Chapter 7b

Lucban Icon

April 8, 2022


I reached Lucban district in 3 hours. It is a prosperous place of 13,000 inhabitants, to the north-east of Majaijai.

A year before my visit, it had been burnt to the ground.

The agricultural produce of Lucban is not very important because of the area’s mountainous nature. But it has considerable industrial activity.

The people:

  • weave fine straw hats from the fibre of the leaf of the buri palm-tree (Corypha sp.)
  • manufacture pandanus mats
  • trade at Mauban with the gold-washers of North Camarines.

The entire road is covered with cement. Along its centre flows, in an open channel, a sparkling rivulet.

  • A number of the Illustrated London News, of December 1857 or January 1858, contains a clever drawing, by an accomplished artist, of the mode of travelling over this road, under the title, “A Macadamized road in Manila."

Tribunal Accommodation

The road from Lucban to Mauban, which is situated in the bay of Lamon, opposite to the island of Alabát, winds along the narrow watercourse of the Mápon river, through deep ravines with perpendicular cliffs of clay. I observed several terraceformed rice-fields similar to those so prevalent in Java, an infrequent sight in the Philippines.

Presently the path led us into the very thick of the forest. Nearly all the trees were covered with aroides and creeping ferns; amongst them I noticed the angiopteris, pandanus, and several large specimens of the fan palm.

Three leagues from Lucban the river flows under a rock supported on prismatically shaped pillars, and then runs through a bed of round pebbles, composed of volcanic stone and white lime, as hard as marble, in which impressions of shell-fish and coral can be traced. Further up the river the volcanic rubble disappears, and the containing strata then consist of the marble-like pebbles cemented together with calcareous spar.

These strata alternate with banks of clay and coarse-grained soil, which contain scanty and badly preserved imprints of leaves and musselfish. Amongst them, however, I observed a flattened but still recognizable specimen of the fossil melania. The river-bed must be quite five hundred feet above the level of the sea.

About 1 league beyond Mauban, as it was getting dusk, we crossed the river, then tolerably broad, on a wretched leaking bamboo raft, which sank quite 6 inches beneath the water under the weight of our horses, and ran helplessly aground in the mud on the opposite side.

The tribunal or common-house was crowded with people who had come to attend the festival which was to take place on the following day.

The cabezas wore, as token of their dignity, a short jacket above their shirts. A quantity of brightly decorated tables laden with fruit and pastry stood against the walls, and in the middle of the principal room a dining-table was laid out for 40 persons.

My servant had run away with some wages I had rashly paid him in advance.

A European who travels without a servant is seen as a beggar.

I was overwhelmed with impertinent questions on the subject, which, however, I left unanswered. As I hadn’t had the supper I stood considerably in need of, I took the liberty of taking a few savoury morsels from the meat-pot, which I ate in the midst of a little knot of wondering spectators.

I then laid myself down to sleep under the groaning table, to which a second set of diners were already sitting down.

When I awoke on the following morning there were already so many people stirring that I had no opportunity of performing my toilette. I therefore betook myself in my dirty travelling dress to the residence of a Spaniard who had settled in the pueblo, and who received me in the most hospitable manner as soon as the description in my passport satisfied him that I was worthy of a confidence not inspired by my appearance.

My friendly host carried on no trifling business. Two English ships were at that moment in the harbour, which he was about to send to China laden with moláre, a species of wood akin to teak.

The Banajao Volcano

On my return, I visited the fine waterfall of Butúcan, between Mauban and Lucban, a little apart from the high road.

A powerful stream flows between two high banks of rocky soil thickly covered with vegetation, and, leaping from a ledge of volcanic rock suddenly plunges into a ravine, said to be 360 deep, along the bottom of which it is hurried away.

The channel is so narrow and the vegetation so dense, that an observer looking at it from above can scarcely follow its course.

This waterfall has a great similarity to that which falls from the Semeru in Java. Here, as there, a volcanic stream flowing over vast rocky deposits forms a horizontal watercourse, which in its turn is overshadowed with immense masses of rock.

The water easily forces its way between these till it reaches the solid lava, when it leaves its high, narrow, and thickly-wooded banks, and plunges into the deep chasm it has itself worn away. The pouring rain unfortunately prevented me from sketching this fine fall.

It was raining when I reached the convento of Majaijai, and it was still raining when I left it three days later, nor was there any hope of improvement in the weather for another month to come. “The wet season lasts for eight or nine months in Majaijas, and during the whole period scarcely a day passes without the rain falling in torrents.”—Estado geograph.

To ascend the volcano was under such circumstances impracticable. According to some notes written by the Majaijai priest, an ascent and survey of Mount Banajáo was made on the 22nd of April, 1858, by Senors Roldan and Montero, two able Spanish naval officers, specially charged with the revision of the marine chart of the archipelago.

From its summit, they took observations of Manila cathedral, of the Mayon, another volcano in Albay, and of the island of Polillo.

They estimated the altitude of the Banajáo to be 7,020 Spanish feet, and the depth of its crater to be 700. The crater formerly contained a lake, but the last eruption made a chasm in its southern side through which the water flowed away. *

I reached Calauan in the pouring rain, wading through the soft spongy clay upon a wretched, half-starved pony, and found I must put off my water journey to Manila till the following day, as there was no boat on the lake at this point.

The next morning there were no horses to be found; and it was not till the afternoon that I procured a cart and a couple of buffaloes to take me to Santa Cruz, whence in the evening the market-vessel started for Manila. One buffalo was harnessed in front; the other was fastened behind the cart in order that I might have a change of animals when the first became tired. Buffalo number one wouldn’t draw, and number two acted as a drag—rather a useless apparatus on a level road—so I changed them.

As soon as number two felt the load it laid down. A few blows persuaded it to pick itself up, when it deliberately walked to the nearest pool and dropped into it. It was with the greatest trouble that we unharnessed the cart and pushed it back on to the road, while our two considerate beasts took a mud bath.

At last we reloaded the baggage, the buffaloes were reharnessed in their original positions, and the driver, leaning his whole weight upon the nose-rope of the leading beast, pulled at it might and main. To my great delight the animal condescended to slowly advance with the cart and its contents. At Pila I managed to get a better team, with which, late in the evening, in the midst of a pouring rain, I reached a little hamlet opposite Santa Cruz.

The market-vessel had left; our attempts to get a boat to take us across to the village only led to barefaced attempts at extortion, so I entered one of the largest of the hamlet’s houses, which was occupied by a widow and her daughter. After some delay my request for a night’s lodging was granted.

I sent for some oil, to give me a little light, and something to eat. The women brought in some of their relations, who helped to prepare the food and stopped in the house to protect its owners.

The next morning I crossed the river, teeming with joyous bathers, to Santa Cruz, and hired a boat there to take me across the lake to Pasig, and from thence to Manila. A contrary wind, however, forced us to land on the promontory of Jalajala, and there wait for the calm that accompanies the dawn. Betwixt the


  • Erd and Pickering, of the United States exploring expedition, determined the height to be 6,500 English feet (7,143 Spanish), not an unsatisfactory result, considering the imperfect means they possessed for making a proper measurement.

In the Manilan Estado geographico for 1865, the height is given, without any statement as to the source whence the estimate is derived, as 7,030 feet. The same authority says, " the large volcano is extinct since 1730, in which year its last eruption took place. The mountain burst into flames on the southern side, threw up streams of water, burning lava, and stones of an enormous size; traces of the last can be observed as far as the village of Sariaya.

The crater is perhaps a league in circumference, it is highest on the northern side, and its interior is shaped like an eggshell : the depth of the crater apparently extends half way down the height of the mountain."

extreme southern point of the land and the houses I saw, in several places, banks of mussels projecting at least 15 feet above the surface of the water, similar to those which are so frequently found on the sea-coast; a proof that earthquakes have taken place in this neighbourhood.