Chapter 1b

Communication Between Hongkong and Spain Icon

April 29, 2022

Manila lies 650 nautical miles south-east of Hongkong. A mail steamer can travel it in 3 to 4 days. This allows of a fortnightly postal communication between the Philippines and the rest of the world.

European mail reaches Manila through Singapore and Hong-Kong. Singapore is about equidistant from Hongkong and Manila. Letters therefore could be received at both ports at the same time if they were sent direct from Singapore.

A steam communication between Manila and Singapore must be established. The traffic is not yet sufficiently developed to bear the double expense. According to the report of the English Consul (May, 1870), there is, besides the Government steamer, a private packet ship running between Hongkong and Manila.

Year Route Europeans Chinese Total
1868 Hongkong to Manila 141 3,048 3,489
_ Manila to Hongkong 330 4,664 4,994

The fare is 80 dollars for Europeans and 20 for Chinamen.

This small steamer is the only thing that connects the passengers of the world to Manila.

Although the Philippines belongs to Spain, there is little commerce between the two countries. Manila celebrates the arrival of the Spanish mail with Churchbell-ringing, in honour of the successful journey.

Until Portugal fell to Spain, the road around Africa to the Philippines was not open to Spanish vessels.

In 1603, 2 Augustine monks were entrusted with an important message for the king. They chose the direct line through Goa, Turkey, and Italy which took them 3 years to reach Madrid.

The Spanish imposed a heavy tax on trade. This restricted the imports of the Philippines.

The traffic with Spain was limited to the conveyance of officials, priests, and their usual necessaries, such as provisions, wine and other liquors. Except a few French novels, some atrociously dull books, histories of saints, and similar works.

Manila Bay is large enough to contain the united fleets of Europe. It has the reputation of being one of the finest in the world.

At the close of the dry season, however, strangers, including myself, would see the coast as falling short of the lively descriptions of some travellers.

The circular bay is 120 nautical miles in circumference. Its waters wash the shores of 5 different provinces. It is fringed in the neighbourhood of Manila by a level coast, behind which rises an equally flat tableland. The scanty vegetation in the foreground, consisting chiefly of bamboos and areca palms, was dried up by the sun; while in the far distance the dull uniformity of the landscape was broken by the blue hills of San Mateo.

In the rainy season, the numerous bankless canals overflow their borders and form a series of connected lakes, which change into luxuriant and verdant rice-fields.