It is stated, on what seems to be good authority that ten thousand dead prisoners had been taken from prison in a year. Three years ago it cost the government a little more than half a cent to collect every dollar of taxation. In Luzon, it now costs ninety-five cents. The only taxes that can be profitably collected are those in Manila. The rich islands of Leyte and Mindanao contribute practically nothing. The first islands to revolt were Luzon, Mindanao, and Leyte. About one year and a half ago, agents of the insurrectionists appealed to the government at Washington to interfere in their behalf.
The petition was received and filed. In the hot season, during the greater part of the day, the heat is so intense that Europeans frequently fall with heat apoplexy. Even the Spaniards do their business in the early hours, whiling away the heat of the day in sleep. Late in the afternoon Manila begins to awaken. The Escolta, or principal street, is crowded with loungers of all ranks and colours, each with a segarito stuck pen-like behind his ear. Caromattas, a species of two-wheeled hooded cabriolets peculiar to the natives, crowd the roadway, together with the buggies and open carriages of the foreign element.
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At sunset the various tobacco stores close, and their thousand of employees turn out into the streets. They form a motley yet effective feature among the wayfarers. The Malay girls are usually very pretty, with languishing eyes, shaded by long lashes, and supple figures, whose graceful lines are revealed by their thin clothing. In fine weather their bare feet are thrust into light, gold-embroidered slippers. In wet weather they raise themselves on high clogs, which necessitates a very becoming swinging of the hips. There is not a bonnet to be seen.
Women of the better classes affect lace and flowers, those of the lower wear their own hair flowing down their backs, in a long, blue-black wave. Jewelry is profusely worn. Every woman sparkles with bracelets, earrings, and chains. Many of the males are similarly attired. Everybody smokes. Cigarettes at fifteen for a cent are in chief favour with the natives. Cigars at $1. 50 a hundred are in favour with the foreigners. The handful of Englishmen resident in Manila are mostly bachelors, eager to make their pile and return to pleasanter surroundings.
These take up their quarters in a large house at Sampalog, which is club and boarding-house combined, or in “chummeries,” established in adjacent buildings. The Spaniards classify all the Philippine islanders under three religious groups,–the infidels, who have held to their ancient heathen rights, the Moors, who retain the Mahometan religion of their first conquerors, and the infinitely larger class of Catholics. An important, though numerically small, element in the population of the larger cities are the mestizos, or half-breeds, the result of admixture either between the Chinese or the Spanish and the natives.
These mestizos occupy about the same social position as the mulattos of the United States. But they are the richest and most enterprising among the native population. The most important personage is the cura, or parish priest. He is in most instances a Spaniard by birth, and enrolled in one or other of the three great religious orders, Augustinian, Franciscan, or Dominican, established by the conquerors. At heart, however, he is usually as much, if not more, of a native than the natives themselves. He is bound for life to the land of his adoption. He has no social or domestic tie, no anticipated home return, to bind him to any other place.
Next to the church, the greatest Sunday and holiday resort in a Philippine village is the cock-pit, usually a large building wattled like a coarse basket and surrounded by a high paling of the same description, which forms a sort of courtyard, where cocks are kept waiting their turn to come upon the stage, when their owners have succeeded in arranging a satisfactory match. It is claimed that many a respectable Malay father has been seen escaping from amid the ruins of his burning home bearing away in his arms his favourite bird, while wife and children were left to shift for themselves.
The diet of the Philippines has something to do, undoubtedly, with their gentle and non-aggressive qualities. They eschew opium and spirituous liquors. Their chief sustenance, morning, noon, and eve, is rice. The rice crop seldom fails, not merely to support the population, but to leave a large margin for export. Famine, that hideous shadow which broods over so many a rice-subsisting population, is unknown here. Even scarcity is of rare occurrence. In the worst of years hardly a sack of grain has to be imported. It is this very abundance which stands in the way of what the world calls progress.
The Malay, like other children of the tropics, limits his labour by the measure of his requirements, and that measure is narrow indeed. Hence it is often difficult to obtain his services in the development of the tobacco, coffee, hemp, and sugar industries, which might make the archipelago one of the wealthiest and most prosperous portions of the earth’s face. Manila has been once before captured from Spain. The English were its captors, although they held it only a few months. It was in 1762, a few weeks after the English capture of Havana.
Spain had been rash enough to side with France in the war usually known in this country as the French and Indian war. She was speedily punished for it. The expedition against Manila was the plan of Colonel William Draper; he was made a brigadier-general for the expedition and put in command, with Admiral Cornish as his naval ally. There were nine ships of the line and frigates, several troop-ships, and a land force of twenty-three hundred including one English regiment, with Sepoys and marines. On September 24, 1762, these forces were disembarked just south of Manila.
The Archbishop of Manila, who was also governor-general of the island, collected and armed some ten thousand natives, as a reinforcement to the Spanish garrison of eight hundred. During the progress of the siege some daring attempts were made by the British to prevent the further construction of defences, but the assailants were repulsed with great slaughter. A desperate sally was made by a strong body of natives, who “ran furiously on the ranks of the besiegers and fought with almost incredible ferocity, and many of them died, like wild beasts, gnawing with their teeth the bayonets by which they were transfixed. “