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IT has been my privilege to have been intimately associated with the Filipino people for a short time at a most interesting period of their history. With the permission of Admiral Dewey, I spent the greater part of the months of October and November of 1898, in company with Paymaster W. B. Wilcox, U.S.N., in the interior of the northern part of the island of Luzon.1 It will be remembered that at that date the United States had not yet announced its policy with regard to the Philippines. The terms of the treaty with Spain were being negotiated by our commissioners at Paris, and the fate of the islands hung in the balance. In the meantime the native population, taking matters into their own hands, had declared
1 The author of this article, it should be stated, is a Naval Cadet. The report made by Mr. Sargent and Paymaster Wilcox was regarded by Admiral Dewey as of great value, and the Admiral commended them for "the success of their undertaking, their thoroughness of observation, and the ability shown in their report.''— The Editors.
their independence from all foreign juris diction, and had set up a provisional government, with Aguinaldo at its head. Although this government has never been recognized, and in all probability will go out of existence without recognition, yet it cannot be denied that, in a region occu. pied by many millions of inhabitants, for nearly six months it stood alone between anarchy and order. The military forces of the United States held control only in Manila, with its environs, and in Cavite, and had no authority to proceed further; while in the vast remaining districts the representatives of the only other recognized power on the field were prisoners in the hands of their despised subjects. It was the opinion at Manila during this anomalous period in our Philippine relations, and possibly in the United States as well, that such a state of affairs must breed something akin to anarchy. I can state unreservedly, however, that Mr. Wilcox and I found the existing conditions to be much at variance with this opinion. During our absence from Manila we traveled more than six hundred miles in a very comprehensive circuit through the northern part of the island of Luzon, traversing a characteristic and important district. In this way we visited seven provinces, of which some were under the immediate control of the central government at Malolos, while others were remotely situated, separated from each other and from the seat of government by natural divisions of land, and accessible only by lengthy and arduous travel. As a tribute to the efficiency of Aguinaldo's govern ment and to the law-abiding character of his subjects, I offer the fact that Mr. Wilcox and 1 pursued our journey throughout in perfect security, and returned to Manila with only the most pleasing recollections of the quiet and orderly life which we found the natives to be leading under the new regime.
Some years ago, at an Exposition held at Barcelona, Spain, a man and woman were exhibited as representative types of the inhabitants of Luzon. The man wore a loin-cloth and the woman a scanty skirt. It was evident that they belonged to the lowest plane of savagery. I think no deeper wound was ever inflicted upon the pride of the real Filipino population than that caused by this exhibition, the knowledge of which seems to have spread throughout the island. The man and woman, while actually natives of Luzon, were captives from a tribe of wild Igorrotes of the hills; a tribe as hostile to the Filipinos as to the Spaniards themselves, and equally alien to both. It is doubtful to what extent such islanders are responsible for the low esteem in which the Filipino is held; his achievements certainly have never been well advertised, while his shortcomings have been heralded abroad. The actual, everyday Filipino is not as picturesque a creature as the Igorrote. The average human imagination has a remarkable affinity for the picturesque; and the commonplace citizen of Luzon is too often overlooked in the presence of the engrossing savage. If the observer's attention can be drawn to the former, however, much that is of interest will be found in his comparatively homely life.
In our journey we traveled first across the province of Nueva Icija, by far the
poorest and least interesting of all the provinces we visited. And yet even here we were greatly surprised by the intelligence and refinement of the inhabitants. While our entertainment at first was meager—for want of the wherewithal to provide a more generous one—we could nevertheless detect the same spirit of hospitality that found vent in elaborate manifestations in the richer towns which we visited later. We were particularly struck by the dignified demeanor of our hosts and by the graceful manner in which they extended to us their welcome. We had unlimited opportunities for conversation with the citizens of the towns, and we found everywhere a class that gave evidence of considerable culture and a certain amount of education. Their education included those branches only which were taught at the schools conducted by the priesthood at the capital towns of the provinces, and was of rather an impracticable nature. The Spanish language, Spanish history (appropriately garbled), Church history, and the dead languages evidently formed its leading features. The natives of this class seemed to have made the most of the opportunities offered them, and they had the subjects above mentioned completely at command. This enabled them to give a trend to their conversation that served at least to indicate their aspirations. On the other hand, their ignorance of modern history and politics, and particularly of current events, was astonishing. What they knew of the United States had been learned, like the Latin, from Spanish teachers, but was not equally reliable. Not only in the backward province of Nueva Icija, but elsewhere throughout our journey, we found the same fund of misinformation on the subject. This related in great measure to the attitude of our Government toward the two races of people that have come under its jurisdiction with an inferior political status, namely, the negroes and the Indians. Of the condition of the negroes since the war the Filipinos seem not to be aware. They express great curiosity on the subject of the Indian question, and have evidently been taught to see in the unhappy condition of that race the result of deliberate oppression, and a warning of what they
their last suspicions are removed. In the meanwhile we cannot but hope that the good faith of our Government in any proposition it may make to the Filipino people will be accepted in advance. When it becomes a question of our fairness and our honest indentions toward them, the burden of proof must rest on us.
The towns of Nueva Icija are small and unimposing. They are composed principally of "nipa " huts, built on "stilts" to evade the vapors that rise from the marshy ground. The "stilts" and the
bamboo ladder gives entrance to the hut, which consists of two rooms, one forward of the other. The front room is raised a step higher than the rear one, and is provided with as smooth a floor as possible, to be used principally for sleeping purposes. The back room contains the native stove, the only piece of furniture in the hut. This consists of a section of the trunk of a large tree hollowed out into the form of a bowl and lined with mortar. Many "nipa" huts are far more elaborate, but the one described is of the commonest type, and frequently f - rms the borne of a large family.
It will be noticed what an important pari the bamboo forms in tbc cor.structioQ of these huts- The value of the bamboo tree to the natives of all trrpieal countries h^* been too often dilated upon. to bear farther repetiriin: but I cannot refrain from mentioning one use to wnich I have seen it put hi this province. In the outskirts of one tc-wn through which we pa*<^H we nocced a number of huts whose owners, having made some attempt at cultivating the land in their immediate vicinity, had built a fence of bamboo to separate their helds from the road. There was ncching particularly remarkable about the fence, except that fences of any kind are not n_uuerous in that c*:untry: but we were struck with astonishment on n :tic:ng a gate, thr:--gh which a native had passed. cio*e fordo.v behind him. without any etf ort oc his part. We proceeded at occe to investigate the phenomenon, and discovered that the result w hich had so surprised us had been accimiilishcd by the fcll:wing onl tue arrangement: A 1: ng bamboo co'd hid been made fast to the gate and v. 2 point near the tip of a bamb«x> sapling growing in the yard, so that the cord was taut when the ga:c was shut. The gate 'ttzxiL outward, and could be passed
ure to bear to bend the sapling. When tie pressure was released, the sapling wo-In spr.ng back to its erect position, ciosing the gate with a slam. With the means at hand, a Yankee might well have been at a less to devise a neater or mere effective scheme.
The province of Xueva Icija is low and marshy, and rice is almost the only agricultural product. At the time of our visit, the entire population, both ma!e and female, was engaged in the threshing of rice, which, under their artistic manipulation, becomes a most picturesque proceed.ng. Tr.e implements used resemble, on a lar^e scale, the pestle and mortar of a chemist- The mortar is replaced by a section of a log of hard wood, hollowed out into the shape of a bowl or trough; the pestle by a club at>:ut four feet long. w-.tn ends about six inches in diameter, and the middle part scraped d:wn to the shape of the hand and worn smooth by constant friction. The rice is thrown into
the mo rtar as it is cut. The dub. held in tne mi idle, is raised well above the head in the right hand and cast vertically down upoc the rice i caught up with die left hand as it rebounds, thrown again, and caught up with the right. The workers make an interesting picture, half a dozen of them perhaps beating in the same mortar, their dark skins glistening in the straight, and every hrm muscle working as their bodies move in the graceful action of their labor. These peopie are musical by nature. and there undoubtedly is harmony in this rhythmicai beating of wood on wood. The sound penetrates to the most distant places, and seems never to cease. It comes to you like the bearing of a muffled drum, and brings before your mind the supple figures of the native girls casting their clubs in that gracefui movement. down with the right hand, up with tbe left, d.^wn with the left hand, up with the right. I only once saw the workmen emphasize the musical element that characterizes this labor. On this occasion a part>- of to ur natives, two young men and two young women, were beating at the rice in one long trough, while an old man sitting near with a musical instrument like a guitar strummed the time.
In traveling from Xueva Icija into the neighboring province of Xueva Yizcaya. and from there on through the greater part of the latter province, we passed through a rough and mountainous country. Our progress here was deplorably difficult, but the numerous views of magnificent scenery to which we were treated more than repaid us for our labors and hardships. I never before had suspected that Luzon Island contained within its borders such harmonies in landscape as it has been my good fortune to see. There are spots in the mountains of Xueva Yizcaya from which the aspect of the surrounding country o\erwhelms an observer with all the power of music, and thrills his artistic sense into ecstasy. The deep-rooted prejudice that many men possess against all that is tropical. I think, would disappear in every case under the ir.riuenoe of the clear atmosphere and healthful soil of this beautiful province.
From Xueva Yi.-cava for the next three weeks of travel we passed from one hospitable town to another, and enjoyed a round of novel entertainments. Our route now carried us through the valley of the Rio Grande Cagayan—probably the largest area of level country in Luzon Island. With the exception of the region in the immediate vicinity of Manila, and of the narrow strip of land along the western coast, this valley, previous to the revolution, was the firmest and most ancient seat of Spanish authority on the island. Its towns throughout give evidence of the labor that has been expended on them. There are comparatively few "nipa" huts, and many substantial frame buildings. Each town, moreover, has an elaborate church and convent, usually built of brick. Many of these churches date back into the last century; one which I remember particularly bearing the date 1780 as that of its completion.
Our entertainment in the different towns varied according to the facilities at hand; but in all cases music was a leading feature. In the absence of all accessories, the village band would be called into the building in which we were received, and would play tune after tune
well on into the night, while we conversed at our ease with the village fathers. At the little village of Cordon, which has a population of only a few hundred, we passed one of the pleasantest evenings of our journey. In this instance four accomplished little girls gave the entertainment its particular charm. Soon after our arrival the entire village trooped into the large room of the public building that had been turned over to our party. The floor was cleared for a dance, and the band commenced with a waltz. After the waltz was finished two of the little girls danced a minuet, and sang a very pretty dialogue accompaniment. The movement of the minuet was very slow and stately, and the little dancers went through it with charming effect. As an encore when the minuet was finished they sang a Spanish lovesong together. The ages of these little girls were eleven and twelve respectively, and they did not look at all older than their years. They were dressed as grownup young ladies, however, with their hair elaborately arranged, and with long trains