The PhilippinesFebruary 14, 2022
TRAVELS IN SÁMAR.- WEATHER.-ELECTION OF OFFICIALS.-NORTH COAST.-CÁTBA LOGAN.–THE FLYING LEMUR.–SERPENT TAMERS.-TERTIARY PETRIFACTIONE. — THE RAPIDS OF THE LOQUILÓcun.-THE MAGO.
At the present time, each island has its separate governor.
The older authors called the island Tendaya, Ybabáo, and also Achan and Philippina.
In later times, the eastern side was called Ybabáo, and the western Samar, which is now the official denomination for the whole island, the eastern shore being distinguished as the Contracosta.*
As on the eastern coasts of Luzon, the north-east monsoon here exceeds that from the south-west in duration and force, the violence of the latter being arrested by the islands lying to the south
Island | Name | Author — | — Luzon | Luconia | Hondiv (Purchas, 605) Cebu | Suba | Albo (Journal) _ | Pigafetta | Cingapola in Zubu Albay | Ibalon | Arenas (“Memorias," 21) Tabayas | Calilaya | Arenas Batangas | Comintan | Arenas Negros | Buglas | Arenas Cebu | Sogbu | Arenas Mindoro | Mait | Arenas Basilan | Taguima | Arenas Sámar | Ybabáo | Arenas _ | Camlaia | R. Dudleo “Arcano del Mare" (Florence, 1761) _ | Achan | Hondiv Leyte | Sabura | Hondiv _ | Seilani | Albo North Leyte | Pigafetta | Baybay South Leyte | Pigafetta | Ceylon Camarines | Nebui | Hondiv Mindanao | Cesarea | B. de la Torre
west, while the north-east winds break against the coasts of these easterly islands with their whole force, and the additional weight of the body of water which they bring with them from the open ocean. In October winds fluctuating between north-west and north-east occur; but the prevalent ones are northerly. In the middle of November the north-east is constant; and it blows, with but little intermission, from the north until April.
This is likewise the rainy season, December and January being the wettest, when it sometimes rains for 14 days without interruption. In Láuang, on the north coast, the rainy season lasts from October to the end of December. From January to April it is dry; May, June, and July are rainy; and August and September, again, are dry; so that here there are two wet and two dry seasons in the year. From October to January violent storms (baguios or typhoons) sometimes occur. Beginning generally with a north wind, they pass to the north-west, accompanied by a little rain, then back to the north, and with increasing violence to the north-east and east, where they acquire their greatest power, and then moderate to the south. Sometimes, however, they change rapidly from the east to the south, in which quarter they first acquire their greatest force.
From the end of March to the middle of June inconstant easterly winds (N.E.E. and S.E.) prevail, with a very heavy sea on the east coast. May is usually calm; but in May and June there are frequent thunder-storms, introducing the south-west monsoon, which though it extends through the months of July, August, and September, is not so constant as the north-east. The last-named three months constitute the dry season, which, however, is often interrupted by thunder-storms. Not a week, indeed, passes without rain ; and in many years a storm arises every afternoon. At this season of the year ships can reach the east coast ; but during the north-east monsoon navigation there is impossible. These general circumstances are subject to many local devia
tions, particularly on the south and west coasts, where the uniformity of the air currents is disturbed by the mountainous islands lying in front of them. According to the “ Estado geografico " of 1855, an extraordinarily high tide, called dolo, occurs every year at the change of the monsoon in September or October.
It rises sometimes sixty or seventy feet, and dashes itself with fearful violence against the south and east coasts, doing great damage, but not lasting for any length of time. The climate of Sámar and Leyté appears to be very healthy on the coasts ; in fact, to be the best of all the islands of the archipelago. Dysentery, diarrhæa, and fever occur less frequently than in Luzon, and Europeans also are less subject to their attacks than in that place.
The resident civilised Indians live almost solely on its coasts, and there are also Bisayans who differ in speech and manners
do from the Tagalese. Roads and villages are almost entirely wanting in the interior, which is covered with a thick wood, and affords sustenance to independent tribes, who carry on a little tillage (vegetable roots and mountain rice), and collect the products of the woods, particularly resin, honey, and wax, in which the island is very rich.
On the 3rd of July we lost sight of Legaspi, and, detained by frequent calms, crawled as far as Point Montúfar, on the northern edge of Albáy, then onwards to the small island of Viri, and did not reach Láuang before the evening of the 5th. The mountain range of Bacon (the Pocdol of Coello), which on my previous journeys had been concealed by night or mist, now revealed itself to us in passing as a conical mountain ; and beside it towered a very precipitous, deeply-cleft mountain-side, apparently the remnant of a circular range. After the pilot, an old Indian and native of the country, who had made the journey frequently before, had conducted us, to begin with, to a wrong port,
he ran the vessel fast on to the bar, although there was sufficient water to sail into the harbour conveniently.
The district of Láuang (Láhuan) has more than 4,500 inhabitants. It has an altitude of 40 feet, on the south-west shore of the small island of the same name, which is separated from Sámar by an arm of the Catúbig.
According to a widely-spread tradition, the settlement was originally in Sámar itself, in the middle of the rice-fields, which continue to the present day in that place, until the repeated inroads of sea-pirates drove the inhabitants, in the face of the inconvenience attending it, to protect themselves by settling on the south coast of the little island, which rises steeply out of the sea.*
The latter consists of almost horizontal banks of tuff, from 8-12 inches thick.
The strata being continually eaten away by the waves at water-mark, the upper layers break off; and thus the uppermost parts of the strata, which are of a tolerably uniform thickness, are cleft by vertical
- No mention is made of it in the “Estado geogr.” of the Franciscans, published at Manila in 1855.
fissures, and look like the walls of a fortress. Pressed for space, the church and the convent have taken up every level bit of the rock at various heights; and the effect of this accommodation of architecture to the requirements of the ground, though not designed by the architect, is most picturesque.
The place is beautifully situated. But the houses are not so frequently as formerly surrounded by little gardens, while there is a great want of water, and foul odours prevail. Two or three scanty springs afford a muddy, brackish water, almost at the level of the sea, with which the indolent people are content so that they have just enough. Wealthy people have their water brought from Sámar, and the poorer classes are sometimes compelled, by the drying-up of the springs, to have recourse to the same place. The spring-water is not plentiful for bathing purposes; and, sea-bathing not being in favour, the people consequently are very dirty. Their clothing is the same as in Luzon ; but the women wear no tapis, only a camisa (a short shirt, hardly covering the breast), and a saya, mostly of coarse, stiff guinara, which forms ugly folds, and when not coloured black is very transparent.
Dirt and a filthy existence form a better protection than tight garments. The inhabitants of Láuang rightly, indeed, enjoy the reputation of being very idle. Their industry is limited to a little tillage, even fishing being so neglected that frequently there is a scarcity of fish. In the absence of roads by land, there is hardly any communication by water; and trade is mostly carried on by mariners from Catbalogan, who exchange the surplus of the harvests for other produce.
ELECTION OF OFFICIALS
From the convent, a view is had of part of the island of Sámar, the mountain forms of which appear to be a continuation of the horizontal strata. In the centre of the district, at the distance of some miles, a table mountain, famous in the history of the country, towers aloft.
The natives of the neighbouring village of Palápat retreated to it after killing their pastor, a too covetous Jesuit father. For years, it did guerilla warfare with the Spaniards until they were finally vanquished by treachery.
The interior of the country is difficult to traverse from the · absence of roads, and the coasts are much infested by pirates.
Quite recently several pontins and four schooners, laden with abacá, were captured, and the crews cruelly murdered, their bodies having been cut to pieces. This, however, was opposed to their general practice, for the captives are usually employed at the oars during the continuance of the foray, and afterwards sold as slaves in the islands of the Solo Lake.
It was well that we did not encounter the pirates, for, although we carried four small cannons on board, nobody understood how to use them.*
The governor, who was expected to conduct the election of the district officials in person, but was prevented by illness, sent a deputy. As the annual elections are conducted in the same manner over the whole country, that at which I was present may be taken as typical of the rest.
It took place in the common hall; the governor (or his deputy) sitting at the table, with the pastor on bis right hand, and the clerk on his left,—the latter also acting as interpreter; while Cabézas de Barangay, the gobernadorcillo, and those who had previously filled the office, took their places all together on benches. First of all, six cabézas and as many gobernadorcillos are chosen by lot as electors; the actual gobernadorcillo is the 13th, and the rest quit the hall.
After the reading of the statutes by the president, who exhorts the electors to the conscientious performance of their duty, the latter advance singly to the table, and write three names on a piece of paper. Unless a valid protest be made either by the pastor or by the electors, the one who has the most votes is forth with named gobernadorcillo for the coming year, subject
- Small ships which have no cannon should be provided with pitchers filled with water and the fruit of the sacchariferous arenga, for the purpose of besprinkling the pirates, in the event of an attack, with the corrosive mixture, which causes a burning heat. Dumont d’Urville mentions that the inhabitants of Solo had, during his visit, poisoned the wells with the same fruit. The kernels preserved in sugar are an agreeable confection.
to the approval of the superior jurisdiction at Manila ; which, however, always consents, for the influence of the cura would provide against a disagreeable election. The election of the other functionaries takes place in the same manner, after the new gobernadorcillo has been first summoned into the hall, in order that, if he have any important objections to the officers then
A PERILOUS JOURNEY
about to be elected, he may be able to make them. The whole affair was conducted very quietly and with dignity.*
On the following morning, accompanied by the obliging pastor, who was followed by nearly all the boys of the village, I crossed over in a large boat to Sámar. Out of eleven strong baggage porters whom the governor’s representative had selected for me, four took possession of some trilling articles and sped away with them, three others hid themselves in the bush, and four had previously decamped at Láuang. The baggage was divided and distributed amongst the four porters who were detained, and the little boys who had accompanied us for their own pleasure. We followed the sea-shore in a westerly direction, and at a very late hour reached the nearest visita, where the cura was successful, after much difficulty, in supplying the places of the missing porters. On the west side of the mouth of the Pambújan a neck of land projects into the sea, which is a favourite resort of the sea-pirates, who from their shelter in the wood command the shore which extends in a wide curve on both sides, and forms the only communication between Láuang and Catárman. Many travellers had already been robbed in this place; and the father, who was now accompanying me thus far had, with the greatest difficulty, escaped the same danger only a few weeks before.
The last part of our day’s journey was performed very cautiously. A messenger who had been sent on had placed boats at all the months of rivers, and, as hardly any other Europeans besides ecclesiastics are known in this district, I was taken in the darkness for a Capuchin in travelling attire; the men lighting me with torches during the passage, and the women pressing forward to kiss my hand. I passed the night on the road, and on the following day reached Catárman (Caladman on Coello’s map), a clean, spacious locality numbering 6,358 souls, at the mouth of the river of the same name. Six pontins from Catbalogan awaited their cargoes of rice for Albáy. The inhabitants of the north coast are too indifferent sailors to export their products themselves, and leave it to the people of Catbalogan, who, having no rice-fields, are obliged to find employment for their activity in other places.
- There were also elected a teniente mayor (deputy of the gobernadorcillo), a juez mayor (superior judge) for the fields, who is always an ex-captain; a second jndge for the police ; a third judge for disputes relating to cattle; a second and third teniente ; and first and second policemen; and finally, in addition, a teniente, a judge, and a policeman for each visita. All three of the judges can be ex-capitanos, but no ex-capitano can be teniente. The first teniente must be taken from the higher class, the others may belong either to that or to the common people. The policemen (alguacils) are always of the latter class.
The river Catárman formerly debouched further to the east, and was much choked with mud. In the year 1851, after a continuous heavy rain, it worked for itself, in the loose soil which consists of quartz sand and fragments of mussels, a new and shorter passage to the sea—the present harbour, in which ships of two hundred tons can load close to the land; but in doing so it destroyed the greater part of the village, as well as the stone church and the priest’s residence. In the new convent there are two saloons, one 16.2 by 8.8, the other 9 by 7.6 paces in dimensions, boarded with planks from a single branch of a dipterocarpus (guiso). The pace is equivalent to 30 inches ; and, assuming the thickness of the boards, inclusive of waste, to be one inch, this would give a solid block of wood as high as a table (2] feet), the same in breadth, 18 feet in length, and of about 110 cubic feet.* The houses are enclosed in gardens ; but some of them only by fencing, within which weeds luxuriate. At the rebuilding of the village, after the great flood of water, the laying out of gardens was commanded; but the industry which is required to preserve them is often wanting. Pasture grounds
- G. Squier (“ States of Central America," 192) mentions a block of mahogany, 17 ft. in length, which, at its lowest section, measured 5 ft. 6 in. square, and contained altogether 550 cubic feet.
extend themselves, on the south side of the village, covered with fine short grass ; but, with the exception of some oxen and sheep belonging to the cura, there are no cattle.
Still without servants, I proceeded with my baggage in two small boats up the river, on both sides of which rice-fields and cocoa-groves extended; but the latter, being concealed by a thick border of Nipa palms and lofty cane, are only visible occasionally through the gaps. The sandy banks, at first flat, became gradually steeper, and the rock soon showed itself close at hand, with firm banks of sandy clay containing occasional traces of indistinguishable petrifactions.
A small mussel * has pierced the clay banks at the water-line, in such numbers that they look like honeycombs. About twelve we cooked our rice in an isolated hut, amongst friendly people. The women whom we surprised in dark ragged clothing of guinára drew back ashamed, and w soon after appeared in clean Alu chequered sayas, with earrings of brass and tortoise-shell combs. When I drew a little naked girl, the mother forced her to put on a shirt. About two we again stepped into the boat, and after rowing the whole night reached a small visita, Cobocóbo, about nine in the forenoon. The rowers had worked without interruption for twenty-four
- According to Dr. V. Martens, Modiola striatula, Hanley, who found the same bivalve at Singapore, in brackish water, but considerably larger. Reeve also delineates the species collected by Cumming in the Philippines, without precise mention of the locality, as being larger (38mm), that from Catarman being 17mm.
hours, exclusive of the two hours’ rest at noon, and though somewhat tired were in good spirits.
At half-past two we set out on the road over the Salta Sangley (Chinese leap) to. Tragbúcan, which, distant about a mile in a straight line, is situated at the place where the Calbayot, which debouches on the west coast at point Hibáton, becomes navigable for small boats. By means of these two rivers and the short but troublesome road, a communication exists between the important stations of Catárman on the north coast, and Calbáyot on the west coast.
A WATER JOURNEY
The road, which at its best part is a small path in the thick wood uninvaded by the sun, and frequently is only a track, passes over slippery ridges of clay, disappearing in the mud puddles in the intervening hollows, and sometimes running into the bed of the brooks. The water-shed between the Catárman and Calbáyot is formed by the Salta Sangley already mentioned, a flat ridge composed of banks of clay and sandstone, which succeed one another ladder-wise downwards on both its sides, and from which the water collected at the top descends in little cascades. In the most difficult places rough ladders of bamboo are fixed. I counted fifteen brooks on the north-east side which feed the Catárman, and about the same number of feeders of the Calbayot on the south-west side. About forty minutes past four we reached the highest point of the Salta Sangley, about ninety feet above the sea ; and at half-past six we got to a stream, the highest part of the Calbayot, in the bed of which we wandered until its increasing depth forced us, in the dark, laboriously to beat out our path through the underwood to its bank ; and about eight o’clock we found ourselves opposite the visita Tragbúcan. The river at this place was already six feet deep, and there was not a boat. After shouting entreaties and threats for a long time, the people, who were startled out of sleep by the report from a revolver, agreed to construct a raft of bamboo, on which they placed ourselves and our baggage. The little place, which consists of only a few poor huts, is prettily situated, surrounded as it is by wooded hillocks on a plateau of sand fifty feet above the reed-bordered river.
Thanks to the activity of the teniente of Catárman who accompanied me, a boat was procured without delay, so that we were able to continue our journey about seven o’clock. The banks were from twenty to forty feet high ; and, with the exception of the cry of some rhinoceros birds which fluttered from bough to
Boat with Outriggers of Bamboo. The upper edge consists only of a loose tresswork of palm-leaves, held together by
strips of bamboo.
bough on the tops of the trees, we neither heard nor saw a trace of animal life. About half-past eleven we reached Taibágo, a small visita, and about half-past one a similar one, Magubáy; and after two hours’ rest at noon, about five o’clock, we got into a current down which we skilfully floated, almost without admitting any water. The river, which up to this point is thirty feet broad, and on account of many projecting branches of trees difficult to navigate, here is twice as broad. About eleven at night we reached the sea, and in a complete calm rowed for the distance of a league
along the coast to Calbáyot, the convent at which place affords a commanding view of the islands lying before it.
A thunderstorm obliged us to postpone the journey to the chief town, Catbalogan (or Catbalónga), which was seven leagues distant, until the afternoon. In a long boat, formed out of the stem of one tree, and furnished with outriggers, we travelled along the shore, which is margined by a row of low-wooded hills with many small visitas ; and as night was setting in we rounded the point of Napalísan, a rock of trachytic conglomerate shaped by perpendicular fissures with rounded edges into a series of projections like towers, which rises up out of the sea to the height of sixty feet, like a knight’s castle. At night we reached Catbalógan, the chief town of the island, with a population of six thousand, which is picturesquely situated in the middle of the western border, in a little bay surrounded by islands and necks of land, difficult to approach and, therefore, little guarded. Not a single vessel was anchored in the harbour.
The houses, many of which are of boards, are neater than those in Camarines; but the people, though idle, are more modest, more honourable, more obliging, and of cleaner habits, than the inhabitants of South Luzon. Through the courtesy of the governor I quickly obtained a roomy dwelling, and a servant who understood Spanish. Here I also met a very intelligent Indian who had acquired great skill in a large variety of crafts. With the simplest tools he improved in many points on my instruments and apparatus, the purpose of which he quickly comprehended to my entire satisfaction, and gave many proofs of considerable intellectual ability.