Friday, May 23, 2008


John Foreman
The Philippine Islands
Second Edition 1899 P. 451-458

Paliwanag ng Nagsasaliksik

Si John Foreman ay isang Ingles na Fellow ng prestihiyosong Royal Geographic Society ng Inglatera. Nanirahan ng maraming taon sa Pilipinas at inobserbahan ang politika at kultura sa panahon ng pananakop ng Espanya sa ating bansa. Ang kaniyang pag-aaral sa lipunang Filipino sa panahon ng kaniyang pag-aaral ay nagbunga sa pagkakalimbag ng aklat na The Philippine Islands na lumabas ng ilang ulit sa iba’t ibang edisyon.

Sinipi ng nagsasaliksik ang isang bahagi ng aklat ni John Foreman ukol sa kaniyang ginawang pagdalaw sa lalawigan ng Cavite, sa panahon bago maganap ang Himagsikang Pilipino ng 1896. Ang paglalakbay ay nagmula sa lalawigan ng Batangas, patungo sa Maragondon at paikot sa mga bayan ng lalawigan. Sa salaysay na ito ay mahahayag ang matandang sistema ng mga kalsada sa lalawigan at ang mga kaugalian sa mga bayan na kaniyang nadalaw sa lalawigan. Hindi matiyak ng nagsasaliksik ang taon, subalit mababakas na ang paglalakbay ay ginawa sa mga huling araw ng Enero at mga unang araw Pebrero (inabutan siya ng Piyesta sa Silang, Cavite).

Mahalaga ang salaysay na ito ni Foreman, upang mabalikan natin ng tanaw ang lalawigan mula sa mata ng isang dayuha na naging bisita ng ating mga ninuno.


A local steamer left me at Balayan on her way to Manila. I went out to see a sugar factory belonging to a half-caste. The cane-mill was driven by water-power, and a vacuum pan was used to make crystal grain sugar. The owner, however, was not highly satisfied with the financial results. Balayan is a well-built town, with several good houses of stone, wood and iron roofs. Up to the end of last century it had been three times burnt by Mussulmans. Some splendid ponies are to be seen here, and they are cheaper than in Lipa. I rode several, and had a beautiful little animal lent me to go to Tuy. There I changed for a miserable nag, and went over some low ranges of mountains to Nasugbu. It was a very pretty ride. Nasugbu is a wretched place, but the half-caste parish priest and his sisters made me welcome. They were all clever musicians, and after my ride with the padre, we had a concert.

The greater part of the cultivated land around Nasugbu and for several miles to the south, belongs to a rich Manila native, Pedro Rojas, whose name figured very prominently years later in the rebellion of 1896.

It being the wet season, the mountain path leading north from Nasugbu was not passable, so I started in a canoe for Maragondon. Off Punta del Fuego a storm came on, and we were obliged to take refuge in a creek, protected by rocks, against which the surging billows lashed with fury, whilst it poured with rain. I was wet through. Fortunately we found a fisherman's hut, where I changed my clothes, and in a couple of hours we put to sea again. It was still rough; my legs were bathed with sea-water. The monsoon was on the eve of changing, and a N.E. breeze was opposing us, so it was midnight before we reached the mouth of the Maragondon river. I had a letter to a half-caste resident, and there I settled for the night. The next day I rode out to visit a sugar estate. It was a venturesome journey; our ponies were up to their knees in mud, but the ride was pretty. Gorgeous clusters of bamboo were gracefully reclining over us on one side, forming a bower, and there was a precipice down to the river on the other slope. We were going uphill, to the mountain, when my pony lost his footing on the slippery rise; he slid back, and landed me in a pool of mud, out of which I scrambled, leaving him to manage for himself.

We rode over the estate, and returned by another route, which led us to the ravine where the mill-stream flowed. The water, bounding over the rocks in the gorge, was the only sound we heard besides the screeching of the birds on the tall trees. It was a lovely retreat; I should have liked to have lunched there, but we had nothing with us, as we (the young planter and I) were invited to the convent for 12 o'clock. We sent a man back by the ridge leading our ponies, whilst we stepped over to the other side through the water and followed the bank until we came to the unobstructed river. There we had a bamboo raft made for us, and on it we floated down stream, towards the town, continuing the short distance thence on foot.

We lunched with the native priest, who, that afternoon, had to go up to the mountain to confer his blessing on an European cattle-power mill newly erected. I accepted his invitation to accompany him. We rode out about 4 o'clock on very quiet strong ponies, with a servant in front of us to remove any obstacles. At 5 o'clock we were there, when a rough-looking native quietly approached the father, kissed his hand, and begged permission to come down with his companions. They were a brigand party-it was the best policy to say " Yes," so in a quarter of an hour six ruffians kept us company. They said they had seen us turn off the high road into the mountain path, and could have sent a bullet into us very easily, but they superstitiously respected the sacerdotal habit; they were hungry too, and wished to eat, so we supplied them with rice, fish, betel-nut, etc.

After the meal they showed us their weapons at our request. One man armed with an ancient pistol said he had the anting-anting,-that is to say, he was proof against harm. The priest said he was the same, and as he talked, he quietly loaded the pistol, putting the bullet first and the powder afterwards. The man did not perceive the trick. Then the priest stuck up a white handkerchief on a bough, and bid the brigand hit it. The bandit smiled disdainfully and fired-the smoke puffed out, and the bullet fell at his feet as he lowered the weapon.

"Ah!" cried the priest, "you're helpless with him who has the anting-anting," and the brigand turned away from the holy man, dumbfounded.


After passing the next day in and around Maragondon, I went on to Naig. The road is pretty in the wet season on account of the fine lawn-like fields of green rice on either side. Around Naig most of the land belonged to the Dominican Corporation, whose estate-house was an imposing building, well constructed, with a large high-walled enclosure in front, occupying all one side of the public square. The river runs to the north of the town, and is crossed by a massive singlearched bridge. It is never very safe travelling about here, and all the rest of the journey up to Cavite is dangerous, owing to the bands of outlaws constantly infesting this locality. The road from Naig to Santa Cruz de Malabon (Tanza it is called by the natives) was simply a mud trail, and my guide advised me to turn of on to the sea-shore. It was very heavy work for our ponies, who could not get a good footing. On our left was the sea, and in the far distance we could descry Corregidor Island and the peaks of the Mariveles Cordillera; to our right was mostly barren land overgrown with heather. There was nothing attractive in this run, and we stopped only once to quench our thirst with cocoa-nut milk. When one is within half-an-hour of Santa Cruz, some rocks jut out into the sea very awkwardly, obliging the rider to take a foot bath at high tide, but they are passed in five minutes.

Santa Cruz de Malabon is a neat little place. The square and the native shops are tidy, and there are a few fairly well-to-do natives living here. The chief produce is rice. The arable land, upon which the town depends, belonged to a religious corporation. There are several water-power rice-husking mills in the locality. I stayed at the house of an ex-petty-governor, who told me that a friend of his was excavating at the river-side, preparatory to the erection of a perpetual-motion rice-mill. His friend was anxious for me to see the model and have my opinion on it, so I went round to the shed where it was set up.

A water-wheel was to be placed with the shaft at land level. This wheel was to be put in motion by a stream of water flowing from a reservoir. The motion of the water-wheel would be communicated to two wheels, one at each end of the same shaft. Over these wheels a series of buckets were to revolve. These buckets were to bring up water from the river, and empty themselves into a canal leading to the reservoir, to replace the water which had fed the driving-wheel. Hence, provided the river did not dry up, the machine was expected to go on perpetually and transmit its motive power to a rice-husking mill. I explained to him, as far as I knew, the mechanical defects in the contrivance, but he had money to spend, and preferred to find out the errors of his theories by experience.

The country around is a vast plain, lying low, and just suited for rice-growing. It is generally refreshing to the traveller to see fields of green rice, but here its cultivation is so extensive that it becomes monotonous.


My host's son procured ponies for me, and accompanied me to Indan. We passed the civil guard outpost of Quintana. (kasaluyang lugar ng Kapitolyo ng Cavite-anciano) There was a great sameness in the immense rice fields all around, until two miles journey further on when we entered a horsepath leading through a coffee plantation to the high road near Indan. We were in the heart of the Cavite coffee district. There was nothing to see in Indan town. The headmen in the Town Hall were discussing coffee prices, and thought I had come to buy that product, or offer advances against the coming crop.


We rode on to Silan. On leaving Indan, and about one-third of the way to Silan, there were so many rises and falls in the road that I suppose no one ever attempted the journey in a vehicle, but the route is very good for riding. The last two-thirds of the road are better still, and we went at a fast trot all the way to Silan. There was nothing but coffee plantations, or waste land, or fields out of tilth to be seen on the way. Two miles of the road this side of Silan were splendid. I was in the heart of that region which, in 1896, became the centre of the Tagilog rebellion.

Silan stands high up, and it was cold and damp. For the first time, in this Colony, I really felt chilly. There was some excitement about coffee prices. There had been a market rise in Manila, and several brokers had come to adjust bargains for the next deliveries. I was mistaken for one of these persons. Silan is a large town, with a few fairly good houses, a large church and convent, a very hospitable priest, and a civil guard station. The townspeople happened to be celebrating their annual fete. Here and there were groups of fighting-cock owners and sportsmen. On one side of the church there was a big fair. At night the principal streets were illuminated by every householder hanging out paper lanterns of varied colours. The windows were wide open-the neighbours were paying mutual visits —wayfarers from afar were welcome everywhere. In each dwelling a table was spread with confectionery, sweetmeats, drinks and buyo. I had alighted at the Town Hall, but was at once kindly invited by a headman to his house. As I passed along with my host we were repeatedly called upon by the townfolks to "honour their houses." Sometimes we thanked the inviter and passed on, but at three or four places we entered and accepted sweets, cigars, and betel-nut as a matter of compliment. Nowhere had I witnessed such a display of disinterested hospitality. In the square a temporary theatre had been erected, before which a good-humoured mob stood gazing with delight at the " Moro Moro" performance. All was gaiety-prince after prince was being slain-the piratical tyrant was eating the dust-the Christian cavaliers were winning their laurels.[1]


The next day we rode on from Silan with the same ponies through Carmona to Vinan-an uneventful journey by beaten paths through fields, only enlivened by a magnificent bird's-eye view of the Laguna de Bay when we were near to Carmona. From Carmona, sugar estates begin again, and from the high road we turned off several times to see the cane-crushing at the several steam and cattle-power mills. We were glad to arrive at Virian on the lake shore to rest our ponies. We were now in a comparatively rich town, inhabited by a great many Chinese half-castes. There is quite a number of good stone and wooden houses, some with tiles and others with iron roofs. The river runs through the centre of the town, and near its left bank stands the old church which was ruined by the earthquake of 1880 The lands around were the property of a religious corporation, the planters being tenants who complained bitterly of the treatment they received from the landlords' agent. There are several steam cane-mills in the neighbourhood, and clayed sugar is the chief article of trade.

We returned to Carmona and I went to the civil guard station to ask for an armed escort over the mountains to Perez Dasmariinas. The officer at once furnished me with a couple of native guards to protect me on the journey. We started in the cool of the afternoon, through the mountain paths, up hill and down dale all the way. The dells were very muddy, but we got through without mishap. It was a very agreeable ride, sometimes between tall trees in the thick of the forest, then along a path leading through a grove of guava bushes about ten feet high.


Night came on, but there was moonlight sufficient for us to see the way. It was deliciously cool, and the cayinin[2] fires in the mountain made the scene poetic. In about three hours we came to an outpost of the civil guard. Here we changed escort, and took the opportunity of having our supper. The native guard in charge was kind enough to give my Santa Cruz companion and my servant Nicomedis some rice, and whilst the last two potatoes of my provisions were being boiled, we turned out a can of beef. There was no hurry; the ponies would have to rest somewhere, and they might as well do so here, so we took out their bits and slacked their saddle-girths whilst we supped. It was not a sumptuous meal, and I fear an epicurean would be quite melancholy in these parts. In half-an-hour after leaving this place, we were on the high road from Silan to Perez Dasmarifnas, and then a long dreary hour's ride brought us to the latter town. It was quite dark, and we were all tired. The guards who escorted us went to their quarters, and at 11 o'clock we turned in at the Town Hall, where everybody was asleep, but the Aguacil stirred about after a while and brought me a large mat and pillows to sleep on the floor. In the early morn there was a great commotion. I was awakened by loud voices and stamping of feet over the loose floor planks. The night before, a party of brigands had committed some atrocity close by, and the cuadrillero guards were being called out to assist the civil guard in giving them chase. They were buckling on their bohie-knives and clicking the hammers of their archaic muskets. Hearing the tramp of ponies' hoofs below, I went down in my sleeping suit to see that our mounts were not appropriated amidst the bustle.

Perez Dasmarinas is a large quiet town, with a good church and convent, and here and there a house in the square with the usual group of huts. Being up so early we started betimes for Imus, famous as a brigand centre. The road was pretty, with large trees along on both sides, amongst them being hundreds of mango trees, which bring a regular income to the owners. The only novelty which we encountered on the road was a bamboo and nipa bungalow moving towards us, with some hundred naked legs dangling beneath it. It was going to take up new quarters close by its old resting-place, and was being removed by bayanin (labour given gratis to a neighbour).


From Imus we went on to Cavite Viejo, a dirty fishing town, strewn with nets, canoes, sails, bamboos, etc., on the seaside. There were a few rows of rough-and-tumble shops, and in the middle of this uninteresting group is the large church and convent. The only amusement here was to listen to the townsfolk disputing amongst themselves in broken-Spanish, a mongrel jargon invented by the Cavite coast natives-a philological treat.

Passing through Novaleta and Rosario we were again in Santa Cruz de Malabon. The ponies were very fatigued, but when they recognized their home they required no urging to arrive at a hard trot at the finish of the sixty-mile journey.

From Santa Cruz I took a carromata to Cavite, where the Arsenal is established. Cavite is a fortified town, with streets of houses built of brick, stone, &c., as in Manila.[3] It has its theatre, cafes, hotels, jetty, sea-wall, etc., but is not considered healthy. Being then the chief Government Naval Station, there was a large European floating population. Here, and especially in San Roque, fifteen minutes' drive from Cavite, a very amusing broken-Spanish is spoken by the natives. There was a bi-daily steamboat service between the capital and Cavite, the run being about 61 miles, so I embarked on the morning boat at 7.30, and in one hour was again in Manila-the so-called " Pearl of the Orient," or the " Venice of the Far East."

[1] The burthen of a native play in the provinces is almost invariably founded on the contests between the Mussulmans of the South, and the Christian natives under Spanish dominion. The Spaniards, in attaching the denomination of JVo'ros to the Moslems of Sulu, associated them in name with the Mussulman Moors who held sway over a large part of Hispania for over seven centuries (711-1192). A " Moro Mforo " performance is usually a drama-occasionally a melo-drama-in which the native actors, clad in all the glittering finery of Moslem nobility and Christian chivalry, assemble in battle array before the Moslem princesses, to settle their disputes under the combined inspirations of love and religious persuasion. The princesses, one after the other, pining under the dictates of the heart in defiance of their creed, leave their fate to be sealed by the outcome of deadly combat between the contending factions. Armed to the teeth, the cavaliers of the respective parties march to and fro, haranguing each other in monotonous tones. After a longwinded, wearisome challenge, they brandish their weapons and meet in a series of single combats which merge in a general melee as the princes are vanquished and the hand of the disputed enchantress is won. The dialogue is in the idiom of the district where the performance is given, and the whole play (lasting from four to six nights) is brief compared with Chinese melo-drama, which often extends to a month of nights. Judged from the standard of European histrionism, the plot is weak from the sameness and repetition of the theme. The declamation is unnatural, and void of vigour and emphasis. The same tone is maintained from beginning to end, whether it be in expression of expostulatory defiance, love, joy, or despair. But the masses are intensely amused, thus the full object is achieved. They seem to never tire of gazing at the situations created, and applauding vociferously the feigned defeat of their traditional arch-foes.

[2] Cayinin (Tagaog dialect), a land clearance made by firing the undergrowth

[3] Up to the beginning of the 17th century, the houses in Cavite were built of wood with nipa palm roofing. At that period a great fire occurred which consumed three-fourths of the buildings, including the Royal Granaries and much cargo which was awaiting shipment to Mexico. The town and Arsenal were afterwards re-constructed with more solid materials-stone, bricks, etc., and tile roofs being used.

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