A Woman's Impressions of the Philippines
Mary H. Fee
My Schoolmate and Life-Long Friend
Martha Parry Gish
Is Affectionately Dedicated
I. The Voyage Begins 11 II. From San Francisco to Honolulu 21 III. Our Ten Days' Sightseeing 26 IV. From Honolulu to Manila 38 V. Our First Few Days in the City 45 VI. From Manila To Capiz 60 VII. My First Experiences As a Teacher of Filipinos 73 VII. An Analysis of Filipino Character 86 IX. My Early Experiences in Housekeeping 107 X. Filipino Youths and Maidens 119 XI. Social and Industrial Condition of the Filipinos 130 XII. Progress in Politics and Improvement of the Currency 150 XIII. Typhoons and Earthquakes 168 XIV. War Alarms and the Suffering Poor 179 XV. The Filipino's Christmas Festivities and His Religion 192 XVI. My Gold-hunting Expedition 206 XVII. An Unpleasant Vacation 217 XVIII. The Aristocracy, the Poor, snd American Women 232 XIX. Weddings in Town and Country 250 XX. Sickbeds and Funerals 262 XXI. Sports and Amusements 270 XXII. Children's Games—The Conquest of Fires 280
Filipino School Children Frontispiece The Pali, near Honolulu 28 West Indian Rain-tree, or Monkey-pod Tree 34 The Volcano of Mayon 40 View of Corregidor 42 Swarming Craft on the Pasig River, Manila 46 "The Rat-pony and the Two-wheeled Nightmare" 48 The Luneta, Manila 52 The Bend in the River at Capiz 62 Street Scene in Romblon 64 Church, Plaza, and Public Buildings, Capiz 80 The Home of an American Schoolteacher 90 A Characteristic Group of Filipino Students 100 Filipino School Children 110 A Filipino Mother and Family 120 A Company of Constabulary Police 132 Group of Officials in front of Presidente's (Mayor's) Residence 142 A High-class Provincial Family, Capiz 148 Pasig Church 154 The Isabella Gate, Manila 162 Calle Real, Manila 174 Procession and Float in Streets of Capiz, in Honor of Filipino Patriot and Martyr, Jose Rizal 184 A Rich Cargo of Fruit on the Way to Market 194 A Family Group and Home in the Settled Interior 200 Filipino Children "Going Swimming" in the Rio Cagayan 212 Mortuary Chapel in Paco Cemetery, Manila 220 The "Ovens" in Paco Cemetery, Manila 228 Peasant Women of the Cagayan Valley 236 A Wedding Party Leaving the Church 252 A Funeral on Romblon Island 264 Bicol School Children One Generation Removed from Savagery 272 Sunset over Manila Bay 282
The Voyage Begins
I Find the Transport Ship Buford and My Stateroom—Old Maids and Young Maids Bound for the Orient—The Deceitful Sea—Making New Friends and Acquaintances.
On a hot July day the army transport Buford lay at the Folsom Dock, San Francisco, the Stars and Stripes drooping from her stern, her Blue Peter and a cloud of smoke announcing a speedy departure, and a larger United States flag at her fore-mast signifying that she was bound for an American port. I observed these details as I hurried down the dock accompanied by a small negro and a dressing-bag, but I was not at that time sufficiently educated to read them. I thought only that the Buford seemed very large (she is not large, however), that she was beautifully white and clean; and that I was delighted to be going away to foreign lands upon so fine a ship.
Having recognized with relief a pile of luggage going aboard—luggage which I had carefully pasted with red, white, and blue labels crossed by the letters "U.S.A.T.S." and Buford—I dismissed the negro, grasped the dressing-bag with fervor, and mounted the gangway. To me the occasion was momentous. I was going to see the world, and I was one of an army of enthusiasts enlisted to instruct our little brown brother, and to pass the torch of Occidental knowledge several degrees east of the international date-line.
I asked the first person I met, who happened to be the third officer, where I should go and what I should do. He told me to report at the quartermaster's office at the end of the promenade deck. A white-haired, taciturn gentleman in the uniform of a major, U.S.A., was occupying this apartment, together with a roly-poly clerk in a blue uniform which seemed to be something between naval and military. When I mentioned my name and showed my order for transportation, the senior officer grunted inarticulately, and waved me in the direction of his clerk, glaring at me meanwhile with an expression which combined singularly the dissimilar effects of a gimlet and a plane. The rotund junior contented himself with glancing suspiciously at the order and sternly at me. As if reassured, however, by my plausible countenance, he flipped over the pages of a ledger, told me the number of my stateroom, and hunted up a packet of letters, which he delivered with an acid reproof to me for not having reported before, saying that the letters had been accumulating for ten days.
It is true that the Buford had been scheduled to sail on the first day of the month; but I had arrived a day or two before that date, only to learn that the sailing date had been postponed to the tenth. I had made many weary trips to the army headquarters in Montgomery Street, asking for mail—and labels—with no results. Nobody had suggested that the mail would be delivered aboard ship, and I had not had sense enough to guess it. I did not make any explanations to the quartermaster and his clerk, however, because an intuition warned me not to add tangible evidence to a general belief in civilian stupidity. I merely swallowed my snubbing meekly and walked off.
I ambled about, clinging to the dressing-bag and looking for some one resembling a steward. At the foot of the ladder leading to the bridge I encountered two young girls descending therefrom with evidences of embarrassed mirth. They were Radcliffe girls, whose evil genius had led them to the bridge and to an indignant request to explain their presence there. They explained to no purpose, and, in response to a plaintive inquiry where to go, were severely told, "We don't know, but go down from here immediately." So they came down, crimson but giggling, and saw me (they said) roaming about with an expression at once wistful and complacent.
I found a steward and my stateroom at last, and a brown-haired, brown-eyed young woman in it who was also a pedagogue. We introduced ourselves, disposed of our parcels, and began to discuss the possibilities of the voyage. She was optimistically certain that she was not going to be seasick. I was pessimistically certain that I was. And she was wrong, and I was right. We were both gloriously, enthusiastically, madly seasick.
When we returned to the deck, it was crowded with passengers, the mail was coming aboard, and all sorts of bugle-calls were sounding, for we were carrying "casuals." It was a matter of wonder that so many persons should have gathered to bid adieu to a passenger list recruited from all parts of the Union. The dock was black with people, and our deck was densely crowded. Khaki-clad soldiers leaned over the side to shout to more khaki on the dock. An aged, poorly dressed woman was crying bitterly, with her arms about the neck of a handsome boy, one of our cabin passengers; and all about, the signs of intense feeling showed that the voyage marked no light interval of separation.
I stood at the forward rail of the promenade deck, and fell into conversation with a gentleman whom I had met in San Francisco and who was a fellow passenger. We agreed in being glad that none of our relatives were there to see us off; but, though we made much ado to seem matter-of-fact and quite strong-minded about expatriating ourselves, I noticed that he cleared his throat a great deal, and my chin annoyed me by a desire to tremble.
The gongs warned visitors ashore, and, just as all the whistles of San Francisco were blowing the noon hour, we backed away from the dock, and turned our head to sea. As the little line of green water between ship and dock widened to a streamlet and then to a river, the first qualm concerning the wisdom of the expedition struck its chilly way to my heart. Probably most of the passengers were experiencing the same doubts; and the captain suspected the fact, for he gave us fire drill just to distract our attention and to settle our nerves.
The luncheon gong sounded immediately after his efficacious diversion, and the military people who were to eat in the first section—the Buford's dining-room was small—went down to lunch. The junior lieutenants, and the civil engineers and schoolteachers, who made up her civilian list, took their last look at San Francisco. We swung past Alcatraz Island and heard the army bugles blowing there. The irregular outline of the city with its sky-scrapers printed itself against a background of dazzling blue, with here and there a tufty cloud. The day was symbolic of the spirit which sent young America across the Pacific—hope, brilliant hope, with just a cloud of doubt.
We passed the Golden Gate just as our own luncheon gong sounded, and the Buford was rolling to the heave of the outside sea as we sat down to our meal. At our own particular table we were eight—eight nice old (and young) maid schoolteachers. Some of us were plump and some were wofully thin. One was built on heroic lines of bone, and those sinners from Radcliffe were pretty.
Toward the end of luncheon the Buford began to roll and pitch and otherwise behave herself "most unbecoming," and my room-mate, declining to finish her luncheon, fled to the deck, where the air was fresher. Feeling no qualms myself, and secretly triumphing in her disillusion, I followed with her golf cape and rug, of which she had been too engrossed to think. My San Francisco acquaintance coming to my assistance, we established her in a steamer chair and sat down, one on each side, to cheer her up,—and badly she needed it, for her courage was fast deserting her.
The sea was running heavily, and the wind was cold; I had not thought there could be such cold in July. The distance was obscured by a silvery haze which was not thick enough to be called a fog, but which lent a wintry aspect to sea and sky—a likeness increased by the miniature snow-field on each side of the bow as the water flung up and melted away in pools like bluish-white snow ice.
As the Buford waded into the swell, wave after wave dashed over the forward deck, drenching a few miserable soldiers there, who preferred to soak and freeze rather than to go inside and be seasick. Sometimes the spray leaped hissing up on the promenade deck, and our weather side was dripping, as I found when I went over there. I also slipped and fell down, but as that side of the ship was deserted, nobody saw me—to my gratification. I petted a bruised shin a few minutes and went back to the lee side a wiser woman.
About three o'clock, when Miss R——'s face was assuming a fine, corpse-like green tint, I began to have a hesitating and unhappy sensation in the pit of the stomach, a suggestion of doubt as to the wisdom of leaving the solid, reliable land, and trusting myself to the fickle and deceitful sea. In a few moments these disquieting hints had grown to a positive clamor, and my head and heels were feeling very much as do those of gentlemen who have been dining out with "terrapin and seraphim" and their liquid accompaniments. At this time Miss R—— gave out utterly and went below, but I was filled with the idea that seasickness can be overcome by an effort of will, and stayed on, making an effort to "demonstrate," as the Christian Scientists say, and trying to look as if nothing were the matter. The San Francisco man remained by me, persistent in an apparently disinterested attempt to entertain me; but I was not deluded, for I recognized in his devotion the fiendish joy of the un-seasick watching the unconfessed tortures of those who are.
It was five o'clock when I gasped with a last effort of facetious misery, "And yet they say people come to sea for their health," and went below. The Farralones Islands, great pinky-gray needles of bleak rock, were sticking up somewhere in the silvery haze on our starboard side, and I loathed the Farralones Islands, and the clean white ship, and myself most of all for embarking upon an idiotic voyage.
Arrived in the stateroom, it was with little less than horror that I saw Miss R—— in the lower berth—my berth. Such are the brutalizing influences of seasickness that I immediately reminded her that hers was above. She dragged herself out, and, in a very ecstasy of selfish misery, I discarded my garments and burrowed into the warmth of my bed. Never had blankets seemed more comfortable, for, between the wind and the seasickness, I was chilled through and through.
I fell asleep through sheer exhaustion, and wakened some time after in darkness. The waves were hissing and slapping at the porthole; the second steward was cursing expertly in the linen closet, which happened to be opposite our stateroom; and somewhere people in good health were consuming viands, for cooking odors and the rattle of dishes came to us. A door in the corridor opened, and the sound of a cornet was wafted back from the forward deck. Somebody was playing "The Holy City." Steps went by. A voice with an English accent said, "By Jove, you can't get away from that tune," and, in one of those instants of stillness which fall in the midst of confusion, I heard a gurgling moan.
I snapped on the light and turned—at what cost only the seasick can appreciate—to behold Miss R—— sitting on the floor with her back to the wall. She was still shrouded in her golf cape and hood, and contemplated her boots—which were on her feet, sticking straight out before her—as if they were a source of mental as well as bodily inconvenience. At intervals she rolled her head and gave utterance to that shuddering moan.
Wretched as I was, I could not help gasping, "Are you enjoying your sea trip?" and she replied sepulchraily, "It isn't what it's cracked up to be." We could say no more. That time we groaned in unison.
She must have gathered strength of mind and body in the night, however, for she was in her berth next morning when the stewardess came in to know what we wanted for breakfast. We did not want anything, as we quickly made reply. The wind went down that day; the next day was warm and clear, with a sea like sapphire, and we dragged ourselves to the deck. Recovery set in quickly enough then, so that we began to "think scornful" of seasickness. Fortunately the good ship Buford ploughed her way across the Pacific without meeting another swell, and our pride was not humbled again. We ate quite sparingly for a meal or two, and had fits of abstraction, gazing at the ceiling when extra-odorous dishes were placed in front of us. The Radcliffe girls said that they had passed a strenuous night, engaged in wild manoeuvres to obtain possession of the monkey wrench and feloniously to secrete the same. Their collegiate training had included instruction on the hygienic virtues of fresh air, which made no allowance for a sea trip; and their views as to the practical application of these principles came sadly into conflict with the ideas of their bedroom steward. There were frantic searchings for a monkey wrench all that night, while the article lay snugly bestowed between the mattresses of a maiden who looked as if she might be thinking of the angels. Also their porthole was open in defiance of orders, and much water came into their stateroom. But they did not care, for it brought fresh air with it.
The first two or three days of the voyage were spent in taking stock of our fellow passengers and in finding our friends. We were about seventy-five cabin passengers in all,—a small family, it is true. The ship was coaled through to Manila, the first stop being Guam. So we made acquaintance here and there, settling ourselves for no paltry five or six days' run, but for a whole month at sea. We all came on deck and took our fourteen laps—or less—around the promenade deck before breakfast. The first two or three nights, with a sort of congregational impulse, we drifted forward under the promenade awnings, and sang to the accompaniment of the cornetist on the troop deck. The soldiers sang too, and many an American negro melody, together with "On the Road to Mandalay" and other modern favorites, floated melodiously into the starlit silence of the Pacific. Our huge windsail flapped or bellied as the breeze fell or rose; the waves thumped familiarly against the sides; the masthead lantern burned clear as a star; and the real stars swung up and down as the bowsprit curtsied to each wave. In the intervals between songs a hush would fall upon us, and the sea noises were like effects in a theatre.
In a few days, however, our shyness and strangeness wore off. We no longer sang with the soldiers, but segregated ourselves into congenial groups; and under the electric lights the promenade deck looked, for all the world, like the piazza of a summer hotel.
From San Francisco to Honolulu
We Change Our Course and Arrive at Honolulu—The City Viewed from the Sea—Its Mixed Population—We Are Detained Ten Days For Engine Repairs.
When we were a week out from San Francisco and were eight hundred or a thousand miles north of the Hawaiian Islands, the Buford stopped one evening just at sunset, and for at least twenty minutes slopped about in the gentle swell. There is a curious sense of dulness when the engines cease droning and throbbing; and the passengers, who had just come up from dinner, were affected by the unusual silence. We hung over the rail, talking in subdued tones and noting the beauty of the sunset.
Behind us the sea lay purple and dark, with the same sad, sweet loneliness that a prairie has in the dusk; but between us and the sun it resembled a molten mass, heaving with sinister power. Our bowsprit pointed straight at the fiery ball hanging on the sky rim, above which a pyramidal heaping of clouds aped the forms of temples set on rocky heights. And from that fantastic mingling of gold and pink and yellow the sky melted into azure streaked with pearl, and faded at the zenith into what was no color but night—the infinity of space unlighted.
When the engines started up, the gorgeous picture swung around until it stood on what is technically called the starboard beam, whereupon one of the engineers called my attention to the fact that we had changed our course. Since we were then headed due south, he added, we must be bound for Honolulu.
Everybody was pleased, though there was some little anxiety to know the cause of this disregard of orders and of our turning a thousand miles out of our course. In an ordinary merchant ship doubtless somebody would have been found with the temerity to ask the captain or some other officer what was the matter, but nobody was fool enough to do that on an army transport. The "ranking" officer aboard was rather intimate with the quartermaster captain, and we hoped something might be found out through him; but if the quartermaster made any confidences to the officer, that worthy kept them to himself. We women went to bed with visions of fire in the hold, or of "tail shafts" ready to break and race. The night passed tranquilly, however, and the next morning there was no perceptible anxiety about the officers. As the Buford's record runs were about two hundred and sixty miles a day, the remembrance that something was wrong had almost faded before Honolulu was in sight.
We arrived at Honolulu during the night, and, the steward afterwards said, spent the second half of it "prancing" up and down outside the bar, waiting for the dawn. A suspicion that the staid Buford could prance anywhere would have brought me out of bed. I did rise once on my elbow in response to an excited whisper from the upper berth, in time to see a dazzle of electric lights swing into view through the porthole and vanish as the vessel dipped.
I dressed in time to catch the last of the sunrise, but when I went on deck, found that nearly half the passengers had been more enterprising than I. We were at anchor in the outer harbor, and Honolulu lay before us in all the enchantment of a first tropical vision. A mountain of pinky-brown volcanic soil—they call it Diamond Head—ran out into the sea on the right, and, between it and another hill which looks like an extinct crater and is called the Punch Bowl, a beach curved inward in a shining line of surf and sand. Back of this line lay some two or three miles of foreshore, covered with palm-trees and glossy tropical vegetation, from which peeped out the roofs and towers of the residence portion of the city. There were mountains behind the town, jagged sierra-like peaks with clefts and gorges between. They were terraced half-way up the sides and were covered with the light green of crops and the deeper green of forests. Tatters of mist draped them here and there, while clouds lowered in half a dozen spots, and we could see the smoky lines of as many showers in brisk operation.
On our left the shipping lay clustered about the wharfs, sending its tracery of masts into the clear sky; and all around glowed the beauty of a shallow harbor, coral-fringed. From the sapphire of the water in our immediate vicinity, the sea ranged to azure and apple green, touched by a ray of sunlight into a flashing mirror here, heaping into snow wreaths of surf there; and against this play of color loomed the swart bulk of the Pacific Mail steamer Coptic, flying her quarantine flag.
We watched the doctor's launch go out to her, saw the flag fall and the belch of smoke as she started shoreward, while the launch came on to us. In a little while we too were creeping toward the docks. Naked Kanaka boys swam out to dive for pennies. The buildings on the shore took shape. The crowd on the dock shaped itself into a body of normal-looking beings, interspersed with ladies in kimonos who were carrying babies on their backs (the Japanese population of Honolulu is very large), and with other dark-skinned ladies in Mother Hubbards decorated with flower wreaths. There were also numerous gentlemen of a Comanche-like physiognomy, who wore ordinary dress, but were distinguished by flower wreaths in lieu of hat bands. Here and there Chinese women loafed about, wearing trousers of a kind of black oilcloth, and leading Chinese babies dressed in more colors than Joseph's coat—grass-green, black, azure, and rose. In the background several army wagons were filled with officers in uniform and with white-clad American women.
We schoolteachers lost no time when the boat was once tied up at the dock, for it was given out that some trifling repairs were to be made to the boat's engines and that we should sail the next day. We sailed, in point of fact, just ten days later, for the engines had to be taken down to be repaired. As the notice of departure within twenty-four hours was pasted up every day afresh, it held our enthusiasm for sight-seeing at a feverish pitch.
Our Ten Days' Sightseeing
The Fish Market—We Are Treated to Poi—We Visit the Stores—Hawaiian Curiosities—The Southern Cross—Our Trip to the Dreadful Pali—The Rescue—The Flowers and Trees of Honolulu—The Mango Tree and Its Fruit.
My first impressions of Honolulu were disappointing. I had been, in my childhood, a fascinated peruser of Mark Twain's "Roughing It," and his picture of Honolulu—or rather my picture formed from his description of it—demanded something novel in foliage and architecture, and a great acreage of tropical vegetation. What we really found was a modern American city with straight streets, close-clipped lawns, and frame houses of various styles of architecture leaning chiefly to the gingerbread, and with a business centre very much like that of a Western town. Only after three or four days did the charm and individuality of Honolulu make themselves felt.
To leave the dock, we had to pass through the fish market, which looked like any other fish market, but seemed to smell worse. When we looked at the fish, however, we almost forgot the odors, for they were as many tinted as a rainbow. Coral red, silver, blue, blue shot with purple, they seemed to tell of sun-kissed haunts under wind-ruffled surfaces or of dusky caves within the underworld of branching coral. It is hard to be sentimental about fish, but for the space of two minutes and a half we quite mooned over the beauty fish of Honolulu.
Leaving the market, we came upon a ley woman who wanted to throw a heavy wreath of scented flowers about the neck of each of us at a consideration of twenty cents per capita. She was a fat old woman who used many alluring gestures and grinned coquettishly; but we were adamant to her pleadings, and seeing a street car jingling toward us—one of the bobtailed mule variety—we left her to try her wiles on a fresh group from our boat, and hailed the street car. As we entered, one passenger remarked audibly to another, "I see another transport is in," which speech lowered my spirits fifty degrees. I hate to be so obvious.
Under that nightmare of threatened departure we went flying from place to place. In the first store which we entered we were treated to poi—a dish always offered to the stranger as a mark of hospitality—and partook of it in the national manner; that is, we stuck our forefingers in the poi, and each then sucked her own digit. Poi is made from taro root, and tastes mouldy. It is exceedingly nasty—nobody would want two dips.
The stores were just like those of the United States, and the only commercial novelties which we discovered were chains made of exquisitely tinted shells, which came from somewhere down in the South Seas, and other chains made of coral and of a berry which is hard and red and looks like coral. At the Bishop Museum, however, we found an interesting collection of Malaysian curios and products—birds, beasts, fishes, weapons, dress, and domestic utensils. Among the dress exhibits were cloaks made of yellow feathers, quite priceless (I forget how many thousand birds were killed to make each cloak); and among the household utensils were wooden bowls inlaid with human teeth. It was a humorous conceit on the part of former Hawaiian kings thus to compliment a defunct enemy.
There was a dance that night at the Hawaiian Hotel in honor of our passengers, most of whom attended, leaving me almost a solitary passenger aboard. Those happy sinners from Radcliffe went off in their best frocks. I lay in a steamer chair on the afterdeck, scanning the heavens for the Southern Cross. I counted, as nearly as I can remember, about eight arrangements of stars that might have been said to resemble crosses. Not one of them was it, however. Later, I made acquaintance with the Cross, and I must say it has been much overrated by adjective-burdened literature. It does not blaze, and it is lop-sided, and it is not magnificent in the least. It consists of five stars in the form of an irregular diamond, and it is not half so cross-like as the so-called False Cross.
Next morning the military band came down and gave us an hour's concert on the promenade deck. We sat about under the awnings with our novels or our sewing or our attention. At the end they played the "Star Spangled Banner," and we all stood up, the soldiers at attention, hat on breast. One of the passengers refused to take off his hat, so that we had something to gossip about for another hour.
In the afternoon we took a ride up Pacific Heights on the trolley car. Pacific Heights is a residence suburb where the houses are like those on the Peak at Hong Kong, clinging wherever they can get room on the steep sides of the mountain. The view of the city and of the blue harbor dotted with ships was beautiful. In the evening we went to a band concert in Emma Square, and on the third day made our memorable trip to the Pali.
We had been hearing of the Pali ever since we landed. It is a cliff approached by a gorge, whence one of those unpronounceable and unspellable kings once drove his enemies headlong into the sea. We could not miss a scene so provocative of sensations as this, so several of us teachers and an army nurse or two packed ourselves into a wagonette for the journey. We started bright and early, or as near bright and early as is possible when one eats in the second section and the first section sits down to breakfast at eight o'clock.
Our driver was a shrewd, kindly, gray-haired old Yankee, cherishing a true American contempt for all peoples from Asia or the south of Europe. He was conversational when we first started, but his evident desire to do the honors of Honolulu handsomely was chilled by a suggestion from one of the saints that, when we should arrive in the suburbs, he would let down the check-reins. The horses were sturdy brutes, not at all cruelly checked; but the saint could not rise superior to habit. Unfortunately she made the request with that blandly patronizing tone which in time becomes second nature to kindergartners. Its insinuating blandness ruffled our Jehu, who opined that his horses were all right, and that he could look after their comfort without any assistance. He did not say anything about old maids, but the air was surcharged with his unexpressed convictions, so that all of our cohort who were over thirty-five were reduced to a kind of abject contrition for having been born, and for having continued to live after it was assured that we were destined to remain incomplete.
We drove through the beautiful Nuuana Avenue with its velvet lawns, and magnificent trees, and then wound up the steep valley between the terraced gardens of the mountain-sides. Not a hundred yards away a shower drove by and hung a silver curtain like the gauze one which is used to help out scenic effects in a theatre; and presently another swept over us and drenched us to the skin. Half a dozen times in the upward journey we were well soaked, but we dried out again as soon as the hot sun peeped forth. We did not mind, but tucked our hats under the seats and took our drenchings in good part.
At last we arrived at a point where the road turned abruptly around a sharp peak, the approach to which led through a gorge formed by a second mountain on the left. We could tell that there was a precipice beyond, because we could see the remains of a fence which had been recently broken on the left, or outside, part of the road. The driver stopped some twenty-five or thirty yards outside the gorge, saying that he could approach no nearer, as the velocity of the wind in the cleft made it dangerous. Our subsequent experiences led me to doubt his motive in not drawing nearer, and to accredit to him a hateful spirit of revenge.
We alighted in another of those operatic showers, and made our way to the gorge, laughing and dashing the rain drops from our faces. We were not conscious of any particular force of wind, but no sooner were we within those towering walls of rock than a demon power began to tear us into pieces and to urge us in the direction of the broken fence. The first gust terrified us, and with universal feminine assent we clutched at our skirts and screamed.
The next blast sent combs and hairpins flying, drove our wet hair about our faces, and forced us to release our garments, which behaved most shockingly. I saw a kind of recess in the cliffs to the right under an overhanging shelf of rock, and, though it was approached by a mud puddle, made straight for it and in temporary quiet let go my threshing skirts and braided my hair. I could see our driver in the distance, pretending to look after his harness, and indulging in hyaena mirth at the figures we cut. Then, to make matters worse, there came a shout from the hidden road to the right, and, three abreast, a party of young civil engineers from our ship charged round the corner.
Most of our party sat down in their tracks, and a stifled but heartfelt moan escaped from more than one. I waded three inches deeper into the mud puddle and flattened myself against a wall of oozy rock with an utterly unfeminine disregard of consequences.
The men were of a thoroughly good sort, however, and, ignoring our plight, insisted on helping us round the corner. They said that, once we were out of the gorge and on the other face of the mountain, the strong draught ceased. So each woman took a frenzied grasp of her skirts, and, with an able-bodied man steadying her on each side, made the run and brought up safe on the other side. There did not seem to be much to see—nothing but the precipitous face of the cliff towering above us, the road cut out of it, winding steeply down to the right, and the shoulder of the left-hand peak running up into a cloud-swept sky. Below us was a floor of mist, swaying to unfelt airs, heaving, gray, and sad.
Just about this time a Chinaman arrived—one of the beast-of-burden sort—with two immense baskets swung across his shoulders on a bamboo pole. He made three ineffectual efforts to get round the point, but had to fall on his knees each time, as the wind threatened to sweep him too near the cliff. So the philanthropic youths went to his assistance as they had come to ours, and piloted him safely round the bend. We became so much interested in this operation and in the Chinaman's efforts to express his thanks that we quite forgot our disappointment at the Pali's unkind behavior. A sudden gleam of sunshine recalled us. The clouds which had been dripping down upon us were rent apart to reveal a long streamer of blue, and to give passage to a shaft of sunlight which drove resistlessly through the mist floor. The fog parted shudderingly, silently, and for a moment we looked down into a beautiful valley, green and with a thousand other tints and shades, and set in a great inward curve, beyond which the sea raced up in frothy billows to the clean white sands. Far beneath us as it was, we could detect the flashes on wet foliage; indeed, I could think of nothing but a cup of emerald rimmed with sapphire and studded with brilliants. For an all too brief space it quivered and shimmered under the sunburst, and then the mist floor closed relentlessly, the heavens grayed again, and another downpour set in.
We waited long, but the Pali declined to be wooed into sight again, nor am I certain that we were the losers thereby. The whole effect was so brief and vivid that our pleasure in it was greatly intensified. Longer vision might have brought out details which we missed, but it would have converted into the memory of a beautiful scene that which has remained a peep into fairyland.
Our return through the gorge was accompanied by all the original drawbacks. Our driver had released the check-reins of the horses, but he ostentatiously checked them up again as we appeared. He had entirely recovered his good humor, and contemplated our dishevelled appearance with secret glee.
The Pali has its good features, but it must be admitted there are drawbacks. Among the military people aboard there was a lady of uncertain age, and of a mistaken conception of what was becoming to her fading charms. She was gaunt, and leathery of skin, and she wore "baby necks" and elbow sleeves, and affected childish simplicity and perennial youth. On our first night out of Honolulu I happened to come around the corner of the promenade deck in time to observe one of the men passengers contemplating this lady, who stood at some distance from him, attired in a rather decollete frock. The man's attitude was a modified edition of that of the Colossus of Rhodes: He steadied a cigarette between his lips with the third and fourth fingers of his left hand, while his right hand was thrust into his trousers pocket. A peculiar expression lingered on his countenance—kind of struggle between a painful memory and a judicial estimate. He was so absorbed in his musings that he did not notice me, and he spoke aloud.
"I knew she was thin," he said, "but even with her low-necked dresses, I did not think that it was as bad as it is."
I beat a retreat without attracting his attention, but I understood him, for I had seen him on the back seat of an army ambulance in the clutches of the perennially youthful lady, starting for the Pali.
We left Honolulu with the modified regret which always must be entertained when other lands are beckoning. The native custom of adorning departing friends with wreaths of flowers was followed, and some of our army belles were almost weighed down with circlets of blossoms cast over their heads by admiring officers of Honolulu. Once clear of the dock and out of eye range, they shamelessly cast these tokens away, and the deck stewards gathered up the perfumed heaps and threw them overboard. The favorite flowers used in these ley, or wreaths, were the creamy white blossoms with the golden centre from which the perfume frangipani is extracted. This flower is known in the Philippines as calachuchi. There were also some of the yellow, bell-shaped flowers called "campanilo," and a variety of the hibiscus which we learned to call "coral hibiscus," but which in the Philippines is known as arana, or spider.
The flowers of Honolulu and Manila seem very much alike. In neither place is there a wide variety of garden flowers, but there is an abundance of flowering shrubs and trees.
One quite common plant is the bougainvillaea, which climbs over trellises or trees, and covers them with its mass of magenta blossoms. The scarlet hibiscus, either single or double, and the so-called coral hibiscus grow profusely and attain the size of a large lilac bush. There is another bush which produces clusters of tiny, star-like flowers in either white or pink. It is called in the Philippines "santan," but I do not know its name in Honolulu.
Catholic missionaries were instrumental in introducing into the Hawaiian Islands a tree of hardy and beautiful foliage which has thrived and now covers a great part of the mountain slopes. This is the algoroda tree, the drooping foliage of which is suggestive of a weeping willow. Then there is the beautiful West Indian rain-tree, which the Honolulu people call the monkey-pod tree, and which in the Philippines is miscalled acacia. Its broad branches extend outward in graceful curves, the foliage is thick but not crowded, and it is an ideal shade tree, apart from the charm of its blossoms of purplish pink.
The fire-tree and the mango are two others which are a joy to all true lovers of trees. The fire-tree is deciduous, and loses its leaves in December, In April or May, before the leaves come back, it bursts into bloom in great bunches of scarlet about the size of the flower mass of the catalpa tree. The bark is white, and as the tree attains the size of a large maple, the sight of this enormous bouquet is something to be remembered. When the leaves come back, the foliage is thick, and the general appearance of the tree is like that of a locust.
Among tropical trees, however, the most beautiful is the mango. Its shape is that of a sharply domed bowl. The leaves are glossy and thickly clustered. It is distinguishable at a long distance by its dignity and grace. But the mass of its foliage is a drawback, inasmuch as few trunks can sustain the weight; and one sees everywhere the great trunk prostrate, the roots clinging to the soil, and the upper branches doing their best to overcome the disadvantages of a recumbent position.
We ate our first mangoes in Honolulu, and were highly disgusted with them, assenting without murmur to the statement that the liking of mangoes is an acquired taste. I had a doubt, to which I did not give utterance, of ever acquiring the taste, but may as well admit that I did acquire it in time. The only American fruit resembling a mango in appearance is the western pawpaw. The mango is considerably larger than the pawpaw, and not identical in shape, though very like it in smooth, golden outer covering. When the mango is ripe, its meat is yellow and pulpy and quite fibrous near the stone, to which it adheres as does a clingstone peach. It tastes like a combination of apple, peach, pear, and apricot with a final merger of turpentine. At first the turpentine flavor so far dominates all others that the consumer is moved to throw his fruit into the nearest ditch; but in time it diminishes, and one comes to agree with the tropical races in the opinion that the mango is the king of all fruits.
From Honolulu to Manila
Voyaging over the Tropical Seas—We Touch at Guam, or Guahan, One of the Ladrone Islands—Our First Sight of the Philippines—Manila, "A Mass of Towers, Domes, and White-painted Iron Roofs Peeping Out of Green"—Dispersion of the Passengers.
From Honolulu to Guam we crept straight across in the equatorial current, blistering hot by day, a white heat haze dimming the horizon, and an oily sea, not blue, but purple, running in swells so long and gentle that one could perceive them only by watching the rail change its angle. Once we saw a whale spout; several times sharks followed us, attracted by the morning's output of garbage; and at intervals flying fish sallied out in sprays of silver. Once or twice we passed through schools of skate, which, when they came under our lee, had a curiously dazzling and phosphorescent appearance. One of the civil engineers aboard called them phosphorescent skate, but I had my doubts, for I noticed that bits of paper cast overboard would assume the same opalescent tints when three or four feet down in the water.
We had also the full moon, leaving a great shining pathway in our wake at night, and flooding us with unreal splendor. The pale stars swung up and down as the Buford slipped over each wave, and little ripples of breeze cooled the weather side of the ship. By this time we were a thoroughly assorted company. The afterdeck was yielded to flirtatious married ladies whose husbands were awaiting them in Manila, while we sobersides and the family groups gathered under the awnings. We sang no more; but the indefatigable cornetist on the troop deck still entertained his fellows, while occasionally a second steward stole out with a mandolin, and struggled with the intermezzo from "Cavalleria." We did not run out of talk, however, and the days went by all too swiftly.
Of Guam I can only say that it struck me as the most desolate spot I had ever seen. It stays in my memory as a long peninsula, or spit of land, running out into the sea, with a ten or twelve-foot bank above, fringed with ragged cocoanut trees. Back of this the land rose gradually into low hills. There was a road leading to the town some eight miles inland, and four-mule ambulances dashed up and down this. We had to anchor three miles off shore on account of coral reefs. We had commissary stores to land, and our navigator captain lost his temper, because the only available lighter in Guam was smashed by a falling bundle of pig iron the first thing. For a while the outlook for fresh provisions in Guam was a sorry one, for our captain vowed by all his saints that he would up anchor and away at four o'clock. The glass indicated a change of weather, and he was unwilling to risk his ship in the labyrinth of coral reefs that encircles the island. Fortunately a German tramp whaler dropped into harbor at this point for water, and some boats were obtained from her—though I could never see why, for we had plenty of our own. The unloading process went on briskly, and toward noon the U.S. gunboat Yorktown came in to pay a call; thus there were actually three vessels at one time in the harbor of Guam.
Such a repletion of visitors had never been known there. The four-mule wagons seemed crazed with excitement. The enthusiasm even spread to the natives, who hung about in dug-outs, offering to sell us cocoanuts, pineapples, and green corn. Our captain kept his word, for at four o'clock we swung about and left Guam behind us. Our passenger list was richer by several political prisoners who had been in exile and were returning to their native land—whether for trial or for freedom, I have no knowledge.
Some five or six days later, it was rumored that we should pick up the light on the southeast coast of Luzon about midnight, and most of us stayed up to see it. We also indulged in the celebration without which few passenger ships can complete a long voyage. We had a paper and it was read, after which ceremonial the ship's officers invited us to partake of sandwiches and lemonade in the dining-room. The refreshments were considerably better than the paper, which was neither wise nor witty, but abounded in those commonplace personalities to which the imagination of amateur editors usually soars.
About 2 A.M., when yawns were growing harder and harder to conceal, the light made its appearance. I counted three flashes and went below.
Next morning, we were hugging the coast of Albay abreast the volcano of Mayon, said to be the most perfect volcanic cone in the world. It seems to rise straight from the sea; with its perfectly sloping sides and a summit wreathed in delicate vapors, it is worthy of the pride with which it is regarded by the Filipinos.
Then we entered the Strait of San Bernardino, between Luzon and Samar, and passed for a day through a region of isles. The sea was glassy save when a school of porpoises tore it apart in their pursuit of the flying fish. On its deep sapphire the islands seemed to float, sometimes a mere pinnacle of rock, sometimes a cone-shaped peak timbered down to the beach where the surf fell over. Toward evening, when the breeze freshened slightly, we seemed almost to brush the sides of some of these islets, and they invited us with sparkling pools and coves, with beaches over which the sea wimpled, and with grassy hillsides running out into promontories above cliffs of volcanic rock. Thatched villages nestled in the clefts of the larger islands, or a fleet of paraos might be drawn up in a curving bay. And, yonder in the golden west, shimmering, dancing, in rosy-tinted splendor, more islands beckoned us to the final glory of a matchless day—clouds heaped on clouds, outlined in thin threads of gold, and drawing, in broad shafts of smoky flame, the vapors of an opal sea. At that time I had not seen the famous Inland Sea of Japan, but I have since passed through it twice, and feel that in beauty the Strait of San Bernardino has little to yield to her far-famed neighbor.
Next day we crept up the coast of Batangas, and when I came on deck the second morning they told me that the island on our left was Corregidor, and that Manila was three hours' sail ahead. It was of no use going into a trance and coming up in imagination with Dewey, because he did not come our way. The entrance to Manila Bay is rather narrow, and Corregidor lies a little to one side in it like a stone blocking a doorway. The passage on the left entering the bay is called Boca Chica, or Little Mouth; that to the right is called Boca Grande, or Big Mouth. Dewey entered by the Boca Chica, and we were in Boca Grande.
By and by a cluster of roofs, church towers, docks, and arsenals took form against the sea. A little later we could discern the hulks of the Spanish fleet scattered in the water, and several of our own fighting craft at anchor. This was Cavite. There, too, around a great curve of eight or nine miles, lay Manila, a mass of towers, domes, and white-painted iron roofs peeping out of green. Behind loomed the background of mountains, without which no Filipino landscape is ever complete.
By eleven o'clock we had dropped anchor and the long voyage was over. Counting our ten days in Honolulu, we lacked but three of the forty days and forty nights in which the Lord fasted in the wilds. It would be injustice to the Buford's well-filled larder, however, to intimate that we fasted. Our food was good, barring the ice cream, which the chef had a weakness for flavoring with rose water.
The first launch that came out after the doctor's brought a messenger from the Educational Department with orders to us teachers to remain aboard till next day, when a special launch would be sent for us. So all day we watched our friends go down over the side, and waved farewells to them, and made engagements to meet on the Luneta. The launches and lighters and cascos swarmed round us, the cargo derricks groaned and screeched, the soldiers gathered up knapsack and canteen and marched solemnly down the ladder. Vessels steamed past us or anchored near us, while we hung over the rail, gazing at Manila, so near and yet so far. After dinner we betook ourselves to the empty afterdeck and stared down the long promenade—alas! resembling the piazza of a very empty hotel!—and peopled it with the ghosts of those who late had sat there. They had gone out of our lives after a few brief days of idleness, but they would take up, as we should, the work of building a nation in a strange land and out of a reluctant people. Some were fated to die of wounds, and some were stricken with the pestilence. Most of them are still living, moving from army post to army post. Some are still toiling in the remotenesses of mountain villages; others are dashing about Manila in the midst of its feverish society. Some have gone to swell the American colonies in Asiatic coast towns. A few have shaken the dust of the Philippines forever from their feet, and are seeking fame in the home land and wooing fortune in the traffic of great cities or in peaceful rural life. Some, perhaps, may read these lines, and, reading, pause to give a tender thought to the land which most Americans revile while they are in it, but which they sentimentally regret when they have left it.
Eight long years have slipped by since that night, and in that time a passing-bell has tolled for the Philippines which we found then. Who shall say for many a year whether the change be for better or for worse? But the change has come, and for the sake of a glamour which overlay the quaint and moribund civilization of the Philippines of that day I have chronicled in this volume my singularly unadventurous experiences.
The afterdeck was empty, and the promenade was the haunt of ghosts, but across the circle of gloom we could see a long oval of arc lights with thousands of little glow-worms beneath, which we knew were not glow-worms at all, but carriage lamps dashing round the band stand; and as if he divined our sentimental musings, the second steward took heart and not only played but sang his favorite air from "Cavalleria."
Our First Few Days in the City
The Pasig River, With Its Swarm of House-boats—Through Manila into the Walled City—Our First Meal—A Walk and a Drive in Manila—The Admirable Policemen—We Superintend the Preparation of Quarters for Additional Teachers—That Artful Radcliffe Girl.
Our guide from the Educational Department appeared about eleven o'clock the next day, which happened to be Sunday. We and our trunks were bundled into a launch, and we left the Buford forever.
We were familiar with the magazine illustrations of the Pasig long before our pedagogic invasion of Manila, but we were unprepared for the additional charm lent to these familiar views by the play of color. The shipping was as we had imagined it—large black and gray coasters in the Hong-Kong and inter-island trade, a host of dirty little vapors (steamers) of light tonnage, and the innumerable cascos and bancas. The bancas are dug-out canoes, each paddled by a single oarsman. The casco is a lumbering hull covered over in the centre with a mat of plaited bamboo, which makes a cave-like cabin and a living room for the owner's family. Children are born, grow up, become engaged, marry, give birth to more children—in short, spend their lives on these boats with a dog, a goat, and ten or twelve lusty game-cocks for society.
The cascos lie along the bank of the river ten deep; every time a coasting steamer wants to get out, she runs afoul of them in some way, and there is a pretty mess. It always seems to turn out happily, but the excitement is great while it lasts, and it is apparently never dulled by repetition.
We swept up the Pasig with Fort Santiago and the ancient city wall on the right; and, on the left, warehouses, or bodegas, a customhouse with a gilded dome, and everywhere the faded creams and pinks of painted wooden buildings. Some of the roofs were of corrugated iron, but more were of old red Chinese tiles, with ferns and other waving green things sprouting in the cracks. The wall was completely hidden with vegetation.
We landed at the customhouse, left our trunks for inspection, and entered gig-like vehicles which were drawn by diminutive ponies and were called carromatas. Two of us were a tight fit, and, as I am stout, I was afraid to lean back lest I should drag the pony upon his hind legs, and our entrance into Manila should become an unseemly one. The carromata wheels were iron-tired, and jolted—well, like Manila street carromatas of that day. Since then a modification of the carromata and of another vehicle called calesin has been evolved. The modern conveyance has rubber tires and a better angle of adjustment, and the rat-like pony will dash about with it all day in good spirits.
We rattled up a street which I have since learned is called San Fernando, and which looks like the famous Chinatown of San Francisco, only more so. We passed over a canal spanned by a quaint stone bridge, arriving in front of the Binondo Church just as the noon hour struck. Instantly there burst out such a clamor of bells as we had never before heard—big bells and little bells, brass bells and broken bells—and brass bands lurking in unknown spots seemed to be assisting. I do not know whether the Filipinos were originally fond of noise or whether the Spaniards taught them to be so. At any rate, they both love it equally well now, and whenever the chance falls, the bells and the bands are ranged in opposition, yet bent to a common end.
The Bridge of Spain is approached from the Binondo side by almost the only steep grade to be found in Manila. I was leaning as far forward as I could, figuring upon the possible strain to be withstood by the frayed rope end which lay between us and a backward somersault, when my ears were assailed by an uncanny sound, half grunt, half moan. For an instant I thought it was the wretched pony moved to protest by the grade and my oppressive weight. But the pony was breasting the steep most gallantly, all things considered. The miserable sound was repeated a second later, just as our little four-footed friend struck the level, and I discovered that it was my driver's appeal to his steed. It is a sound to move the pity of more than a horse; until you are thoroughly accustomed to it it leaves you under the apprehension that the cochero has been stricken with the plague. This habit of grunting at horses seems to be disappearing at the present time, the haughty customs of livery carromatas perhaps being responsible. Also English is spreading. Apart from swear words, which appear to fill a long-felt want for something emphatic, there are at least three phrases which every Filipino who has to do with horses seems to have made a part of his vocabulary. They are "Back!" "Whoa, boy!" and "Git up!" Your cochero may groan at your horse or whine at it, but when the need arises he can draw upon that much of English.
We jolted over the Bridge of Spain and through a masked gate into the walled city, with the wall on our left, and the high bricked boundaries of churches and conventos on the right, till we arrived at a low, square frame structure, with the words "Escuela Municipal" above its portals. In Spanish times it was the training-school for girls, and here temporary accommodation had been provided for us. We crossed a hall and a court where ferns and palms were growing, and were ushered into a room containing a number of four-poster beds. We were to obtain our food at a neighboring restaurant, whither we soon set out under guidance. The street was narrow, and all the houses had projecting second floors which overhung the sidewalk. Box-like shops on the ground floor were filled with cheap, unattractive-looking European wares, with here and there a restaurant displaying its viands, and attracting flies. We recognized the bananas and occasionally a pineapple, but the other fruits were new to us—lanzones in white, fuzzy clusters like giant grapes; the chico, a little brown fruit that tastes like baked apple flavored with caramel; and the atis, which most natives prise as a delicacy, but which few Americans ever learn to like.
We had been introduced to the alligator pear, the papaya, and the mango at Honolulu, but we were still expecting strange and wonderful gastronomic treats in our first Philippine meal.
We entered a stone-flagged lower hall where several shrouded carriages would have betrayed the use to which it was put had not a stable odor first betrayed it. Thence we passed up a staircase, broad and shallow, which at the top entered a long, high-ceiled room, evidently a salon in days past. It had fallen to baser uses, however, and now served as dining-room. One side gave on the court, and another on an azotea where were tropical plants and a monkey. It was a bare, cheerless apartment, hot in the unshaded light of a tropical noonday. The tables were not alluring. The waiters were American negroes. A Filipino youth, dressed in a white suit, and wearing his black hair in a pompadour, was beating out "rag time" at a cracked old piano.
"Easy is the descent into Avernus!" But there was consolation in the monkey and the azotea, though we could neither pet the one nor walk on the other. However, we were the sort of people not easily disconcerted by trifles, and we sat down still expectant.
The vegetables were canned, the milk was canned, the butter was canned, and the inference was plain that it had made the trip from Holland in a sailing vessel going around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. As for the fruits, there was but one fruit, a little acid banana full of tiny black seeds. With guava jelly it was served for dessert. Our landlord, an enterprising American, had been so far influenced by local custom that he had come to regard these two delicacies as a never inappropriate dessert. So long as we continued to "chow" with him, so long appeared the acid, flavorless banana and the gummy, sticky jelly.
In justice to Manila it must be said, however, that such conditions have long since been outlived. Good food and well-served American tables are plentiful enough in Manila to-day. The cold-storage depots provide meats and butter at prices as good as those of the home land, if not better. Manila is no longer congested with the population, both native and American, which centred there in war times. There is not the variety of fruits to be found in the United States, but there is no lack of wholesome, appetizing food.
We returned to the Escuela Municipal, and, after a nap, dressed and went out for a walk. The narrow streets with overhanging second stories; the open windows with gayly dressed girls leaning out to talk with amorous swains on the pavement below; the swarming vehicles with coachmen shouting "Ta-beh"; and the frailes (friars)—tall, thin, bearded frailes in brown garments and sandals, or rosy, clean-shaven, plump frailes in flapping white robes—all made a novel scene to our untravelled eyes. Mounting a flight of moss-grown steps, we found ourselves on top of the wall, whence we could look across the moat to the beautiful avenue, called, on the maps of Manila, the Paseo de Las Aguadas, but familiarly known as the Bagumbayan. West India rain-trees spread their broad branches over it, and all Manila seemed to be walking, riding, or driving upon it. It was the hour when everybody turns his face Luneta-ward. Seized with the longing, we too sent for a carriage.
Our coachman wore no uniform, but was resplendent in a fresh-laundered white muslin shirt which he wore outside his drill trousers. He carried us through the walled city and out by a masked gate to a drive called the Malecon, a broad, smooth roadway lined with cocoanut palms. On the bay side the waters dashed against the sea wall just as Lake Michigan does on the Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. But the view across the bay at Manila is infinitely more beautiful than that at Chicago. To the left stretches a noble curve of beach, ending with the spires and roofs of Cavite and a purple line of plateau, drawn boldly across the sky. In front there is the wide expanse of water, dotted with every variety of craft, with a lonely mountain, rising apparently straight from the sea, bulking itself in the foreground a little to the left. The mountain is in reality Mt. Marivales, the headland which forms the north entrance to Manila Bay, but it is so much higher than the sierra which runs back from it that it manages to convey a splendid picture of isolation. The sun falls behind Marivales, painting a flaming background for mountains and sea. When that smouldering curtain of night has dropped, and the sea lies glooming, and the ships of all nations swing on their anchor chains, there are few lovelier spots than the Luneta. The wind comes soft as velvet; the surf croons a lullaby, and the little toy horses and toy victorias spin up and down between the palms, settling at last around the turf oval which surrounds the bandstand.
Here are soldiers in clean khaki on the benches; officers of the army and navy in snow-white uniforms; Chinamen in robes of purple or blue silk, smoking in their victorias; Japanese and Chinese nursemaids in their native costumes watching their charges at play on the grass; bareheaded American women; black-haired Spanish beauties; and native women with their long, graceful necks rising from the stiff folds of azure or rose-colored kerchiefs. American officers tower by on their big horses, or American women in white drill habits. There are droves of American children on native ponies, the girls riding astride, their fat little legs in pink or blue stockings bobbing against the ponies' sides. There are boys' schools out for a walk in charge of shovel-hatted priests. There are demure processions of maidens from the colegios, sedately promenading two and two, with black-robed madres vainly endeavoring to intercept surreptitious glances and remarks. There are groups of Hindoos in turbans. There are Englishmen with the inevitable walking-sticks. There are friars apparently of all created orders, and there is the Manila policeman.
As I recall those early impressions, I think the awe and respect for the Manila police was quite the strongest of all. They were the picked men of the army of invasion, non-commissioned officers who could show an honorable discharge. Size must have been taken into consideration in selecting them, for I do not remember seeing one who was of less than admirable proportions. Soldierly training was in every movement.
There was none of the loafing stride characteristic of the professional roundsman. They wore gray-green khaki, tan shoes, tan leather leggings, and the military cap; and a better set up, smarter, abler body of law preservers it would be difficult to find. The "machinery of politics" had not affected them, the instinct of the soldier to do his duty was strong in them, and they would have arrested Governor William H. Taft himself as gleefully as they would have arrested a common Chinaman, had the Governor offered sufficient provocation.
We enjoyed that first night's entertainment on the Luneta as do all who come to Manila, and I must confess that time has not staled it for me. It is cosmopolitan and yet typically Philippine. Since that day the fine Constabulary Band has come into existence, and the music has grown to be more than a mere feature of the whole scene. The concert would be well worth an admission fee and an hour's confinement in a stuffy hall. Enjoyed in delightful pure air with a background of wonderful beauty, it is a veritable treat.
On the following day we had our interview with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. He informed us that in the course of a week the transport Thomas would arrive, carrying some five hundred or more pedagogues. He suggested that, as we were then drawing full pay, we might reimburse the Government by making ourselves useful at the Exposition Building, which was being put in order to receive them.
So to the Exposition Building we betook ourselves, and for several days made herculean efforts to induce the native boys and Chinese who were supposed to clean it up to do so properly. We also helped to put up cots and to hang mosquito nettings, and at night we lay and listened to the most vociferous concert of bull frogs, debutante frogs, tree toads, katydids, locusts, and iku lizards that ever murdered the sleep of the just. We also left an open box of candy on the table of the dormitory which we had preempted, starting therewith another such frantic migration in the ant world as in the human world once poured into the Klondike. They came on all trails from far and near. They invaded our beds, and when the sweets gave out, took bites out of us as the next best delicacy.
Manila seemed to be more or less excited over the new army of invasion, the local papers teeming with jokes about pretty schoolma'ams and susceptible exiles. The teachers were to land at the Anda Monument at the Pasig end of the Malecon Drive, and thence were to be conveyed to the Exposition Building in army ambulances and Doherty wagons which the military had put at the disposal of the Civil Government.
Owing to the fact that I was appointed a sort of matron to the women's dormitory, and had to be on hand to assign the ladies to their cots and to register them, I did not go down to the Anda Monument to see the disembarkation. Plenty of people who might have pleaded less legitimate interest in the pedagogues than I had, were there, however. By half-past ten the first wagon-load had arrived at the Exposition Building in a heavy shower, and from then till early noon they continued to pour in. On the whole, they were up to a high standard—a considerably higher standard than has since been maintained in the Educational Department. The women were a shade in advance of the men.
Both men and women accepted their rough quarters with few complaints. Nearly all were obliging and ready to do their best to make up for the deficiencies in bell boys and other hotel accommodations. We arranged a plan whereby twelve women teachers were to be on duty each day,—a division of four for morning, afternoon, and evening, respectively. The number of each woman's cot and room was placed after her name, and one teacher acted as clerk while the others played bell boy and hunted for those in demand.
And they were overworked! By five o'clock in the afternoon the parlor of the Exposition Building looked like a hotel lobby in a town where a presidential nominating convention is in session. To begin with, there were the one hundred and sixty schoolma'ams. Then the men teachers, who had been assigned to the old nipa artillery barracks, found the women's parlors a pleasant place in which to spend an odd half-hour, and made themselves at home there. In addition, each woman seemed to have some acquaintance among the military or civil people of Manila; and officers in white and gold, and women in the creams, blues, and pinks of Filipino jusi thronged the rooms till one could hardly get through the press. Victorias and carromatas outside were crowded as carriages are about the theatres on grand opera nights at home.
It would have been difficult in all that crowd to say who was there with good and sufficient reason. Many a man drifted in and out with the hope of picking up acquaintance, and doubtless some were successful.
I was at the desk one day, doing duty for a teacher who was sick, when two forlorn but kind-looking young men approached and asked if I could tell them the names of any of the teachers from Michigan. We had a list of names arranged by States, and I at once handed this over. They pored over this long and sorrowfully. Then one heaved a sigh, and one took me into his confidence. They were from Michigan, and they had hoped to find, one or the other, an acquaintance on the list. The eagerness of this hope had even led them to bring a carriage with the ulterior motive of doing the honors of Manila if their search proved successful. Their disappointment was so heavy, and they were so naively unconscious of anything strained in the situation, that my sympathy was honest and open. But when they suggested that I introduce them to some of the women teachers from Michigan, and I declined the responsibility as gently as I could, the frigidity of their injured pride made me momentarily abject. They drifted away and hung about with expectancy printed on their faces—that and a mingled hate and defiance of the glittering uniforms which quite absorbed all feminine attention and left their civilian dulness completely overshadowed.
One of the Radcliffe maidens had an experience which goes far to show that higher culture does not eradicate the talent for duplicity for which the female sex has long been noted, and which illustrates a happy faculty of getting out of a disagreeable situation. It also illustrates a singular mingling of unsophistication and astuteness, which may be a result of collegiate training.
One of the chief difficulties which beset us was the matter of transportation. In those days there was no street-car system—or at least the apology for one which they had was not patronized by Europeans. The heat and the frequent showers made a conveyance an absolute necessity. The livery stables were not fully equal to the demand upon them, and, in addition, there was no telephone at the Exposition Building. As a consequence, we had to rely largely on street carromatas. We had a force of small boys, clad in what Mr. Kipling calls "inadequate" shirts, whose business it was to go forth in response to the command, "Busca carromata," and to return not till accompanied by the two-wheeled nightmare and the Lilliputian pony.
On the morning on which we drew our travel-pay checks, one of the Radcliffe girls was most eager to get down town before the bank closed. The shops of Manila had been altogether too alluring for the very small balance which remained in her purse after our ten days at Honolulu. The efforts of the small boys were apparently fruitless, so she resorted to the expedient of trying to gather up a carromata from some one leaving his at the Exposition Building. Every time a carromata drove up, she thrust her cherubic countenance out of the window and inquired of its occupant whether he was going to retain his conveyance or to dismiss it. Most of the visitors signified their intentions of never letting go a carromata when once they had it; and failure had rather dimmed the bravery of her inquiry, when one young man replied that he wished to retain his carromata, but that he was returning immediately to the city and would be happy to assist her and to take her wherever she wanted to go.
The Radcliffe girl closed with this handsome offer at once, accepting it in the chummy spirit which is supposed to be generated in the atmosphere of higher culture. A more worldly-wise woman might have suspected him, not only on grounds of general masculine selfishness, but on the fact that he had no business to transact at our hostelry. He did not enter its doors, but remained sitting in the carromata till she joined him. The girl had her mind on salary, however, and had no time to question motives. The banks had closed, but her guardian angel drove her to a newspaper office, where he introduced her, vouched for her, and induced the bookkeeper to cash her check. He then expressed a desire for a recognition of his services in the form of introductions to some of the teachers at the Exposition Building. The young woman was rather taken aback, for she had put all his civility down to disinterested masculine chivalry; but she reflected that she ought to pay the price of her own rashness. She was, however, a girl of resources. She agreed to let him call that afternoon and to introduce him to some of her new friends.
Then she came home and outlined the situation to an aged woman who was chaperoning her daughter, to a widow with two children, and to an old maid in whom the desire for masculine conquest had died for want of fuel to keep the flame alive. When the young man appeared, he found this austere and unbeautiful phalanx awaiting him. When the introductions were over and conversation was proceeding as smoothly as the caller's discomfiture would permit it to do, the artful collegian excused herself on the ground of a previous engagement. She went away blithely, leaving him in the hands of the three. Nor was he seen or heard of on those premises again. Doubtless he still thinks bitterly of the effects of higher education on the feminine temperament. It was duplicity—duplicity not to be expected of a girl who could stick her head out of a window and hail the chance passer-by as innocently as she did.
From Manila to Capiz
I Am Appointed to a School at Capiz, on Panay Island—We Anchor at the Lovely Harbor of Romblon—The Beauty of the Night Trip to Iloilo—We Halt There for a Few Days—Examples Showing That the Philippines Are a "Manana" Country—Kindness of Some Nurses to the Teachers—An Uncomfortable Journey from Iloilo to Charming Capiz.
In due time our appointments were made, and great was the wrath that swelled about the Exposition Building! The curly-haired maiden who had fallen in love with a waiter on the Thomas wept openly on his shoulder, to the envy of staring males. A very tall young woman who was the possessor of an M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of California, and who was supposed to know more about conic sections than any woman ought to know, was sent up among the Macabebes, who may in ten generations arrive at an elementary idea of what is meant by conic sections. Whether she was embittered by the thought of her scintillations growing dull from disuse or of scintillating head axes, I know not, but she made little less than a tragedy of the matter. The amount of wire-pulling that had been going on for stations in Manila was something enormous, and the disappointment was proportionate.
I had stated that I had no choice of stations, was willing to go anywhere, and did not particularly desire to have another woman assigned with me. I had my doubts about the advisability of binding myself to live with some one whom I had known so short a time; and subsequent experience and the observation of many a quarrel grown out of the enforced companionship of two women who never had any tastes in common have convinced me that my judgment was sound. I was informed that my station would be Capiz, a town on the northern shore of Panay, once a rich and aristocratic pueblo, but now a town existing in the flavor of decayed gentility. I was eager to go, and time seemed fairly to drag until the seventh day of September, on which date the boat of the Compania Maritima would depart for Iloilo, the first stage of our journey.
September the seventh was hot and steamy. We had endless trouble getting ourselves and our baggage to the Bridge of Spain, where the Francisco Reyes was lying. Great familiarity has since quite worn away the nervousness which we then felt on perceiving that our watches pointed to half an hour after starting time while we were yet adorning the front steps of the Exposition Building. Local boats never leave on time. From six hours to three days is a fair overtime allowance for them.
We finally arrived at the steamer in much agony and perspiration. The old saying about bustle and confusion was applicable to the Francisco Reyes if one leaves out "bustle." There were no immediate signs of departure, but there were evidences of the eleven o'clock meal. The muchachos were setting the table under an awning on the after-deck. A hard-shell roll with a pallid centre, which tastes like "salt-rising" bread and which is locally known as bescocho, was at each plate together with the German silver knives and spoons. The inevitable cheese was on hand, strongly barricaded in a crystal dish; and when I saw the tins of guava jelly and the bunch of bananas hanging from a stanchion, I had that dinner all mapped out. I had no time, however, to speculate on its constituent elements, because my attention was attracted by the cloth with which the boy was polishing off dishes before he set them down. This rag was of a fine, sooty-black color, and had a suggestion of oil about it as if it had been on duty in the engine-room. The youth grew warm, and used it also to mop his perspiring countenance. I ceased to inspect at that point, and went forward.
Several black and white kids of an inquisitive turn of mind were resting under my steamer chair, which had been sent on board the day before. They seemed to feel some injury at being dispossessed. I guessed at once that we carried no ice, and that the goats were a sea-faring conception of fresh meat. As their numbers diminished daily, and as we enjoyed at least twice a day a steaming platter of meat, garbanzos, peppers, onions, and tomato sauce, I have seen no reason to change my opinion.
Passengers continued to arrive until nearly two o'clock. There were one or two officers with their muchachos, and some twenty or more schoolteachers. Six were women, and we found ourselves allotted the best there was.
We got away about three o'clock, and, after fouling a line over a row of cascos and threatening their destruction, sailed down the Pasig and out into the Bay, We passed Corregidor about sunset, met a heavy sea and stiff wind outside, and I retired from society. This was Saturday night. On Sunday noon we cast anchor in the lovely harbor of Romblon, and, defying sickness, I came on deck to admire.
The harbor at Romblon resembles a lake guarded by mountains which are covered with cocoanut trees clear to their summits. At one end—the end toward the entrance, which no unfamiliar eye can detect—a great plateau mountain called Tablas stretches across the view in lengthened bulk like the sky-line of some submarine upheaval. The waters are gayly colored, shadowed into exquisite greens by the plumy mountains above; and in a little valley lies the white town of Romblon with its squat municipal buildings, its gray old church, and a graceful campanile rising from a grassy plaza. They have dammed a mountain stream, so that the town is bountifully supplied with pure cold water, and with its clean streets and whitewashed buildings, it is a most attractive place.
The inhabitants of Romblon were eager to sell us mats, or petates, the making of which is a special industry there. Their prices had suffered the rise which is an inevitable result of American occupation, and were quite beyond our means. I succeeded afterwards in getting some Romblon mats through a Filipino friend for about one-fifth the price asked that day.
Our stay at Romblon was not lengthy. We got out some time in the late afternoon, and proceeded on our way. I cannot remember whether we occupied all that night and the next day in getting down to Iloilo or whether we made Iloilo in twelve hours. I do remember the night trip down the east coast of Panay, with Negros on the invisible left, and all about us a chain of little islands where the fisher folk were engaged in their night work of spearing fish by torchlight. Dim mountainous shapes would rise out of the sea and loom vaguely in the starlit distance, the curving beaches at their bases outlined by the torches in the bancas till they looked like boulevards with their lines of flickering lamps. I remember that we fell to singing, and that after we had sung everything we knew, an officer of the First Infantry who was going back to his regiment after a wound and a siege in hospital said enthusiastically: "Oh, don't stop. You don't know how it sounds to hear a whole lot of American men and women singing together."
It was somewhere between ten and midnight when a light flashed ahead, and beyond it lay a little maze of twinkles that they said was Iloilo. The anchor chains ran out with a clang and rattle, for our Spanish captain took no chances, and would not pick his way through the Siete Pecadores at night.
The Siete Pecadores, or Seven Sinners, are a group of islands, or rocks—for they amount to little more than that—some six miles north of Iloilo, just at the head of Guimaras Strait. On the east the long, narrow island of Guimaras, hilly and beautifully wooded, lies like a wedge between Panay and Negros. Beyond it the seven-thousand-foot volcano, Canlaon, on Negros, lifts a purple head. On the west lies the swampy foreshore of Panay with a mountain range inland, daring the sunlight with scarpy flanks, on which every ravine and every cleft are sunk in shadows of violet and pink. The water of the straits is glassy and full of jelly-fish, some of the white dome-like kind, but more of the purple ones that float on the water like a petalled flower.
Iloilo was a miniature edition of Manila, save that there were more gardens and that there was a rural atmosphere such as is characteristic of small towns in the States. The toy horses and the toy carromatas and quilices were there, and the four-horse wagons with a staring "U. S." on their blue sides. There were the same dusky crowds in transparent garments, the soldiers in khaki, the bugle calls, and the Stars and Stripes fluttering from all the public buildings.
As Iloilo was not well supplied with hotels, we women were barracked in a new house belonging to the American Treasurer, whose family had not yet arrived from the States, We found our old friend, the army cot, borrowed from the military quartermaster. There was a sitting-room well equipped with chairs and tables. Our meals were obtained from a neighboring boarding-house which rejoiced in the name "American Restaurant," and was kept by a Filipina. She was a good soul, and had learned how to make cocoanut balls, so that we bade a glad adieu to the bananas and guava jelly.
Our own particular waitress was a ten-year-old child, who said "hello" and smoked a cigar as long as herself. In a moment of enthusiasm one of our number who was interested in temperance and its allied reforms tipped Basilia a whole Mexican media-peseta. When the reformer became aware of Basilia's predilection for the weed, she wanted her media-peseta back, but Basilia was too keen a financier for that. The media-peseta was hers—given in the presence of witnesses —and she somewhat ostentatiously blew smoke rings when she found the reformer's eye fixed upon her.
At Iloilo we picked up the word tao, which means "man," especially "laboring man," for the Filipinos usually fall back upon the Spanish words caballero and senor to designate the fortunate individuals whose hands are unstained with toil. We had picked up the vernacular of the street carromata in Manila. This is very simple. It consists of sigue, para, derecho, mano, and silla. For the benefit of such readers as do not understand pidgin Spanish, it may be explained that these words signify, respectively, "go on," "stop," "straight ahead," "to the right," and "to the left." The words mano and silla mean really "hand" and "saddle"; I have been told that they are linguistic survivals of the days when women, rode on pillions and the fair incubus indicated that she wished to turn either to the side of her right hand or to the skirt side.