PiracyApril 30, 2022
Early in the morning I rode on the pastor’s horse to Legaspi, and in the evening through deep mud to the alcalde at Albáy.
It was June in the middle of the so-called dry season. But it rained almost every day. The road between Albáy and Legaspi was worse than ever.
During my visit, information arrived from the commandant of the falúas on the south coast that, as he was pursuing 2 pirate vessels, 6 others suddenly made their appearance, in order to cut off his return; for which reason he had quickly made his way back.
The falúas are very strongly manned and had cannons. But the crews furnished by the localities on the coast are entirely unpractised in the use of firearms. They are so afraid of the Moros that they will flee for safety.
The coastal places only had wooden pikes and were completely exposed to the pirates, who had firmly:
- established themselves in Catanduánes, Biri, and several small islands
- seized ships with impunity, or
- robbed men on the land.
Almost daily, fresh robberies and murders were announced from the villages on the shore.
During a plundering expedition, the men caught while employed at the oars are finally sold as slaves. On the division of the spoil, one of the crew falls to the share of the dato who fitted out the vessel.*
The coasting vessels in these waters mostly have artillery.
- But it is generally placed in the hold of the ship and no one on board knows how to use it.
- If the cannon is on deck, either the powder or the shot is lacking. The captain promises to be better prepared next time.
The alcalde reported the outrages of the pirates by every post to Manila, as well as the great injury done to trade, and spoke of the duty of the Government to protect its subjects, especially as the latter were not permitted to use fire-arms;
I and from the Bisaya Islands came the same cry for help. The Government, however, was powerless against the evil.
For urgent complaints, the government would send a steamer into the waters most infested. But it hardly ever saw pirates who were carrying on their depredations close in front and behind.
At Sámars, the principal town, I met with a Government steamer ‘which for 14 days past had been nominally engaged in cruising against the pirates who fled in flat boats as soon as they saw the smoke of the steamers.
Extract from a letter of the alcalde to the captain-general, June 20, 1860:
officers knew beforehand that their cruise would have no other result than to show the distressed provinces that their outcry was not altogether unnoticed.*
- In Chamisso’s time it was even worse. “The armed expeditions were sent from Manila to cruise against the pirates. . . . serve only to promote smuggling, and Christians and Moors avoid one another with equal diligence on such occasions" ("* Observations and Views," p. 73) ….. Mas (i. iv. 43)
reports to the same effect, according to notices from the secretarygeneral’s office at Manila, and adds that the cruisers sold even the royal arms and ammunition, which had been entrusted to them, whence much passed into the hands of the doors.
20 small steam gunboats of light draught had shortly before been ordered from England, and were nearly ready.
The first 2 arrived soon after in Manila (they had to be transported in pieces round the Cape), and were to be followed by the rest; and they were at one time almost successful in delivering the archipelago from these burdensome pests; at least, from the proscribed Moors who came every year from the Solo Lake, mostly from the island of Tavitavi, arriving in May at the Bisayas, and continuing their depredations in the archipelago until the change of the monsoon in October or November compelled them to return.
In the Philippines they derived new
The alcaldes were said to influence the commauders of the cruisers, and the latter to overreach the alcaldes. But both usually made common cause. Lapérouse also relates (ii., p. 357), that the alcaldes bought many persons who had been made slaves by the Philippine pirates so that the latter were not usually brought to Batavia, where they were of much less value.
† According to the Diario de Manila, March 14, 1866, piracy on the seas had diminished, but had not ceased. Paragua, Calamianes, Mindoro, Mindanáo, and the Bisayas still suffer from it. Robberies and kidnapping are frequently carried on as opportunity favours. Such casual pirates are to be extirpated only by extreme severity. According to my latest accounts, piracy is again on the increase.
İ The Spaniards attempted to conquer the Sulu Islands in 1628, 1629, 1637, 1731, and 1746. Frequent expeditions have since taken place by way of reprisals.
A great expedition was sent out in October 1871 in order to restrain the piracy which recently was getting the upper hand. A year or two ago, the pirates had ventured as far as Manila. But in April of this year 1872, the fleet returned to Manila vithout success.
The Spaniards used almost the whole Philippine marine forces, 14 ships, mostly steam gunboats. They bombarded the chief town without inflicting any particular damage while the Moors withdrew into the interior and awaited the Spaniards who did not venture to land.
After months of recruits among vagabonds, deserters, runaway criminals, and ruined spendthrifts; and from the same sources were made up the bands of highway robbers (tulisánes), which sometimes started up, and perpetrated acts of extraordinary daring.
Not long before my arrival they had made an inroad into a suburb of Manila, and engaged with the military in the highways. Some of the latter are regularly employed in the service against the tulisánes. The robbers are not, as a rule, cruel to their victims when no opposition is offered.*
In Legaspi, I found awaiting me several chests with tin lining, which had been 16 months on their passage by overland route, instead of seven weeks, having been conveyed from Berlin by way of Trieste, on account of the Italian war.
Their contents, which had been intended for use in the Philippines exclusively, were now for the most part useless. In one chest there were two small flasks with glass stoppers, one filled with moist charcoal, and the other with moist clay, both containing seeds of the Victoria Regia and tubers of red and blue nymphæ (waterlily).
Those in the first flask were spoiled, as might have been expected; but in that filled with moist clay two tubers had thrown out shoots of half an inch in length, and appeared quite sound. I planted them at once, and in a few days vigorous leaves were developed. One of these beautiful plants, which had been ori
inactivity the Spaniards burnt down an unarmed place on the coast, committing many barbarities on the occasion, but drew back when the warriors advanced to the combat. The ports of the Sulu archipelago are closed to trade by a decree, although it is questionable whether all navigators will pay any regard to it. Not long since the sovereignty of his district was offered by the Sultan of Sulu to the King of Prussia ; but the offer was declined.
- The Diario de Manila of 4th June, 1866, states :-“Yesterday the military commission, established by ordinance of the 3rd August, 1865, discontinued its functions. The ordinary tribunals are again in force. The numerous bands of thirty, forty, and more individuals, armed to the teeth, which have left behind them their traces of blood and fire at the doors of Manila and in so many other places, are annihilated. ….. More than fifty robbers have expiated their crimes on the gallows, and one hundred and forty have been condemned to presidio (forced labour) or to other punishments.”
ginally intended for the Buitenzorg Garden in Java, remained in Legaspi ; the other I sent to Manila, where, on my return, I saw it in full bloom. In the charcoal two Victoria seeds had thrown out roots above an inch in length, which had rotted off. Most likely they had been torn up by the custom-house inspectors, and had afterwards rotted, for the neck of the bottle was broken, and the charcoal appeared as if it had been stirred. I communicated the brilliant result of his mode of packing to the Inspector of the Botanical Gardens at Berlin, who made a second consignment direct to Java, which arrived in the best condition; so that not only the Victoria, but also the one which had been derived in Berlin from an African father and an Asiatic mother, now adorn the water-basins of Java with red pond-roses (the latter plants probably those of the Philippines also).
Being compelled by the continuous rain to dry my collections in two ovens before packing them, I found that my servant had burned the greater part, so that the remains found a place in a roomy chest which I purchased for a dollar at an auction.
This unfortunately lacked a lid ; to procure which I was obliged, in the first place, to liberate a carpenter who had been imprisoned · for a small debt; secondly, to advance money for the purchase of a board and the redemption of his tools out of pawn; and even then the work, when it was begun, was several times broken off because previous claims of violent creditors had to be discharged by labour.
In five days, the lid was completed, at the cost of 3 dollars. It did not last long, however, for in Manila I had to get it replaced by a new one.
PEPE THE ACCOMPLISHED
From Legaspi, I visited the island of Sámar in a small schooner.
It is south-east from Luzon, on the farther side of the Strait of San Bernardino, which is 3 leagues in breadth. At the moment of my departure, to my great regret, my servant left me, “that he might rest a little from his fatigue,” for Pepe was good-natured, very skilful, and always good-tempered.
He had learned much from the numerous Spanish soldiers and sailors resident in Cavite, his native place, where he used to be playfully called the “Spaniard of Cavíte.” Roving from one place to another was his delight; and he quickly acquired acquaintances.
He knew especially how to gain the favour of the ladies, for he possessed many social accomplishments, being equally able to play the guitar and to milk the buffalo-cows. When we came to a pueblo, where a mestize, or even a “daughter of the country” (creole), dwelt, he would, when practicable, ask permission to milk a cow; and after bringing the señora some of the milk, under pretext of being the interpreter of my wishes, he would maintain such a flow of ingeniously courteous conversation, praising the beauty and graces of the lady, and most modestly allowing his prodigious travelling adventures to be extracted from him, that both knight and esquire beamed with brilliant radiance.
A present was always welcome, and brought us many a little basket of oranges. Buffalo milk is excellent with chocolate : but it seemed as if one seldom has the opportunity of milking a cow.
Unfortunately Pepe did not like climbing mountains, and when he was to have gone with me he either got the bellyache or gave away my strong shoes, or allowed them to be stolen.
The native ones, however, being allowed to remain untouched, for he knew well that they were fit only for riding, and derived comfort from the fact. In company with me he worked quickly and cheerfully ; but, when alone, it became tedious to him.
He found friends who hindered him, and then he would abandon his skinning of the birds, which therefore became putrid and had to be thrown away. Packing was still more disagreeable to him, and consequently he did it as quickly as possible, though not always with sufficient care, as on one occasion he tied up, in one and the same bundle, shoes, arsenic-soap, drawings, and chocolate. Notwithstanding trifling faults of this kind, he was very useful and agreeable to me;
but he did not go willingly to such an uncivilised island as Sámar; and when he received his wages in full for eight months all in a lump, and so became a small capitalist, he could not resist the temptation to rest a little from his labours.