A Woman's Impression of the Philippines
Mary Helen Fee

Part 4 out of 4

like to think of the mouths they are responsible for feeding so very
poorly, and the busy housewife jingles her keys from weaving-room to
embroidery frame, from the little _tienda_ on the ground floor, where
she sells _vino_, cigars, and betel-nut, to the extemporized bakery
in the kitchen, where they are making rice cakes and taffy candy,
which an old woman will presently hawk about the streets for her.

One of the curious things here is the multiplicity of resource which
the rich classes possess. A rich land-holder will have his rice fields,
sugar mill, vino factory, and cocoanut and hemp plantations. He will
own a fish corral or two, and be one of the backers of a deep-sea
fishing outfit. He speculates a little in rice, and he may have some
interest in pearl fisheries. On a bit of land not good for much else
he has the palm tree, which yields _buri_ for making mats and sugar
bags. His wife has a little shop, keeps several weavers at work,
and an embroidery woman or two. If she goes on a visit to Manila,
the day after her return her servants are abroad, hawking novelties in
the way of fans, knick-knacks, bits of lace, combs, and other things
which she has picked up to earn an honest penny. If a steamer drops
in with a cargo of Batangas oranges, she invests twenty or thirty
pesos, and has her servants about carrying the trays of fruit for
sale. According to her lights, which are not hygienic, she is a good
housekeeper and a genuine helpmeet. She keeps every ounce of food under
lock and key, and measures each crumb that is used in cooking. She
keeps the housekeeping accounts, handles the money, never pries into
her husband's affairs, bears him a child every year, and is content,
in return for all this devotion, with an ample supply of pretty
clothes and her jewels. She herself does not work, busy as she is,
and it speaks well for the faith and honor of the Filipino people
that she can secure labor in plenty to do all these things for her,
to handle moneys and give a faithful account of them. It is pitiful
to see how little the Filipino laboring class can do for itself,
how dependent it is upon the head of its superiors, and how content
it is to go on piling up wealth for them on a mere starvation dole.

As before said, the laboring man who attaches himself to a great
family does so because it gives him security. He is nearly always
in debt to it, but if he is sick and unable to work he knows his
rice will come in just the same. Under the old Spanish system, a
servant in debt could not quit his employer's service till the debt
was paid. The object of an employer was to get a man in debt and
keep him so, in which case he was actually, although not nominally,
a slave. While this law is no longer in force, probably not ten per
cent of the laboring population realize it. They know that an American
cannot hold them in his employ against their will, but they do not
know that this is true of Filipinos and Spaniards. Nor is the upper
class anxious to have them informed. The poor frequently offer their
children or their younger brothers and sisters to work out their debts.

Children are sold here also. Twice in my first year at Capiz, I refused
to buy small children who were offered for sale by their parents lest
the worse evil of starvation should befall them; and once, on my going
into a friend's house, she showed me a child of three or four years
that she had bought for five pesos. She remarked that it was a pity
to let the child starve, and that in a year or two its labor would
more than pay for its keep.

Filipinos who have capital enough all keep one or more pigs. These
are yard scavengers, and, as sanitary measures are little observed
by this race, have access to filth that makes the thought of eating
their flesh exceedingly repulsive. When the owners are ready to kill,
however, the pig is brought upstairs into the kitchen, where it lives
luxuriously on boiled rice, is bathed once a day, and prepared for
slaughter like a sacrificial victim. If you are personally acquainted
with a pig of this sort and know the day set for his decease, you
may send your servant out to buy fresh pork; otherwise you had better
stick to chicken and fish.

Before the Insurrection, when the rinderpest had not yet destroyed the
herds, beef cattle were plenty, and meat was cheap enough for even the
poorest to enjoy. A live goat, full grown, was not worth more than a
peso (fifty cents gold). Now there are practically no beef cattle at
all, so the only meat available is goats' flesh, which is sold at from
twenty to sixty cents a pound (ten to thirty cents gold). Americans
living in the provinces rely largely upon chicken, though in the coast
towns there is always plenty of delicious fish. There are also oysters
(not very good), clams, crabs, shrimps, and crayfish.

One of the most irritating features of housekeeping here is the
lack of any fixed value, especially for market produce. There are no
grocery stores, every article must be chaffered over, and is valued
according to the owner's pressing needs, his antipathy for Americans,
or his determination to get everything he can.

You may be driving in the country and see a flock of chickens
feeding under or near a house. You ask the price. The owner has just
dined. There is still enough _palay_ (unhulled rice) to furnish the
evening meal. He has no pressing need of money, and he doesn't want
to disturb himself to run down chickens. His fowls simply soar as to
price. They are worth anywhere from seventy-five cents to a dollar
apiece. The current price of chickens varies according to size and
season from twenty to fifty cents. You may offer the latter price and
be refused. The next day the very same man may appear at your home,
offering for twenty or thirty cents the fowls for which the day before
he refused fifty.

Except in the cold storage and the Chino grocery shops of Manila,
nothing can be bought without chaffering. The Filipinos love this;
they realize that we are impatient and seldom can hold out long at it,
and in many cases they overcharge us from sheer race hatred. Also
they have the idea, as they would express it, that our money is
two times as much as theirs, and that therefore we should pay two
prices. Often they put a price from sheer caprice or effrontery and
hang to it from obstinacy. In the same market I have found mangoes
of the same quality ranging all the way from thirty cents to a dollar
and fifty cents a dozen.

In the provinces market produce is very limited. In fresh foods there
is nothing but sweet potatoes, several varieties of squash, a kind of
string bean, lima beans, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers (in season),
spinach, and field corn. Potatoes and onions can be procured only
from Manila, bought by the crate. If there be no local commissary,
tinned foods must be sent in bulk from Manila. The housekeeper's task
is no easy one, and the lack of fresh beef, ice, fresh butter, and milk
wears hard on a dainty appetite. The Philippines are no place for women
or men who cannot thrive and be happy on plain food, plenty of work,
and isolation. Nor is there any sadder lot than that of the American
married woman in the provinces who is unemployed. Her housekeeping
takes very little time, for the cheapness of native servants obviates
the necessity of all labor but that of supervision. There is nowhere
to go, nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to talk about. She
has nothing to do but to lie in a steamer chair and to think of
home. Most women break down under it very quickly; they lose appetite
and flesh and grow fretful or melancholy. But to a woman who loves
her home and is employed, provincial life here is a boon. Remember
that for an expenditure of forty or fifty dollars a month the single
woman can maintain an establishment of her own--a genuine home--where
after a day's toil she can find order and peace and idleness awaiting
her. Filipino servants are not ideal, but any woman with a capacity
for organization can soon train them into keeping her house in the
outward semblance at least of order and cleanliness. She had better
investigate it pretty closely on Saturdays and Sundays; if she does
so, she can leave it to run itself very well during the five days of
her labor. And what a joy it is--I speak in the bitter remembrance
of a long line of hotels and boarding-houses--to go back to one's
home after a day's labor instead of to a hall bedroom; to sit at
one's own well-ordered if simple table, and escape the chatter of
twenty or thirty people who have no reason for association except
their economic necessities!

In the six years I have lived in these Islands, I have never heard of
indignity or disrespect shown to American women. [1] They are perfectly
safe, and if they choose to exercise any common sense, need not be
nervous. Housebreaking outside of Manila is unknown. I myself lived
for four years in a provincial town, the greater part of the time quite
removed from the neighborhood of other Americans, with only two little
girls in the house with me. I remember one evening having a couple of
civil engineers, who had been fellow passengers on the transport and
were temporarily in town, to dinner. When they were ready to leave,
at half-past ten, the little girls had both gone to sleep, so I went
downstairs to let them out and bar the door after them. One burst
out laughing and remarked that my bolting the door was a formality,
and that I must have confidence in the honesty of the natives. The
door was of bamboo, tied on with strips of rattan in place of hinges,
which any one could have cut with a knife. I admitted that the man was
right, but the closed door was the symbol that my house was my castle,
and I had no fear of Filipino thieves. The only time I was ever really
afraid was when there were two or three disreputable Americans in town.

The two girls from Radcliffe were in a town in Negros where there was
no other American, man or woman, and held their position for over a
year; nor were they once affrighted in all that time.

After five years of this peace and security in the "wilds," I went back
to the United States and met the pitying ejaculations of the community
on my exile. Well, there was a difference. I noted it first on the
dining-car of the Canadian-Pacific Railroad, where one's plate was
surrounded by a host of little dishes, where the clatter of service
was deafening (so different from the noiselessness of the Oriental),
and the gentleman who filled my water glass held it about three feet
from the water bottle, and manipulated both in sympathetic curves
which expressed his entire mastery of the art. I found it again on the
Northwestern, where the colored porter, observing some Chinese coins
in my purse when I tipped him, said, "Le's see," with a confidence
born of democracy, and sat down on the arm of the Pullman seat to
get a better view of them.

But it was in Chicago--the busy, noisy, dusty, hustling Chicago--that
all the joys of civilization fell on me at once. It seemed to be in a
state of siege with house thieves, assassins, and "hold-ups." There
had been several murders of women, so revolting that the newspapers
would not print the details. I found my brother's flat equipped with
special bolts on all outside doors, so that they could be opened for
an inch or two without giving anybody an opportunity to push in. Once
when a police officer called at the door to ask for subscriptions
for the sufferers of the San Francisco disaster, I locked him out
on the back porch while I did some telephoning to see if it was all
right. Women were afraid to be on the streets in the early dusk. Extra
policemen had been sworn in, preachers had delivered sermons on the
frightful condition of the city.

At night I locked my bedroom door, and dreamed of masked burglars
standing over me threatening with drawn revolver. For the thirty days
I remained there, I knew more of nervousness and terror than the whole
time I spent in the Philippines, and I came back to resume the old
life where there is security in all things, barring a very remote
insurrection and the possibility of hearing the roar of Japanese
guns some fine morning. And through and through a grateful system I
felt the lifting of the tremendous pressure, the agonizing strain,
competition, and tumult of American life. Thank Heaven! there is still
a manana country--a fair, sunny land, where rapid transportation and
sky-scrapers do not exist.


Weddings in Town and Country

Filipino Brides, Their Weddings and Wedding Suppers--River Trip
to a Rural Wedding--Our Late Arrival Delays the Ceremony Until Next
Morning--The Ball--We Tramp Across the Fields to the Church--After
the Marriage, Feasting and Dancing.

The composure with which a Filipino girl enters matrimony
is astounding. There are no tears, no self-conscious blushes,
none of the charming shyness that encompasses an American girl as
a garment. It is a contradictory state of affairs, I must admit,
for this same American girl is a self-reliant creature, accustomed
to the widest range of action and liberty, while the matter-of-fact,
self-possessed Filipina has been reared to find it impossible to step
across the street without attendance. But the free, liberty-loving
American yields shyly to her captor, while the sedateness of the
prospective matron has already taken possession of the dusky sister.

Filipino marriages, among the upper class, are accompanied
by receptions and feasts like our own, but differ greatly in
the comparatively insignificant part played by the contracting
parties. Whereas, in an American wedding, the whole object of calling
all these people together seems to be a desire to silhouette the
bride and groom against the festive background, one comes away from
a Filipino celebration with a feeling that an excuse was needed
for assembling a multitude and permitting them to enjoy themselves,
and that the bridal pair unselfishly lent themselves to the occasion.

Most weddings take place about half-past six or seven in the evening;
and immediately after the religious ceremony in the church, all the
invited guests adjourn to the home of a relative (usually, but not
necessarily, the nearest kinsman of the bride), where supper is served
and is followed by a ball.

On these occasions, except for the candles on the altar, the church is
unlighted, and in its cavernous darkness the footfalls of a gathering
crowd ring on the stone floor, and the hum of voices rolls up into
the arching gloom of the roof.

There are no pews, but two rows of benches, facing each other, up the
middle length of the edifice, offer seats to the upper-class people,
who seem chiefly interested in preserving the spotlessness of their
gala attire. No attempt at exclusiveness is made, and a horde of
babbling, gesticulating, lower-class natives surges to and fro at
the rear, awaiting the bride.

Presently, to the clangor of half a dozen huge bells, she sweeps in,
accompanied by her _madrina_, or chief witness. They take station
at the back between the baptismal fonts and just in front of the
overhanging choir gallery. Instantly they are hemmed in, mobbed,
by that swarm of _pobres_, some speculating on the motive of the
match and its probable outcome. Meanwhile the bridegroom is smoking a
cigarette at one side, and chatting with a group of bachelor friends
who are faithful to the last.

Just as one begins to wonder how much longer these unfortunate women
can endure the position, the barefooted acolytes shuffle in, bearing
six-foot silver candlesticks, and preceding the padre, who is carrying
his illumination with him--or rather, having it carried in front of
him. The bridegroom throws away his cigarette, and shouldering his way
through the press, takes his position at the side of the bride. The
mob closes in again, not infrequently incommoding the padre, who is
peering at his half-lighted missal. The aristocrats on the benches
pay no attention and continue to guard their _ropa_ and converse on
chance topics.

To one standing on the edge of that wriggling throng with the yellow
flare just lighting the impassive countenances of its chief personages,
and hearing a low monotone, broken only by the clink of metal as gold
pieces fall into the plate, it is difficult to believe that this is
a wedding, just like those pictured and tableau effects that one is
treated to at home.

At last the voice stops, the mob and the smoky candles surge forward
to the altar, where the benediction is said. Another impeded progress
to the rear (everybody gets up without waiting for the bride and
bridegroom to pass), the sorely tried couple step into a waiting
victoria, and we troop after them, getting our felicitations ready.

On arriving at the house we are received by the groom and some female
relative of his, or, perchance, the bride's papa. No opportunity
of formally congratulating the young couple is offered. The bride
retires into an inner room, where she removes her veil, and receives
such of her lady friends as desire to kiss her on both cheeks. But
by and by she comes out, self-possessed and unsmiling, to distribute
the fragments of her artificial orange blossom wreath to her aspiring
girl friends. This is a parallel to the distribution of wedding cake,
which the American girl puts under her pillow and dreams upon.

By this time the orchestra has arrived and is playing triumphantly
under the windows. Though engaged beforehand, it always
accomplishes its appearance with a casual and unpremeditated air. The
musicians are then (per contract) invited to enter, and strike up a
rigadon. Generally, but not always, the most important man present
invites the bride for this dance. But I have known brides to sit it
out, for lack of a partner. The bridegroom chooseth as he listeth;
when American women are present, the fathers of the bride and groom
usually request the honor of leading them out.

After this first dance supper is served. If an important native
official be present, it is a point of etiquette that he take the
bride. Only a few men of high rank sit at the first table, which is
given over to women. The service is not left to servants, but all
male relatives of the family vie with each other in anticipating the
wants of the guests.

It is a feast of solid and satisfying excellence. It begins usually
with vermicelli soup (made from a lard stock) which is more than likely
to have been dished a half-hour and to be stone cold. But Filipinos
are not critical in this regard; and Americans, in view of all that
is coming, may dispense with this one dish.

Then follow meats innumerable, each with its own garnish, but without
separate vegetables. There is goat's flesh stewed with garbanzos,
onions, potatoes, and peppers; chicken minced with garlic, and green
peas; chicken boned and made to look and taste like breaded cutlet;
boiled ham; a fat capon, boned, stuffed, and seasoned with garlic,
his erstwhile proud head rolling in scarified humility; breaded pork
chops; roast pork, with unlimited crackling; cold turkey; baked duck,
and several kinds of fish.

There are no salads, but plenty of relishes, including the canned
red peppers of Spain; olives, pickles, cheese, and green mango
pickles. At intervals along the table are alluring glass dishes,
filled with crystallized fruits.

After this come the sweets. There is no cake, as we know it, but
meringues (French kisses), baked custard coated with caramel sauce,
which they call _flaon_; a kind of cocoanut macaroon, the little
gelatinous seeds of the nipa palm, boiled in sugar syrup, and half
a dozen kinds of preserves and candied fruits. Tinto accompanies the
supper, and possibly champagne.

As two or three hundred people are served on such an occasion, the
intermission for supper is a long one, and dancing is not resumed
till half-past nine or ten o'clock. It may then continue till
midnight or dawn, just as the actions of a few important guests may
determine. Filipinos are very quick to follow a lead; and if, owing
perhaps to a concurrence of events which may be perfectly foreign to
the occasion, a number of prominent people leave early, the rest soon
take flight.

In one of the later years of my stay my good fortune led me to
witness a wedding of another type, which differed from the class I
have described as the simple rural gathering at home differs from the
exotic atmosphere of a fashionable reception. It was just after my
return from vacation that one morning a group of my pupils burst in,
accompanying a middle-aged Filipina who hesitatingly made known her
errand. Her niece, who lived some five or six miles up the river,
was to be married that night, and a large number of people from town
were going up. Could I accompany them, and would I act as one of the
three _madrinas_ for the occasion? As the bride was of an insurrecto
family, whose name was familiar through bygone military acquaintances,
I snapped at an opportunity to view the insurrecto upon his own
(pacified) hearth, and after consuming a hasty lunch and packing a
valise, I set out for the river bank where we were to rendezvous.

Our craft, a catamaran made by securing three barotos side by
side and flooring them with bamboo, was the centre of great public
excitement. It had a walk dutrigged at each side for the men who were
to punt, or pole us up the river. It was roofed with a framework
of bamboo, which was covered with palm, leaves and wreathed in
_bonoc-bonoc_ vines, and from this green bower were suspended the
fruits of the season.--bananas, the scarlet _sagin-sagin_, and even
succulent ears of sweet corn.

Cane stools were provided for a few, but many of the young people sat
flat on the floor. When we were embarked, to the number of about forty,
the barotos were so deep in the water that the swirling current was
within an inch of their gunwales. A tilt to one side or a wave in
the river would have sunk us.

The baggage and a few supernumerary young men and a mandolin orchestra
were loaded into an enormous baroto, and ten sturdy brown backs bent
forward as the boatmen pushed with all their strength against the great
bamboo poles, which looked as if they would snap under the strain.

The river was swollen with three days' tropical downpour and running
out resistlessly in the teeth of a high tide. As we slipped out of the
shallow water at the bank, the current caught us and hurled us fifty
feet down stream. The baroto left apparently for the port, which was
four miles away. Our valiant punters were useless against the river;
but amid a hubbub in which every man, woman, and babe aboard, except
one American man and myself, appeared to be giving orders, we got
back to the bank and shipped an additional crew. This consumed time,
because the spectators, who had seen what work it was going to be,
were coy of enlisting. But at last we got away, eight men to a side,
and the water perceptibly nearer the gunwales, and with infinite labor
we succeeded in poling around a bend and leaving the town behind us.

But there we stuck again in a swift reach, and there were time and
opportunity to marvel at the impenetrable green and silence of the nipa
swamps. The banks--or rather limits of the current--were thickets of
water grass six feet high, its roots sunk in ooze. Here and there a
rise of ground betrayed itself in a few cocoanuts, the ragged fans of
tall bouri palms, or a plume-like clump of bamboo and the hospitable
shade of a magnificent mango tree.

The atmosphere was close and muggy, and now and then a shower pattered
down on us. Suddenly, through the strange desolation of this alien
landscape, the familiar thump of guitars and mandolins assailed the
stillness. The music carried me back to half-forgotten experiences--red
sunsets between the cathedral bluffs of the Mississippi, and sad-eyed
negroes twanging the strings on the forward deck of a nosing steamboat;
crisp July afternoons on the Straits of Mackinac when the wind swept
in from froth-capped blue Huron, and the little excursion steamer
from St. Ignace rollicked her way homeward to the cottage-crowned
heights of the island.

I shut my eyes and tried to "make believe" that they would open on
far-off, familiar scenes. Nothing could have been more weird and
incongruous than the American air with this alien soil and people. It
was "Hiawatha," and to the inspiring strains of "Let the women do
the work, let the men take it easy," our forgotten baroto swept into
sight in the easy water under the opposite bank. We made a herculean
effort, inspired by envy, and got away. Space forbids me to enumerate
the hairbreadth escapes of that journey. We put men ashore when the
banks permitted and were towed like a canal boat. Once we were swept
into mid-stream, where the poles were useless on account of the great
depth, and had to drift back till the water shoaled again. In late
afternoon we took on a supply of sugar cane, and chewed affably all
the rest of the way.

At first I had been nervous, but my native friends were quite
unconcerned. So remembering that Heaven protects the insane and the
imbecile, and regarding them as the former and myself as the latter,
I ceased to speculate on the probabilities of another incarnation.

We consumed six hours in a journey normally accomplished in two, and
night overtook us in a labyrinth of water lanes above whose forested
swamps the outlines of a stern old church were magnified in the
gloom. One by one the stars sprang mysteriously into view in the soft
void overhead, and somehow--marvellously--we found our destination. A
group of friends and servants flared their torches on the bank, and we
dragged our stiffened limbs to them. It was too dark to see where we
were going, until we stumbled almost into a lighted doorway and found
the company awaiting us. Owing to the delay in our arrival, the wedding
was deferred till the next morning, but the ball was about to open.

Food was given us, and after a freshening up and a change of raiment
we joined the reunion, which was in full swing. The prospective
husband and wife were enjoying their usual state of effacement, but
I discovered them finally. I talked with the insurrecto and found
him a man of ability.

I left the ball, exhausted, at one o'clock, but those indefatigable
people kept it up all night. I awoke at dawn to find the floor
occupied by about twenty yawning maidens who were merely resting,
for there was no time for a nap. We dressed in the cool dawn breeze
and went out in time to see the morning mists rise from a broad oval
of rice and maize fields, and hang themselves in ever-changing folds
on the sides of the purple mountains beyond.

But for the character of the vegetation that rimmed the arable land,
and the bare green shoulders of the hills, streaked here and there
with pink clayey ravines, it might have been a peaceful sunrise in
middle America. The homelike atmosphere was accentuated by the roofs
of a town and by a church spire, still silvered with mist, half a mile
away. We tramped across the fields to our objective point. As madrina,
I walked with the bride, but conversation did not thrive because she
spoke little Spanish, and I less Visayan.

Carabaos sniffed at us as we passed, and people crowded their windows
to look. We crossed a slough upon a bridge of quaint and ancient
architecture on the thither side of which were a grassy plaza and
the stern lines of the church. The wedding bells broke forth in a
furious joy and flung their notes to the distant hill flanks, which
in turn flung them back to the blue, sparkling sea.

The church was tiled in black and white marble, and inhabited by
a lusty family of goats. Their innate perversity and an apparent
curiosity led them to resent exclusion; but after a lively pursuit
they were ejected, and the bride and I sat on a bench to rest. The
bridegroom took a last smoke, and the strangers deciphered obituary
notices on the mural tombstones.

The padre came along finally, smelling of a matutinal appetizer,
and they distributed pillows and candles to the _madrinas_ and
_padrinos_. As evidence of change of heart in the late insurrecto,
the pillows were some of red, some of white, and some of blue cloth.

It was over at last, when I was stiff with kneeling and had ornamented
myself with much candle grease. I went up to congratulate the bride,
but felt that the handshake was not coming off properly. Finally I
discovered that I was resisting an effort on her part to bring my
hand to her lips. So I succumbed and submitted to the distinction,
and she then proceeded to salute the other madrinas.

There was nothing coy or sentimental about that bride. She needed
no support, moral or other. Sweet sixteen, "plump as a partridge,"
she gathered up her white silk skirt with its blue ribbons and struck
out for home. Her husband made no attempt to follow her. She beat
us all home by a quarter of a mile. When we arrived, she had changed
her gown and was supervising breakfast preparations.

I was tired, and when a native sled drawn by a carabao came along,
was glad enough to seat myself on its flat bottom, together with one or
two wearied maidens, and be drawn back in slow dignity. We intercepted
a boy with roasting ears, and the wedding guests sat about, nibbling
like rodents while we waited breakfast.

After that meal dancing began again and continued until dinner. Once
the floor was cleared, and the bridal pair danced one waltz
together. They did not glance once at each other, and seemed bored.

Dinner was another feast, and afterwards we sought our state barge and
the perils of the return journey. The newly married couple came down to
see us off, still bearing themselves with a preoccupied and listless
air. The orchestra remained until the next day, and we threaded the
water lanes in quiet, emerging at last on the full-breasted river. The
home journey consumed only three hours, and was comparatively
uneventful. The wife of the Presidente gathered her family about her
and artlessly searched their raven pates for inhabitants which pay
no taxes, and most of the young people drooped with weariness. We
rounded the bend at five o'clock; and thankful I was to put foot on
_terra firma_ once more. I was tired, but glad that I had gone.


Sickbeds and Funerals

Customs in the Treatment of the Sick--Stately Funeral Processions--The
Funeral of a Poor Man--Unsociableness of the Poor--Wakes and Burial
of the Rich--A "Petrified" Man.

Filipinos are punctilious about many things concerning which we have
passed the extremely punctilious stage. Some of their strictest
observances are in the matters of sickness and death. The sick
have what we would consider a hard time. To begin with, they are
immured in rooms from which, as far as possible, all light and air
are excluded. In a tropical climate, where the breeze is almost
indispensable to comfort, the reader may imagine the result. Then
all their relatives, near and far, flock to see them; they crowd the
apartment, and insist on talking to keep the patient from becoming
_triste_. When the sufferer finds this insupportable and gives up
the struggle to live, the whole clan, out to the last connection,
set about preparing their mourning.

Every woman makes a black dress, and every man ties a band of black
cloth around his white coat sleeve. When there is a wake, it is
noisy enough to be Irish. Our Eastern friends resemble the Irish
also in their love of a fine funeral. To go to the last resting-place
escorted by a band and with all possible ceremony seems to make even
death acceptable to them.

Among the very poor this ambition is quite disproportionate to their
resources. The percentage of infant mortality, owing to poor nutrition,
is especially high; yet babe after babe whose mother unwittingly
starved it to death is given a funeral in which the baby carriage
hearse is preceded by a local band, and hired mourners stalk solemnly
behind the little coffin in place of the mother, who is, in etiquette,
required to remain at home.

In Manila funerals resemble our own, save that the hearse, be it white
for a child or black for an adult, is drawn by stately caparisoned
horses, at the bridles of which stalk men in eighteenth-century court
costumes, which include huge shoe buckles, black silk stockings,
and powdered wigs. The carriages flock behind with little pretence of
order, and at a sharper pace than is customary with us. The populace
are, however, most respectful; rich and poor alike remove their hats
when the funeral _cortege_ is passing.

In the provinces where there are no hearses, a funeral consists
usually of a coffin carried on the shoulders of four men, and
followed by a straggling concourse of mourners. If the corpse be
that of a child, it not infrequently lies, gorgeously dressed,
upon the blue-and-pink-beribboned cushions of a four-wheeled baby
carriage. New-born babes are buried in tiny coffins covered with pink
or blue cambric.

The Filipinos say that when a child dies its pure little soul goes
straight to _gloria_, wherefore it is much to be congratulated on
leaving this abode of sorrow for one of unending happiness, and only
gay music is used at the funeral. The local bands play solely by ear,
and make the most of whatever music they hear sung or whistled on
the streets, with the result that strangely inappropriate selections
are used on these occasions. At the first child's funeral I ever saw,
the band was playing "Hot Time," and a friend to whom I related this
fact, declared that at the first one he ever saw they were playing,
"I don't care if you never come back." This sounds too fortuitously
happy to be true, but it is quite within the possible.

When I had lived in Capiz a year or two, my washerman, or _lavandero_,
died, and his widow, pointing to a numerous progeny, besought for
an advance of five pesos for necessary funeral expenses. She wanted
ten, but I refused to countenance that extravagance. She did not
seem overcome by grief, and her plea of numerous offspring was really
valueless, for, if anything, they were all better off than before. Her
lord had been only a sham washerman, collecting the garments for her
to wash, delivering them, and pocketing the returns, of which he gave
her as small a moiety as would sustain life, and spent the rest on
the cockpit.

Funerals in a country where there are no preservatives take place
very soon. The lavandero died at dawn, his widow made her levy on
me before seven o'clock, and, coming home that afternoon, I met the
funeral in a thickly shaded lane.

Local tradition disapproves of the appearance of near female
relations at a funeral, so the dead man's escort consisted only of
the four bearers, and three small boys, all under eleven years of
age. The coffin was one in general use--rented for the trip to the
cemetery! Once there, the body, wrapped in its _petate_, or sleeping
mat, would be rolled into a shallow grave.

The four bearers were dirty and were chewing betel-nut as they
trudged along under their burden. Behind them came the dead man's son,
apparelled in a pair of blue denim trousers. His body, naked to the
waist, was glistening brown after a bath, and he carried under one
arm a fresh laundered _camisa_, or Chino shirt, of white muslin,
to be put on when he reached the church.

His two supporters were the brothers of my _muchacha_, who lived in
the same yard and who evidently had convictions about standing by a
comrade in misfortune. The elder, a boy of seven, was fairly clean;
but the younger, somewhere between three and five, was clad in a
single low-necked slip of filthy pink cotton, which draped itself at
a coquettish angle across his shoulders, and hung down two or three
inches below his left knee. His smile, which was of a most engaging
nature, occupied so much of his countenance that it was difficult to
find traces of the pride which actually radiated from the other two.

My curiosity was enough to make me turn and follow them to the
church. There the body was deposited on the floor at the rear,
just below a door in the gallery which led to the priest's house, or
_convento_. The bearers squatted on their heels and fell to wrapping up
pieces of betel-nut in lime paste and _buya_ leaf, while a sacristan
went to call the priest. The dead man's son reverently put on his
clean shirt, and the youngest urchin sucked his thumb and continued
to grin at me.

Presently a priest came through the door and leaned over the
gallery, followed by two sacristans, one bearing a censer and the
other a bell. The censer-bearer swung his implement vindictively
in the direction of the corpse, while the other rang a melodious
chime on the bell. At this all the babies fell on their knees. The
priest muttered a few lines of Latin, made the sign of the cross,
and disappeared to another chime of the bells and a last toss of the
censer. The bearers picked up the coffin, and the little procession
went on its way to the cemetery. The ceremony lasted about one minute
and a half, and consumed three out of my five pesos.

This incident illustrates neatly the friendless condition in which
most Filipino poor live. Filipino lower-class people are gregarious,
but not sociable. They are averse to solitary rural life and tend
everywhere to live in villages, but they visit little with each other,
and seem very indifferent to the cordial relations which bind our
own laboring classes together.

In the same yard with the dead lavandero lived at least ten or twelve
other families, yet no one could be found to accompany him to his
grave save two play-mates of his son.

If the poor are fond of display, the rich outvie them. The pomp of a
rich man's obsequies finds its beginning while he is yet on earth, when
the padre goes in state to administer extreme unction. His vehicle, a
gilt coach which looks like the pictures of those of the seventeenth
century, is often preceded by a band, while the priest within is
arrayed in embroidered vestments. When the _surra_, or horse disease,
had made a scarcity of those animals, the padre's gilded equipage had
to be drawn by a cebu, or very small and weary-looking cow, imported
from Indo-China. The spectacle of this yoke animal, the gilt coach,
and the padre in all his vestments was one not to be forgotten.

When the rich man dies, there is generally a wake, noisy enough, as
before stated, to be Irish, and a pretentious funeral. Five o'clock
in the afternoon seems to be a favorite hour for this. In the rainy
season, with sodden clouds hanging low in the sky, with almond trees
dripping down, and the great church starred with candles which do
not illuminate but which dot the gloom, the occasion is lugubrious
indeed. Fresh flowers are little used, but _immortelles_ and set
designs accompanied by long streamers of gilt-lettered ribbon attest
the courtesy of friends.

They bury the dead--that is, all the upper-class dead--in _nichos_,
or ovens, such as are found in the old cemeteries of New Orleans. The
cemetery, which is usually owned, not by the municipality but by the
church, is surrounded by a brick or stone wall six or eight feet high
surmounted by a balustrade of red baked clay in an urn design. The
ovens form their back walls against this, and are arranged in tiers
of four or five, so that the top of the ovens makes a fine promenade
around three sides of the enclosure. In the centre there is generally
a mortuary chapel, where the final words are said. From the chapel
tiled walks lead out to the ovens. The plan is a very pretty one,
and if the cemeteries were kept in good condition, it would be
beautiful. But they are nearly always dirty and neglected.

In the open ground between the chapel and the sides, the poor people
are rolled into graves so shallow that a little digging would soon
exhume the body.

The nichos, or ovens, are rented by the year; if the tenant's surviving
family are not prompt with the annual payment, the body is taken out,
the bones cast ruthlessly over the back fence, and the premises once
more declared vacant.

When we first came, there used to be a great heap of these bones at
the back of the Paco Cemetery in Manila, but so much was said about
them that the Church grew sensitive and removed them. Our cemetery
at Capiz also had its bone heap.

An American negress, a dressmaker who was working for me, told me
that there was a petrified man, an American, in the Paco Cemetery,
and that the body was on exhibition. She had been to see it, and it
was wonderful. I had my doubts about the petrifying, but as I had to
pass the cemetery on leaving her house, I asked the custodian at the
gate if there was such a body there. He said that the body had just
been removed by the city authorities to be placed in the "Cemeterio
del Norte," where there is a plot for paupers. The body was that of
an American, buried in the cemetery five years before. His rent,
five pesos a year, had been prepaid for five years, but his time
had run out. When they came to take out the body, which had been
embalmed, it was found in a remarkable state of preservation. The
custodian said, with an irreligious grin, that in the old days the
condition of the body would have been called a miracle, and a patron
saint would have been made responsible, and all the people would have
come, bearing lighted candles, to do honor to the saint; and he added
regretfully that it was no good in these days. The Americans would
say that it was because of their superior embalming process. "But
what a chance missed!" he said, "and what a pity to let it go
with no demonstration!" There are many ways of looking at the same
thing. I could not help laughing, thinking of the negress. She said,
"He's sittin' up there by the little church, lookin' as handsome as
life--and him petrified!"


Sports and Amusements

Dancing, Cock-fighting, Gambling, Theatricals--Sunday in
the Philippines--Lukewarmness of Protestant Christians in the
Philippines--How a Priest Led Astray the Baptist Missionary's
Congregation on Thanksgiving--Scarcity of Amusements in Provincial
Life--An Exhibition of Moving Pictures--Entertainments for the Poorer
Natives--The Tragedy of the Dovecot.

The Filipino's idea of a good time is a dance. Sometimes, in the
country, a dance will go on for forty-eight hours. People will slip
out and get a little sleep and come back again. Next to the dance,
the cock-fight is their chief joy. A cock-fight is, however, not a
prolonged or painful thing. Tiny knives, sharp as surgical instruments,
are fastened to each bird's heels, and the cock which gets in the
first blow generally settles his antagonist.

Gambling is the national vice. The men gamble at _monte_ and
_pangingue_, and over their domino games, their horses, and their
game-cocks. The women of both high and low class not infrequently
organize a little card game immediately after breakfast and keep at it
till lunch, after which they begin again and play till evening. Women
also attend the cock-fights, especially on Sunday. Often the cockpit
is in the rear of the church and the convento; and the padre derives
a revenue from it.

Manila, being the metropolis, has its theatres, cinematograph shows,
and music halls. Nearly every year there is a season of Italian opera,
in which the principals are very good, and the chorus, for obvious
reasons, small and poor. Most of the theatrical talent which wanders
in and out comes from Australia. One theatre, which American women
do not patronize, keeps a sort of music-hall programme going all
year. There are many smaller theatres, where plays in the Tagalog
language, the products of local talent, are presented. I cannot say
what is the trend of these at the present time, but seven years ago
the plots nearly all embraced bad Spanish frailes who were pursuing
innocent Filipino maidens, and who always came to an end worthy of
their evil deeds. The disposition to express racial and political
hatreds in those plays was so strong that a friend in asking me to go
naively pictured his conception of them in the invitation. He said,
"Let's go over to the Filipino theatre and see them kill priests."

Of course, there is no Puritan Sabbath in the Philippines. Theatres,
balls, and receptions are carried on without any observance of that
day. The Protestant churches make a valiant effort to keep a tight
rein over their flocks, but with little success. It cannot truthfully
be said that most Americans here are either fond of church-going or
fond of the church social, which, with its accompanying features of
songs, recitations, and short addresses by prominent citizens, who
were never designed by the Creator to speak in public, and its creature
comforts of home-made cake and ice cream, has leaped the Pacific.

During my third year in Capiz a Baptist missionary arrived and took up
his work. He seemed to feel that he had a claim upon all Americans
to rally to his support. But, alas! they did not come up to his
expectations. Some were Roman Catholics; others, of whom I was one,
had an affection for the more formal, punctilious service of the
Church of England; and even two or three nonconformist teachers
realized that a too open devotion to the missionary cause would
hopelessly endanger their usefulness as teachers.

So the missionary carried on his services for nearly a year, and no
single American appeared at them. His congregation, which was largely
recruited from the poorer classes, and which had been hoping for the
social advantage which would be derived from the American alliance,
naturally pressed the unfortunate missionary for a reason. The sorely
tried man spoke at last. He said briefly that the Americans in Capiz
were pagans.

On one occasion the missionary arranged a service for Thanksgiving
morning and invited us personally. Of course we all said that we
should be glad to go. But the astute padre of the Church Catholic
was not going to have any such object lesson as that paraded before
his flock. He arranged for the singing of a _Te Deum_ in honor of the
day at half-past nine, just half an hour before the time set for the
other service. Then he got the Filipino Governor to send out written
invitations from his office in such a way that the affair assumed
the complexion of a national courtesy offered by the Filipino to
the American. For us, as Government employees, to disregard this
was impossible. So we went _en masse_ to the Roman Catholic church,
where two rows of high-backed chairs were arranged facing each other
up the centre of the church for our high mightinesses.

We had agreed privately that after the _Te Deum_ we would go over
to the Protestant chapel, and not leave the poor missionary to feel
himself wholly deserted. But no opportunity came. The service was
prolonged till any hope of our appearing in the rival chapel was
effectually quashed. When we came out, we looked at one another and
burst out laughing. It was one more evidence that the American is no
match for the Filipino in _finesse_.

Naturally, unless one falls in with the Filipino devotion to dancing,
there are few sources of so-called amusement in provincial life. The
American women visit each other and give dinners, which, to the
men who live in helpless subjection to an ignorant native cook, are
less a social than a gastronomic joy. If we are near the seashore, we
make up picnics on the beach, swim, dig clams, and cook supper over a
fire of driftwood. If thirst overtakes us, we send a native up a tree
for green cocoanuts. He cuts a lip-shaped hole in the shell with two
strokes of his bolo, and there is water, crystal clear and fresh. The
men hunt snipe and wild ducks, and sometimes wild pigs and deer.

In default of travelling theatrical companies, the provincial natives
have their own organizations of local talent and present little
plays in either Spanish or the native tongue. If American troops are
stationed near a town, there will be one or two minstrel shows each
year. The Filipinos all go to these, but they don't understand them
very well and are not edified. I think they imagine that the cake
walk is a national dance with us, and that the President of the United
States leads out some important lady for this at inaugural balls.

Once in a while a travelling cinematograph outfit roams through the
provinces, and then for a tariff of twenty-five cents Mexican we throng
the little theatre night after night. I remember once a company of
"barn-stormers" from Australia were stranded in Iloilo. They had a
moving picture outfit, and a young lady attired in a pink _costume de
ballet_ stood plaintively at one side and sang, plaintively and very
nasally, a long account of the courting of some youthful Georgia
couple. The lovers embraced each other tenderly (as per view) in
an interior that had a "throw" over every picture corner, table,
and chair back. Some huge American soldier down in the pit said,
"That's the real thing; no doubt about it," but whether his words
had reference to the love-making or the room we could not tell.

The song went on, the lovers married and went North; but after awhile
the bride grew heartsick for the old home, so "We journeyed South a
spell." With this line the moving picture flung at us, head on, a great
passenger locomotive and its trailing cars. To the right there were
a country road, meadows, some distant hills, a stake and rider fence,
and a farmhouse. The scene was homely, simple, typically American, and
rustic, and it sent every drop of loyal American blood tingling. The
tears rushed to my eyes, and I couldn't forbear joining in the roar of
approbation that went up from the American contingent. An Englishman
who was with our party insisted that I opened my arms a yard and a
half to give strength to my applause. I said I didn't regret it. We
poor expatriated wanderers had been drifting about for months with no
other emotion than homesickness, but we had a lively one then. The
Filipino audience at first sat amazed at the outburst; but their
sympathies are quick and keen, and in an instant they realized what
it meant to the exiles, and the wave of feeling swept into them
too. The young lady in the pink costume grew perceptibly exalted,
and in the effort to be more pathetic achieved a degree of nasal
intonation which, combined with her Australian accent, made her unique.

The poorer natives have one source of enjoyment in a sort of open-air
play which they call _colloquio_. This is always in the hands of local
talent, and is probably of Spanish mediaeval origin. The three actors
are a captive princess, a villain, and a true knight. The villain is
nearly always masked, and sometimes the princess and knight are masked
also. The costuming is European. The performance may take place in a
house if anybody is kind enough to offer one, but more frequently the
street is the scene. A ring is marked off, and the captive princess
stands in the middle, while knight and villain circle about her with
their wooden swords, countering, and apparently making up verses and
dialogue as they go along. When they get tired, the princess tells her
sorrowful tale. The people will stand for hours about a performance
of this sort, and for weeks afterwards the children will repeat it
in their play.

Once a _circo_, or group of acrobats, came to Capiz and played for over
a month to crowded houses. The low-class people and Chinese thronged
the nipa shack of the theatre night after night from nine P.M. till
two A.M. When a Filipino goes to the theatre, he expects to get his
money's worth. I myself did not attend the circo, but judging from
what I saw the children attempt to repeat, and one other incident,
I fancy it was quite educative.

The other incident has to do with my henchman, Basilio, previously
mentioned, who later arrived at the dignity of public school
janitor. Basilio had been a regular patron of the circo, so much so
that he came into my debt. One of the first things we had set ourselves
to do was the clearing up of all school grounds and premises by pupil
labor. Exactly in the middle of the back yard of the Provincial School
was a great dovecot, which spoiled the lawn for grass tennis courts. So
our industrial teacher decided to move the dovecot bodily to another
place. I doubted if it could be accomplished without somebody's getting
hurt, and Basilio, without offering any reason, vociferously echoed my
sentiments, and jeered openly at the idea of the industrial teacher's
getting that dovecot safe and sound to the other end of the yard.

I refused to risk the Provincial School boys on the task, so
the teacher borrowed a file of prisoners from the Provincial
jail. Basilio the incredulous was ordered to be on hand and to make
himself useful. He appeared in a pair of white duck trousers, the gift
probably of some departing American, and somebody's discarded bathing
shirt in cherry and black stripes. He had cut off the trousers legs at
the thighs, and, with bare arms and legs glistening, was as imposing
an acrobat as one could wish to see.

I had long wanted a swing put up in a great fire-tree which stood near
the dovecot, and while the prisoners were loosening the earth about
the four supporting posts, I sent Basilio to put it up. He finished
his work just as the prisoners were ready to heave up on the posts,
and, to express his entire glee in what was shortly to occur, he came
down the rope _a la circo_, and landed himself with a ballet dancer's
pirouette, kissing both hands toward the tugging men. Anything more
graceful and more comical than Basilio's antics, I have never seen.

The dovecot was supported, as I said, by four great posts sunk in
the ground. On top of these was a platform, and on the platform
rested the house. The American teacher had assumed that the platform
was securely fastened to the posts and that the house was nailed to
the platform. This was his great mistake. He had not been over very
long, and he couldn't make allowance for the Filipino aversion for
unnecessary labor. The dovecot would hold firm by its own weight, and
the builders had not seen the necessity of wasting nails and strength.

Basilio with outstretched arms continued to stand on his toes
while the prisoners grunted over the posts, which came up with
difficulty. They were shamelessly lazy and indifferent to the commands
of the industrial teacher, who had, however, the sagacity to get out of
range himself. They lifted unevenly, there was a tipping, a sliding,
and a smash, as by one impulse the prisoners jumped aside and let
house, platform, and posts come thundering to the ground. Feathers
drifted about like snow; there were wild flutterings of doves; and
squabs and eggs spattered the lawn.

When I saw that nobody was hurt, I joined in the cackles of the
prisoners, who were doubled up with joy at the discomfiture of the
American teacher. He was in a blind rage, which was not diminished by
the outcries and lamentations of the Governor and a horde of clerks,
who swarmed out to express their grief over the wanton destruction
of a landmark. Privately, I don't believe they cared a rap, but the
opportunity to reproach an American for bad judgment comes so seldom
to the Filipinos that they refuse to let it escape.

Basilio never moved a muscle when the crash came. He had stood
buoyantly expectant; he received it flamboyantly calm. A smile
of ineffable pleasure then seized upon his features, and with the
breaking forth of the chorus he rose to joyous action. He spun on his
heels like a dervish. He threw handsprings, he walked on his hands,
he exhausted, in short, all that he had been able to acquire in the
abandon of the previous weeks; and then gravely righting himself,
he went over and began to pick up squabs. These he offered to the
American with a perfectly wooden countenance, and with the simple
statement that they were very good eating. He acted as if he thought
the teacher had done it all for that purpose.


Children's Games--The Conquest of Fires

Children's Games--How Moonlight Nights Are Enjoyed--The Popularity
of Baseball Among the Filipinos--My Domestics Play the Game--The
Difficulty of Putting Out Fires--Need of Water-Storage for the Dry
Season--Apathy of the Public at Fires--Examples Showing the Loyalty
and Devotion of Servants When Fires Occur.

Filipino children are not so active as the children of our own race,
and their games incline to the sedentary order. Like their elders,
they gamble; and like all children, the world over, they have a
certain routine in which games succeed one another. At one season
in the year the youngsters are absorbed in what must be a second
cousin to "craps." Every child has some sort of tin can filled with
small spotted seashells. They throw these like dice; they slap their
hands together with the raking gesture of the crap-player, and utter
ejaculations in which numeral adjectives predominate, and which must
be similar to "lucky six" and kindred expressions.

Following the crap game there is usually a season of devotion to a
kind of solitaire which is played with shells on a circular board,
scooped out into a series of little cup-like depressions. They will
amuse themselves with this for hours at a time. The shells are moved
from cup to cup, and other shells are thrown like dice to determine
how the shells are to progress.

The commonest form of child gambling, however, is that of pitching
coppers on the head and tail plan. You may see twenty or more games
of this sort at any time around a primary school. Sometimes the game
ends in a fight. Sometimes the biggest urchin gathers up everything
in sight and escapes on the ringing of the bell, leaving his howling
victims behind.

Not unnaturally, in consideration of the heat, there is comparatively
little enthusiasm for rough sport. The only very active play in which
little boys and girls engage, is leap frog, which differs slightly
from the game in our own country.

Two children sit upon the ground and clasp their right hands. A leader
starts out, clears this barrier, and all the rest of the players
follow. Then one of the sitting children clasps his unoccupied left
hand upon the upraised thumb of his companion, thus raising the height
of the barrier by the width of the palm. The line starts again and
all jump this. Then the second sitter adds his palm and thumb to the
barrier, and the line of players attack this. It is more than likely
that some one will fail to clear this last barrier, and the one who
does so squats down, pressing close to the other two, and puts in his
grimy little paw and thumb. So they continue to raise the height of
the barrier till, at last, nobody can jump it.

When they play _drop the handkerchief_, Filipino children squat
upon their heels in a circle instead of standing. They have also the
familiar "_King William was King James's Son_"; I do not know whether
the words in the vernacular which they use are the equivalent of ours
or not. The air, at least, is the one with which we are all familiar.

They have one more game which seems to be something like our
_hop-scotch_ but more complicated. The diagram, which is roughly
scratched out on the ground, is quite an extensive one. The player is
blindfolded, and hops about, kicking at his bit of stone and placing it
in accordance with some mysterious rule which I have vainly sought to
acquire. The children play this in the cool, long-shadowed afternoons,
when they have returned from school, have doffed their white canvas
shoes and short socks, and have reverted to the single slip of the

There is a local game of football which is played with a hollow ball
or basket of twisted rattan fibres. The players stand in a ring, and
when the ball approaches one, he swings on one heel till his back is
turned, and, glancing over his shoulder, gives it a queer backward
kick with the heel of his unoccupied foot. It requires some art to
do this, yet the ball will be kept sometimes in motion for two or
three minutes without once falling to the ground.

On moonlight nights the Filipinos make the best of their beautiful
world. The aristocrats stroll about in groups of twenty, or even
thirty, the young people snatching at the opportunity to slip into
private conversation and enjoy a little _solitude a deux_ while their
elders are engrossed in more serious topics. The common people enjoy
a wholesome romp in a game which seems to be a combination of "tag"
and "prisoner's base." Groups of serenaders stroll about with guitars
and mandolins, and altogether a most sweet and wholesome domesticity
pervades the village.

At present the nearest real bond between American and Filipino
is baseball--"playball" the Filipinos call it, having learned to
associate these words with it from the enthusiastic shouts of American
onlookers. Baseball has taken firm hold, and is here to stay. In Manila
every plot of green is given over to its devotees. Every secondary
school in the country has its nine and its school colors and yell,
and the pupils go out and "root" as enthusiastically as did ever
freshmen of old Yale or Harvard. No Fourth of July can pass without
its baseball game.

We had a good baseball team at Capiz as early as 1903, and played
matches with school teams from neighboring towns. I did not realize,
however, how popular the game had become until one warm afternoon,
when I was vainly trying to get a nap.

The noise under my window was deafening. Thuds, shrieks, a babble of
native words, and familiar English terms floated in and disturbed my
rest. Finally I got up and went to the window.

The street was not over twenty-five feet wide, the houses, after
native custom, being flush with the gutter. In this narrow space my
servants had started a game of ball. They had the diamond all marked
out, and one player on each base. There was Ceferiana, the cook,
a maid of seventeen, with her hair twisted into a Sappho knot at the
back with one wisp hanging out like a horse's tail. Her petticoat was
wrapped tightly around her slim body and its back fulness tucked in at
the waist. She was barefooted, and her toes, wide apart as they always
are when shoes have never been worn, worked with excitement. There was
Manuel, who skated the floors, an anaemic youth of fifteen or sixteen,
dressed in a pair of dirty white underdrawers with the ankle strings
dragging, and in an orange and black knit undershirt. There was
Rosario, the little maid who waited on me and went to school. She was
third base and umpire. A neighbor's boy, about eight years old, was
first base. Manuel was second base and pitcher combined. Ceferiana
was at the bat, while behind her her youngest brother--he whose
engaging smile occupied so much of my attention at the funeral of
the lavandero aforementioned--was spread out in the attitude of a
professional catcher. His plump, rounded little legs were stretched
so far apart that he could with difficulty retain his balance. He
scowled, smacked his lips, and at intervals thumped the back of his
pudgy, clenched fist into the hollowed palm of the other hand with
the gesture of a man who wears the catcher's mitt. Had a professional
baseball team from the States ever caught sight of that baby, they
would have secured him as a mascot at any price.

The ball was one of those huge green oranges which the English call
pomeloes, about twice the size of an American grape-fruit. Being green,
and having a skin an inch thick; it withstood the resounding thwacks
of the bat quite remarkably. It was fortunate that the diamond was so
small, for it would have taken more strength than any of the players
possessed to send that plaything any distance. Catching it was only the
art of embracing. It had to be guided and hugged to the breast, for it
was too big to hold in the hands. The valorous catcher, in spite of his
fiercely professional air, invariably dodged it and then pursued it.

The bat was a board about eight inches wide, wrenched from the
lid of a Batoum oil case and roughly cut down at one end for a
handle. With the size of the ball, and the width of the bat, missing
was an impossibility. It was only a question of how far the strength
of the batter could send the ball. When it was struck, everybody ran
to the next base, and seemed to feel if he got there before the ball
hit ground, he had scored something.

Rosario, as I said, was both third base and umpire (after a run they
always reverted to their original positions). Her voice rang out in
a symphony like this: "Wan stri'! Wan ball! Fou' ball! Ilapog! ilapog
sa acon! Hindi! Ilapog sa firs' base! Fou' ball."

At times when somebody on a base made a feint of stealing a run
(for they were acting out everything as they had seen it done at
the last public match), Manuel threatened all points of the compass
with his four-inch projectile, and again the voice of Rosario soared,
"Ilapog--Ilapog sa firs' base--Hindi! sa Ceferiana! ah (ow-ut)!" while
an enthusiastic onlooker who had set down a bamboo pipe filled with
_tuba dulce_ (the unfermented sap of the nipa palm or the cocoanut
tree) added his lungs to the uproar in probably the only two English
words he knew--"Play ball! play ball!"

Thus are the beginnings of great movements in small things. Those
children got more real Americanism out of that corrupted ball game
than they did from singing "My Country, 'tis of Thee" every morning.

From a baseball game to a fire is a far cry, but fire in the
Philippines has such distinctive features that I cannot pass it
without a word. The lack of all facilities for combating it makes it
an ever present menace. The combustible materials of which houses are
built, and their close crowding together, tend to spread it rapidly;
while the thatched roofs make even the burning of an isolated house
a danger to the entire community.

Manila has an up-to-date American fire department, but even there,
with water mains and a signal-box system for alarms, a fire once
started in a nipa district in the dry season can seldom be checked
until the neighborhood is clean swept. In the provinces, where there
is not so much as a bucket brigade, the first alarm sends everybody's
heart into his mouth.

The chief trouble is the lack of water for putting out a fire in its
incipiency. Never was there a land in which water was more abundant or
more scarce than it is in the Philippines. For five months of every
year the skies let down a deluge, but nothing appreciable of all the
downfall is saved. The rich--the haughty, ostentatious rich--have
great masonry tanks walled up at the ends of their houses, capable
of holding two or three thousand gallons of water. With the contents
of these tanks the rich people supply themselves with drinking water
during the dry season, and net a considerable income from its sale to
their less fortunate neighbors. The merely well-to-do people content
themselves with a galvanized iron tank, which may store from two
to six hundred gallons, which is seldom enough to last out the dry
season. In this case they buy water from the mountaineers, who fill
their _tinajas_, or twenty-gallon earthenware jars, with water from
mountain springs, and bring them to the nearest towns in bancas.

The poor people have no way whatever of storing rain-water, and
either beg a few quarts each day from the rich people to whom they
are feudally attached, or else they fall back upon the ground wells,
or _pozos_, which, even they know, breed fevers and dysentery.

By no means every house has its well. Sometimes there are only two
or three to a block. Sometimes the well is merely a shallow hole,
uncemented, to catch the seepage of the upper strata. Sometimes it is
a very deep stone-walled cavity. Rarely is there a pump or a windlass
or any other fixed aid for raising the water.

When a fire starts, therefore, with such an inadequate water supply,
nothing can be done except to tear down communicating houses or
roofs. Enterprising natives who live even at a considerable distance,
usually mount their ridge-poles and wet down their roofs if they can
get the water with which to do it.

In the immediate vicinity of the fire itself tumult reigns. Filipino
womankind, who are so alluringly feminine, are also femininely helpless
in a crisis, and if there be no men around to direct and sustain them,
often lose their heads entirely. They give way to lamentations,
gather up their babies, and flee to the homes of their nearest
relatives. Often they forget even their jewels and ready money,
which are locked in a wardrobe.

Meanwhile, if there be men folks about, they make a more systematic
effort to save things, and as all relatives and connections who are
out of danger themselves rush in at the first alarm, quite a little
may be rescued. The things which are traditional with us as showing
how people lose their heads at a fire are just as evident here as
in our own land. They throw dishes, glassware, and fine furniture
out of the windows, and carry down iron pots and pillows. The poor
gather their little store of clothing in sheets, release the tethered
goats, puppies, game-cocks, and monkeys, which are always abundant
about their shacks, and toddle off with their doll trunks in their
arms. The sight is a pitiful one, especially when the old and decrepit,
of which almost every house yields up one or more, are carried out in
hammocks or chairs. Yet in a few hours all will have found shelter
with friends, and probably the suffering consequent upon a fire is
less than in our own country, where people have more to lose and
where the rigor of climate is a factor not to be overlooked.

There is very little use in combating fire under such circumstances,
and perhaps long experience has contributed to the apathy with
which such disasters are treated. The American constabulary and
military officials generally turn out their men, and lend every effort
themselves to quell the flames. Here and there individual Filipinos,
such as governors or presidentes, who feel the pressure of official
responsibility, display considerable activity; but, on the whole,
the aristocratic, or governing, class rather demonstrates its weakness
at such times. The men whose property is not threatened seldom exert
themselves, but stand in groups and chatter about how this could be
done or that. Everybody is full of suggestions for somebody else to
execute, but nobody does anything. The municipal police nose about in
the crowd, and at intervals seize upon some obscure and inoffensive
citizen, propelling him violently in the direction of the conflagration
with orders to "work." He half-heartedly picks up an old five-gallon
petroleum can or a bamboo water-pipe, and starts off to the nearest
well, but as soon as he is out of range of the policeman's eye he
drops the article, shuffles back into the gazing crowd, and does no
more work.

At such time the loyalty and devotion of servants are put to a severe
test. Two incidents came under my notice which it is a pleasure to
describe. During my third year at Capiz our own home (I was "messing"
with another American woman teacher) was threatened by fire one
night, and all our household goods were carried out and saved by
American men. The house was on fire more than once, but they managed
to extinguish the fire each time.

Mention has previously been made of my little maid, Ceferiana. At
the first alarm that night, she rushed into my room, and, spreading
out a sheet, began to throw clothes into it from my drawers and
wardrobe. When she had gathered up a full bundle, she rushed off to
a place of safety, deposited it and came back for more. Meanwhile I
had gathered up some silver and other valuables, and locked them in a
trunk. Ceferiana helped me to carry this out, and as we were returning,
the sweep of the flames seemed to be almost engulfing our house. For
the first time Ceferiana gave a thought to her own possessions. With
a wail--"Ah, Dios mio, mi ropa!" ("Oh, my God! my clothes!")--she
sank down on her knees, beating her breast, and bewailing the loss
of a wardrobe made up chiefly from my cast-off garments, but even
then far richer than that of most girls of her class.

About this time the American men began to arrive on the scene,
and though they would not permit us to return to the house, they
chivalrously rescued Ceferiana's possessions as well as mine.

The lady who lived with me had some time before discharged a servant
for a cause which we others considered not very just. She was timid,
and as her husband was away, she was unwilling to permit the servant
to leave the premises for even a brief time. Filipino servants simply
cannot be handled in that way. A certain amount of time for recreation
and pleasure is their just due, and they will have it. Adolphus,
robbed of his _paseo_, reported that his grandmother was dying, and
demanded an evening off to visit her. His mistress happened to take a
walk that evening and beheld Adolphus the perfidious, not sitting by a
dying grandmother, but tripping the light fantastic in a nipa shack,
eight by twelve. She forthwith discharged Adolphus, and even levied
on the services of a friendly constabulary officer to thrash him
with a _stingaree_, or sting ray cane. Adolphus retaliated by forging
her husband's name to some chits for liquors. She had him arrested,
prosecuted, and jailed. He had just finished his sentence when the
fire came. He was almost the first person to appear, and worked like
a Trojan for two hours, his services being of no mean value. I think
the reader will agree with me that Adolphus showed a Christian and
forgiving spirit.

The End


[1] Since the writing of the above sentence, one American woman has
been murdered in Batangas, one young girl violated in Manila, and
knowledge has come to the writer of three cases of attempted assault
on American women, which were kept out of the newspapers.


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