Page images
PDF
EPUB

other perfumes. All take much care of their teeth, and from tender age they file and make them equal in size with stones and instruments, and they give them a black color which is perpetual, and which they preserve until they are

very old. They very generally bathe their whole bodies in the rivers and creeks. They say it is one of the chief medicines with which they are acquainted. When a little child is born they immediately bathe it, and the mother likewise. The women have, for their employment and occupation, needle work, in which they excel very much, as in

all kinds of sewing. They weave coverings NATIVE FRUIT STAND.

and spin cotton, and serve in the houses of their husbands and fathers. They pound the rice for their meals, and prepare the other victuals. They rear fowls and suckling pigs, and take care of the houses, while the men are attending to the labors in the fields, their fishing, voyages and gains. In their visits, and in going about the streets and to the temples, both men and women, and especially the principal ones, walk very slowly, and pay attention to their steps, and with a large following of male and female slaves, and with silk parasols, which they carry as a protection against sun and rain. The ladies go in front, with their maids and slaves, and behind them their husbands, fathers and brothers, with their servants and slaves.

“ Their ordinary food is rice, ground in wooden mortars and boiled, which is called Morisqueta. This is the ordinary bread of all the country. Boiled fish, of which there is great abundance, is a favorite food, and flesh of swine, deer and wild buffalo, which they call Carabaos. They also eat boiled Camotes, which are sweet potatoes; French beans, Quitites, and other vegetables. All sorts of plantains, guavas, pineapples, custard apples, oranges of various sorts, and other kinds of fruit and vegetables; in these the country abounds. What is used for drink is a wine made from the tops of cocoanut palms and nipa trees, of which there is a great abundance, and they are grown and cultivated like vines, though with less labor and tillage. When the sap is taken from the palm they distil it in retorts with their little stoves and instruments of a greater or less strength, and it becomes spirits, and this is drunk in all the islands. It is a very clear wine, like water, but strong and dry, and if it is used in moderation, it is medicine for the stomach; when mixed with the wine of Spain it becomes a sweet liquor, and is very wholesome.

“The weapons of these people are in some provinces bows and arrows, but in general, throughout the isles, they use lances with well made blades, of a middling size, and shields of light wood, with their hands fixed on the inside, which cover them from head to foot, which they call Carasas. At the waist a dagger four inches wide, the blade ending in a point, and a third of a yard in length; the hilt of gold or ivory; the pommel open, with two cross bars or projections, without any other guard; they are called Bararoes, and are two-edged; held in sheaths of wood or buffalo horn, elegantly worked; with these they strike with the point, but more usually with the edge. They are very dexterous; when they

[graphic]

reach their adversary, if they lay hold of his hair with one hand, with the other, at one blow they often cut off his head. Since they have seen Spaniards use their arms, many of them handle arequebuses and muskets very dexterously. Before this time they had small brass cannon, and other pieces of iron cast, with which they defended their forts and towns, though their powder was not as fine as that of the Spaniards.

“Their boats and ships were of many kinds, for on the rivers and creeks within the country they used canoes made of one very large tree and others with benches made of planks and built with keels; also Vireys and Barangays, which are vessels very swift and light, and low in the water, joined together with wooden bolts; as slender at the stern as at the bow, which contained many rowers on both sides, wlio with Buzeyes or paddles and with oars, rowed outside the vessel, timing their rowing to the sound of some who kept singing in their language, things to the purpose, by which they understood whether they were to hasten or retard their rowing. Above the rowers there was a bailior, or gangway, upon which the fighting men stood without embarassing the crew of rowers. These were built with out-riggers, to prevent sinking or capsizing, and carried sails. Another craft, of larger proportions, and differently constructed, was in use for freighting between the islands. Some of the fighting ships could carry one hundred and fifty men.”

THE VISAYAS IN EARLY TIMES.

As to the inhabitants of the Visayas, the narration says;—"The Bisayas, also called Pintadoes, are thickly peopled with natives. All the inhabitants of these islands, both men and women, are well featured and of a good disposition, and more well conditioned, and of more noble conduct, than the inhabitants of the Isle of. Luzon and other neighboring isles. They are different from them in their hair, which the men wear cut in a cue like the ancient Spanish fashion, and their bodies painted with many designs, without touching the face. They wear very large earrings of gold and ivory, and bracelets of the same material; their head dresses are twisted around their heads like turbans, with graceful knots and much striped with gold; jackets with light sleeves, without collars; with skirts half way down the legs, fastened in front, of Medrinaque and colored silks. They do not wear shirts nor drawers, but Bahaques of many folds, so that their middles are covered when they take off the jackets and skirts.

“The women are good looking and pleasing, very elegant and slow in their gait; their hair black and long, and tied upon the head; their wrappers are twisted around the waist, and hang down over them; they are of all colors, and their jackets of the same, without collars. They all go, men and

CAMP LIFE. women, without cloaks or other covering, and barefoot, with much adorning of gold chains, earrings, and wrought bracelets. Their weapons are long knives curved like alfanges, lances and shields. They use the same boats as the people of Luzon. They have the same labors, fruits and occupations, as all the other islands."

[graphic]

The Island of Cebu was inhabited by the same class of natives, and abounded in provisions, mines and gold washings. On the Island of Panay were some large rich towns, and stocks for building ships of large size, and a great plenty of timber

for construction. There was also great abundance of rice, palm wine and provisions. The natives were skilled shipbuilders, and close by was a small islet where the natives were all carpenters and fine workmen, following no other employment. This was the Island of the Cagayans. All of the islands were thickly inhabited; the people indus

trious, pursuing different avocations, such as tilling the soil, fishing, shipbuilding, stock raising and trading. Their language was the same, and they communicated by speech and writing, and in this had letters and characters of their own, which resembled those of the Arabic. The writing was mostly done on the leaf of a tree.

The language of the natives of Luzon, and neighborhood, was unlike that of the Visayas. There were many different languages in Luzon. That of the Tagals in the province of Manila was elegant, copious, and abundant, and was not difficult to learn or pronounce. In all the islands they wrote well, using characters something like Greek or Arabic. There were fifteen letters used, three were vowels, the rest consonants. They wrote from right to left in the Arabic fashion and there were very few who did not write well and correctly.

The houses of these natives were fixed, and all built on a similar method or plan, the purpose being to avoid the torridity of the climate, and annoyances of the vermin and rats. These houses were built up on piles, there being sufficient space between the ground and the first floor for the fowls and animals; the roof was thatched with palm leaf, which is considered much more effective in resisting sun and rain than shingles or tiles. Ascent was made to the living apartments by ladders.

[graphic]

ANCIENT FORM OF GOVERNMENT. They had a well defined form of government, which not only made provision for its permanence, but also for the social well-being and protection of the property and person of the subject.

De Morga says, of the government existing at the time of the Spanish invasion: “There were neither kings nor rulers who governed after the manner of cther kingdoms and provinces, but in each island and province the natives recognized many of their number as chiefs, some greater than others, and each one with his own partisans and subjects, divided into quarters and families. These chieftainships and lordships were inherited by filiation and succession from father to son, and their descendants, and in default of them, the brothers and collaterals succeeded. Their duty was to rule and govern their subjects and partisans, and assist them in their wants and necessities. What these rulers received from their subjects was

respected and revered by the ruler, and a regular system of tribute from the subject obtained, by means of which the authority of the government was maintained."

THE SYSTEM OF SLAVERY.

The descendants of the rulers were regarded and treated as nobles, and their women had the corresponding rank and respect shown them. The rule of the chief was a kind of absolutism, in which he could, for a trifling offense, make the subject a slave; however, there were certain restrictions, involving a humanity and decency, unknown in our own late slave system. If the owner of a slave had a child by a slave mother, thereupon both mother and child became free, so that no man could traffic, sell, or hold in bondage his own child or its mother. The grievances between subjects involving property interests or damages to the person were held and determined by the “Ancients,” that is, certain of the older members of the tribe. The parties were present, and witnesses heard in a manner similar to our regular court procedure, and their determination was a finality, and effect given to the judgment at once. The laws were unwritten, but were well in effect by custom and tradition. There were three distinct classes—the nobles mentioned; the Timaguas, this being the plebeian class; and the siaves belonging to these two. There were many peculiarities in this slave system, which would have been very tolerant if they had formed a part of our own. There was permeating through the whole system the possibility of freedom to the slave. By far the major part of these slaves were only slaves in part; for instance, a half, third, or minor part of the slave's time only was given to his servitude, and the rest of his time was for his own exclusive benefit, at which time he was absolutely free. Again, when only one of the parents was slave, and the other free, and there was only one child, he would be half slave and half free, and if more than one, the first child would take the condition of the father, whether slave or free, and the other the condition of the mother, and so on alternating. If there were an odd number, he would be half slave and half free. The offspring of such children would still be so apportioned as to being slave or free. These part slaves could also oblige their owner to emancipate them entirely upon payment of a just sum. This was regulated as to price, dependent upon conditions, and ranged from forty to eighty dollars. Much of the time of the courts was taken with the adjudication of these matters.

It is not known how the slave system became inaugurated, but it is supposed to have come in the way of conquest and usurious contracts, which provided for taking the body of a debtor in liquidation, upon forfeiture of debtor. Crimes were punished at the instance of the aggrieved party, and robbery might be punished by death or slavery. Insults by words might be punished to the saine extent. Under certain circumstances such insults were regarded as more aggravating than violence to the person.

[graphic]

MARRIAGE INSTITUTIONS.

The marriages were mostly confined to the same class. Nobles with nobles; Timaguas with their rank; and slaves with slaves. They had a system of contract marriage, agreed to by the parents and relatives, which was celebrated by feasts and a public recognition. There was one real wife, who had property rights, and the children had inheritance and descent; she was called Unasaba. There were other wives called friends; the children of these did not inherit, but usually were apportioned. The marriage portion was brought by the man, and his parents gave him this, but the wife brought nothing till she inherited from her family. Marriage was dissolved by the judgment of the Elders, in which parents and relatives had consideration. If the husband were at fault his marriage would be retained by the wife, otherwise it would be returned to him. The property which they had acquired together was divided equally. There was judicious provision made for the adoption of children, and the inheritance and descent of property.

DETERIORATION OF THE FILIPINO.

The foregoing may suffice to show the attributes and character of the primitive Filipino. His love of home, country and order are strikingly manifest in those early times; his interpretation of rights and wrongs are all in accord with feelings of justice and humanity, and there is not in the characteristics of the native in those early times, a single disclosure of the instinct of savagery. In all

the arts of peace he was certainly quite abreast of his times, while in warfare and defense he had the necessary bravery and fortitude, buí without the art of military organization and effective weapons. For centuries this people must have existed as a pastoral peasantry, and were wanting in the polish and tarnish of modern civilized life. If we regard him now, we may find a defacement of his former self. He is as brave now as in those generations past when Magellan, under the direction and supervision of his astrologer, discovered him; for what can be stronger proof of courage than the act of coolly facing death? The Filipino to-day, knowing his inequality, coolly stands in his trenches to receive the fatal bullet of the Volunteer.

His institutions now are as they were then, and his

impulses the same, but there is in him a timidity and A YOUNG REBEL. evasion, a wariness and caution, that leads you to watching his deceits. It is scarcely human not to live to profit-even to profit by deception—and a little insight into his past will indicate the cause of his weakened moral fiber. It is said that perjury has controlled the Spanish Courts of Justice

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »