Keaulumoku died in 1784. He was a poet, dreamer, prophet, and preserver of the legends of his people. For more than three-score years he had roamed about Hawaii, esteemed for his virtues and his wisdom by those who knew him, tolerated as harmless by those who did not. He wandered about the vast and desolate lava fields and talked with spirits there. He learned rhythm and music from the swing of the waves. The "little people" in the wood were his servants when he needed help. In his closing years he occupied a cabin alone near Kauhola. Though not churlish, he cared little for human society,—it seemed so small to him after daily contemplation of the ocean and mountain majesties and the nightly vision of the stars; but he was alive to its interests, and when the future opened to him he was always willing to read it for comfort or warning.
It was reported in the villages at last that he would look on the faces of his people but once more, and they were asked to assemble at his hut on the next evening, when he would chant his last prophecy. Before sunset they gathered about his cabin a thousand or more, waiting quietly or talking in whispers, and presently the mat which hung in the entrance was drawn aside, disclosing the shrunken form and frosted hair of the venerable prophet. He began his chant in the quavering voice of age, but as he sang he gained strength, and his tones were plainly heard by all in the assemblage. He foretold the union of the islands under Kamehameha, the death of monarchy, the ruin of the temples, the oncoming of the white race, the disappearance of the Hawaiian people from the earth. Then blessing the company with uplifted hands, Keaulumoku sank back lifeless. He was buried with solemn rites in a temple, and, under the inspiration of his prophecy, Kamehameha began his work of conquest. In eleven years the islands were one nation. The rest of the prophecy is coming true.
The Tragedy of Spouting Cave
Many caves pierce the igneous rock of the Hawaiian group, some with entrances below the ocean level, and discovered only by accident. Famous among them is the spouting cave of Lanai. Old myths make this a haunt of the lizard god, but the shark god, thinking this venture below the water an intrusion on his territory, threatened to block the entrance with rocks, so the lizard god swam over to Molokai and made his home in the cave near Kaulapana, where the people built temples to him. An attempt of a daring explorer to light the cave of Lanai with fire hid in a closed calabash was also resented, the vessel being dashed out of the hand of the adventurer by some formless creature of the dark, who also plucked stones from the cave roof and hurled at him until he retreated.
To this island, at the end of the eighteenth century, came King Kamehameha to rest after his war and enjoy the fish dinners for which the island was famous. One of his captains was Kaili, a courageous and susceptible Hawaiian, who celebrated the outing by falling head-over-heels in love. Kaala, "the perfumed flower of Lanai," returned his vows, and would have taken him for a husband, without ceremony or delay, save for the stern parent, who is a frequent figure in such romances. This parent, Oponui, had a reason for his hate of Kaili, the two having encountered in the last great battle. Kaili had probably forgotten his opponent, but Oponui bitterly remembered him, for his best friend had been struck down by the spear of the young captain. Another cause for opposing this marriage was that Kaala had been bespoken by a great, hairy, tattooed savage known as "the bone-breaker." It occurred to Oponui that a good way to be rid of the cavalier would be to let him settle his claim with the famous wrestler. He chuckled as he thought of the outcome, for the bone-breaker had never been beaten. The challenge having been made and accepted, the king and his staff agreed to watch the contest. It was brief, brutal, and decisive. Though the big wrestler had the more strength, Kaili had the more skill and quickness. He dodged every rush of his burly opponent, tripped him, broke both his arms by jumping on them when he was down, and when the disabled but vengeful fighter, with dangling hands, made a bull-like charge with lowered head, the captain sprang aside, caught him by the hair, strained him suddenly backward across his knee, and flung him to the earth, dying with a broken spine. Kaili had won his bride.
The girl's father was not at the end of his resources, however. He appeared in a day or two panting, as with a long run, and begged Kaala to fly at once to her mother in the valley, as she was mortally ill and wished to see her daughter before she died. The girl kissed her lover, promising to return soon, and was hurried away by Oponui toward the Spouting Cave. Arrived there, she looked up and down the shore, but saw none other than her father, who was smiling into her face with a look of craft and cruelty that turned her sick at heart. In a broken voice she asked his purpose. Was her mother dead? Had he killed her? Oponui seized her arms with the gripe of a giant. "The man you love is my foe," he shouted. "I shall kill him, if I can. If not, he shall never see you again. When he has left Lanai, either for Hawaii or for the land of souls, I will bring you back to the sun. Come!"
Now, the water pushing through the entrance to this cavern becomes a whirlpool; then, as it belches forth in a refluent wave, it is hurled into a white column. Watching until the water began to whirl and suck, Oponui sprang from the rocks, dragging his daughter with him. She struggled for a moment, believing that his intention was to drown her. There was a rush and a roar; then, buffeted, breathless, she arose on the tide, and in a few seconds felt a beach beneath her feet. Oponui dragged her out of reach of the wave, and as soon as her eyes grew accustomed to the dimness she found herself to be in a large, chill cavern. Crabs were clattering over the stones, and rays and eels could be seen writhing shadowy, in pools. The brawling of the ocean came smothered, faint, but portentous, and in the green light that mounted through the submerged door the grotto seemed a place of dreams,—a dank nightmare.
"Here you stay until I come," commanded Oponui. "Make no attempt to escape, for so surely as you do, you will be cut to pieces on the rocks, and the sharks await outside." Then, diving into the receding water, he disappeared, and she was left alone.
Kaili awaited with impatience the return of his betrothed. He chided himself that he had allowed her father to persuade him against following her to the cabin of her mother. Then doubt began to perplex him; then suspicion. A bird croaked significantly as it flew above his head. He could not longer endure inaction. Kaala's footprints were still traceable in the sand. He would go as far as they might lead. He set off at a round pace, stopping now and then to assure himself, and presently stood perplexed near the Spouting Cave, for there they ceased. As he was looking about for some clew that might set him right once more, a faint movement behind him caused him to turn, and he saw a figure slinking along from rock to rock, bending low, as if seeking to be concealed: Oponui! Why should he be alone? Why should he hide like that? Why was he trying to escape? The truth flashed upon him. He remembered the man's face in battle, remembered their vain though savage interchange of spears. Oponui had taken Kaala from him. Had he killed her? He sprang toward the creeping figure with a shout, "Where is my wife?"
There was a short struggle; then Oponui, wriggling from his grasp, set off at a surprising pace toward a temple of refuge, with Kaili close at his heels. The chase was vain. Oponui reached the gate, rushed through, and fell on the earth exhausted. Two priests ran forward and offered their taboo staffs against the entrance of his pursuer. The gods could not be braved by breaking the taboo. With a taunt and a curse at his enemy, the captain returned to the shore where the footprints had disappeared. His heart-beats stifled him. His head was whirling. As he stood looking down into the boiling waters it seemed to his wandering fancy as if the girl had risen toward him in the spout from the cave. Hardly knowing what he did, he spoke her name and leaped from the rock to clasp her pale form. He was drawn under, and in a few seconds was flung violently upon the beach in the cave.
Kaili's leap had been seen by his king, who, with a guide, had gone to seek him, and on learning of this grotto the king and the guide plunged after. They found the lover seated on the pebbles in the green twilight, with Kaala's head upon his lap, his arms about her. She was dying, but a smile of content was on her face. He tried to restore her, to rouse her to an effort to live. It was of no avail. With a whispered word of love she closed her eyes and ceased to breathe.
King Kamehameha advanced, his rude face softened with pity. "Come, Kaili," he said. "The poor child was happy in her last hour. This cave is her proper burial-place."
"I cannot leave her, O king, for without her I cannot live." Before his purpose could be divined, Kaili had seized a rock and brought it down on his own head with crushing force. He swayed for a moment and fell dead beside the body of his bride. The king had the corpses wrapped in cloth, but left them there, and the few who have ventured through the whirlpool have seen in the cave the skeletons of the lovers.
The lament of Ua has been preserved. She was a girl whose secret love for the captain had impelled her to follow him, and who had seen his plunge into the leaping water. It runs in this fashion:
"Dead is Kaili, the young chief of Hawaii, The chief of few years and many battles. His limbs were strong and his heart was gentle. His face was like the sun. He was without fear. Dead is the slayer of the Bone-Breaker; Dead the chief who crushed the bones of Mailou; Dead the lover of Kaala and the loved of Ua. For his love he plunged into the deep water. For his love he gave his life. Who is like Kaili? Kaala is hid and I am lonely. Kaili is dead, and the black cloth is over my heart. Now let the gods take the life of Ua!"
The Grave of Pupehe
Just off the southwest shore of Lanai is a block of lava eighty or ninety feet high, vertical or overhanging on every side, absolutely without foothold. Yet at its top one may see from the neighboring shore a grave with a low wall built about it. This is the resting-place of Pupehe, the wife of one to whom was given the name of Misty Eyes, because the woman's eyes so dazzled his own. These two loved so well that they were all in all to one another. They chose to live apart from their people, roaming the woods, climbing the hills, surf-riding, fishing, berrying as the whim took them.
Lest some chief should look on her face and envy him, Misty Eyes hid his companion in a little hut among the trees, as secret and secure as a bird's nest, and sometimes they would go together to a cave, opening from the sea, opposite Pupehe's Rock, to catch and cook a sea-turtle.
The season of storms was at hand, but as the day had broken fair, Pupehe went to the cave to prepare a meal, while her husband took the calabashes to fill at a spring up the valley. A mist had come up from nowhere when he turned to go back; the wind was rising to a gale, the sea was whitening. His heart went into his throat, for he recalled how the breakers thundered in at the cave and swept the strip of beach inside. Flinging down the calabashes, he ran with all his speed. Immense waves were sweeping the cavern from end to end. Their thunder deafened him. Out of an acre of seething white a brown arm lifted. He leaped in, seized Pupehe, and succeeded in gaining the shore, but to no avail. She was dead. After the storm had passed he paddled to the lonely rock; was raised, with his burden, by a pitying god, and on the summit, where none might stand even beside the grave of her whom in life he had guarded so jealously, he buried the cold form. When the last stone had been placed on the wall, Misty Eyes sang a dirge for his wife and leaped into the sea.
The Lady of the Twilight
In Koolauloa, Oahu, is a natural well, of unknown depth and thirty yards in diameter, that is believed to be connected with the ocean. Bodies drowned in this crater are said to have been found afterward floating in the sea. This pond, known as Waiapuka, hides the entrance to a cave that can be reached only by diving, and in that cave was concealed during her infancy Laieikawai, Lady of the Twilight. Her father, enraged that his wife always presented female children to him, swore he would kill all such offspring until a male issue should appear, and Laieikawai was therefore kept out of his sight and in retirement until she had grown to womanhood. Her beauty attracted even the gods, and chiefs from many islands travelled far to see her face when she had been taken from the cavern by her grandmother and bestowed more fittingly in a house thatched with parrot feathers and guarded by the lizard god. Her bed was bird-wings, the birds were her companions, she wore a robe tinted like a rainbow, and wherever she went a fragment of rainbow hung over her and might be seen afar.
Laieikawai married a sun prince, and the same rainbow served as a ladder to take her to his new home in the moon, his place in the sun being too hot and glaring for endurance. This was a fickle prince, for having seen another pretty face on earth, he descended, and it was a year ere he appeared in the moon again. The young wife meanwhile had gone to the bowl of knowledge, a wooden vessel enclosed in wicker, decorated with feathers and with birds carved in wood along the rim. Looking in and uttering the command, "Laukapalili!" a vision of her recreant husband appeared. The father and mother of the prince were joint witnesses with the wife of his faithlessness. As the picture vanished the air grew dark; faint, grisly shapes arose, and wailing voices sounded, "Heaven has fallen!" Standing on the rainbow bridge, the father, mother, and wife cast off their love for the prince, and condemned him to be a wandering ghost, living on butterflies. Then, having tired of heaven, the Lady of the Twilight returned to earth.
The taking of Guam during the war with Spain was one of the comedies of that disagreement. When its rickety fort was fired upon by one of our ships, the Spanish governor hastened down to the shore to greet the American officers, and apologized because he was out of powder and could not reply to what he supposed was a salute. Off in that corner of the world he had not heard of any war.
With the cession of this largest of the Ladrone islands we fall heir to some race problems as baffling as those presented by our Indians. The natives of this group belong to the Tarapons, and the traditions of these people say that they came in part from the east and partly from the west. It has been thought that they have a slight mixture of Mongolian blood, and this is not unlikely, for Chinese and Japanese junks have at various times been blown over sea to farther shores than these. History for this group begins with Magellan, who named it for the ladrones or thieves, who annexed his belongings when he arrived on the first voyage that had ever been made around the world. That they had crafts and arts is proved by their weapons, canoes, cloth, and armor, and they have left here some remarkable stone columns, more than twice the height of a man, with hemispheres of rock on their tops, flat sides uppermost, and six feet wide. In Tinian, Kusaie, and also in Ponape, in the Carolines, there are ruins, including, in the latter island, a court three hundred feet long with walls ten yards high, some of the monoliths being twenty-five feet long and eight feet thick. On Tongataboo are larger rocks, forty feet high, which were quarried elsewhere and shipped to that coral island. On Easter Island are platforms a hundred yards long, ten wide and ten high, with great statues all cut from stone. None of these remains, nor the picture-writing found near the statues, throw light on the history, purpose, or personality of their builders. Every family has its little circle of shells and stones which is a shrine where the gods are worshipped, and most of the gods are spirits of the great and wise who died long ago. Offerings to these took the form of food and of anointing for their altars, but human sacrifices were no doubt demanded at times, when the priests had been specially venturesome in asking favors. When a man died his soul sprang out, went below the earth, and found felicity in the west. This belief resembles the Indian faith in the happy hunting-ground, and incidentally it points the course of empire. The spirit could return once in a while, and ghostly visitations were sorely dreaded. The institution of the taboo was and is connected with the native religions of the Pacific islands. We have adopted the word and use it in its true meaning of forbidden. If an article were dedicated to a god, or used in his worship, or had been touched by him, or claimed by a chief or a priest, no commoner dared lay finger on it, for it was as sacred as the ark of the covenant. Some canny planters kept boys out of their orchards and palm groves by offering the fruit to certain gods until it was ripe, for a sign of taboo kept out all marauders till the crop was ready for gathering, when the owner changed his mind and claimed it himself. To break a taboo was not only to incur the wrath of the priests, but of the gods to whom the gift was offered, and who would surely reward the blasphemer for his sin by illness, accident, loss, or death.
As soon as the Spaniards had occupied the Ladrones—afterward named the Marianas, in honor of Maria Anna, queen of Philip IV. of Spain—they proceeded to slaughter the natives. In seventy years they had slain with sword, rack, toil, grief, and new diseases about fifty thousand people, reducing the populace to eighteen hundred. Of this aboriginal race, the Chamorros, nearly all have perished. In their original estate these were the most advanced of the Pacific islanders; they had more arts, more refinement, more kindliness, and more morality than the others. Under an age of oppression and abuse they naturally deteriorated, and have cared little to advantage themselves by the few schools and chapels that the Spaniards established in Guam and thereabout. It may be that the Chamorros shared with the people of the Carolines in the suffering caused by the great irruption of savages from the south under Icho-Kalakal. These warriors, in their wooden navies, destroyed the great tombs and temples because they had been raised to other gods than their own, slew the defenders of the temples, and broke up the old civilization, passing from island to island, and continuing their waste and murder. It was a raid of Goths and Vandals, and the effect of it was lasting. In Ponape it is said that the great structures they overthrew are haunted, and people thereabout will not eat a certain fresh-water fish of a blue color, because the king, Chauteleur, flying before Icho-Kalakal, fell into Chapalap River and was changed by the gods into one of these fish.
Old Beliefs of the Filipinos
Respecting their myths the Filipinos differ in little from other human families whose civilization is incomplete. They had in former times the same tendency to create gods and spirits for particular hills, woods, seas, and lakes, to endow the brutes with human qualities, to symbolize in the deeds of men and animals the phenomena of the heavens. Even now the Monteses tell of a tree that folds its limbs around the trunk of another and hugs it to death, the tree thus killed rotting and leaving a tube of tightly laced branches in which are creatures that bleed through the bark at a sword-thrust or an ax-cut. These creatures are mischievously alleged to be Spaniards. The Tagalogs believe in Tic-Balan, an evil spirit who inhabits fig-trees, but is kept off by wearing a certain herb, and in a female spirit of the woods, Azuan, who is kept away from the house in times of domestic anxiety by the husband, who mounts to the roof and keeps up a disturbance for some hours.
In their feasts and ceremonies the natives have hymns and prayers to the rain-spirit, the sea, the star-god, the good birds, and the winds. Little has been done toward the preservation of their myths, for the Spaniards, during their centuries of control, suppressed learning, except as it pertained to religious studies, and tolerated but scant liberty of opinion. The friars, against whom the people nursed so strong a hate, stood for all that was harsh, narrow, tyrannical, and unprogressive. In order to gain money and maintain their political ascendency they engaged in commerce, became owners of real estate and buildings, including saloons and dance-houses, debased their churchly functions, discouraged attempts at progress, practically forbade the printing of secular books and papers, making illiteracy, with its attendant vice, poverty, and superstition, universal; and when Dr. Jose Rizal urged his reforms in the church and civil service, he was shot, though not as a blasphemer, but because his secret order, the Katipunan, with its Masonic ritual and blood initiation, was thought to be dangerous to the public peace.
The change from this mediaeval condition to that of the nineteenth century, with its impatience of title, caste, form, and ceremony, its trust in equal right, its insistence on freedom of belief, came suddenly. In shaking off their ancient political and religious bonds the Filipinos may lose some of the quaint and poetic records of their ancient faiths; for the first progress of a nation after a long sleep is a material one, and art, literature, all the more delicate expressions of national taste, history, and tendency, have to bide their day until the fortunes of the nation are assured. In this period of reconstruction let us hope that those fables and dreams will not be forgotten which tell, more truly than dates and names and records, the ancient state of the people, and afford us a means of estimating the impetus and direction of their advance.
The influence of Christian teaching is plain in some of the songs, plays, and stories of the natives, especially in the plays, for in them the hero is often a Christian prince who defeats a strong and wicked Mohammedan ruler, and releases an injured maiden. Change the names and the play becomes a modern English melodrama. In several of the islands, however, the impress of Spanish occupancy is slight, and customs are still in force that have existed for hundreds of years. On Mindanao are still to be found the politic devil-worshippers, who, instead of seeking to ingratiate themselves with benevolent deities, whose favor is already assured, try to gain the goodwill of the fiends. Their rites are practised in caves in which will be found ugly figures of wood and an altar on which animals are sacrificed. The flesh of these animals is eaten by the devils, according to the priests, and by the priests, according to the white men. The evil spirits who appear in the half-darkness of these caves, leaping and screaming, goading the company to frenzy, are priests in disguise and in demoniac possession.
Tagbanuas tear a house down when a death occurs in it, bury the corpse in the woods, and mark the grave by dishes and pots used by the deceased in life. These implements are broken. Among our American Indians the outfits supplied to a dead man are in sound condition, as it is supposed he will need them on his journey to the happy hunting-grounds, while the Chinese put rice and chicken in sound vessels on the graves of their brethren, believing they will need refreshment when they start on the long journey to the land of the shades. Tramps know where the Chinese are accustomed to bury their dead in American cities. When food is placed before an Otaheite corpse it is not for the dead, but for the gods, and is intended to secure their good offices for the departed. While a Tagbanua corpse is above ground it is liable to be eaten by a vampire called the balbal that lives on Mindanao, has the form of a man with wings and great claws, tears open the thatch of houses and consumes bodies by means of a long tongue, which it thrusts through the opening in the roof. These Tagbanuas do not believe in a heaven in the skies, because, they say, you could not get up there. When a man dies he enters a cave that leads into the depths of the earth, and after travelling for a long time he arrives in the chamber where Taliakood sits,—a giant who employs his leisure in stirring a fire that licks two tree trunks without destroying them. The giant asks the new-comer if he has been good or bad in the world overhead, but the dead man makes no reply. He has a witness who has lived with him and knows his actions, and it is the function and duty of this witness to state the case. This little creature is a louse. On being asked what would happen if a native were to die without one of these attendants, the people protest that no such thing ever happens. So the louse, having neither to gain nor lose, reports the conduct of his commissary and associate, and if the man has been bad, Taliakood throws him into the fire, where he is burned to ashes, and so an end of him. If he has been good, the giant speeds him on his way to a happy hunting-ground, where he can kill animals by thousands, and where the earth also yields fruits and vegetables in plenty. Here he finds a house, without having the trouble to build one, and a wife is also provided for him,—the deceased wife of some neighbor usually, although he can have his own wife if she is considerate enough to die when he does. Down here everybody is well off, though the rich, having had much pleasure in the world, have less of it than the poor. After a term of years the Tagbanua dies again and goes at once to a heaven in a deeper cave without danger from fire. Seven times he dies, each time going deeper and becoming happier, and probably gains Nirvana in the end. Occasionally a good spirit returns as a dove, and a bad one comes as a goat; indeed, a few of the bad ones are doomed to wander over the earth forever.
A common belief is that the soul is absent from the body in sleep, and if death occurs then the soul is lost. "May you die sleeping" is one of the most dreadful of curses.
Among the Mangyan mountaineers it is customary to desert a person who is about to die. They return after his death, carry the corpse to the forest, build a fence about it, and roof it with a thatch. These people seem to have no word for god, spirit, or future life; they do not worship either visible or unseen things, and are the most moral of the Filipinos. The lowlanders also desert their dying, and after death close all paths to the house, leave the skeleton of the defunct to be picked clean by ants, and change their names for luck.
When an islander in the Calamianes province dies his friends ask the corpse where it would like to be buried, naming several places, and lifting the body after each question. When the body seems to rise lightly the dead man has said, "Yes." It may then be buried, or placed in a tree in the desired locality, with such of its belongings as the family can spare, and the mourners watch around a fire that night until all the logs are consumed. The dead man walks about in the ashes, leaving his footprints, and sometimes shows himself to his relatives. Singing and feasting follow for several nights, and the house of the dead is then abandoned.
The holes in the marble cliffs of San Francisco Strait formerly contained the coffined dead of the tattooed Pintados, who sacrificed slaves at the funeral that they might attend their relatives in the next world. Fear of the spirits of these rocks was but partially overcome when a Spanish priest smashed the coffins and tumbled the bodies into the sea, for the strait is still haunted and the burial rocks are good places to keep away from after dark.
Among the Moslem Moros it is a sure passport to heaven to kill a Christian, and when one remembers how the people have been robbed, tortured, and oppressed by nominal Christians, this item of faith is not surprising. The more Christians he kills the greater will be his reward. He bathes in a sacred spring, shaves his eye-brows, dresses in white, takes an oath before a pandita or native priest to die killing infidels; then, with the ugly creese, or wave-edged knife, he runs madly through the street, killing, right and left, until some considerate person shoots him. In the rage for blood he has been known to push himself farther against a sword or bayonet that had already entered his vitals in order to stab the man who had stopped him. When they hear of his death the relatives of the fanatic have a celebration, and declare that in the fall of the night they see him ride by on a white horse, bound for the home of the good, where no Christians ever go to vex the angels. These people are often fatalists. They will drink water known to be poisoned with typhoid germs, and when epidemics come they declare them to be the will of God, and refuse to take the slightest measure against infection. They believe that when a strange black dog runs by cholera follows on his heels.
Yet, like our Indians, the better Tagbanuas and Calamianes try to heal the sick through the aid of drugs and charms and incantations, and they have their medicine man or papalyan. There is in the forest a strange little fellow, known as the man of the wood, who has the power of giving to these doctors the art of healing. He rushes out upon one who walks alone, seeking power, and brandishes a spear, finally aiming it at the breast of the candidate, and advancing his foot as if to throw it. If the candidate runs he is unworthy, but if he stands his ground the little man of the wood drops his spear and gives a pearl to him. This pearl is never shown to anybody. It is looked at secretly at a patient's bedside, and if clear the physician will prescribe, but if it is dark, or has taken on a stony aspect, he resigns the case. The "drugs" are similar to those used by the Chinese, consisting in part of powdered teeth and bones and other animal preparations. Charms are in common use as a protection not only from disease but from murder and misfortune, and in the fighting between the Americans and the natives about Manila many poor, half-naked creatures, armed with bows and arrows, had ventured fearlessly into the zone of fire, believing themselves to be safe because they wore an anting-anting at the neck. This object, like an Indian's "good medicine," is anything,—a little book, a bright pebble, a church relic, a medal, an old bullet, a coin, a piece of cloth, a pack of cards. It is the faith that goes with it, not the object itself, that counts. Even Aguinaldo has been invested by his followers with superhuman power. Just before he resorted to arms against the Americans the natives knew that the time for rebellion had come, for a woman in Biacnabato gave birth to a child dressed in a general's uniform, and above Tondo a woman's figure crowned with snakes was painted in fire upon the night-sky.
In details of their faiths the tribes differ, but there is a prevalent belief in a principle of good that the Moros call Tuhan. The sun, moon, and stars are the light that shines from him,—he is everywhere, all-seeing, all-powerful; he has given fleeting souls to brutes and eternal souls to men. The soul enters a child's body at birth, through the soft space in the top of the head, and leaves through the skull at death. Their first men were giants, and Eve was fifty feet high, but as men's minds grew their bodies became of less account, and they will shrink and shrink until, at the world's end, they will be only three feet high, but will consist mostly of brains. Comparing a brawny savage with an anaemic scholar, one fancies there is reason in this forecast. The Tagbanuas have no Adam and Eve. Those of them who live beside the ocean say they are the children of Bulalacao, a falling star that descended to the shore and became a beautiful woman. The gods of these people are like men, but are stronger, living in caves, eating an ambrosia-like boiled rice that has the power of moving. Their gods sometimes steal their children.
Old Testament traditions are commonly accepted by the Moros, who believe in No (Noah), Adam, Mosa (Moses), Ibrahim (Abraham), Sulaiman (Solomon), Daud (David), and Yakub (Jacob); but creation myths are locally modified, and some tales of recent emergence of islands out of the sea are probably true. In all volcanic districts mountains may be shaken down and hills cast up in a day. Siquijor formerly bore the name of the Isle of Fire, for the natives say that in the days of their grandfathers a cloud brooded on the sea for a week, uttering thunders and hisses and flashing forth bolts of fire. When the cloud lifted, Siquijor stood there. The geology of the island supports the tradition.
The future is differently conceived by different sects and families, some panditas teaching that the soul, having come from God, will return to him at death; others that it will sleep in the earth or the air until the world has ended, when all will be swept on a wind to a mount of judgment, where saints and angels will weigh them, and souls heavy with sin will fall into hell; others that there is no hell of fire, because there is not coal enough to keep it going, but that every man is punished until his soul is purified, when it rises to heaven, glowing with light and color; others that men are punished according to their sins; liars and gossips with sore mouths and tired jaws; gluttons with lame stomachs; jealous, cruel, tricky people with aching hearts; abusive and thievish ones with pains in their hands; others that one finds hell enough on earth in fear, illness, disappointment, misunderstanding and Spaniards, to atone for all the mischief he is liable to make.
In the fables of the Filipinos the animals often speak together in a common language. The dove, however, is the only one that comprehends human speech, and it is a creature of uncommon shrewdness and intelligence, like the hare in the Indian myths and Br'er Rabbit in the stories of our Southern negroes. Once the dove was a child. In shame and anger that its mother should refuse to give it some rice she was pounding for panapig (a sort of cake), it ran out of the cabin, took two leaves of a nipa, shaped wings from them, which it fastened to its shoulders, and fluttered into the boughs of a neighboring tree, changing, in its flight, from a child to a dove. It still calls for panapig.
Darwin is read backward by the natives, for they say that the monkey was a man, long, long ago, and might have been one still but for his manana habit, so general in the Spanish colonies. He had a partner whom he greatly vexed by his idleness, and once, when this partner was planting rice, he glanced up and saw the monkey squatted on the earth, with his face between his hands, watching the labors of the industrious member of the firm,—for nothing makes loafing sweeter than to see somebody else work. Enraged, the busy one caught up a cudgel and flung it at the monkey, who was thereupon seized with a sudden but futile activity, and started to run away. The club struck him in the rear so mightily that it entered his spinal column and stayed there, becoming his tail.
In the Moro tradition of the flood—a tradition almost world-wide—Noah and his family got into a box when the forty days of rain began, and one pair of each kind of bird and beast followed them. All of the human race except Noah, his wife and children, were either drowned or changed. Those men who ran to the mountains when they saw the flood rising became monkeys; those who flung themselves into the sea became fish; the Chinese turned into hornbills; a woman who was eating seaweed and kept on eating after the waves broke over her became a dugong.
In Mindanao, Basilan, and Sulu the pig is held in suspicion and its flesh is not eaten. The reason for this aversion is that the first pigs were grandchildren of the great Mahomet himself, and their conversion to these lowly quadrupeds fell out in this way: When Jesus (Isa) called on Mahomet, the latter, jealous of his reputed power, bade him guess what was in the next room. Christ said that he did not wish to do so. Mahomet then commanded him to prove his ability to see through walls, and added that if he made a mistake he would kill him. Thereupon Christ answered, "There are two animals in that chamber that are like no other in the world."
"Wrong!" cried the Prophet, plucking out his sword. "They are my grandchildren. You have spoken false, and you must lose your head."
"Look and see," insisted Christ, and Mahomet flung open the chamber door, whereupon two hogs rushed out. It should be added that while the divinity of Christ is denied in some of the Oriental religions, he figures in many of them as a great and good man, gifted with supernatural power. Moros charge as one reason for killing Christians that followers of Christ disgrace and belie mankind in teaching that men could kill their own god.
On Mindoro the timarau, a small buffalo that lives in the jungle, has given rise to rumors of a fierce and destructive creature that carries a single horn on his head. It is a wild and hard fighter, but it has two horns, and is not likely to injure any save those who are seeking to injure it. A creature with an armed head has lingered down from the day of Marco Polo, because in the stock of yarns assembled by that redoubtable tourist the unicorn figured. This was the rhinoceros, which is found so near the Philippines as Sumatra. The gnu of Africa is another possible ancestor of this creature, a belief in which goes back to the time of Aristotle; but the horse-like animal with a narwhal's horn that frisks on the British arms never existed.
And, speaking of horses, it is strange that centaurs should figure in the mythology of a country like Luzon; but a mile from the church at Mariveles is a hot spring beside which lived a creature that was half-horse and half-man. As in ancient Greece, there is little doubt that a belief in this being came from the wonder excited by the first horsemen.
Sea-eagles in the East are large and powerful, and are believed to have long memories. According to report, a man living near Jala Jala once stole a nest of their young and carried it to his house. It was a year from that time before any retaliation was attempted. The birds then appeared above his premises, swooped down on his wife, clawed her face and beat her with their wings until she was half-dead; then picked up her babe and carried it away before the eyes of the helpless parents. Next year they came again, and another infant, a few months old, was stolen. The man tracked them to their nest, which had been built high on a cliff that no one had ever scaled before. Nerved by grief and anger, he climbed it. In the nest were the skeletons of his children. As he clung to the rock, hanging over a dizzy space and looking on these sad relics, the father bird came swooping from the sky and began to strike at him with claws and wings. In the face of such an assault the man could not descend in safety. Death was sure. He could only hope to kill his enemy, too. As the bird drew near he leaped from the rock, caught the eagle about the neck, and the two plunged down to death together.
An animal god especially to be feared is Calapnitan, king of the bats. He is so powerful and capable of mischief that in exploring a cave where bats are likely to have congregated the natives will speak in the most respectful terms of this deity, for he would be sure to hear them if they spoke flippantly of him, and might swoop from the cave roof and whip their eyes out with his leathern wings or tear them with his claws. Hence they bow their heads and speak with reverence of the Lord Calapnitan's cave, the Lord Calapnitan's stalactite, even recognizing his temporary ownership of their clothing, arms, lights, and so on, and alluding to their own jackets as the Lord Calapnitan's. By carefully refraining in this manner from giving offence the Filipinos have succeeded in keeping their skins entire while guiding white travellers through the caverns in their islands.
Later Religious Myths and Miracles
Among stories that date no farther back than the Spanish conquest we find the usual tales of sacred springs, of visions, and of blessed objects. The Church of the Holy Infant, in the city of Cebu, contains an image of the Christ child, about fifteen inches in height, carved in ebony, preserved in much state and loaded with a profusion of ornament. The priests tell you that it was made in heaven, thrown to the earth, and found in 1565 by a soldier who recovered from an illness when he touched it. It was taken to the convent in Cebu, where the clergy emplaced it with great ceremony, and where on the 20th of January in every year it is dressed in a field marshal's regalia, receives a field marshal's salute, and is worshipped by thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the archipelago. So many women wrought themselves into an insane frenzy during these January feasts that their sacred dances, which were once a part of the ceremonies, had to be stopped. When the town was burned this statue saved itself from the flames, as did the bamboo cross near the church, which is said to be the same that was erected by the monk, Martin de Rada, on the day when the Spanish landed, more than three centuries ago. Matter-of-fact historians allow that the figure of the child may have been left there by Magellan. It worked miracles of a surprising character for years after his death, and the first settlement in Cebu was called The City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in its honor. The customary discrepancies between the piety and the practice of the conquerors existed in the Philippines, as in the Antilles. They slew the natives until the survivors threw up their hands and professed the right religion; then they shot twenty-four thousand Chinese who had settled in and about Cebu, thus reducing themselves to a wretched state, for these Spaniards had depended on the Chinese as their servants, cooks, farmers, laborers, shoemakers, and tailors. It is worthy of note that other missionaries had shown activity, but with less result, for their methods had been more conciliatory. The Mahometanism that had been introduced by Moslem preachers from Arabia got no farther than Sulu, and the Confucianism imported by Chinamen seems to have obtained no permanent hold. Through all changes the Holy Child remained uninjured, and he continues his good work to this day.
When the Sulu pirates had fallen upon a year of such bad business that they reaped a profit of barely fifty per cent, on their investment in ships and weapons, there was great discontent among them. Prizes were few and defeats occasional. Looking back on their highest hill, as they sailed away, and fearing that when they returned it might be with but half a cargo of gold and rum and Christians, so many of them wept for the misery of this thought that to this day the height is known as Buat Timantangis, or Mount of Tears. In one dull season, when the pirates were almost mutinous because of their continued ill-fortune, it occurred to one of the captains that an image to which the Christians prayed so earnestly and with such good effect might do as much for him as for some other natives. In his barbarian mind there was no absurdity in trying to persuade a gentle Virgin or a pure-minded Saint to deliver into his hands the goods and persons of those who knelt before their effigies. A sacred image was "good medicine" for Spaniards and Tagalogs, and should, therefore, be good medicine for Mahometans. Thus, he bethought him of the statue now known as the Virgin of Antipolo, that came from Spain by way of Mexico in charge of early missionaries. To think was to act. He raided the village where it had been enshrined and attempted to carry it off; but the statue had warned the faithful of its peril, and the marauders were met and driven off by a powerful force. The Virgin of Antipolo became one of the most influential of all the guardians of the islands, and to this day is especially besought by mothers who ask for her intercession on behalf of their sickly children. Holy water taken from her shrine will cure the sufferer, and the mother then performs a public penance in thankfulness. Before the American arrival, with its sudden imposition of new ideas on an old society, it was no uncommon thing to see on Good Friday a company of the richest women in Manila, poorly attired and with bare feet, dragging through the streets a heavy cross thirty feet in length. This was in fulfilment of vows they had made at the shrine of Antipolo.
This Virgin of Antipolo is likewise known as Our Lady of Good Voyage and Peace. She arrived from Mexico in a state galleon in 1626. On the voyage she calmed a storm so quickly that the priests proclaimed her special sanctity, and ordered her to be received in Manila with salutes of bells and guns. While the Jesuits were building a church for her she would often descend from her temporary altar and stand in an antipolo tree (Astocarpus incisa). People cut pieces from this tree for charms against disease and misfortune, until Father Salazar ordered that the trunk should be its pedestal. In an early rebellion the Chinese insurgents threw the statue into the fire. Flames were all about it, yet not a hair, not a thread of lace was singed, and the body of brass was unmarked by smoke. Angered at this defiance of their power, a Chinaman stabbed it in the face, and, curiously, the wound remains to this day in protest against the savagery that incited it. When for a second time the Virgin passed unscathed through a conflagration the Spanish infantry bore her on their shoulders about the streets, shouting in the joy of her protection. A galleon having been endangered by rocks and bars in Manila Bay, the captain borrowed this statue, prayed that it would secure the safety of his ship, and, to the wonder of all, his vessel rode proudly up to the city gates, for the Virgin had ordered that the rocks should sink deeper beneath the sea. Twice afterward she did a like service to captains who borrowed the figure as a safeguard on the long voyage to Mexico and back, for each time she suppressed great storms. At the time of the assault on Manila by the Dutch she assisted in the defeat of the strangers, though St. Mark was associated with her in the victory. He had told the governor in a dream that success should attend the Spanish arms if his people would carry the Virgin into the fight. This was done, and the Dutch lost three ships with their cargoes. She was finally domiciled in the town of Antipolo, which, beside being famous as a shrine, has been one of the most noted resorts for brigands in the Philippines. The village of four thousand people subsists largely on the money spent by pilgrims to her church.
Every family in the Christian communities has a little statue of the Virgin or of a patron saint, to which prayers are addressed. Occasionally as much as a thousand dollars will be paid for one of these images, for some have more power than others. When Tondo caught fire and was reduced to ashes, the houses of mat and bamboo burning like paper, one thing alone survived the flames: a wooden statue of Mary. This token of a special watch upon the figure immediately raised its importance, and it was attired in the dress and ornaments of gold in which it may now be seen. Not all the domestic saints are brilliantly dressed or originally expensive. One Filipino family worshipped a portrait of Garibaldi that adorned the cover of a raisin box, while a native elsewhere was found on his knees before a picture from an American comic paper that represented President Cleveland attired as a monk and wearing a tin halo. Both of these pictures had been placed on altars, and candles were burned before them.
Another statue of great power is in the church at Majajay. It was sent there from Spain in charge of the friars, and is especially besought by invalids, for it is a general belief that whosoever will reach the church with breath enough remaining in him to recite certain prayers before this image shall have fresh lease of life; yea, though he were at his last gasp.
Some of the attacks made on the friars in the Philippines have been construed into attacks on the Church, but this is wrong. For the good of the Church, no less than of the people, it is desired to purge the islands of these ancient offenders. They have used religion as a cloak for evil, have encouraged, in private, vices they preached against in public, have availed themselves of famines and other distresses to force money from the poor, and have fathered as many half-castes as the Spanish soldiers have. As to their offspring, Filipino wives have quieted jealous husbands by assuring them that the appearance of a European complexion in a hitherto brown family was a special favor from St. Peter,—a miracle ordered by the keeper of heaven as a reward for piety and good works. Hence, one hears much of St. Peter's children in the Philippines. Some of the white inhabitants have nevertheless been conspicuous for virtue. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, for example, the first ruler of the islands, was so good that for years after his death his body, now in the St. Augustine Monastery, Manila, underwent no decay or change, but was like that of a man in sleep.
Alitagtag, north of Bauan, became in 1595 a resort of ghosts and devils that congregated about a spring near the village, so that the people were afraid to go there for water. A native headman took wood from a deserted house, made a cross of it, and set it up near the spring to spell away the fiends. As the people still feared, a woman of courage ventured near the place to find that a stream of cold, pure water was flowing from one of the arms of the cross. To further assure the people that the evil spirits had been mastered the cross arose from the earth and stalked about the fields, surrounded by bright lights. Thereupon the clergy ordered that it should be adored, and from that time it became an object of worship, healing diseases, dispelling plagues, and killing locusts. When the priests at Bauan announced that they intended to move the cross to Lake Bombon, the priest of Taal, being jealous of his brothers in the other town, hired some natives to steal it and take it to his house. No sooner had the men assembled for this purpose than sheets of green fire fell about the cross, defending it from their approach, and in a frenzy of contrition they ran back, solemnly vowing that they would never make a similar attempt again. The cross was, therefore, taken to Bauan, where it did service for the people by terrorizing a band of pirates and by stopping an eruption of the Taal volcano in 1611. This peak of Taal had been a resort of devils from time immemorial, and it had been a frequent duty of the Church to pray them into silence. In the year just named Father Albuquerque headed a procession that ascended the mountain for this purpose. Near the summit he paused and lifted the cup containing the blood of Christ. Dreadful noises were heard, like the laughter of ten thousand fiends, in vaults below. Then, with a groan and crash, the earth split and two craters appeared, one filled with boiling sulphur, the other with green water. The cross was sent for. It was brought by four hundred natives. When it was put into the priest's hands he lifted it toward the sky and all united in prayer. During this petition, while every head was bent and all eyes were shut, the craters softly closed and Taal was as it had been before. Yet the demons still linger about the mountain. Not many years ago an Englishman tunnelled the peak for sulphur. The fiends of the volcano shook the roof down on his head and he perished. In May it has been a custom to hold a feast in honor of this cross, if the natives furnish the necessary candles and raise ten dollars for the officiating priest.
Bangi, in Ilocos Norte, had a shrine in which was the image of a child with a lamb. Herbs pressed against it would cure all diseases. For years a dispute was carried on between clerical factions as to whether it represented St. John the Baptist or Christ. Bishop Miguel Garcia, having undressed it and examined it thoroughly, decided it to be a Chinese idol. Thereupon it was broken and burned as a thing unholy.
Our Lady of Casaysay, in Batangas, is so esteemed that ships salute her in passing. She was found by a fisherman in his net. He took her to a cave, not knowing what to make of his strange find, and intending to keep her there probably as a treasure not to be shared by his neighbors. She astonished and disappointed him by proclaiming herself with flashing lights of beautiful color and with loud music. As these demonstrations frightened the peaceable rustics, the Virgin left her cave, visited a native woman, spoke kindly to her, and was thereupon provided with a shrine, where she might be adored with proper ceremony.
The statue of St. Joaquin at Gusi is remarkable because every year it runs away and spends two weeks with its wooden wife, the figure of St. Ann, at Molo.
Manila once had a saint that wagged its head approvingly at certain points in the sermon. This conduct drove so many women into hysterics, and crowded the church so dangerously with people who went to see the miracle, that the archbishop discountenanced its action, and ordered that it should be quiet thereafter. Quiet was easily secured by cutting the string attached to the saint's neck. The padre was accustomed to pull this during his discourse whenever he wished his congregation to believe that the saints approved his eloquence or endorsed his doctrine.
Holy water from the Conception district of Panay saves life, and San Pascual Bailon cures barrenness. A Manila milkman who was punished for selling watered milk expressed surprise at the complaints of his customers, because no wrong had been committed, inasmuch as he had used nothing but holy water, which was far superior to milk. Water from the prison well at Iloilo was held at so high a value that the prison-keeper made a fortune from it, as it was given out that Christ and the Virgin had been seen bathing in the well. Our Lady of the Holy Waters presides over the hot springs below Maquiling Mountain, an old crater. Another popular place of pilgrimage is the shrine at Tagbauang, near Iloilo, where illnesses are cured at a high mass in January.
One of the last recorded appearances of the Virgin was in 1884, when a band of robbers in Tayabas killed a plantation manager, wounded several laborers, and ransacked the house of the owner. While in one of the bedrooms tying clothes, jewelry, and other loot into parcels for removal, the Virgin appeared, and standing in the door looked with severity and distress on the bandits. They immediately left their plunder and ran pell-mell from the building. Some of these robbers were arrested, but the Virgin had compassion on them for leaving the proceeds of their raid, so none was garroted or even sentenced. Some go so far as to say that the Virgin had nothing to do with their escape from punishment, alleging that the officers of the law had conspired with them, and that the Spanish courts were even worse than those of a land that shall be nameless in respect of their slowness and the facilities they offered for adjournments, retrials, and appeals on grounds that if presented in any other cause than that of a breaker of the law would be laughed to scorn. Filipino bandits often wear medals of the Virgin and saints to protect them from harm, and some are made bold by confidence in their protection. It is a belief of theirs that they will never be punished for any crime they may commit in Easter week, for the rather obscure reason that Christ pardoned the thief on the cross on Good Friday.
A curious chapel on a bluff near Pasig, overlooking the river of that name, has the form of a pagoda. It was built as a thank-offering by a Chinaman who, having been endangered by a crocodile, and having called on men and joss without receiving an answer, prayed volubly to the Christians' God as he swam toward the shore, and promised to erect a chapel in return for his life. His prayer was answered, for the crocodile was turned to stone, and may now be seen in the bed of the stream, while the grateful Mongol kept his word, and also joined the church.
Bankiva, the Philippine Pied Piper
Of nearly six hundred species of birds in the Philippines the jungle fowl, or bankiva, is best known, and is both killed and domesticated. Unlike the dove, it does not understand human speech, but it has a power over our kind that is exercised by no other animal. Once a year the spirits grant to it this power of charming, in order that both spirits and birds may be revenged on men, their constant enemies. When that day comes the Luzon mother tremblingly gathers her little ones about her and warns them not to leave their door, for young ears heed the strange, sweet music of the fowl's voice, which grown people cannot hear. On that day the bird sings with a new note, and the flock of bankivas choose the largest, handsomest of their number to lead the march of children. On the edge of the village he gives his song, and every toddler runs delightedly to see what causes the music. Babes respond with soft, cooing notes, and will go on hands and knees if they can. They find the bankivas gathered in a little ring, spreading their tails and wings, dancing and singing in harmony, the head bird setting the air. When the children have gathered, they, too, begin to dance and sing, following the birds as they go deeper and deeper into the wood. Night falls, and with a harsh cry the bankivas fly away in all directions. The children are as if awakened from a sleep. They do not know where they are, and cannot tell which way to turn. Jungles and swamps are about them, man-eating crocodiles are watching from the water, poisonous and strangling snakes are gliding about the brush, the pythons that loop themselves from overhanging limbs are sometimes thrice the length of a man. Dread and danger are on every hand. And at home the mothers sit crying. Sometimes, though rarely, a man or woman totters back to a village bearing marks of great age, and is sure that he or she left there only the night before. These wanderers do not know where they have been. They remember only that the bankiva sang sweetly, and they followed it, as the children of Hamelin followed the pied piper.
The Crab Tried to Eat the Moon
Among the fantastic stories told of snakes, water-buffalo, birds, and sharks are several that have obvious meaning. The crab figures in certain of these tales as the cause of the tides. He was an enormous creature and lived in a great hole in the bottom of a distant sea, whence he crawled twice a day, the water pouring into the hollow then, and leaving low water on the coast. When he settled back again the water was forced out and the tide was high. The relation of tides to the moon may have introduced this creature in another aspect as the moon's enemy and cause of her eclipse, for it is related that one evening a Filipino princess walking on a beach saw with astonishment an island that had never been visible on the sea before. Her emotion was that of alarm when she saw the island approach the shore, and she hid in the shrubbery to watch. Presently she could make out, despite the failing light, that it was no island, but a crab larger than a hundred buffalo. Its goggling eyes were dreadful to see, its mouth was opening fiercely, its claws working as if eager to clutch its prey. The moon arose at the full, making a track of light across the heaving waters, and the crab, facing east, prepared to spring and drag it to its den beneath the ocean. Half a mile away the people of the princess were holding a feast with songs and dances. Would they hear a signal? She placed her conch-shell horn at her lips and blew with all her strength. The monster still gnashed and grasped in expectancy at the sea's edge, and a breeze brought through the wood a faint sound of drums. Her people had not heard. Again she blew. This time the woods were still. Her people were listening. A third blast followed, and in a few minutes the warriors swarmed upon the beach with knives, swords, and lances. While the princess was explaining to them the moon's peril the crab made a leap into the air and darkened its face, causing an eclipse, but failing to get a hold it dropped back to the beach again, where the people fell upon it, the princess leading the attack with the war-call of her tribe. As the crab turned to see what had befallen, the princess slashed off his great left claw. With the other it crushed a soldier, but again her cresse fell and the right claw fell likewise. Then a hundred men rushed upon the creature, prodding their spears into joints of his legs and the dividing line between his back plate and belly. Others fell under his great bulk or were gnashed by his iron teeth, but in the end his shell was broken and the moon was safe. And often when the gentle pirate of the Sulus scoured the sea he uttered a prayer before an image of the princess for a bright night and an easy victim, for had it not been for her the crab would have swallowed the moon, and the sea would have been as dark as some kinds of a conscience.
The Conversion of Amambar
While roving over the waters that covered the earth the sun god saw the nymph Ursula sporting in the waves, and was smitten with a quick and mighty fondness. He nearly consumed himself in the ardor of his affection. She, however, was as cold and pure as the sea. As she swung drowsily on the billows she was like a picture painted in foam on their blue-green depth, and in breathing her bosom rose and fell like the waves themselves. As she saw the god descending she was filled with alarm, but as he took her into his strong embrace and placed his cheek to hers a new life and warmth came to her, and in their marriage the spirits of the air and water rejoiced. A son was born to them,—so beautiful a boy that the sun god made a land for him, stocked it with living creatures, adorned it with greenery and flowers, and gave it to the human race as an inheritance of joy forever. This land he called Cebu, and no land was more lovely. Lupa was the child, and from him came all the kings of Cebu, among them Amambar, the first chief of the island of whom we have definite record. In the day of his rule the group had long been peopled, and the use of tools and weapons had become known. One occasionally finds to-day the stone arrows and axes they called "lightning teeth," and with which they worked such harm to one another in their many wars.
It was an evening of March, 1521, a calm and pleasant evening, with the perfume of flowers mixed with the tonic tang of the ocean, birds flying and monkeys chattering in the wood, and a gentle surf whispering upon the beach. Amambar was walking on the shore alone. He had gone there to watch the gambols of the mermaids, when a great light whitened against the sunset. It came from a cross that had been planted just out of reach of the sea. He put his hands before his eyes that it might not dazzle him. Then, as the moon arose, he peered beneath his hands, out over the restless water, and there, against the golden globe that was lifting over the edge of the world, could be seen a flock of monster birds with gray wings, and dark men walking on their backs as they lightly rode the billows, the men sparkling and glinting as they moved, for they were arrayed in metal and bore long knives and lances that flashed like stars. Other of the company wore black robes and sang in unknown words, their voices mixing in a music never heard by Amambar before. A sparkling white cloud drooped slowly from the sky. A diamond vapor played about the cross. Out of the cloud came a melodious voice saying, "Look up, O chief!" And looking at the cross again, he saw, extended there, a bleeding figure with a compassionate face that gazed down upon him and declared, "I am Jesus Christ, son of the only God. Those whom you see in the ships are my people, who have come to these islands to rule you for your good." Amambar fell prone on the sand and prayed for a long time, not daring to open his eyes. When he regained courage and arose the cloud was gone; the ships had sailed away. He was alone.
The commander of the ships was Magellan. It was one of his monks who had placed the cross on shore. Landing in Cebu later, he converted two thousand of the natives in a day by destroying the statue of Vishnu and putting that of the child Jesus in its place, though he still yielded to savage opinion in so far as he consented to confirm his friendship with the king by a heathen ceremony, each opening a vein in his arm and drinking the blood of the other. As usual, the appearance and ways of the Europeans smote the natives with wonder. They described the strangers as enormous men with long noses, who dressed in fine robes, ate stones (ship-bread), drank fire from sticks (pipes), and breathed out the smoke, commanded thunder and lightning from metal tubes, and were gods. Engaging in a wrangle between two tribes, Magellan was lured into a marsh at Mactan, and there, while watching a battle to see how great the Filipinos could be in war, he was slain with bamboo lances sharpened and hardened in fire. Amambar's Christianity did not endure, for he so wearied of the oppression and rapacity of the strangers that when a successor to Magellan appeared he invited him to a banquet and slew him at his meat. But the cross and the statue of Christ worked miracles among the faithful for many generations.
The Bedevilled Galleon
"Sing hey, sing ho! The wind doth blow, And I'll meet my love in the morning,"
Sang the lookout, as he paced the forecastle of the galleon Rose of May, and peered about for signs of land against the dawn. Not that he expected to meet his love in the morning, nor for many mornings, but he had been up in his off-watch and was getting drowsy, so that he sang to keep himself awake. His was one of the first among the English ships to follow in Magellan's track. The Philippines, or the Manillas, as they were called, had been almost reached, and it was expected that Mindanao would be sighted at break of day off the starboard bow.
"Hello, forward!" bawled the man at the helm.
"Ay, ay!" sang the lookout.
"What d'ye make o' yonder light?"
"Light? What d'ye mean, man?" And the lookout rubbed his eyes, scanned the water close and far, and wondered if his sight was going out.
"In the sky, o' course, ye bumble-brain."
"Now, by the mass, you costard, you gave me a twist of the inwards with your lame joke."
"'Tis no joke. Will you answer?"
"Why, then, 'tis the daylight, in course, and you aiming for it that steady as to drive the nose of us straight agin the sun, give he comes up where he threats to. And he'll be here straightway, for in these waters he comes up as he were popped outen a cohorn."
"The day! Heaven forefend! I'm holding her to the north."
"You're holding due east. Aha! Look yonder, where the cloud is lifting. Land ho!"
"Where away?" cried a mate, roused out of a forbidden doze by this talk, and blundering up to the roof of the after-castle.
"Port bow, sir."
"Port bow! The fiend take us! You block! You jolterhead! Where are you fetching us?"
"I'm holding her due to the north, sir, as you bade me," faltered the steersman. "Look for yourself, if it please you, for 'tis light enough to read the card without the binnacle lamp. We're sailing east by the sky and north by the needle. The ship's bedevilled!"
"Hold your peace, or you'll have the crew in a fright. Head her around eight points to port, and keep her west by the card."
"Lights in, sir? The sun is up," called the lookout.
"Yes." And the mate added in a lower tone, "'Tis the first time ever the sun came up in the north."
"What's all this gabble?" grumbled the captain, thrusting his red and whiskered face out of the cabin. "Can't a man have his rest when you keep the watch, Master Roaker?"
"Pray, captain, come and look at the compass. Do you see the lay o' the needle? We're sailing west to hold north, or else the sun has missed stays over night and come up in the north himself."
"Hi, hi! That's parlous odd. Keep her as you have her, and have out Bill, the carpenter, to see if there's any iron overside. Nay, let her off a little more, for that's a hard-looking piece of shore out yonder, for all of the palms and green stuff."
The watch was changed presently, the captain preferring to take the biscuit and spirits that were his breakfast on the deck. He went to the compass every minute or so, looked curiously at the draw of the sails and studied the water alongside. The carpenter had reported all sound, with no iron out of place to deflect the needle. There was a grave look on the faces of the officers, and the men talked low together as they watched them.
"Strange-looking hill out yonder," remarked a mate. "Not a tree on it, nor any green thing. 'Tis black and shining enough for the devil's grave-stone."
"Have done with your gossip of devils," snorted the other mate. "You're as evil a man for a ship's company as a whistler. You'll be calling ill luck on us to name the fiend so often."
"Looks like shoal water forward, sir," called the new lookout.
"Right! Head her away to port yet farther. Look you, fellow, have you no inkling of your business? You'll have us all ashore. Mary, mother! Give me the helm!" With sweat bursting from his brow the captain caught the tiller and put it hard over. The ship shook a bit, swerved, yet made side-wise toward the green patch on the sea. The land was looming large now.
"'Tis not in the rudder to keep her off, sir," called a mate who had gone forward. "'Tis the leeway she is making."
"There's a scant breeze."
"Ay, but there must be a fearsome current."
"I see no sign of it. This water is smooth as any pond."
"But you see for yourself, she's gaining on the shore. Look, now, how we're passing that patch o' water-weed."
"I think hell is under us. Have up the clerk and put him at prayers, and you fellows take in sail—each rag of it—that if we strike we may go easy. Call all hands. See that the boats are clear. She minds her helm no more than a straw. God help us!"
The galleon was at the edge of the shoal spot now, and all held their breath, expecting to hear the grinding of the keel on a bank; but, no, she floated in safety.
"Sound!" commanded the captain. "There may be anchorage."
"Four fathom," called the sailor at the lead after he had made his cast.
"Stand by to let go. We'll tie up here till the tide turns or the spell's worked out. Alive—alive, there! Get that anchor overboard."
"It be wedged agin the bulwark, captain, and needs another pair o' hands."
"Forward all! Why, you lump, the flukes are clear. What ails you? Lift all. There!"
With an united heave the sailors raised the barbed iron and cast it over the side. The faces of all dripped and went white, and their knees bent then, for the anchor flew from their hands and struck the sea quite twenty feet away,—in deep water, for the shoal was passed,—and the chain paid out like rope as the iron sank, yet not straight down. It rattled off toward the shore.
"We've had krakens and mermaids and all variety of horrid beasts," said one old tar, with his jaw a-shaking, "and now the foul fiend has that anchor, and is pulling us ashore with it."
The chain had run out to its length, but the anchor had found no bottom. A cracking and grinding of the links could be heard, as if a tug of war were going on between two giants that had this chain between them. Bits of rust powdered off, and the strain was tearing splinters from the timbers. A loud snap,—the chain had parted. Down went the anchor, but again not straight,—off toward the land, and one free link of the chain shot as if from a gun straight toward the shore, whizzing with ever-increasing speed until it was out of sight. The men looked at one another in amaze.
"Get up the stores," shouted the captain, "and be ready all to quit the ship." He added to his mates, "A half hour's the longest we can hope for. The Rose of May will be on the black cliff by that. Is the clerk praying? Good! We may get away in the boats, but we'll end our days here in the Manillas. Alack, my Betsy! I'll never look into her eyes again."
"She's down a little by the head, an't please you," cried a sailor, running aft.
"Ease her a little, then. Toss over some of the dunnage."
"Lor'! Lor'! Spare us all this day!" yelled a sailor a minute later.
"What is it?"
"I tried to put my knife on the rail here, while I gripped the line I was to cut, when it tugged at my hand like a live thing. In a fright I let go, and away it flew toward the shore. Oh, we've reached the Devil's country. Why ever did I leave England?"
"How of the compass?"
"It points steady to that rock."
"Master captain! Master captain!" shouted the steward, running upon deck. "The fiend is in the after-castle, for the pans and the knives and a blunderbuss and two cutlasses that were loose have leaped against the forward panelling and stick there as if rivets were through them. 'Tis wizard's work. Let us pray, all."
A sudden commotion was seen among the sailors at that moment. The cannon balls had rolled forward to the break of the forecastle, and the two guns themselves—the ship's armament against the pirates of China and Sulu—were straining at their stays.
"Heave over the shot. It'll lighten her," ordered the captain.
The crew obeyed, but after the first of the balls had been lifted over the bulwarks, they had scarce the strength to cast out the rest, for amazement overcame them on seeing the shot plucked from the man's hands and blown through the air as if sent from its gun toward the rock. The ship was leaping through the water, though the breeze was from the land. One after another the men fell on their knees and prayed loudly, the captain last of all. Suddenly he looked up, with a wondering flash in his eyes. He sprang to his feet, plucked an iron belaying-pin from its ledge, held it up, felt it pull, let go, and saw it whirl away like a leaf in a cyclone. He looked at the compass; the needle pointed straight toward the black and glistening cliff now lowering not more than half a mile ahead.
"It's the guns," he shrieked. "Up with you. Cut away the lashings. Stave down the bulwarks. Let them go."
In the panic there was no stopping to argue or to question. The guns were freed, and they, too, went hurtling through the air, striking the rock with a clang. The captain leaped to the helm and put it hard a-starboard. The ship's pace slackened, she curved gracefully around, and headed from the threatening coast. "Shake out all sail, lads, for we're free at last, by God's good grace."
Though trembling and confused, the sailors managed to hoist sail, and on a gentle wind from the east they left that coast never more to venture near it. The captain's face lost its knots and seams, by slow degrees the color of it returned,—a color painted upon it, especially about the nose, by many winds, much sunshine, and uncounted bottles of strong waters. He wiped his brow and drew a big breath. "It comes to me, now," he said. "We've not been bewitched. That hill beyond, that's robbed us of our guns and anchor, is a magnet,—the biggest in the world."
In an earthquake, several years later, the magnet-mountain disappeared.
Two Runaways from Manila
The name Corregidor, which stands for mayor, albeit the translation is corrector, is applied to the gateway to Manila. Thus named it was a place to inspire a wholesome fear in the breasts of dignitaries, for on at least two occasions proud and refractory bishops were sent there in exile to endure a season of correction and repentance. It was thought to be a desert. In the seventeenth century the treasure galleon arriving at Manila, after a voyage of months from Mexico, brought a family from that country. One of the daughters of this house of Velez was a girl with a bit of human nature in her composition, for Maria was prone to flirting, and had no affection for sermons. In order to repress her high spirits and love of mischief, she was sent by her father to the convent of Santa Clara, which had been founded in 1621 (a few years before this incident). The parent even hoped that she might qualify as a nun.
It was not the right convent, for Fray Sanchez, one of the fathers, who said the offices in the chapel, was a Franciscan friar, young, handsome, and not an ascetic. The novice was always prompt when he said mass, and often when her pretty head should have been bowed in prayer she was peeping over the edge of her breviary, following the graceful motions of the brother as he shone in full canonicals in the candle-light, and thrilling at the sound of his rich, low voice. The priest several times caught the glance of those eyes, so black, so liquid, saw the long fringe of lashes fall across them, saw the face bend behind the prayer-book in a vain endeavor to hide a flush, realized what a pretty face it was, and went to his cell with a vague aching at his heart. He sought Maria among the pupils to give spiritual advice, or she sought him to ask it,—it little matters,—and so the first full moon looked into a corner of the convent garden and saw, despite the swaying shadow of vines and palms, that the friar was making confession to the nun,—a confession of love. The face that had peered above the prayer-book was lifted to his, a white arm stole about his neck: it was the answering confession. The priest strained her to his breast and half stifled her with kisses.
These raptures were interrupted by the retiring bell, and they hastily returned to the convent by separate ways. It was the last night they expected to spend beneath that roof, for a galleon was to sail for Mexico in a day or two, and they had agreed to elope. Dressed in worldly garb, which she concealed under the robe and cowl of a monk, Maria slipped through the garden gate next day, met her lover, ran to the shore, where a boat had been tied, crossed with him to Camaya, the ship being promised there for a fag end of cargo, and prayed for a quick departure from the Philippines. In vain. They fell into the hands of unfriendly natives, who, having learned to distrust the Spanish, were always ready to wreak small injuries on them when the chance afforded. These natives attempted to separate the pair and drag the girl to their huts. The friar attacked them with spirit, but the brown men were too many for him, and in the melee both he and Maria were wounded.
A boat was seen approaching. The assailants fled, leaving the friar, bleeding and weak, but kneeling beside his mistress, whose white skin was splashed and striped with red, and whose liquid eyes stared vacantly at the sky. As the boat touched the shore the corregidor leaped from it, and the friar now confronted a new peril. His flight had been discovered, the town-crier had bawled it through the streets, commanding the people to refuse shelter to the guilty pair under heavy penalty, and, to enforce their return, the mayor had brought with him twelve soldiers of the garrison. The loaded arquebuses of the men were not needed. Feeble, sore in body and spirit, repentant, the monk surrendered, Maria was lifted into the boat, and the company returned to Manila.
There it was decided that the monk should be sent to an inland mission, that in the lifting of souls to a finer faith the stain of human love that had fallen upon his own soul might be wiped away. As to the girl, her good looks and gay disposition had proved the undoing of one devotee. She was to have no chance to enslave another; so she was sent back to Mexico, forced to enter a cloistered nunnery, and so ended her life in loneliness and sanctity. The incident has left its impress on the names about the harbor, Corregidor being so called for the officer who pursued and arrested the runaways, Camaya being rechristened Mariveles,—which, you see, is Maria Velez,—while two rocks beyond the Boca Grande are named for the friar and his would-be bride,—Fraile and Monja: monk and nun.
The Christianizing of Wong
In the city of Cebu the Chinese, who made an early settlement, accepted the prevalent religion in order to keep peace with the authorities. In fact, it was a choice between going to church and going back to China. Incidentally to their evangelization a number of them were cast into prison, their shops and houses were rifled, and laws were enacted denying rights and privileges to all Mongols who refused Christian baptism. Among the refractory citizens was a Chinese trader named Wong. So far as anybody could see, he led as moral a life as a Chinaman can endure comfortably; he was good to his family, good to himself, he was sober, he would overreach a Spaniard when he could, but when he had given his word he kept it; he burned incense before joss, he read the analects of Kung Foo Too and Mang Tse, and worshipped his ancestors; he never stole or used any kind of profanity that moral Spaniards could understand. For all this he was nagged and worried constantly, and could hardly take a walk without being pursued by friars who requested alms for their charities in so pointed a manner that he contributed with celerity, if with an inward lack of willingness. If he had been an every-day Chinaman he would have been killed, or prisoned, or exiled, or deported, but he had an excellent trade, and, in spite of his enforced outlays for masses and missionaries, was growing richer all the time. The customs officers thrived on the duties that he paid, and waxed exceeding fat.
One elderly priest in Cebu had a genuine concern for the welfare of this prosperous but benighted soul. He called at his shop, he barred his way in the street, he argued, he cited, he appealed, but to no effect. Wong answered that, although a heathen, he was doing a better business than any one else; so what was the use of changing gods? And with a heart-deep sigh he requested the clergyman to change the subject. Seeing, at last, that all customary methods of conversion were doomed to failure, the friar betook himself to the shrine of St. Nicholas, and asked him to do something that should turn this poor soul to the faith. St. Nicholas praised his petitioner's zeal, and promised to work a miracle. The friar possessed his soul in patience, and the conversion came that very week. Wong was assailed in his office by five robbers, armed with knives and daubed with blood, to show that they intended neither to give nor ask for quarter. He had sold many goods that day, and they had come for his money. Wong reached for the sword that always hung within his grasp, but to his dismay it was gone. St. Nicholas or the friar had hidden it. He glanced rapidly about the room, but saw nothing that he could oppose to the knives of the desperadoes, and even if he had, they were five to one, so his escape from a cruel death seemed impossible. Just then the robbers were struck into a stupor, for on the wall behind the merchant a light was shining, and soft music floated through the room. The partition opened, and St. Nicholas stepped within the apartment. Turning to the Chinaman the visitant said, "Believe in the true faith, Wong, and your life shall be saved. Believe otherwise, and you shall die." Wong changed his faith in one second, and said so. The saint waved his hand toward the ruffians and they dropped to the floor in a faint, whereupon Wong, plucking the knife from the hand of the nearest, carefully but expeditiously and joyfully cut the throats of all five, called in his neighbors and persuaded them to join the church with him. They did this almost immediately, and the most popular saint among the Chinese of Cebu is still St. Nicholas.
The Devil's Bridge
You may say what you please, but it is certain that the Evil One never appeared in the Philippines until after the Spanish had taken possession of the islands. At least, this applies to Luzon. And, strange to tell, he has not been seen there since the Spanish left. Some will have it that he was smitten into a despairing bashfulness during Weyler's administration, and that when the governor went home with a couple of million dollars in his valise—the savings from his salary—the Devil went home likewise, awe-struck. His Satanic Majesty's last recorded exploit occurred in the view of three men, of whom one may still be alive to vouch for it. They were farmers of Wild Laguna, a few miles above Manila, and on one memorable day were cutting wood in the ravine near by,—a deep gulch through which babbles a stone-choked stream. This glen has precipitous sides, but is so thickly overhung with green that it is almost like a verdant cave.
While they were resting—and the Filipino's ability to rest is one of his striking qualities—they were startled by the hurried advance of something, or somebody, on the bank. There was a swish and crash of undergrowth, a hobbling stamp, and something that sounded like the smiting of leaves with a club. At first the farmers thought that a water buffalo had run away from some plantation and was angry because he could not descend the craggy sides and reach the water. Then came a volley of expletives in an unknown tongue, and in a voice so deep and harsh that the hair of the three heads bristled, and three pairs of eyes goggled with fright. The farmer who was good crossed himself; the one who was bad turned white and tried to remember how prayers were said; the one who was betwixt-and-between clung to the stone on which he was seated and held his breath; for a tall, lank personage, with overhanging brows, slanting eyes, long chin and nose, and wrathful aspect, was striding to and fro on the edge of the ravine, looking at the opposite bank as if trying to decide whether or not he could leap that distance. He was scowling, gnashing his teeth, and brandishing his arms. Any Spaniard might have done as much, and brandished a sword besides; but the terrible thing about this gentleman was the great length of tail, with a dart at its tip, that he was flourishing among the bushes, for only one being, on the earth or under it, was known to have a toil like that.
As if to leave no doubt, the stranger, in stamping on the ground, lifted his leg so high that the watchers could see that it ended, not in a foot, but a hoof. It was Satan himself! The farmers did not dare to tremble, but each shrank within himself as far as he could and thought upon his sins, the worst of the trio with the least compunction, because he was not conscious of any immorality in robbing Spaniards. As he tramped back and forth, the devil now and then looked up into the branches, as if guessing the height of the trees. Presently he stopped before the tallest, levelled his finger at it, and cried with a stentorian voice a command in words that belong to none of the forty or fifty languages and dialects of the islands. Then the souls of the spectators fell, like chilling currents, and their hearts swelled like balloons and arose into their throats, and there was no joy in them; for the great tree bent slowly down and swung itself entirely across the chasm. Its reach was great, and Satan skipped along the trunk as spryly as a cat on a fence, his arms and tail held out for balance and twitching nervously. Half-way over he spied the three spectators and stopped. Their circulation stopped also. He grinned from ear to ear, showing two rows of tusk-like teeth, shook his fist playfully, and shouted a laugh so loud, so awful, that they believed their last moment had come. But it had not. Their hair turned white, to be sure, and they took on fifty years' growth of wrinkles; but the Devil was after bigger game. He scampered over the arching trunk, disappeared on the farther side, and hurried off at a run toward Manila, where a certain rich lawyer was rumored to be dying. From later whisperings it appears that His Majesty was not late.