil appointment. They were kindly received by this gentleman and his brown lady, with their interesting family. He at once ordered horses for them to proceed to the mission of Maijaijai, and entertained them with a sumptuous breakfast.
They were not prepared to set out before noon, until which time they strolled about the town of Santa Cruz, the inhabitants of which are Tagalogs. There are only two old Spaniards in the place. The province in which Santa Cruz is situated contains about five thousand inhabitants, of whom eighteen hundred pay tribute.
The people have the character of being orderly, and govern themselves without the aid of the military. The principal article of culture is the coconut tree, which is seen in large groves. The trunks of these were notched, as was supposed, for the purpose of climbing them. From the spathe a kind of spirit is manufactured, which is fully as strong as our whiskey.
About noon they left Don Escudero’s, and took a road leading to the southward and eastward, through a luxuriant and beautiful country, well cultivated, and ornamented with lofty coconut trees, betel palms, and banana groves. Several beautiful valleys were passed, with streamlets rushing through them.
Maijaijai is situated about one thousand feet above the Laguna de Bay, but the rise is so gradual that it was almost imperceptible. The country has everywhere the appearance of being densely peopled; but no more than one village was passed between Santa Cruz and the mission. They had letters to F. Antonio Romana y Aranda, padre of the mission, who received them kindly, and entertained them most hospitably. [Climbing Banajao.] When he was told of their intention to visit the mountain, he said it was impossible with such weather, pointing to the black clouds that then enveloped its summit; and he endeavoured to persuade the gentlemen to desist from what appeared to him a mad attempt; but finding them resolved to make the trial, he aided in making all the necessary preparations, though he had no belief in their success.
On the morning of the 27th, after mass, Mr. Eld and Dr. Pickering set out, but Mr. Sturges preferred to keep the good padre company until their return. The padre had provided them with guides, horses, twenty natives, and provisions for three days. He had been himself on the same laborious journey, some six months before, and knew its fatigues, although it turned out afterwards that his expedition was performed in fine weather, and that he had been borne on a litter by natives the whole way.
The first part of the road was wet and miry, and discouraging enough. The soil was exceedingly rich, producing tropical plants in great profusion, in the midst of which were seen the neat bamboo cottages, with their industrious and cleanly-looking inhabitants. When they reached the foot of the mountain, they found it was impossible to ride farther, and were obliged to take to walking, which was, however, less of a hardship than riding the little rats of horses, covered with mud and dirt, which were at first deemed useless; but the manner in which they ascended and maintained themselves on the slippery banks, surpassed anything they had before witnessed in horseflesh. The first part of the ascent of the mountain was gradual, but over a miry path, which was extremely slippery; and had it not been for the sticks stuck down by the party of the padre in their former ascent, they would have found it extremely difficult to overcome; to make it more disagreeable, it rained all the time.
It took about two hours to reach the steep ascent. The last portion of their route had been through an uninhabited region, with some openings in the woods, affording pasture-grounds to a few small herds of buffalo. In three hours they reached the half-way house, by a very steep and regular ascent. Here the natives insisted upon stopping to cook their breakfast, as they had not yet partaken of anything through the day. The natives now endeavored to persuade them it was impracticable to go any farther, or at least to reach the top of the mountain and return before night. Our gentlemen lost their patience at the delay, and after an hour’s endurance of it, resolved to set out alone. Six of the natives followed them, and by half-past three they reached the summit, where they found it cold and uncomfortable. The ascent had been difficult, and was principally accomplished by catching hold of shrubs and the roots of trees. The summit is comparatively bare, and not more than fifty feet in width. The side opposite to that by which they mounted was perpendicular, but owing to the thick fog they could not see the depth to which the precipice descended.
The observations with the barometers were speedily taken, which gave the height of Banajao as six thousand five hundred feet. The trees on the summit were twenty or thirty feet high, and a species of fir was very common. Gaultheria, attached to the trunks of trees, Rhododendrons, and Polygonums, also abounded. The rocks were so covered with soil that it was difficult to ascertain their character; Dr. Pickering is of opinion, however, that they are not volcanic. The house on the summit afforded them little or no shelter; being a mere shed, open on all sides, they found it untenantable, and determined to return as soon as their observations were finished, to the half-way house, which they reached before dark.