Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Wilcox and I found the existing conditions In our journey we traveled first across to be much at variance with this opinion. the province of Nueva Icija, by far the During our absence from Manila we trav poorest and least interesting of all the eled more than six hundred miles in a provinces we visited. And yet even here very comprehensive circuit through the we were greatly surprised by the intellinorthern part of the island of Luzon, gence and refinement of the inhabitants. traversing a characteristic and important While our entertainment at

first was district. In this way we visited seven meager—for want of the wherewithal to provinces, of which some were under the provide a more generous one—we could immediate control of the central govern nevertheless detect the same spirit of hosment at Malolos, while others were remotely pitality that found vent in elaborate mani. situated, separated from each other and festations in the richer towns which we from the seat of government by natural visited later. We were particularly struck divisions of land, and accessible only by by the dignified demeanor of our hosts lengthy and arduous travel. As a tribute and by the graceful manner in which they to the efficiency of Aguinaldo's govern extended to us their welcome. We had unment and to the law-abiding character of limited opportunities for conversation with his subjects, I offer the fact that Mr. the citizens of the towns, and we found Wilcox and I pursued our journey through everywhere a class that gave evidence of out in perfect security, and returned to considerable culture and a certain amount Manila with only the most pleasing recol of education. Their education included lections of the quiet and orderly life which those branches only which were taught at we found the natives to be leading under the schools conducted by the priesthood at the new régime.

the capital towns of the provinces, and Some years ago, at an Exposition held was of rather an impracticable nature. at Barcelona, Spain, a man and woman The Spanish language, Spanish history were exhibited as representative types of (appropriately garbled), Church history, the inhabitants of Luzon. The man wore and the dead languages evidently formed a loin-cloth and the woman a scanty skirt. its leading features. The natives of this It was evident that they belonged to the class seemed to have made the most of lowest plane of savagery.

I think no the opportunities offered them, and they deeper wound was ever inflicted upon the had the subjects above mentioned compride of the real Filipino population than pletely at command.

pletely at command. This enabled them that caused by this exhibition, the knowl to give a trend to their conversation that edge of which seems to have spread served at least to indicate their aspirations. throughout the island. The man and On the other hand, their ignorance of woman, while actually natives of Luzon, modern history and politics, and particuwere captives from a tribe of wild Igor larly of current events, was astonishing. rotes of the hills; a tribe as hostile to the What they knew of the United States had Filipinos as to the Spaniards themselves, been learned, like the Latin, from Spanish and equally alien to both. It is doubtful teachers, but was not equally reliable. to what extent such islanders are respon Not only in the backward province of sible for the low esteem in which the Fil Nueva Icija, but elsewhere throughout ipino is held; his achievements certainly our journey, we found the same fund of have never been well advertised, while misinformation on the subject. This rehis shortcomings have been heralded lated in great measure to the attitude of abroad. The actual, every day Filipino our Government toward the two races of is not as picturesque a creature as the people that have come under its jurisIgorrote. The average human imagination diction with an inferior political status, has a remarkable affinity for the pictur namely, the negroes and the Indians.

Of esque; and the commonplace citizen of the condition of the negroes since the war Luzon is too often overlooked in the the Filipinos seem not to be aware. They presence of the engrossing savage. If express great curiosity on the subject of the observer's attention can be drawn to the Indian question, and have evidently the former, however, much that is of inter been taught to see in the unhappy condiest will be found in his comparatively tion of that race the result of deliberate homely life.

oppression, and a warning of what they

may expect from our Government if they frame of the hut are formed of bamboo submit themselves to its legislation. Of poles, and an excellent floor is made from ourselves, the citizens of the United States, long, thin strips of the same wood laid they have been told that we possess together with their curved surfaces upneither patriotism, honor, religion, nor ward. The roof is thatched with grass, any other restraining or refining influence. and the sides of the hut are formed of A character has been given us consistent leaves of the “nipa” plant plaited towith the acts attributed to our Nation. gether. Screens made of the same maThe natives are now undoubtedly becom terial serve in place of windows, sliding ing enlightened as to our true character, back and forth on bamboo guides in front but it will probably be a long time before of apertures cut in the walls. A short

[graphic]

THE PASIG RIVER

Fishermen raising great net their last suspicions are removed. In the bamboo ladder gives entrance to the hut, meanwhile we cannot but hope that the which consists of two rooms, one forward good faith of our Government in any propo- of the other. The front room is raised a sition it may make to the Filipino people step higher than the rear one, and is prowill be accepted in advance. When it vided with as smooth a floor as possible, becomes a question of our fairness and to be used principally for sleeping purour honest in-entions toward them, the poses. The back room contains the native burden of proof must rest on us.

stove, the only piece of furniture in the The towns of Nueva Icija are small and hut. This consists of a section of the unimposing. They are composed prin- trunk of a large tree hollowed out into cipally of nipa” huts, built on • stilts” the form of a bowl and lined with mortar. to evade the vapors that rise from the Many “nipa ” huts are far more elabomarshy ground. The “stilts and the rate, but the one described is of the

commonest type, and frequently forms the the mortar as it is cut. The club, held in home of a large family.

the middle, is raised well above the head It will be noticed what an important in the right hand and cast vertically down part the bamboo forms in the construc upon the rice; caught up with the left tion of these huts. The value of the bam hand as it rebounds, thrown again, and boo tree to the natives of all tropical caught up with the right. The workers countries has been too often dilated upon make an interesting picture, half a dozen to bear further repetition ; 'but I cannot of them perhaps beating in the same morrefrain from mentioning one use to which tar, their dark skins glistening in the sunI have seen it put in this province. In light, and every firm muscle working as the outskirts of one town through which their bodies move in the graceful action we passed we noticed a number of huts of their labor. These people are musical by whose owners, having made some attempt nature, and there undoubtedly is harmony at cultivating the land in their immediate in this rhythmical beating of wood on vicinity, had built a fence of bamboo to wood. The sound penetrates to the most separate their fields from the road. There distant places, and seems never to cease. It was nothing particularly remarkable about comes to you like the beating of a muffled the fence, except that fences of any kind drum, and brings before your mind the are not numerous in that country; but we supple figures of the native girls casting were struck with astonishment on noticing their clubs in that graceful movement, a gate, through which a native had passed, down with the right hand, up with the close forcibly behind him, without any left, down with the left hand, up with the effort on his part. We proceeded at once right. I only once saw the workmen emto investigate the phenomenon, and discov- phasize the musical element that characered that the result which had so surprised terizes this labor. On this occasion a us had been accomplished by the follow- party of four natives, two young men and ing unique arrangement : A long bamboo two young women, were beating at the cord had been made fast to the gate and rice in one long trough, while an old to a point near the top of a bamboo sap man sitting near with a musical instruling growing in the yard, so that the cord ment like a guitar strummed the time. was taut when the gate was shut. The In traveling from Nueva Icija into the gate opened outward, and could be passed neighboring province of Nueva Vizcaya, through only by bringing sufficient press and from there on through the greater ure to bear to bend the sapling. When part of the latter province, we passed the pressure was released, the sapling through a rough and mountainous country. would spring back to its erect position, Our progress here was deplorably difficlosing the gate with a slam. With the cult, but the numerous views of magnifimeans at hand, a Yankee might well have cent scenery to which we were treated been at a loss to devise a neater or more more than repaid us for our labors and effective scheme.

hardships. I never before had suspected The province of Nueva Icija is low and that Luzon Island contained within its marshy, and rice is almost the only agri- borders such harmonies in landscape as cultural product. At the time of our it has been my good fortune to see. There visit, the entire population, both male and are spots in the mountains of Nueva female, was engaged in the threshing of Vizcaya from which the aspect of the rice, which, under their artistic manipula- surrounding country overwhelms an obtion, becomes a most picturesque pro server with all the power of music, and ceeding. The implements used resemble, thrills his artistic sense into ecstasy. The on a large scale, the pestle and mortar of deep-rooted prejudice that many men a chemist. The mortar is replaced by a possess against all that is tropical, I think, section of a log of hard wood, hollowed would disappear in every case under the out into the shape of a bowl or trough; influence of the clear atmosphere and the pestle by a club about four feet long, healthful soil of this beautiful province. with ends about six inches in diameter, From Nueva Vizcaya for the next three and the middle part scraped down to the weeks of travel we passed from one shape of the hand and worn smooth by hospitable town to another, and enjoyed constant friction. The rice is thrown into a round of novel entertainments. Our

[graphic][merged small]

our

route now carried us through the valley well on into the night, while we conversed of the Rio Grande Cagayan-probably the at ease with the village fathers. largest area of level country in Luzon At the little village of Cordon, which has Island. With the exception of the region a population of only a few hundred, we in the immediate vicinity of Manila, and passed one of the pleasantest evenings of of the narrow strip of land along the our journey. In this instance four accomwestern coast, this valley; previous to the plished little girls gave the entertainment revolution, was the firmest and most its particular charm. Soon after our ancient seat of Spanish authority on the arrival the entire village trooped into the island. Its towns throughout give evi large room of the public building that had dence of the labor that has been expended been turned over to our party. The floor on them. There are comparatively few was cleared for a dance, and the band “ nipa” huts, and many substantial frame commenced with a waltz. After the waltz buildings. Each town, moreover, has an was finished two of the little girls danced elaborate church and convent, usually a minuet, and sang a very pretty dialogue built of brick. Many of these churches accompaniment. The movement of the date back into the last century; one minuet was very slow and stately, and the which I remember particularly bearing little dancers went through it with charmthe date 1780 as that of its completion. ing effect. As an encore when the minuet

Our entertainment in the different was finished they sang a Spanish lovetowns varied according to the facilities at song together. The ages of these little hand; but in all cases music was a lead- girls were eleven and twelve respectively, ing feature.

In the absence of all acces and they did not look at all older than sories, the village band would be called their years. They were dressed as growninto the building in which we were re up young ladies, however, with their hair ceived, and would play tune after tune elaborately arranged, and with long trains

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]
« PredošláPokračovať »