The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
By Fedor Jagor et al

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Public Domain Books

Chapter XIX

[Samar.] The island of Samar, which is of nearly rhomboidal outline, and with few indentations on its coasts, stretches from the north-west to the south-east from 12° 37’ to 10° 54’ N.; its mean length being twenty-two miles, its breadth eleven, and its area two hundred and twenty square miles. It is separated on the south by the small strait of San Juanico from the island of Leyte, with which it was formerly united into one province. At the present time each island has its separate governor.

[Former names.] By the older authors the island is called Tendaya, Ibabao, and also Achan and Filipina. In later times the eastern side was called Ibabao, and the western Samar, which is now the official denomination for the whole island, the eastern shore being distinguished as the Contracosta. [162]

[Seasons and weather.] As on the eastern coasts of Luzon, the north-east monsoon here exceeds that from the south-west in duration and force, the violence of the latter being arrested by the islands lying to the southwest, while the north-east winds break against the coasts of these easterly islands with their whole force, and the additional weight of the body of water which they bring with them from the open ocean. In October winds fluctuating between north-west and north-east occur; but the prevalent ones are northerly. In the middle of November the north-east is constant; and it blows, with but little intermission, from the north until April. This is likewise the rainy season, December and January being the wettest, when it sometimes rains for fourteen days without interruption. In Lauang, on the north coast, the rainy season lasts from October to the end of December. From January to April it is dry; May, June, and July are rainy; and August and September, again, are dry; so that here there are two wet and two dry seasons in the year. From October to January violent storms (baguios or typhoons) sometimes occur. Beginning generally with a north wind, they pass to the north-west, accompanied by a little rain, then back to the north, and with increasing violence to the north-east and east, where they acquire their greatest power, and then moderate to the south. Sometimes, however, they change rapidly from the east to the south, in which quarter they first acquire their greatest force.

[Winds and storms.] From the end of March to the middle of June inconstant easterly winds (N.E.E. and S.E.) prevail, with a very heavy sea on the east coast. May is usually calm; but in May and June there are frequent thunderstorms, introducing the south-west monsoon, which though it extends through the months of July, August, and September, is not so constant as the north-east. The last-named three months constitute the dry season, which, however, is often interrupted by thunderstorms. Not a week, indeed, passes without rain; and in many years a storm arises every afternoon. At this season of the year ships can reach the east coast; but during the north-east monsoon navigation there is impossible. These general circumstances are subject to many local deviations, particularly on the south and west coasts, where the uniformity of the air currents is disturbed by the mountainous islands lying in front of them. According to the Estado geografico of 1855, an extraordinarily high tide, called dolo, occurs every year at the change of the monsoon in September or October. It rises sometimes sixty or seventy feet, and dashes itself with fearful violence against the south and east coasts, doing great damage, but not lasting for any length of time. The climate of Samar and Leyte appears to be very healthy on the coasts; in fact, to be the best of all the islands of the archipelago. Dysentery, diarrhoea, and fever occur less frequently than in Luzon, and Europeans also are less subject to their attacks than in that place.

[Only the coast settled.] The civilized natives live almost solely on its coasts, and there are also Bisayans who differ in speech and manners from the Bicols in about the same degree that the latter do from the Tagalogs. Roads and villages are almost entirely wanting in the interior, which is covered with a thick wood, and affords sustenance to independent tribes, who carry on a little tillage (vegetable roots and mountain rice), and collect the products of the woods, particularly resin, honey, and wax, in which the island is very rich.

[A tedious but eventful voyage.] On the 3rd of July we lost sight of Legaspi, and, detained by frequent calms, crawled as far as Point Montufar, on the northern edge of Albay, then onwards to the small island of Viri, and did not reach Lauang before evening of the 5th. The mountain range of Bacon (the Pocdol of Coello), which on my previous journeys had been concealed by night or mist, now revealed itself to us in passing as a conical mountain; and beside it towered a very precipitous, deeply-cleft mountain-side, apparently the remnant of a circular range. After the pilot, an old Filipino and native of the country, who had made the journey frequently before, had conducted us, to begin with, to a wrong port, he ran the vessel fast on to the bar, although there was sufficient water to sail into the harbor conveniently.

[Lauang.] The district of Lauang (Lahuan), which is encumbered with more than four thousand five hundred inhabitants, is situated at an altitude of forty feet, on the south-west shore of the small island of the same name, which is separated from Samar by an arm of the Catubig. According to a widely-spread tradition, the settlement was originally in Samar itself, in the middle of the rice-fields, which continue to the present day in that place, until the repeated inroads of sea-pirates drove the inhabitants, in spite of the inconvenience attending it, to protect themselves by settling on the south coast of the little island, which rises steeply out of the sea. [163] The latter consists of almost horizontal banks of tufa, from eight to twelve inches in thickness. The strata being continually eaten away by the waves at low watermark, the upper layers break off; and thus the uppermost parts of the strata, which are of a tolerably uniform thickness, are cleft by vertical fissures, and look like the walls of a fortress. Pressed for space, the church and the convent have taken up every level bit of the rock at various heights; and the effect of this accommodation of architecture to the requirements of the ground, though not designed by the architect, is most picturesque.

[Deterioration in the town.] The place is beautifully situated; but the houses are not so frequently as formerly surrounded by little gardens while there is a great want of water, and foul odors prevail. Two or three scanty springs afford a muddy, brackish water, almost at the level of the sea, with which the indolent people are content so that they have just enough. Wealthy people have their water brought from Samar, and the poorer classes are sometimes compelled, by the drying-up of the springs, to have recourse to the same place. The spring-water is not plentiful for bathing purposes; and, sea-bathing not being in favor, the people consequently are very dirty. Their clothing is the same as in Luzon; but the women wear no tapis, only a camisa (a short chemise, hardly covering the breast), and a saya, mostly of coarse, stiff guinara, which forms ugly folds, and when not colored black is very transparent. But dirt and a filthy existence form a better screen than opaque garments. The inhabitants of Lauang rightly, indeed, enjoy the reputation of being very idle. Their industry is limited to a little tillage, even fishing being so neglected that frequently there is a scarcity of fish. In the absence of roads by land, there is hardly any communication by water; and trade is mostly carried on by mariners from Catbalogan, who exchange the surplus of the harvests for other produce.

From the convent a view is had of part of the island of Samar, the mountain forms of which appear to be a continuation of the horizontal strata. In the centre of the district, at the distance of some miles, a table mountain, famous in the history of the country, towers aloft. [The Palapat revolt.] The natives of the neighboring village of Palapat retreated to it after having killed their priest, a too covetous Jesuit father, and for years carried on a guerilla warfare with the Spaniards until they were finally overpowered by treachery.

[Pirate outrages.] The interior of the country is difficult to traverse from the absence of roads, and the coasts are much infested by pirates. Quite recently several pontins and four schooners, laden with abacá, were captured, and the crews cruelly murdered, their bodies having been cut to pieces. This, however, was opposed to their general practice, for the captives are usually employed at the oars during the continuance of the foray, and afterwards sold as slaves in the islands of the Sulu sea. It was well that we did not encounter the pirates, for, although we carried four small cannons on board, nobody understood how to use them. [164]

[Electing officers.] The governor, who was expected to conduct the election of the district officials in person, but was prevented by illness, sent a deputy. As the annual elections are conducted in the same manner over the whole country, that at which I was present may be taken as typical of the rest. It took place in the common hall; the governor (or his deputy) sitting at the table, with the pastor on his right hand, and the clerk on his left–the latter also acting as interpreter; while Cabezas de Barangay, the gobernadorcillo, and those who had previously filled the office, took their places all together on benches. First of all, six cabezas and as many gobernadorcillos are chosen by lot as electors; the actual gobernadorcillo is the thirteenth, and the rest quit the hall. After the reading of the statutes by the president, who exhorts the electors to the conscientious performance of their duty, the latter advance singly to the table, and write three names on a piece of paper. Unless a valid protest be made either by the parish priest or by the electors, the one who has the most votes is forthwith named gobernadorcillo for the coming year, subject to the approval of the superior jurisdiction at Manila; which, however, always consents, for the influence of the priest would provide against a disagreeable election. The election of the other functionaries takes place in the same manner, after the new gobernadorcillo has been first summoned into the hall, in order that, if he have any important objections to the officers then about to be elected, he may be able to make them. The whole affair was conducted very quietly and with dignity. [165]

[Unsatisfactory forced labor.] On the following morning, accompanied by the obliging priest, who was followed by nearly all the boys of the village, I crossed over in a large boat to Samar. Out of eleven strong baggage porters whom the governor’s representative had selected for me, four took possession of some trifling articles and sped away with them, three others hid themselves in the bush, and four had previously decamped at Lauang. The baggage was divided and distributed amongst the four porters who were detained, and the little boys who had accompanied us for their own pleasure. We followed the sea-shore in a westerly direction, and at a very late hour reached the nearest visita (a suburban chapel and settlement) where the priest was successful, after much difficulty, in supplying the places of the missing porters. On the west side of the mouth of the Pambujan a neck of land projects into the sea, which is a favorite resort of the [A pirate base.] sea-pirates, who from their shelter in the wood command the shore which extends in a wide curve on both sides, and forms the only communication between Lauang and Catarman. Many travellers had already been robbed in this place; and the father, who was now accompanying me thus far, had, with the greatest difficulty, escaped the same danger only a few weeks before.

The last part of our day’s journey was performed very cautiously. A messenger who had been sent on had placed boats at all the mouths of rivers, and, as hardly any other Europeans besides ecclesiastics are known in this district, I was taken in the darkness for a Capuchin in travelling attire; the men lighting me with torches during the passage, and the women pressing forward to kiss my hand. I passed the night on the road, and on the following day reached Catarman (Caladman on Coello’s map), a clean, spacious locality numbering 6,358 souls, at the mouth of the river of the same name. Six pontins from Catbalogan awaited their cargoes of rice for Albay. The inhabitants of the north coast are too indifferent sailors to export their products themselves, and leave it to the people of [Catbalogan monopoly of interisland traffic.] Catbalogan, who, having no rice-fields, are obliged to find employment for their activity in other places.

[A changed river and a new town.] The river Catarman formerly emptied further to the east, and was much choked with mud. In the year 1851, after a continuous heavy rain, it worked for itself, in the loose soil which consists of quartz sand and fragments of mussels, a new and shorter passage to the sea–the present harbor, in which ships of two hundred tons can load close to the land; but in doing so it destroyed the greater part of the village, as well as the stone church and the priest’s residence. In the new convent there are two salons, one 16.2 by 8.8, the other 9 by 7.6 paces in dimensions, boarded with planks from a single branch of a dipterocarpus (guiso). The pace is equivalent to 30 inches; and, assuming the thickness of the boards, inclusive of waste, to be one inch, this would give a solid block of wood as high as a table (two and one-half feet), the same in breadth, eighteen feet in length, and of about one hundred and ten cubic feet. [166] The houses are enclosed in gardens; but some of them only by fencing, within which weeds luxuriate. At the rebuilding of the village, after the great flood of water, the laying out of gardens was commanded; but the industry which is required to preserve them is often wanting. Pasture grounds extend themselves, on the south side of the village, covered with fine short grass; but, with the exception of some oxen and sheep belonging to the priest, there are no cattle.

[Up the river.] Still without servants, I proceeded with my baggage in two small boats up the river, on both sides of which rice-fields and coco-groves extended; but the latter, being concealed by a thick border of Nipa palms and lofty cane, are only visible occasionally through the gaps. The sandy banks, at first flat, became gradually steeper, and the rock soon showed itself close at hand, with firm banks of sandy clay containing occasional traces of indistinguishable petrifactions. A small mussel [167] has pierced the clay banks at the water-line, in such number that they look like honeycombs. About twelve we cooked our rice in an isolated hut, amongst friendly people. The women whom we surprised in dark ragged clothing of guinara drew back ashamed, and soon after appeared in clean chequered sayas, with earrings of brass and tortoise-shell combs. When I drew a little naked girl, the mother forced her to put on a garment. About two we again stepped into the boat, and after rowing the whole night reached a small visita, Cobocobo, about nine in the forenoon. The rowers had worked without interruption for twenty-four hours, exclusive of the two hours’ rest at noon, and though somewhat tired were in good spirits.

[Salta Sangley ridge.] At half-past two we set out on the road over the Salta Sangley (Chinese leap) to Tragbucan, which, distant about a mile in a straight line, is situated at the place where the Calbayot, which empties on the west coast at Point Hibaton, becomes navigable for small boats. By means of these two rivers and the short but troublesome road, a communication exists between the important stations of Catarman on the north coast, and Calbayot on the west coast. The road, which at its best part is a small path in the thick wood uninvaded by the sun, and frequently is only a track, passes over slippery ridges of clay, disappearing in the mud puddles in the intervening hollows, and sometimes running into the bed of the brooks. The watershed between the Catarman and Calbayot is formed by the Salta Sangley already mentioned, a flat ridge composed of banks of clay and sandstone, which succeed one another ladder-wise downwards on both its sides, and from which the water collected at the top descends in little cascades. In the most difficult places rough ladders of bamboo are fixed. I counted fifteen brooks on the north-east side which feed the Catarman, and about the same number of feeders of the Calbayot on the south-west side. About forty minutes past four we reached the highest point of the Salta Sangley, about ninety feet above the sea; and at half-past six we got to a stream, the highest part of the Calbayot, in the bed of which we wandered until its increasing depth forced us, in the dark, laboriously to beat out our path through the underwood to its bank; and about eight o’clock we found ourselves opposite the visita Tragbucan. The river at this place was already six feet deep, and there was not a boat. After shouting entreaties and threats for a long time, the people, who were startled out of sleep by a revolver shot, agreed to construct a raft of bamboo, on which they put us and our baggage. The little place, which consists of only a few poor huts, is prettily situated, surrounded as it is by wooded hillocks on a plateau of sand fifty feet above the reed-bordered river.

[On the Calbayot River.] Thanks to the activity of the teniente of Catarman who accompanied me, a boat was procured without delay, so that we were able to continue our journey about seven o’clock. The banks were from twenty to forty feet high; and, with the exception of the cry of some rhinoceros birds which fluttered from bough to bough on the tops of the trees, we neither heard nor saw a trace of animal life. About half-past eleven we reached Taibago, a small visita, and about half-past one a similar one, Magubay; and after two hours’ rest at noon, about five o’clock, we got into a current down which we skilfully floated, almost without admitting any water. The river, which up to this point is thirty feet broad, and on account of many projecting branches of trees difficult to navigate, here is twice as broad. About eleven at night we reached the sea, and in a complete calm rowed for the distance of a league along the coast to Calbayot, the convent at which place affords a commanding view of the islands lying before it.

A thunderstorm obliged us to postpone the journey to the chief town, Catbalogan (or Catbalonga), which was seven leagues distant, until the afternoon. In a long boat, formed out of the stem of one tree, and furnished with outriggers, we travelled along the shore, which is margined by a row of low-wooded hills with many small visitas; and as night was setting in we rounded the point of Napalisan, a rock of trachytic conglomerate shaped by perpendicular fissures with rounded edges into a series of projections like towers, which rises up out of the sea to the height of sixty feet, like a knight’s castle. [Catbalogan.] At night we reached Catbalogan, the chief town of the island, with a population of six thousand, which is picturesquely situated in the middle of the western border, in a little bay surrounded by islands and necks of land, difficult to approach and, therefore, little guarded. Not a single vessel was anchored in the harbor.

The houses, many of which are of boards, are neater than those in Camarines; and the people, though idle, are more modest, more honorable, more obliging, and of cleaner habits, than the inhabitants of South Luzon. Through the courtesy of the governor I quickly obtained a roomy dwelling, and a servant who understood Spanish. [An ingenious mechanic.] Here I also met a very intelligent Filipino who had acquired great skill in a large variety of crafts. With the simplest tools he improved in many points on my instruments and apparatus, the purpose of which he quickly comprehended to my entire satisfaction, and gave many proofs of considerable intellectual ability.

[The flying monkey.] In Samar the flying monkey or lemur (the kaguang of the Bisayans–galeopithecus) is not rare. These animals, which are of the size of the domestic cat, belong to the quadrumana; but, like the flying squirrels, they are provided with a bird-like membrane, which, commencing at the neck, and passing over the fore and hinder limbs, reaches to the tail; by means of which they are able to glide from one tree to another at a very obtuse angle. [168] Body and membrane are clothed with a very short fur, which nearly equals the chinchilla in firmness and softness, and is on that account in great request. While I was there, six live kaguangs arrived as a present for the priest (three light grey, one dark brown, and two greyish brown; all with irregularly distributed spots); and from these I secured a little female with her young.

[A hasty and unfounded judgment.] It appeared to be a very harmless, awkward animal. When liberated from its fetters, it remained lying on the ground with all its four limbs stretched out, and its belly in contact with the earth, and then hopped in short awkward leaps, without thereby raising itself from the ground, to the nearest wall, which was of planed boards. Arrived there, it felt about it for a long time with the sharp claw, which is bent inwards, of its fore-hand, until at length it realized the impossiblity of climbing it at any part. It succeeded by means of a corner or an accidental crevice in climbing a foot upwards, and fell down again immediately, because it had abandoned the comparatively secure footing of its hinder limbs before its fore-claws had obtained a firm hold. It received no hurt, as the violence of the fall was broken by the flying membrane which was rapidly extended. These attempts, which were continued with steady perseverance, showed an astonishing deficiency of judgment, the animal endeavoring to do much more than was in its power to accomplish. All its endeavors, therefore, were unsuccessful, though made without doing itself any hurt–thanks to the parachute with which Nature had provided it. Had the kaguang not been in the habit of relying so entirely on this convenient contrivance, it probably would have exercised its judgment to a greater extent, and formed a more correct estimate of its ability. The animal repeated its fruitless efforts so often that I no longer took any notice of it, and after some time it disappeared: but I found it again in a dark corner, under the roof, where it would probably have waited for the night in order to continue its flight. Evidently it had succeeded in reaching the upper edge of the boarded wall by squeezing its body between this and the elastic covering of bamboo hurdle-work which lay firmly imposed upon it; so that the poor creature, which I had rashly concluded was stupid and awkward, had, under the circumstances, manifested the greatest possible skill, prudence, and perseverance.

[A promise of rare animals and wild people.] A priest who was present on a visit from Calbigan promised me so many wonders in his district–abundance of the rarest animals, and Cimarrones uncivilized in the highest degree–that I accompanied him, on the following day, in his journey home. In an hour after our departure we reached the little island of Majava, which consists of perpendicular strata of a hard, fine-grained, volcanic tufa, with small, bright crystals of hornblende. The island of Buat (on Coello’s map) is called by our mariners Tubigan. In three hours we reached Umauas, a dependency of Calbigan. It is situated, fifty feet above the sea, in a bay, before which (as is so often the case on this coast) a row of small picturesque islands succeed one another, and is exactly four leagues from Catbalogan. But Calbigan, which we reached towards evening, is situated two leagues N.N.E. from Umauas, surrounded by rice-fields, forty feet above the river of the same name, and almost a league and a half from its mouth. A tree with beautiful violet-blue panicles of blossoms is especially abundant on the banks of the Calbigan, and supplies a most valuable wood for building purposes in the Philippines. It is considered equal to teak, like which it belongs to the class verbenaceae; and its inland name is [Molave.] molave (Vitex geniculata, Blanco).

[Serpent-charmers.] According to the statements of credible men, there are serpent-tamers in this country. They are said to pipe the serpents out of their holes, directing their movements, and stopping and handling them at will, without being injured by them. The most famous individual amongst them, however, had been carried off by the sea-pirates a short time before; another had run away to the Cimarronese in the mountains; and the third, whose reputation did not appear to be rightly established, accompanied me on my excursion, but did not justify the representations of his friends. He caught two poisonous serpents, [169] which we encountered on the road, by dexterously seizing them immediately behind the head, so that they were incapable of doing harm; and, when he commanded them to lie still, he took the precaution of placing his foot on their necks. In the chase I hurt my foot so severely against a sharp-pointed branch which was concealed by the mud that I was obliged to return to Catbalogan without effecting my object. The inhabitants of Calbigan are considered more active and circumspect than those on the west coast, and they are praised for their honesty. I found them very skilful; and they seemed to take an evident pleasure in making collections and preparing plants and animals, so that I would gladly have taken with me a servant from the place; but they are so reluctant to leave their village that all the priest’s efforts to induce one to ride with us were fruitless.

[A coral garden.] At a short distance north-west from Catbalogan a most luxuriant garden of corals is to be observed in less than two fathoms, at the ebb. On a yellow carpet of calcareous polyps and sponges, groups of leather-like stalks, finger-thick, lift themselves up like stems of vegetable growth; their upper ends thickly covered with polyps (Sarcophyton pulmo Esp.), which display their roses of tentacula wide open, and resplendent with the most beautiful varying colors, looking, in fact, like flowers in full bloom. Very large serpulites extend from their calcareous tubes, elegant red, blue, and yellow crowns of feelers, and, while little fishes of marvellously gorgeous color dart about in this fairy garden, in their midst luxuriantly grow delicate, feathered plumulariae.

[Ornamental but useless forts.] Bad weather and the flight of my servant, who had gambled away some money with which he had been entrusted, at a cock-fight, having detained me some days in the chief town, I proceeded up the bay, which extends southwards from Catbalogan and from west to east as far as Paranas. Its northern shore consists of ridges of earth, regular and of equal height, extending from north to south, with gentle slopes towards the west, but steep declivities on the east, and terminating abruptly towards the sea. Nine little villages are situated on this coast between Catbalogan and Paranas. From the hollows, amidst coco and betel palms, they expand in isolated groups of houses up the gentle western slopes, and, on reaching the summit, terminate in a little castle, which hardly affords protection against the pirates, but generally forms a pretty feature in the landscape. In front of the southern edge of the bay, and to the south-west, many small islands and wooded rocks are visible, with the mountains of Leyte in the high-ground, constituting an ever-shifting series of views.

[Paranas.] As the men, owing to the sultry heat, the complete calm, and almost cloudless sky, slept quite as much as they rowed, we did not reach Paranas before the afternoon. It is a clean village, situated on a declivity between twenty and a hundred and fifty feet above the sea. The sides, which stand perpendicularly in the sea, consist of grey banks of clay receding landwards, and overspread with a layer of fragments of mussels, the intervals between which are filled up with clay, and over the latter is a solid breccia, cemented with lime, composed of similar fragments. In the clay banks are well-preserved petrifactions, so similar in color, habitat, and aspect to many of those in the German tertiary formations that they might be taken for them. The breccia also is fossil, probably also tertiary; at all events, the identity of the few species which were recognisable in it–Cerithium, Pecten, and Venus–with living species could not be determined. [170]

[A canal through the bog.] On the following morning I proceeded northwards by a small canal, through a stinking bog of rhizophora (mangroves), and then continued my journey on land to Loquilocun, a little village which is situated in the forest. Half-way we passed through a river, twenty feet broad, flowing east to west, with steep banks rendered accessible by ladders.

[Hammock-travelling.] As I still continued lame (wounds in the feet are difficult to heal in warm countries), I caused myself to be carried part of the way in the manner which is customary hereabouts. The traveller lies on a loose mat, which is fastened to a bamboo frame, borne on the shoulders of four robust polistas. About every ten minutes the bearers are relieved by others. As a protection against sun and rain, the frame is furnished with a light roof of pandanus.

[Poor roads.] The roads were pretty nearly as bad as those at the Salta Sangley; and, with the exception of the sea-shore, which is sometimes available, there appear to be none better in Samar. After three hours we reached the Loquilocun, which, coming from the north, here touches its most southerly point, and then flows south-east to the great ocean. Through the kind care of the governor, I found two small boats ready, which were propelled with wonderful dexterity by two men squatted at the extreme ends, and [Running the rapids.] glided between the branches of the trees and rocks into the bed of the rapid mountain torrent. Amidst loud cheers both the boats glided down a cascade of a foot and a half in height without shipping any water.

[Loquilocun.] The little village of Loquilocun consists of three groups of houses on three hillocks. The inhabitants were very friendly, modest, and obliging, and so successful in collecting that the spirits of wine which I had with me was quickly consumed. In Catbalogan my messengers were able with difficulty to procure a few small flasks. Through the awkward arrangements of a too obliging friend, my own stores, having been sent to a wrong address, did not reach me until some months afterwards; and the palm-wine, which was to be bought in Samar, was too weak. One or two boats went out daily to fish for me; but I obtained only a few specimens, which belonged to almost as many species and genera. Probably the bad custom of poisoning the water in order to kill the fish (the pounded fruit of a Barringtonia here being employed for the purpose) is the cause of the river being so empty of fish.

[Numerous small streams.] After a few days we left the little place about half-past nine in the forenoon, packed closely in two small boats; and, by seven minutes past one when we reached an inhabited hut in the forest, we had descended more than forty streams of a foot and a foot and a half and more in depth. The more important of them have names which are correctly given on Coello’s map; and the following are their distances by the watch:–At ten o’clock we came to a narrow, rocky chasm, at the extremity of which the water falls several feet below into a large basin; and here we unloaded the boats, which hitherto had, under skilful management, wound their way, like well-trained horses, between all the impediments in the bed of the river and over all the cascades and waves, almost without taking any water; only two men remaining in each boat, who, loudly cheering, shot downwards; in doing which the boats were filled to the brim.

[Jasper and Coal.] Opposite this waterfall a bank of rubbish had been formed by the alluvium, in which, besides fragments of the subjacent rock, were found well-rounded pieces of jasper and porphyry, as well as some bits of coal containing several pyrites, which had probably been brought during the rain from higher up the river. Its origin was unknown to the sailors. From fifty-six minutes past eleven to twelve o’clock there was an uninterrupted succession of rapids, which were passed with the greatest dexterity, without taking in water. Somewhat lower down, at about three minutes past twelve, we took in so much water that we were compelled to land and bale it out. At about fifteen minutes past twelve, we proceeded onwards, the river now being on the average sixty feet broad. On the edge of the wood some slender palms, hardly ten feet high, were remarkable by their frequency, and many phalaenopses by their display of blossoms, which is of rare occurrence. Neither birds nor apes, nor serpents were observed; but large pythons, as thick as one’s leg are said to be not unfrequent.

[Big pythons.] About thirty-six minutes past twelve we reached one of the most difficult places–a succession of waves, with many rocks projecting out of the water, between which the boats, now in full career, and with rapid evolutions, glided successfully. The adventure was accomplished with equal skill by the two crews, who exerted their powers to the utmost. At seventeen minutes past one we arrived at [Dini portage.] Dini, the most considerable waterfall in the whole distance; and here we had to take the boats out of the water; and, availing ourselves of the lianas which hung down from the lofty forest trees like ropes, we dragged them over the rocks. At twenty-one minutes past two we resumed our journey; and from twenty-two minutes past to half past eight we descended an irregular stair composed of several ledges, shipping much water. Up to this point the Loquilocun flowed in a rocky bed, with (for the most part) steep banks, and sometimes for a long distance under a thick canopy of boughs, from which powerful tendrils and ferns, more than a fathom in length, were suspended. Here the country was to some extent open; flat hillocks, with low underwood, came to view, and, on the north-west, loftier wooded mountains. The last two hours were notable for a heavy fall of rain, and, about half past five, we reached a solitary house occupied by friendly people, where we took up our quarters for the night.

[Down the river.] On the following morning the journey was continued down the river. Within ten minutes we glided past the last waterfall, between white calcareous rocks of a kind of marble, covered with magnificent vegetation. Branches, completely covered with phalaenopses (P. Aphrodite, Reichb. fls.), projected over the river, their flowers waving like large gorgeous butterflies over its foaming current. Two hours later the stream became two hundred feet broad, and, after leaping down a ladder of fifty meters in height from Loquilocun, it steals away in gentle windings through a flat inundated country to the east coast; forming a broad estuary, on the right bank of which, half a league from the sea, the district of Jubasan or Paric (population 2,300) is situated. The latter give their names to the lower portion of the stream. Here the excellent fellows of Loquilocun left me in order to begin their very arduous return journey.

[Along the coast.] Owing to bad weather, I could not embark for Tubig (population 2,858), south of Paric, before the following day; and, being continually hindered by difficulties of land transit, I proceeded in the rowboat along the coast to Borongan (population 7,685), with the equally intelligent and obliging priest with whom I remained some days, and then continued my journey to Guiuan (also Guiuang, Guiguan), the most important district in Samar (population 10,781), situated on a small neck of land which projects from the south-east point of the island into the sea.

[A tideland spring.] Close to the shore at the latter place a copious spring bursts out of five or six openings, smelling slightly of sulphuretted hydrogen. It is covered by the sea during the flow, but is open during the ebb, when its salt taste is hardly perceptible. In order to test the water, a well was formed by sinking a deep bottomless jar, and from this, after the water had flowed for the space of half an hour, a sample was taken, which, to my regret, was afterwards lost. The temperature of the water of the spring, at eight o’clock in the forenoon, was 27.7°; of the atmosphere, 28.7°; of the sea-water, 31.2°C. The spring is used by the women to dye their sarongs. The materials, after being steeped in the decoction of a bark abounding in tannin (materials made of the abacá are first soaked in a calcareous preparation), and dried in the sun, are placed in the spring during the ebb, taken out during the flow, re-dried, dipped in the decoction of bark, and again, while wet, placed in the spring; and this is repeated for the space of three days; when the result is a durable, but ugly inky black (gallussaures, oxide of iron).

[East Indian monkeys.] At Loquilocun and Borongan I had an opportunity of purchasing two live macaques. [171] These extremely delicate and rare little animals, which belong to the class of semi-apes, are, as I was assured in Luzon and Leyte, to be found only in Samar, and live exclusively on charcoal. My first “mago” was, in the beginning, somewhat voracious, but he disdained vegetable food, and was particular in his choice of insects, devouring live grasshoppers with delight. [172] It was extremely ludicrous, when he was fed in the day time, to see the animal standing, perched up perpendicularly on his two thin legs with his bare tail, and turning his large head–round as a ball, and with very large, yellow, owl-like eyes–in every direction, looking like a dark lantern on a pedestal with a circular swivel. Only gradually did he succeed in fixing his eyes on the object presented to him; but, as soon as he did perceive it, he immediately extended his little arms sideways, as though somewhat bashful, and then, like a delighted child, suddenly seizing it with hand and mouth at once, he deliberately tore the prey to pieces. During the day the mago was sleepy, short-sighted, and, when disturbed, morose; but with the decreasing daylight he expanded his pupils, and moved about in a lively and agile manner, with rapid noiseless leaps, generally sideways. He soon became tame, but to my regret died after a few weeks; and I succeeded only for a short time in keeping the second little animal alive.


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