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THE Philippine Islands have recently been recalled to public attention by a dreadful hurricane which occurred there on the 30th of November, 1875. By this disaster 250 lives were lost, aud 3800 of the fragile and loosely constructed houses of the country were destroyed. Tho calamity did not affect Manila, the principal city, but appears to have been confined to the southern part of the largest island, Luzon. Many cattle at the scene of destruction perished, and the crops sustained great injury.
This group, which, according to one estimate, lias an area of about 120,000 square miles, is composed of no less than 1200 islands, of which twenty are of fair size, four (with Luzon at the head) quite large, and
• Trmtl* in the Philippines. By F. Jaqor. London: Chapman aad Hall.
the remainder principally rocky islets. The islands were first discovered by Magellan during his famous circumnavigation of the globe, but were not conquered by the Spaniards until the reign of Philip II., after whom they were named. The Philippine Archipelago lies between Borneo aud Formosa, and separates the Northern Pacific from the China Sea. Japan lies to the north of the islands, the southern provinces of China and the English possessions in Malacca to the west, the Spice Islands, Dutch settlements in Java, and Australia to the south, aud to the east the Pacific is dotted with small islands. The Spanish sway has never extended over more than one-half tho surface of these islands, wild tribes and Mohammedan rulers controlling the rest. The population is variously estimated at from 5,000,000 to 6,000,000, statistical accu
inces. On its broad bosom the navies of the world might ride at anchor. The earthquake-tossed city of Manila is a hot, driedup place, with a population which is variously estimated at from 140,000 to 250,000, consisting of Spanish and Chinese, Creoles and natives (Tagals), oddly, if not picturesquely, huddled together. The city lies, surrounded by walls and wide ditches, on the southern bank of the Fassig, which lazily glides along, covered with green scum, and bearing on its placid waters, whose languid flow resembles that of a Dutch canal, dead cats and dogs surrounded with weeds, like eggs in a dish of spinach. The canals and ditches in the hot, drying weather exhale a poisonous malaria, which often causes death to the nnacclimated. Although next to Goa the oldest city in the Indies, Manila, with its numerous monasteries, convents, barracks, etc., reminds one more of a Spanish provincial town than of an Oriental city. Foreigners live in Bidondo, a suburb which is the head-quarters of commerce. The Spaniards and natives view each other with jealousy—the colonial policy of Madrid every where, and which prevents unity among the people, at the price of their prosperity. Then there is no planter class to break down this spirit of exclusiveness, and the Spaniards only too much regard a residence in the islands as a temporary make-shift.
The very houses in Manila are gloomy, ugly, and badly ventilated—a fatal error in such a scorching climate. Instead of light jalousies, they are fitted with heavy sash windows, with thin oyster-shell panes scarcely two square inches in area. The groundfloors, on account of the damp, are generally uninhabited, and are used for stables and offices. The dwellings are of plank, bamboo, and palm leaves, the palm being " every body's friend" in these islands. The houses are lightly put together, and, including furniture, often weigh less than 200 pounds.
Manila is a "slow" place. The plays are poor, the newspapers barren chroniclers of stale court gossip, and the most exciting incidents are religious processions and cockfights. Every Indian who can afford it keeps a fighting-cock, and the ring around the cockpit, crowded with perspiring and ill-looking natives, is a common and disagreeable sight. Some of the cocks are worth fifty dollars.
Despite all of its drawbacks, Manila has its bright and picturesque side. During the religious festivals especially, beautiful women are to be seen thronging the illuminated and flower-decked streets. Some of the most charming of the Indian women arc of the fair European type. From the provinces come the native and half-caste women. The Indian women are beautifully formed, with lustrous black hair aud melting dark eyes. The upper part of their bodies is clad
AN INDIAN GIIL
tlio fibres of the pine-apple or the banana. The hat is an odd-looking round piece of home-made plaiting, used for both umbrella and sun-shade—a great convenience in this hot and rainy climate. A Manila dandy amusingly apes European costume by wearing patent-leather shoes on his naked feet, tight-fitting trowsers of glaringly contrasted colors, a starched pleated shirt of European make, and, for crowning monstrosity, a chimney-pot silk hat, making himself an absurd caricaturo of the New York exquisite. The half-castes occupy an equivocal position. They disown their native friends, and are in turn looked down upon by the arrogant Spaniards. And yet they constitute the richest part of the population.
The numerous rivers form natural selfmaintaining highways, over which loads can be carried to the foot of the mountains, which attain very respectable height. Here the cocoa-palm flourishes, a tree that not only supplies the natives with meat and drink, but with material for building and domestic utensils. Sugar, brandy, and vinegar are manufactured from the stunted Nipa palm.
The luxuriant bamboo-tree is the island
er's unfailing resource. It not only excels in majestic beauty, but has so many useful qualities that a few sharp cuts suffice to convert it into all kinds of utensils. Its excellence consists in its happy combination of lightness and extraordinary strength, with toughness of fibre, pliability, and elasticity, and it is also easy to split. It is found in great abundance, and is, on account of its floating power, a priceless treasure in a country poor in roads and rich in watercourses. Nearly every implement necessary to the islander is made out of it by his untaught skill—baskets, tables, chairs, mats, forks, tongs, rafts, nets, hooks, and a host of other things.
The conventos are often large, imposing buildings. Many of the priests who occupy them are Spanish Franciscan monks especially devoted to the colonial missions, and who must end their days in the islands. Most of these spring from the lowest class of Spaniards, are educated on pious trusts and foundations, and on arriving in the islands freely mix with the common people, and exercise a large influence over them. When they first enter upon their duties they are ignorant and narrow-brained, but benevolence and liberality come with time and increasing prosperity. The padre is frequently the only European for miles around. He becomes necessarily "Sir Oracle," and his advice is asked on all important occasions. Having no one to lean upon, he becomes very self-reliant. Without education or scientific knowledge, the priests build churches and bridges and construct roads. This plan has its trifling disadvantages, for the bridges are apt to fall in, the churches to look like sheep pens, and the roads to go to ruin.
The Philippines are particularly favored by their position. They enjoy a variety of climate and neighborhood to the equator, with the produce of both the torrid and temperate zones. The palm-tree and fir, pineapple, the wheatear and the potato, flourish side by side. The larger islauds coutain inland seas, navigable rivers, and safe harbors. Up the numerous water-courses vessels of shallow draught can sail to the very foot of the mountains, and take in cargo. The soil is exceedingly fertile, and both the sea and inland lakes swarm with shellfish, while in the whole archipelago there is scarcely a wild beast to be found. There are two seasons in the Philippines — the wet and the dry. November, December, and January are the coldest months; April and May the hottest. From June to September there is an almost uninterrupted rain-fall. De
spite the long possession of the Spaniards, their language has scarcely acquired any footing, there being a diversity of dialects.
Among the industries of the Philippines, one of the most delicate is the manufacture