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- The Log of the Empire State - 6/9 -
Those of the party desiring a complete change from the sea, went to the picturesque resort of Garot, perched high up near a volcano. Many of the businessmen stayed right in Batavia to study business conditions. Still others went to the Botanical gardens of Boetenzorg and to see wonderful scenery near Bandoeng, but all attended the ball given for us the night we departed at Batavia.
In starting out in any vehicle in the tropics we were all taken miles out of our way. The drivers never attempted to find out where one wished to go, or listened to one if one tried to make them understand. They start off with a flourish, usually in the wrong direction, before they can be stopped. It makes no difference to them. They know they are hired and that is all they care about. Perhaps this is one reason why Charles Yates unfortunately missed the ship. Constant Meese found the streets apparently deserted one night when our party wished transportation back to the ships but by clapping his hands together, half a dozen rick-shaws came tumbling over each other to get there first. Sometimes the clapping of the hands is not enough to attract the native's attention, as he rarely listens to orders; some of the party say they have found the typical tourist's cane most effective and think they have discovered a real reason for a cane at last.
At Batavia the well-known Captain Edward Salisbury left his world-touring yacht "Wisdom," to join our party. He entertained us in the evenings with weird tales of his adventures in the South Seas, where pigs are exchanged for wives and the wives thus acquired are then put to work to raise more pigs to get new wives.
Good students of geography will doubtless recall that the approach to Saigon is through the crookedest river in the world. As I usually "just passed" in this subject, cannot speak with authority, but I will guarantee that it has many more curves than our Tamalpais railroad, advertised all over as being "The crookedest railway on the globe."
So the members of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce tour were busy speculating on just how many turns and twists the Empire State had made before she finally docked at Saigon, when some members of the Saigon Reception committee told us that we were the largest American steamship that ever had landed in port.
Two large busses were placed at the disposal of our delegation. The Cercle Sportivo gave a dance at their club in our honor and two tea dansants were held at the Continental Hotel. Some of the ladies got quite accustomed to the bags of mosquito netting that one slips one's feet in, to evade the pests while dining, but most of us forget to step out, and, for a moment, thought we were in a sack race.
The elephant at the beautiful botanical gardens, that would go and buy himself food when given the proper amount of money was interesting, but he was not the real attraction at Saigon. Our party had been entertained by the Geisha girls, sung almost to distraction (you know it is impolite for the sing-song girls of China to stop singing until requested to stop). We had watched the dancing of the Javanese and Philippine Ballerinas, but, we had to come here to see the real French girls. We now understand why many of our soldiers came home with French wives - "vamp" is the only word we could think of in describing every one of them. Never before had we seen so many picture hats.
What fun we all had airing our moth-eaten French. (Here I am not referring to the few of our party that speak French fluently.) And it was several days before some of us stopped calling the Chinese cabin-boys "Garcon."
Perhaps, to show that the San Francisco committee appreciated the distinction of being on board a ship fifteen feet longer than any other American steamer to make that port, we broke off part of the propeller as a souvenir in departing.
Never were more elaborate preparations made to receive our big delegation. Some said it was a wise precaution to have the day the Philippine Chamber of Commerce were to entertain us before the publishing of the "Wood-Forbes Report;" but after the report had been made public we found the laughter and shouts of "Viva" (long life) from the children and the heartfelt greetings of their elders, were cordiality and good-fellowship personified.
We were told that there were three times the number of people in Java as in the Philippines, but that the Philippines could easily support a population of 50,000,000. We were so glad to hear this, as there are more babies there than any other place in the Orient, with the exception of Japan, but the Philippine babies seem to be free from the awful sores we noted on many of the Japanese children. However, it seems that infant mortality is great in the Philippines, on account of the improper diet of the mothers and many of the babies die, we were told, as their mother's milk does not agree with them. One of the first orders of Governor-General Leonard Wood was to call a meeting to check the infant mortality.
In an interview, just after the "Wood-Forbes Report" had been published, Governor Leonard Wood said, "I look for great things from the women of the Philippines; the quicker they form a part of the Government, the better for the Islands." He seems to feel that they are the most important factor in the islands and considers them more dependable than the men. He told with great satisfaction how he had arranged for Miss Hartlee Emprey (the research worker from the Rockefeller Hospital at Peking, who succeeded in perfecting a four-cent-a-day diet for the famine-stricken in China) to eliminate the malnutrition in the food for the young Philippine mothers and to discover a better diet for the lepers. Governor Wood added, "I want doctors, lots of them, modern equipment' and nurses to make more sanitary conditions. I also wish the diseases destructive to cattle studied." There are only 930 nurses in the islands and funds and equipment are needed badly. More doctors are needed in curing the lepers. In speaking of the present condition of the islands, he said, "The Philippines are not ready to cut loose from the United States."
Everything was done in Manila to make us feel at home, from the moment the Reception Committee landed on board and Mayor Fernandez handed over the keys of the city. After being entertained by the Chinese, Philippine, Spanish and American Chambers of Commerce and being told that there were countless dialects and language mixtures, we were not surprised that a telephone operator must speak at least nine languages.
The Montalban Falls trip, as guests of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, made us recall the days of 1915, for there the same leader of the Philippine Orchestra at the Exposition, greeted us. We passed through a flower-decorated arch and then beneath a specially constructed bower under which were the charmingly set tables for our "tiffin."
The second day in Manila we were taken to the Pampanga Sugar Refinery. Here the men of the party had lengthy talks with the officials, while the women of the party were being entertained at a luncheon. The ladies were told that the American factory girl who spends the best part of her week's wages for silk stockings has her equal in the Philippines. It seems that the natives (yes, the men too) are so fond of showy clothing that they will go buy some fancy trifle, when they are in need of food. Very often the employer has to feed them so as to be sure they will have strength enough to do their work properly. It seems that many Filipinos regard the United States as a child regards a benevolent uncle - they want their independence knowing that the United States will get them out of any difficulty and protect them from all harm, at the same time, letting them have their own way.
They are so quick to learn it is no wonder that many of our soldiers turned into teachers, just as the soldiers in Russia today are repeating history in this respect.
Members of the local Chamber of Commerce told us that on account of the soil and climate, the sugar matured in seven months instead of eighteen months necessary in the Hawaiian Islands, and that in one day, the refinery (we inspected) could turn out 20,000 tons of sugar, enough to supply San Francisco for one year (the help working on two ten-hour shifts and receiving one and a half pesos a day a piece).
Although the pineapples have been imported from the Hawaiian Islands to the Philippines, they are not subject to the blight that affects them there; they have a wonderfully sweet flavor. An increase of a million dollars in the industry has recently been reported, our party was told.
The third day we were taken to Pagsanjan Rapids, where the party left in small canoes through a scenic gorge. Mrs. Francis Krull, George Vranizan and Mrs. Vranizan, Mrs. Bruce Foulkes, S. Swartz and Mrs. Swartz, Harry Dana, Frank Howlett, A. I. Esberg and his wife were all thrown out of the boats and into the swift current, but all were rescued in time. Dr. F. E. Orella introduced the first woman lawyer in Manila, and she addressed us in the observation car, on the way back from the Falls.
We passed miles of beautiful groves and were told on the way back to Manila, that each tree averaged about fifty cocoanuts a year, but that one tree has been known to yield three hundred nuts, and that a new breakfast food, made from them, is about to revolutionize the morning meal. Also we heard that no longer will it be necessary to go to the tropics to enjoy the mango, for a new process has at last been discovered that will permit of their being canned. We were told that the natives carry long knives and often use them and that someone said, "Although they may be dressed in the latest style from toes to head, they are still savages from the waist up." This seems difficult to believe, in spite of the numerous scars one sees, as one could not but feel friendly toward the Filipinos. Their courtesy is typified in their road signs that we passed, "Slow please," and after the curve was rounded, "Thank you."
We all noticed how clean and neat their appearance was. You know it is said that the Japanese keep their bodies clean, but not their clothes, while the Koreans keep their clothes clean (perhaps because they are white and the dirt is so evident), and not their bodies, that the Chinese keep neither their clothes nor their bodies clean, but the Filipinos keep both, their bodies and their clothes, immaculate.
One of our party asked one of our hosts. "Why he never said, 'right' and 'left', in directing the chauffeur." The answer was that in the old days the footman's seat was on the left horse, hence 'cella' for left, while the driver held his reins in his right hand, therefore 'mono' (or hand) means right to the Filipinos.
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