The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Philippine Islands, by John Foreman
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: The Philippine Islands
Author: John Foreman
The generally-accepted theory regarding the origin of the composite race which may be termed “domesticated natives,” is, that their ancestors migrated to these Islands from Malesia, or the Malay Peninsula. But so many learned dissertations have emanated from distinguished men, propounding conflicting opinions on the descent of the Malays themselves, that we are still left on the field of conjecture.
There is good reason to surmise that, at some remote period, these Islands and the Islands of Formosa and Borneo were united, and possibly also they conjointly formed a part of the Asiatic mainland. Many of the islets are mere coral reefs, and some of the larger islands are so distinctly of coral formation that, regarded together with the numerous volcanic evidences, one is induced to believe that the Philippine Archipelago is the result of a stupendous upheaval by volcanic action.1 At least it seems apparent that no autochthonous population existed on these lands in their island form. The first settlers were probably the Aetas, called also Negritos and Balugas, who may have drifted northwards from New Guinea and have been carried by the strong currents through the San Bernadino Straits and round Punta Santiago until they reached the still waters in the neighbourhood of Corregidor Island, whilst others were carried westwards to the tranquil Sulu Sea, and travelling thence northwards would have settled on the Island of Negros. It is a fact that for over a century after the Spanish conquest, Negros Island had no other inhabitants but these mountaineers and escaped criminals from other islands.
The sturdy races inhabiting the Central Luzon highlands, decidedly superior in physique and mental capacity to the Aetas, may be of Japanese origin, for shortly after the conquest by Legaspi a Spanish galley cruising off the north coast of Luzon fell in with Japanese, who probably penetrated to the interior of that island up the Rio Grande de Cagayán. Tradition tells us how the Japanese used to sail down the east coast of Luzon as far as the neighbourhood of Lamon Bay, where they landed and, descending the little rivers which flowed into the Lake of Bay, settled in that region which was called by the first Spanish conquerors Pagsanján Province, and which included the Laguna Province of to-day, with a portion of the modern Tayabas Province.
Either the Japanese extended their sphere from the Lake of Bay shore, or, as some assert (probably erroneously), shipwrecked Japanese went up the Pansipít River to the Bómbon Lake: the fact remains that Taal, with the Bómbon Lake shore, was a Japanese settlement, and even up to now the Taaleños have characteristics differing from those of the pure Malay immigrant descendants. The Philippine patriot, Dr. José Rizal, was a good Japanese-Malay type.
The Tagálogs, who occupy a small portion of Luzon Island, chiefly the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan, are believed to be the cross-breed descendants of these Japanese immigrants. At the period of the Spanish conquest the Tao ílog, that is to say, “the man who came by the river,” afterwards corrupted into the more euphonious name of Tagálog, occupied only the lands from the south shore of Laguna de Bay southwards. Some traded with the Malay settlers at Maynila (as the city on the Pasig River was then called) and, little by little, radicated themselves in the Manila suburbs of Quiapo, Sampáloc, and Santa Cruz.2
From the West, long before the Spanish conquest, there was a great influx of Malays, who settled on the shores and the lowlands and drove the first settlers (Aetas) to the mountains. Central Luzon and the Lake environs being already occupied, they spread all over the vacant lands and adjacent islands south of Luzon. These expeditions from Malesia were probably accompanied by Mahometan propagandists, who had imparted to the Malays some notions, more or less crude, of their religion and culture, for at the time of Legaspiʼs arrival in Manila we find he had to deal with two chiefs, or petty kings, both assuming the Indian title of Rajah, whilst one of them had the Mahometan Arabic name of Soliman. Hitherto the Tao ílog, or Tagálog, had not descended the Pasig River so far as Manila, and the religious rites of the Tondo-Manila people must have appeared to Legaspi similar to the Mahometan rites, for in several of his despatches to his royal master he speaks of these people as Moros. All the dialects spoken by the Filipinos of Malay and Japanese descent have their root in the pure Malay language. After the expulsion of all the adult male Japanese Lake settlers in the 17th century, it is feasible to suppose that the language of the males who took their place in the Lake district and intermarried there, should prevail over the idiom of the primitive settlers, and possibly this amalgamation of speech accounts for the difference between the Tagálog dialect and others of these islands peopled by Malays.
The Malay immigration must have taken place several generations prior to the coming of the Spaniards, for at that period the lowland occupants were already divided into peoples speaking different dialects and distinguishing themselves by groups whose names seem to be associated with the districts they inhabited, such as Pampanga, Iloco, and Cagayán; these denominations are probably derived from some natural condition, such as Pámpang, meaning a river embankment, Ilog, a river, Cauáyan, a bamboo, etc.
In a separate chapter (x.) the reputed origin of the Mahometans of the southern islands is alluded to. They are also believed to be immigrants from the West, and at the time of the conquest recent traditions which came to the knowledge of the Spaniards, and were recorded by them, prove that commercial relations existed between Borneo and Manila. There is a tradition4 also of an attempted conquest of Luzon by a Borneo chief named Lacasama, about 250 years before the Spanish advent; but apparently the expedition came to grief near Luzon, off an island supposed by some to be Masbate.
The descendants of the Japanese and Malay immigrants were the people whom the Spanish invaders had to subdue to gain a footing. To the present day they, and the correlative Chinese and Spanish half-castes, are the only races, among the several in these Islands, subjected, in fact, to civilized methods. The expression “Filipino” neither denotes any autochthonous race, nor any nationality, but simply one born in those islands named the Philippines: it is, therefore, open to argument whether the child of a Filipino, born in a foreign country, could be correctly called a Filipino.
The christianized Filipinos, enjoying to-day the benefits of European training, are inclined to repudiate, as compatriots, the descendants of the non-christian tribes, although their concurrent existence, since the time of their immigrant forefathers, makes them all equally Filipinos. Hence many of them who were sent to the St. Louis Exhibition in 1904 were indignant because the United States Government had chosen to exhibit some types of uncivilized natives, representing about one-twelfth of the Philippine population. Without these exhibits, and on seeing only the educated Filipinos who formed the Philippine Commission, the American people at home might well have asked—Is not American civilization a superfluity in those islands?
The inhabitants of these Islands were by no means savages, entirely unreclaimed from barbarism before the Spanish advent in the 16th century. They had a culture of their own, towards which the Malay settlers themselves appear to have contributed very little. In the nascent pre-Spanish civilization, Japanese immigrants were almost the only agriculturists, mine-workers, manufacturers, gold-seekers, goldsmiths, and masters of the industrial arts in general. Pagsanján (Laguna) was their great industrial centre. Malolos (Bulacan) was also an important Japanese trading base. Whilst working the mines of Ilocos their exemplary industry must undoubtedly have influenced the character of the Ilocanos. Away down in the Bicol country of Camarines, the Japanese pushed their trade, and from their great settlement in Taal their traffic must have extended over the whole province, first called by the Spaniards Taal y Balayán, but since named Batangas. From the Japanese, the Malays learnt the manufacture of arms, and the Igorrotes the art of metal-working. Along the coasts of the large inhabited islands the Chinese travelled as traders or middlemen, at great personal risk of attack by individual robbers, bartering the goods of manufacturers for native produce, which chiefly consisted of sinamay cloth, shark-fin, balate (trepang), edible birdsʼ-nests, gold in grain, and siguey-shells, for which there was a demand in Siam for use as money. Every north-east monsoon brought down the junks to barter leisurely until the south-west monsoon should waft them back, and neither Chinese nor Japanese made the least attempt, nor apparently had the least desire, to govern the Islands or to overrule the natives. Without coercion, the Malay settlers would appear to have unconsciously submitted to the influence of the superior talent or astuteness of the sedulous races with whom they became merged and whose customs they adopted, proof of which can be traced to the present day.5 Presumably the busy, industrious immigrants had neither time nor inclination for sanguinary conflicts, for those recorded appear to be confined to the raids of the migratory mountaineers and an occasional attack by some ambitious Borneo buccaneer. The reader who would wish to verify these facts is recommended to make a comparative study of native character in Vigan, Malolos, Taal, and Pagsanján.
In treating of the domesticated nativesʼ character, I wish it to be understood that my observations apply solely to the large majority of the six or seven millions of them who inhabit these Islands.
In the capital and the ports open to foreign trade, where cosmopolitan vices and virtues obtain, and in large towns, where there is a constant number of domiciled Europeans and Americans, the native has become a modified being. It is not in such places that a just estimate of character can be arrived at, even during many yearsʼ sojourn. The native must be studied by often-repeated casual residence in localities where his, or her, domestication is only “by law established,” imposing little restraint upon natural inclinations, and where exotic notions have gained no influence.
Several writers have essayed to depict the Philippine native character, but with only partial success. Dealing with such an enigma, the most eminent physiognomists would surely differ in their speculations regarding the Philippine native of the present day. That Catonian figure, with placid countenance and solemn gravity of feature, would readily deceive any one as to the true mental organism within. The late parish priest of Alaminos (Batangas)—a Franciscan friar, who spent half his life in the Colony—left a brief manuscript essay on the native character. I have read it. In his opinion, the native is an incomprehensible phenomenon, the mainspring of whose line of thought and the guiding motive of whose actions have never yet been, and perhaps never will be, discovered.
The reasoning of a native and a European differs so largely that the mental impulse of the two races is ever clashing. Sometimes a native will serve a master satisfactorily for years, and then suddenly abscond, or commit some such hideous crime as conniving with a brigand band to murder the family and pillage the house.
When the hitherto faithful servant is remonstrated with for having committed a crime, he not unfrequently accounts for the fact by saying, “Señor, my head was hot.” When caught in the act on his first start on highway robbery or murder, his invariable excuse is that he is not a scoundrel himself, but that he was “invited” by a relation or compadre to join the company.
He is fond of gambling, profligate, lavish in his promises, but lâche in the extreme as to their fulfilment. He will never come frankly and openly forward to make a clean breast of a fault committed, or even a pardonable accident, but will hide it, until it is found out. In common with many other non-European races, an act of generosity or a voluntary concession of justice is regarded as a sign of weakness. Hence it is that the experienced European is often compelled to be more harsh than his real nature dictates.
If one pays a native 20 cents for a service performed, and that be exactly the customary remuneration, he will say nothing, but if a feeling of compassion impels one to pay 30 cents, the recipient will loudly protest that he ought to be paid more. In Luzon the native is able to say “Thank you” (salámat-pô) in his mother-tongue, but in Panay and Negros there is no way of expressing thanks in native dialect to a donor (the nearest approach to it is Dios macbáyat); and although this may, at first sight, appear to be an insignificant fact, I think, nevertheless, a great deal may be deduced from it, for the deficiency of the word in the Visaya vernacular denotes a deficiency of the idea which that word should express.
If the native be in want of a trivial thing, which by plain asking he could readily obtain, he will come with a long tale, often begin by telling a lie, and whilst he invariably scratches his head, he will beat about the bush until he comes to the point, with a supplicating tone and a saintly countenance hiding a mass of falsity. But if he has nothing to gain for himself, his reticence is astonishingly inconvenient, for he may let oneʼs horse die and tell one afterwards it was for want of rice-paddy, or, just at the very moment one wants to use something, he will tell one “Uala-pô”—there is not any.
I have known natives whose mothers, according to their statement, have died several times, and each time they have tried to beg the loan of the burial expenses. The mother of my first servant died twice, according to his account.
Even the best class of natives do not appreciate, or feel grateful for, or even seem to understand a spontaneous gift. Apparently, they only comprehend the favour when one yields to their asking. The lowest classes never give to each other, unsolicited, a centʼs worth, outside the customary reciprocal feast-offerings. If a European makes voluntary gratuities to the natives, he is considered a fool—they entertain a contempt for him, which develops into intolerable impertinence. If the native comes to borrow, lend him a little less than he asks for, after a verbose preamble; if one at once lent, or gave, the full value requested, he would continue to invent a host of pressing necessities, until oneʼs patience was exhausted. He seldom restores the loan of anything voluntarily. On being remonstrated with for his remissness, after the date of repayment or return of the article has expired, he will coolly reply, “You did not ask me for it.” An amusing case of native reasoning came within my experience just recently. I lent some articles to an educated Filipino, who had frequently been my guest, and, at the end of three months, I requested their return. Instead of thanking me for their use, he wrote a letter expressing his indignation at my reminder, saying that I “ought to know they were in very good hands!” A native considers it no degradation to borrow money: it gives him no recurrent feeling of humiliation or distress of mind. Thus, he will often give a costly feast to impress his neighbours with his wealth and maintain his local prestige, whilst on all sides he has debts innumerable. At most, with his looseness of morality, he regards debt as an inconvenience, not as a calamity.
Before entering another (middle- or lower-class) nativeʼs house, he is very complimentary, and sometimes three minutesʼ polite excusatory dialogue is exchanged between the visitor and the native visited before the former passes the threshold. When the same class of native enters a Europeanʼs house, he generally satisfies his curiosity by looking all around, and often pokes his head into a private room, asking permission to enter afterwards.
The lower-class native never comes at first call; among themselves it is usual to call five or six times, raising the voice each time. If a native is told to tell another to come, he seldom goes to him to deliver the message, but calls him from a distance. When a native steals (and I must say they are fairly honest), he steals only what he wants. One of the rudest acts, according to their social code, is to step over a person asleep on the floor. Sleeping is, with them, a very solemn matter; they are very averse to waking any one, the idea being, that during sleep the soul is absent from the body, and that if slumber be suddenly arrested the soul might not have time to return. When a person, knowing the habits of the native, calls upon him and is told “He is asleep,” he does not inquire further—the rest is understood: that he may have to wait an indefinite time until the sleeper wakes up—so he may as well depart. To urge a servant to rouse one, one has to give him very imperative orders to that effect: then he stands by oneʼs side and calls “Señor, señor!” repeatedly, and each time louder, until one is half awake; then he returns to the low note, and gradually raises his voice again until one is quite conscious.
In Spanish times, wherever I went in the whole Archipelago—near the capital, or 500 miles from it—I found mothers teaching their offspring to regard the European as a demoniacal being, an evil spirit, or, at least, as an enemy to be feared! If a child cried, it was hushed by the exclamation, “Castila!” (European). If a white man approached a poor hut or a fine native residence, the cry of caution, the watchword for defence was always heard—“Castila!”—and the children hastened their retreat from the dreaded object. But this is now a thing of the past since the native crossed swords with the “Castila” (q.v.) and the American on the battle-field, and, rightly or wrongly, thoroughly believes himself to be a match for either in equal numbers.
The Filipino, like most Orientals, is a good imitator, but having no initiative genius, he is not efficient in anything. He will copy a model any number of times, but one cannot get him to make two copies so much alike that the one is undistinguishable from the other. Yet he has no attachment for any occupation in particular. To-day he will be at the plough; to-morrow a coachman, a collector of accounts, a valet, a sailor, and so on; or he will suddenly renounce social trammels in pursuit of lawless vagabondage. I once travelled with a Colonel Marqués, acting-Governor of Cebú, whose valet was an ex-law student. Still, many are willing to learn, and really become very expert artisans, especially machinists.
The native is indolent in the extreme, and never tires of sitting still, gazing at nothing in particular. He will do no regular work without an advance; his word cannot be depended upon; he is fertile in exculpatory devices; he is momentarily obedient, but is averse to subjection. He feigns friendship, but has no loyalty; he is calm and silent, but can keep no secret; he is daring on the spur of the moment, but fails in resolution if he reflects. He is wantonly unfeeling towards animals; cruel to a fallen foe; tyrannical over his own people when in power; rarely tempers his animosities with compassion or pity, but is devotedly fond of his children. He is shifty, erratic, void of chivalrous feeling; and if familiarity be permitted with the common-class native, he is liable to presume upon it. The Tagálog is docile and pliant, but keenly resents an injustice.
Native superstition and facile credulity are easily imposed upon. A report emitted in jest, or in earnest, travels with alarming rapidity, and the consequences have not unfrequently been serious. The native rarely sees a joke, and still more rarely makes one. He never reveals anger, but he will, with the most profound calmness, avenge himself, awaiting patiently the opportunity to use his bowie-knife with effect. Mutilation of a vanquished enemy is common among these Islanders. If a native recognizes a fault by his own conscience, he will receive a flogging without resentment or complaint; if he is not so convinced of the misdeed, he will await his chance to give vent to his rancour.
He has a profound respect only for the elders of his household, and the lash justly administered. He rarely refers to past generations in his lineage, and the lowest class do not know their own ages. The Filipino, of any class, has no memory for dates. In 1904 not one in a hundred remembered the month and year in which General Aguinaldo surrendered. During the Independence war, an esteemed friend of mine, a Philippine priest, died, presumably of old age. I went to his town to inquire all about it from his son, but neither the son nor another near relation could recollect, after two daysʼ reflection, even the year the old man passed away. Another friend of mine had his brains blown out during the Revolution. His brother was anxious to relate the tragedy to me and how he had lost 20,000 pesos in consequence, but he could not tell me in which month it happened. Families are very united, and claims for help and protection are admitted however distant the relationship may be. Sometimes the connection of a “hanger-on” with his hostʼs family will be so remote and doubtful, that he can only be recognized as “un poco pariente nada mas” (a sort of kinsman). But the house is open to all.
The native is a good father and a good husband, unreasonably jealous of his wife, careless of the honour of his daughter, and will take no heed of the indiscretions of his spouse committed before marriage. Cases have been known of natives having fled from their burning huts, taking care to save their fighting-cocks, but leaving their wives and children to look after themselves.
If a question be suddenly put to a native, he apparently loses his presence of mind, and gives the reply most convenient to save himself from trouble, punishment, or reproach. It is a matter of perfect indifference to him whether the reply be true or not. Then, as the investigation proceeds, he will amend one statement after another, until, finally, he has practically admitted his first explanation to be quite false. One who knows the native character, so far as its mysteries are penetrable, would never attempt to get at the truth of a question by a direct inquiry—he would “beat about the bush,” and extract the truth bit by bit. Nor do the natives, rich or poor, of any class in life, and with very few exceptions in the whole population, appear to regard lying as a sin, but rather as a legitimate, though cunning, convenience, which should be resorted to whenever it will serve a purpose. It is my frank opinion that they do not, in their consciences, hold lying to be a fault in any degree. If the liar be discovered and faced, he rarely appears disconcerted—his countenance rather denotes surprise at the discovery, or disappointment at his being foiled in the object for which he lied. As this is one of the most remarkable characteristics of the Filipino of both sexes in all spheres of life, I have repeatedly discussed it with the priests, several of whom have assured me that the habit prevails even in the confessional.7 In the administration of justice this circumstance is inconvenient, because a witness is always procurable for a few pesos. In a law-case, in which one or both parties belong to the lowest class, it is sometimes difficult to say whether the false or the true witnesses are in majority.
Men and women alike find exaggerated enjoyment in litigation, which many keep up for years. Among themselves they are tyrannical. They have no real sentiment, nor do they practise virtue for virtueʼs sake, and, apart from their hospitality, in which they (especially the Tagálogs) far excel the European, all their actions appear to be only guided by fear, or interest, or both.
The domesticated Tagálogs of Luzon have made greater progress in civilization and good manners than the Visayos of Panay and Negros. The Tagálog differs vastly from his southern brother in his true nature, which is more pliant, whilst he is by instinct cheerfully and disinterestedly hospitable. Invariably a European wayfarer in a Tagálog village is invited by one or another of the principal residents to lodge at his house as a free guest, for to offer payment would give offence. A present of some European article might be made, but it is not at all looked for. The Tagálog host lends his guest horses or vehicles to go about the neighbourhood, takes him round to the houses of his friends, accompanies him to any feast which may be celebrated at the time of his visit, and lends him his sporting-gun, if he has one. The whole time he treats him with the deference due to the superiority which he recognizes. He is remarkably inquisitive, and will ask all sorts of questions about oneʼs private affairs, but that is of no consequence—he is not intrusive, and if he be invited to return the visit in the capital, or wherever one may reside, he accepts the invitation reluctantly, but seldom pays the visit. Speaking of the Tagálog as a host, pure and simple, he is generally the most genial man one could hope to meet.
The Negros and Panay Visayoʼs cold hospitality is much tempered with the prospect of personal gain—quite a contrast to the Tagálog. On the first visit he might admit the white traveller into his house out of mere curiosity to know all about him—whence he comes—why he travels—how much he possesses—and where he is going. The basis of his estimation of a visitor is his worldly means; or, if the visitor be engaged in trade, his power to facilitate his hostʼs schemes would bring him a certain measure of civility and complaisance. He is fond of, and seeks the patronage of Europeans of position. In manners, the Negros and Panay Visayo is uncouth and brusque, and more conceited, arrogant, self-reliant, ostentatious, and unpolished than his northern neighbour. If remonstrated with for any fault, he is quite disposed to assume a tone of impertinent retort or sullen defiance. The Cebuáno is more congenial and hospitable.The women, too, are less affable in Panay and Negros, and evince an almost incredible avarice. They are excessively fond of ornament, and at feasts they appear adorned with an amount of gaudy French jewellery which, compared with their means, cost them a lot of money to purchase from the swarm of Jew pedlars who, before the Revolution of 1896, periodically invaded the villages.
If a European calls on a well-to-do Negros or Panay Visayo, the women of the family saunter off in one direction or another, to hide themselves in other rooms, unless the visitor be well known to the family. If met by chance, perhaps they will return a salutation, perhaps not. They seldom indulge in a smile before a stranger; have no conversation; no tuition beyond music and the lives of the Saints, and altogether impress the traveller with their insipidity of character, which chimes badly with their manifest air of disdain.
The women of Luzon (and in a slightly less degree the Cebuánas) are more frank, better educated, and decidedly more courteous and sociable. Their manners are comparatively lively, void of arrogance, cheerful, and buoyant in tone. However, all over the Islands the women are more parsimonious than the men; but, as a rule, they are more clever and discerning than the other sex, over whom they exercise great influence. Many of them are very dexterous business women and have made the fortunes of their families. A notable example of this was the late Doña Cornelia Laochanco, of Manila, with whom I was personally acquainted, and who, by her own talent in trading transactions, accumulated considerable wealth. Doña Cornelia (who died in 1899) was the foundress of the system of blending sugar to sample for export, known in Manila as the fardería. In her establishment at San Miguel she had a little tower erected, whence a watchman kept his eye on the weather. When threatening clouds appeared a bell was tolled and the mats were instantly picked up and carried off by her Chinese coolie staff, which she managed with great skill, due, perhaps, to the fact that her three husbands were Chinese.
The Philippine woman makes an excellent general servant in native families; in the same capacity, in European service, she is, as a rule, almost useless, but she is a good nursemaid.
The Filipino has many excellent qualities which go far to make amends for his shortcomings. He is patient and forbearing in the extreme, remarkably sober, plodding, anxious only about providing for his immediate wants, and seldom feels “the canker of ambitious thoughts.” In his person and his dwelling he may serve as a pattern of cleanliness to all other races in the tropical East. He has little thought beyond the morrow, and therefore never racks his brains about events of the far future in the political world, the world to come, or any other sphere. He indifferently leaves everything to happen as it may, with surprising resignation. The native, in general, will go without food for many hours at a time without grumbling; and fish, rice, betel-nut, and tobacco are his chief wants. Inebriety is almost unknown, although strong drink (nipa wine) is plentiful.
In common with other races whose lives are almost exclusively passed amid the ever-varying wonders of land and sea, Filipinos rarely express any spontaneous admiration for the beauties of Nature, and seem little sensible to any aspect thereof not directly associated with the human interest of their calling. Few Asiatics, indeed, go into raptures over lovely scenery as Europeans do, nor does “the gorgeous glamour of the Orient” which we speak of so ecstatically strike them as such.
When a European is travelling, he never needs to trouble about where or when his servant gets his food or where he sleeps—he looks after that. When a native travels, he drops in amongst any group of his fellow-countrymen whom he finds having their meal on the roadside, and wherever he happens to be at nightfall, there he lies down to sleep. He is never long in a great dilemma. If his hut is about to fall, he makes it fast with bamboo and rattan-cane. If a vehicle breaks down, a harness snaps, or his canoe leaks or upsets, he always has his remedy at hand. He stoically bears misfortune of all kinds with the greatest indifference, and without the least apparent emotion. Under the eye of his master he is the most tractable of all beings. He never (like the Chinese) insists upon doing things his own way, but tries to do just as he is told, whether it be right or wrong. A native enters oneʼs service as a coachman, but if he be told to paddle a boat, cook a meal, fix a lock, or do any other kind of labour possible to him, he is quite agreeable. He knows the duties of no occupation with efficiency, and he is perfectly willing to be a “jack-of-all-trades.” Another good feature is that he rarely, if ever, repudiates a debt, although he may never pay it. So long as he gets his food and fair treatment, and his stipulated wages in advance, he is content to act as a general-utility man; lodging he will find for himself. If not pressed too hard, he will follow his superior like a faithful dog. If treated with kindness, according to European notions, he is lost. The native never looks ahead; if left to himself, he will do all sorts of imprudent things, from sheer want of reflection on the consequences, when, as he puts it, “his head is hot” from excitement due to any cause.
On March 15, 1886, I was coming round the coast of Zambales in a small steamer, in which I was the only saloon passenger. The captain, whom I had known for years, found that one of the cabin servants had been systematically pilfering for some time past. He ordered the steward to cane him, and then told him to go to the upper deck and remain there. He at once walked up the ladder and threw himself into the sea; but the vessel stopped, a boat was lowered, and he was soon picked up. Had he been allowed to reach the shore, he would have become what is known as a remontado and perhaps eventually a brigand, for such is the beginning of many of them.
The thorough-bred native has no idea of organization on a large scale, hence a successful revolution is not possible if confined to his own class unaided by others, such as Creoles and foreigners. He is brave, and fears no consequences when with or against his equals, or if led by his superiors; but a conviction of superiority—moral or physical—in the adversary depresses him. An excess of audacity calms and overawes him rather than irritates him.
His admiration for bravery and perilous boldness is only equalled by his contempt for cowardice and puerility, and this is really the secret of the nativeʼs disdain for the Chinese race. Under good European officers he makes an excellent soldier, and would follow a brave leader to death; however, if the leader fell, he would at once become demoralized. There is nothing he delights in more than pillage, destruction, and bloodshed, and when once he becomes master of the situation in an affray, there is no limit to his greed and savage cruelty.
Yet, detesting order of any kind, military discipline is repugnant to him, and, as in other countries where conscription is the law, all kinds of tricks are resorted to to avoid it. On looking over the deeds of an estate which I had purchased, I saw that two brothers, each named Catalino Raymundo, were the owners at one time of a portion of the land. I thought there must have been some mistake, but, on close inquiry, I found that they were so named to dodge the Spanish recruiting officers, who would not readily suppose there were two Catalino Raymundos born of the same parents. As one Catalino Raymundo had served in the army and the other was dead, no further secret was made in the matter, and I was assured that this practice was common among the poorest natives.
In November, 1887, a deserter from the new recruits was pursued to Langca, a ward of Meycauáyan, Bulacan Province, where nearly all the inhabitants rose up in his defence, the result being that the Lieutenant of Cuadrilleros was killed and two of his men were wounded. When the Civil Guard appeared on the spot, the whole ward was abandoned.
According to the Spanish army regulations, a soldier cannot be on sentinel duty for more than two hours at a time under any circumstances. Cases have been known of a native sentinel having been left at his post for a little over that regulation time, and to have become phrenetic, under the impression that the two hours had long since expired, and that he had been forgotten. In one case the man had to be disarmed by force, but in another instance the sentinel simply refused to give up his rifle and bayonet, and defied all who approached him. Finally, an officer went with the colours of the regiment in hand to exhort him to surrender his arms, adding that justice would attend his complaint. The sentinel, however, threatened to kill any one who should draw near, and the officer had no other recourse open to him but to order a European soldier to climb up behind the sentry-box and blow out the insubordinate nativeʼs brains.
In the seventies, a contingent of Philippine troops was sent to assist the French in Tonquin, where they rendered very valuable service. Indeed, some officers are of opinion that they did more to quell the Tuh Duc rising than the French troops themselves. When in the fray, they throw off their boots, and, barefooted, they rarely falter. Even over mud and swamp, a native is almost as sure-footed as a goat on the brink of a quarry. I have frequently been carried for miles in a hammock by four natives and relays, through morassy districts too dangerous to travel on horseback. They are great adepts at climbing wherever it is possible for a human being to scale a height; like monkeys, they hold as much with their feet as with their hands; they ride any horse barebacked without fear; they are utterly careless about jumping into the sea among the sharks, which sometimes they will intentionally attack with knives, and I never knew a native who could not swim. There are natives who dare dive for the caiman and rip it up. If they meet with an accident, they bear it with supreme resignation, simply exclaiming “desgracia pá”—it was a misfortune.
I can record with pleasure my happy recollection of many a light-hearted, genial, and patient native who accompanied me on my journeys in these Islands. Comparatively very few thorough-bred natives travel beyond their own islands, although there is a constant flow of half-castes to and from the adjacent colonies, Europe, etc.
The native is very slowly tempted to abandon the habits and traditional customs of his forefathers, and his ambitionless felicity may be envied by any true philosopher.
No one who has lived in the Colony for years could sketch the real moral portrait of such a remarkable combination of virtues and vices. The domesticated nativeʼs character is a succession of surprises. The experience of each year modifies oneʼs conclusions, and the most exact definition of such an inscrutable being is, after all, hypothetical. However, to a certain degree, the characteristic indolence of these Islanders is less dependent on themselves than on natural law, for the physical conditions surrounding them undoubtedly tend to arrest their vigour of motion, energy of life, and intellectual power.
The organic elements of the European differ widely from those of the Philippine native, and each, for his own durability, requires his own special environment. The half-breed partakes of both organisms, but has the natural environment of the one. Sometimes artificial means—the mode of life into which he is forced by his European parent—will counteract in a measure natural law, but, left to himself, the tendency will ever be towards an assimilation to the native. Original national characteristics disappear in an exotic climate, and, in the course of time, conform to the new laws of nature to which they are exposed.
It is an ascertained fact that the increase of energy introduced into the Philippine native by blood mixture from Europe lasts only to the second generation, whilst the effect remains for several generations when there is a similarity of natural surroundings in the two races crossed. Moreover, the peculiar physique of a Chinese or Japanese progenitor is preserved in succeeding generations, long after the Spanish descendant has merged into the conditions of his environment.
The Spanish Government strove in vain against natural law to counteract physical conditions by favouring mixed marriages,8 but Nature overcomes manʼs law, and climatic influence forces its conditions on the half-breed. Indeed, were it not for new supplies of extraneous blood infusion, European characteristics would, in time, become indiscernible among the masses. Even on Europeans themselves, in defiance of their own volition, the new physical conditions and the influence of climate on their mental and physical organisms are perceptible after two or three decades of yearsʼ residence in the mid-tropics.
All the natives of the domesticated type have distinct Malay, or Malay-Japanese, or Mongol features—prominent cheek-bones, large and lively eyes, and flat noses with dilated nostrils. They are, on the average, of rather low stature, very rarely bearded, and of a copper colour more or less dark. Most of the women have no distinct line of hair on the forehead. Some there are with a frontal hairy down extending to within an inch of the eyes, possibly a reversion to a progenitor (the Macacus radiata) in whom the forehead had not become quite naked, leaving the limit between the scalp and the forehead undefined. The hair of both males and females stands out from the skin like bristles, and is very coarse. The coarseness of the femaleʼs hair is, however, more than compensated by its luxuriance; for, provided she be in a normal state of health, up to the prime of life the hair commonly reaches down to the waist, and occasionally to the ankles. The women are naturally proud of this mark of beauty, which they preserved by frequent washings with gogo (q.v.) and the use of cocoanut oil (q.v.). Hare-lip is common. Children, from their birth, have a spot at the base of the vertebrae, thereby supporting the theory of Professor Huxleyʼs Anthropidae sub-order—or man (vide Professor Huxleyʼs “An Introduction to the Classification of Animals,” p. 99. Published 1869).
Marriages between natives are usually arranged by the parents of the respective families. The nubile age of females is from about 11 years. The parents of the young man visit those of the maiden, to approach the subject delicately in an oratorical style of allegory. The response is in like manner shrouded with mystery, and the veil is only thrown off the negotiations when it becomes evident that both parties agree. Among the poorer classes, if the young man has no goods to offer, it is frequently stipulated that he shall serve on probation for an indefinite period in the house of his future bride,—as Jacob served Laban to make Rachel his wife,—and not a few drudge for years with this hope before them.
Sometimes, in order to secure service gratis, the elders of the young woman will suddenly dismiss the young man after a prolonged expectation, and take another Catipad. as he is called, on the same terms. The old colonial legislation—“Leyes de Indias”—in vain prohibited this barbarous ancient custom, and there was a modern Spanish law (of which few availed themselves) which permitted the intended bride to be “deposited” away from parental custody, whilst the parents were called upon to show cause why the union should not take place. However, it often happens that when Cupid has already shot his arrow into the virginal breast, and the betrothed foresee a determined opposition to their mutual hopes, they anticipate the privileges of matrimony, and compel the brideʼs parents to countenance their legitimate aspirations to save the honour of the family. Honi soit qui mal y pense—they simply force the hand of a dictatorial mother-in-law. The women are notably mercenary, and if, on the part of the girl and her people, there be a hitch, it is generally on the question of dollars when both parties are native. Of course, if the suitor be European, no such question is raised—the ambition of the family and the vanity of the girl being both satisfied by the alliance itself.
When the proposed espousals are accepted, the donations propter nuptias are paid by the father of the bridegroom to defray the wedding expenses, and often a dowry settlement, called in Tagálog dialect “bigaycaya” is made in favour of the bride. Very rarely the brideʼs property is settled on the husband. I never heard of such a case. The Spanish laws relating to married personsʼ property were quaint. If the husband were poor and the wife well-off, so they might remain, notwithstanding the marriage. He, as a rule, became a simple administrator of her possessions, and, if honest, often depended on her liberality to supply his own necessities. If he became bankrupt in a business in which he employed also her capital or possessions, she ranked as a creditor of the second class under the “Commercial Code.” If she died, the poor husband, under no circumstances, by legal right (unless under a deed signed before a notary) derived any benefit from the fact of his having espoused a rich wife: her property passed to their legitimate issue, or—in default thereof—to her nearest blood relation. The children might be rich, and, but for their generosity, their father might be destitute, whilst the law compelled him to render a strict account to them of the administration of their property during their minority. This fact has given rise to many lawsuits.
A married woman often signs her maiden name, sometimes adding “de ——” (her husbandʼs surname). If she survives him, she again takes up her nomen ante nuptias amongst her old circle of friends, and only adds “widow of ——” to show who she is to the public (if she be in trade), or to those who have only known her as a married woman. The offspring use both the parental surnames, the motherʼs coming after the fatherʼs; hence it is the more prominent. Frequently, in Spanish documents requiring the mention of a personʼs name in full, the motherʼs maiden surname is revived.
Thus marriage, as I understand the spirit of the Spanish law, seems to be a simple contract to legitimize and license procreation.
Up to the year 1844, only a minority of the christian natives had distinctive family names. They were, before that date, known by certain harsh ejaculations, and classification of families was uncared for among the majority of the population. Therefore, in that year, a list of Spanish surnames was sent to each parish priest, and every native family had to adopt a separate appellation, which has ever since been perpetuated. Hence one meets natives bearing illustrious names such as Juan Salcedo, Juan de Austria, Rianzares, Ramon de Cabrera, Pio Nono Lopez, and a great many Legaspis.
When a wedding among natives was determined upon, the betrothed went to the priest—not necessarily together—kissed his hand, and informed him of their intention. There was a tariff of marriage fees, but the priest usually set this aside, and fixed his charges according to the resources of the parties. This abuse of power could hardly be resisted, as the natives have a radicate aversion to being married elsewhere than in the village of the bride. The priest, too (not the bride), usually had the privilege of “naming the day.” The fees demanded were sometimes enormous, the common result being that many couples merely cohabited under mutual vows because they could not pay the wedding expenses.
The banns were verbally published after the benediction following the conclusion of the Mass. In the evening, prior to the marriage, it was compulsory on the couple to confess and obtain absolution from the priest. The nuptials almost invariably took place after the first Mass, between five and six in the morning, and those couples who were spiritually prepared first presented themselves for Communion. Then an acolyte placed over the shoulders of the bridal pair a thick mantle or pall. The priest recited a short formula of about five minutesʼ duration, put his interrogations, received the muttered responses, and all was over. To the espoused, as they left the church, was tendered a bowl of coin; the bridegroom passed a handful of the contents to the bride, who accepted it and returned it to the bowl. This act was symbolical of his giving to her his worldly goods. Then they left the church with their friends, preserving that solemn, stoical countenance common to all Malay natives. There was no visible sign of emotion as they all walked off, with the most matter-of-fact indifference, to the paternal abode. This was the custom under the Spaniards, and it still largely obtains; the Revolution decreed civil marriage, which the Americans have declared lawful, but not compulsory.
After the marriage ceremony the feast called the Catapúsan begins. To this the vicar and headmen of the villages, the immediate friends and relatives of the allied families, and any Europeans who may happen to be resident or sojourning, are invited. The table is spread, à la Russe, with all the good things procurable served at the same time—sweetmeats predominating. Imported beer, Dutch gin, chocolate, etc., are also in abundance. After the early repast, both men and women are constantly being offered betel-nut to masticate, and cigars or cigarettes, according to choice.
Meanwhile, the company is entertained by native dancers. Two at a time—a young man and woman—stand vis-à-vis and alternately sing a love ditty, the burthen of the theme usually opening by the regret of the young man that his amorous overtures have been disregarded. Explanations follow, in the poetic dialogue, as the parties dance around each other, keeping a slow step to the plaintive strains of music. This is called the Balítao. It is most popular in Visayas.
Another dance is performed by a young woman only. If well executed it is extremely graceful. The girl begins singing a few words in an ordinary tone, when her voice gradually drops to the diminuendo, whilst her slow gesticulations and the declining vigour of the music together express her forlornness. Then a ray of joy seems momentarily to lighten her mental anguish; the spirited crescendo notes gently return; the tone of the melody swells; her measured step and action energetically quicken—until she lapses again into resigned sorrow, and so on alternately. Coy in repulse, and languid in surrender, the danseuse in the end forsakes her sentiment of melancholy for elated passion.
The native dances are numerous. Another of the most typical, is that of a girl writhing and dancing a pas seul with a glass of water on her head. This is known as the Comítan.
When Europeans are present, the bride usually retires into the kitchen or a back room, and only puts in an appearance after repeated requests. The conversation rarely turns upon the event of the meeting; there is not the slightest outward manifestation of affection between the newly-united couple, who, during the feast, are only seen together by mere accident. If there are European guests, the repast is served three times—firstly for the Europeans and headmen, secondly for the males of less social dignity, and lastly for the women. Neither at the table nor in the reception-room do the men and women mingle, except for perhaps the first quarter of an hour after the arrival, or whilst dancing continues.
About an hour after the mid-day meal, those who are not lodging at the house return to their respective residences to sleep the siesta. On an occasion like this—at a Catapúsan given for any reason—native outsiders, from anywhere, always invade the kitchen in a mob, lounge around doorways, fill up corners, and drop in for the feast uninvited, and it is usual to be liberally complaisant to all comers.
As a rule, the married couple live with the parents of one or the other, at least until the family inconveniently increases. In old age, the elder members of the families come under the protection of the younger ones quite as a matter of course. In any case, a newly-married pair seldom reside alone. Relations from all parts flock in. Cousins, uncles and aunts, of more or less distant grade, hang on to the recently-established household, if it be not extremely poor. Even when a European marries a native woman, she is certain to introduce some vagabond relation—a drone to hive with the bees—a condition quite inevitable, unless the husband be a man of specially determined character.
Death at childbirth is very common, and it is said that 25 per cent. of the new-born children die within a month.
Among the lowest classes, whilst a woman is lying-in, the husband closes all the windows to prevent the evil spirit (asuan) entering; sometimes he will wave about a stick or bowie-knife at the door, or on top of the roof, for the same purpose. Even among the most enlightened, at the present day, the custom of shutting the windows is inherited from their superstitious forefathers, probably in ignorance of the origin of this usage.
In Spanish times it was considered rather an honour than otherwise to have children by a priest, and little secret was made of it.
In October, 1888, I was in a village near Manila, at the bedside of a sick friend, when the curate entered. He excused himself for not having called earlier, by explaining that “Turing” had sent him a message informing him that as the vicar (a native) had gone to Manila, he might take charge of the church and parish. “Is ‘Turing’ an assistant curate?” I inquired. My friend and the pastor were so convulsed with laughter at the idea, that it was quite five minutes before they could explain that the intimation respecting the parochial business emanated from the absent vicarʼs bonne amie.
Consanguine marriages are very common, and perhaps this accounts for the low intellect and mental debility perceptible in many families.
Poor parents offer their girls to Europeans for a loan of money, and they are admitted under the pseudonym of sempstress or housekeeper. Natives among themselves do not kiss—they smell each other, or rather, they place the nose and lip on the cheek and draw a long breath.
Marriages between Spaniards and pure native women, although less frequent than formerly, still take place. Since 1899 many Americans, too, have taken pure native wives. It is difficult to apprehend an alliance so incongruous, there being no affinity of ideas, the only condition in common being, that they are both human beings professing Christianity. The husband is either drawn towards the level of the native by this heterogeneous relationship, or, in despair of remedying the error of a passing passion, he practically ignores his wife in his own social connections. Each forms then a distinct circle of friends of his, or her, own selection, whilst the woman is but slightly raised above her own class by the white manʼs influence and contact. There are some exceptions, but I have most frequently observed in the houses of Europeans married to native women in the provinces, that the wives make the kitchen their chief abode, and are only seen by the visitor when some domestic duty requires them to move about the house. Familiarity breeds contempt, and these mésalliances diminish the dignity of the superior race by reducing the birth-origin of both parents to a common level in their children.
The Spanish half-breeds and Creoles constitute a very influential body. A great number of them are established in trade in Manila and the provinces. Due to their European descent, more or less distant, they are of quicker perception, greater tact, and gifted with wider intellectual faculties than the pure Oriental class. Also, the Chinese half-breeds,—a caste of Chinese fathers and Philippine mothers,—who form about one-sixth of the Manila population, are shrewder than the natives of pure extraction, their striking characteristic being distrust and suspicion of anotherʼs intentions. It is a curious fact that the Chinese half-caste speaks with as much contempt of the Chinaman as the thorough-bred Filipino does, and would fain hide his paternal descent. There are numbers of Spanish half-breeds fairly well educated, and just a few of them very talented. Many of them have succeeded in making pretty considerable fortunes in their negotiations, as middlemen, between the provincial natives and the European commercial houses. Their true social position is often an equivocal one, and the complex question has constantly to be confronted whether to regard a Spanish demi-sang from a native or European standpoint. Among themselves they are continually struggling to attain the respect and consideration accorded to the superior class, whilst their connexions and purely native relations link them to the other side. In this perplexing mental condition, we find them on the one hand striving in vain to disown their affinity to the inferior races, and on the other hand, jealous of their true-born European acquaintances. A morosity of disposition is the natural outcome. Their character generally is evasive and vacillating. They are captious, fond of litigation, and constantly seeking subterfuges. They appear always dissatisfied with their lot in life, and inclined to foster grievances against whoever may be in office over them. Pretentious in the extreme, they are fond of pomp and paltry show, and it is difficult to trace any popular movement, for good or for evil, without discovering a half-breed initiator, or leader, of one caste or another. They are locally denominated Mestizos.
A Tagálog Townsman
The Jesuit Father, Pedro Murillo Velarde, at p. 272 of his work on this Colony, expressed his opinion of the political-economical result of mixed marriages to the following effect:—“Now,” he says, “we have a querulous, discontented population of half-castes, who, sooner or later, will bring about a distracted state of society, and occupy the whole force of the Government to stamp out the discord.” How far the prophecy was fulfilled will be seen in another chapter.