OUR ISLANDS AND THEIR PEOPLE.
The Philippine Islands and Their People.
Previous to the War with Spain the people of the United States knew but little about the Philippine Islands and the people who inhabited them, and doubtless cared less. Our histories barely mentioned them, and the geographies designated the islands as a small archipelago north of Borneo and south of Japan, occupied by a tribe or tribes of savage Malays. Beginning in 1854, and covering a period of eight years, the eminent English naturalist, Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace, made an extensive exploration of these islands, and afterward published voluminous accounts of his discoveries; but these were confined principally to the line of his
A COSMOPOLITAN GROUP.
This group includes Americans, Spaniards, Filipinos and Chinese, and is representative of the mixed character of the population of the islands. Those bright-faced American boys are out of place in such company -
TYPICAL NATIVE SCENE IN MANILA.
When the Spaniards and their ships first appeared in the waters of the Philippine Islands, in 1521, a terrified native, whom they had captured and released, hastening to his chief, informed him that
several very large, strange-looking canoes had come to their coast, manned by giants with long, pointed noses, who were dressed in magnificent robes, ate stones (hard biscuits), drank fire, and blew smoke out of their mouths. The chief was so impressed by his scout's description of the mighty strangers that he hastened to seek an alliance with them, and it may be remarked that from that time until the present day the natives have had no good reason to alter their first impressions of the Spaniards.
The Philippine Islands are variously estimated at from 1,200 to 1,600 in number. The greater portion of these are very small and of no more value than the 1,300 little islets that cluster around Cuba and Porto Rico. There are about 600 habitable islands in the group, including the Sulu Archipelago, and these embrace an area
FILIPINO PRISONERS OF WAR.
Representing the class of men who compose the bulk of the native armies.
spreading, and the founding of schools of art and trades and of agriculture in Manila and Iloilo. The high schools in the provinces, the creation of military stations and missions in Igorrote, the superior high school for teachers (female), the recent progress of the university, and the promotion of our commerce, all of which will raise the Philippines to a desirable degree of representation, now interrupted by rural tribes without a conscience of their acts and lacking in the knowledge of their true desire.
special studies, enlivened by descriptions of his numerous exciting adventures with wild animals, hideous reptiles and savage peoples. Mr. Wallace's books contained but little information regarding the character, extent and products of the islands, or of the history of the tribes that occupied them. In fact, what he wrote had a tendency to still further confuse the public on these subjects, for it intensified the impression that the islands were a wilderness of tropical jungle, inhabited by savages of vicious and depraved characteristics.
The Spaniards, on the other hand, appreciating the immense natural wealth of the archipelago, and desiring to retain it for their own exclusive benefit, employed every means in their power to prevent the spread of information regarding this pearl of the Asiatic seas.
Thus it happened that when we set out to free Cuba, and learned that Spain had another rebellion on her hands in the Philippine Islands, a majority of our people imagined that she was fightinga in her usual brutal waya a few wild tribes of the South Sea Islands, and in the bottom of our hearts we wished them success as patriots struggling to gain the inalienable rights of self-government.
And at this very moment many of us are asking ourselves if the changed conditionsa the knowledge that these islands constitute an empire in extent and wealth, inhabited in large part by an intelligent, progressive people, equal in numbers to nearly one-seventh of our own populationa justify us in continuing the policy inaugurated by the least progressive and most inhuman of all the European monarchies.
The war with America came suddenly upon the surprised Spaniards, and was so short and decisive in its results that they had no time to make an entry of its events in their official records, which, as will be observed, ended prematurely during the preceding November. This is to be regretted, for an official Spanish history of our war in the Philippines would have supplied a volume of highly entertaining literature.