Chapter 11

Excursions To Bulusán And Sorsogón Icon

March 24, 2022

During the whole time I was confined to the house at Darága, the weather was remarkably fine ; but unfortunately the bright days had come to an end by the time I was ready to make a start, for the north-east monsoon, the sure forerunner of rain in this part of the Archipelago, sets in in October.

In spite, however, of the weather, I determined to make another attempt to ascend the mountain at Bulusán.

I found I could go by boat to Bacon in the Bay of Albáy, a distance of seven leagues, whence I could ride to Gúbat on the east coast, three leagues further, and then in a southerly direction along the shore to Bulusán.

An experienced old native, who provided a boat and crew, had appointed ten o’clock at night as the best time for my departure. Just as we were about to start, however, we were told that four piratical craft had been seen in the bay. In a twinkling, the crew disappeared, and I was left alone in the darkness ; and it took me four hours with the assistance of a Spaniard to find them again, and make a fresh start.

Around 9am we reached Bacon, whence I rode across a very flat country to San Roque, where the road leading to Gúbat took a sharp turn to the south-east, and presently became an extremely bad one. After I had passed Gúbat, my way lay along the shore.

I saw several ruined square towers, made of blocks of coral, and built by the Jesuits as a protection against the Moors–a term here applied to the pirates. Like the Moors who were formerly in Spain, they are Muslims.

They come from Mindanao and from the north-west coast of Borneo.

At the time of my visit, this part of the Archipelago was greatly infested with them.

A few days before my arrival they had carried off some fishermen close to Gúbat. A little distance from the shore, and parallel to it, ran a coral reef, which during the south-west monsoon was here and there bare at low tide; but, when the north-east wind blew, the waves of the Pacific Ocean entirely concealed it.

Upon this reef the storms had cast up many remains of marine animals, and a quantity of fungi, amongst which I noticed some exactly resembling the common sponge of the Mediterranean. They were just as soft to the touch, of a dark brown tint, as large as the fist, and of a conical shape. They absorbed water with great readiness, and might doubtless be made a profitable article of commerce. Samples of them are to be seen in the Zoological Museum at Berlin. As I went