First Hand Accounts of being in Marinduque during the war
Letters home helped to document what the soldiers
saw while they were in Marinduque.  There were also
correspondents from weekly magazines that visited
and wrote about what they saw.
The Outlook Magazine
New York City
August 18, 1900
The Occupation of Marinduque
By Phelps Whitmarsh
Special Commissioner for The Outlook in the Philippines

AFTER a man has given the romantic years of his life to the sea, has served a full
apprenticeship, and has earned the title of "sailor," he never feels the heave and
send of even the smallest of craft beneath him that he does not at once become
confident, and at once become what we call "at home." And to the man who has
forsaken his boyish ideal and taken up the more complicated life of a landsman,
every whiff of salt water stirs his memory as no perfume can, revives his romance,
makes him a boy again. More than all, perhaps, is the comforting knowledge that
he and the sea understand each other-that they are old friends. It was with much
content, therefore, that, after so much of the mountains and the plains, I found
myself aboard the transport Indiana, leaving the sweltering Bay of Manila for a
cruise to the southward. I say" cruise" because our ports were by no means
definite, nor could they well be so; for, in addition to landing army supplies at
various points, we carried an expeditionary force-a battalion of the Twenty-ninth
Infantry, U. S. V., and, though the orders were supposed to be secret, we all knew
that they were going out to take islands. What and where these islands were we
did not know; but it was certain that the vessel was under Colonel Hardin's orders
until the mysterious islands were in American hands. All of which was rather

At the long table in the saloon some sixty of us sat down to dinner. We were
placed in the usual military fashion, according to rank. The Colonel and the ship's
captain had the head of the table, and then, in turn, came the majors, the captains,
the lieutenants, the "contract" doctors, the interpreter and Visayan pilot, and, lastly,
the few civilians not connected with the expedition.
"Hello, Benguet I" said a voice as I was passing to my seat. It was Lieutenant
Fuqua, under whose escort our party had passed through northern Benguet, and
whose blanket I had shared on not a few cold nights.  "Well, tramp! Bet you don't
remember me," said the next man, holding out his hand. " I think I do. Dr.
Herrmann, isn't it ?   Met you in Cuba. You gave me a much needed breakfast at
Sancti Spiritus at the smallpox hospital a year or so ago."  " Yes. I have a pencil-
sketch of your beautiful mule still."  A little further on I got a gentle poke in the ribs
and the salutation, "Hola, amigo I Quetal?" This from the patriotic and big-hearted
Dr. Xeres y Burgos,' "the friars' friend," whom I had known in Manila for some time.
Almost opposite Dr. Xeres, I recognized Chaplain Miller, of the Fourth Cavalry, the
broadest of parsons and the best of fellows. And when, at last, I sat down, it was
to find in my right-hand neighbor another friend. Thus it is in the Philippines-one
gets to know everybody.

In the good old days when expeditions sallied forth to conquer islands and things, I
suppose they experienced all kinds of hardships, were very uncomfortable, and all
that sort of thing; but as I looked along the table, lighted and fanned by electricity,
furnished with an unlimited amount of that great Philippine luxury, icewater and
supplied from the refrigerator with American fowls and meats, vegetables and
fruits, I felt that things had changed. It was very pleasant, but it upset one's notions
about war. There was not even a suggestion of war. It reminded me of what I saw
in Angeles when General MacArthur took me round the firing-line and I saw hot
soup, beef, potatoes, and rice-pudding being served to the men from a carabao
cart. Imagine it! Hot dinner served on the firing-line! I have seen a good deal of the
United States army in the Philippines, and I am convinced of one thing-that it is the
best fed, the best paid, and the best supplied army on earth.

The Indiana did not get under way  until late that night, but the cool, delightful
breeze kept most of us a wake until the Cavite lights had gone out and the steady
glare of Corregidor was far astern. Then, the cabins being insufferably hot, we
brought up our blankets, and camped under the stars. On the port side, so close
that we could hear the unseasonable crowing of cocks and barking of dogs, and
could catch the subtle, earthy odor which rises with the night dew, rose the bold
shore of Cavite Province. Soon all was quiet. Nothing but the regular throb of the
engines and a gentle rustle over the bow gave evidence that the vessel was
moving. It seemed as if she were feeling her way along the coast alone. Early next
morning we dropped anchor in the Bay of Batangas, in sight of Taal Volcano,
where we remained three days discharging commissary and quartermaster's

Though Batangas is the second port in Luzon, there were absolutely no facilities for
loading or unloading vessels. Everything was landed on the beach in long, narrow
dugouts-three armed guards and four boxes being the usual load. Batangas is
called the worst town in the worst province. The people are Tagalogs, rather
darker than those of the middle provinces, and decidedly less reconcilable to
American rule. With Dr. Xeres I visited the leading natives of the town, and, owing
to my companion, I had an opportunity of hearing a truthful expression of their
views. All, even though they were under military protection, and diplomatically
professed friendship, were most bitter in their denunciation of the Americans. It
was patent that these people, like the majority of the inhabitants of Luzon,
submitted only when there was no alternative; and that in their hearts enmity
toward the white race, for it is no longer solely the American, is strong. Seven
months, I believe, the town had been occupied by United States forces, and yet the
greater part of the people were still in the mountains; no municipal government had
been established, for no one would accept office; schools were unthought of,
guerrilla warfare was rife throughout the province, and no white man was safe• one
hundred yards beyond the outposts. It. is such things as these, such glimpses of
native sentiment as this, that make one believe that an army, aye, and no small
one, will be necessary in the Philippines for a generation to come. Batangas,
before the last insurrection, was a rich town, the center of-the best sugar district in
Luzon, and also the largest coffee-growing district. Batangas coffee is of excellent
quality, only equaled by the Benguet product. At the time of my visit, however,
most of the coffee plantations were ruined-partly by neglect brought on by war, but
principally by the visitation of an insect which killed the trees; sugar production had
been reduced by more than one-half, and the population of the town had shrunk
from twenty thousand to three thousand. While we were being driven through the
grass-grown side streets, we came upon a part which had been burned, and we
asked our driver about it.

"No," he said, "it was not an accidental fire. The Americans had done it." " What for
?" I inquired.  " I do not know, senor," he replied. " It is not possible that so many
houses would be destroyed without good reasons." " But it is true, senor. All they
found was one soldier lying between the houses."  "An American soldier ?" " Yes,
senor."  "Was he wounded?" "No, senor, he was not wounded. He had no head."
This was by no means a joke-for the Filipino is not given to joking-but was told us in
the most grave, matter-of-fact way.

The utility of that homely, snail-like, exasperating but indispensable animal, the
carabao, was clearly exemplified in Batangas. The beasts were harnessed to rude
bamboo rafts furnished with runners and freighted with raw sugar, and driven down
the river to the sea. In the shallow parts of the stream they dragged the rafts; in
the deeps they swam. Nor did they stop at the river-mouth, but continued along the
shore until they reached the landing bancas. A carabao, with only its nose and
horns out of water, towing a pile of sugar with a half-naked boy perched atop of it,
who steers with a line made fast to the animal's nose-ring, is a novel and an
amusing sight. By using the riverbed instead of the poor roads, the native brings all
the powers of his amphibious beast of burden into play, and saves himself a good
deal of time and trouble. In such ways, in anything which will lighten his own labor,
the Filipino is ingenuity itself.

While we lay in Batangas Harbor, the United States ship Helena and the gunboat
Villalobos came in and anchored near us. It soon became known that these two
ships of war were to accompany us, and that the expedition's first work was to
take the island of Marinduque. What opposition the insurrectionists, who had a
government of their own for nearly two years, were likely to offer no one knew. It
was reported, however, that the beach near Boac, the capital, was well intrenched,
and that the most determined fighters in the island were there to be found. Toward
Boac, therefore, the three vessels were headed, the Helena being in the lead and
the Villalobos following us.

The cloud-bank which at daybreak next morning darkened the east became land
when the sun rose behind it; at seven o'clock it was a tropical island teeming with
vegetation, and right ahead of us lay a strip of yellow beach with a cluster of nipa-
thatched houses nestling beneath a roof of tossing cocoa-palms. By the time the
anchors of the little fleet went rattling to the bottom of the bay the line of trenches
was visible, and we could see many white-shirte'd figures scurrying about among
the trees; also a solitary man on horseback. As" B " and" C" companies piled into
the landing boats, there was not a little excitement, and the burning question of the
hour was, " Will they fight?" Before a start was made, however, a lone native came
running down to the end of the sand-spit, and, mounting an overturned banca, he
took off his white trousers (his only garment) and waved them at us. At this the
hopes of the Twenty-ninth died; for, although a man who takes off his coat may
mean war, he who unbreeches himself is invariably pacific. Notwithstanding the
novel flag of truce, the landing was made according to the original plan, and a very
pretty landing it was, in spite of the fact that not a shot was fired. Led by Colonel
Hardin, the men leaped from the boats as they neared the shore, and, deploying,
they took the trenches both on the flank and in the rear. Then, with a shrill and
distinctively American yell, the Stars and Stripes went up, and the rule of the
insurrectos in Marinduque was ended. It was all very pretty, but, unfortunately, as
the Twentyninth said, very tame. It was neither as exciting as a sham battle at
Aldershot, nor as interesting as a comic opera, though it was suggestive of  both.

As we marched through the pretty village of Lai Lai, in the shade of a lofty palm
grove, the few people who had not fled hastily threw out little white flags, shirts,
handkerchiefs, chemises, floursacks, any rag, indeed, that was or had once been
white. Except this show of fear, they made no demonstration whatever, and it was
impossible to judge from their appearance what our reception would be at Boac,
which lies three miles inland. Everywhere as we progressed we found model
trenches and other evidences that a determined resistance had been planned; but
since these model trenches were empty, and the scouts and flankers stirred up
nothing more than a few grazing carabaos, it was also evident that the plans at the
last moment had been abandoned.

In all parts of the Philippines it is the same. Trenches, splendid ones, guard the
seacoasts, the
roads, the towns, the river-crossings, and the mountain passes; the work that has
been done in thus preparing for war is, for these people, enormous, and at the
same time ridiculous; for if they do not leave their defenses before the enemy's
approach, which is usually the case, the first American yell produces a vision of
flying shirt-tails. When one sees the magnificent opportunities the Filipinos have
had, and thrown away, it quite makes one out of patience with them. Bravery, even
though it be wrongly applied, has ever in it something admirable, but one can have
nothing bu.t contempt for the man who is both a fool and a coward.

An hour's march along a road arched with glossy mangoes and nangkas, cocoa
and betel palms, bread-fruit, cacao, coffee, pomegranate, a species of citrus laden
with large green spheres, and other profitable fruit-trees, with occasional glimpses
of rice-flats and hills of foliage, and sundry bursts of color from the poincianas and
hibiscus, brought us to the charming little town of Boac. At first we thought it
deserted, for the streets and the square were empty and every door and window
closed; but we had hardly come to this conclusion when we were hailed from an
upper window in our own tongue and welcomed to the town by an Englishman-the
inevitable Englishman. Inevitable, because it does seem as if he were not to be
avoided. Probe into the heart of the darkest continent, land on the most desolate
island, explore the least-known region, climb the highest peak or descend the
ocean depths, and an Englishman rises before you and, in the most matter-of-fact
way and with an unmistakable accent, bids you good-day. The Boac Englishman,
being of a speculative turn, had sailed over from Luzon in an open boat with $5,000
in silver (300 Ibs.) for the purpose of buying hemp before the ports were opened.
After fighting a school of sharks en route and passing thirty-six hours without food,
water, or shelter, he arrived off the beach at Lai Lai and was at once made a
prisoner. In this condition he had remained until our arrival, when he was placed in
the house of the richest native as a protector; the natives knowing well that a house
with a white man in it would neither be fired upon nor sacked. To the credit of the
natives of Marinduque it must be said that, though guarded, he was allowed to
carry on his business and was not robbed of a single cent.

In the rapid search that was made of the town, a few old muzzle-loading rifles and
flint-locks were found, a great store of new bows and arrows, and an evil-looking
Recoleto friar, who had been held prisoner for two years. As soon as they could be
found, messengers were dispatched to the neighboring country with assurances of
good will and promises of protection to all those who would return to their houses.
The next day the frightened inhabitants began to come in, and within three days, by
means of a diplomatic correspondence opened up between Colonel Hardin and the
representatives of the so-called Filipino Government, Martin Lardizabal, the
Governor, appeared. A conference was held aboard the Helena, which resulted in
four out of five of the island towns-being peacefully surrendered. Santa Cruz, the
remaining town, was taken without opposition by Major Case, who marched across
the island, while the fleet sailed round to the same point.

While these things were going on, I had an opportunity of seeing something of
Marinduque. The island rises in the center of a number of tree-clad mountains, and
is throughout a delightful jumble of vales and peaks of surpassing greenness and
beauty. Roughly speaking, it is about twenty-five miles square. It is divided into five
townships-Boac, Santa Cruz, Mogpog, Gasan, and Torrijos-and has some forty-
five thousand inhabitants, all of whom are Tagalogs, though their language is
slightly mixed with Visayan and Bicol. Unlike the Tagalogs of Luzon, however, the
people are a peaceful, humble lot, submissive to authority, and unusually diligent.
They are, moreover, lighter colored and physically superior to their tribal relatives.
In many respects, indeed, Marinduque is an exceptional island. The chief product,
hemp, is of a quality unequaled in the archipelago. It is known as " kilot," and is an
unusually fine, white, and strong fiber, which brings five to six dollars more per picul
than ordinary hemp. Kilot is used wholly for weaving into fabrics. Primitive hand-
looms can be seen in most of the houses, and the greater part of the clothes worn
are made by the women from material woven by themselves. Marinduque also
produces a fair quantity of rice, copra (dried coconut), and arrowroot. Though the
island has never been prospected for minerals, and the natives are ignorant on the
subject, it is asserted that copper, gold, and lead are to be found in the mountains.
I was shown specimens of galena which proved the existence of one large vein.
Hot sulfurous springs, which are panaceas for native ailments, exist in many parts,
and petroleum, also, is said to be present. Caves of great size are common, not
only in Marinduque, but in the adjacent islands. In the group known as the Three
Kings, Gaspar is said to be undermined by one immense cavern. From the many
skeletons discovered in these caves it is generally supposed that in some former
age they were used as burial-places; and the gold fillings in the teeth of the
skeletons, the gold ornaments made in the shape of a leaf, and various kinds of
pottery also found seem to point to an ancient civilization of no mean order. At least
they open up a world of speculation. The island abounds in animal and bird life-of
pigeons alone there are thirty species-and the butterflies were especially

In the way of architecture, the most interesting thing in Marinduque is the old
fortified church and convento at Boac, which occupies the summit of a small hill in
the center of the town, It was built about 1690, under the direction of the friars, as
a protection against the piratical Moros, who until within almost recent years looked
upon these outlying islands as their lawful prey. It is less than thirty years in fact,
since these sea-robbers last landed in Marinduque and looted the town of Santa
Cruz. Within the massive walls of this island fort, which was intended to be both
cannon and earthquake proof, the entire population of the town can be gathered. It
is one of the most picturesque structures in the Philippines, thoroughly mediaeval in
design as well as in appearance; for the ravages of a moist, tropical climate have
clothed it with a growth of parasites, mellowed and aged it far beyond its years.
The church within the walls is a fine large building in excellent repair. Twice during
my stay in Boac I slept on its fine hardwood floor, with the gaudy pyramid of
wooden images that backed the altar in front of me, a famous black Christ to my
left, and on my right, done in wax, a veritable chamber of horrors.
In spite of its well-appointed church, however, Boac had been without a priest for
several months. The last incumbent, a native, had robbed the people to such an
extent that they had forcibly ejected him. Not content with the usual church fees,
which in such a parish must have been large, he instituted a system of fines, one,
for instance, for coming into church late, and forced payment by refusing to
confess, absolve, or perform any religious rite until the fines were paid. He was
worse, the people said, even than the friar before him. As a punishment for this
wickedness, the Archbishop of Manila had excommunicated the whole parish; and
the people, overjoyed at the freedom thus given, then declared themselves in favor
of an American minister. They said freely that they did not care whether he was a
Catholic or a Protestant or anything else so long as he could perform the
baptismal, marriage, and burial ceremonies.  All whom I talked with stated that
they were willing to welcome anyone but a "fraile." To this one thing, if to nothing
else, the Filipino is constant-his hatred of the friars.

While riding along the sandy, palmfringed road to Gasan one morning, I noticed
several men pass with great cane pitchers hooked over their shoulders, and I
asked my guide what they contained. Upon learning that it was tuba, the common
drink of the island, I expressed a wish to try it. We pulled up, therefore, at the next
house in a coconut grove, and I seated myself in the grateful shadow of the fanlike
foliage, while one of the numerous boys of the household, with a bamboo slung
over his shoulder, went aloft. Grasping the trunk of the palm with his hands and
placing his feet in the notches cut in both sides of the tree, he climbed or rather
walked up a perpendicular fifty-foot bole with as little exertion, apparently, as we
would have in going up-stairs. Just below the great shining leaves' there ran from
tree-top to tree-top, and thus connected the 'whole group, a double row of
bamboos-the lower one to walk on, the upper to serve as a handrail. By this means
the little tuba gatherer sped from one tree to another, emptying each receiver he
came to until his own measure was full. Then he came down, and, after the flies
and insects had been strained out by means of a bunch of hemp, I had my first
taste of tuba. It is not at all an unpleasant drink when fresh; something like small-
beer-a little sharp and yet sweet. Though its natural color is a milky white, it
becomes brown when a ferment is used with it. Tuba is the sap of the cocoa-palm,
and is obtained by cutting off a leaf within a foot or so of the trunk and tying a
bamboo receiver on the end. In Marinduque it is customary to place a small
quantity of powdered bichi bark in the receiver, so that as the sap drips it also
ferments. The end of the cut leaf requires occasional trimming, lest the pores clog
and nature should heal the wound; but beyond this no care is necessary. The
contented native sits en cuclillas (on his heels) in the shade of his grove, chews his
beloved betel, and thinks (oh! happy mortal) of nothing. Meanwhile the fruit falls to
his hand, his wife works, and free beer is always on tap.

" How," I asked my host, whose name was Anastasio, " how do you live ?"  He
answered nothing, but pointed with his lips (a common Filipino fashion) to the trees
"Is it possible that you can keep a family, and I see you have a horse as well, on
so small a grove as this? You cannot have more than two hundred trees."  " It is
possible, senior."  " What sized family have you ?"  "Nine children [he checked them
off on his fingers], my wife, my wife's sister, my son's wife and baby, and a cousin
altogether fourteen." "How much money do your trees bring you in during the year
?"  "I do not know, senor, but sufficient." " And you are contented ?"  His little black
eyes opened with indolent surprise; then, slowly emptying his mouth of a lake of
red saliva, he inquired, "Why not?"

Yes, indeed, "why not?" His innocent question set me thinking. Two hundred
coconut-trees gave Anastasio and his large family food, drink, raiment, and shelter.
His house, save for the strip bamboo floor, which he cut from the clump across the
road, was thatched and fashioned wholly from his own palms. They gave him oil for
frying and for anointing the family hair, fiber for ropes, material for petates and
hats, husks for fuel, and tuba to exchange with the fisherman for fish and to drink
his own and his friends' health. The sale of the green nuts and the copra furnished
him with enough money to buy rice, hemp, and cotton for his wife's loom, a few
luxuries, and still left him a little to gamble with. Half a dozen betel palms, a few
buyo vines, and lime burned from the coral rocks of the beach gave him the
materials for his indispensable chew; his salt he evaporated from sea-water; his
fowls and pigs grew fat and multiplied upon food supplied by nature; his children
needed no clothes; he and his wife little more. He had no fear of hunger, nor of
thirst, nor of cold; no weight of cares or responsibilities; no religious doubts or, for
that matter, beliefs to trouble him; no hope for "better things;" no fretting ambition,
no restless energy to wear him out, not even a conscience. "Contented!” I said to
myself as I mounted my pony and rode away. " Yes, indeed. Why not?"