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The People of the Philippines

The People of the Philippines

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Excerpt from The People of the Philippines: Letter From the Secretary of War, Transmitting an Article on the People of the Philippines Compiled in the Division of Insular Affairs of the War Department

Their religion seems to consist in a deification of the supernatural and of the mysterious. When the railroad was first constructed from Manila to Dagupan these Negritos constantly appeared along the track, which they regarded with feelings of awe.

When the trial journey of the first locomotive took place, and that huge iron salamander appeared thundering down the track, it is related that they all fell upon their knees in abject terror, worshipping the strange monster as some new and powerful deity.

Unlike most savages they care tenderly for their aged and are full of reverence for their dead.

As a rule, too, they were independent of Spanish domination, and neither paid taxes nor submitted to enumeration for the census.

A few years ago the Spanish Government started a mission in Pampanga; a great many Negritos were herded together, and were given a years provisions and tools to work with. Teachers were also provided, and all went well as long as the provisions lasted. They refused to work, however, and were averse to all restraint, and the second year they returned to their native haunts. (Ramon Reyes Lalla.)

It is stated that they offer up prayers to the rainbows that encircle their mountain homes in great numbers and are of marvelous beauty. Their language consists of curious guttural sounds, but when trading with the natives they learn enough of the local dialect to drive a bargain. It is probable that the Negritos at one time inhabited the whole Archipelago, and were descended from a race once extending over a large area, as traces of them are found in India and in Ceylon. They are attractive in neither form nor feature, having strong jaws, thick lips, and flat noses. They are a race of Negroid dwarfs, the men being only about 4 feet 8 inches tall. The women are still lower in stature. Their only garment is a piece of cloth about the hips, but by traffic with domesticated natives they gradually put on more clothes, and for ornaments they wear strings of beads around their necks.

The men are armed with roughly made bolos and bows and arrows. Their skin is not free from eruption, and is often covered with ashes from lying around their camp fires, for they greatly enjoy sleeping in the hot ashes, something much needed on account of the chilly night air of the mountain tops, and their naked condition. They live in nomadic groups, not exceeding fifty, under a chief or elder, moving about within a certain district at the command of their chief, guided in their movements by the seasons, the ripening of fruits, and the movements of game. They have great reverence for their dead and the place of burial, and are not inclined to wander far from the graves of their ancestors, where they suppose the souls of their dead are roaming about. They place food and weapons of warfare in the graves and build rude shelters over them. They have no tribal organization and are therefore unable to assemble in large numbers for determined warfare. They are quite a peaceful people, but rather enjoy finding a victim for vengeance, and occasionally kill a Christian. Their greatest luxury is wild honey, which they devour in large quantities, and trade the wax to the domesticated natives for rice and sweet potatoes. They celebrate their dances at the time of the full moon, and are accustomed to sacrifice a pig to avoid the wrath of the thunderstorms that prevail with great violence in their mountain homes.

The Gaddanes.

This tribe is unsubdued, and found in northwestern Luzon. They are fierce, dark, and strong, of rather fine appearance. Like the American Indians they take the scalps of their enemies and wear their hair down to their shoulders.
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