The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
By Fedor Jagor et al

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Chapter XX

[Pearl divers from the Carolines.] In Guiuan I was visited by some Micronesians, who for the last fourteen days had been engaged at Sulangan on the small neck of land south-east from Guiuan, in diving for pearl mussels (mother-of-pearl), having undertaken the dangerous journey for the express purpose. [173]

[Hardships and perils of their voyage.] They had sailed from Uleai (Uliai, 7° 20’ N., 143°57’ E. Gr.) in five boats, each of which had a crew of nine men and carried forty gourds full of water, with coconuts and batata. Every man received one coconut daily, and two batatas, which they baked in the ashes of the coco shells; and they caught some fish on the way, and collected a little rain-water. During the day they directed their course by the sun, and at night by the stars. A storm destroyed the boats. Two of them sank, together with their crews, before the eyes of their companions, and of these, only one–probably the sole individual rescued–two weeks afterwards reached the harbor of Tandag, on the east coast of Mindanao. The party remained at Tandag two weeks, working in the fields for hire, and then proceeded northwards along the coast to Cantilang, 8° 25’ N.; Banouan (called erroneously Bancuan by Coello), 9° 1’ N.; Taganaan, 9° 25’ N.; thence to Surigao, on the north point of Mindanao; and then, with an easterly wind, in two days, direct to Guiuan. In the German translation of Captain Salmon’s “History of the Oriental Islands" (Altona, 1733), it is stated that:

[Castaways from the Pelews.] “Some other islands on the east of the Philippines have lately been discovered which have received the name of the New Philippines because they are situated in the neighborhood of the old, which have been already described. Father Clan (Clain), in a letter from Manila, which has been incorporated in the ’Philosophical Transactions,’ makes the following statement respecting them:–It happened that when he was in the town of Guivam, on the island of Samar, he met twenty-nine Palaos (there had been thirty, but one died soon after in Guiuan), or natives of certain recently discovered islands, who had been driven thither by the east winds, which prevail from December to May. According to their own statement, they were driven about by the winds for seventy days, without getting sight of land, until they arrived opposite to Guivam. When they sailed from their own country, their two boats were quite full, carrying thirty-five souls, including their wives and children; but several had died miserably on the way from the fatigue which they had undergone. When some one from Guivam wished to go on board to them, they were thrown into such a state of terror that all who were in one of the boats sprang overboard, along with their wives and children. However, they at last thought it best to come into the harbor; so they came ashore on December 28, 1696. They fed on coconuts and roots, which were charitably supplied to them, but refused even to taste cooked rice, which is the general food of the Asiatic nations. [Previous castaways.] Two women who had previously been cast away on the same islands acted as interpreters for them....

[Lived by sea-fishing and rain water.] “The people of the country went half naked, and the men painted their bodies with spots and all kinds of devices.... As long as they were on the sea they lived on fish, which they caught in a certain kind of fish-basket, with a wide mouth but tapering to a point at the bottom, which was dragged along underneath the boats; and rain-water, when they could catch it (or, as is stated in the letter itself, preserved in the shells of the coconut), served them for drink. When they were about to be taken into the presence of the Father, whom, from the great respect which was shown to him, they took for the governor, they colored their bodies entirely yellow, an operation which they considered highly important, as enabling them to appear as persons of consideration. They are very skilful divers, and now and then find pearls in the mussels which they bring up, which, however, they throw away as useless things.”

[Not the first time for one.] But one of the most important parts of Father Clain’s letter has been omitted by Capt. Salmon:–"The oldest of these strangers had once before been cast away on the coast of the province of Caragan, on one of our islands (Mindanao); but as he found only heathens (infidels), who lived in the mountains or on the desert shore, he returned to his own country.”

[Yap camotes from Philippines.] In a letter from Father Cantova to Father d’Aubenton, dated from Agdana (i.e. Agaña, of the Marianne Islands), March 20, 1722, describing the Caroline and Pelew Islands, it is said:–"The fourth district lies to the west. Yap (9° 25’ N., 138° 1’ E. Gr.), [174] which is the principal island, is more than forty leagues in circumference. Besides the different roots which are used by the natives of the island instead of bread, there is the batata, which they call camote, and which they have acquired from the Philippines, as I was informed by one of our Caroline Indians, who is a native of the island. He states that his father, named Coorr, ... three of his brothers, and himself had been cast away in a storm on one of the provinces in the Philippines, which was called Bisayas; that a missionary of our society (Jesus) received them in a friendly manner ... that on returning to their own island they took with them the seeds of different plants, amongst others the [Other arrivals of Micronesians.] batata, which multiplied so fast that they had sufficient to supply the other islands of the Archipelago with them.” Murillo Velarde states that in 1708 some Palaos were wrecked in a storm on Palapag (north coast of Samar); and I personally had the opportunity, in Manila, of photographing a company of Palaos and Caroline islanders, who had been the year before cast on the coast of Samar by foul weather. Apart from the question of their transport, whether voluntary or not, these simply were six examples, such as still occur occasionally, of Micronesians cast up on the shore of the Philippines; and probably it would not be difficult to find several more; but how often, both before and after the arrival of the Spaniards, might not vessels from those islands have come within the influence of the north-east storms, and been driven violently on the east coast of the Philippines without any record of such facts being preserved? [175] Even as, on the west side of the Archipelago, the type of the race seems to have been modified by its long intercourse with China, Japan, Lower India, and later with Europe, so likewise may Polynesian [Possible influence on Filipinos.] influences have operated in a similar manner on the east side; and the further circumstance that the inhabitants of the Ladrones [176] and the Bisayans [177] possess the art of coloring their teeth black, seems to point to early intercourse between the Bisayans and the Polynesians. [178]

[A futile sea voyage in an open boat.] At Guiuan I embarked on board an inconveniently cranky, open boat, which was provided with an awning only three feet square, for Tacloban, the chief town of Leyte. After first experiencing an uninterrupted calm, we incurred great danger in a sudden tempest, so that we had to retrace the whole distance by means of the oars. The passage was very laborious for the crew, who were not protected by an awning (temperature in the sun 35° R., of the water 25° R. [179]), and lasted thirty-one hours, with few intermissions; the party voluntarily abridging their intervals of rest in order to get back quickly to Tacloban, which keeps up an active intercourse with Manila, and has all the attractions of a luxurious city for the men living on the inhospitable eastern coast. [Beauty of Samar-Leyte strait.] It is questionable whether the sea anywhere washes over a spot of such peculiar beauty as the narrow strait which divides Samar from Leyte. On the west it is enclosed by steep banks of tuff, which tolerate no swamps of mangroves on their borders. There the lofty primeval forest approaches in all its sublimity close to the shore, interrupted only here and there by groves of cocos, in whose sharply defined shadows solitary huts are to be found; and the steep hills facing the sea, and numerous small rocky islands, are crowned with little castles of blocks of coral. At the eastern entrance of the strait the south coast of Samar consists of white limestone, like marble, but of quite modern date, which in many places forms precipitous cliffs. [180] At Nipa-Nipa, a small hamlet two leagues from Basey, they project into the sea in a succession of picturesque rocks, above one hundred feet in height, which, rounded above like a dome, thickly covered with vegetation, and corroded at the base by the waters of the sea, rise out of the waves like gigantic mushrooms. A peculiar atmosphere of enchantment pervades this locality, whose influence upon the native mariner must be all the more powerful when, fortunately escaping from the billows outside and the buffeting of the north-east wind, he suddenly enters this tranquil place of refuge. No wonder that superstitious imagination has peopled the place with spirits.

[Burial caves.] In the caverns of these rocks the ancient Pintados interred the corpses of their heroes and ancestors in well-locked coffins, surrounded by those objects which had been held in the highest regard by them during life. Slaves were also sacrificed by them at their obsequies, in order that they might not be without attendance in the world of shadows; [181] and the numerous coffins, implements, arms, and trinkets, protected by superstitious terrors, continued to be undisturbed for centuries. No boat ventured to cross over without the observance of a religious ceremony, derived from heathen times, to propitiate the spirits of the caverns who were believed to punish the omission of it with storm and ship-wreck.

[Objects destroyed but superstition persists.] About thirty years ago a zealous young ecclesiastic, to whom these heathen practices were an abomination, determined to extirpate them by the roots. With several boats well equipped with crosses, banners, pictures of saints, and all the approved machinery for driving out the Devil, he undertook the expedition against the haunted rocks, which were climbed amidst the sounds of music, prayers, and the reports of fireworks. A whole pailful of holy water first having been thrown into the cave for the purpose of confounding the evil spirits, the intrepid priest rushed in with elevated cross, and was followed by his faithful companions, who were fired with his example. A brilliant victory was the reward of the well-contrived and carefully executed plot. The coffins were broken to fragments, the vessels dashed to pieces, and the skeletons thrown into the sea; and the remaining caverns were stormed with like results. The objects of superstition have indeed been annihilated, but the superstition itself survives to the present day.

[Skulls from a rock near Basey.] I subsequently learned from the priest at Basey that there were still some remains on a rock, and a few days afterwards the worthy man surprised me with several skulls and a child’s coffin, which he had had brought from the place. Notwithstanding the great respect in which he was held by his flock, he had to exert all his powers of persuasion to induce the boldest of them to engage in so daring an enterprise. A boat manned by sixteen rowers was fitted out for the purpose; with a smaller crew they would not have ventured to undertake the journey. On their return home a thunderstorm broke over them, and the sailors, believing it to be a punishment for their outrage, were prevented only by the fear of making the matter worse from throwing coffin and skulls into the sea. Fortunately the land was near, and they rowed with all their might towards it; and, when they arrived, I was obliged to take the objects out of the boat myself, as no native would touch them.

[The cavern’s contents.] Notwithstanding, I was the next morning successful in finding some resolute individuals who accompanied me to the caverns. In the first two which we examined we found nothing; the third contained several broken coffins, some skulls, and potsherds of glazed and crudely painted earthenware, of which, however, it was impossible to find two pieces that belonged to each other. A narrow hole led from the large cavern into an obscure space, which was so small that one could remain in it only for a few seconds with the burning torch. This circumstance may explain the discovery, in a coffin which was eaten to pieces by worms, and quite mouldered away, of a well-preserved skeleton, or rather a mummy, for in many places there were carcasses clothed with dry fibers of muscle and skin. It lay upon a mat of pandanus, which was yet recognizable, with a cushion under the head stuffed with plants, and covered with matting of pandanus. There were no other remains of woven material. The coffins were of three shapes and without any ornament. Those of the first form, which were of excellent molave-wood, showed no trace of worm-holes or decay, whereas the others had entirely fallen to dust; and those of the third kind, which were most numerous, were distinguishable from the first only by a less curved form and inferior material.

[Impressive location of burial cave.] No legend could have supplied an enchanted royal sepulchre with a more suitable approach than that of the last of these caverns. The rock rises out of the sea with perpendicular sides of marble, and only in one spot is to be observed a natural opening made by the water, hardly two feet high, through which the boat passed at once into a spacious court, almost circular, and over-arched by the sky, the floor of which was covered by the sea, and adorned with a garden of corals. The steep sides are thickly hung with lianas, ferns, and orchids, by help of which one climbs upwards to the cavern, sixty feet above the surface of the water. To add to the singularity of the situation, we also found at the entrance to the grotto, on a large block of rock projecting two feet above the ground, [A sea snake.] a sea-snake, which tranquilly gazed at us, but which had to be killed, because, like all genuine sea-snakes, it was poisonous. Twice before I had found the same species in crevices of rock on the dry land, where the ebb might have left it; but it was strange to meet with it in this place, at such a height above the sea. It now reposes, as Platurus fasciatus Daud., in the Zoological Museum of the Berlin University.

[Chinese dishers from a cave.] In Guiuan I had an opportunity of purchasing four richly painted Chinese dishes which came from a similar cavern, and a gold signet ring; the latter consisting of a plate of gold, originally bent into a tube of the thickness of a quill with a gaping seam, and afterwards into a ring as large as a thaler, which did not quite meet. The dishes were stolen from me at Manila.

[Burial caves.] There are similar caverns which have been used as burial-places in many other localities in this country; on the island of Andog, in Borongan (a short time ago it contained skulls); also at Batinguitan, three hours from Borongan, on the banks of a little brook; and in Guiuan, on the little island of Monhon, which is difficult of approach by reason of the boisterous sea. In Catubig trinkets of gold have been found, but they have been converted into modern articles of adornment. One cavern at Lauang, however, is famous over the whole country on account of the gigantic, flat, compressed skulls, without sutures, which have been found in it. [182] It will not be uninteresting to compare the particulars here described with the statements of older authors; and for this reason I submit the following extracts:–

[Embalming.] Mas (Informe, i. 21), who does not give the sources of his information, thus describes the customs of the ancient inhabitants of the archipelago at their interments:–They sometimes embalmed their dead with aromatic substances * * * and placed those who were of note in chests carved out of a branch of a tree, and furnished with well-fitted lids * * * The coffin was placed, in accordance with the wish of the deceased, expressed before his death, either in the uppermost room of the house, where articles of value were secreted, or under the dwelling-house, in a kind of grave, which was not covered, but enclosed with a railing; or in a distant field, or on an elevated place or rock on the bank of a river, where he might be venerated by the pious. A watch was set over it for a certain time, lest boats should cross over, and the dead person should drag the living after him.

[Burial customs.] According to Gaspar San Agustín (p. 169), the dead were rolled up in cloths, and placed in clumsy chests, carved out of a block of wood, and buried under their houses, together with their jewels, gold rings, and some plates of gold over the mouth and eyes, and furnished with provisions, cups, and dishes. They were also accustomed to bury slaves along with men of note, in order that they might be attended in the other world.

“Their chief idolatry consisted in the worship of those of their ancestors who had most distinguished themselves by courage and genius, whom they regarded as deities * * * * They called them humalagar, which is the same as manes in the Latin * * * Even the aged died under this conceit, choosing particular places, such as one on the island of Leyte, which allowed of their being interred at the edge of the sea, in order that the mariners who crossed over might acknowledge them as deities, and pay them respect.” (Thévenot, Religieux, p. 2.)

[Slaves sacrificed.] “They did not place them (the dead) in the earth, but in coffins of very hard, indestructible wood * * * Male and female slaves were sacrificed to them, that they should not be unattended in the other world. If a person of consideration died, silence was imposed upon the whole of the people, and its duration was regulated by the rank of the deceased; and under certain circumstances it was not discontinued until his relations had killed many other persons to appease the spirit of the dead.” (Ibid., p. 7.)

“For this reason (to be worshipped as deities) the oldest of them chose some remarkable spot in the mountains, and particularly on headlands projecting into the sea, in order to be worshipped by the sailors.” (Gemelli Careri, p. 449.)

[Basey and its river.] From Tacloban, which I chose for my headquarters on account of its convenient tribunal, and because it is well supplied with provisions, I returned on the following day to Samar, and then to Basey, which is opposite to Tacloban. The people of Basey are notorious over all Samar for their laziness and their stupidity, but are advantageously distinguished from the inhabitants of Tacloban by their purity of manners. Basey is situated on the delta of the river, which is named after it. We proceeded up a small arm of the principal stream, which winds, with a very slight fall, through the plain; the brackish water, and the fringe of nipa-palms which accompanies it, consequently extending several leagues into the country. Coco plantations stretch behind them; and there the floods of water (avenidas), which sometimes take place in consequence of the narrow rocky bed of the upper part of the river, cause great devastation, as was evident from the mutilated palms which, torn away from their standing-place, rise up out of the middle of the river. After five hours’ rowing we passed out of the flat country into a narrow valley, with steep sides of marble, which progressively closed in and became higher. In several places they are underwashed, cleft, and hurled over each other, and with their naked side-walls form a beautiful contrast to the blue sky, the clear, greenish river, and the luxuriant lianas, which, attaching themselves to every inequality to which they could cling, hung in long garlands over the rocks.

[A frontage.] The stream became so rapid and so shallow that the party disembarked and dragged the boat over the stony bed. In this manner we passed through a sharp curve, twelve feet in height, formed by two rocks thrown opposite to each other, into a tranquil oval-shaped basin of water enclosed in a circle of limestone walls, inclining inwards, of from sixty to seventy feet in height; on the upper edge of which a circle of trees permitted only a misty sunlight to glimmer through the thick foliage. A magnificent gateway of rock, fifty to sixty feet high, and adorned with numerous stalactites, raised itself up opposite the low entrance; and through it we could see, at some distance, the upper portion of the river bathed in the sun. [A beautiful grotto.] A cavern of a hundred feet in length, and easily climbed, opened itself in the left side of the oval court, some sixty feet above the surface of the water; and it ended in a small gateway, through which you stepped on to a projection like a balcony, studded with stalactites. From this point both the landscape and the rocky cauldron are visible, and the latter is seen to be the remainder of a stalactitic cavern, the roof of which has fallen in. The beauty and peculiar character of the place have been felt even by the natives, who have called it Sogoton (properly, a bay in the sea). In the very hard limestone, which is like marble, I observed traces of bivalves and multitudes of spines of the sea-urchin, but no well-defined remains could be knocked off. The river could still be followed a short distance further upwards; and in its bed there were disjointed fragments of talcose and chloritic rocks.

[Fishing.] A few small fishes were obtained with much difficulty; and amongst them was a new and interesting species, viviparous. [183] An allied species (H. fluviatilis, Bleeker) which I had two years previously found in a limestone cavern on Nusa Kambangan, in Java, likewise contained living young ones. The net employed in fishing appears to be suited to the locality, which is a shallow river, full of transparent blocks. It is a fine-meshed, longish, four-cornered net, having its ample sides fastened to two poles of bamboo, which at the bottom were provided with a kind of wooden shoes, which curve upwards towards the stems when pushed forwards. The fisherman, taking hold of the upper ends of the poles, pushes the net, which is held obliquely before him, and the wooden shoes cause it to slide over the stones, while another person drives the fish towards him.

[Fossil beds.] On the right bank, below the cavern, and twenty feet above the surface of the water, there are beds of fossils, pectunculus, tapes, and placuna, some of which, from the fact of their barely adhering by the tip, must be of very recent date. I passed the night in a small hut, which was quickly erected for me, and on the following day attempted to pass up the river as far as the limits of the crystalline rock, but in vain. In the afternoon we set out on our return to Basey, which we reached at night.

[Recent elevation of coast.] Basey is situated on a bank of clay, about fifty feet above the sea, which towards the west elevates itself into a hill several hundred feet in height, and with steep sides. At twenty-five to thirty feet above the sea I found the same recent beds of mussels as in the stalactitic cavern of Sogoton. From the statements of the parish priest and of other persons, a rapid elevation of the coasts seems to be taking place in this country. Thirty years ago ships could lie alongside the land in three fathoms of water at the flood, whereas the depth at the same place now is not much more than one fathom. Immediately opposite to Basey lie two small islands, Genamok and Tapontonan, which, at the present time, appear to be surrounded by a sandbank at the lowest ebb-tide. Twenty years ago nothing of the kind was to be seen. Supposing these particulars to be correct, we must next ascertain what proportion of these changes of level is due to the floods, and how much to volcanic elevation; which, if we may judge by the neighboring active solfatara at Leyte, must always be of considerable amount.

[Crocodiles.] As the priest assured us, there are crocodiles in the river Basey over thirty feet in length, those in excess of twenty feet being numerous. The obliging father promised me one of at least twenty-four feet, whose skeleton I would gladly have secured; and he sent out some men who are so practised in the capture of these animals that they are dispatched to distant places for the purpose. Their contrivance for capturing them, which I, however, never personally witnessed, consists of a light raft of bamboo, with a stage, on which, several feet above the water, a dog or a cat is bound. Alongside the animal is placed a strong iron hook, which is fastened to the swimming bamboo by means of fibers of abacá. The crocodile, when it has swallowed the bait and the hook at the same time, endeavors in vain to get away, for the pliability of the raft prevents its being torn to pieces, and the peculiar elasticity of the bundle of fibers prevents its being bitten through. The raft serves likewise as a buoy for the captured animal. According to the statements of the hunters, the large crocodiles live far from human habitations, generally selecting the close vegetation in an oozy swamp, in which their bellies, dragging heavily along, leave trails behind them which betray them to the initiated. After a week the priest mentioned that his party had sent in three crocodiles, the largest of which, however, measured only eighteen feet, but that he had not kept one for me, as he hoped to obtain one of thirty feet. His expectation, however, was not fulfilled.

[Ignatius bean.] In the environs of Basey the Ignatius bean grows in remarkable abundance, as it also does in the south of Samar and in some other of the Bisayan islands. It is not met with in Luzon, but it is very likely that I have introduced it there unwittingly. Its sphere of propagation is very limited; and my attempts to transplant it to the Botanical Garden of Buitenzorg were fruitless. Some large plants intended for that purpose, which during my absence arrived for me at Daraga, were incorporated by one of my patrons into his own garden; and some, which were collected by himself and brought to Manila, were afterwards lost. Every effort to get these seeds (kernels), which are used over the whole of Eastern Asia as medicine, to germinate miscarried, they having been boiled before transmission, ostensibly for their preservation, but most probably to secure the monopoly of them.

[Strychnine.] According to Flueckinger, [184] the gourd-shaped berry of the climbing shrub (Ignatia amara, L. Strychnos Ignatii, Berg. Ignatiana Philippinica. Lour.) contains twenty-four irregular egg-shaped seeds of the size of an inch which, however, are not so poisonous as the Ignatius beans, which taste like crack-nuts. In these seeds strychnine was found by Pelletier and Caventou in 1818, as it subsequently was in crack-nuts. The former contained twice as much of it as the latter, viz. one and a half per cent; but, as they are four times as dear, it is only produced from the latter.

[Cholera and snake-bite cure.] In many households in the Philippines the dangerous drug is to be found as a highly prized remedy, under the name of Pepita de Catbalonga. Gemelli Careri mentions it, and quotes thirteen different uses of it. Dr. Rosenthal ("Synopsis Plantarum Diaphor.” p. 363) says:–"In India it has been employed as a remedy against cholera under the name of Papecta.” Papecta is probably a clerical error. In K. Lall Dey’s “Indigenous Drugs of India,” it is called Papeeta, which is pronounced Pepita in English; and Pepita is the Spanish word for the kernel of a fruit. It is also held in high estimation as an antidote for the bite of serpents. Father Blanco ("Flora of the Philippines,” 61), states that he has more than once proved its efficacy in this respect in his own person; but he cautions against its employment internally, as it had been fatal in very many cases. It should not be taken into the mouth, for should the spittle be swallowed, and vomiting not ensue, death would be inevitable. The parish priest of Tabaco, however, almost always carried a pepita in his mouth. From 1842 he began occasionally to take an Ignatius bean into his mouth as a protection against cholera, and so gradually accustomed himself to it. When I met him in 1860 he was quite well, and ascribed his health and vigor expressly to that habit. According to his communication, in cases of cholera the decoction was successfully administered in small doses introduced into tea; but it was most efficacious when, mixed with brandy, it was applied as a liniment.

[Superstitions regarding the “Bisayan” bean.] Huc also ("Thibet," I. 252) commends the expressed juice of the kouo-kouo (Faba Ign. amar.) both for internal and external use, and remarks that it plays a great part in Chinese medicine, no apothecary’s shop being without it. Formerly the poisonous drug was considered a charm, as it is still by many. Father Camel [185] states that the Catbalogan or Bisayan-bean, which the Indians call Igasur or Mananaog (the victorious), was generally worn as an amulet round the neck, being a preservative against poison, contagion, magic, and philtres, so potent, indeed, that the Devil in propia persona could not harm the wearer. Especially efficacious is it against a poison communicated by breathing upon one, for not only does it protect the wearer, but it kills the individual who wishes to poison him. Camel further mentions a series of miracles which superstition ascribed to the Ignatius bean.

[Coconuts.] On the southern half of the eastern border, on the shore from Borongan by Lauang as far as Guiuan, there are considerable plantations of cocos, which are most imperfectly applied to the production of oil. From Borongan and its visitas twelve thousand pitchers of coconut oil are yearly exported to Manila, and the nuts consumed by men and pigs would suffice for at least eight thousand pitchers. As a thousand nuts yield eight pitchers and a half, the vicinity of Borongan alone yields annually six million nuts; for which, assuming the average produce at fifty nuts, one hundred-twenty thousand fullbearing palms are required. The statement that their number in the above-mentioned district amounts to several millions must be an exaggeration.

[Getting coco oil.] The oil is obtained in a very rude manner. The kernel is rasped out of the woody shell of the nut on rough boards, and left to rot; and a few boats in a state of decay, elevated on posts in the open air, serve as reservoirs, the oil dropping through their crevices into pitchers placed underneath; and finally the boards are subjected to pressure. This operation, which requires several months for its completion, yields such a bad, dark-brown, and viscid product that the pitcher fetches only two dollars and a quarter in Manila, while a superior oil costs six dollars. [186]

[Oil factory.] Recently a young Spaniard has erected a factory in Borongan for the better preparation of oil. A winch, turned by two carabaos, sets a number of rasps in motion by means of toothed wheels and leather straps. They are somewhat like a gimlet in form, and consist of five iron plates, with dentated edges, which are placed radiating on the end of an iron rod, and close together, forming a blunt point towards the front. The other end of the rod passes through the center of a disk, which communicates the rotary motion to it, and projects beyond it. The workman, taking a divided coconut in his two hands, holds its interior arch, which contains the oil-bearing nut, with a firm pressure against the revolving rasp, at the same time urging with his breast, which is protected by a padded board, against the projecting end of the rod. The fine shreds of the nut remain for twelve hours in flat pans, in order that they may be partially decomposed. They are then lightly pressed in hand-presses; and the liquor, which consists of one-third oil and two-thirds water, is caught in tubs, from which, at the end of six hours, the oil, floating on the surface, is skimmed off. It is then heated in iron pans, containing 100 liters, until the whole of the water in it has evaporated, which takes from two to three hours. In order that the oil may cool rapidly, and not become dark in color, two pailfuls of cold oil, freed from water, are poured into it, and the fire quickly removed to a distance. The compressed shreds are once more exposed to the atmosphere, and then subjected to a powerful pressure. After these two operations have been twice repeated, the rasped substance is suspended in sacks between two strong vertical boards and crushed to the utmost by means of clamp screws, and repeatedly shaken up. The refuse serves as food for pigs. The oil which runs from the sacks is free from water, and is consequently very clear, and is employed in the cooling of that which is obtained in the first instance. [187]

[Limited output.] The factory produces fifteen hundred tinajas of oil. It is in operation only nine months in the year; from December to February the transport of nuts being prevented by the tempestuous seas, there being no land communication. The manufacturer was not successful in procuring nuts from the immediate vicinity in sufficient quantity to enable him to carry on his operations without interruption, nor, during the favorable season of the year, could he lay up a store for the winter months, although he paid the comparatively high price of three dollars per thousand.

[Illogical business.] While the natives manufactured oil in the manner just described, they obtained from a thousand nuts three and a half pots, which, at six reals each, fetched twenty-one reals; that is three reals less than was offered them for the raw nuts. These data, which are obtained from the manufacturers, are probably exaggerated, but they are in the main well founded; and the traveller in the Philippines often has the opportunity of observing similar anomalies. For example, in Daet, North Camarines, I bought six coconuts for one cuarto, at the rate of nine hundred and sixty for one dollar, the common price there. On my asking why no oil-factory had been erected, I received for answer that the nuts were cheaper singly than in quantities. In the first place, the native sells only when he wants money; but he knows that the manufacturer cannot well afford to have his business suspended; so, careless of the result, he makes a temporary profit, and never thinks of ensuring for himself a permanent source of income.

[Sugar venders.] In the province of Laguna, where the natives prepare coarse brown sugar from sugar-cane, the women carry it for leagues to the market, or expose it for sale on the country roads, in small loaves (panoche), generally along with buyo. Every passenger chats with the seller, weighs the loaf in the hand, eats a bit, and probably passes on without buying any. In the evening the woman returns to her home with her wares, and the next day repeats the same process.

[Disproportionate prices.] I have lost my special notes, but I remember that in two cases at least the price of the sugar in these loaves was cheaper than by the picul. Moreover, the Government of the day anticipated the people in setting the example, by selling cigars cheaper singly than in quantities.

[Uncertain trading.] In Europe a speculator generally can calculate beforehand, with the greatest certainty, the cost of production of any article; but in the Philippines it is not always so easy. Independently of the uncertainty of labor, the regularity of the supply of raw material is disturbed, not only by laziness and caprice, but also by jealousy and distrust. The natives, as a rule, do not willingly see Europeans settle amongst them and engage successfully in local operations which they themselves do not understand how to execute; and in like manner the creoles are reserved with foreigners, who generally are superior to them in capital, skill, and activity. Besides jealousy, suspicion also plays a great part, and this influences the native as well against the mestizo as against the Castilian. Enough takes place to the present day to justify this feeling; but formerly, when the most thrifty subjects could buy governorships, and shamelessly fleece their provinces, such outrageous abuses are said to have been permitted until, in process of time, suspicion has become a kind of instinct amongst the Filipinos.


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