Chapter 18a

Mazarága Icon

February 18, 2022

From the Ysaróg I returned through Nága and Nabua to Yriga.

The chief of the Montesinos had received daily rations for 22 men, with whom he professed to make a road to the summit; but when, on the evening of the third day, he came himself to Yriga, in order to fetch more provisions, on the pretext that the work still required some time for execution, I explained that I should endeavour to ascend the mountain on the following morning, and requested him to act as guide. He consented, but disappeared, together with his companions, during the night;

The Indians in the tribunál having been good enough to hold out the prospect of severe punishment in case the work performed should not correspond to the working days.

After fruitless search for another guide, we left Buhi in the afternoon, and passed the night in the rancho, where we had previously been so hospitably received. The fires were still burning, but the inhabitants, on our approach, had fled. About six o’clock on the following morning the ascent began.

After we had gone through the forest, by availing ourselves of the path which we had previously beaten, it led us through grass three or four feet in height, with keen-edged leaves ; succeeded by cane, from seven to eight feet high, of the same habitat with our Arundo phragmites (but it was not in flower), which occupied the whole of the upper part of the mountain as far as the edge. Only in the ravine did the trees attain any height. The lower declivities were covered with aroids and ferns ; towards the summit were tendrils and mosses; and here I found a beautiful, new, and peculiarly shaped orchid.* The Cimarrons had cut down some cane; and, beating down our road for ourselves with wood-knives, we arrived at the summit a little before ten o’clock. It was very foggy. In the hope of a clear evening or morning I caused a hut to be erected, for which purpose the cane was well fitted.

The natives were too lazy to erect a lodging for themselves, or to procure wood for a watch-fire. They squatted on the ground, squeezed close to one another to warm themselves, ate cold rice, and suffered thirst because none of them would fetch water. Of the two water-carriers whom I had taken with me, one had “ inadvertently” upset his water on the road, and the other had thrown it away“ because he thought we should not require it."

I found the highest points of the Yriga to be 1,212 metres, 1,120 metres above the surface of the Buhi Lake. From Buhi I went to Batu.

The Batu Lake (111 metres above the sea) had sunk lower since my last visit in February.

The carpet of algæ had increased considerably in breadth, its upper edge being in many places decomposed. The lower passed gradually into a thick consistency of putrid water-plants (charæ, algæ, pontederiæ, valisneriæ, pistiæ, &c.), which encompassed the surface of the water so that only through a few gaps could one reach the bank. Right across the mouth of the Quináli lies, in the lake, a bar of black mud, the softest parts of which were indicated by some insignificant channels of water. As we could not get over the bar in a large

  • Dendrobium ceraula, n. sp., Reichenbach fil.

boat, two small skiffs were bound together with a matting of bamboo, and provided with an awning. By means of this contrivance, which was drawn by three strong buffaloes (the whole body of men with evident delight and loud mirth wading kneedeep in the black mud and assisting by pushing behind) we succeeded, as if on a sledge, in getting over the obstacle into the river; which on my first visit overflowed the fields in many places, in so far that the huts of the natives rose out of the water like so many ships: but now in June) not one of its channels was full. We were obliged in consequence to continue our sledge journey until we were near to Quináli.

At Ligáo I alighted at a friendly Spaniard’s, a great part of the place, together with the tribunál and convent, having been burnt down since my last visit. After making the necessary preparations, I went in the evening to Barayong, a little rancho of Cimarrons at the foot of the Mazarága, and, together with its inhabitants, ascended the mountain on the following morning.

The women also accompanied us for some distance, and kept the company in good humour; and when, on the road, an Indian who had been engaged for the purpose wished to give up carrying a bamboo full of water, and, throwing it away, ran off, an old woman stepped forward in his stead, and dragged the water cheerfully along up to the summit.

This mountain was moister than any I had ever ascended, the Semeru in Java, in some respects, excepted; and half-way up I found some rotten rafflesia.* Two miserable-looking Cimarron dogs drove a young stag towards us, which was slain by one of the people with a blow of the wood-knife.

The path ceased at a third of the height, but it was not difficult to get through the wood. The upper portion of the mountain, however, being thickly overgrown with cane, again presented great obstacles. About twelve we reached the summit-level, which, pierced by no crater, is almost

  • Rafflesia Cumingii R. Brown, according to Dr. Kuhn.

horizontal, smoothly arched, and thickly covered with cane. Its height is 1,354 metres. In a short time the indefatigable Cimarrons built a fine large hut of cane : one room for myself and the baggage, a large assembly-room for the people, and a special apartment for cooking. Unfortunately the cane was so wet that it would not burn.

In order to get firewood to cook the rice, thick bianches were got out of the wood. Their comparatively dry pith extracted with great labour. The lucifer-matches, too, were so damp that the phosphorus was rubbed away in friction. But, being collected on blotting-paper, and kneaded together with the sulphurous end of the match-wood, it became dry and was kindled by friction. Not a trace of solid rock was to be seen.

All was obstructed by a thick overgrowth from where the path ceased, and the ground covered with a dense bed of damp woodearth. The following morning was fine, and showed a wide panorama; but, before I had completed my drawing, it again became misty; and as, after several hours of waiting, the heavens were overspread with thick rain-clouds, we set out on our return.

Numerous butterflies swarmed around the summit. We could, however, catch only a few, as the passage over the cane-stubble was too difficult for naked feet; and, the badly-stitched soles of two pairs of new shoes which I had brought from Manila having dropped off some time before I reached the summit, I was compelled to perform the journey to Ligáo barefoot.

On the following day, my Spanish host went twice to the tribunál to procure the buffalo carts which were necessary for the furtherance of my collections.

His courteous request was unsuccessful. But the command of the cura, who personally informed the Gobernadorcillo in his house, was immediately obeyed. The native authorities have, as a rule, but little respect for private Spanish people, and treat them not seldom with open contempt.

An official recommendation from the alcalde is usually effectual, but not in all the provinces ; for many alcaldes do hurt to their own authority by engaging the assistance or connivance of the native magistrates in the furtherance of their personal interests.

I here shot some paníkes, great bats with wings nearly 5 feet wide when extended, which in the day time hang asleep from the branches of trees, and, among them, two mothers with their young sucking ones uninjured.

The little animals clung more and more firmly to the bodies of their dying parents, and how tenderly they embraced them even after they were dead.

The apparent feeling, however, was only selfinterest at bottom, for, when their store of milk was exhausted, the old ones were treated without respect, like empty bottles. As soon as the young ones were separated, they fed on bananas, and lived several days, until I at length placed them in spirits.