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Title: Recollections of Manilla and the Philippines
       During 1848, 1849 and 1850

Author: Robert Mac Micking

Release Date: December 26, 2006 [EBook #20189]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Clare Boothby, Jeroen Hellingman and the Online
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DURING 1848, 1849, AND 1850.

Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty.



The Philippines, in many respects situated most advantageously for trade, having long been governed by a people whose notions of government and political economy have never produced the happiest results in any of their once numerous and important colonies, appear at last to be slowly reaping the benefit of the new commercial maxims now in course of operation, in Spain, and show symptoms of progressing with increased speed in the march of civilization, encouraged by commerce. As such a state is always interesting, more especially to my countrymen, whose commercial and manufacturing welfare is closely bound up with the rate at which [iv]civilization advances in every part of the world, I have attempted to give some idea of the actual state and prospects of this valuable colony, as they appeared to me during a residence there of the three years 1848–9–50, with the double object of directing more attention to these islands than has hitherto been paid to them by our merchants and manufacturers, and of deriving some employment in doing so, during a tedious voyage from Singapore to Hongkong, when, being in a great measure debarred from personal activity, an interesting occupation was felt to be more than usually necessary to engage the mind.

There are many imperfections in the execution of my task; but for these the critical reader is requested to make some allowance, and entreated not to forget the inconveniences all landsmen are subjected to at sea.

September, 1851.



About the time the Spanish arms under Hernan Cortez, Pizarro, and Almagro, were meeting with their most splendid successes in America, the thought occurred to Hernando Magallanes, a Portuguese gentleman in the service of King Charles the Fifth of Spain, that if by sailing south he could pass the new Western World, it would be possible to reach the famous Spice Islands of the East, which he supposed to contain untold-of wealth in their bosoms. This vast, and, in the state of their knowledge at the [2]time, apparently hardy and even rash idea, met with approval by the King, who honoured Magallanes with the distinguished military order of Santiago, and appointed him to the command of a squadron which he immediately set about fitting out to accomplish the project, with the view of conquering and annexing these islands to his crown.

At length, when all the preparations were completed, on the 10th of August, 1519, six ships, no one of which exceeded 130 tons, and some of them being less than half that size, sailed from the port of San Lucan de Barrameda on this bold and perilous enterprise.

In the prosecution of their voyage, many obstacles were encountered; but everything disappeared before the ardour of their chief, who, discovering, passed through the Straits of Magellan, which alone immortalize his name, and spreading his sails to the gale, stood boldly with his squadron, now reduced to three crazy vessels, into the unknown and vast ocean which lay open before him, with all the hardihood characteristic of his time, traversing in its utmost breadth the Pacific, without, however, chancing to meet with any of the numerous islands now scattered throughout its [3]extent. At last, the Mariana or Ladrone Islands were descried on the 16th of August, 1521, and a few days afterwards a cape on the east coast of Mindanao was seen.

Coasting along the shores of Caraga, the ships anchored off Limasna, where Magallanes was well received by the natives of the place; from thence steering towards Cebu, he managed to establish a good understanding with the country people, although upwards of two thousand of them had assembled, armed with spears and javelins, to oppose his landing.

Having constructed a house at this place, in order that mass might be decently said, he landed to hear it, accompanied by his crews.

The royal family of Cebu, curious to observe the manners of their strange visitors, attended its celebration, and, as the story goes, were so much edified by the sight, that they were baptized Christians, and an oath of allegiance and vassalage to the King of Spain administered to them; and their example being followed to a great extent by the nobles and people of Cebu, the Christian forms of faith and the symbolic cross were planted by the Spaniards in the country of the antipodes.

Some time afterwards, Magallanes met the end [4]which best becomes a brave and good soldier, by dying in the battle-field in the cause of his new friends and allies.

But without his master-mind to direct them, things no longer went on so smoothly between the Spaniards and the natives; and under his successor, the hostile feelings then given birth to, soon found a tragical vent, which resulted in a number of the white men being cruelly massacred by their Indian hosts, and in the flight of their companions, who, fearful of their own safety, made all sail on their ships, and bore away, leaving their unfortunate countrymen to their fate, without attempting and even refusing to ransom such of them whose lives were spared, from having been less obnoxious to the Indians than the others. This fatal accident left the surviving crews so much weakened in numerical strength, that not having men enough left to work all the ships, the “Concepcion” was set fire to, and the survivors steered towards the Moluccas.

It were tedious to follow them through all their adventures; suffice it to say, that Juan Sebastian de El Cano was the only captain who succeeded in taking his ship home again round the Cape of Good Hope. After many anxieties [5]and vicissitudes he entered the same port of San Lucar from which he had sailed about three years before; and as a memento of his skill and of his being the first navigator who had made the circuit of the world, the king granted him for an armorial bearing, a globe, with the legend, “Primus circumdedit me,” which he had thus so honourably gained.

At intervals of about four years between each other, three separate expeditions were fitted out from Spain and America for these islands, which were named ”Las Felipiñas” by Villalobos, commander of the last of these squadrons, in honour of the then Prince of Asturias, afterwards better known as King Philip the Second of Spain.

In the meantime the Portuguese, jealous of the vicinity of such powerful neighbours as the Spaniards, to their empire of the East which Vasco de Gama and Albuquerque had so brilliantly founded for their country, took advantage of the financial distress of the Spanish king, who was then arming against France and Germany, and for an inconsiderable amount purchased his right of conquest over all the Philippines.

But they did not long retain them; for on Prince Philip of the Asturias becoming King [6]of Spain he regained the islands by breaking through the treaty which confirmed their sale. Having, in 1564, appointed Don Miguel Lopez de Legaspi commander of an expedition fitted out for the purpose of reacquiring them, and having made him Governor and Adelantado of all the countries he could conquer,—which now-a-days appears to be rather a vague commission, but was then a custom of that venturous time,—that dignitary reached the Philippines, which had been altogether neglected by the Portuguese, and without difficulty re-established Spanish supremacy over the group, of which he may be considered as the first governor.

Their favorable reception by the natives rendered the acquisition altogether, or nearly, a bloodless one, for the warriors who gained them over to Spain were not their steel-clad chivalry, but the soldiers of the cross:—the priests, who, going out among a simple but somewhat passionate people, astonished and kindled them by their enthusiasm in the cause of Christ; while the novel doctrines they taught so enthusiastically, aided by the usual splendid accompaniments of that religion, captivated their senses, and took possession of their imaginations. [7]

Manilla was founded on the island of Luzon, the most important of all the islands in the group; and the situation of the new capital on the shore of a long bay, into which flow numerous rivers, bringing down from the interior of a fertile country through which they run, its varied and valuable produce, has secured for it prosperity and commercial importance. A trade with China sprang up, and its commencement was soon followed by many emigrants from that densely-peopled country, whose habits of industry and prudence very soon began to increase and develope the natural fertility of the soil, and whose numerous descendants have mingled with the native character some of those useful virtues which it seems scarcely probable they would possess but for this slight mixture of blood.

Alas, that priestly ambition and the desire of domination should in time usurp the place of those laborious, enthusiastic, and pious missionaries who, so happily for the natives, had managed to revolutionize their minds, and so spared their country those scenes of blood which blot with a fearful stain the history of Spanish power in America. But the influence of churchmen, as usual, in the Philippines, was not always to be [8]well directed; for the merciless Inquisition having established itself at Manilla, commenced its terrible career. No one was safe, none were exempt from its powers; its emissaries penetrated even into the palace of the Governor. Moderation in religion, or remissness in its strictest observances, became crimes, punishable by the severest discipline of that fearful and cruel establishment. All attempts, even when aided or directed by the authority and influence of the highest officials, to lessen its power, proved unsuccessful; and frequently a Bishop was chosen to occupy the Governor-general’s place, to perform his civil and military duties! Everything was in the hands of the churchmen, the subsequent effects of which were demonstrated to the world by the easy success of the British expedition of 1762, which they permitted to enter the bay without opposition, having passed the fortified island of Corregidor at its entrance without a shot being fired to prevent them. And the same effects caused but a feeble resistance to be opposed to their arms, and the speedy surrender of Manilla by its priest-ridden and effeminate defenders. [9]


The Government of Spain has, ever since the period of their acquisition, shown itself ignorant or neglectful of the commercial importance of these islands, the commerce of which has long been subjected to regulations and restrictions as injurious in their tendency as can well be imagined,—they being framed, apparently at least, more for the purpose of smothering it in its earliest existence than with any kindly or paternal views of nourishing and increasing it.

But a change having at length once begun, a new era may be said to have commenced with regard to them, and it is to be hoped that increasing wisdom and liberality of ideas may clear away some of the remaining obstacles which for so [10]long encumbered, and even yet impede and circumscribe within a very narrow circle, the natural course of their commerce. For the Spanish Government are far from following a similar policy to that of the great Henry the Fourth of France, who, as an encouragement to the manufacturing industry of the country, rewarded those silk manufacturers who had carried on business for twelve years, with patents of nobility, as men who by doing so not only benefited themselves, but deserved well of their country for their enterprise and commercial spirit. Don Simon Anda was about the first person who showed any desire to augment the trade of the islands; and his election to the highest offices of the colony, after its restoration by the English, was a most fortunate event for Manilla. Although, unluckily, many of the steps he took with the best intentions, notwithstanding being infinitely in advance of those of his predecessors in office, were not always in the right direction, and consequently unattended by the highest degree of success which he aimed at, partial good results were obtained by them, and a beneficial change began to regulate affairs.

The expulsion of the Jesuits from the Philippines [11]in 1768, by throwing their immense estates out of cultivation, and also the wars and disturbances subsequent to the French Revolution, being felt even in this remote part of the world, were attended with the worst effects to the trade and agriculture of the islands. On the peace of 1814, the condition of the country was truly deplorable, as, during a long period of isolation and inactivity, abuses had multiplied to an alarming extent, and the minds of the Indian population especially had become divided between superstition and sedition, from each of which a sanguinary catastrophe resulted. Public opinion at the time fastened on the priests the guilt of the massacre of the Protestant foreigners at Manilla in 1820, and the growing discontent of the people blew into open rebellion in 1823, under a Creole leader, who then rose and attempted to shake off the Spanish authority.

To give the reader some idea of the commercial regulations then existing, which helped, no doubt, to bring about these disorders, it may be mentioned that among many other things, even after the port of Manilla was thrown open to ships of all nations, the vessels belonging to that port itself were not allowed to trade with Europe, or to [12]proceed beyond the Cape of Good Hope; and Government yet further limited their intercourse with the only ports of China and India which were open to them, by issuing passes to all colonial ships, the conditions of which were perfectly incompatible with the usual course of commerce, as they were required to return home directly from the port to which they were destined from Manilla, and were not at liberty to touch at, or have any intercourse with, other places than those specified in their passport.

These absurd restrictions of course prevented a ship from profiting by any freight she might be offered at the port of her destination from Manilla, because the terms of her pass made it compulsory for her to return there before she could accept any new engagement such as might be offered her, and of course, in such a case, frequently forced them to decline most profitable business; consequently, the colonial shipowners found that they had to sail their vessels at a great disadvantage with all others who were free from such interference.

Neither was the trade with Spain open to them, for the Trading Company numbered among their many other privileges, that of having the sole [13]right of placing ships on the berth for the Peninsula.

This state of things actually remained in force till 1820, when a royal order confirmed a decree of the Cortes exempting from all duties whatever any products of the Philippines which might be imported into Spain during the ensuing ten years; and this step may be considered as the first evidence of a desire shown by that Government to give an impulse to their colonial agriculture or to the manufactures and commerce of these splendid islands.

This good work, having once begun, was followed up by the enlightened and benevolent government of Don Pascual Enrile, who was Captain-General of the Philippines from 1831 to 1835, and whose entire administration has left behind it the happiest results for the people he governed.

Commencing his reform of the laws relating to navigation by giving passes to ships, for the period of two years, without requiring them to declare to what place or places they were bound, or might touch at during their absence from the port to which they belonged, he had an opportunity of satisfying himself of the good results [14]ensuing from non-interference; and some time afterwards entirely loosed the fetters which burdened them, by giving colonial ships liberty to sail wherever they chose without restrictions as to time or place: and certainly, his doing so was an honour for the national flag, which then waved on every sea. These concessions proved alike wise and beneficent; and since the time of their being granted, the tonnage and commerce of Manilla has increased in an amazing degree, and still goes on prosperously augmenting Her Most Catholic Majesty’s treasury, besides improving the condition of the people and the agriculture of the country.

But this was far from being the only wise act of Governor Enrile, for under his administration a boon of even greater importance was secured to the country and the people of the colony, by the opening of internal communications throughout the Philippines. He established a comprehensive system of roads, and organised posts throughout the islands. Although most of the roads are now kept in most wretched order, yet being nearly always passable by horses, they are found to be of the utmost importance to the well-being of the country, even as they now exist. [15]

But should a time come when more attention will be bestowed upon them than now is, and new ones judiciously constructed in districts where they have not yet been, the agriculture of the islands will improve to a great degree, and corresponding advantages will follow in its train to be reaped by the Government that is enlightened enough to undertake them, and which is sensible enough to know what is most for its true interests. May that day soon come, for it will be a happy one to the Philippines and all belonging to them. [16]


On approaching Manilla from the bay in one of the bancas—or canoes having a cover as a protection against the sun—which generally go off to all ships after their anchor has been let go, and the port-captain’s boat has boarded the new arrival, the spires, towers of churches, and lofty red-tiled roofs of houses or convents are all that can be seen over the walls, so that the first impressions of a stranger are not in general very vivid or interesting.

On reaching the múrallon, your banca enters the waters of the Pasig river, prolonged by two piers into the bay, on the extreme point of one of which is situated a small fort garrisoned by a [17]company of soldiers, and on the other the lighthouse, a most insignificant and nearly useless building. Passing these, the boatmen pull up the river to the garrita, a small round house, where the banca is viséd by the people of the gun-boats, at all times stationed there for that purpose, and should there be any packages or baggage in it, the port-captain’s deputy, or aide-de-camp, puts a guard on board, who conducts you to the custom-house for the purpose of having it inspected there; but the examination is generally not a very minute one, and personal effects are for the most part passed merely by opening the boxes and showing the tops of their contents, although you may be asked whether it contains either pocket-pistols or a bible, both of which are prohibited and seizable.

The city of Manilla, ever since its foundation, which took place at a very early period of the Spanish power in Luzon, from the natural advantages combined in its situation—so judiciously chosen by them—continued to be the capital of the Philippines, whose history ever since may be said to have centered in the transactions which at various times have taken place under the shadow of its walls. [18]

It is built at the mouth of the river Pasig, on the low-lying and sandy point formed by its junctions with the waters of the bay, between which and the ditch that surrounds the walls on the seaward side, a level sward stretches along the beach.

An Englishman, on arriving, perceives a marked difference between the place and people and any of his country’s Indian possessions; the air he breathes, and the habits he gradually falls into from seeing them the customary ones of other people, are not the same as those of his countrymen in British India. Should he be fortunate enough to have arrived towards the end of the year, in addition to the greater coolness of the weather then usually prevalent, and so delightful in the tropics, he will most probably not want opportunities for enjoying himself; as, after suffering a penitential confinement to the house during the long rainy season, for some time before Christmas, the cool nights and other circumstances induce the residents to break out into greater gaiety than is prevalent at other seasons of the year; and amusement, about that time, generally appears to be the order of the day.

The city is not unworthy of a curiosity seeker’s [19]visit. The town, within the fortifications, although not of great size, is for the most part well planned, the streets being straight, regular, and some of them kept clean and in good order, although many of the smaller ones are allowed to fall into great disrepair. They are too narrow, moreover, for the heat of the climate, as the confined air and stench frequently existing in them, are principally generated by their closeness, and more especially during the cool of the evening and early morning, are far from conducing to the health of the population.

The latitude of the citadel, or Fuerza de Santiago, is 14° 36′ N., longitude 127° 15′ E. of Cadiz, or in latitude 14° 36′ 8″ N., and longitude 120° 53½′ E. of Greenwich.

The fortifications surrounding the town are regular, and apparently strong, defences; but although the walls and ditch look formidable enough in themselves, the want of sufficient good artillery to protect them would probably be felt in the event of an assault, and might render the place not a very difficult prize to a large attacking force. But no invader need now-a-days expect to meet with such very easy success as attended our expedition last century, at a time when weak and priestly notions not only ruled [20]the church, but governed the people and the camp.

Very different feelings and modes of action are now prevalent among the white population, from those then in operation among them.

For some years past the influx of fresh blood from Europe has been very much greater than in former times, the consequence of which is that a change is creeping over the place, from the energy and enterprize of the new comers.

There is little doubt but that all this is for the best, and in the course of a few years more, I hope to hear that the Government, increasing in liberality and wisdom, will allow the natural capabilities of the Philippines to be developed, and their importance appreciated, by permitting foreigners to hold land and become planters, as without their capital and knowledge it will probably be a long time before the Spaniards of themselves attain these ends in the like perfection; such measures would ensure their doing so at once.

By far the most populous and important part of the town of Manilla is situated without the walls, and on the other side of the river from the fortified city, the intermediate communication being by a handsome bridge, one of the eight [21]arches of which, having given way to the shock of an earthquake, has not been rebuilt, but is replaced by wood. It has been proposed to construct a drawbridge at this point, so as to allow the colonial shipping to proceed up the river above the bridge, which they cannot now do. And should the project be carried into effect, it is likely that the small sized coasting vessels, when nothing better offers for them to do, will go on to the Laguna, and supersede the clumsy cascos which now solely navigate the lake and bring down the produce of the fruitful country which surrounds it, to dispose of in the market of Manilla.

Without the walls nearly all the trade is carried on, the Escolta and Rosario, on that side of the river, being the principal streets, built however without any regard to regularity, so that they are not handsome, but in them nearly all the best Chinamen’s shops are situated. These are in general very small confined places, though crammed with manufactures, the produce of Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, and of many other European and Chinese manufacturing marts. Some of the shops may also be seen stuffed to the door with the valuable Piña [22]cloth, husè, and other productions of the native looms.

The great object of the Chinese shopmen appears to be, to show the most varied, and frequently miscellaneous, collection of goods in the smallest possible space; as, their shops being for the most part not more than ten feet broad towards the street, leaves but little space besides the doorway to display the attractions of their wares, and every inch has to be made the most of by them. These China shopkeepers have nearly driven all competition, except with each other out of the market,—very few Mestizos or Spaniards being able to live on the small profits which the competition among themselves has reduced them to. A China shopkeeper generally makes his shop his home, all of them sleeping in those confined dens at night, from which, on opening their doors about five in the morning, as they usually do, a most noisome and pestiferous smell issues and is diffused through the streets. The Mestizos cannot do this, but must have a house to live in out of the profits of the shop; and the consequence has been, that when their shopkeeping profits could no longer do that, they have nearly all betaken themselves to other [23]more suitable occupations, from which the energies of their Chinese rivals are less likely to drive them. The number of Chinamen in Manilla and throughout the islands is very great, and nearly the whole provincial trade in manufactured goods is in their hands. Numerous traders of that nation have shops opened throughout the islands, their business being carried on by one of their own countrymen, generally the principal person of the concern, who remains resident at Manilla, while his various agents in the country keep him advised of their wants, to meet which he makes large purchases from the merchants, and forwards the same to his country friends. Besides having many shops in the provinces, each of these head men is generally in the habit of having a number of shops in Manilla, sometimes upwards of a dozen being frequently all contiguous to one another, so that any one going into one of his shops and asking for something the price of which appears too dear, refuses it and goes to the next shop, which probably belongs to the same man, and is likely to buy it, as he is apt to think—because they all ask the same price—that it cannot be got cheaper elsewhere, so gives the amount demanded for it, although it is probably very much too dear. [24]

There is another advantage which the Chinese have found from the system they pursue,—that large purchasers of goods from the merchants who import them for sale are frequently able to buy them for less money than those smaller traders who are not in the habit of making purchases to the same amount from the importers,—as the credit of a small dealer is not sufficiently good to induce a merchant to sell them more than he imagines he is likely to be paid for.

In these Chinese shops, the owner usually engages all the activity of his countrymen employed by him in them, by giving each of them a share in the profits of the concern, or, in fact, by making them all small partners in the business, of which he of course takes care to retain the lion’s share, so that while doing good for him by managing it well, they are also benefiting themselves. To such an extent is this principle carried, that it is usual to give even their coolies a share in the profits of the business in lieu of fixed wages, and the plan appears to suit their temper well; for although they are in general most complete eye-servants when working for a fixed wage, they are found to be most industrious and useful ones when interested even for the smallest share. [25]

The amount of business done by some of these Chinamen with the principal importers of manufactured goods, who are the British merchants, is very considerable, some of them frequently making monthly purchases to the extent of ten or fifteen thousand dollars from one person, nearly all of the goods being sold to them on credits of three, four, or six months after the date of purchase and delivery of the merchandise. Occasionally, however, some of them break down, and those importers who have been trusting them for large amounts, of course burn their fingers; Chinamen, as a general rule, being honest and trustworthy only so long as it appears to be their own interest to remain so. Most of them at Manilla are people who have made everything for themselves, from nothing except their hands to begin with, as no rich Chinamen, such as are met with in their native country, and occasionally in Java and Singapore, are found at Manilla; for nearly all those who come there have originally arrived as coolies, earning their bread by manual labour, but very few of them indeed having inherited anything from their fathers, except the arts of reading and writing, which nearly the whole of them, however poor, understand and [26]are able to perform. Whenever they make money, they invariably return to China, the Government holding out no inducements for them to remain in the Philippines, as they do elsewhere in the Archipelago, where greater freedom and protection are allowed them. [27]


The streets of Manilla have at all times a dead and dull appearance, with the exception of the two already mentioned as being in the business part of the town. The basement-floor of the houses being generally uninhabited, there are no windows opened in their walls, which present a mass of whitewashed stone and lime, without an object to divert the eye, except here and there, where small shops have been opened in them, these being generally for selling rice, fruit, oil, &c., and entirely deficient in the glare or glittering colours of gay merchandise, nearly all of which is confined to the shops of the Escolta, Rosario, and Santo Christo.

The houses here, as elsewhere in hot climates, [28]are arranged with great regard to ventilation and coolness, and are mostly large edifices; but are seldom well laid out, and are deficient in many respects. The entire white population, which amounts to upwards of 5,000, resides either in the city, by which is meant that portion of it within the walls, or in the principal part of the town outside the walls, and on the other side of the river from the city within the walls; and in this district is comprehended the great bulk of the population, which amounts to upwards of 200,000 souls.

Those resident within the walls are principally government servants, &c., induced, by the proximity of the public offices, regimental cantonments, &c., as well as a lower house-rent, to brave the greater heat usually felt there, from the confined space within the walls, and the narrow streets, not permitting so free a circulation of air as is enjoyed in the houses extra muros.

The largest description of houses, being the residences of Europeans, are spacious, and in many cases built on one plan, most of them being quadrangles inclosing a court-yard within their squares. Here the stables, &c., are usually situated; and, as may be supposed, the smell and view of them, should they happen to be in the least negligently [29]kept, as they frequently are, afford but very little gratification to persons whose windows happen to be near.

The upper part of the house, or second story, as we would say in Scotland, is in general the only portion of the house inhabited by its residents. The rooms below, being considered unhealthy, are in general converted into warehouses or shops, if they can be let as such from happening to be conveniently situated, or serve as coach-houses, lumber-rooms, &c. &c. The masonry of the lower walls is usually very substantial and strong, being calculated to resist the shocks of earthquakes, which occasionally happen. Those of the upper stories, which rise from them, and form the habitable part of the house above, are much slighter than the lower ones, and the joists and wooden-work about the roof are adapted for security against such accidents, by their being fastened with bolts on either side of the masonry, thus enabling it to give a little play to the motion of the shock, without being displaced by it, and coming down, as thick and heavy walls would most certainly do.

However, on the occurrence of an earthquake, it is usual to run down stairs, and have the protection [30]of the thick lower walls against any accident, such as that of the roof giving way. As the house I lived in while there may be taken as a specimen of many others, I shall describe it. After entering the gateway, the door of which is always very stout and heavy, and under the constant protection of a porter, for security’s sake, you reach a flight of steps leading to the habitable part of the house, and enter a gallery running from the top of the staircase, and a suite of rooms facing the street, to the gala or drawing-room at the other end of the house, and a suite of rooms facing the river. The entire length of the gallery is about a hundred feet, by twenty broad, and it looks into the open court-yard forming the centre of the building, on one side. There are several large and spacious bedrooms on the other side, the windows of which are lighted from a narrow street running to the river. Facing the gallery, and on the other side of the house, across the central court-yard, that entire side of the building is appropriated by the servants for cooking and sleeping-places.

The beams supporting the upper or habitable floor extend four or five feet beyond the outer wall, towards the street, forming a sort of verandah, [31]or corridor, as it is called in Spanish as well as in English, round the entire building, affording a considerable protection against the sun’s rays. The outer side of this corridor is composed of coarse and dark-coloured mother-of-pearl shell of little value, set in a wooden framework of small squares, forming windows which move on slides. Although the light admitted through this sort of window is much inferior to what glass would give, it has the advantage of being strong, and is not very liable to be damaged by the severe weather to which it is occasionally exposed during some months of the year.

There are few buildings distinguishable for architectural beauty, and those few are for the most part churches. The governor’s house, or the palace, is a large and spacious building within the walls, and forms one side of the Playa, the other three being formed by the cathedral, the Cabildo, and some private houses, whose irregular height detracts considerably from the appearance of the square. In the centre of the square stands a statue of I forget what King of Spain, well executed in bronze.

It is usual for a military band to perform before the palace on Sunday and feast-day evenings, and [32]on these occasions many carriages go there from the drive, about eight o’clock, to enjoy the music, and give people a good opportunity for either gossip or love-making, as their tastes or the moonlight may incline them.

The native Indians appear to have a good ear for music, and execute many of the finest operas with spirit and taste; and the amateur musicians in particular, who train the casino band, have brought the native performers to a very high degree of perfection in most of the pieces performed by them. A good deal more attention, however, appears to be paid to training these military bands, than in perfecting the troops themselves in their evolutions.

Religious processions are as frequently passing through the streets, as they are in all the Roman Catholic countries of Europe, but the features of all are very nearly identical, and so need not be particularly described.

When one of these processions takes place during the day, an awning is spread along the streets it will pass through, to protect the bareheaded promenaders from the sun, the canvass being attached to the house roofs along the streets; making them incredibly hot to pass along, so long as it remains there. [33]

A good deal of display in silver and gold ornaments may be seen in some of the churches, the collections of many successive years, as every incumbent shows his piety and zeal by adding something to them during the time he holds the cure.

The jewels in some of the dresses of the figures, especially those of the Virgin, are valued at, or amount to, a considerable sum of money, and I have heard twenty thousand dollars mentioned as the value of those belonging to one church in Manilla.

The houses of the Indian and Mestizo population are for the most part in the outskirts of the business part of the town, those of the richer sort being built of stone, and those of the poorest class being composed of nipa, or attap. Among houses of this sort, when a fire takes place, great and rapid destruction is inevitable, and the only way of saving any portion of them from its fury is by throwing down all those in the direction of its advance.

Nearly every season, however, some fires happen among them, and hundreds of families are frequently burned out before its progress can be arrested. This, however, is not anything like so [34]calamitous an event for them as such an occurrence would be to the poor of Europe, for as the chief cost of a nipa house consists in the labour of erection, after such a misfortune, they are soon replaced by their own personal labour—for whatever their usual trade or occupation may be, nearly all of the Indians are quite capable of constructing these houses for themselves, and often manage to complete them roughly in a few days. No nails need be used in their construction, everything necessary being produced in the islands, and easily attainable. Houses so constructed are very suitable for the climate, affording all the shelter requisite; and indeed the people appear to be much better lodged than many of the poor in England, where the cold and damp of the climate demand a substantial house, which too often they do not possess. [35]


The government of all the Philippine group, including the Mariana Islands, is intrusted to the charge of a Captain-General, who in virtue of his office is commander-in-chief of the forces, president of the Hacienda, admiral of marine, postmaster-general &c., &c. His power and authority, in short, extend to all those departments, over which his control, should he choose to exert it, is very absolute.

The civil department of Her Most Catholic Majesty’s service, so far as finance, &c., are concerned, is left to the administration of an officer who takes the title of Super-Intendente of the Hacienda; and who, putting the Archbishop aside, is regarded as the second official person at [36]Manilla, or as ranking next to the Governor, the revenue, &c., being the branch he has principal charge of; but his acts are always subject to the control of the Captain-General.

A military officer under the title of segundo Cabo, is under the Governor as acting commander-in-chief of the forces, and, in the event of the governor’s absence from Manilla, is the person who fills his situation and succeeds him in his power. A post-captain of the navy is usually the rank of the person intrusted with the direction and management of the sea force, but he always has, I believe, the local or brevet rank of an admiral.

The internal administration of the country is carried on by officials subordinate to those above-mentioned, the whole of the islands being parcelled out or divided into several provinces, in each of which there is an Alcalde, or Lieutenant-Governor, receiving his orders from, and quite dependent on the Captain-General, to whose favour he generally owes his appointment.

These officers are invested with the chief civil and military authority in their own provinces; but although they have always a small guard of soldiers, the good order and quiet generally [37]prevalent everywhere throughout the country render their military duties very unimportant, and their principal care is now required in the collection of revenue and the administration of justice within their several jurisdictions. These are not very arduous duties, owing principally to the efficient assistance derived from the authorities under them.

Every province is divided into districts or parishes, in which there is some village or town, and in each of these places there is an official whom I shall call the Major, or Capitan Gobernadorcillo, and also some Tenientes or Aldermen, as well as police alguacils. All of these have to report to the alcalde of the province any thing of importance occuring within their districts, and are commanded severally to assist and promote the views of the cura, or priest, by every means in their power. Most of the people who fill these situations are Indians or Mestizos, rather better off in worldly goods than the run of their countrymen.

These gobernadorcillos, or little governors, possess considerable authority over the natives, for, besides having the chief municipal authority in their own districts, they are allowed to decide [38]judicially in civil cases, when the amount in dispute does not exceed the value of forty-four dollars, or about ten pounds sterling, and in criminal cases undertake the prosecution, collecting the evidence and ascertaining the charges against any delinquent within their district, all of which is remitted by them to the provincial-governor and judge for his decision. Their election takes place annually, on the commencement of the new year, all over the country, and their power is exactly defined in a printed commission which they all hold from the Governor of the Philippines.

The half-breeds, or people of mixed Chinese and Indian blood, known by the name of Sangleys, are usually permitted, in districts where their number is considerable, to elect a Major from among their own class, whose power over them is exactly similar to that of the captain of the village where they reside over the aboriginal Indians: they do not interfere with each other, and are quite independent of any one save the alcalde of the province. When there are two gobernadorcillos in the same village, they each look after their own class, whether Mestizos or natives. [39]

In addition to these local officials there is another curious body of men, called Cabezas de barangay; each of whom has under his charge about fifty families, whose tribute to government he has to collect, and for the amount of which he is held accountable.

The persons who fill this office are usually resident in the immediate neighbourhood or in the same street with those from whom they have to collect the tribute, and have some slight authority over those who pay it to them, such as deciding petty quarrels and disputes among them, &c. The institution of this body is uncertain, and is said to have been originated by the aboriginal Indians themselves, and to have been found in full operation at the time of the earliest Spanish intercourse with them. The probability is, however, that at that period it was of a military nature, and their duties then were more to officer the armies of the native kings than for any of the uses it has been subsequently wisely put to by the white man. The office is hereditary in their families; but in the event of the person who exercises it changing his residence, or from other causes becoming unfit to discharge its duties, a successor is elected in his place. [40]

They are recompensed for their trouble in collecting taxes, &c., by being themselves exempted from paying tribute to the state, and have several privileges by virtue of their office. As a body, they are always considered the principal people of their village, and only from among them, and by their votes alone, is the mayor or gobernadorcillo of the pueblo chosen; that is to say, they choose a list of three Indians from among their own number for that office, each of whom should by law be able to speak, read, and write Spanish; and this list being forwarded to the alcalde, he indicates which of them is to be chosen, by scratching his name and filling up his commission. The election of these candidates ought to be made with closed doors, and must be authorized by the presence of an escribano, or attorney, to note the proceedings. The parish priest is allowed to attend if he choose, in order that he may influence the election of fit persons for the office by speaking in their favour, but he has not any vote in the matter.

In the capital, owing to the number of Chinamen there, and in the neighbourhood, they are obliged to choose a capitan from among themselves, in order that he may collect their tribute [41]and arrange their petty disputes with each other, which some one conversant with their customs and language is only fit to do.

There are some fees now attached to this office, but the duties are so troublesome that the industrious Celestials very frequently find them incompatible with the management of their own trade or business, and for the most part are not at all ambitious of the honour of filling the situation, even although some fees accompany it.

At the same time that the capitan is elected, his lieutenant and a head constable are also chosen by their countrymen.

All Chinese arriving at Manilla are registered in a book kept for the purpose, for, as they pay tribute according to their occupation, the amount of it, and their numbers, are at once ascertained from that. Should they leave the country, their passports have to be countersigned by their capitan, who is to some extent responsible for them while residing in it.

The emoluments of government offices are not very high; much too low, in fact, to recompense the class of men who are required to discharge them, and the consequence is, (as usual in such cases), that extortion and improper means are [42]resorted to in order to increase their amount, all of which fall much heavier on the people than regularly collected taxes, sufficient to support their proper or adequate pay, would amount to.

In the province of Cagayan, for instance, the alcalde’s nominal pay is 600 dollars a-year, which sum is of course totally insufficient to recompense any educated man for undertaking and supporting the dignity of governor of a considerable province. But as the best tobacco is grown there, one of his duties is to collect and forward it to Manilla, for which he is allowed a commission, and this, with other privileges, is found to yield him in ordinary years about 20,000 dollars a-year, being in reality one of the most lucrative situations at the disposal of the Government.

I believe that most people will concur with me in the opinion that the system of reducing the fixed official pay below a remuneration that will induce men of standing and education to undertake the duties which their situation requires them to exercise, and to trust to exaction supplying its place, is extremely impolitic, and much more expensive to the country than a more liberal scale of pay would prove.

The alcaldes are allowed to trade on their own [43]account, and for this their position affords them many facilities; but for the permission to do so, they are required to pay a considerable annual fee to Government, ranging from about one hundred to three thousand dollars.

The wisdom of granting them this permission is very doubtful, as it not unfrequently happens that the privilege is abused by rapacious men, eager to make the most of their time and collect a fortune, and occasionally it gives rise to much oppression.

The poor Indian cultivators of the soil, accustomed all their lives to look upon the alcalde of their native province as the greatest and most powerful man they know of, have very little redress for their grievance, should that person, in the pursuit of money-making and trade buy up all their crop of sugar, rice, or other produce, whatever it may be, and in a falling market refuse to receive the articles contracted for, or to complete the bargain agreed upon with them. On the contrary, however, should anything he may have contracted to buy be rising in value at Manilla, the poor Indian, who has sold it too cheap to him, has no chance of getting clear of the bad bargain he may have made with the [44]alcalde, should it appear to that individual worth his while to keep him to it, as every means are at his command or beck, aided by all the force of the executive, and the terrors of a law administered by himself, to compel him to ratify his contract.

In these circumstances the alcalde never makes a bad bargain, or loses money on any of his transactions, and there is little wonder that rapid fortunes are made by men holding these situations, when such scandalous means are constantly resorted to by them, so that generally, after a very few years of office, these people are upon very easy terms with the world, although nominally only receiving a wretchedly low pay.

Notwithstanding these abuses, however, the government of the people is on the whole much more effective, and consequently better, than it is in many places of British India. No such thing was ever known as disaffection becoming so generally diffused among them as to lead to a rebellion of the people, or an attempt to shake off the leeches who suck them so deeply; and this can only be attributed to the sway the priesthood have over the minds of the Indians, as without their influence and aid, beyond a [45]doubt, such an attempt would be made; and if it should ever come about, it would be no very difficult affair for the natives, if properly led, to overthrow the sway of the Spaniards. Although there is very little religion among the Indians, there is abundance of superstitious feeling, and fear of the padre’s displeasure; indeed, the church has long proved to be, upon the whole, by much the most cheap and efficacious instrument of good government and order that could be employed anywhere, so long as its influence has been properly directed. In the Philippines there appears to be little doubt but that it is one of the most beneficial that could be exerted as a medium for the preservation of good order among the people, who are admonished and taught to be contented, while it is not forgetful of their interests, as they very generally learn reading by its aid—so much of it, at least, as to enable them to read their prayer-books, or other religious manuals.

There are very few Indians who are unable to read, and I have always observed that the Manilla men serving on board of ships, and composing their crews, have been much oftener able to subscribe their names to the ship’s articles [46]than the British seamen on board the same vessels could do, or even on board of Scottish ships, whose crews are sometimes superior men, so far as education is concerned, to those born in other parts of Great Britain. This fact startled me at first; but it has been frequently remarked upon by people very strongly prejudiced in favour of white men, and who despise the black skins of Manilla men, regarding them as inferior beings to themselves, as strongly as many of our countrymen often do. [47]


From old prejudices, and other causes, the Spanish people have not as yet learned how to work the more liberal form of government now enjoyed by their country. But there is no doubt that the experience necessary to do so is daily being acquired by them at home, and when it becomes prevalent, its effects may be expected to be shown by the class of men selected to administer the government of their colonies, the white population of which are of considerably more advanced intelligence than their countrymen in Spain.

In most colonies the people appear to possess a superior degree of vigour or freshness of mind to those born in Europe, or in old and thickly inhabited [48]countries. This may result in a great degree from their comparative freedom from conventional prejudices, the results of a long and insensible growth in families, which trammel nearly every mind in densely peopled countries, and more especially in places where commerce is languidly carried on. Perhaps also in some measure it may be owing to the greater facility the poorer classes have in all colonies of earning a livelihood, which, by freeing their minds from anxiety on that score, leaves some room for their speculations on other matters.

In the administration of government, they are even now guided essentially by the most imperative rules; but I hope that, ere long, in many cases, the very arbitrary proceedings of their chief authorities abroad, may become subject to approval by a council such as exists in our Indian possessions, and in Java among the Dutch, as there can be little doubt but that it would prove advantageous to the country did such a body exist.

As an example of the procedures of the Manilla government, I may mention the following facts, which occurred to an acquaintance of my own, and on which every dependence may be placed. [49]

Don Francisco P. de O—— having been presented with the governorship of one of the best or most lucrative provinces in the Philippines, set out for his residency and commenced his duties, which he continued to fulfil satisfactorily to himself and the people for upwards of a year—about fifteen months, I believe. His commission as Governor embraced four years from the date of his appointment; however, at the end of the first year in his office, a nephew of the then Governor happened to arrive at Manilla, and it became an object of interest to his uncle to get him into some good place before the term of his appointment as Governor expired. Casting his eyes around on everything that might serve his turn, he happened to recollect Don Francisco’s alcalde-ship, and forthwith despatched an order to my unfortunate friend to return to Manilla, there to answer some complaints which, he alleged in the order of recall, had been made against his administration of the province, and at the same time told him to deliver over all authority to the person he sent for the purpose, that individual being neither more nor less than his own nephew.

Don Francisco, ignorant of committing any crime or fault, or of anything that could justify [50]this very unceremonious recall, hastened to Manilla, and presenting himself at the palace, demanded what charges had been lodged against him, and by whom they had been made. But he could learn nothing of them, and was commanded by the Governor to wait in Manilla till he should be formally summoned to answer them. It is now, however, upwards of ten years since this happened, and from that day to this he has never been summoned, nor has he been even able to find out what the charges were on which he was recalled from his lucrative appointment, although repeated applications were made to the Governor who recalled him for a trial. All the subsequent Governors have professed their inability to give him the information, which, had such charges actually been framed, must have been found in the archives, so that no doubt can now exist but that this villanous trick was trumped up by the Governor to serve his own family by the bestowal of Don Francisco’s place. And as my friend has since filled other situations, (and, in fact, is an Alcalde,) having been selected by different Governors for office, the accusation does not in the least affect his character.

But, in truth, many of the natives of Spain [51]who are even now selected to fill the highest offices, are about as despotic and as unscrupulous as any Asiatics in their notions of government and in their exercise of power, and as bad even as the Turks themselves are in their administration of justice and equity; while the Spanish government, and the political knowledge of the people, are infinitely behind the Turkish government in everything concerning their commercial policy.

During the time of electing members for the Cortes, or parliament in Spain, of course the existing government were anxious to secure the tide of the general election running in their favour—but what means do you, my courteous reader, imagine they took to secure this object? Why, neither more nor less than to order the police to seize all persons suspected of being likely to oppose their party actively at the ensuing elections throughout the country. Thousands of people were actually seized and hurried off to jail, to be confined there till the danger was past; and many of them, on the jails becoming too full to contain them all, were hurried to a seaport town and put on board ships sailing to Manilla, or, by hundreds at a time, sent out on a voyage of four months’ duration, to reconsider [52]their political opinions, and then to find their road home as they best might.

These people were captured in all situations of time and place, and were not allowed to communicate with their friends while in prison in Spain, which must have given rise to at least as much distress and privation among as many persons as the numbers of those seized, for very many of them were people with families entirely dependent upon them for support.

About a thousand of these deportados reached Manilla in 1848–9, and being entirely destitute of all resources or means of subsistence, they had to be taken care of by the Colonial Government, who allowed them some rice and water every day, and had, finally, to charter vessels to re-ship them for the Peninsula. One of them was an Irishman, who having entered the Spanish service when a lad, had reached the rank of Colonel; his father was a general officer and K.C.B. of our own army, who, I believe, had married a Spanish lady, and after his death, his family had become resident in Spain.

The bad accommodation of a crowded ship, together with the want of change of clothes, which he was not allowed to procure from his [53]friends, and the general filthiness of the people with whom he was obliged to be cooped up during the long voyage, acted on him so severely that it caused his death a very short time after his arrival at Manilla. Thus the poor fellow fell a sacrifice to this abominable stretch of arbitrary power, and dying destitute, was buried there, after having been maintained decently in a hotel during the remainder of his existence, at the expense of his countrymen then at Manilla.

When acts so atrocious as these can be done with impunity in any European country by a powerful minister of the crown, we may form some idea of its advance in the arts of self-government and the security of its people.

This young man was very far from being the only person who fell a victim to these acts, as many died from causes similar to those which deprived him of life; and his case is only mentioned to give some idea of the lengths men will proceed to when no checks are placed on the Government machine, to prevent its bursting, and damaging thousands. These abuses are so shameful, that they are scarcely credible in Britain; but they are easily capable of corroboration by inquiry and a little knowledge of Spain, where very frequently [54]caprice is the only law in existence, or at least is the only one acted upon. I might multiply instances, but this is doubtless sufficient.

The orders of the Court at Madrid are not always laws in their colonies, for every now and then the most imperative commands come out from Spain which are refused obedience to at Manilla, where it is openly asserted that the home government gives orders in favour of importunate suitors, without the least expectation that they will be acted upon by those to whom they are addressed; granting them, in fact, merely to get rid of troublesome people who might annoy them at home if their demands were refused. [55]


People are generally seen to most advantage in their own houses; and nowhere, I think, does any one appear to play the host better than an average specimen of a Spanish gentleman under his own roof.

Notwithstanding a great deal of ceremony and the customary exaggerated polite expressions used to every stranger, there is so much innate hospitality in the national character that it is not to be mistaken, and is perhaps one of their best and greatest virtues as individuals.

The modes of expression usual on occasions such as that of a first visit to a house appear rather strange to any one born under a colder sun than that of old Castile, and the first time that [56]one is told, on taking leave of his host at a place he has been visiting for the first time, that the house, and every thing and person in it, are his, or at his disposal, he is apt to be puzzled by the exaggeration of the speech which contains such an unlimited offer, should he be ignorant that it is quite a usual expression. Of course it means nothing more than were any one to say or subscribe himself in English, “I am your obedient servant,” which he may be very far from feeling, and may be constantly in the habit of using to his inferiors, and even to people paid or employed by himself.

Some years ago an eccentric man, when this expression was used to him, was known occasionally to interpret the words in their literal sense, and in more than one instance he had the credit of having adroitly made his court to a lady in that manner. He would watch for an opportunity, or give a turn to the conversation, which would afford him a chance of expressing admiration of some ornament she wore at the time, when the fair owner would, as a matter of course, say that it was at his disposal. Much to her surprise, the offer would be accepted, and the swain would walk off with the ornament he had praised. [57]However, next day he always returned it in person; and to soothe her irritation, which must have been excited by such conduct, he took the opportunity of presenting her with some other ornament, or complimentary gift of some description. This, if done as an atonement and peace-offering, would probably be accepted, and the way was paved for an entrance into her good graces, which he might have been quite unable to obtain by any more direct means.

Frankness or openness of manner is considered by the Spaniards to be the most desirable point of good breeding; and when any one possesses that quality, he is pretty sure to be well received by them.

It is the custom at Manilla for any respectably-dressed European passing by a house where music and dancing are going on, to be permitted to join the party, although he may be a perfect stranger to every one there; and should any one do so, after having made his bow to the master of the house, and said some words, of course about the liberty he was taking, and his fondness for music and dancing, &c., he is always welcomed by him, and is at perfect liberty to ask any lady present to dance; nor is she likely to refuse [58]him, as her doing so would scarcely be considered well bred.

This degree of freedom is not, however, at all times acted on in the houses of the natives of Spain, or of any European foreigners, as any one going so unceremoniously into these might not meet with so cordial a reception as he would do from the rich Mestizos, who, when they give such fêtes on feast days, are in general well pleased to receive Europeans, although perfect strangers, in their houses.

These very free and unceremonious manners, among people who have such a reputation for the love of ceremony in all forms, are strange enough, for the same custom prevails in Spain, although to a more limited extent.

Some years ago a British merchant, resident at Manilla, was very much blamed by his countrymen for not conforming to the customs of the country in this respect. He broke through them in this manner;—

After the China war, a part of the expedition visited Manilla, including some of the principal officers both of the army and navy, who had just been so gallantly distinguishing themselves in that country. On their arrival at Manilla, the [59]houses of their countrymen to whom they went provided with introductions were in a great measure thrown open to them; and of course, as their hospitable entertainers wished to show them something of the people and the place, a good deal of gaiety was got up to amuse them. Among others the gentleman in question gave a ball to General Lord Saltoun and the Admiral, including, of course, most of the other officers of the expedition. The party was a large one, and included nearly all the British residents there, together with his Spanish acquaintances.

Hearing the sounds of music and dancing in the street, a stranger entered the house and walked up stairs; and unperceived, I believe, by the landlord, entered the ball-room, where he engaged a Spanish lady to dance,—the girl whom he asked chancing to be the daughter of a military officer of rank, and a particular friend of the giver of the party. On leading her up to her place, the stranger was remarked, and recognised by some one present, who asked his host if he knew who the person was; but he, on looking at him, merely said that he did not, and was passing on without more notice or thought about him. [60]Just at the moment, some one wishing to quiz him, said to the host, who was a man of hasty temper and feelings,—“So, D——, you have got my tailor to meet your guests,” pointing, at the same time, towards the stranger whom he had just been observing.

Of course, Mr. D—— was angry at the liberty taken by such a person in joining his party, and probably afraid of the laugh it would give rise to; for he walked up to the tailor, and asked him in a most angry manner by whose invitation he came there, and then, without waiting for any reply, catching his coat-collar, walked with him to the top of the stairs, and kicked him down. The man complained to the governor, and the consequence was that Mr. D—— was fined a considerable amount, and for some time banished to a place at a short distance from Manilla, which he was forbidden to enter. As he was a merchant, and of course had his business to attend to, this was a most severe punishment, which, by the influence of the Consul, however, was subsequently rescinded, and he was allowed to return to town.

In giving entertainments in honour of their [61]saints, great sums of money are frequently spent by the richer class of Mestizos and Indians, every one appearing to vie with his neighbour, as to who shall be most splendid in his saint’s honour; and even among nearly the whole of the poor people there is always some little extravagance gone into on these occasions: some time previous to the feast taking place, part of their earnings are carefully set apart for the feast-night’s enjoyment.

At many of their fiestas, besides the devotional exercises, there is a great deal of amusement going on, the Mestiza girls being frequently good-looking, and nearly all of them addicted to dancing; many of them are passionately fond of waltzes, and dance them remarkably well—better, I think, than any women I have elsewhere seen in a private room.

Their dress, which is well adapted to the climate, is, when worn by a good-looking girl, particularly neat.

It consists of a little shirt, generally made of piña cloth, with wide short sleeves: it is worn loose, and, quite unbound to the figure in any way, reaches to the waist, round which the saya or petticoat is girt, it being generally [62]made of silk, checked or striped, of gay colours, of husè cloth, or of cotton cloth. Within doors, these compose their dress, no stockings being worn, but their well-formed feet, inserted in slight slippers without heels, and embroidered with gold and silver lace, lose nothing in beauty from the want of them.

Out of doors, another piece of dress called the sapiz, composed of dark blue silk or cotton cloth, slightly striped with narrow white stripes, is usually worn over the saya.

No bonnets or hats of any sort are worn by them, their long and beautiful hair being considered a sufficient protection to the head, which they arrange in something like the European fashion, it being fastened by a comb, or some gold ornament in a knot at the back of the head.

On going out of doors, a handkerchief is often thrown over the head, should the sun be strong, or an umbrella or parasol is carried as a protection against it.

A similar dress, made of coarser and cheaper materials, is the usual costume of all the native women.

The men, both native and Mestizo, wear trousers fastened round the waist by a cord or tape, [63]the fabric being sometimes silk of country manufacture, for their gala dresses, or of cotton cloth striped and coloured, for every-day use.

The shirt, which is worn outside the trousers, that is to say, the tails hanging loose above the trousers, and reaching to just below the hips, is generally made of piña cloth, or, among the poorest people, of blue or white cotton cloth. When of piña cloth, the pattern is generally of blue or other coloured stripes with flowers, &c. worked on them, and it is a very handsome and gay piece of dress. When worn outside the trousers, it is much cooler than when stuffed into them in the European manner. A hat and slippers, or sandals of native manufacture, complete their dress, and the only difference of costume between the rich and poor consists in the greater or less value of the materials which compose it. No coat or jacket is worn, but many of the men, and nearly all the women, wear a rosary of beads or gold round their necks; and frequently a gold cross, suspended by a chain of the same metal, rests between the bosoms of the fair. Many of them also wear charms, which having been blessed by the priest, are supposed to be faithful guardians, and to preserve the wearer from all evil. [64]


The honours paid to the saints by the celebration of their feast-days are nearly altogether practised by the Mestizo and Indian population, the richer or upper classes of Spaniards being for the most part too careless on such occasions, except when their turn comes to dance at the fêtes, or to eat the supper set out by their Mestizo neighbours on these anniversaries; and certainly, if their piety be judged by the alacrity usually displayed on such occasions, they will stand very forward in the race out of purgatory. For, strange to say, the modern Spaniards—at least those who come to the Philippines—are as little superstitious or priest-ridden as the people of any nation in Europe. Probably this is a symptom [65]of their return to a more moderate degree of faith than they used to evince prior to the French Revolution, which has altered the tone of opinion and manners throughout the world. And after the severity and rigid observance of all the church high-days and holydays formerly prevalent among them, the tide of opinion appears to have run into the opposite extreme.

I have frequently been astonished at discovering the extent to which infidel notions are current among my Spanish acquaintances; their prevailing opinions on the subject being, that the priests and some of the tenets of the Catholic church are behind the age, and as such, are to some extent unworthy of the serious attention of well-informed people of the present day, and that those things are only suitable for women and children. Es cosa de mugeres, is the usual expression, should the subject be mentioned; and as regards the priests, the laity very generally fancy that they must be watched carefully, as they are certain to assume importance should an opportunity offer for thrusting their noses into any affair they can, military or civil—it matters not which to these ambitious men.

Among the native population, however, high [66]church opinions, or a notion that virtue is inherent in the walls of the church and the priestly office, is very common, so that whatever the padre says is looked upon as indisputable by them. But I cannot say that any rational systems of religion, or feelings not associated so much with the padre’s office and dress, and with the stone and lime of the church, as with the more pure and immaterial subjects of religious belief, exist among them, or influence their conduct. Frequently one sees instances of this, which place their feelings in the grossest and worst light. For example, the first act of a courtesan in the morning is generally to repair to the church, and after, as a matter of course, having said her prayers, to pass the time in any species of debauchery or immorality her lovers may wish. I state this fact, to give some idea of the extent of superstition and of priestly influence over their conduct, which shows how powerfully mere habits and custom may influence our manners without improving our minds, when we are brought up in a formal routine of habits of respect for we don’t know well what; for they have no further acquaintance with the principles of religious belief than the habit of crossing [67]themselves before figures of the Virgin and the crucifixion.

For even these women, infamous though they be, seldom omit the observance of such practices, and are in general as punctual in repeating diurnally the formal prayer which has been taught them in childhood, as any Christian can be, whenever the hour of oraçion is come, which is notified to all the population by the tolling of the church bells.

However, Manilla appears not to be quite singular as to these matters; for it has been frequently stated by visitors to the states of the Church, that nine months after the great religious festival of the Carnival there, a much greater number of illegitimate children are born than during other seasons of the year.

This statement, which I have seen mentioned as a statistical fact, is probably attributable to the idleness of the people, ignorant and uninstructed as to any higher devotional feelings than those which custom teaches; although, doubtless, religious admonition, having a tendency to unloose the mind, and withdraw it from its customary objects of interest, may induce these softer emotions, and among people in whom the animal [68]passions preponderate over those of the mind, or of a spiritual nature, may frequently lead to conduct of this loose description.

Perhaps, also, the sense of satisfaction after having gone through the ceremony of attending church, and of having performed the humble duty which all are taught to practise there, disposes the people to this license, for they carry away no new idea with them from the sacred house. The formal exercise there being gone through by rote, without exciting new feelings, or touching new chords in their hearts, may cause them to break away from strictness, and give a rein to their passions after the exercise of their religious duties.

The Indians are people who, being bred up with a regard to observances which retain no hold over their minds—at least, over the reason which God has endowed them with—in order to judge for themselves, think religious observances derive their importance only from custom; but having been trained up with little regard to the sterner and self-denying mental duties or instruction usually held up to our admiration in Britain and other Protestant countries, they can scarcely be expected to practise them. In addition to [69]this, the heat of the climate probably disposes them this way; as in all countries where the dolce far niente is most agreeable to them, or is generally practised by the inhabitants, those feelings are likely to prevail in a greater degree than where active habits are more congenial to the people and the temperature of the climate. [70]


The habits of the Spanish residents at Manilla are exceedingly indolent. As persons in the government service form the great proportion of the white population, a sketch of the habits of one of them may not be uninteresting;—say those of an average officer of the Hacienda, for instance. He usually gets out of bed about six, or a little after, to enjoy the cool air of the morning, and sip his chocolate, with the aid of broas, without which he could scarcely manage to get through the day; he then dresses, and drives to his office, where he remains till twelve o’clock, which hour finishes his official duties for the day. While in his office the nature of his work is not very arduous, and does not appear to [71]call into play any powers of the mind, as it appears to consist only in his remaining for about four hours in a cool and large room, generally seated at a table or desk, overlooking a number of native writers, occupied in making out and filling up forms which are required by the existing regulations for the government service. The Spaniard, however, has nothing to do with all that, only occasionally exerting himself so far as to sign his name, or merely to dash his rubrica, without taking the trouble to sign his name, to the papers presented to him by these native copyists; and should you enter his office, he generally appears to be just awaking from a nap, as he opens his eyes, and rouses himself to salute a visitor.

At noon the public offices are closed, and he drives home to dine about one or two o’clock, after which he generally sleeps till about five, for nearly all of the Spanish residents take a long siesta. About that time of the day, however, he is awakened to dress and prepare for the paseo on the Calyada, and for the tertulia after it, at the house of some acquaintance; or if he should by any chance happen to be without acquaintance, to saunter through the Chinamen’s shops, admiring walking-canes, cravats, or waistcoat-pieces; and [72]while so engaged, he is pretty sure to meet some companion for a gossip, or other amusement. After this he sets off to sup at home, and to sleep till another day comes round, when the same routine must be gone through.

It would be hard to conjecture a mode of passing or sauntering through life with less apparent object than many of them have. Books are scarce and expensive, and are in little demand by most of the residents, even if they were worth reading, and cheaper, and more procurable than they now are; the library—if the term may be applied to their collection—of such people, generally only comprising one or two plays, and perhaps a novel—sometimes also Don Quixote’s adventures, which, with a volume of poetry, is about the average amount of learning and amusement on their book-shelves. But should the owner be a military man, he probably has, in addition to these, some Spanish standard book, equivalent to our “Dundas’s Principles,” or “Regulations for the Cavalry.”

Smoking, sleeping, and eating, are the labours of their days, and in all of these they are adepts. Their prevalent taste, however, as regards cookery, is not suitable to a British palate, as the [73]favourite accompaniment of garlic is commonly used in such a quantity by their cooks, that they are very apt to spoil a dinner for a foreigner’s eating, unless they are checked or cautioned with regard to the use of it.

Their usual drink is wine of different kinds, which they take out of a glass or tumbler, as we would beer or water: the quantity consumed is moderate enough, about a pint being a usual allowance—and that is frequently mixed with about an equal quantity of water. Sherry, claret, priorato, pajarete, manzanilla, malaga, and muscatel, are the sorts most in request, all of them being of ordinary quality, to the taste of any one accustomed to drink good wine at home, from which the wines procurable here are as different as possible, and especially the sherry. But in that resides a mystery known best to the wine-merchants, who doctor up the wine consumed in Great Britain to suit the taste of those who buy it from them. Strange to say, even to this, a Spanish colony, there is not sent out a single pipe of wine, such as any one accustomed to drink the British composition would call good sherry.

Claret, or vino tinto, is very generally used in [74]preference to tea or coffee at breakfast, but at that early time of the day it is mixed with a large proportion of water. This meal, however, is not a general one in the Philippines, as the custom of taking chocolate in the morning destroys all appetite for it, and the early dinner hour of the Spaniards in general, does not render it essential.

The want of interesting occupation, and the heat of the sun, preventing out-of-door exercise during the day, has doubtless originated these indolent customs, which have given rise to many bad habits, and the low scale of morality prevailing among them.

A large proportion of them being bachelors, are in the habit of selecting a mistress as a companion with whom they may forget the dullness, and shake off the apathy of their aimless existence; a very large proportion, in fact, nearly all of them, being in the habit of choosing such a household companion from among the Creole, Mestiza, or native girls, but generally from the last two races.

The native girls have the reputation of proving more faithful to their lovers than the other two, as they look upon such a connection in the light of a marriage, and consider themselves guilty of [75]no immorality during its continuance. When a native beauty forms such a connection with a white man, her relations do not sunder all the former ties existing between her and them, by casting her off, but on the contrary are, as frequently as not, highly pleased at it, viewing the affair in the light of a fortunate marriage for her.

These feelings, however, are not universal, for some of the richer class of Indians would be highly displeased with a female relation forming such a connection.

Among the Indians themselves this arrangement frequently takes place, as very many of the poorest people are unable to save money enough to pay their marriage fees, and in the event of a couple living together without having had the ceremony performed previously, they regard themselves, and are considered by their neighbours, as not the less man and wife. As an instance of the extent to which this prevails among them, I may mention a circumstance which struck me much at the time:—

Being near the cathedral at Manilla one evening in April last, I entered an open door of the edifice and wandered into a room attached to it, where [76]several people were in waiting, and among them several women with children to be baptized. I stopped to witness the ceremony, and had the curiosity to look into the register where their names were enrolled; in that book, two of them were described as illegitimate children, and the third was the only one born in matrimony.

Although the custom does not prevail to anything like the extent of two-thirds of the population, still it is a very frequent one, and proves among other things, that the sort of religion prevailing among the people is only that of forms, possessing no sufficient hold over their minds to regulate their conduct.

Compare their religious ideas with those of the old Scottish covenanters, or English puritans, and how different are the effects of faith; but perhaps they are not more dissimilar than the natures of the two races are. For there is no race in the world with all the good qualities of the Celtic breed crossed by the Saxon, and that again by the Norman; for depend upon it, blood tells in every human being—aye, and as much in men as in dogs or horses.

But, unfortunately for ourselves, men pay less attention to the innate qualities and virtues of [77]blood and pedigree, when selecting a mate for themselves, than they do when their dogs or horses are in question, as then no trouble is spared to trace out and scrutinise the qualities of their sires, and to breed only from a good stock.

By pedigree, of course not the worldly station of men is meant, but the history of their lives and reputations, as good and useful men of their time. Of necessity both parents affect the character of their offspring, and so we frequently see a great and good man leaving behind him none in his family capable of supplying his place. Now, how is this? Why, it comes from the mistake he has made in selecting his mate, for if he had been more cautious in that respect the produce would have been equal to the promise.

How often do we see wise men with silly wives and tall men with short wives. The only wonder is, that the offspring of such couples are not worse than they are. [78]


The intercourse between the Spaniards and many of the foreigners residing at Manilla is not very great, as the British here, as everywhere else, appear to prefer associating with their own countrymen to frequenting the houses of their Spanish friends, even although quite sure of a cordial reception there. The time for visiting is in the evening, when there are numbers of impromptu conversaziones—or tertulias, as they are called—of which the Dons are very fond, and in which very many of their evenings are passed.

Any one having a few Spanish acquaintances is pretty sure to number among them some persons who, from their own character, or that of some member of their family, such as a pretty [79]and pleasant wife, or a handsome daughter, has generally many visitors at his house, perhaps six, ten, or a dozen of an evening, who call there without any preconcerted plan, and sit down to play a round game at cards or gossip with each other for an hour. Should there be ladies of the party, music and dancing are probably the amusements for an hour or two; you may, of course, escape and go on to the house of some one else should the party turn out to be dull, which, however, is very seldom the case when Spaniards are the company, as every one appears to exert himself to amuse and be amused to the best of his power.

The time for evening visits is any time after seven o’clock, for till about that hour nearly all the white population are enjoying the cool air on the Calyada, or on some of the other drives, all of which are crowded with carriages from about half-past five till that time of the evening.

Some of these equipages are handsome enough, and are almost universally horsed by a pair of the country ponies, there being only one or two people who turn out with a pair of Sydney horses, and very few who drive a single-horse vehicle, [80]although it is met with now and then. The only persons allowed to drive four horses in their carriages are the Governor and the Archbishop: this regulation is frequently grumbled at by the Spanish Jehus, and one gentleman, the colonel of a regiment, having applied to the government for permission to indulge his taste in this respect by driving a four-in-hand, was refused it, so he had to content himself with turning out with only three in his drag. With that number of quadrupeds, however, he did a good deal to frighten and amuse the world, apparently wishing to break his neck, in which he very nearly succeeded on more than one occasion; Spanish accomplishments in driving being by no means equal to those general at home.

A young Spaniard who fills an important office connected with the commerce of Manilla, a situation he is said to owe more to the frailty of his mother, a fair lady at the court of the late King of Spain, whom he exactly resembles in appearance, temper, and manners, than to any qualifications especially pointing him out for the post, used frequently to assert his royal blood by turning out a neat barouche and pair, accompanied [81]by two outriders, and certainly he looked much smarter and better appointed than either of the authorities driving four horses.

The expense of keeping horses is very small, so that nearly all, except the very poorest people, keep carriages, which in that climate are considered more as necessaries of life than as luxuries, and to a certain extent really are so; for the sun most effectually prevents Europeans walking to any distance during the heat of the day, and should any one attempt doing so, a month of it is about time enough seriously to injure or perhaps to kill him. About sunset everybody is most glad to escape from the impure air of the town and the crowded narrow streets, to inhale the fresh breeze from the bay on the Calyada, which is the most frequented drive.

Formerly all the ladies turned out to drive without bonnets or coverings of any sort on the head, but bowled along, seated in open carriages, in about the same style of evening dress they would appear in at a tertulia or the theatre, or, in fact, at a ball-room. They were in the habit of spreading a sort of gum, which washed easily off, over the hair after it had been dressed, in order to keep out the dust, &c.; but within the last [82]two years several bonnets have made their appearance in the carriages at the drive, and I fear their general use will supersede the former fashion, which from its simplicity allowed their most striking beauties of eyes, hair, &c., to be seen in a most charming manner.

Many of the Creole girls have very handsome countenances, and there are not a few who would be remarked upon as fine women by the side of any European beauty: but they are generally seen to most advantage in the evening, as their chief attraction does not consist in freshness of complexion so much as in fine features, which are often full of character and lighted up by eyes as brilliant as they are soft. Their figures are good, and their feet and ankles quite unexceptionable, being generally very much more neatly turned than those of my handsomest countrywomen.

As dress is a study which has a good deal of their attention, they appear to understand it pretty well, but show a marked fondness for gay colours, as no doubt their pale complexions require their aid more than when ruddy health is upon their cheeks. In the forenoon the skin of a Creole or Spanish beauty appears to be rather too pale to please the general taste; and sometimes [83]their colour degenerates into sallowness, which I fancy may proceed from their fondness for chocolate, that being very largely consumed by all of them. This, and the want of exercise, communicated a somewhat bilious look to their appearance.

Many ladies, especially those from the northern provinces of Spain, have sometimes the beautiful white skins and the ruddy freshness of complexion so much admired in my countrywomen; but, unfortunately, that colour is not very lasting, as the first season they pass in the Philippines is generally sufficient to blanch their bloom, but it is very often succeeded by a soft and delicate-looking paleness, which is perhaps not a whit less dangerous to amatory bachelors than the more brilliant colours which preceded it.

Although lively and talkative enough, Spanish women seldom shine in conversation, which perhaps is more owing to the narrow and defective education they too often have in youth than to any natural want of the quickness and tact to talk well.

Their manners are peculiarly soft and pleasing, and their lively ingenuousness is extremely seductive. [84]Their accomplished management of the fan has made it peculiarly their own weapon, and it has been converted into an important auxiliary to their natural good looks, both in attack and defence. There are few things more striking to a stranger than to see the ladies use it at the casino, when a number of them are together, and while there is no want of men to admire the graceful movement of the hand. Mere children are constantly seen using it. It is a ludicrous thing to watch one of these little creatures going through a set of flirting motions with a fan, should you look at her, copying no doubt the motions or play with it from those of some grown-up sister or gay mamma.

Foreign ladies seldom or never attain the same degree of dexterity and ease in the use of their fans, the climate they were born in not requiring that it should be placed in their hands at an early age.

The dress of Spanish ladies is becoming every day more like the French modes, although some elderly people still continue to use the country dress, which, from its coolness, is much more comfortable than the European habit; but it is [85]rapidly going out, and young Spanish ladies never appear to wear it, as formerly they frequently did, within doors and in the country.

The mantilla is very rarely seen, except perhaps in the morning, when some fair penitent goes or returns from one of the churches, all of which are thrown open at a very early hour in the morning, at or before daylight, to give the people an opportunity of going there unostentatiously and unnoticed, to say their prayers and get home again before any one, but those on an errand similar to their own, is likely to meet them in the streets.

Nearly all the women, after reaching thirty years of age, get stout or fall off in flesh and become very thin, for there apparently is very little medium between the two degrees, as nearly all the old women one sees are either very fat or very thin. Of the two sorts the fat retain their good looks the longest; for after attaining a certain age, the thin women are seldom anything but atrociously ugly, probably caused by the climate more than anything else, as those Europeans who enjoy good health at Manilla appear to become stout in that climate, while those who [86]get thin seldom appear to be well, and are unable to stand a lengthened residence there.

In youth, however, their natural elasticity of character prevents delicate girls getting sick, if moderate care be taken of them, and they are generally rather more slender figures than English girls, until reaching about twenty-five, when they begin to get fat or to become thin; at that age they look very matronly.

Apropos des dames. Even in these degenerate days, Spanish blood is as hot and Castilian gentlemen are as gallant as any of those of former times. Not long ago the following circumstance happened at the casino:—Don Camilo de T——, a natural son of the late King of Spain, after dancing with a female acquaintance, rejoined a group of acquaintances, who were standing together in a knot, criticising the appearance of their several fair friends, when just as he joined them some one happened to say to another that the lady he had just been dancing with appeared to have padded her bosom. On hearing this, Don Camilo took the speaker rather by surprise, by calling out “It is a lie,” in a tone loud enough to be heard by all near him, and by saying [87]that as he had just been dancing with that lady, he knew that it was not so, and must resent the remark as a personal affront. A duel took place in consequence, in which the gallant was wounded in the sword arm, which, by letting out a little of his hot blood, may probably prevent a recurrence of such extreme devotion to his fair acquaintances. [88]


As a body, such Spanish gentlemen as I have been acquainted with, appeared to be quite as remarkable for good breeding as they usually have the credit of being. They generally have a great appearance of candour or frankness of manner, which, although it is for the most part more studied than natural, is prepossessing, and makes them pleasant companions.

Here, however, I am afraid my praise must stop, because I have seen among a great number of them a good deal of dissimulation, or, to speak more plainly, of bad faith,—with regard to which their modes of thinking are very different from those prevailing at home; and among their mercantile people especially, they often appear to [89]imitate, or unconsciously to act upon a smart Yankee trader’s modes of getting the best of a bargain, being very frequently rather too unscrupulous in their representations, when it appears to them that it is for their interest to be so.

To give an idea of their opinions about the subject of buying and selling, I will tell the reader a story. A lad, the son of a high government officer, sold an unsound horse to a companion as a sound one, which, on being discovered by the purchaser, of course made him very indignant, and he demanded his money back, complaining at the same time to the boy’s father, who passes for a person of high character and good sense, about the scurvy trick his son had played him. “Well,” said this respectable old gentleman, “I am glad to see that the lad is so sharp; for, if he could get the better of you so well, he will make a capital merchant, and be able to cheat the Chinamen!”

Without exaggeration this is a good deal the system on which the Spaniards carry on business. They always appear to be trying to take advantage of a purchaser, and if successful have very complaisant consciences; but should they themselves be taken in, or have the worst of a bargain, their virtuous horror and indignation on discovering it [90]know no bounds. There is very little, or almost none, of that mutual confidence existing between them which exists between British merchants, and which is so necessary in large transactions, or in carrying on an extensive business, as they do.

The large number of government empleados residing at Manilla makes an important addition to the society of the place, as, from being idle men to a great extent, they seek how to amuse and be amused, and are cultivators of the society of the English, whose dinner tables are probably the chief causes of the intercourse which exists between them.

The entire white population in Manilla amounts to about 5,000, a large proportion of them being officers, sergeants, and corporals of the troops stationed either within the town, or in the immediate vicinity.

All the officers are not, however, persons of European descent, as occasionally a black may be seen in an officer’s uniform, and very frequently is to be found wearing a sergeant’s or corporal’s coat. But the natives promoted to the rank of commissioned officers are not many, and on the whole it is probably better for the army that few of them should be so, as were it a common occurrence, [91]or were they allowed to rise to high rank, or to occupy important places, beyond a doubt the morale of the troops would suffer; for when those men do rise from the ranks, they are not considered on an equality by their European brother officers, nor in fact do they consider themselves to be so, and have little or no intercourse with them, beyond the routine of their military duties.

The appearance of the troops is good on the whole; but they appeared to me to be wanting in precision of movement, being by no means equal or similar to some of our best Sepoy soldiers. It is clear that frequently they have not been precisely drilled into all their attempted evolutions. The men, as individuals, are well and powerfully formed, although they are rather deficient in stature and soldierly appearance; they are naturally bold, and when lately tried against the Sooloos, evinced no want of resolution to follow, when their officers would lead them on. I have seen several of them suffer death with an admirable and even heroic composure, such as any man might envy when his last hour comes. It is not an unfrequent thing to see soldiers shot at Manilla for some misdemeanours, [92]and I have not heard of one of them dying a poltroon; certainly, all those I have ever seen suffer, met their doom with the utmost calmness.

The cavalry force, for the purposes of actual conflict, is about the most inefficient branch of the military establishment, being mounted on the ponies of the country, which stand on an average about twelve hands. But as irregulars they might be of some use. It always appeared to me that a single well-mounted squadron of our heavy dragoons could, without any difficulty, ride down the entire regiment. The Government is aware of the inactive state of the horses, their attention having been called thereto by my friend Captain de la O——, an officer of the force, who, in conjunction with the colonel of the regiment, has for some time past been occupied in investigations, and in preparing estimates of the probable expense of an attempt to improve the breed of horses by crossing them with Arab stallions, which it has for some time been in contemplation to send for to cover the country mares.

It would probably be necessary for Government, in order to accomplish this successfully, to adopt a plan similar to that followed at the East India Company’s breeding stables in Bengal, and should [93]the project be followed out and properly managed, there can be no doubt but that it will be of the most essential importance to the government service, and a boon to the country.

The horses of the Philippines are small, but for their inches uncommonly powerful, and sometimes fast. They do not appear to have any distinguishing peculiarity, except perhaps that the head of most of them is rather too large, and very rarely indeed is that feature quite perfect in any of the horses one meets with. At Manilla, and for a considerable distance round it, no mares are allowed to be used, which secures a higher and better looking horse in the neighbourhood of the capital than is met with in the interior of the country; none of them are geldings, and of course they are stronger and more playful in consequence.

But to return to the service and the officers of it whom one meets in society. They are not fond of being sent to the colony, and although with about double the amount of pay they would receive at home, most of them would infinitely prefer remaining in Spain.

After a term of service abroad they get a step in rank, which appears to be the main attraction [94]to those who come to Manilla. Many of them are not very well educated men, and are therefore rather inferior to my countrymen of the same profession in that respect.

A considerable proportion of them, perhaps an equal ratio to those of our army, are gentlemen, or persons of good birth and family connections. They are in general, however, poor, or at all events not over burdened with the good things of this life, and like soldiers of all nations and times, some of them have a certain notoriety for outrunning the constable, or for spending all that they can, which is generally merely their pay. Soon after reaching Manilla, I was accidentally thrown a good deal into their society, from chancing to meet with Don Francisco Caro, a pleasant and lively young lieutenant, at the house of my Spanish teacher, where he was as eager to learn English as I was to be able to speak good Spanish. We became intimate, and agreed to visit each other, he to talk in English to me, and I to him in Spanish,—a practice which very soon enabled us to pick up the languages, and saved a world of trouble in getting up tasks for a teacher, whom we were soon able to do without. The fact of my going frequently to his house, [95]and taking part in the conversation of himself and the many friends with whom he made me acquainted, gave me a considerable facility in talking the language, from having gained a knowledge of it in this way in place of from a pedantic teacher, whose purisms were quite thrown away on one whose wish it was to speak it fluently, although it might be at some sacrifice of elegance.

Here let me record my regret at the manner in which this old companion and friend met his untimely fate, which is not the less regretted because it proceeded from his own strong sense of duty and habitual gallantry of spirit—for this poor fellow was a true Spaniard in all his best qualities. Having been ordered into the provinces with a detachment on the very disagreeable service of hunting up a band of tulisanes, or robbers, the necessary exposure to the sun on such an expedition operated so severely on his constitution as to produce a very high fever; yet even in this state he would not succumb to it, but persisted in marching for several days at the head of his men, although they, on perceiving his condition, had several times endeavoured to persuade him to make use of a litter which they had framed for the [96]purpose, and wished to carry him in. But he would not remain in it even when they almost forced him to use it, and would take no repose until after having accomplished his duty. In this he was successful, as he surprised and destroyed the robber band,—but the effort cost him his life, for he died solely from the effects of the unnatural exertion which he had undergone while the fever was raging within him.

Your many amiable and good qualities yet live, Francisco, in the fond memories of former friends, although you are no longer among them; and your heroic death, while it chastens grief, has added another memento, and a laurel leaf to the wreath your brave Castilian ancestors left behind them, bequeathed to the care of one who knew so well how to value and protect it, and to add to its honour. [97]


The Church is under the regulation of an Archbishop and four Bishops. The present Archbishop of Manilla, whose reputation for piety and good feeling towards all men stands very high, is an old soldier, who, after serving his king when a young man as lieutenant of cavalry for several years, changed his master, and assuming the habit of a priest, devoted himself to religion for the remainder of his life.

There are about 500 parochial curacies throughout the islands under him in the four bishoprics, 167 of the curacies being situated in his own see; and several literary, charitable, and pious institutions at Manilla look up to him as their patron and head; among others may be mentioned the [98]University of Santo Tomas, having chairs for students of Latin, logic, metaphysics, moral philosophy, canon law, theology, &c.

As a body, the ministers of religion in the Philippines are not apparently so well educated a class as those of Great Britain, even in the education of the schools, and are possessed of less general information, of course, from the want of any periodical literature equal to that which we have, from whose sources much of the information, and some of the apparent learning of my countrymen are derived, at little cost of time or expense.

However, many of the Spanish padres are men of general and varied attainments, such as would adorn any church or station in life; but the greater number of them can scarcely claim so much, as, although they are all respectably educated, their attention for many years of their life has been directed chiefly to the prosecution of such studies as would influence their advancement in the Church, such as the canon law, church history, theology, &c., on a knowledge of which their consideration for accomplishments among themselves principally depends, I believe.

Most of the priests I have been in contact with, [99]appeared to be thoroughly convinced of, and faithful to their religion in its purity; and as a body, appear to be about as sincere and pious a class as clergymen at home.

Occasionally, however, you meet with startling exceptions to this rule, which astonish any one accustomed to see the high regard to outward decency observed by the same cloth at home; for instance, it would be considered most reprehensible at home, for any clergyman to keep a mistress; and if the fact became known, would occasion his instant dismissal from his cure, and his expulsion from the Church.

This is not so, however, in the Philippines, and may be seen at any time, especially among the Mestizo and native Indian priests, whose education is worse, and their ideas of religion much more vague, incorrect, and superstitious than those of the Spaniards; and sometimes, in the country parishes, an Indian or Mestizo padre is found openly living in the convento or parsonage-house with his mistress and natural children. But frequently, in cases where a sense of decency prevents them doing this openly, one occasionally meets in their houses young half-caste children, who pass for the family of some brother or sister, [100]although these had never any existence, and there is in reality little or no doubt as to the priest himself being their father.

This state of things, however, is not the general state of the Church, although it may but too frequently be met with; and is not considered nearly so reprehensible as it would be, were they at liberty to marry, as Protestant clergymen are. In many cases its existence can scarcely fail to be known to their bishops, by whom however it appears to be winked at; and is not considered by the laity as being particularly scandalous, their notions on the subject being somewhat indefinite.

Within a very short distance of Manilla, I have been in a convento where the priest, his mistress, and family all lived together, the padre being a Mestizo. On the village feast-day, one of the party with whom I was in the country, hired some jugglers who had come down from Bengal to act their wonderful tricks in the theatre at Manilla, and sent them out to Mariquina on the feast-day, there to amuse the people, and to please the padre, as he knew it would do, he being an old acquaintance of his. Accordingly, in the afternoon they exhibited to an immense [101]crowd of natives, just before the open church-door. A platform had been quickly erected for their accommodation, from which they were exhibiting their tricks to the intense astonishment of the Indians, most of whom had never seen anything of the sort before; and in the evening, the padre having asked leave for the jugglers to come to the convento, gave a great party to all the Spaniards, or white men, who were then in the pueblo, in order to watch their tricks more closely than could be done at a public exhibition.

Several Spanish ladies were present, and among them, quite as a matter of course, was the mistress of the priest. One or two of the ladies present were wives of high officials at Manilla, and all of them were persons of the best character and standing, yet they did not appear in the least discomposed by her presence, although none of them paid her any attention, or noticed her as the lady of the house; in fact, she appeared to be regarded by them as a sort of privileged housekeeper more than in any other light, although they were perfectly aware of the irregularity of her life. This may give some idea of their modes of thinking of such affairs, for all of them present perfectly understood the relation in which the [102]spiritual adviser of so large a population as that of Mariquina stood to her.

Both the priest and she were elderly people, and their intercourse has, I understood, been of long standing; and during the course of it several children have been born. But the most wonderful thing appears to be, how such a man could direct the worship of his parishioners, or lay before them the scripture tenets of his and their faith, while openly violating it before their eyes. But the same thing has taken place in Europe not unfrequently, and quite as openly, without exciting excessive scandal in many places.

There is an immense deal more of immorality among the clergy of all denominations and countries than would be believed. Alas, for human nature! [103]


The site of Manilla is low-lying and level, and as the country in the vicinity of the capital is of the same nature, being covered by far stretching paddy fields, it presents few picturesque attractions, in order to enjoy which, and the verdure, freshness, and variety of an undulating landscape, excursions are frequently made to various places at some short distance from the town, and during some period of each year, most of the foreign merchants have latterly got into the plan of renting houses within driving distance, and of spending most of the dry season in them, going and returning frequently, or generally daily, to their counting-houses, so long as the roads are passable. [104]The village of Mariquina, about seven miles from Manilla, is the most favourite place of resort, although the road to it is very bad, but it presents the attractions of very good pure air and water, and a bright landscape. Those persons who are not fond of horse exercise, make use of American light spider-carriages, drawn by a pair of ponies, as that sort of vehicle is found to be the only conveyance capable of standing the ruts and jolting over these country paths, which would to a certainty break the springs of any other description of carriage I have ever seen.

Owing to their great lightness and strength, these spider-carriages are favourite conveyances here, and these qualities render them by much the most suitable description for the country.

In the neighbourhood of Mariquina, the country is in many respects picturesque and fine; a more lovely coup d’œil is seldom seen, than that which may be witnessed from the road at the top of the hill just before beginning the descent leading past the old Jesuit Convent, a partly ruinous building, now known by the name of the Hacienda; from that point, looking down on the valleys which burst on the view at once, especially at the season when they are waving with the ripe [105]and yellow grain, or clothed in a beautiful coat of green,—on the fine river, peacefully winding through them, on the splendid old trees covered with green and luxuriant foliage, which are interspersed and dot the scene, across to the distant hills, clothed in all the glories of a tropical sunset or sunrise, and varied by the many tints of light and shade of brilliant colours, it often is a sight truly worthy of being witnessed for its glowing beauty.

At Mariquina, there is a well, the water of which has the reputation of curing many sorts of disease, more especially those of the skin, and many are the sufferers who visit it in the hope that bathing in the trough into which the spring drops, may cure their ailments. The water is slightly tepid and not disagreeable to drink, being tasteless, and is recommended for diseases of the kidneys and stomach, by the Manilla doctors.

Some miles beyond Mariquina, there is a most curious cave, of great extent, at the village of San Mateo, which is well worthy of a visit by the curious. Shortly after entering it, the height of the cavern rises to about fifty feet, although it varies continually,—so much so, that at some [106]places there is scarcely height enough for a man to sit upright. The formations within are of a singular character, resembling sometimes immense icicles pendant from the roof to within a few feet of the floor, or in some places rising from the ground like ever-growing pyramids, as from the dropping water they are continually increasing. These pillars of stalactite are extremely hard and difficult to splinter, even after repeated blows with a hammer, some of them being beautifully milk white, while others appear rather discoloured from some cause. Several of the columns hanging from the roof may measure about a yard or more in circumference, their forms being sometimes most curious and fantastic, one stalk expanding as it descended, looked not unlike a gigantic leaf springing from its slender arm.

From the main cave there are several openings diverging and leading to chambers similar to the main room, by some openings at the sides of which the dropping water is drained off.

The temperature within the cavern was 77°, and without 86°, being a very considerable change, even in the cool of the evening, on coming out of it, just after sunset. I am afraid [107]to give an estimate as to the extent of this immense cave, it requires, however, five or six hours to partially see its curiosities, and of course would take far more time to investigate it properly. The only living creatures met within it, appear to be bats, which are not very numerous. Should a sportsman visit the place for several days, his gun will generally procure him some venison and wild pig to feast upon, or to present to the village priest, or to forward to his Mariquina or Manilla acquaintances. At Boroboso, also, some distance from Mariquina, he is sure of finding similar game, and in greater quantity than at San Mateo, where it is too much poached.

The great want he will experience is that of trained dogs, those used by the Indians being nearly useless, as after alarming the game by their noise, they can’t hunt it with any thing like spirit. Some few Kangaroo dogs, however, brought from Sydney, have been eagerly purchased by the Indian sportsmen, and are said to be an immense improvement on those of the country, although I have never seen their performances in the field; from their speed and [108]strength, however, they appear more than a match for the deer of the islands, which are small-sized and greatly inferior in strength to those of the Highlands of Scotland.

The race of dogs formerly known as Manilla bloodhounds has become quite extinct, although some descendants of a half-bred progeny still remain, being a cross between them and the street curs. Although they possess some of the fierce and savage qualities of the old hound, it is in a much inferior degree to that of the genuine breed, whose size and appearance was very much finer than any of the mongrels now to be seen.

The old breed were so fierce as to be absolutely unsafe when at liberty, and always required to be chained up. Several years ago two fine dogs of the old breed were procured with considerable trouble, and at some expense sent to England, to a gentleman fond of dogs.

He gave orders to keep them at all times on the chain, during which they behaved so well, that a groom, going out to air a horse one morning, unloosed the chain of one of them, and took him along with him.

The dog remained quiet enough till happening [109]to meet another man, also airing a pair of skittish horses,—the capering of the horses, or something else, roused the brute’s savage nature, and he sprang on one of them like a tiger, fastening on his flank, and sucking his blood so greedily that all the two men could do did not make the savage beast quit his hold, till gorged with the blood of the victim.

The horse was spoiled for ever, or, I believe, died from the hemorrhage, and as he chanced to be a valuable one, which, of course, the owner of the dog had to pay for, he was so disgusted at having to do so, that he made both of them be shot at once, in order to prevent any possibility of the recurrence of such an accident.

The only other dog at Manilla besides the worthless street cur, is a sort of ladies’ poodle, with long and silky white hairs; their fine coats only making them favorites, as they are good for nothing else than women’s pets.

The smaller these are, when full grown, the more they are esteemed; their white hair should be entirely free from any spots of black or brown, these being generally the mark of a mongrel breed. [110]

They are so delicate, that few of them can stand a sea-voyage, and all those I have ever sent away from Manilla, to any distance, have died before reaching their destination. A well-bred dog of this breed of middling size, is about as large as a full grown tom-cat, or a little bigger.

It has always appeared to me a most curious and inexplicable fact, that when good dogs are sent out from home to a hot climate such as this, they invariably are found to deteriorate to an uncommon extent, the heat causing them to lose their spirit, and also their scent. But, in fact, the animal in perfection, or, as he has been truly called at home, “the most intelligent of beasts, and the companion of man,” is only found in some places of Europe to be such.

In all tropical countries he is no longer so, becoming, even should a good breed be introduced there from Europe, very much inferior in a few generations in all respects to what we have him in Great Britain, where they appear to be found in the greatest perfection.

In hot climates the dog has not the same strength or swiftness, nor is he of equal courage, [111]sincerity, and gentleness of character which peculiarly distinguish him from all other animals at home. Among orientals he is no longer treated in the same manner as he is in Europe, nor in fact does his character, as it exists among them, deserve equal kindness to that usually shown this faithful animal in Britain; but in Asia he is driven from their households by the Mohammedans and Hindoos alike, being regarded by them all as useless, and a pest.

In China, he is fattened for the table, and the flesh of dogs is as much liked by them as mutton is by us, being exposed for sale by their butchers and in their cook-shops.

At Canton, I have seen the hind quarters of dogs hanging up in the most prominent parts of their shops exposed for sale.

They are considered in China as a most dainty food, and are consumed by both the rich and the poor.

The breeds common in that country are apparently peculiar to itself, and they are apparently objects of more attention to their owners than elsewhere in Asia, the Celestials perhaps having an eye to their tender haunches, which bad treatment [112]would toughen and spoil. They do not appear to be of greater sagacity than the other tropical breeds, although more bulky and stronger-looking than most of the other sorts I have seen. [113]


All strangers coming to Manilla should endeavour to make an excursion to the great inland lake, or Laguna de Bay, as it is likely well to repay the inconvenience one has to stand in such an excursion from exposure to the sun, &c. The lake is of very considerable extent, measuring, I think, about twenty-eight miles at its greatest length, by about twenty-two at its extreme breadth; it is formed by an amphitheatre of mountains, the various streams from which feed it; and its opening or outlet forms the origin of the river Pasig, which, bathing the walls of the fortress of Santiago and the capital of the Philippines, flows into the arm of the sea called Manilla Bay. [114]

About Christmastide there are many visitors to the lake, as from the then cooler season the necessary exposure to the heat of a midday sun in a slightly-covered boat is comparatively innocuous, and much less disagreeable than it would prove at any other time of the year.

Several foreigners are in the habit of making an annual excursion there from Manilla to spend these holidays, during which there is no other amusement in town than church-going and procession-staring.

Having made arrangements to visit the lake either by starting from Manilla in a large Pasig banca or prow, which although more tedious than driving to the village of Guadaloupe, near Pasig, and then taking the water, is, I think, the better plan of the two, as the river scenery is well worth seeing, and there are no inconveniences such as are inseparable from that of changing conveyances at Guadaloupe, &c. When I started, my companion, who luckily happened to be an experienced man in such affairs, having at different times of his life roamed through the backwoods of Canada, and over the plains of Australia, recommended the water conveyance for the whole distance, as we were not pushed for time; and the excursion [115]turned out to be one of the pleasantest I have ever been engaged in, from the satisfactory nature of his arrangements and his own hilarity and good-natured usefulness; for of course he had not knocked about so much without acquiring some savoir faire, so desirable in a companion during such an excursion.

On Christmas eve we went together to a large dancing party or ball, given by an old and rich Mestizo, at whose house we kept up dancing and enjoying ourselves till about midnight; shortly before which all the men started, in company with the ladies, to the parish church of San Sebastian, there to hear a midnight mass, and welcome in the sacred anniversary by saying our prayers. The spectacle was rather a fine one; and on looking at the devout up-turned features of my fair companion, when kneeling at her devotions, I could scarcely believe that she was the good-natured, lively Mestiza girl I had been flirting with not five minutes before; but after half an hour’s worship, which, to do them justice, was apparently of the most sincere and heartfelt kind, the fair penitents returned to the supper room with a number of the heretics, and afterwards, notwithstanding [116]all their prayers, danced with us, being quite as lively and as full of flirting as before their visit to church. We stopped till about three o’clock in the morning, when, being thoroughly tired of the heated rooms, my companion and I resolved to enter the boat which had been engaged for the occasion, and in which clothes, provender, &c., had previously been embarked, and left under charge of a servant, Fernando, at a landing-place from the river, near the house where we had been invited to pass the evening. Taking the precaution to eat a hearty supper, to keep out the night air, on arriving at the boat, and wrapping ourselves up in our blankets, we both very speedily began to enjoy the rest necessary for next day’s exertions; and having previously secured our crew of five picked men to pull, we were rapidly approaching the Laguna when we awoke, and daylight had just rested on their oars next morning; after breakfast, and a bath in the cool and delicious water of the river above Pasig, we quickly passed by the pateros or villages for breeding ducks, situated among the swamps at the outlets of the lake, and the beginning of the river. [117]

Several of these duck villages can scarcely be said to be situated on terra firma, as many of the nipa or attap-houses are founded on the supporting trunks of trees growing out of the sedgy swamp. The houses have a small lower platform of bamboo on two sides, for a cooking-place and for landing from a boat, below and around being trees or bamboos growing out of the water. Many of these clumps of bamboo, some of which attain a great height, occasionally, perhaps, as much as 150 feet, are from their numbers a peculiar feature in the landscape of the Philippines, and form some of the most beautiful objects of luxuriant vegetation that can be imagined for a landscape. They are found growing wild, very grand and fresh-looking in all parts of the country, and are of many varieties, some of which any one may be acquainted with who takes the trouble to consult the good old Padre Blanco’s book on the flora de Filipiñas.

At the pateros, near the entrance to the Laguna, the people breed large flocks of ducks to supply the Manilla market, to the exclusion of all other employment except, perhaps, catching and drying enough fish to season their rice, which [118]most of them purchase, and very few of them grow. These Indians, although few in number, are to a considerable extent isolated from the people of the country, from what cause I know not, but they very rarely associate or intermarry except with each other. The ducks they breed for the market are well trained, being perfectly obedient to the call of their different masters, and on hearing his signal come quickly sailing back, should they have gone too far away. They get fat on the fish and tender sedgy grass, and when placed on the dinner-table are very good eating.

After entering the lake, which is studded with wooded islets, the largest of which is named Talim, the gun is called into requisition, as the immense flocks of wild duck breeding here afford a constant sport, and the advantages of their acquisition are not likely to be overlooked either by the gourmand or the hungry tourist. They are, however, rather wild, and the best mode of shooting them appears to be to dress in a blue cotton shirt and trousers like an Indian, and paddle off as near the flock as they will permit; and then for a chance among them. If there is more than one person in the grass-boat, which is [119]a very small and unhooded banca, which the natives use for carrying small quantities of grass for horses, &c., the ducks are apt to take the alarm, although I have sometimes been successful in getting near them with an Indian paddling the boat.

Besides the ducks there are several other kinds of wild fowl, and on coasting round the shores of Talim, an alligator basking in the sun, frequently offers a mark for a ball, which, however, seldom proves fatal. I struck one on the scales without producing any apparent damage, the distance being probably about thirty yards, and he merely shook himself a little and tumbled into the water from off the rock he had been sleeping on, without seeming much startled or to be in the least wounded. They are said to reach an immense age, and the most incredible stories are told, and apparently believed, by the natives themselves of their traditional longevity.

On Talim some deer and pigs may now and then be seen, although it is too much frequented and disturbed to be at all a sure cover for them; my companion shot a very beautiful variety of the hawk on the island. After enjoying the [120]hospitality of M. Vidie, an old French planter at Jalajala, we set off in the direction of Tanay, whence we had heard good reports of the game.

During a strong monsoon there is sometimes a heavy swell on the water of the Laguna, and occasionally boats are swamped or upset, so that frequently when we used to go out in our Pasig banca it was against the will of our boatmen; but like true and stubborn Britons, we always insisted upon having our own way, although the boatmen, who certainly knew most about it, used to predict that we should all be swamped to a certainty, but a well-trimmed and moderately well-handled boat can go through any sea, and it is generally from want of care that accidents occur. On one occasion in Manilla Bay, I have been swamped solely from that cause, and the fright of a companion, whose alarm induced the catastrophe by diverting the men’s attention. However, as an American whaler was luckily near and saw our situation, they lowered a whale-boat and picked us up.

At the lake, in stormy weather, we used to go out with two men steering the boat, each with a [121]powerful paddle, and the remainder of the crew managing the sail. Sometimes we got half full of water, which it was the duty of the boy Fernando to bale out, but when he got seasick and tired, we both set to to keep her free. On one occasion of the sort, my chum Adam, taking pity on the forlorn condition of the puking Fernando, recommended to him frequent sips from a bottle of brandy, to keep away the retching; the hint was not thrown away, and the lad lay down in the bottom of the boat, looking as miserable as possible, and quite sick, utterly forgetful or unconscious of the soiled condition of the splendid piña shirt which he wore at the time; although in his hours of ease it commonly attracted a large proportion of his regard and self-complacency. After many sips, apparently, the brandy produced the desired effect, as my follower ceased to project his mouth, every now and then, over the side of the banca, but had sunk into a sound sleep, caused, we imagined, by the exhaustion and lassitude subsequent to sea-sickness; and so he remained till our approaching Tanay, when the sail was lowered, and he roused up and left to bring our luggage up to the Casa Real, or townhouse, [122]where there is always a chamber and bedstead for strangers. For that place we started, leaving him to follow.

After waiting some time impatiently, we were rather surprised to see two of the boatmen marching up with Fernando, who gave tokens of extreme lassitude and unsteadiness of gait, showing at times, when he raised his drooping head, an attempt to shake off his conductors, who were on these little manifestations reinforced by two of their companions, who followed them, bearing our portmanteaus; and at length the procession would move on again. After some difficulty they got him into the Casa Real, where one of the men, spreading a mat upon the floor, laid him down on it, staring wildly about him. After contemplating him for a few seconds, he turned to me, and, inverting the mouth of an empty bottle, to prove satisfactorily that it was empty of the vieux cognac, which was marked on the label, laid it down beside him, saying, “Es muy boracho, Senor, pero es valiente.”

And so resulted the cure of sea-sickness by brandy, of which the lad had taken such a dose as to shake him severely, although a strong young [123]fellow, for several days after it; in fact, we both became afraid of him, and vowed never again to recommend the medicine, except in quantities less than a bottle at a time. [124]


Adam W—— having on a former shooting expedition been at Tanay, had at the time made the acquaintance of some of the townspeople, who had shown him all the attentions in their power; so that soon after our arrival, having dressed and refreshed at the Casa Real, we sallied out together to call on several of his old acquaintances, hoping to obtain from some of them such information and assistance as would help us discovering the whereabouts of a good huntsman and guide, in order that we might avail ourselves of his local knowledge in selecting the best district of the neighbourhood for sport.

On entering the house of the Fiel of Tobacco, we were most hospitably received and warmly [125]invited to take quarters there during our residence in Tanay; and as the offer was much too good to be refused, even had it been less warmly backed by the unequivocal demonstrations of welcome than those which they evinced, it was at once accepted, with not the less good-will because there was only the Casa Real to sleep in had we chosen to refuse it, which assuredly no one who had the fear of bugs, fleas, or musquitoes before his eyes would do, these animals being of the utmost size and activity in every one of the Casas Reales I have ever slept in.

After some conversation with our host, who was rather a fine-looking Spanish Mestizo, as to our plans, &c., he most good-naturedly set off to seek a huntsman whom he recommended as a guide, leaving us in the meantime to the society of his wife—a strapping native beauty, although somewhat swarthy, full of good nature and the gossip of the place. From her, Adam soon learned all about his former acquaintances, and among others of the Capitan Tomas, his buxom wife, and pretty daughter, who we were told was considered the beauty of the town.

After their names had been mentioned with that addition, he got rather impatient all of a [126]sudden for a stroll about the town; so we started together, after paying a visit to our portmanteaus and the still insensible Fernando, at the town-house, where my friend armed himself with a bottle of eau de Cologne, a box of which I found that he carried about with him for distribution among such native beauties as he was ambitious of standing well with, for they were sure to like this perfume, which his experience of the country taught him was seldom procurable in such out-of-the-way places, and to a dead certainty always procured him favour in the eyes of the unsophisticated fair, whom he taught how to use it.

For this it was that he had hinted something about thieves and the state of Fernando, and proposed looking in to see if the portmanteaus were still safe at the Casa Real, so I resolved to be revenged for the double dealing of his proposal upon seeing the top of the Cologne bottle peeping out from his shooting-jacket pocket. I watched a chance, and snatched it away without being noticed, determined that the half-caste beauty whose praises he was so eloquent in during our promenade, should not have him to thank it for at all events.

We reached the house, and were well received [127]by the Capitan, who pressed us to stop with him, and when he found we were engaged, invited us to pass next day with him, which, as the beauty was looking her very best, there was great risk of our doing, in preference to prosecuting our pig-shooting scheme, as had been originally intended. Poor Adam was evidently smitten by her attractions. After talking with these good people for some time, I observed that his attention was engrossed in watching Rita’s movements, when, as the Capitan, his wife, and myself were all standing at an open window, looking at the flowers in his garden, and talking away, and their daughter, occupied in some household duty, was leaving the sala, Adam, who had been watching like a lynx for such an opportunity, seized it on the moment, and managed to slip away from us, and get out of the room after her, in the hopes of being able to snatch a kiss or something of the sort, and to present the scented water, which he had not missed from his pocket, although as he slipped away in all the agitation of pursuit, I saw first one hand and then the other slipped into the pockets of the coat where it should have been; but he was so much engaged [128]in getting out of the room quickly and silently, that he did not miss it. Reaching the open door just as she had gone out, when about two paces beyond it, he popped his head over her shoulder unobserved, and stole a kiss; I heard the smack, then a rustle, and then a titter, during which Adam was searching his pockets for the missing bottle, which of course he did not find there; and when he said something or other about the kiss, he foolishly, in his search for it, told her that he had lost so very desirable a present; upon which, as he afterwards told me, the beauty looked saucy, and very plainly did not believe a word about it, but fancied he had invented the story to excuse the kiss, and pretended to get a little angry with the liberty taken with her blooming cheek; so she walked off, and left him quite at a loss to account for its disappearance.

Before leaving, I took an opportunity of presenting the missing bottle at a time when the owner of it was not by, and fancied, from the blush which gave additional beauty to her cheek as I did so, that with the natural quickness of a woman and a beauty, she had read the stratagem played off on poor Adam; so she frankly offered [129]me the same reward, by presenting her blooming lips to be kissed, even by so very recent an acquaintance.

On making arrangements for a shooting party, it is quite necessary to hire beaters to drive the game, which there would be little chance otherwise of sighting, without undergoing more walking than most people find pleasant under a tropical sun.

Having had the precaution to bring our own saddles with us, some miserable-looking ponies were procured, and started with a guide at an early hour in the morning, along a path formed for the most part, up and down thickly wooded hills, the road being sometimes a dry watercourse, or mountain stream.

However, we got over the ground, passing through a beautiful country, and arrived at the meet after a four hours’ ride, the place appointed being a hut belonging to the huntsman, and surrounded by three paddy fields, which he tilled, with his family, but did not live there, except at planting and reaping time, or for about six weeks of the year, from fear of the tulisanes, who, he said, frequented this wild and uninhabited neighbourhood. This is a frequent effect of the [130]bad police of the Philippines, as much of the country that might be most advantageously cultivated, is abandoned to the jungle, solely from fear of these robbers, who sometimes add to their plundering propensities crimes of a more atrocious dye.

After some good sport with deer and pigs, which constituted the supper of ourselves and all the beaters, night was very welcome, and seldom, indeed, did either of us enjoy repose more than in this hut, although through the holes in the grass walls of it the wind was whistling, and near us the beaters were noisily carousing, miscellaneously, upon sherry, cognac, and beer, it mattered not which to them, for we had presented some bottles of each, in order to celebrate the good day’s sport.

Next morning we heard of a wild cimmarone (or buffalo) having been seen in the neighbourhood some days previously, and endeavoured to find out his whereabouts, but none of the scouts could get a trace of him. Although these splendid animals are occasionally found in the country, they are not very common, and their reputation for savage ferocity is so great, that few of the Indians like to shoot them, because, if merely [131]wounded without being disabled, they are certain to charge the hunter, which is more than Oriental nerves are fond of.

Monkeys chattering in the trees are very common; but I never shot any of them, having, in truth, an antipathy to kill a brute with a shape so nearly human.

Near this end of the lake few Europeans ever go, as it is quite out of the beaten track, which leads them in an opposite direction, to look down the crater of a volcano, generally simmering, but seldom boiling over to such an extent as to spout lava to any distance.

Calamba and Calawan are also places they usually go to see; at the latter of which, there is a cotton-spinning mill, the property of a Mestizo, who dresses like a Spaniard, and no doubt wishes to be considered such. The machinery employed is of Belgian or French make, and of a very simple construction, and far from being equal to the sort now used at home for the purpose; but is considered by its owner to be the only sort that would answer well there, as it can be kept in order, and even, I believe, put into repair on occasion by a native blacksmith, who acts as engineer, which could [132]not, of course, be the case were machinery of a finer and more complex and elaborate construction employed, as that would render a staff of good European workmen essential to keep it in order and good repair, and their pay in this climate, would run away with all the profits of the adventure.

The yarn produced is of the coarser descriptions, and is only saleable to the native weavers of cotton cloth, by the excessive duty put on grey cotton twist of British manufacture, which is 40 per cent. on a high ad valorem valuation if imported by a Spanish ship, and 50 per cent. if by any foreign vessel, amounting virtually to a prohibition on its importation.

At the village of Los Baños, on the shores of the laguna, there are some hot springs, flowing into baths cut out of the natural rock.

The temperature of the water as it issues from the rock is sufficient to boil an egg; but not having a thermometer, we were unable to ascertain it more exactly. As it mixes with the cool water of the laguna, however, the heat decreases, and at sunrise on a cool morning forms just there a very pleasant bath. The baths, from which the place is named, having for long [133]been little frequented by invalids, are now in a semi-ruinous state. In cases of debility they are said to be most beneficial, and the old Manilla doctor, Don Lorenzo Negrao, whose long experience of the country and of the diseases incidental to it is most valuable, in such cases sometimes recommends his patients to try these baths for some peculiar diseases, and once recommended them to me.

The great mistake of our doctors in India is dosing their patients with calomel, which, although necessary in some cases, where it is the only medicine powerful enough to arrest the rapid strides with which disease advances in tropical countries, is too often had recourse to, when simples would be just as effective. And this mistake of theirs is equalled, in bad effects only, by the practice of the Spanish doctors, who will never administer calomel at all, even in the most urgent cases, as they prefer trusting altogether to simple remedies for a cure, and if a patient dies who has had calomel administered to him, do not hesitate to tell the practitioner who gave it that the medicine killed him.

Within the tropics lengthened residence is the most essential qualification in a medical [134]attendant, as although old men may not be so well up to the latest improvements of the science as those fresh from college, yet they have from practice found out the best way of treating tropical diseases, to which the treatment applicable in a London, Edinburgh, or Paris hospital in similar cases, would be quite out of place when practised in so different a climate as the tropics, where the symptoms vary and succeed each other with ten times the rapidity they do in Europe. [135]


Before leaving Manilla on a lengthened country excursion, it is always desirable to procure introductions to the priests of the district you are going to visit, which may be effected with very little difficulty by almost any of your Spanish acquaintances. As although they are in general a most hospitable class of men, and usually invite any respectable looking European whom chance may throw in their way, to sleep at the convento if he be passing the night at their village, yet without an introduction one remains always a stranger to them, and sees nothing of their usual habits or modes of life.

Sometimes their good-nature is put to a trial by the eccentricities of their British guests, and [136]some odd incidents happen. A good story is told of one of the former British merchants of the place, who having taken it into his head to make an excursion, before starting provided himself with letters of recommendation from the Archbishop of Manilla, to whom he paid court by loans of newspapers, addressed to the parish priests, and set off with these in his pocket, finding them of the greatest service in insuring a welcome wherever he went, being described therein in the most favourable colours, by the high church dignitary.

One day, after a long and fatiguing ride, he arrived, about two in the afternoon, in a very ravenous state, at a convent or parsonage. On ascending the stairs of the convento, the first thing which met the eyes of the hungry traveller was a table neatly arranged for the padre’s dinner, who, he was informed by the servants, would be back in about an hour to dine. An hour still—why it seemed to be a century since he had broken his fast; however, he waited for what appeared to a hungry man to be a long time, but in reality was probably ten minutes, when, losing all patience at the non-appearance of the priest, whose house he had so coolly taken possession [137]of, he told the boys to put something to eat on the table, and they, apparently mistaking his meaning, in a trice served up the good priest’s half-cooked dinner, which, without the delay of asking any questions, he proceeded to devour. In a very short space of time he had cleared away the best part of it, and was beginning to relax in his exertions, as the good effects of a hearty meal began to mollify his craving stomach, in fact he was just beginning to attack the last relic of a fat capon, which formed the main battle of the dishes set out before him, when a heavy footstep was heard on the stairs, and in another instant the gaunt figure of the priest himself stood before the empty plates on the dinner table, and the unknown and unexpected guest, whose jaws were at the moment occupied in masticating the last morsel of the fat fowl, which the father had ordered for himself, and looking forward to it had caused him to take a lengthened promenade, in order to promote appetite. Imagine the scene—but whether the good padre’s momentary wrath, and then utter astonishment and indignation, or the guest’s embarrassment, were greatest—or the most ludicrous, it would be hard to determine. For [138]some time they merely looked at each other, without speaking—the priest, probably, because he could not articulate—and his guest, perhaps, because his mouth was full—till the absurdity of the whole affair apparently striking them both at once, they mutually broke out into laughter, the violence of which threatened to convulse them. From this, however, the padre was the first to recover, when the intruder, mastering his muscles, regained his countenance so far as to be able to mutter something in the shape of an apology, in which, probably, the word “starvation” was the only one intelligible; after it had been good-humouredly received, and the priest had welcomed the strange guest, the Archbishop’s letter was produced as his credentials, but not till then. And afterwards they passed the evening together in the old convento, which, as the evening advanced, rang to many a merry laugh and jest about the affair in which both had figured so awkwardly.

The caprices of all the visitors to the country are not, however, so harmless; it is not long since a party of young men, headed by one notorious for his love of fun, and what are called practical jokes, chartered a chatta, or covered cargo boat, [139]of from 25 to 30 tons, and having put two carronades on board of her, set sail for the laguna, and while there amused themselves by bearing down, after nightfall, on the villages and towns on its banks, and bombarding them with the guns, taking care, however, not to do harm or to kill any one, either by not shooting the guns, or if there was a ball in one of them, by aiming it a little over the houses, so as not to damage them. On the noise made by the guns being heard, and the flash seen so close to them in the dark nights, the whole male population of the place would turn out in haste to repel the attack of this supposed band of tulisanes, arming themselves with any sort of weapon, and getting the women and children out of harm’s way by sending them off—and probably an urgent despatch would be forwarded by the gobernadorcillo of the village to the governor of the province, if he lived within some few miles of him, requesting assistance—or detailing the flight of the robbers, who, on seeing the determination and force of the villagers prepared to defend their hearths, had not ventured to attempt landing, but had sailed away without having been able to do any damage to the pueblo. [140]

These midnight bombardments were repeated so frequently as to lead the local authorities to make great efforts to put down the daring troop of robbers who bearded them at their very doors at the town of Santa Cruz, near which the Governor lives, and kept the country people, who had begun to talk about them, in a state of constant alarm.

Notwithstanding all their efforts to discover the hiding-place of the band, nothing could be found out about them, no one ever imagining that the party of gentlemen in the chatta could be at all mixed up with them—in fact, the well-intentioned alcalde of the province, hearing that such a party was visiting the lake, sent off a ministro to give them information about the desperate band of tulisanes who were lurking in the neighbourhood, and advised them to be upon their guard against an attack; for which attention they of course thanked him, and assured the envoy that it was for that reason only they had provided themselves with the two formidable looking pieces of ordnance which he saw in the boat.

They were not found out to have been representing the parts of the supposed tulisanes, till, on their return to Manilla, where people had [141]heard of the disturbances in the province of the Laguna by these robbers, and were talking about it, the story somehow got wind, and, when it was known who had caused so much trouble, of course there was a general laugh at the local authorities.

Lucky enough it was, however, that the affair rested there, as all of the party might have suffered severely for their amusement and fondness for carronading. It only caused the government to increase their strictness in giving passports to the country, which now were only conceded on the pleas of urgent business, or of ill health when that was backed by a medical certificate; the alcalde also became more strict in seeing that all travellers through the province were provided with these documents. [142]


In the course of these excursions to the country, the native Indians, with a stray half-breed, generally of the China Mestizo race, are nearly the only people met with, as few Europeans are settled in the provinces, except in the provincial capitals, or near the alcalde, whose dependents they generally are. Should a stranger be able to speak to the natives in their own language, he has a much better opportunity of becoming acquainted with their character, habits, and feelings, than if he is merely able to speak Spanish, a language which only a very small proportion of them understand in the country, although most of those in the neighbourhood of Manilla can speak it after a fashion. For although [143]the law makes it requisite for the Capitan of every pueblo to be able to speak as well as to read and write Spanish, yet this is not always the case, as I have frequently met with these officials, more especially in out-of-the-way places, who did not understand it.

Nearly the whole, certainly above three-fourths of the population, make use of the Tagala or Tagaloc language, which, so far as I am aware, is quite peculiar to these islands, having little or no similarity to Malayee, so that it does not appear to have been derived from a Malay root, although some few Malay words have been engrafted on it, probably from the circumstance of that language being made use of in the province of Bisayas, which is the only place in the islands where it is spoken.

In Pampanga province, the natives speak a distinct language, differing entirely from Tagaloc, quite as much as Welsh does from English, although many of the Pampangans, on growing up, find it useful to know how to speak the Tagaloc, which most of them understand a little of.

The Negritos, who are found in some parts of the islands, are a peculiar race, with features exactly resembling the African negro, although in [144]general smaller made men, but formed with all the characteristics of the African. They also use a distinct language, and have very little intercourse with either of the other races—many tribes of them living, even up to this day, independent of, and unsubdued by, the Spaniards, whose active missionaries have however of late years been making every effort to reduce them to allegiance to the government of Manilla, as well as to the religion of the cross.

These good men have penetrated, where soldiers dare not enter with arms in their hands, and in their case, truly, the sword has given place to the gown, with good effects to all concerned in the reduction of these wild Indians to the Roman Catholic faith, and the arts of civilized life; for many hundreds of them, nay, I believe thousands, are now peaceful cultivators of the soil, which, these good fathers have taught them how to till, instead of living, as they formerly did, at warfare with mankind, and solely on the produce of the chase.

How these differences of race and language have arisen, it is probably impossible now to discover, at least I have never heard any one of the many theories on the subject, for they are [145]nothing more than speculations, which could sustain all the requirements necessary to account for their existence in their present state.

In the character of the native Indians there are very many good points, although they have long had a bad name, from their characters and descriptions coming from the Spanish mouths, who are too indolent to investigate it beyond their households, or at the most beyond their city walls; as very few, indeed, of all the Spaniards I met with have ever been in the country any distance from Manilla, except those whose duty it has been to proceed to a distance, as an alcalde of the province, or as an officer of the troops scattered through the islands,—very many of whom remain at home in the residency or in their quarters, smoking or drinking chocolate, and bewailing their hard fates, which have condemned them to live so far away from Manilla, from the theatre, and from society. They come and go without knowing, or caring to know, anything about the people around them, except when a feast-day comes, when they are always ready enough to visit their houses, dance with the beauties, and consume their suppers.

The most noticeable traits in the Philippine [146]Indians appear to be their hospitality, good-nature, and bonhommie which very many of them have. Their tempers are quick; but, like all of that sort, after effervescing, soon subside into quiet again.

Very frequently have I been invited to enter their houses in the country, when loitering about during the heat of the sun, under the protection of an immense and thick sombrero which prevented me suffering much from the exposure; and on going into one of them, after the host or hostess had accommodated me with a seat on the banco of bamboo, a cigarillo, or the buyo, which is universally chewed by them, and composed of the betel nut and lime spread over an envelope of leaf, such as nearly all Asiatics use, has been offered by the handsome, though swarthy, hands of the hostess or of a grown-up daughter: or, if their rice was cooking at the time, often have I been invited to share it, and have sometimes so made a most excellent and hearty meal, using the natural aid of the fingers in place of a spoon, or other of the customary aids for eating. After eating they always wash their hands and mouths, so cleanly are their habits.

So long as any white man behaves properly [147]towards them, and treats them as human beings should be treated, their character will evince many good points; but should they be beaten or abused without a cause, or for something that they do not understand, as they but too frequently are when composing the crews of ships, the masters of which are seldom able to speak to them in their own language or in Spanish: who can blame them if the knife is drawn from its sheath, and their own arm avenges the maltreatment of some brutal shipmaster or his mates for the wrong they have suffered at their hands? In all I have seen or had to do with them they have never appeared as aggressors, and it has only been when the white men, despising their dark skins, have ventured on unjustifiable conduct, that I have heard of their hands being raised to revenge it.

When they know that they are in the wrong, however, should the harshest measures be used towards them, I have never known or heard of their having had recourse to the knife, and I have frequently seen them suffer very severe bodily chastisement for very slight causes of offence.

They are easily kept in order by gentleness, [148]but have spirit enough to resent ill-treatment if undeserved. Not long ago an instance of the kind happened to a person who has the character of being a violent and irascible man. He one day fell into a passion about something or other, and fastened his ill-nature and passion on an inoffensive servant who chanced to be near him at the time, and ended some abuse by ordering the man to go into a room, where he followed him, and after locking the door and putting the key into his pocket, took up a riding switch and began to flog the servant, who bore it for a while, until, losing his temper completely, he seized his master by the throat, and, taking the whip from him, administered with it quite as much castigation as he had himself received.

Their general character is that of a good-natured and merry people, strongly disposed to enjoy the present, and caring little for the future.

So far as regards personal strength and mental activity or power, they are much superior to any of the Javanese or Malays I have seen in Java, or at Batavia and Singapore. But, to our modes of thinking, the greatest defect in their character is their indolence and dislike to any bodily exertion, which are the effects of the sun [149]under which they live; but their native maxims and their habits, although we may disapprove of them now-a-days, when everything goes by steam, might be dignified by a great poet’s verse into the truest and best philosophy; for does he not sing,—

Otium bello furiosa Thrace,

Otium Medi pharetra decori

Grosphe, non gemmis, neque purpura venale, nec auro.

Vivitur parvo bene, cui paternum

Splendat in mensâ tenui salinum;

Nec leves somnos timor aut Cupido

Sordidus aufert.

Lætus in præsens animus, quod ultra est

Oderit curare, et amara lento

Temperet risu, &c.——Hor. II. xvi.



At Manilla a labourer’s pay is a quarter of a dollar a-day, or a little more than a shilling, which is enough to keep him supplied with food of as good quality and quantity as he needs to eat for about two or three days, so that if a labourer or coolie, who has only himself to support, work two days out of the seven, he has enough to supply all his necessities, and can enjoy what is to him a high degree of pleasure and amusement,—the training of a cock for the cockpit, sleeping a long siesta, gossiping with his neighbour, and chewing buyos, or smoking cigarillos, quite at his ease, during the rest of the time.

They have all a strong dislike to settling down [151]to any employment demanding the exercise of much bodily exertion, even when it is well remunerated; and the consequence is, that the extreme difficulty of procuring labour forms the greatest drawback there is to a planter settling in the Philippines, and not unfrequently causes the one or two people who have now got plantations there on a small scale, to suffer the utmost inconvenience in the management of their estates; and this operates to so great an extent, as virtually to prevent any one but a very bold and speculative man investing money in sugar plantations, or otherwise locking it up in agriculture. Government has long been sensible of this, and the present Captain-General has issued an order, containing a permission for persons engaging in plantations to import Chinese labourers, to whom, if actually engaged in tilling the soil, are conceded certain privileges which they have not hitherto enjoyed, being subject to less tribute than what is paid by the rest of their countrymen who are engaged in other avocations.

This decree had been lying ready for years in the desks of the Government officials, no Governor till recently having had the courage to publish an order so greatly in advance of their general [152]policy. As it is, this is one of the greatest steps they have ever taken in the right direction; and I trust it may be attended with the best effects, although some of the restrictions on the China labourers may tell against it; and I fear that the large outlay necessary to import labour from China, while they have a supply, although it is a very uncertain one, at their doors, without incurring the expense and risk of doing so, may hinder the success of the scheme.

There are very few people in the colony who are possessed of the capital necessary to start a plantation on a large scale. And the existing laws prevent or check foreigners doing so, unless they get married to a Spanish or native woman, which, from their general character, few British would like to do; or by abjuring their religion, and getting naturalized, which is a measure equally or more repugnant to the human breast, unless self-interest is the beacon which directs the path, or is the motive for doing so.

However, should plantations on a large scale ever be carried on in these islands with an equal degree of facility, science, care, and attention, and with the improved machinery now employed in sugar estates in Jamaica and elsewhere, there [153]can be little doubt that the productions of the islands will be greatly increased, and it will do good so far; but whether it would tend to improve the condition, or increase the comforts of the people, now so independent of care for a livelihood, appears to be more than doubtful; in other respects, it would do them good, by stimulating their energies.

At present there are no large plantations on the islands, although two or three of small size exist, none of which are understood to be sufficiently remunerating to offer any inducement to invest money in a similar manner.

At Jalajala, M. Vidie, an hospitable old Frenchman, has an estate; but I understand that the most unceasing efforts, and the greatest economy, care, and attention, have been necessary to make it answer, both on his part and on that of its former owner, an Anglo-American, and a person of great ingenuity, who got so much disgusted with the incessant battle he had to fight with the soil, and those who tilled it, that after overcoming the greatest difficulties, he sold the estate, and was glad to be quit of it.

The whole of the productions of the islands are raised by the poor Indian cultivators, each [154]from his own small patch of land, which they till with very simple, though efficient implements of agriculture.

With the existing high prices of labour, there is, however, probably nearly as much surplus produce available for exportation as there would be for years to come, under the system of large plantations and dear labour. Because the present occupiers of the land—employing no hired labour, but only directing the industry of the farmer and that of his family, to the small patch on which they were born, and, of course, have some affection for—are certain to expend far more labour on their own land, and to bring it to a much higher degree of cultivation, than it would suit the purpose of a large planter to do; who, like the Australian or Canadian colonist, would probably find it most for his interest to cultivate a large surface of land imperfectly, as under high wages of labour, and comparatively cheap land, it would be likely to yield him a better return than if he cultivated only a small surface of ground highly.

For this seems to be the only policy, where the elements to be combined are dear labour and cheap land; just as when they are dear land and [155]cheap labour, the contrary would be the case, as it is in Britain.

Now, when I call a quarter of a dollar per diem a high rate of labour, I may be misunderstood if it is not stated that this rate, when paid to the slow and careless Indian labourer, is fully equivalent to three times that sum to a white or British labourer working at home; as an able-bodied man at home would do about three times as much work, and would perform it in a highly superior manner.

These reasons make me loath to see the present system of small holdings changed, which would sever old and respectable ties, and would force the present independent Indian cottage-farmer to seek employment from the extensive cultivator, and, without getting more work out of him in the course of a year, would lower him in self-respect, and in the many virtues which that teaches, without deriving any correspondent advantage to society.

In a tropical climate the elements of society are varied, and quite different from those of a country with a climate like that of Great Britain. A native Indian, under a tropical sun, could scarcely support a system of really hard labour [156]for six days of the week for any length of time; and their indolent habits are, in some degree, necessary to their existence, perhaps as much as his night’s rest is to the British labourer; for without days of relaxation to supply the stamina which they have lost during exposure to the sun and hard labour under it, it is my decided opinion that the men so exposed, and exhausted, would, after a very few years, knock themselves up, and become unfit to work, thereby rendering themselves an unproductive class, and burdens on their friends and on society.

The present cultivators, who show a high degree of intelligence in many of their operations, in cultivating their staple, rice, for example, actually expend more labour on their land, and work much more constantly than any hirelings would do; as at Jalajala, out of upwards of a hundred labourers in the village who had no other employment or source of revenue but their labour, not above a third of the able-bodied men mustered in the fields when the labours of the day began in the morning; and I understood from the owner of the estate, that under no circumstances could he prevail on the whole body of labourers to muster, nor, so long as their rice [157]lasts, will they work; it is only when that fails, and they will starve if they do not exert themselves, that they will undergo hard labour in the fields under the broiling sun. [158]


Very few of the native Indians or Mestizos are possessed of much wealth, according to British ideas of the term, although there are some of the latter class who are considered among themselves as very well off, if their savings amount to from five to twenty thousand dollars; and when they reach fifty thousand dollars, they are looked upon as rich capitalists.

In Manilla, there are one or two of these Mestizo traders whose fortunes amount to more than this; but such occurances are rare, and are seldom heard of. Many of these amounts have been collected together by their possessors by their engaging in a sort of usurious money-lending or banking business with the poverty-struck [159]cultivators of the soil, by advancing seed to many of them for their paddy fields, and making the hard condition of exacting in return about one half of the produce of the ensuing crop. But perhaps these money-lenders are, to a certain extent, necessary to supply the wants of an improvident and careless race, these habits being besetting sins of the Indian character; yet there can be little doubt that the money acquired by such a usurious repayment of the sums advanced, does an immense deal of harm, and lessens the natural independence of the Indians who are so unfortunate as to fall into the clutches of the money-lender. Should a poor Indian, the possessor of a patch of paddy-land capable of producing very little more than is required to feed his family, once run short of seed, he has a very hard battle to fight with the soil before he is able to get that debt cleared off, should his neighbours be too poor to assist him, as he must then have recourse to the usurer. For although, through his greater efforts and improved cultivation, he may produce much more paddy than his land had done before, yet he is seldom able to save enough for seed from the moiety of the produce which his appetite restricted to live upon, as the other half must go to repay the [160]usurer who advanced him seed, or money to purchase it.

I have seldom heard of Europeans engaging in this business, for which their nature and habits are much less suitable than those Mestizo capitalists who devote themselves to the traffic.

These debts are frequently contracted by the Indians in emulating the splendour of some richer neighbour on their patron saint’s feast-day, when, in proportion to their means, an immense deal of extravagant expenditure usually takes place; but, with the exception of the cockpit, all their other expenses are very slight and thrifty.

Their houses are mostly composed of attap, or nipa grass, on a bamboo framework fixed on and supported by several strong wooden posts, generally the trunks of trees, sunk deep enough in the ground to render them capable of resisting the violent gales of wind common over all the islands during particular months of the year. In the villages some of the richer natives have wooden houses—that is to say, the framework of the part of the house dwelt in is of wood, being generally supported by a stone wall which composes the bodega, &c., underneath.

Their furniture is generally made from the [161]bamboo, and from this most useful plant several of their household utensils are also formed; all these are of the simplest description, but amply sufficient to supply their wants.

A crucifix, and the portraits of several saints, are universally found attached to the walls, and before these they are at all seasons accustomed devoutly to repeat their morning and evening orisons—all the family kneeling while the mother recites the prayer.

At nearly all houses in the country a large mortar scooped out of the trunk of some tree is found, being the instrument employed to free their paddy from the husk, and convert it into rice. This operation appears to rank among those household duties which fall to the wife’s share to perform. The pestle is sometimes of considerable weight; and when it is so, is worked by two women at once.

In their field operations the buffalo is the only animal employed, and is probably the only one domesticated possessing the requisite strength to perform the work, as the country oxen and horses are much too small; and although more active, are too weak to drag the plough through the flooded paddy fields in which they would get entangled [162]and sink, sometimes to their middles; but through land in this state the bulky buffalo delights to wade, and, although slowly, creeps along, and forces himself through.

In the towns the buffalo is still employed in carts and light work, for which it is not so well suited as the active-paced horses or oxen of the country would be, and they no doubt will in time be adopted for these purposes.

In the country the horses are only used for the saddle, and for conveying small packages of goods from one country shopkeeper to another, as the roads they have to traverse are such as to preclude any use of conveyances upon wheels. [163]


Throughout the islands there is a part of every village set apart for the market-place, where in the early morning, and after sunset in the evening, the utmost activity in buying and selling prevails. At all of these places rice, fish, and butcher meat (generally, but not always), fruit, and merchandise of the most suitable sorts to supply the wants of the people who are likely to purchase it, are exposed for sale. It is a curious scene to walk through such a place for the first time, especially after sunset, when the red glare of the torches or lamps shows to perfection the sparkling eyes, swarthy features, and long hair, which, waving about over the foreheads of the men, gives them a wildness of look, which their sombre dress, consisting of a dark blue shirt and [164]trousers, having nothing to attract the attention from the sparkle of their eyes, makes all the more striking.

In Santa Cruz market-place at Manilla, between the hours of six and eight in the morning and evening, an immense crowd collect to supply their household wants, and innumerable are the articles displayed in the shops;—here the cochineal of Java, there the sago of Borneo, or the earthenware of China. In the Bamboo Islands the more perishable commodities are exposed for sale; and fish being the principal article of the natives’ food (and also a favourite one of the white men), is found exposed for sale in large quantities. But all so offered is dead, even when the vendor is a Chinaman, although in his native country great quantities of it are hawked about the streets by the sellers carrying them alive, in water, so that the purchaser is certain always to have this food fresh and untainted by keeping; for even a few hours is sufficient to spoil it in this climate.

The market is well supplied with all descriptions of fish caught in the Pasig or the bay, most of which are well tasted; the fishermen of the villages in the neighbourhood being the principal [165]suppliers. A small sort is found in the river very much resembling white-bait in taste. Shrimps are also consumed in large quantities. After the rains there may generally be procured, by those who like them, frogs, which are taken from the ditch round the walls in great numbers, and are then fat, and in good condition for eating, making a very favourite curry of some of the Europeans, their flesh being very tender.

The natives principally eat fish, but there is besides a large quantity of beef and pork consumed by them, which are always procurable, except on Fridays, when some little difficulty may be experienced in procuring flesh, as there is only enough killed on the morning of that day to supply the wants of the invalids. The country-fed pork is seldom or never seen at the tables of Europeans, these animals being too frequently allowed to feed in a most disgusting manner; and many pigs may at any time be seen in the suburbs of the town where the Indians dwell roaming about the streets, and efficiently performing the duties of scavengers, by removing the filth and garbage from many of these remote streets.

But notwithstanding their knowing, and in fact daily seeing, this gross and disgusting mode of [166]feeding, it is the most universal and favourite food of the Chinese at Manilla, and is also a favourite with the Indians.

The continued use of pork so fed not unfrequently produces a skin disease called sarnas, something resembling itch.

Fowls, turkeys, and ducks, both tame and wild, are at all times procurable, the supplies of the latter being from the Laguna. Geese are seldom or never exposed for sale, but are sometimes sent from China to private persons merely for their own consumption.

It is a curious thing that geese will not produce eggs, or sit upon them to hatch their young, at Manilla; and it is also a sufficiently odd circumstance, that turkeys die in a short time after reaching Singapore, where they are sometimes sent to private individuals for domestic use, although they thrive very well both in the Philippines and in Java. At Singapore, however, after being a few days ashore, some of them are attacked by a peculiar sickness, apparently giddiness of the head, which invariably ends in death in a few minutes after the commencement of the attack. All these birds are subject to it at that place, if allowed [167]to go about too long before being seized upon by the cook.

The principal food of the Indians being rice, it is found exposed for sale, in large and small quantities, in the bazaars, where nearly all the kinds of fruits of the season may also be found. The catalogue of fruits grown in the islands is a long one, but among those most commonly seen may be reckoned plantains of all kinds, of which there are an immense variety; mangoes, which are remarkably good, and superior to any species grown in the East, excepting those of Bombay, to which they are equal; the custard-apple, the pine-apple, seldom equal to those of Batavia or Singapore; limes, and oranges, not very good, and greatly inferior to those of China, from whence some are imported by the trading Spanish vessels constantly running between the two places; melons of different kinds, of middling quality; cucumbers, pumpkins, jackfruit, lanzones, and many other sorts.

The best gardens, or those from which Manilla is chiefly supplied with fruit, are in the vicinity of Cavite, from which place the country people bring it every morning, the carriers being [168]generally young women, who, from the steadiness requisite to balance the fruit-baskets on their heads, acquire a good walk, somewhat at the expense of their necks, however.

The most common sorts of vegetables exposed for sale appear to be the sweet potatoes, yams, and lettuce; and green pea-pods are sometimes to be had, but the latter are seldom good.

The temperature induces such a rapid vegetation as to injure their taste, as it prevents their ripening, for, after attaining a certain growth, the sun dries up the pod in a very few days, to prevent which they are pulled very early, when the pea is so small and delicate, being barely formed, that the cooks usually serve up both pods and peas together at table, after having minced them into small pieces with a knife, being unable to separate them properly.

The common potatoe is imported from China, and from the Australian colonies. Those from Van Diemen’s Land are the best; the sorts received from China are usually watery and small, being greatly inferior to those sent up from Australia.

In the fair monsoon, the Chinamen sometimes [169]get supplies of apples, pears, cabbage, &c., from Shanghai, and these are considered as great delicacies.

There are many other fruits and vegetables procurable at Manilla, but those mentioned are the sorts usually met with. [170]


The population of the islands is very uncertain, for although the Government makes the census apparently with some exactness, a very little knowledge of the country is sufficient to show that they do not do so in reality, but that this resembles all their other statistical information, and cannot be depended upon, although it is useful in leading to an approximation.

Their data are made up from the revenue derived from a capitation tax, which is so much per head for all grown up persons; but as it is the interest of all who may be called upon to pay it to keep out of the way during the period of its collection, many of them do so without much difficulty, more especially in the remote districts, where their facilities for concealment are much [171]greater than in the neighbourhood of Manilla, or of the provincial capitals, where the alcaldes reside; so that those actually liable to it are very much greater than the payers of the tax. I estimate the population at a little under five million souls, the great bulk of whom are engaged in agricultural pursuits.

Great numbers of people are also employed as fishermen, artizans of all sorts, and as manufacturers of cloth fabrics of various descriptions. In addition to the people so gaining a livelihood by their industry, there are scattered throughout the islands many Indians, without any occupation, and apparently altogether dependent on the fruit of the plaintain-tree for subsistence, and indulging all their natural laziness and indolence of disposition by its aid, preferring to subsist on the fruit of this most productive plant, which they can do, from its being always procurable and at all times of the year in season, without an effort towards its cultivation, to undertaking the labour and attention necessary to grow rice.

Some of these people are hunters, occasionally going out to the wilds in pursuit of game, which must alternate beneficially with their vegetable diet. [172]

As an article of food, however, the plantain does not appear to be so nutritive or strength-supporting as rice; at least, those persons who are principally dependent on it for food appear less robust looking than the rice-fed population. This, however, may not be entirely owing to that cause, but may be attributable in some degree to their lazy habits, which, by preventing them taking much exercise or bodily exertion, renders the muscles of their bodies less developed than those of the other Indians whose harder work keeps their frames in a proper state of health.

In person, the native Indians are a good deal slighter and shorter than Europeans, but are, on the average, taller and stouter than the Malays, many of them having that broad make of shoulders and lustiness of limb which indicate personal strength.

Their countenances are in general open and pleasing, and would be handsome, but for their smallness of nose, which is the worst feature in the native physiognomy; however, when that feature is well shaped, as it frequently is, their faces are decidedly handsome and good-looking.

These remarks apply to both sexes; a number [173]of the women are very beautiful, for although their skin is dusky, the ruddiness of their blood shows through it on the cheek, producing a very beautiful colour, and their dark, lustrous eyes are in general more lit up with intelligence and vivacity of expression, than those of any Indians I have seen elsewhere.

A very pleasant trait, to my taste, is the nearly universal frankness and candid look that nature has stamped upon their features, which, when accompanied by the softness of manner common to all Asiatics, is particularly gratifying in the fairer part of creation.

Their figures are well shaped, being perfectly straight and graceful, and nearly all of them have the small foot and hand, which may be regarded as a symbol of unmixed blood when very small and well shaped; as although the Mestizas gain from their European progenitor a greater fairness of skin, they generally retain the marks of it in their larger bones, and their hands and feet are seldom so well shaped as those of the pure-bred Indian, even although the Spaniards are noted for possessing these points in equal or greater perfection than the people of other European countries. [174]

The bath is a great luxury among the natives, and of all country-born people, who appear to be fully as fond of the water as ducks are, and never look so well pleased as when they are paddling about in it, for nearly all the women can swim.

It used to be a very favourite sport to make up a bathing party of ladies, who, dressed in their long gowns, bathed with their male friends equipped in parjamas, or in short bathing trousers, without hesitation, swimming about in a retired part of the river for a long time, generally stopping at least an hour in the water, on leaving which, and dressing, all reunited to breakfast, or amuse themselves in some way, with dancing or music. These parties, however, are now seldom heard of, as the late arrivals from Spain have been so many as to be able to take the lead, and give a tone to the society of Manilla, and are now in the midst of revolutionizing the old habits and customs of the place, certainly not at all for the better, as they have yet to learn that what is suitable in Europe is not so in the tropics.

Fondness for gay dress is universal, and the ninas take considerable pains to understand the [175]subject, and to adorn their natural good looks to the most advantage by the selection of the most appropriate colours.

Their hair is one of the most remarkable beauties in the native and Mestiza women, being very much longer, and of a finer gloss, than that of any Europeans.

The staple and most favourite food of the people is rice seasoned by sun-dried or salted fish, if they should be unable to procure it fresh, which is, however, seldom the case, as the rivers in the country abound with many different sorts, and all of them appear to be very good and well tasted.

And not only do the rivers abound with fish, but great numbers of dalag are found in the flooded paddy fields during and subsequent to the rainy season, when they are soaked with water. How this fish, which is not very good to eat, being tasteless and insipid, comes there, is a curious problem, as it is often killed in paddy grounds at a great distance from any stream, out of which it could come during an overflow. I am not quite certain whether this fish is ever killed in a stream or not, or whether it is only found in the paddy fields. [176]

I do not recollect of its once being caught in a river, although the natives kill the fish in the ditches and paddy fields in large quantities, either by shooting them with shot, as they flounder in the fields, or by pursuing and capturing them, and knocking them down with a stick.

In fact, I suspect the dalag to be an intermediary between the reptile and the fish, although not naturalist enough to investigate the subject in a proper manner. [177]


Many of my readers may chance to be aware that the whole group of Philippine islands was mortgaged to Great Britain for payment of the ransom agreed upon at the time of our conquest of them nearly a century ago; and as up till this time neither the money nor the interest on it has been obtainable, as it probably never will be, they are, at this, or any other time, virtually our property, should the British Government foreclose the mortgage and demand payment. This, even at present, when the kingdom is groaning under extreme pressure for the necessary funds annually squeezed out of it, would not be thought a prudent course, even by the ultra-economical politicians who are so lavish of displaying their [178]crude projects of retrenchment on neatly ruled-off paper.

There is no doubt, however, that the cash is never likely to be forthcoming from the Spaniards, and, under these circumstances, it surely would be worth the attention of Her Majesty’s Government, more especially as they profess free-trade ideas, to make this state of things the basis of a request, or even of a claim, on the Spanish Government, for obtaining some liberal concessions in favour of their countrymen, and the rest of the world, carrying on commercial intercourse with the Philippines, which is now limited to Manilla; all foreigners being prohibited from engaging in the country trade, or from owning property in lands, houses, or ships in the Philippines.

Of course, the Spaniards themselves suffer for the illiberality of this policy, as there can be no doubt that, were it more free, and less burdened with restrictions of all sorts than it now is, it would be attended with the best effects to their own treasury, as well as be for the general welfare of the islands.

This is what they cannot yet comprehend; but it would not be difficult to make them understand it, if the employé who undertook the task understood [179]it himself, and possessed knowledge enough of the character of the people he had to deal with. Any request, if made in a proper tone, by our Government, would draw attention to the subject at Madrid, and some good might be done, even were it only of partial advantage, as for many years to come they are not likely to step boldly out into the subject.

At Zamboanga, opposite Zooloo, there already exists a custom-house and other government offices for the regulation of their own trade with these islands. But no foreigners are allowed to reside at Zamboanga. Surely the permission for them to do so is worthy the attention of a government which has established and is supporting, at considerable expense, the colony of Labuan for the object not only of extending our trade and the use of the products of our manufacturing population, but also with the more generous and noble idea of civilizing the people in its neighbourhood by their influence, and of teaching them the blessings that flow from industry and peace.

The appointment of Sir James Brooke as Governor of Labuan was in every respect a wise proceeding, as it affords a philanthropist a very wide field on which to exert his influence. Unfortunately, [180]however, for him, a number of well-informed people, residing in the neighbourhood of the spot where his philanthropic exertions are said to have taken place, deny their having had any existence; but, on the contrary, accuse that gentleman, through the columns of a Singapore newspaper, of the worst motives and conduct: in short, he is accused in that newspaper of murdering innocent natives in great numbers by falsely representing them to be pirates, to serve his own purposes and gratify his Sarawak subjects’ dislike of them; the naval officers, whose services had been placed at his disposal to put down piracy, being misled by him.

I am not sufficiently acquainted with all the facts of the case to say with what truth this accusation is made, although, I believe, so grave a charge has never been contradicted by him, or by his friends authorized to do so in his name, and to state the true facts of the case to the public. But, as far as Labuan is concerned, those people who are best qualified to judge appear to be of opinion that, although it should have a fair trial for some years longer, it will never become a place of much commercial importance. [181]

There is little doubt that were foreigners allowed to settle at Zamboango, where Zooloo, Mindanao, and the entire southern coasts of the Philippines would be open to their enterprise, it would be productive of the most beneficial effects, not merely to our merchants and manufacturers, but to the cause of civilization throughout all these barbarous countries, and would probably be found much more effective in putting an end to the existing state of piracy and kidnapping, which are now carried on to some extent, than any warlike means which have hitherto been employed to suppress them.

There are many other objects of a commercial nature worth the consideration of an enlightened government, such as the disproportionate protective duties in favour of their national shipping and the produce of Spain; and some degree of toleration to the religious opinions of foreigners residing at Manilla might also be obtained; so far, at least, as to permit their having a piece of consecrated ground for burying their dead, if no more should be granted; at present they are not permitted to place the remains of a Protestant within the limits of consecrated ground; but have to bury them in a field where [182]Chinamen, who retained their country’s faith till the end of their lives, are laid, and where swine are continually going about routing up the soil, at the imminent hazard of disturbing recently interred bodies.

Liberty for foreigners to settle in the country for the purposes of trade or agriculture, and to hold property, might be obtained without much difficulty, were it properly explained, and shown that their doing so would benefit the Spaniards as much as themselves.

Under the existing laws their inability to hold property prevents those foreigners who, after passing many years in the country, have become as it were almost native, and where they have contracted ties and formed connexions which few men would like to break, from settling down in it for the remainder of their lives. As they have no means of investing their gains with security, though they have probably reached an age when the cares of business press heavily on relaxed energies, and they are disposed to sit down quietly, and enjoy themselves in the country where they are naturalized in every thing but in the eye of the law—all the interest which good citizens, holding pecuniary investments, [183]naturally take in the well-being of the country, is withdrawn from them. No wonder, then, that they are careless about the domestic improvement of the Philippines, or of their progress in those arts which fill the treasuries of rulers, and make subjects happy. [184]


The laws do not appear to be bad in themselves, but the dilatoriness with which they are administered has the effect of rendering them as baneful to those living under them as if they were radically bad; the delays and accidents inseparable from the mode of conducting legal business are very vexatious, and frequently from its cost it is quite inefficient for its purposes of justice. However, Spain and its colonies are not singular in that respect, as there is one great and flourishing country which I could name, where the same defects exist, although, thank God, in a less degree than they do either in the colony of Spain, or in that country itself; so the less said about the mote in our brother’s eye, the better [185]for those who have at this moment a beam in the organ of their own judicial executive.

In conducting a pleito at Manilla, all is done by writing; first, the charge is made out and filed; then comes an answer to the charge; then a counter-answer is put in, and that again is replied to; and so on they go for any length of time, determined by the weight of the purses of the respective contending parties, till, if no more is to be said, or if one or both of them gets tired of the expense, and the case is decided, the other, if he be a rich man, can refer the whole affair to Spain, where the same pleadings have to be again gone through, and all the vexation and expense re-incurred, besides that the decision of the case may with a little management be protracted for any indefinite length of time. This is not worse than what happens at home, and is similar to some of our Scotch cases in former times, when for a century or more one case would be agitated to gratify family dislike or prejudice. That no one may think I exaggerate, it may be as well to mention a case which is still undecided at this moment, and which originated about 1731, between the lairds of Kilantringan and [186]Miltonise in Galloway, although near kinsmen, namesakes, and neighbours.

There are few things more dreaded by the Spaniards themselves than a lawsuit with one another. Many of them, however, are glad of the chance it gives them to be revenged on people with whom they are not upon good terms. So vile is the whole law and practice relating to the testamentary disposal of property, and to such lengths have the abuses in this particular branch of it gone, that it has become a proverb among Spaniards to say that a wise man would prefer being a trustee on an estate, to being heir to it; and several people at Manilla are well known to be living on their gains from executorships, &c., having no other means of support. These persons, although their incomes are almost universally known to be so derived, are not in the least shunned as dishonest people, but are looked upon as being perfectly entitled to feather their own nests in place of performing their duty, as we should understand it to be in Britain.

The police laws and regulations are also badly administered, being very shameful to the Government which permits things to go on under the [187]same loose system as before. Were there a more numerous and efficient police force scattered over the country, none of the Spaniards would be afraid, as many of them now actually are, to live out of town, or to make distant excursions to the country, from fear of the tulisanes, or robber-bands, which are scattered about in various places, and are found pursuing their avocations in the neighbourhood of the capital, although not so boldly as they did a few years since. These robbers plunder the country in bands perfectly organized, and bodies of them are generally existing within a few miles of Manilla,—the wilds and forests of the Laguna being favourite haunts, as well as the shores of the Bay of Manilla, from which they can come by night, without leaving a trace of the direction they have taken, in bodies of ten and twenty men at a time, in a large banca. They have apparently some friends in Manilla, who plan out their enterprises, send them intelligence, and direct their attacks; so that every now and then they are heard of as having gutted some rich native or Mestizo’s house in the suburbs of Manilla, after which they generally manage to get away clear before the alguacils come up. [188]

The houses of Europeans are also occasionally attacked, although much less boldly within the last year or two; yet it is the custom for people to retire to bed, even in the heart of the town without the walls, with pistols, a sword, or some other weapon within reach. That these people do immense damage there is no doubt, as they not only plunder the country people of buffaloes and horses, but rifle their houses, if no better prey is to be had, to such an extent, that the natives are afraid to live at any distance from each other in many parts of the country, solely through fear of them. From this cause, patches of fine paddy land in out-of-the-way districts are left uncultivated, or are hurriedly ploughed and sown by adventurous persons, who after doing so retire into the nearest village to live, till the time comes to reap as much of the paddy as the deer and numerous wild pigs have left untouched.

The punishments of these bad characters are severe enough when justice chances to get hold of them; and, should their crimes be atrocious, they occasionally suffer death. Sometimes they are garroted, which is done in this way. After being seated at the place of execution, with the back towards a high post of wood, the culprit’s [189]neck is encircled by an iron collar attached to the post, and capable of compression by a powerful screw passing through the post, which, on the signal being made, the executioner turns, and the victim is choked in a second. The practice is much less disgusting than hanging, as no effects are visible to an on-looker beyond the convulsive movement of a frame loaded with heavy irons to prevent a severe and disgusting struggle with departing life.

A good many of the tulisanes are soldiers who, after committing some peccadillo, feared its discovery and punishment, and flying to the wilds have joined or organised a troop from among the bad characters in the neighbourhood of their hiding-place.

These executions are not unfrequent at Manilla. One morning, when riding near the usual place of execution on the sea-beach, I saw six deserters, who had composed a band of atrocious robbers, suffer death from the muskets of their former comrades; those who were not killed at once, having an end put to their existence by the pistols of a serjeant, who stepped close up to them before discharging the piece.

Truly it was a sad sight to see their former [190]comrades degraded into executioners. The number of women who had collected to witness the last act of this tragedy was very great, very much outnumbering the men present. But they were principally composed of the most worthless class of females; yet on many of them the example appeared to make a considerable impression.

I have no doubt, whatever the present popular mawkish sentimental-mongers may write to the contrary, that these exhibitions, when happening rarely, tend, in a great measure, to restrain the passions of the evil-disposed, although some of them may think it bold, among their hardened associates, to turn the spectacle into a farce. I firmly believe that no human being can in cold blood look upon another’s death by violent means without being forced to think about it for some time, greater or less, according to his or her temperament.

For minor offences criminals are sometimes flogged through the town. They are mounted on horseback, with their legs manacled or bound under the horse’s belly, and a portion of their punishment is administered at several of the most public places in the town, by an executioner dressed in red, and with a veil over his face. [191]Thus, supposing a thief sentenced to receive a hundred lashes or blows, they would most probably be administered by twenty at a time, in five different places throughout the capital, proclamation being made at each place, previous to the punishment, of the offence and of the name of the offender, who is dressed in the ordinary mode, with a shirt and pair of trousers, and exposed to the full view of the attending crowd.

Confinement in the jail at night, with labour in irons on the public roads during the day, is also a usual punishment; criminals being generally linked in pairs by a chain round the leg of each, and taken out, under a guard, to work on the streets or roads at Manilla, Cavite, or Zamboanga, at sunrise, and led back to jail at sunset. But as they are not forced by the soldiers to work much harder than they like, they take care not to injure themselves by overtasking their powers of labour, and are not apparently much discontented with their condition, from which I have seldom or never heard of their attempting to escape, although neither their food nor their lodgings in jail are very enticing; the former being bad black-looking [192]rice and water, and the jail generally swarming with vermin.

They appear to prefer the partial liberty of getting out of jail, and of working in the streets in chains, to the monotony of a residence within the walls of the prison, and the sedentary labour they might be forced to pursue there. [193]


Among the amusements of the Indians the greatest is cock-fighting, for which they have a passion; and nearly every native throughout the islands gratifies this taste by keeping a fighting cock, which may be seen carried about with him perched on an arm or a shoulder, in all the pride of a favourite of its master.

During Sundays and feast-days, when no work is allowed to be done, nearly the half of the native population, if able to muster a few rials, repair to the village cockpit, to arrange some match for their favorite fowl, on which they will sometimes stake large amounts, or to see the sport of their neighbours. [194]

The privilege of opening a cockpit is an important source of revenue to the Government, which farms it out to the highest bidder, who, I believe, has the power to stop fighting for money at any place within the limits of his district other than the privileged arena, for an admission to which he exacts a small charge from each person, which is the mode of reimbursing himself for the amount paid to the Government.

This place is generally a large house, constructed of cana, wattled like a coarse basket, and surrounded by a high paling of the same description, which forms a sort of court-yard, where the cocks are kept waiting their turns to come upon the stage, should their owners have succeeded in arranging a satisfactory match. Passing across the yard, the door of the house, within which the matches come off, stands open: after entering and ascending the steps, the arena is before us, surrounded by seats sloping down from the wall towards it, so that every one may be able distinctly to witness the event.

After the owners of the contending cocks have walked into the ring and displayed them, each armed with a long and sharp steel spur, many critical opinions are expressed by the Indians; [195]and the judgments of the old men, who are keen upon the sport, are worth hearing by a visitor.

The spectators having viewed the birds carefully, the bets are made, by calling one of the men who are constantly walking round the outside of the arena, for the purpose of arranging the amounts of bets ventured on either of the birds. Giving him the money with which you back your opinion, he generally quickly finds, or may at the moment hold in his hand, the money ventured by some one else on the other cock, and apprises you of the arrangement. But should your cock chance to be a favourite, and the broker be unable to arrange an equal bet against the other, he tells you so before the set-to begins, and returns your money if you are not disposed to give odds.

In general the conflict does not last long: in from about two to five minutes after the set-to, one or other of the birds is pretty sure to be either killed, or so badly wounded by the steel spur as to show he has had enough of it, and to give in. Until this happens, the utmost quietness is maintained by the people, and their intense interest is only shown by their outstretched necks [196]and eager looks, as well as by their muttered exclamations at the various stages of the fight; at the end of which, of course, the gainers are noisy, and in high spirits at pocketing the money, which is heard clinking all round.

The amount of money staked on the issue is never very large; at least, I have not seen more than eighty or a hundred dollars staked in any cockpit, and the usual bet is an ounce of gold, or nearly four pounds.

Chance, in a great measure, appears to decide the event; as an early blow with the sharp spur is quite sufficient to cripple the bird which receives it so much as to determine the fate of the battle. Quickness and game no doubt tell to some extent, but not very much. Of course, the breeding of cocks engages a good deal of attention by those interested in the amusement; but with the details of it I am not acquainted.

Many of the Indians, however, appear to be more fond of a good cock, and to display more anxiety about it, than would be shown by them to their wives and children, who are not objects of nearly so much attention.

Although extravagantly fond of all games of chance, none of them appears to be so captivating [197]as the cockpit, which ranks as their chief passion. Of games at cards, the principal one is monte, the playing of which is sometimes carried on to a great extent, which has caused such distress that the law has wisely endeavoured to stop the evil, by enacting severe fines and punishment against those caught playing at it. Houses suspected of carrying it on, are at all times subject to a visit from the alguacils, all the people found in them being carried off to jail.

But notwithstanding these measures, it is found impossible to put gambling down entirely, and some of the alcaldes, knowing the inutility of attempting to do so, habitually give private instructions to their policemen not to hunt for people playing monte, and not to molest them if found doing so. Tresilla, tresiete, &c., are names of other games at cards commonly played at Manilla.

Billiards is also a favourite game of the Indians, whose play differs in some particulars from ours, and from the usual Spanish game, which is also dissimilar to ours. Tables are scattered throughout the town, entirely for the use of the native population, some of whom show considerable dexterity. [198]

Although bull-baiting used many years since to be an amusement here, it is never heard of now, having quite gone out of fashion. Neither are the bull-fights, as managed in Spain, practised here, probably from the effects of the climate on the men, who would not much relish a combat with one of the small, but spirited and powerfully shaped bulls of the country.

The considerable number of officers of the troops, and other government empleados, are acquisitions to the society of the place; for being principally half occupied people, they are almost obliged to have recourse to amusements to kill the time, which would otherwise hang very heavy on their hands; and principally to their exertions must we attribute the means of enjoyment, such as they are, which are now available here.

There is a subscription ball-room, where assemblies are held three times a-month; at one of which there is only dancing; at another, performances by the amateurs of vocal and instrumental music. Some of them, having a taste that way, do wonders for amateurs; and after the concert, there is dancing.

At the third monthly assembly, there is a [199]farce or play of some sort acted by amateurs; and as the Spanish genius inclines to the buskin and the sock, they acquit themselves very well.

To this sociedad de recreo, or casino, there are many subscribers, including the Governor and his family, if he has any, and all the considerable people of the place, who for many years kept out those of lower caste than themselves by the ballot, which is the mode of electing candidates, who must be introduced by two members. However, at last the funds of the society got so low, that the admission of many new members was requisite to bolster up the concern with their entrance-money and monthly contributions, and, of course, a much more indiscriminate set were admitted, than formerly used to go there, which caused one or two people to absent themselves from the assemblies for some time, as no one, of course, chooses to introduce his daughters among people he does not wish to associate with. On the whole, however, the place has benefited by the new people; that is to say, it is more gay than before they came, which is the chief consideration to one careless of the precise social degree of any handsome and pleasant girl whom he may meet at the place. [200]

All the ladies sit together; and the men, who dare not, apparently, trust themselves so close to their brilliant and beautiful eyes, as we fancy we can do with impunity in Britain, promenade up and down the ball-room, or in one of the large ante-rooms contiguous to it. No doubt their tindery and inflammable temperaments, whenever love-making is concerned, has something to do with this arrangement; as, if a young male acquaintance of any damsel took a seat beside her, it would be certain to attract the papa or chaperon, to the spot, to see what was going on, as their most likely subject of conversation would have a strong leaning towards a flirtation, or downright love-making, at which nearly all the Spaniards are great adepts; the flowery expressions of their language being peculiarly suitable for such sentimental recreations.

Besides the principal theatre, where Spaniards are the actors, there are two native theatres, where plays are represented in the Tagalog language, and written to suit their ideas of the drama; the subjects represented being principally tragedies connected with their historical traditions, and of their fathers’ earliest connections with their European conquerors. [201]

But their mode of representing these subjects is scarcely suitable to any one’s taste but their own, as the amount of vociferation, and drawling singing of the women who take a part in the pieces, are very disagreeable, and the noise and quantity of fighting with which they are always interlarded, is tiresome. Yet, strange to say, they themselves are much interested while listening to these absurd recitatives.

The Spanish theatre is generally opened twice a-week, and one or two of the performers act very creditably. The national passion is for dramatic amusements; and the house, which is a large one, is usually well filled. [202]


A misconception appears to exist as to the state of society at Manilla, people at a distance for the most part labouring under the erroneous impression that it remains stationary, and is today as much behind the rest of the world as it was thirty years ago; and that it can support no newspaper or other publication. Now, during my residence at Manilla, there have been various periodicals published daily, bi-weekly, and weekly; but at the end of last year (1850), these had all given place to one daily newspaper, called the Diario de Manilla, which being more carefully conducted than any of its predecessors, still continues to enjoy its popularity.

It is under the direction of an editor, who being in his youth trained up to commercial pursuits, [203]and having spent some years of his life in Great Britain in order to conduct the business of his Spanish friends, has insensibly acquired ideas during his residence there which are, no doubt, more exact and unprejudiced than those of the bulk of his countrymen, so that he understands the duties of a journalist, and manages his paper better than these things were formerly done. Of course, however, he must study not to trespass on the existing regulations of the censor, if he would avoid the scissors of that officer, whose duties are, to prevent any statement obnoxious to the powers that be from seeing the light. This, of course, is a great check to the spread of information, especially of a political character; and articles written and printed, have frequently to be suppressed in the succeeding impressions of the paper. The power is sometimes exercised when there is very little occasion for the interference of authority, and, of course, must very materially interfere with the mode of conducting an efficient newspaper.

To give the censor time to examine its contents, the Diario is printed the afternoon preceding its publication, and is issued every day [204]except Monday, thus leaving the printers free from work and at liberty on Sunday.

The Diario has a large circulation in Manilla and the different provinces of the islands, besides having agents at Madrid, Cadiz, and Paris; it is also obtainable in the Havana, at Hongkong, and at Singapore.

The subscription is one dollar a month, which is moderate enough; and advertisements are inserted in its columns without charge.

Once a week it includes a list of the shipping in the harbour, and also of the arrivals and departures, and reports every morning the arrivals and cargoes of any vessels that have come in on the previous day from the provinces. It also publishes a weekly price-current of the produce of the country.

A well-conducted periodical of this nature is of great importance in a commercial point of view, not only from the advertisements circulated by its means throughout the Philippines, but from the variety of facts and information which the country alcaldes address to the Manilla Government, in which they are required to give a list of the prices-current for the various articles of produce [205]grown in their different provinces; a regulation which, of course, tends to keep the trade on a sound footing, and to prevent reckless speculation, which the want of market information usually induces.

The Diario is delivered at the houses of Manilla subscribers at about daylight every morning, so that they may make themselves masters of its contents while sipping their chocolate, before engaging in the business of the day. This is no slight luxury, I assure the reader, and it is not at all diminished by the place being so remote from the sound of Bow-bells and the region of Cockaigne, although it is true that the contents of the paper are not composed of exciting parliamentary reports, or of leading articles equal in talent to those of the Times or Morning Chronicle.

The mail bags are carried to the provinces by mounted couriers, and the north post, arriving at Manilla every Friday morning, brings communications from the important provinces of Bulacan, Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Nueva Eciga, Pangasinan, Ilocos (North and South), Abra, and Cagayan; and is despatched from the capital to all these districts every Monday at noon. [206]

The south post, embracing the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Mindoro, the islands of Masbate and Ticao, Camarines (North and South), Albay, Samars, and Leyte, reaches Manilla every Tuesday morning, and is despatched from it in return every Wednesday at noon. To the arsenal of Cavite there is a daily post, excepting on Sundays; and to the islands of Visayas, the Marianas, and Batanes, the correspondence is forwarded by the first ships bound for any of those places, as they are obliged to give notice to the postmaster two days before starting for them.

It would be difficult to over-estimate the advantages of this line of postal communication, which affords the native traders in remote places the best facilities for the prosecution of their trade in the various articles of commerce produced in the districts where they live.

There are, of course, several things which might be improved in the administration of the post-office, as is the case in every country, without bringing Spain and her colonies in question; but, no doubt, these will be found out by-and-by, and an alteration for the better will take place.

The press of Manilla is much more active than [207]is commonly supposed, as, besides the Diario, there are several other periodicals printed in the place. Among them may be mentioned the Guia de Forasteros, and an Almanac, which is printed at the College of Santo Tomas, being entirely got up and sold by the priests of that institution, the proceeds being devoted to charitable purposes.

Various religious and polemical works also emanate at different times from the press, all of them neatly and well printed, nay, highly creditable to the Indian compositors who execute them.

I have frequently seen it stated in books, the authors of which should have been better informed, that no periodical publications exist at Manilla. Certainly there is much less appetite there for such things, than is exhibited among my own countrymen, whose birthright it is to grumble at the conduct of authorities, and to show up delinquencies with the most unsparing zeal, neither of which would be quite safe to attempt at Manilla, although it is so in Great Britain, and all her colonies and dependencies. [208]


Through ignorance and a misconception of the nature of the country, many people are in the habit of adducing the scantiness of manufactures among the Indians, as an evidence of their backwardness in civilization and the arts which it teaches.

But this is not so in reality, for if our readers reflect on the subject a short time, it can scarcely fail to occur to them, that the fertility of the soil, and the abundance of primary materials, even of those made use of in the manufactories, is the true reason why they neglect manufactures, and turn all their attention to growing the raw produce, from which spring the materials for conducting them.

It is this cause which makes the Americans [209]send their cotton-wool to Manchester, to be there, at some thousands of miles from the place of its growth, made into cloth—and the shepherds of Australia to send their wool to Yorkshire for a like purpose.

This appears paradoxical, but it is true. A day’s labour on a fertile tropical soil is better recompensed when it is directed to grow cotton, than it would be, were the same labour applied to weaving the wool into cloth; for although this climate is suitable for the growth of cotton in the fields, it does not at all follow that it is so for weaving cloth, as has been proved to be the case in the United States.

In that country, where manufacturing industry has so much energy of character in those carrying it on to back it up, and to secure a satisfactory result, it appears very strange that we should be able to beat them in the manufacture of their own produce.

But although many efforts have repeatedly been made by speculative and sanguine men to weave all the descriptions of cotton cloth made in Great Britain by the power-loom, they have never been able to do so in the United States. Even when they have actually carried machinery [210]and men from Manchester to work it, across the Atlantic, the produce of the looms has been of a different quality of cloth to that which the same cotton yarn would have produced by the same machinery in Great Britain. This can only be accounted for, I believe, by estimating the effects of climate. The moisture of the atmosphere, the difference of water, and other causes, have been assigned as the cause of this very remarkable circumstance, and perhaps some, or all of them, have their share in producing it.

In the Philippines, the natural shrewdness of the people, who show considerable aptitude in the arts which experience has taught them will pay them best, is demonstrated by the neatness of execution which characterises many of their handiworks, demanding no small portion of skill, care, and perseverance; the elaborate execution of the gold ornaments worn by the women frequently exhibiting signs, in a very high degree, of skilful and neat workmanship.

I have seen chains, &c., of native make, quite as beautifully and as curiously worked as any I have seen in China, where those ornaments are made in more perfection than the European gold or silversmiths have as yet been able to attain. [211]

But probably the piña cloth manufactured in the Philippines, is the best known of all the native productions, and it is a very notable instance of their advance in the manufacturing arts.

There is perhaps no more curious, beautiful, and delicate specimen of manufactures produced in any country. It varies in price according to texture and quality, ladies’ dresses of it costing as low as twenty dollars for a bastard sort of cloth, and as high as fifteen hundred dollars for a finely-worked dress. The common coarse sort used by the natives for making shirts costs them from four to ten dollars a shirt.

The colour of the coarser sorts is not, however, good; and the high price of the finer descriptions prevents its becoming generally a lady’s dress; and the inferior sorts are not much prized, chiefly because of the yellowish tinge of the white cloth. The fabric is exceedingly strong, and, I have been informed, rather improves in colour after every successive washing.

Piña handkerchiefs and scarfs are in very general use by the Manilla ladies, although they are rather expensive; the price of the former, when of good quality, being from about five to [212]ten pounds sterling each, while for a scarf of average quality and colour about thirty pounds is paid. The coarser descriptions can be had for much less money than the sums mentioned; and the finest qualities would cost from three to four times more than the amounts I have set down.

Besides the piña there is also a sort of cloth made by the natives called jusè (pronounced husè), or siriamaio, which makes very beautiful dresses for ladies. It is manufactured from a thread obtained from the fibres of a particular sort of plantain tree, which is slightly mixed with pine-apple thread; and the fabric produced from both of these is very beautiful, being fine and transparent, and looking, to the unaccustomed eye, finer than the ordinary sort of piña cloth.

It can be made of any pattern, and is generally striped or checked with coloured threads of silk mingled with the other two descriptions.

The manufacture of both these articles is carried on to a small extent in the immediate neighbourhood of Manilla; but in the provinces of Yloylo and Camarines the best jusè is produced, the price of which is very much lower than piña, as a lady’s dress of it may be got at from seven to [213]twenty dollars; and for the latter amount a very handsome one would be obtained.

In addition to these manufactures, which the natives have appropriated and made their own, from the greater facilities found in the Philippines than in other places less adapted by nature for their prosecution, the Government has been at some pains to force them to engage in the manufacture of cotton yarn and cloth by imposing high duties on those descriptions of foreign manufactured goods most suitable for the native dress, either from their partiality to particular colours, or from other causes.

And for this reason solely a number of kambayas of blue and white checks are made in the country by the native hand-loom, these colours being in general favourite ones of the Indians; the custom-house duty on such goods, and on other favourite colours, being 15 and 25 per cent., according to the flag of the vessel importing them; the Spaniards guarding their own shipping, and securing to it a monopoly of the carrying trade by that difference of the import duty. Should these goods come from Madras, which is their native country, the duty charged on them is 20 and even 30 per cent. [214]

Although these rates of duty may be considered high enough, they are in reality very much more than that per-centage, because the duty is charged by the authorities on a very high fixed valuation, or on the ad valorem principle, which actually is equivalent to increasing the rates of duty, were that only charged upon the actual market price. Since the beginning of this year (1851), however, I understand some changes have been made in the tariff by altering the valuations of goods.

Kambayas are used as sayas, or outer petticoats, by the native or Mestiza girls, and are generally made of cotton cloth, although, of late, jusè and silk sayas appear to be more generally worn than they used to be.

Tapiz of silk and cotton is also manufactured in the country. This piece of dress is used as a sort of shawl, and is wrapped tightly round the loins and waist, above the saya, being generally a black or dark blue ground, with narrow white stripes upon it, which, when the garment is worn, encircles the body.

The great advantage which the natives have over foreign manufacturers of these coloured cloths consists not so much in the duty, although that is an immense protection, as in the quickness [215]with which they are able to meet the changes of taste in the patterns and designs of such fancy goods. For it is evident that before designs of new styles can reach Great Britain, and the goods be manufactured there, and shipped off to Manilla, many months must elapse, during which the native manufacturers have been supplying the market with these new and approved styles of goods, and of course reaping all the advantages of an active demand, exceeding the supply, by the high prices obtainable for the new designs. For the market of Manilla varies as much, and the tastes of the people are as inconstant and capricious with regard to their dress, as the natives of almost any country can be.

It will scarcely be believed, that in this remote quarter of Asia, many of the natives of the country are as much petits maîtres in their own way, as a gallant of the Tuileries or of St. James’s. It would astonish most people to see some of these poor-looking Indians, or Mestizos, wearing a jewel of the value of four or five hundred dollars in the breast of their shirts, or in a ring on their fingers.

No doubt some of them prefer keeping their money in this way, as it is easily transportable, [216]and is always about their persons, to leaving their dollars or gold ounces concealed somewhere about their houses, from which they may frequently be obliged to be absent. Though, as it is a common custom for the natives to have a piece of bamboo in which to deposit their ready-money, and as there is so much bamboo work about the house, of course it is not very difficult for them to select one piece, which from its being out of the way, and rather unapproachable, renders it a secure deposit for their hoards.

Towels, napkins, and table-cloths, are also manufactured by them, from the cotton of the country, and Governor Enrile taught some of their weavers how to make canvas from cotton. It is now very extensively used by the native shipping, and bears the name of the distinguished and philanthropic individual who taught them how to make it, being known by the name of Lona de Enrile, which name may it long bear, and remain as the most honourable memento any governor could leave behind him, of his beneficent and wise interest in the affairs and administration of an important colony.

At several places in Luzon, and in Cebu, &c., the natives make a species of cloth from the [217]plantain-tree, known by the names of Medrinaque and Guiara cloths. The former description is in the greatest consumption, being stouter and more valuable than the other sort, and is mostly all bought up by the natives themselves, although a small portion of it is also exported.

The bulk of all the Medrinaque exported goes to the United States, to the extent of about 30,000 pieces annually; and sometimes as much as double that quantity is sent, although last year there were only about 23,000 pieces purchased for that market, a large quantity having gone to Europe, which is a novel feature of the trade in the article.

Although the silkworm is bred to some small extent in the country, the silk manufacture is not extensively carried on, as the market can so easily and quickly be supplied from China with any description of goods in demand. Some articles of dress are, however, successfully made by the Indians, to oppose the China silks in the market, such as tapiz for the women, and panjamas for the men.

In various parts of the country, the manufacture of earthenware is pursued to a small extent. [218]It is generally of a very coarse description for cooking purposes, water-jugs, &c., and does not interfere with the sale of the finer China ware, with which the natives are supplied for most of their household purposes by the Chinese dealers in the article, that of China make being very much finer than any they have as yet produced in the country.

In the colours and patterns of their dresses the natives are great dandies; the women, as usual, being more particular in those affairs than the men. Very seldom, indeed, does a native Indian or Mestiza beauty sport the same saya for two gala days consecutively. And a very large proportion of their earnings are spent in self-adornment, their tanpipes, or wardrobes, being very well supplied with clothes, all of them of different patterns. Blue and purple appear to be the colours most admired, because, although the tastes and caprices of the people may vary in an infinite degree as to the patterns or styles of their dresses, they do not differ much in their choice of the colours which compose them. A dark complexioned beauty is never improved by a yellow dress; and any woman at all old or ugly [219]looks hideous indeed when dressed in that colour. Apparently the Government were not ignorant of this when they imposed a heavy duty on blue, purple, or white articles of dress, and allowed yellow and other colours disliked by the natives to come into the country on the payment of a less duty. They have even gone the length of allowing yellow cotton twist of foreign manufacture to be imported duty free.

Truly this was very cunning of them—this apparent liberality to a foreign nation, ignorant that the colour would scarcely ever be used. Its affected moderation would most certainly tend to stop any complaints which might be made about the high duties imposed on our manufactures imported into the colony.

But perhaps the authorities had some design on the native beauties, when they held out such an inducement for them to wear unbecoming dresses. Who can say if the official who drew the scheme up had not a wife, jealous of the influence of some dark Indian beauty, to whom she thus held out the inducement of cheap dress, to disarm the power of her charms! Or, it may be, as the priests are at the bottom of most things in Spain, who can tell but their influence was exerted to [220]get this law passed in the pious hope of inducing those feelings of self-abasement and humility which the sense of being ugly, or even plain-looking, generally induces among the fair? [221]


Besides those already mentioned, there are several other branches of manufacture successfully pursued in different places throughout the country, although none of them are very extensive.

Among others, that of hat-making may be mentioned. It is practised principally at a village called Balignat, in the province of Bulacan; and is also carried on to a smaller extent in Pangasinan, Camarines, and Yloylo.

The hats are made from the cane, the fibres of which, employed in their construction, very much resemble the materials of those made at Leghorn, of straw. They are made both black and white, and are used almost universally by the native population, at times when the heat of the sun does not require the salacod as a protection to the [222]head. These are made of cane also, but are much thicker, heavier, and wider, and are shaped like a flat cone, so that the rays of the sunbeams are deflected from it, in place of being concentrated on the brain, as they are by the shape of the European hat.

A large number of Balignat hats are exported to the Australian colonies, and to China and Singapore, as well as a few to the United States.

Cigar cases, or covers, are made to a small extent in the neighbourhood of Manilla, and most of the patterns used for them are pretty, gay-looking affairs. The fineness of these pouches or cases varies to an almost infinite extent, and so does the price they sell at.

The mats on which the natives all sleep are largely manufactured, and employ a great number of people, as everybody throughout the island uses one or more of them. Some of those made in Laguna province are finer and better finished than any others I have seen elsewhere. They are plain or coloured, and of all patterns, and could be manufactured to any degree of fineness, according to the price promised to the workmen.

Ropemaking is extensively carried on; the [223]best cordage manufactured in the islands being made from the fibres of the plantain-tree, which is known in commerce by the name of Manilla hemp.

At Santa Mesa, in the neighbourhood of Manilla, the rope is spun up by the aid of steam and good machinery, established there for the purpose, and still carried on by an old shipmaster, who produces by far the best rope of all that is made. It is also manufactured in several other places by the common hand-spun process, but from being unequally twisted when made by the hand, it is very much inferior to what has been subjected in its manufacture to the uniform steadiness of pull which the regularity of the steam machinery occasions, all of which is consequently much more suited to stand a heavy strain, from being twisted by it. The price of this rope is altogether dependent on the price of hemp, as the value of the labour employed seldom or never varies, although the raw material of which it is composed constantly does; the usual addition made to the current price of hemp being four dollars a pecul of 140 lbs. English, for the machine-made rope, generally known as “Keating’s patent cordage,” supposing the material so [224]spun to be converted into an assorted lot of from one to six-inch cordage.

The hemp employed in the manufacture of the patent cordage is generally selected for its length of fibre, and lightness or whiteness of colour; and when whale-lines are made, only the very finest lots of hemp procurable at the time are used; but the charge for spinning them is increased to six dollars a pecul, the extra labour being so considerable, that even with the additional charge, the maker, Mr. Keating, informed me that he was much better recompensed by the larger sizes of the rope he spun than by these.

Bale or wool lashing is also made to a small extent for shipment to Sydney, &c.; the quality of the hemp used in making it being of an inferior description, and of a brownish colour. As it is very much more loosely twisted than any other descriptions of rope made here, the charge for spinning it is reduced to two dollars per pecul, and the cost of it will be that amount added to the price of hemp at the time of its manufacture.

The hand-spun rope never sells so well as that made by machinery, and is usually obtainable at from one to two dollars per pecul less than the latter, according as it is well or ill spun. [225]

The export of rope varies from about 9,000 to 15,000 peculs annually; by much the largest quantity usually going to the United States, although there are considerable shipments to the Australian colonies, China, Singapore, and Europe. A large quantity of it is also taken by vessels visiting the port, for their own use.

The manufacture is encouraged by its freedom from any export duty, to which hemp exported in an unmanufactured state is subject, to the extent of 2 per cent.

Besides this cordage, there is another sort of rope made at the Islan de Negros, from a dark-coloured plant,—a description of rush,—which is found growing there in abundance; and as it is not damaged by exposure to the influence of water, it is very extensively used by the native coasting-vessels of small size for cables, for which it is found to answer very well.

Soap is made to a small extent at Quiapo, in Manilla; and is, I understand, shipped to Sooloo and Singapore for sale. But it is not consumed to any great extent in the Philippines, except for washing clothes, &c., the natives preferring to employ a red-coloured root, called gogo, for their own personal ablutions. [226]

This root may be said to be a sort of natural soap, as it serves the same purposes. After being steeped in water for a few minutes, if the water be violently agitated, or if the gogo be rubbed between the hands in the water, a white foam is produced, which exactly resembles soap bubbles, and assists the purification of the skin even better than soap does, being assisted by the fibres of the root, which are usually made to do the duty of a flesh-brush in the bath. When using it, however, it should not be allowed to get into the eyes, as any water impregnated with its bubbles, will inflame them very severely.

So far as I recollect, those that I have quoted are the most important articles manufactured in the country, and they are more numerous and important, considering the state of society in Manilla, than might be looked for. They well exemplify the ingenuity of the people, which is very much more lively than that of any other Oriental nation within the limits of the Indian Archipelago.

Although cigars may be considered as manufacture, I propose classing them with tobacco, which will be found in the list of the agricultural produce of the islands. [227]


The import trade of Manilla is almost entirely in the hands of the British merchants established there, so far as the great staple articles of manufactured goods are concerned; although a quantity is regularly furnished to supply the demands of the market by the Chinese, whose earthenware, iron cooking utensils, silks, cloths, and curiosities, are very plentiful at Manilla, and are indeed obtainable over all the country without much difficulty.

Among the produce of our looms, especially those of Manchester and Glasgow, which are at all times saleable here, may be mentioned shirtings, both white and grey, long-cloths, domestics, drills, cambrics, jaconets, twills, white and printed, bobbinet, gimp lace, cotton velvet, [228]sewing thread, cotton twist of certain colours, principally Turkey red, Turkey red cloth, prints of various sorts, chiefly Bengal stripes, furniture prints, and Turkey red chintz prints, kambayas, and ginghams, which being cheaper, are gradually taking the place of kambayas; indigo blue checks, imitation piña cloth, blue and striped chambrays, grandrills, trouser stuffs of various sorts, chiefly of cotton, and mixed cotton and wool; handkerchiefs of many descriptions, known as Kambaya handkerchiefs, Turkey red bandanas, fancy printed, light ground checked handkerchiefs, Scotch cambric handkerchiefs, &c.; broad-cloth, cubicoes, lastings, orleans, gambroons, long ells, camlets, carriage lace, both broad and narrow, canvas, cordage, iron, lead, spelter, steel, cutlery, ironmongery, earthenware, glassware, umbrellas and parasols of cotton and silk, &c., as well as India beer, which, though last mentioned, is not the common sort of beer, nor the least profitable or pleasant of them all.

It may be well to mention here, that the provincial traders generally arrive at Manilla in the month of November, soon after the rains have ceased, although they sometimes do not make their appearance till December, when they set [229]about making their purchases, and returning to their places of abode as quickly as possible, to sell the merchandize they take with them. If they are successful, and drive a prosperous trade, which is regulated by a variety of accidents, the principal features affecting it being probably the success of the rice crop, they then write to their agents in Manilla to continue purchases of the goods which they find to be of the most saleable descriptions in their different districts, so that it is not until they have ascertained the temper of the market, during the sale of their first lots, that their largest purchases begin to be made, through their agents at Manilla, who, from this circumstance, usually do their most extensive business during the months of February, March, and April; and, in consequence, these months may be considered as the best seasons of the year for the sale of piece goods in that market.

The rainy season commencing in June, puts a stop to the activity of trade, which usually goes on until its near approach. For although there is a demand throughout the year for plain cottons, and similar articles of general use, the trade in coloured goods is almost suspended during the continuance of wet weather, and as [230]the traffic in kambayas, ginghams, handkerchiefs and all other coloured and fancy goods, is by very much the most important description of trade carried on at Manilla, the commerce of the place languishes considerably during the continuance of the rainy season.

The goods imported from the Peninsula are of very small value, consisting principally of wines, olive oil, and eatables of various descriptions; for wherever a Spaniard lives, he would be quite unhappy without his garbanzos or frijoles.

From Germany and France also various descriptions of manufactures are sent, such as cutlery, toys, glass, furniture, pictures, &c., &c., in fine, an endless catalogue of small wares of that description. Having never seen any complete statement of the quantity, value, or proper description of the merchandise imported into the Manilla market, on which I should be inclined to place any reliance, owing to the absolute impossibility of collecting correct statistical information of the sort at that place, I do not presume to furnish such to the reader, even with that explanation.

The goods imported from Liverpool or Glasgow, from which very large quantities of coloured [231]goods are sent here, are always shipped in Spanish vessels at a very high rate of freight, being generally about double what British ships would be glad to take them for, did not the differential duties in favour of the Spanish flag put all this carrying business beyond their reach. A very large—in fact, probably by much the greatest—quantity of goods, is in consequence of this navigation law, carried by British shipping from our seaports at home to Singapore and Hong Kong, where, after having to stand several charges for coolie hire, landing, storing, and warehouse rent, till such time as a disengaged Spanish vessel for Manilla makes her appearance, and the number of goods at either of these intermediate ports accumulates in sufficient quantity to form a cargo to load her, they have to remain of course at a considerable loss, not only of the interest of money locked up in them, but besides the new charges for freight, insurance, &c., which must be incurred upon them, when transhipped to the place of their destination.

In order further to protect their own shipping against the competition of other countries, they hold out the inducement to merchants exporting manufactures to Manilla, to embark them in a [232]Spanish ship in Europe, by making the duties less on the goods so imported, to those merely brought from a short distance from our settlements in the neighbourhood of Manilla. The following are the rates:—

When coming in a Spanish vessel direct from Europe, they pay 7 per cent.

When coming from Singapore, their voyages to that place and back again, occupying about three months, including the time the vessel is in that port,—as although the monsoon is fair one way, it is certain to be opposed to the ship on the other, except just at the time of its turning,—goods from it pay 8 per cent.

When coming from Hong Kong, to and from which place the monsoons are equally favourable at all times of the year, and the usual average voyage of Spanish ships is about ten days either going or coming, they pay 9 per cent.

These regulations are hard enough on our shipowners, whose vessels, going over to Manilla to load cargo there for all parts of the world, seldom or never can procure any freight to that place; or if they do, it is only to a very insignificant amount, only consisting of something which the owner is in a hurry for, and is willing [233]to pay the large differential duty upon, to get it quickly, which of course is a case of very rare occurrence. But to prevent the frequent occurrence of this, any foreign ship bringing no more than even one small package of inward cargo, is required to pay heavier port charges than she would do if coming in without it. [234]


Besides the sale of foreign manufactures and merchandise in the Philippines, there exists a great outlet for it in the islands of Sooloo and Mindanao, although in the present state of society in those islands, where the insecurity of life and property is very great, the natural advantages of these countries have not been at all adequately developed. In front of Zamboanga, the last town towards the south which recognizes the authority of the Government of Manilla, is situated the island of Sooloo, which, although not of great size, is the centre of an active trade during certain months of every year, as great numbers of the natives of the neighbouring islands frequent it at those seasons, in order to dispose of the produce of their fisheries or to sell the slaves whom they have kidnapped or captured during their piratical [235]cruizes and attacks on their neighbours, if at war with them, as some of them usually are with each other. From Manilla some small vessels are annually fitted out for the trade, which is nearly altogether in the hands of the Chinese dealers, as no persons except themselves would stand the bad treatment they are subjected to by the authorities of the place; the character of the Celestial people leading them to suffer any amount of bad usage provided they are paid for it, or can make money by it, which they somehow manage to do, even in Sooloo, although they are exposed to the almost unlimited plunder and extortion of the Sultan and Datos, or native chiefs, who, on the least occasion, or pretext for it, capture and enslave or confine them, only allowing these unfortunates to regain their very unstable liberty by presents or extortionate bribes.

The vessels engaged in the trade, being brigs or schooners, commonly start from Manilla in March or April for Antique, Yloylo, or other places, where they can complete a Sooloo cargo, after doing which they steer for Zamboanga, to report their cargoes and provide themselves with passports at the custom-house there, should they not have done so at Manilla. [236]

It is, however, only within these few years that these facilities have been given to those engaged in the trade, as formerly the colonial ships were forbidden, under a heavy penalty, to touch at any place in the Philippines after clearing out for Sooloo from Manilla. In spite of this law, however, few of those engaged in the trade had virtue sufficient to obey it, and pass these places by, when it was so very much to their interest to complete their cargoes there, which they could not do elsewhere nearly so advantageously. And the only consequence of this absurd old prohibition against their doing so, was to involve many of them in long-pending and expensive lawsuits, which have often ruined prosperous men.

Besides those wise regulations, there existed some other forms equally sensible. For instance, the traders of Bisayao province, who send several small craft to Sooloo, which they are close to, were compelled to make a tedious voyage to Manilla against the monsoon, in order that they might report their cargo for Sooloo and get out passes, after which they had to return all the way back again, and at length were at liberty to steer for Sooloo. [237]

However, these foolish restrictions were at length put a stop to, and the trade encouraged, by the Government establishing a custom-house at Zamboanga, where there is at all times a considerable military force.

The Sultan appears to be the most powerful nobleman in the country, rather than the sovereign monarch of it. For although the chiefs of the islands, or Datos, usually acquiesce in appearance to his will, they do so more from fear of his power at the moment than with any idea of his legitimate authority, and in effect they very seldom comply with his decrees.

The entire people are slaves owned by the Sultan and these Datos, who exercise over the unfortunate wretches the worst species of tyrannical power; for as these nobles or reguli are subject to no law but there own caprice, if any slave displeases his master, he can, without the slightest fear of having to give any account of the circumstance to a living soul, draw his kris, and murder the slave. Of course by so doing, however, he impoverishes himself, as he loses the market price of the day for a slave; or should he murder a slave belonging to some one else, a Dato is only expected to pay the amount he was [238]considered worth by his master, or to give another one of his own in exchange for him.

But, notwithstanding all the insecurity of life and property, the Chinese annually resort to Sooloo in pursuit of gain, and occasionally as many as eight small vessels are seen there at a time, during the busy seasons, for trade, just after the changes of the monsoon.

Some of these Chinamen marry and remain in the country, although every now and then some of them are obliged to flee from it to the Philippines, where the Spanish flag protects them against their tyrannical and barbarous pillagers; for as there is no law to appeal to as a protection against the chiefs, they are quite at their mercy. The Datos themselves decide their quarrels and disputes with each other, by arming and assembling all their slaves and those of their friends who are willing to help them, and fight it out; but should their disputes run very high, or the feud last for any length of time, some powerful Dato, or the Sultan himself, interferes, and decides it finally by obliging both parties to keep the peace.

The footing on which the trade is carried on with Sooloo is rather a strange one; although [239]regulations have at various times been arranged between the Spanish government and that court, by which, although the Sultan has formally promised to give his guarantee that all goods sold by the traders from the Philippines to the Datos shall be paid for, yet there are very few of the traders at Manilla who consider the pledge of his Highness as of much importance, as it is usually only redeemed when his own particular interest requires it. He is, in truth, generally absolutely unable to make the nobles fulfil their contracts, they being as a body very much more powerful than he is. There being little or no money in Sooloo, the trade carried on by the Chinese supercargos of the ships frequenting the port is principally transacted by barter, they giving their manufactures for the produce of their fishery, &c., and for edible birds’-nests, tortoise-shell, beche de mer, mother-of-pearl shell, wax, gold-dust, pearls, &c.

The profits of those engaged in this trade are very variable, for although their goods are all disposed of apparently at enormous prices, yet there are so many of them delivered to powerful chiefs, or to the Sultan, as presents, or sold to these dignitaries without the traders ever being [240]able to get paid for them, that in reality the profit of the voyage may he scanty enough, although, were the guarantee of the prince to the Manilla government fulfilled, they might he very large if the prices at which they had been sold were actually paid to them.

If the debts of the Datos are not paid off at once they are allowed to stand over for another year, at which distance of time they are very seldom recoverable, good memories being very seldom met with there.

When the result of an adventure is good, the traders look upon these presents and bad debts as necessary expenses incurred to conciliate the authorities of the place, without whose good-will they would be quite unable to prosecute the trade, and in this sort of commerce the Chinese are adepts, although no Europeans could manage it, or would carry it on while upon such a footing.

The ships most suited for the trade are small vessels, of about 200 tons, and their cargoes consist of an infinite variety of goods, each lot being generally of small value. The invoices of a cargo usually cover many pages of paper, and it is no easy matter to make them up without the assistance [241]of intelligent Chinese, who have themselves been engaged in the traffic, and are well acquainted with the place and the people to be dealt with.

Some of the principal cotton manufactures sent to that market from Manilla consist of chintz prints, jaconets and mulls, white shirtings, cambrics, bandana, kambaya, and other descriptions of handkerchiefs; also, iron and hardware, glassware, coarse China earthenware, silk, cloths, copper work, &c.

Ships are in the habit of touching at some port of the Philippines, generally the Island of Panay, there to load and fill up with rice, sugar, tobacco, oil, and several other articles in small quantities. Rice is generally taken from its being always in demand by the Sooloomen, whose habits and feelings little suit them for its production, even when the nature of the country admits of its being grown. The Chinese usually take down a large quantity of a kind of cloth made in their own country, which habit has substituted for money, a piece of it of the usual size being always reckoned as a dollar.

The Sooloomen pay for their purchases in various articles, of which the edible birds’-nests are the most valuable. They are classified by [242]the traders as of two sorts: white, and feathered; of which, the first sort is the most valuable, being generally worth about its weight in silver, or if very good, a little more; but should its colour tend to a red or darkish tinge, it is depreciated in value and is not worth so much.

The feathered sort, called so because the edible substance, of which the Chinamen make soup, is covered by the birds’ down and feathers, is very much lower in price than the white kind, being worth nearly two dollars a pound, or I believe it is generally roughly taken as being only about one-tenth part as valuable as the white.

Tortoise-shell they collect and sell at very high prices, the bulk of it going over to supply the China market with that article, a small quantity only being annually sent to Europe.

Bêche de mer, or tripang, is a sort of fish or sea-slug, found on the coral reefs, &c., of the neighbourhood, which, when cured and dried, is generally shaped something like a cucumber.

It is minced down into a sort of thick soup by the Chinese, who are extremely fond of it,—and indeed with some reason, as when well cooked by a Chinaman, who understands the culinary art, the tripang is a capital dish, and is rather a [243]favourite among many of the Europeans at Manilla.

There are thirty-three different varieties enumerated by the Chinese traders and others skilled in its classification; for being brought to Manilla in large quantities for that purpose, for the China market, it has become a peculiar business of itself by the dealers in it, and varies in price, according to quality, from fifteen to thirty dollars per pecul of 140 lbs. English.

The slug, when dried, is an ugly looking, dirty brown-coloured substance, very hard and rigid until softened by water and a very lengthened process of cookery, after which it becomes soft and mucilaginous.

Sometimes the slugs are found nearly two feet in length, but they are generally very much smaller, and perhaps about eight inches might be the usual size of those I have seen, their shape, as before mentioned, strongly resembling a cucumber. After being taken by the fisherman they are gutted, and then cured by exposure to the rays of the sun, after which they are smoked—over a fire, I believe—when the curing process is completed.

Shark fins, and the muscles of deer, are also exposed for sale by the Sooloo people to their [244]Chinese visitors, by whom they are eagerly purchased for their countrymen’s cookery, both of these articles being very favourite delicacies. The first I have never tasted, although the flesh of a shark, if cut from some particular parts of his body, is far from being bad or unsavoury, if dressed by a China cook. As for the sinews of deer, they are very good, and occasionally met with at Manilla on the tables of Europeans who enjoy the reputation of having good palates.

Mother-of-pearl shell is so well known in Europe, that it is quite unnecessary to remark upon it, more than that those coming from Sooloo are by much the finest and largest shells of any hitherto known in commerce, being superior to those coming from the Persian Gulf.

Pearls are also brought from Sooloo, but they are seldom of any great size or value.

Gold is brought to Manilla from the same place, both in dust and in small bars, but not in any great quantity.

The ships engaged in this trade are generally absent about six months from Manilla, which they leave in March or April, and return to, after coasting about and disposing of all their cargoes, in September or October; no new [245]voyages being undertaken by them until the following year.

During June and July, the most active trade is said to be carried on, as the number of traders annually frequenting the island from those in the neighbourhood, is much greater than at other times.

Besides the trade with Sooloo, a ship is absent nearly every year to Ternate, and other places of the Moluccas, where they usually manage to get their goods ashore, without paying the heavy duties which the Dutch have imposed upon them. The months of December or January being the usual time for starting for the Moluccas, these traders generally begin the busy season at Manilla by the purchase of grey shirtings and domestics, by adding which to goods very similar to those suited for Sooloo, they are enabled to have two strings to their bow, should the prices in the Moluccas be low; as they can, in that case, stand over to Sooloo in June, when they are usually able to dispose of their investments. [246]


The insolence of the Sooloo men has at various times drawn down on them the wrath of the Spanish authorities, who, in 1848, and also shortly after I left Manilla, towards the end of 1850, were making arrangements for punishing them, as they afterwards did, with some severity, about the beginning of this year.

The Datos, and their families, are like the old Danes, or Norsemen, born to be seamen; and the barbarous state of their native country preventing the establishment of a mercantile marine, their energies have marked out a scheme of warlike adventure on the sea, to succeed in which their natural quickness and duplicity of character eminently qualify them. [247]

A young Sooloo chief, whose ambitious or restless temper will not permit him to remain an idle man at home, where his passions for cruelty and voluptuous excess could scarcely fail to ruin him in a few years—surrounded as he is there by slavish dependents, and fearless of any higher power, whose authority might act as a check on his temper, or force him to control his passions—finds that the activity of his mind and body demand more scope for excitement than exists at home; and having a bias for the sea, he becomes a pirate chief, and scours the neighbouring waters in search of honour as well as gain. Under proper influences these men might be taught to divert their roving propensities into more peaceful channels. Fitting out large and fast-sailing proas, manned by their slaves, and officered by kinsmen, their warlike excursions take a wide range, and on some occasions their audacity has led them up even to the Bay of Manilla, landing on the shores of which, they have plundered the people, and carried off some of them to increase the number of their slaves, who constitute their principal wealth and power—daring to do this when so near as to be almost under the very [248]walls of the capital, on which waves the banner of Castile.

On the coasts of the provinces these predatory inroads were not uncommon, till General Claveria, in the beginning of 1848, determined to punish them severely, and to intimidate them so signally, as to prevent any repetition of these offences. Accordingly, having secretly fitted out an expedition from Manilla on the 13th February, 1848, the steamer on board of which the Governor himself was, anchored between the islands of Parol and Balanguinguy. Next day the transports arrived, and on that and the following day they reconnoitred the islands, and did all the damage they could, by way of reprisal, demolishing several piers, and destroying a large quantity of paddy which they discovered concealed in a cave in a retired place.

At daybreak, on the 16th February, the troops were disembarked before Balanguinguy under cover of a fire from the ships, and after a little resistance from the Sooloo men—who were excessively frightened by the appearance of the steamers, whose facility of movement they were quite unprepared for—the fort, consisting of bamboo, was taken by escalade after a brave resistance. [249]The attacking force, consisting of about 4000 men, behaved with great coolness and decision, when exposed to the enemy’s fire and missiles of all sorts, such as arrows, javelins, &c. About eighty of the defenders of the place were slain, many of them with the desperate bravery—or ferocity if you will—of men who neither would give or accept of quarter, having first stabbed their wives, children, and useless old men and women. On seeing the success of the Spaniards, they formed themselves into a band, nearly all of whom perished on the points of the soldiers’ bayonets, fighting bravely to the last; when the few survivors, seeing their companions dead and dying around them, with all the desperation of pirates, threw themselves from the walls, which were lofty, preferring certain death to the chance of falling into the hands of their enemies alive. Fourteen pieces of artillery were found within the place, which was destroyed, and preparations were made and acted upon for attacking the forts of Sipac and Sungap, both of which were successful.

The Governor, General Claveria, gained at the time a good deal of reputation from his soldierly management of the forces at his disposal; and [250]when the news reached Spain, he was created the Conde of Manilla, &c.

On his return from this expedition, a great deal of absurd parade was, as is usual with the Spaniards, prepared to welcome him; and the General was forced to march under triumphal arches, &c., all of them bearing the most glowing inscriptions to the conqueror of the three bamboo forts from a race of barbarians, most of whom were unprovided with better arms than bows and arrows, spears, &c.; for although they had some small cannon, they could not make a proper use of them. Truly it was a pity to see the good deeds of the Balanguinguy expedition burlesqued by these ridiculous pageants.

The lesson then taught the Sooloo chiefs did not, however, linger long in their memories; for their old habits of piracy, and kidnapping people for slaves, were resumed almost so soon as the Spaniards returned to Manilla.

In 1850, Don Antonio de Urbistondo, Marques de la Solana, came out to Manilla as Governor of the Philippines. He was a man whose whole life had been passed in the camp, but his reputation had been gained during the civil wars in Spain, where he fought for legitimacy by the side of Don [251]Carlos against the present queen. Nor did he give up the cause in which he had drawn his sword, until Don Carlos himself lost heart and forsook it, after which Don Antonio took advantage of the clemency of the queen, and swore allegiance to her as his sovereign. His talents as a soldier, although they had been displayed against herself, were rewarded by a marquisate, and afterwards by the government of the Philippines. A person of his character and military education was, of course, a most unlikely one tamely to permit an insult to be offered to the Spanish flag, or an outrage to be perpetrated in the Philippines by the Sooloomen; accordingly, when an instance occurred near the end of last year, prompt satisfaction was immediately demanded from the Sultan and Datos, who, as usual, accused some of their neighbours, with whom they were at variance at the time, of being the authors of it; and invited the Spaniards to seek reparation from them sword in hand. Accordingly an expedition was fitted out, and, with the Governor at its head, sailed for Sooloo in order to awe them, by the alacrity and force which the occasion at once called forth, and to establish a new treaty which would prevent the recurrence of such acts, and [252]the necessity for such expeditions; and it was proposed to punish with no light hand those Tonquiles and others of the Samales whom the Sultan had accused as the perpetrators of the late aggression.

However, on reaching the principal fort of the Sultan Mahomet Pulalon, he found that the Sooloomen would have no communication with him, and that they even threatened the envoys sent among them; and at last, some guns were, I believe, fired on one of the ships. Immediately after this, measures of retaliation were arranged, and were acted upon at once; the place off which the fleet was, being attacked and taken, and all the forts and villages in the neighbourhood burnt within forty-eight hours after the Spanish flag had been insulted. After this severe lesson the Sultan and Datos fled, leaving in the hands of the Spaniards eight bamboo forts and one hundred and thirty pieces of artillery, besides several other warlike stores. All this took place very recently, no longer ago than on the last day of February of this year (1851). General Urbistondo published to his troops a general complimentary order, dated from the fortified residence of one of the most powerful [253]Datos; and on the 1st of March the Spaniards were in possession of the principal fort of the Sultan. The particulars of this expedition I cannot give, having left Manilla shortly before the preparations for it began, although, I believe, it consisted of three war-steamers and some transports, who carried about 4000 men down to Sooloo.

The loss of the Spaniards in the whole affair was 34 men killed, with 84 wounded. A very unpleasant circumstance to the army was connected with this expedition. Two field-officers, both of them acting lieutenant-colonels of separate regiments, showed the white feather at the moment of danger; for which, I believe, they have since been cashiered, and not shot, as they might have been, had their chief not been as merciful as he is brave.

Although this chastisement to the Sooloo men has been severe, it is unlikely to restrain the chiefs from their predatory expeditions, at least for any length of time; as under the present state of things prevailing among them, they have no other objects to exhaust their idleness and energetic characters upon, than piratical adventure. But were commerce and its emoluments [254]displayed before them, from some place in the vicinity of Zamboanga, or from that place itself, the civilizing influence which the arts of peace always engender would so pervade their minds in a very few years, that their habits would be changed, and the blessings of education, religion, and peace, might be expected to civilize and elevate their minds. Their energies and seamanship would then be in requisition as the navigators of all the Archipelago, and to carry in their native vessels the produce of the fertile inland districts of Mindanao, and of Northern Borneo, to the great mart which Zamboanga would become, should it fortunately be made an open port of trade for the people of all nations. [255]


The coasting trade, which is a very important nursery for the marine of the Philippines, is carried on exclusively by the national vessels, no foreign ships being allowed to engage in it.

Manilla, being the only port open to the foreign merchants, is the grand emporium or centre to which nearly all the productions of the islands are brought, which regulation gives employment to an infinite number of colonial shipping, in carrying them to that market. Every day there are several arrivals from the various sea-ports of the different districts of the islands, of brigs, schooners, pontines, galeras, caracoas, and pancos, all of them being curious specimens of every variety of ship-building, from [256]the black and low snake-like schooner, or handsome brig, to the most rude description of vessel built. Where iron nails are scarce and expensive, some of these are fastened together apparently in a manner the most unsatisfactory possible for their crews or passengers, should they have to encounter a gale of wind during their voyages.

Nearly the whole of the coasting trade is in the hands of the Indians, or Mestizos of Chinese descent, called Sangleys, although several Spaniards and European Mestizos at Manilla also own a better class of ships than those described, constantly engaged in going and returning from the provinces.

Still, from some cause or other, they do not appear to carry the on trade so successfully as the provincial shipowners, most of whom have only one or two small vessels, which they keep constantly running between their native place and Manilla, and whose sole business it is, after despatching either of them, to purchase up from the cultivators of the soil, such small lots of their produce as are cheap at the time, such as sugar, rice, &c., which they are able to do at greatly lower terms, when buying them by little at a time, than it would be possible for the agent of [257]a merchant in Manilla to do, whose operations it would probably be necessary should be conducted upon a more extensive and quicker scale, and whose knowledge of the district and of the vendors could seldom be equal to that of a native Sangley, or Indian born among them.

In consequence of all the produce being originally purchased by small lots at a time, it is of very variable quality; and on a cargo of Muscovado sugar, for instance, being purchased from one of these traders by a foreign merchant of Manilla, for exportation, it is perfectly essential to open the whole of the bags in which it has come up to Manilla from the provinces, and to empty their contents into one great heap, which causes it to get well mingled together, and ensures the requisite regularity of sample, after which it has to be rebagged and shipped off to the foreign vessels that may be waiting to receive it in the bay.

Of course the expense of all this is very considerable, for not only is there all the labour and cost of bags, &c., incurred twice, but there is the freight and insurance by the province vessel, which has brought it up to Manilla, to be added [258]to the natural cost of the sugar at the place of its growth and manufacture.

All these restrictions on trade affect the quantity of sugar sold by the native planters, and in a very material degree depress the agricultural activity of the people, who suffer from them. But probably there are no greater sufferers from such restrictive regulations than the Government which so ignorantly sustains or has imposed them. So little anxious have they been to encourage the trade, that formerly, at various times, they very nearly all but ruined it, by imposing import duties on all the produce of the provinces that came to Manilla from them, for sale. This, added to the export duties at the time of its shipment to foreign markets, so much increased the cost of those articles in Manilla, that the foreign merchants there, finding they could procure similar merchandise at other places for less money, of course would not buy it; and the native traders, finding their produce unsaleable except at losing prices, could not make any further purchases from the native agriculturists, which caused so much distress in the country, that the provinces got into a high state of [259]disaffection on several occasions, from the same cause; upon seeing which the Government were wise enough to repeal their restrictive laws, and allow the free interchange of commodities between all the provinces of the Philippines.

For instead, as was supposed, of its falling upon the exporting foreign merchants, and on those who bought their cargoes of Manilla produce from them at the port of discharge, the tax fell upon the native agriculturists, inasmuch as they had to reduce the former prices of all their produce which paid the tax, and to equalise them to the rates at which similar merchandise was procurable in other markets, where no tax of the sort existed;—and this, of course, compelled the cultivators of these articles in the Philippines to sell the produce of their farms for less money than they formerly obtained for the same goods. By so doing, it was equivalent to reducing the former wages of their labour, or of the produce of their land—the effects of which were speedily felt and comprehended by them, although some of the officials, who imposed it, might scoff at the causes they assigned, and reiterate their crude and erroneous notions of political economy, to prove that it could not [260]affect them, but must be paid by the great merchants, or by the consumers of their produce in Europe. They quite forgot that these could be supplied with the same things from other places, where they were not subjected to the tax, and of course were procurable cheaper.

Owners of vessels suitable for the coasting trade, who reside in Manilla, have one advantage over the provincial ship-builders; namely, that when the government service gives employment to shipping, they are in a better position for offering for it, than persons at a distance from the capital can be.

The freight of tobacco, for instance, gives a good deal of employment to ships, and as government rates are in general rather better than any charters obtainable from private merchants, the procuring of a government contract for carrying any of the articles which they monopolize, of which the above-mentioned is one, is an object of some competition. These freights are usually settled by tenders, sealed and delivered to an officer appointed to receive them, by the Yntendente, or officer at the head of the Finance Department. I was acquainted with a gentleman, who, having several idle vessels suitable for this [261]carrying trade, was of course most anxious to get the contract, to give employment to his ships; and having found out who the other contractors for it were, and all of them happening to be cautious men, not likely to offer for it at a losing price, he resolved to play a bold game, and made his tender for the conveyance of it out in some such words as these: “I offer freight for the tobacco, at one cuarto less than any body else will take it at,” and signed his name; a cuarto being the very smallest copper coin current at Manilla. Of course he got the contract; which—as he anticipated from knowing the men who offered for it—turned out to be a very good one; and, as the Yntendente of the time was an intimate friend of his, he ran little risk of being taken advantage of, by a lower sum being named to him as the lowest tender than what was actually the case.

Nearly all the tobacco collected in Cagayan is yearly brought to Manilla during the north-east monsoon. The contracts for this purpose generally embrace a term of three or four years, during which the rate paid by Government to the person who engages to bring all the bales (or cases) of it which they may require at one fixed freight, never fluctuates, even although the amount [262]shipped by them is very much in excess of the usual quantity, and he may be forced to charter vessels from his neighbours at a much higher rate than the Government pay him, in order to fulfil the conditions of his contract. Considerable care is requisite in loading this tobacco, as, should there be a mistake made even of one bale, the contractor is forced to account for it to Government at the price they sell it at, which is about three times as much as they pay for it; and this regulation is no doubt found to be very requisite, in order to prevent fraud.

After the tobacco has been manufactured into cigars, the contractor has to deliver it at various stations throughout the islands, these places being generally the head-quarters of the fiscal or estanco department of the different maritime provinces from which the other are supplied. Besides the coasting trade from the provinces to Manilla, and that in the government service, there is a trade carried on by various provinces between themselves, such as conveying rice or paddy from the grain-districts to other provinces where less of it is grown, from the attention of the natives being directed to some other agricultural produce more suitable than paddy to their soil and climate, as [263]from Antique to Mindora or Zamboanga, or from the island of Samar to that of Negros, or to Mesamis. Thus in the hemp provinces, little paddy is planted, as it is more profitable for them to make hemp, or to weave Sinamais cloths, &c., than to do so. This commerce, however, is not of any great extent; the principal—indeed the only great—market of the country being Manilla, where traders from all parts of the Archipelago meet to buy and sell.

It has been mentioned elsewhere that foreign men, as well as foreign ships, are at present excluded from engaging in the provincial trade; which is about as illiberal and unwise an act as any country could be guilty of, and should be changed, not for the benefit of foreign traders, but for the good of the country.

In connexion with the province trade, the naval school ought to be mentioned, as it is a most useful institution, where arithmetic, geometry, and navigation are taught gratuitously, at an expense to Government of nearly 2,400 dollars a-year.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce is also President of the school, and the members of that body have the privilege of admitting the [264]pupils—a right which I believe they exercise liberally. At this place, boys are very well trained up in the scientific and theoretical part of their profession; but unfortunately, from some cause or other, their education afterwards as practical seamen does not keep pace with it, and they generally are as much behind our British or American shipmasters in all relating to the sea, as can be well conceived, although they are not unfrequently superior to them, and at least are equal, in their theoretical attainments.

At this school, many of the Creoles and Mestizos of Manilla have shown to the world that they did not want the ability to learn, when they had good masters to instruct them; but good heads and hands are seldom found together. In fact, I rather think that the lads educated here are taught too much (if that be possible), and by being so, have their ideas raised above their stations; for many of them are, by a great deal, much more like gentlemen than a number of the merchant skippers or mates in our British ships, whose horny fists and tar-stained dress make few pretensions to outward gentility.

Among the province-trading vessels lying at [265]anchor in Manilla river, there are at all times to be seen some curious specimens of ship-building, few of them being insurable.

Some of these coasters, although nearly all shaped in the European style, have almost the whole of their rigging constructed of ropes made from the bamboo, and are fitted with anchors made from ebony or some other heavy wood, having occasionally a large piece of stone fastened to them, to insure their sinking. The cables to which they are attached are generally of a black rush, like sedge, or of bamboo; but in the event of a gale, I should say that their crews had great need never to embark in these frail shells, except when well assured of being at peace with God and man.

In ordinary years these vessels are laid up for several months every season, as it would most probably be certain destruction for any of them to attempt proceeding to sea from October till December.

Although a large proportion of the colonial-built vessels are bad, still there are a few constructed in the country which would be considered fine ships in any part of the world.

When a good vessel is built there, the first [266]voyage she makes is usually to Spain, if she can get a freight; and after discharging her cargo, her next voyage is to a British port, in order that she may be fitted with copper bolts and iron work, under the inspection of Lloyd’s surveyor; after which her character is established, and she is classed A 1 ship for a term of years.

But notwithstanding these ships being placed in Lloyd’s books, the insurance offices can seldom be persuaded to accept of risks even in first-class vessels, when their crews are Spaniards, on the same favourable terms at which risks are freely taken on good British ships. They almost invariably demand an increased premium, and occasionally decline risks by them altogether.

Now, although bad management sometimes occurs on board of Spanish ships, our own are not exempt from it; and I believe that prejudice causes them to refuse the insurance as much as anything else.

The Dons have got a bad name as seamen, and very true is the elegant proverb, “Give a dog a bad name, and hang him.” [267]


Nearly the whole of the produce of the Philippines is exported from Manilla by the foreign merchants resident there, none of the Spaniards being engaged in commerce to anything like the same extent as the foreigners are; the few British and the two American houses doing an immensely greater amount of business than the whole transactions of all the Spanish merchants, numerous though they be. The trade of my countrymen consists principally in selling cotton manufactured goods, and in purchasing the produce of the islands for export; while the business of the Americans, who sell few goods, consists almost entirely in purchasing produce for the markets of the United States, and elsewhere. [268]The Chinese are also large importers of their country’s manufactures, curiosities, and nick-knacks, and also very considerable exporters.

The statistical data embodied in the following tables will inform the reader pretty exactly of the amount of exports from the Philippines, with the exception of the single article of rice, immense quantities of which are carried over to China by Spanish ships, which load it at the districts where it is grown; for as the Government charge no export duty on its exportation in ships bearing the national flag, they are allowed to depart from the general rule of all vessels being obliged to load at Manilla while shipping cargo for foreign ports, if they are merely taking rice on board, and nothing else.

It is right, however, to inform the reader, that although the subjoined table may approach very nearly to the truth in most respects, as it has been gradually and very carefully collected by the largest British mercantile establishment at Manilla, the nature of whose business requires that they should be as well acquainted with all facts such as the table embraces, as from the nature of existing circumstances there it is possible to be, yet at that place there is at all times a greater [269]or less degree of difficulty in obtaining correct statistical information of the trade; and this is considerably increased by the Government not choosing to communicate the particulars they collect at the Custom-house, erroneous though they be.

In an underhand way, however, these particulars can be obtained from some of the Indian copyists employed in that establishment, if they are paid for it; and, in fact, they are in the habit of communicating a note of the different cargoes of ships coming in, or going away loaded, to some of the merchants. Yet these notes are nearly always more or less erroneous, from various causes. To obviate these inconveniences, several of the principal export merchants are in the habit of mutually furnishing each other with a correct statement of the various cargoes they ship; but still, as there are many exporters besides themselves, some degree of error must pervade even their carefully-gleaned information. But there is one thing to be borne in mind, that the following table is most likely to be considerably under the truth, and certainly is not over it. [270]

General Statement of Exports from Manilla during 1850.

To Great Britain. To the Continent of Europe. To the Australian Colonies. To China. To Singapore, Batavia, & Bombay. To California and the Pacific. To United States. Total
Sugar 146,926 50,830 142,359 12,749 29,144 77,919 459,927 peculs.
Hemp 16,073 5,568 544 102,184 124,367 peculs.
Cordage 96 476 3,753 1,732 680 2,137 210 9,084 peculs.
Cigars 10,319 11,867 12,561 9,262 26,859 1,707 914 73,439 mil.
Leaf Tobacco 42,629 42,629 quintals.
Sapan-wood 37,068 14,436 18,942 17,337 9,015 96,798 arrobas.
Coffee 165 9,670 1,481 100 250 1,072 2,063 14,801 peculs
Indigo 259 213 uncertain 3,753 4,225 quintals.
Hides 3,340 213 1,069 4,622 peculs.
Hide Cuttings 536 2,419 2,955 peculs.
Mother-of-pearl Shell 820 338 260 74 1,492 peculs.
Tortoise-shell 2,081 580 555 1,912 469 5,597 catties.
Rice 6,576 uncertain 1,467 Uncertain.
Beche de Mer 4,348 4,348 peculs.
Gold Dust 5,068 5,068 taels.
Camagon, or Ebony-wood 235 1,213 794 2,242 peculs.
Grass-cloth 175 13,252 500 650 22,975 37,552 pieces.
Hats 9,400 5,115 9,115 500 25,870 50,000 hats.


The quantity of rice and paddy shipped to China from the provinces cannot be ascertained with any degree of exactness; what goes from Manilla is very small, because, before arriving there, it has, by its transport expenses, added to the price at which it is obtainable in the districts where it is produced, which, of course, prevents its being shipped from the capital. At a guess, however, I should suppose that about a million cavans, each of which, one with another, weighs about a China pecul, or 133⅓ lbs, is an average yearly export, should the Government not prohibit the article from being exported for a longer period than usual, which is annually regulated by the scarcity or abundance of food in the country.

From the preceding table, the reader will observe that the exports of 1850, when compared with those of 1847, of which the following is a statement, have increased in some respects, and fallen off in others. [272]

Statement of Exports from Manilla during 1850.

To Great Britain. To the Continent of Europe. To the United States. To the Pacific and California. To the Australian Colonies. To China. To Singapore To Batavia. Total
Sugar 104,246 18,755 92,149 4,150 174,777 394,077 peculs.
Hemp 16,592 2,438 98,440 300 1,888 119,658 peculs.
Cordage 20 546 7,038 404 4,430 825 1,425 14,688 peculs.
Indigo 58 78 2,166 149 118 2,569 quintals.
Sapan-wood 12,055 11,960 28,891 160 5,210 18,814 1,817 78,907 peculs.
Hides 1,366 183 1,821 2,389 5,759 peculs.
Hide Cuttings 1,893 1,893 peculs.
Gold Dust 3,970 3,970 taels.
Coffee 9,244 395 4,267 13,906 peculs.
Rice 23,760 4,520 300 772 uncertain 875 Uncertain.
Paddy 1,870 13,978 uncertain Ditto.
Cigars 16,010 11,176 548 787 9,674 6,706 19,169 5,943 70,013 mil.
Leaf Tobacco 5,440 115,016 5,280 125,733 arrobas.
Mother-of-Pearl Shell 708 92 16 816 peculs.
Grass-cloth 56,171 56,171 pieces.
Hats 1,600 10,932 5,560 18,092 hats.


The quantity of hemp shipped during the years 1848 and 1849, was greater than the quantity indicated in either of these tables, but as the increased export was principally caused by speculation in the United States, the average annual export may probably not be greater than the amount set down in the table of 1850, although, in the previous year, about 30,000 peculs more were shipped.

Of the exports to the continent of Europe only a small proportion goes to Spain, probably not exceeding a third part of the quantities set down in the table for the continent.

Bremen, Hamburg, and Antwerp, are the three towns in the north with which most business is done, and Bordeaux and Havre de Grâce, are nearly the only places to which the other exports are shipped for Europe, exclusive of the ports of Cadiz, Malaga, and Bilboa, in the Peninsula.

Having furnished the preceding tables of the amount of the exports from the only outlet for foreign trade with the islands, excepting in rice to China, as before mentioned, the reader may be able to form some opinion of their veracity and value. And as it may be of some service, I shall [274]give a short sketch of each of the most important of the articles there set down, premising it with a memorandum of the weights and measures now in use through the islands. The pecul is equal to 140 lbs. English, or 137½ lbs. Spanish; the Spanish lb. being two per cent. heavier than the standard British lb. The quintal is 102 lbs. English, and the arroba 25½ lbs. English. The cavan is a measure of the capacity of 5,998 cubic inches, and is subdivided into 25 quintas. The Spanish yard, or vara, is eight per cent. shorter than the British yard, by which latter all the cotton and other manufactures are sold by the merchants importing them, although the shopkeepers who purchase them retail everything by the Spanish yard. [275]


It is not my intention, even were it in my power, which it is not, to attempt an exact and complete description of all the productions of the group of islands composing the Philippines, to which nature has with no niggardly hand dispensed great territorial and maritime wealth. And as the limits of this work prevent much expansion, I will confine the following observations to an outline of the principal articles produced in the country, beginning the catalogue with the most important of them all, namely, rice.

The cultivation of paddy, or rice, here, as all over Asia, exercises by far the greatest amount of [276]agricultural labour, being their most extensive article of cultivation, as it forms the usual food of the people, and is, as the Spaniards truly call it, El pau de los Indios; a good or bad crop of it, influencing them just as much as potatoes do the Irish, or as the wheat crops do in bread-consuming countries.

In September and October, when, in consequence of the heavy previous rains since the beginning of the wet season, the parched land is so buried as generally about that time to present the appearance of one vast marsh, it is ploughed lightly, after which the husbandman transplants the grain from the nurseries in which he had previously deposited it, in order to undergo there the first stages of vegetation.

In December, or in January, the grain is ready for the sickle, and in general repays his cares and labour by the most abundant harvest. There is no culture more easy and simple; nor any which gives such positive good results in less time, as only four months pass between the times of sowing and reaping the rice crop.

In some places the mode of reaping differs from the customs of others. At some places they [277]merely cut the ears from off the stalks, which are allowed to remain on the fields to decay, and fertilize the soil as a manure; and in other provinces the straw is all reaped, and bound in the same way as wheat is at home, being then piled up in ricks and stacks to dry in the sun, after which the grain is separated by the treading of ponies, the horses of the country, upon it, or by other means, when the grain is again cleared of another outer husk, by being thrown into a mortar, generally formed out of the trunk of some large tree, where the men, women, and children of the farm are occupied in pounding it with a heavy wooden pestle, which removes the husk, but leaves the grain still covered by a delicate skin. When in this state it is known as pinagua; but after that is taken off, the rice is clean.

For blowing away the chaff from the grain, they employ an implement worked by a handle and a wheel in a box, which is very similar to the old-fashioned fanners used in Scotland by the smaller farmers for the same purpose.

In the neighbourhood of Manilla, there is a steam-mill for the purpose of cleaning rice; and [278]there are several machines worked by horse-power throughout the country. But although there are many facilities for the employment of water-power for the same purpose, I am not acquainted with any mill moved on that principle.

The qualities of rice produced in the different provinces, varies a good deal in quality. That of Ylocos is the heaviest, a cavan of it weighing about 140 lbs. English, while Camarines rice weighs only about 132 lbs., and some of the other provinces not over 126 lbs. per cavan.

Although in all the provinces rice is grown to a considerable extent, yet those which produce it best, and in greatest abundance, and form what may be called granaries for the others, which are not so suitable for that cultivation, may be considered to be Ylocos, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Capiz, Camarines, and Antique.

It is best to ship rice in dry weather; and should it be destined for Europe, or any other distant market, it should leave by the fair monsoon, in order that the voyage may be as short as possible, to ensure which, all orders for rice purchases for the European markets should reach Manilla in December or January, as the new crop [279]just begins to arrive about the end of that month. It takes about a month to clean a cargo at the steam-mill, and after March, the fair monsoon for homeward-bound ships cannot much be depended upon; and were the vessel to make a long passage, the cargo would probably be excessively damaged by weevils, by which it is very frequently attacked. Ylocos rice is considered to be the best for a long voyage, as it keeps better than that grown in other provinces.

The price of white rice is rarely below two dollars per pecul, or above two and a half dollars per pecul, bagged and ready for shipment.

A hundred cavans of ordinary province rice will usually produce 85 per cent. of clean white, and about 10 per cent. of broken rice, which can be sold at about half the price of the ordinary quality: the remaining 5 per cent. is wasted in cleaning.

Rice exported by a Spanish ship, goes free; but if exported by any foreign ship, even when it is sent to a Spanish colony, it pays 3½ per cent. export duty, and when sent to a foreign country by a foreign ship, it pays an export duty of 4½ per cent. In order to be more explicit, [280]it may be well to give a pro formâ invoice of rice.

5,000 peculs of white rice, bought ready for shipment at the mill, at $2¼ per pecul $11,250 00
Charges :—
Export duty on valuation, which can generally be managed to be got at a good deal under the market price; say at $1½ per pecul, at 4½ per cent. $337 50
Boat and coolie hire, shipping 200 00
537 50
$11,787 50
Commission for purchasing and shipping, &c., at 5 per cent. 589 37
$12,376 87

This is about equal to its price if purchased and cleaned in another manner; for instance:—

1,000 cavans province rice, costing, say, 10½ rials per cavan, = $1,312 50
will generally produce 85 per cent. clean white rice, fit for shipping, and 10 per cent. broken rice, which can be sold at about 5¼ rials per cavan, = 65 62
thus 150 cavans (equal to about 820 peculs) will cost $1,246 88
Add the expenses of receiving on board the native boats, measuring there, landing, re-measuring, cleaning, bags and bagging, averaging from about 70 to 80 cents. per pecul of cleaned rice, say at 75 cents, = 615 00
$1,861 88


or equal to $2–27/100 per pecul for clean white rice, ready for shipment.

Sugar.—Although the cane is cultivated to a greater or less extent throughout all the islands, there are four descriptions of sugar well known in commerce, grown in the Philippines, and these come respectively from the districts of Pampanga, Pangasinan, Cebu, and Saal, after which districts they are named; and the growth of other places producing similar sugars to any of these descriptions, usually passes under one of these names in the market, although Yloylo is sometimes, though rarely, distinguished as a separate quality. The mills employed for expressing the juice from the cane are nearly all of stone; and firewood is usually employed to boil the sugar; for although they have for some years introduced the plan of employing the refuse of the cane for that purpose, it is not yet very general.

A large quantity of the Muscovado sugar made in the country, resembling the descriptions produced in the provinces of Pampanga and Pangasinan, is brought to Manilla for sale, in large conical earthern jars, called pilones, each of which weighs a pecul. The Chinese or Mestizos who are engaged in the purifying of sugar are the [282]purchasers of these lots, and most of them are in the habit of sending an agent through the country, with orders to buy up as much of such sugar as they require to keep their establishments at work. They are in the habit of paying these travellers a rial, which at Manilla is the eighth part of a dollar, for every pilone he purchases on their account at the limits they give him. When enough has been collected in one neighbourhood to load a casco or other province boat, it is despatched to their camarine at Manilla, where after being taken from the original pilone, if it has come from Pampanga, it is mixed up together, and placed in another one, with an opening at the conical part, which is placed over a jar into which the molasses distilling from it gradually drop, when the colour of the sugar from being brown becomes of a greyish tinge.

At the top of the pilone, so placed with the cone turned down, a layer of clay is spread over the sugar, as it has the property of attracting all the impurities to itself; so that the parts of the sugar in the pilone next to the clay are certain to be of the whitest and best colour, whilst the sugar at the bottom, or next the opening of the cone, is the darkest and most valueless, until it [283]has had its turn of the clay; for when the Chinamen perceive that the top part of the sugar in the pilone or earthen jar has attained a certain degree of whiteness, they separate the white from the darker coloured, and the greyish tinged sugar from the dark brown coloured portion at the foot of the jar; and after exposing the white and greyish coloured to the sun, they are packed up, while the dark brown portion, after being mixed with that of a similar colour, is again consigned to the pilone to be clayed.

Besides clay, some portions of the stem of the plantain-tree are said to have the power of extracting the impurities from sugar, and in some districts are said to be preferred to clay for that purpose, being chopped up in small pieces, and spread over it.

The unclayed descriptions of sugar are generally procurable at Manilla by the end of February, when the new crop commences to come in; and clayed, or the new crop, is seldom ready for delivery before the middle of March.

The entire crop is all ready for export by the end of April, although the market is seldom cleared of it till the January of the ensuing year, when the sugar clayers being anxious to [284]close their accounts of the past crop, and wind up all that remains in their camarines, in order to be ready for the new season’s operations, are sometimes willing to make a reduction in the nominal price of the day, in order to effect that purpose. But as the grain of sugar does not improve by keeping, especially when it has to stand the moistness of the atmosphere during the preceding wet season, such sugar, if bought at that time, is seldom equal in grain to the produce of the new crop, although its colour may be preferable.

Pangasinan sugar is of a beautiful white colour, but with a very inferior grain: it loses much in the sun-dryings, and is generally, I believe, mixed with the clayed Pampanga sugar, to give the latter a colour, although all the dealers deny doing it themselves, but are ready enough to believe, if told that their neighbours are in the habit of mixing both Cebu and it, in their pilones,—the first for the sake of cheapness, and the other for a colour. Pampanga sugar is of a brownish tinge, and when of good quality, of a strong grain. It possesses a very much greater quantity of saccharine matter than any other description of sugar I am acquainted with, and is consequently a favourite of the refiners at home and in Sweden. Taal [285]and Cebu descriptions are never clayed separately, although, as before mentioned, the latter, on account of its cheapness, is occasionally mixed with Pampanga for claying.

They are principally in demand for the Australian colonies, where Taal is generally preferred to Cebu (or Zebu), from its possessing more saccharine matter than the latter. Taal is generally so moist that it always loses considerably in weight, sometimes to the extent of about 10 per cent., and even more;—it is a strong sweet sugar. Cebu seldom loses so much as Taal, generally not more than 3 per cent. on a voyage of about two months’ duration.

All sugar is sold to the export merchants by the pecul of 140 lbs. English, and it is either paid for at the time of its delivery, or if a contract is made for a large quantity with a clayer, or other dealer, it is often necessary to advance a portion of the price to enable him to execute the order, and the merchants often do this long before a pecul of sugar is received from him, or any security given in return. This system prevails not only in sugar, but in all other articles of the agricultural produce of the islands, in the sale of which no credit is given to the purchaser. [286]

Sugar pays an export duty of 3 per cent. It should never be weighed except upon a hot dry day, as if there is the least moisture in the air it absorbs it, and adds considerably to its weight.

In connection with sugar, it may be stated, that some very good rum is made at Manilla, although very little is exported. It is a monopoly of the Government, who farm it out to one of the sugar clayers at Manilla. Molasses are never shipped, but are used in Manilla for mixing with the water given to the horses to drink, most of them refusing to taste it unless so sweetened.

Hemp is produced from the bark of a species of the plantain-tree, forests of which are found growing wild in some provinces of the Philippines. The operation of making it is simple enough, the most important of the process apparently being the separation of the fibres from each other by an iron instrument, resembling a comb for the hair. After drying in the sun, and undergoing several other processes, with the minutiæ of which I am unacquainted, it is made up into bales, weighing 280 lbs. each, and in that state is shipped for Manilla, where, after being picked more or less white, which is dependent entirely upon the purposes it is intended to serve, and the [287]markets it has to be sent to, it is again pressed into bales of the same weight as before, although of much less bulk, and is exported, the greater quantity of it going to the United States of America, as the export tables will show.

The best hemp is of a long and fine white fibre, very well dried, and of a silky gloss. The dark coloured is not so well liked, and if too bad for exportation, is generally made up into ropes for the colonial shipping, or sent down to Singapore for transhipment to Calcutta, where it is employed for the same purpose.

The best hemp comes from Sorsogon and Leyte, and some of the Cebu is also very good. Albay, Camarines, Samar, Bisayas, and some other districts, are those from which it principally comes.

The freight on hemp shipped by American vessels to the United States, is reckoned at the rate of 40 cubic feet, or four bales of 10 feet each, to the ton; but when shipped to Great Britain, the freight is generally calculated at the ton of 20 cwt., or 2,240 lbs. avoirdupois.

Annexed is a table of calculations of what it will cost if put on board a ship in Manilla Bay, including all charges, and 5 per cent. paid to an agent there for purchasing it, &c. [288]

At the exchange of If bought at $5 per pecul would cost, free on board At $5¼ At $5½ At $5¾ At $6 At $6¼ At $6½ At $7
s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
4 1 per $ 19 0 6 19 17 8 20 11 5 21 12 1 22 10 5 23 6 3 24 5 4 26 0 3 Per ton of 20 cwt.
4 per $ 19 4 5 20 1 9 20 19 8 21 16 5 22 15 0 23 11 0 24 10 5 25 5 6
4 2 per $ 19 8 3 20 5 10 21 3 11 22 0 9 22 19 6 23 15 9 24 15 3 26 10 0
4 per $ 19 12 2 20 9 11 21 8 2 22 5 2 23 4 2 24 0 6 25 0 2 26 16 2
4 3 per $ 19 16 0 20 13 11 21 12 4 22 9 7 23 8 9 24 5 4 25 5 1 27 1 6
4 per $ 19 19 11 20 18 0 21 16 8 22 14 0 23 13 4 24 10 1 25 10 1 27 6 9
4 4 per $ 20 3 10 21 2 1 22 0 10 22 18 5 23 18 0 24 14 10 25 15 0 27 12 1
4 per $ 20 7 8 21 6 1 22 5 1 23 2 10 24 2 6 24 19 7 26 0 0 27 17 5
4 5 per $ 20 11 7 21 10 2 22 9 4 23 7 3 24 7 2 25 4 4 26 5 0 28 2 9
4 per $ 20 15 6 21 14 3 22 13 7 23 11 8 24 11 9 25 9 1 26 9 11 28 8 0
4 6 per $ 20 19 4 21 18 3 22 17 10 23 16 0 24 16 4 25 13 10 26 14 10 28 13 4


To understand this table, suppose an agent in Manilla purchases a quantity of hemp for a merchant in London, at 5 dollars per pecul, the cost of packing, shipping, and the 5 per cent. commission for buying, &c., will make it cost, when put on board ship in Manilla Bay, 20l. 19s. 4d. per ton, if drawn for at the exchange of 4s. 6d. to the dollar. On its arrival at London, the freight, insurance, &c., added to this, will be its actual cost laid down there.

Tobacco.—The best tobacco produced in the Philippines is grown in the Island of Luzon or Luconia, where it is monopolized by the Government, to whom it furnishes an important revenue. From the province of Cagayan, where the greater part of it is grown, the best quality comes, and that leaf, being much stronger than any grown elsewhere, is generally used as the envelope to wrap round the inferior descriptions of tobacco employed in the manufacture of cheroots. Most of the other descriptions used for them come from the district of Gapan, in Pampanga province, and the two sorts combined are said to produce pleasanter cigars than either separately could do,—the Cagayan leaf being too strong to [290]be used alone, and the Gapan leaf too mild for the ordinary taste.

In the mountains of Ylocos and Pangasinan, some of the native Indians inhabiting them grow quantities of tobacco, which they sell to the traders of the neighbourhood. In these mountains the Indians are still free, and retain their old pagan religion, unsubdued either by the Spanish soldiery, or by the more salutary and effective warfare waged against them by the priests, who labour assiduously to convert them to Christianity. Being mountaineers, and leading the unsettled and roving life of huntsmen, subsisting by the produce of the chase and the plaintain-tree, very little is known about them at Manilla beyond the fact of their existence, although the well-directed energies of several enthusiastic missionaries, who have as yet only found an entrance among them, are likely to civilize and ameliorate their condition somewhat, and to supply this information. Notwithstanding that the mounted police force, scattered over the country, are particularly attentive to hunt out all illicit growth of tobacco, and to put a stop to it by the severest punishments when it [291]is discovered; they have not as yet been, nor in fact are likely to be, at all successful in doing so efficiently, so long as the Government continue to make the enormous profit they at present do from its sale, after it has been made by them into cheroots, or brought to Manilla and sold in the leaf for export. In Bisayas the quality of the leaf is so inferior in strength and appearance to that produced in Luzon, that the Government have not thought it worth while to appropriate the produce of the islands to themselves by a monopoly.

There are several extensive manufactories of cigars carried on by the Government at and near Manilla, the most extensive being in the capital, although those at Malabone and Cavite also employ a great number of people in rolling them up.

In making cheroots women only are employed, the number of those so engaged in the factory at Manilla being generally about 4000. Besides these, a large body of men are employed at another place in the composition of cigarillos, or small cigars, kept together by an envelope of white paper in place of tobacco; these being the description most smoked by the Indians. [292]

The flavour of Manilla cheroots is peculiar to themselves, being quite different from that made of any other sort of tobacco; the greatest characteristic probably being its slightly soporific tendency, which has caused many persons, in the habit of using it, to imagine that opium is employed in the preparatory treatment of the tobacco, which, however, is not the case.

The cigars are made up by the hands of women in large rooms of the factory, each of them containing from 800 to 1000 souls. These are all seated, or squatted, Indian-like, on their haunches, upon the floor, round tables, at each of which there is an old woman presiding to keep the young ones in order, about a dozen of them being the complement of a table. All of them are supplied with a certain weight of tobacco, of the first, second, or third qualities used in composing a cigar, and are obliged to account for a proportionate number of cheroots, the weight and size of which are by these means kept equal.

As they use stones for beating out the leaf on the wooden tables, before which they are seated, the noise produced by them while making them up is deafening, and generally [293]sufficient to make no one desirous of protracting a visit to the place. The workers are well recompensed by the Government, as very many of them earn from six to ten dollars a month for their labour, and as that amount is amply sufficient to provide them with all their comforts, and to leave a large balance for their expenses in dress, &c., they are seldom very constant labourers, and never enter the factory on Sundays, or, at least, on as great an annual number of feast-days as there are Sundays in a year.

During the years of 1848 and 49, the Government were not in the habit of selling leaf-tobacco for export, but they have again resumed the practice of 1847, which, however, is likely to be stopped soon again; how soon, it is impossible to say—probably just when the caprice of the director of tobacco inclines him, as he is an influential person, generally, in his own department.

The denominations of cheroots were changed in January, 1848; when the description formerly known as Thirds was and still is called Seconds, and the manufacture of a new sort known as Firsts was begun.

The weights of new cigars when sent out of the factory are as follow:—Firsts 1500, Seconds 3000, [294]Thirds 4000 to the arroba; the weight of the arroba when issued by Government from the factory being actually 1 pound 9 ounces over the current weight,—this allowance being made to meet the loss of weight which cigars always experience during a long sea-voyage, which, although it diminishes their bulk, is said materially to improve their flavour. All cigars for the use of the country-people are made in the Havana shape, and are prohibited being exported, probably from their desire to keep the name of Manilla cheroots up to its proper status, as the Havana-shaped cigars are seldom equal in flavour to those made for exportation.

A large quantity of the Havana-shaped are made and used in the country by smugglers, who sell them at one-half the price charged by the Government, and some of these are occasionally sent from Manilla by stealth. But they are seldom so good as those of the Government make, although that occasionally deteriorates to an alarming degree, so that every now and then very bad cheroots are exported. Of course, when they are smoked and disliked no one uses them, and they become unsaleable, so that when Government finds that there are few or no purchasers, [295]and that their stock is accumulating, they are obliged to use a better class tobacco in their manufacture, upon which people begin to buy from them again. However, this uncertainty as to their at all times producing good cigars, has a most detrimental effect upon themselves, and this alone prevents their consumption from being very much greater than it now is, if one uniformly good quality of tobacco were always used and the bad descriptions sold.

The rates at which Government sell cigars are fixed, being 14 dollars per 1000 for Firsts, 8 dollars for Seconds, and 6¾ dollars for Thirds; although, if the purchasers will take off more than the stocks existing in their warehouses, the prices may be regulated by the eagerness of the buyers, from the cigars being sold at public auction, which, however, very seldom happens. Purchasers have no power to secure the good quality of the cigars they buy, as on an application being made to the director of the renta for a quantity, he merely fills up a printed order for their delivery, and after the money has been paid for them, but not till then, they are delivered by the warehouse-keepers at random, as it is not allowed to select for delivery any of the cigars under [296]their charge, which are consequently never seen by the purchaser until after the completion of the bargain, when if the quality is bad he has no remedy for it, as they will not be received back again by the Government or the money for them returned.

Indigo.—The quantity produced is very small; that exported to the United States being the bulk of the crop, although large quantities of liquid indigo are also annually sent to China in casks; but I have not been able to ascertain its amount with any degree of precision. It is of an inferior quality to the solid dye, and sells for considerably less money.

The dye coming from the provinces of Laguna and Pangasinan is generally of superior quality to that produced in Ylocos and elsewhere, their relative prices being about forty-five dollars per quintal for the first two descriptions, and twenty-eight dollars for the other sorts of first, second, and third qualities in proportions.

The cultivation of the plant is very precarious, as it is liable to damage from a variety of causes; it will die if too much water collects round it, or if too little is given to it. It generally is grown on a dry soil, having a slight decline, to [297]carry off the rain. To extract the dye from the plant, the usual process is to place it in large vessels containing lime and water, and then to bruise it with a wooden pestle; after which, when the water becomes still, the colouring matter will sink to the bottom of the vessel, when the water and the plants are drained off, and the matter, which by that time has acquired the consistency of paste, is exposed to the air to dry upon mats: as it becomes more dry it is divided by lines into small quadrangular pieces, and is broken up.

To secure a good quality of indigo, great attention must be paid to the clearness of the water, and the proper mixture and quantity of the lime, as too much or too little is equally pernicious; also the time during which the bruising takes place, which, it appears, is a matter of very nice judgment, as it is usual to explain or account for the cause of the bad quality of a lot by saying that the planter has beat it for too long or too short a time, and that he did not know exactly when to stop.

This article is very liable to adulteration, at which both native and Chinese dealers are so peculiarly expert, that purchasers trusting solely [298]to their own knowledge are very liable to be deceived by them.

The blues of the country are much brighter than any of the British or continental dyes, and are in consequence much preferred by the natives.

Cotton.—Cotton is only grown in a very small quantity, principally in Ylocos and Batangas provinces. Some of it is sent to China, but the major part of the crop is used in the country. It is seldom or never well cleaned, the rude machines employed for doing so being usually worked by the hand or foot, very imperfectly and slowly, cleaning only a small quantity of the wool in a day.

Cocoa-nut oil.—Cocoa-nut oil is made in the province of Laguna and in Bisayas. That coming from the Laguna is of the best quality, and generally sells for a good deal more than the Bisayas oil, which does not give so good a light, and has a worse smell than the other. The manufacturing processes employed in producing it are very rude in both of these districts, although that followed in Laguna is the better of the two; but both are bad. It has been proposed, however, to remedy this by establishing proper machinery at Manilla for carrying on its production on a large scale, as is done in Ceylon. [299]

The chief difficulty of exporting the article appears to be the want of knowledge of the proper means of seasoning the tanks in which it is shipped. These have not as yet been well made at Manilla; and some merchants have been in the habit of getting their empty tanks from Batavia, as they are usually better made there than they are procurable in Manilla. The best mode of seasoning them appears to be, to fill them all with oil, and to place them in the sun, after being well coopered, above a large vat or other receptacle to catch all the oil which may leak out of them; and after they have stood for some time in this way, the pores of the wood get filled up by the oil, which prevents further leakage.

When filled with water, as has been the practice for some time past at Manilla, on the oil being shipped, the effect, as has been found, is to increase its leakage over what the casks lose when they have not been filled with water, but left altogether alone, as water expands the wood, while oil causes it to shrink. By attention to the preparation of the casks at Colombo in Ceylon in this manner, they are able to send home oil in old beer casks, &c., which, of course, enables them to avoid a great deal of unnecessary [300]expense. Perhaps a small quantity of boiling hot oil poured into a cask, which should then be rolled about so that the oil might wet every part of it, would cause it to shrink more speedily than by exposing it to the sun for about six weeks. I am not aware, however, of this having ever been tried.

Cocoa is grown among plaintain-trees, which afford it some shade, and protect it from the excessive slow heat, which kills it.

Although the growth of cocoa is at present very small, did any one take the trouble to bestow the necessary care and attention it demands, the crop might be very greatly augmented. The best is now grown in Cebu, although, from Samar, Misamis, and Batangas, the Manilla market is also supplied, but it is only saleable at about twenty-three dollars per pecul, while the Cebu grown fetches about twenty-seven dollars per pecul.

Very little is exported, and the chocolate made in Manilla is nearly all consumed there. Supplies occasionally come from Guayaquil of a quality very similar to that of Cebu.

All the efforts hitherto made to send cocoa to Spain, without its deteriorating in quality, by getting spotted, &c., have been unsuccessful. [301]

Coffee.—Although there have been efforts made at various times to promote this valuable branch of agricultural industry, by holding out to the natives rewards in money for a certain number of plants in a state of bearing, it has not as yet had the effect of greatly promoting its growth. Tayabas and Laguna are provinces from which most of it comes to Manilla, but this it does by very small lots at a time, and generally uncleaned, which the provincial traders have to do here. The quality of most of that grown at these places is fully equal to that of Java, from which, however, it differs a good deal in flavour. The French, who take off the bulk of the crop, are fonder of its peculiar taste than most other people, and prefer it to other descriptions.

Pepper is grown to a very limited extent in Tayabas, and is all consumed in the country, although in former years some has been exported from that province.

Opium could be grown in the greatest perfection in several places of the Philippines, where the white poppy abounds in the utmost luxuriance; but Government do not choose to permit its growth and manufacture, except in the immediate vicinity of Manilla, although I believe there is a [302]permission to do so there, where, however, there is no soil suitable for the growth of the plant. There are many places, also, which would subject the planters of it to the nearly unlimited control of the police, whose interference alone would be so vexatious and unpleasant as to deter any one from attempting its growth, even did the stringent regulations laid down with reference to it not do so; such as exactly counting the number of plants, and being forced to deposit all the drug in the custom-house for export, for the permission to do which twenty-five per cent. would have to be paid to the Government. These regulations are a virtual prohibition to engage in its cultivation, as no prudent man is at all likely to embark his capital in such an enterprise while they exist.

In consequence of the heavy duty imposed upon opium, to discourage its importation, the greater portion of the drug consumed in the country is smuggled into it by the masters of the Spanish trading-vessels from China or Singapore.

Government farm out the privilege of supplying the market with opium to the highest bidder, who seldom, however, imports many chests for its consumption; but what he does [303]sell is usually at a very large advance on the prices paid for it in another market.

How much better were it for the Government to attempt to regulate the trade of this article instead of doing all in their power to suppress it, in which they can never be successful, so long as Chinamen and their descendants remain with the tastes that now belong to them. Can there be any prohibition against the introduction of opium more strong than that of the Chinese Government? and are there any more useless, or any laws more openly evaded? It is impossible to extirpate the taste, but it would be easy to regulate and in some degree control it; and these are the proper and legitimate aims of a Government.

Under proper management and increased facilities for the planter to rear opium, the Philippines, merely from their situation, would rule the China market for the drug, which would employ multitudes of people in its growth and manufacture, and be a source of immense wealth to the country.

Some one will object that it is an immoral trade, which caters to the worst passions of the nature of the Chinese. Let it be proved so; let us see something more than mere prejudice; let [304]it be shown to be worse than the conduct of the farmer, at home, who raises and sells barley to make whiskey; or of the distiller, who makes it; or of the West Indian, who produces rum from his estate, as both of these stimulants increase the evil passions in men while swayed by them, to a much greater extent than opium.

Smoking tobacco does no good to the person who practises it; it is a vice, although those addicted to it may call it one of the lesser sins. But would it be just or wise to prohibit the growth of tobacco, because smoking it may not be a virtue?

To attempt stopping the use of opium is no wiser, and just as futile, in China, as King Jamie’s foolish decrees against tobacco proved to be in Britain.

Wheat is grown in the provinces of Ylocos, Tayabas, and the Laguna, but is seldom or never more than enough to supply the wants of the European population, none of it being exported; and the import of foreign wheat is prohibited, although it is frequently conceded to the bakers, on their memorialising the Governor, and showing that the prices at the time of their doing so are excessively high. [305]

Although sulphur can scarcely be ranked in the same category with the preceding articles of commerce, I set it down here, as a considerable quantity is annually shipped to China. It is brought from the vicinity of the volcanoes in Bisayas: the best is said to come from Leyte, which is worth about one and a quarter dollar per pecul. Residents at Manilla usually immerse a large block, weighing about two peculs, in the wells from which their drinking water is taken, just as the rainy season commences, and it is found to have a most salutary effect upon the water impregnated with it, causing less liability to those who drink it, to suffer dysentery from its use.

Cowries, the shells of a small snail, are found on the shores of several islands, and are shipped as an article of commerce to Singapore, &c., where they are, I believe, purchased by the Siam and Calcutta traders, as they serve for money in several of the countries of Asia. Those found on Sibuyan island, in Capiz province, are considered the best, being the smallest and stoutest. They are sold by the cavan, weighing nearly a pecul, if of good quality, at about two dollars per cavan. [306]

Pitch, or tar, is brought from Tayabas to Manilla, in boxes or baskets, and is employed, I believe, principally by the shipwrights there, in the prosecution of their business. Some of the natives also use it for making torches, it being cheaper than oil.

Betel-nut, or areca, is, as is well known, used nearly all over Asia, all the natives of which are excessively fond of the taste the mastication of it produces in their mouths. The prepared leaf is called a buyo in the Philippines, when it is spread over with lime, and a morsel of betel-nut enclosed in it. Immense quantities of it are consumed in the islands and in China, and in former times, I believe, it formed a branch of the excise revenue.

Hides.—The quantity of buffalo hides shipped to China and Europe is considerable. Those exported to China are sometimes shipped without being salted, although it is necessary that all those sent on so long a voyage as it is to Europe should undergo that process. Buffalo hide cuttings are generally prepared for shipment by being immersed in lime-water, from which they are withdrawn perfectly white and coated with lime. [307]

Buffalo hides weigh about 21 lbs. a-piece, and cow, only about the half of that. Deer hides are also sometimes, though rarely, cured and exported.

The beef of the buffalo, cow, and deer, is cured for the China market, by being salted and allowed to dry in the sun: it is then called sapa.

Tamarinds, which are called sampaloc by the natives, are seldom exported for sale.

The woods of the country are various and valuable; but, perhaps, the best known for its useful properties, is the Sapan dye-wood, called sibocao. It comes from various provinces; but principally from Yloylo and Pangasinan.

Good wood is stout, straight, well-coloured, and with no appearance or trace of water having been used to heighten it, which may be easily detected on a careful inspection, although the unwary have on several occasions been known to have purchased, and shipped home to Britain, quantities of the common firewood in place of it, as after being wetted, it acquires the colour of Sapan-wood, sufficiently to deceive an ignorant or careless purchaser.

Nearly all of the straight wood is sent to Europe, and the roots to China and Calcutta, [308]where they are said to be quite as well liked as straight wood, and beyond a doubt they produce more dye than the latter.

The mountains of the Philippines are clothed with numberless varieties of woods of almost every description of Oriental timber; but the markets of Europe being so distant, and the cost of freight to them so enormous, very few are sent there, except, perhaps, ebony and molave, although several beautiful descriptions of wood are employed by the cabinet-makers of the country and those of China, some of which are of superior beauty to anything I have ever seen at home when made up into furniture.

The ebony principally comes from Cagayan and Camarines, the wood from which is perfectly dark, and as good as any I know of. The Cagayan wood is very beautiful, being marked by broad black and white, or black and yellow stripes; it takes a polish very well, and forms a peculiarly fine timber for the cabinet-makers to exercise their skill upon, its rays producing magnificent tables, &c.

Molave is a wood of great solidity, and of incredibly lasting properties; and it resists, better than all others, exposure to the weather. It is [309]said to become petrified when immersed for some time in water, and in fact it appears to be nearly as lasting and incorruptible as stone itself. It is employed for nearly all purposes, and large quantities of it are shipped to China.

Narra is a common description of red wood, somewhat resembling mahogany, which occasions it to be largely used in cabinet-making. From the lower parts of this tree I have seen a table exceeding two yards square, cut out, in one piece.

Tindal wood resembles narra, but has a higher colour than the latter, which, however, gets sobered, and becomes darker by age.

Alintatas is of a beautiful yellow colour.

Malatapay is also yellow, or rather coffee-coloured, and is well veined for ornament.

Lanete is a white wood, and is made use of for a variety of purposes.

All the preceding woods are capable of being made into furniture of a very handsome and valuable description, and were they better known in Europe, would be largely employed for that purpose, as people would be willing to purchase them for their beauty, even at the high prices which the distance and expense of transit would occasion. [310]

Among the common useful woods for ship-building and other purposes, may be mentioned the banaba and mangachapuy: the latter does not stand water well, however.

Yacal, for beams and joists of houses, &c., and a tall, straight wood, called Palo Maria, is valuable for supplying spars, &c., to the shipping of the colony.

Baticulin, for cutting up into boards or deals.

Dungo unites strength and solidity to an immense size.

Teak is found in Zamboanga, and its value is too well known to require any remark upon it.

Ypil is brought to Manilla from Yloylo, and being a very lasting and hard timber, is of the greatest value, and is applied to a variety of uses.

These are some of the many species of woods abounding in the country, whose number and value are yearly increasing as they become better known to the foreign timber merchants of China and elsewhere. The China market alone would take off greatly increased supplies, were they allowed to ship the timber from the ports next to where the woodman’s axe had felled the tree, in place of forcing it to bear all the heavy charges [311]which its transport to Manilla in the first instance now subjects it to.

The investigations of Don Rafael Arenao have been of great service to me in forming a list of these; and for several other particulars scattered throughout the preceding pages I have to thank him. [312]


The money current in the Philippines consists of Spanish and South American dollar pieces principally, although no two of them have precisely the same weight in silver. Thus the Chilian dollar of 1833 had 456·24 grains of pure metal, while that of the Rio de la Plata has only 441·24 grains of silver.

Nearly all the Mexican dollars differ in their quantity of pure silver; for example, that of the coinage of 1832 had only 442·80, while that of 1833 had 451·20 grains of pure metal. The old Spanish dollar has 445·08 grains of pure silver, and the half dollar 222·48 grains; while the Bolivian half dollar has only 168·60 grains of pure silver; and the Bolivian quarter-dollar piece [313]has only 84·84 grains of pure silver; while the standard Spanish quarter-piece contains 111·24 grains of unalloyed silver.

The golden doubloon, weighing an ounce, is worth sixteen dollars in Manilla, although it usually sells for considerably less in China.

Both of these coins are subdivided into halves and quarter-pieces, and the dollar is divided into eight reals, one of which is equal to two and a half reals of the vellon money current in the Peninsula; and the Manilla real is represented by a copper currency of seventeen cuartos. In calculations, however, the real is divided into twelve parts by an imaginary coin called grains; so that by $3. 2. 6. would be understood three dollars, two reals, and a half real, or three dollars and five-sixteenth parts of a dollar.

The copper money in circulation is so scanty, as to be perfectly inadequate for the purpose; and at the time of my leaving Manilla, the usual charge for exchanging a dollar for copper money was a quartillo, or the quarter of a real, worth about a penny halfpenny of English money.

In consequence of this scarcity, the natives are in the habit of employing cigars as money, to represent the smaller coins; and all over the Philippines [314]a cigar is actually the most important circulating medium, each representing a cuarto.

At various times the scarcity of copper coins has given rise to extensive forgeries of them, and caused a considerable depreciation in their actual value, the false coinage being all of spurious metal.

The gold which is found at Pictas, in Misamis, and at Mambalao, Paracala, and Surigao, is consumed in the country in ornaments, &c., and some of it is sent also to China. The amount annually produced at these places is very uncertain; and the quantity exported to China is probably a good deal more than the amount set down in the tabular statement, it being a thing of so very easy export, that I should suppose at least an equal number of taels are sent there privately, to what appears in the table to have passed the Custom-house.

Its value in Manilla varies, according to quality, at from twenty dollars a tael down to fourteen for the inferior sorts. [315]


After travelling so far together, the reader will permit me to direct his attention to the geographical position and natural advantages of the Philippines, which are unequalled by any other islands in the whole eastern Archipelago. Their vicinity to the immensely populous empire of China is in itself enough to render them a most flourishing colony.

The Spanish and local governments are alive to the importance of this, and appear desirous to encourage trade to a limited extent, but are apparently anxious to hold the reins of it, and to regulate it as they deem best for themselves, or at any time to put a stop to it entirely.

The evils arising from the changeable elements [316]given birth to by their interference it is difficult to over-estimate, as from the ignorance, which prevails through all classes, of the first elements of a commonwealth, and from their capricious notions of government, and want of knowledge of the advantages of liberality and of the facilities given to the prosecution of commerce, few persons of prudence care to expose their capital very extensively to the chances of trade.

At present the Philippines want some infusion of foreign capital and energy into the veins and local arteries of the country, which, backed by the enlightened application of science, would cause these islands to emerge from the obscurity now surrounding them, and force them to assume the important position for which nature has apparently destined them.

This will not come to pass until the present opinions of the Government and people are considerably changed with reference to their commercial legislation, or until all government interference in affairs of that nature is left off, so far as the interests of the revenue will permit, when the people will be insensibly but wisely taught by experience to rely upon themselves alone.

The principles of commerce, and the wealth of [317]nations, as laid down by Adam Smith in his great work, which is almost deserving of immortality for the truths it tells mankind, are as true and as sure in practice as they are in theory; and should the wisdom and truth of his investigations ever be applied to the commercial regulations of these islands, it is difficult to foretell the destiny that may ultimately await them.

It appears to me to be as unwise to attempt to restrain the course of nature and its fruits, aided by the energies of man to develop or to use them, as it would be to bind down the mind of a man of genius, or of a poet, in order to prevent their operation, or to hinder the great conceptions of their muse, or the scientific research which a bright genius renders serviceable to his fellow mortals, from ever seeing the light. No one will defend the justice or wisdom of the time which forbade Galileo to publish, or even himself to believe in, his great discoveries; but is that more unjust than the policy of rulers, who shut up from the beings whom God has created to use them, the fruits of our common mother, the earth?

It is equally absurd to prevent and to prohibit [318]in either case; but notwithstanding this, the passions and prejudices of mankind are violent enough to permit of the one, although they would by no means suffer the other. Wisdom and passion can seldom or never accompany each other.

Philanthropy will ultimately banish from our codes all such regulations as tend to check the fruitfulness of the soil and its use by man, who has been endowed with reason in order that he may assist the operations of nature. The constant and unrestricted use of the bounties of nature does not lead to their abuse; the contrary is the fact, for it is only when our appetites are excited by the obstacles to their attainment that they become excessively indulged and depraved.

The illiberality of the Government places the existing position of foreigners in rather an equivocal position, for they are only there upon sufferance; and in the event of any disturbance, such as happened at Manilla in 1820, or of a war between the two nations, what would become of the foreigners or of their property?

It has already been shown to the world that our fellow-subjects at Manilla in 1820, might be [319]murdered in the streets like dogs, and no retribution be demanded by their Government; and to this day their personal liberty and property can at any time be endangered by the caprice of the Governor or of his subordinates.

In 1848, an alcalde laid hold of a number of British subjects, and threw them suddenly into prison, because he happened one day to discover that the time for their permission to remain in the country had years ago expired, which all of them had been led to expect it was quite unnecessary to have renewed so long as they remained quiet and well-conducted members of the community. As the alcalde did not know very well what to do with them when he had got them into the jail, he kept them there for a few days till he had smoked a good deal, and thought a little about them, and then he told the jailor to let them out again.

Our trade with China would be materially improved by the attention of Her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary being directed to the position of the Philippines in connection with our own interests with them, and with the great empire adjoining them. Besides, it is a shame to ourselves [320]that such things should exist in the colony, not only of a friendly European power, but of one so much indebted, as Spain is, to the valour of our arms for her independence, and to our liberality for possessing this colony at all.


London Gazette Office, St. Martin’s Lane; and Orchard Street, Westminster.



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Italic text has been marked high lighted without further analysis. Text in small caps and bold has been marked idem ditto.

Apparent errors in the text have been corrected. Corrections have been marked with the <corr> tag, and the original text has been given with the sic attribute. Where no correction can be supplied, or the text appears to be strange, but not erroneous, this has been marked with the <sic> tag.

The spelling “Manilla” for “Manila” has been retained.

End-of-line hyphens in the source have been silently removed. Where a hyphenated word was on a page boundary, the page break is indicated after such a word.

Revision History

  • 25-DEC-2002 Added TEI tagging.


The following corrections have been applied to the text:

Location Source Correction
Page iii bonud bound
Page 5 ganied gained
Page 38 Vangleys Sangleys
Page 58 throug through
Page 80 houses horses
Page 108 becomes become
Page 125 [Not in source] of
Page 139 shotting shooting
Page 141 cannonading carronading
Page 143 Pampamga Pampanga
Page 143 Pampamgans Pampangans
Page 167 anzones lanzones
Page 206 Camanires Camarines
Page 221 Pangasnian Pangasinan
Page 227 bobbinnet bobbinet
Page 228 pina piña
Page 235 Autique Antique
Page 250 longer linger
Page 263 Autique Antique
Page 270 [Not in source] ,
Page 278 Pangasnian Pangasinan
Page 278 Autique Antique
Page 281 Pangasnian Pangasinan
Page 281 Pangasnian Pangasinan
Page 284 Pangasnian Pangasinan
Page 287 Camamies Camarines
Page 288 [Not in source] 4
Page 298 [Not in source] Cotton.—
Page 298 [Not in source] Cocoa-nut oil.—
Page 307 [Not in source] .
Page 307 Pangasnian Pangasinan
Page 314 Misauris Misamis
Page 317 develope develop

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