Volume 1 1892 > Volume 1, No. 1, 1892 > The races of the Philippines, p7-19
THE RACES OF THE PHILIPPINES.
IN studying the language, manners, and customs of a remote and little known people it is often extremely difficult for the student to obtain the latest or most correct accounts of such a race. In reference to the natives of the Philippine Islands the best descriptions are those written in the Spanish language. No reliable, detailed account of them has yet appeared as the work of an English writer. The best works on this subject, excepting the Spanish, are German and Dutch, the former being Dr. C. Semper's “Die Philippinen and ihre Bewohner,” and Jagor's “Travels in the Philippines,” the latter consisting of the accounts of various voyagers, and some interesting articles published by the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences. The Spanish, on the other hand, have had every facility for observing the customs, language, &c., of the natives. From the time of the Spanish conquest that nation has ever been closely connected with the history of the native race. In fact until recently the conservative and jealous feelings of the Spanish have prevented any systematic exploration of the country by foreigners. De Morga's work “Sucesesos de las Islas Filipinas,” published in Mexico in 1606, and the “Descubrimiento de las Islas de Salomon,” contain the best descriptions of the Aieta and Tagalo-Bisaya tribes, as they were when discovered by Europeans. In addition to these there are many accounts of early Spanish voyagers in the libraries of Mexico which are not easily accessible to foreigners. Some interesting articles have also lately appeared in the “Revista Ibero-Americana,” Madrid. These are by M. Martinez Vigil, the Bishop of Oviedo. In view of these facts it may be advisable to publish in the Society's journal, a description of the aboriginal races of the Philippines, as obtained chiefly from works in the Spanish tongue. These primitive people are an interesting study on account of their long isolation in a remote group, and it will also be interesting to compare them with the southern branches of the race. Much valuable information on this subject may yet be obtained by our members. Good - 8 work has been done by the pioneers of Polynesian ethnology, but much more remains to be accomplished. We are yet merely working the surface of this great field, and may well take for our motto the last words of the great German—“More light.”
VISITS OF EARLY NAVIGATORS.
On the 16th day of March, 1521, the fleet of Magellan sighted the Philippine Islands. This famous navigator, though Portuguese by birth, was commissioned by the Spanish monarch to explore the Moluccas. Sailing through the Straits of Magellan, which he discovered on the 28th November, 1520, he crossed the vast, unknown Mar del Zur, and reached the Mariannes, or “Islas de los Ladrones.” Sailing from thence to the westward, he discovered the Philippines, which he named the Archipelago of St. Lazarus. Remaining for some time at the island of Sebu, he engaged in a war with one of the native chiefs of Mactan, a small island close to Sebu, in which war he was killed by a poisoned arrow. Sebastian del Cano, his second in command, returned to Spain with but one ship. An account of this and subsequent visits is given in the collections of old voyages, by Callander, Pinckerton, and the Hakluyt Society.
Prior to the discovery of the Philippines by Magellan, they had been long known to the Chinese and Malays, the former having been in the habit of making annual trading voyages to Luzon. In July, 1525, a fleet of six vessels, under Garcia de Loaisa, was despatched from Corunna, by Charles V. of Spain, to make a voyage of exploration round the world. Sebastian del Cano, who brought Magellan's surviving ship home, was in charge of one of the ships, but his vessel was wrecked in the passage of the Straits of Magellan. Loaisa succeeded in reaching Mexico with three ships, having been separated from two of the fleet in a storm off the coast of South America. These two waifs, under Jorge Manriquez and Martin Iniquez, eventually reached the Philippine Island of Mindanao, where the crew of the former mutinied, killed their officers, and turned pirates. Iniquez proceeded to Tidore, one of the Moluccas, where he was afterwards poisoned by his crew.1 In 1528, Alvaro de Saavedra, who was sent by Cortes from Mexico to explore the Spice Islands, visited Mindanao. On his way back to New Spain he died, the expedition then returning to the Moluccas. In 1542, Juan Gaetan and Bertrand de la Torre, sailing from Navidad, Mexico, crossed the Pacific to the Philippines. Torre, on his return vogage to Mexico, stated that he discovered and coasted along 650 leagues of a strange land, which is supposed to have been New Guinea. In 1545, Lopez de Villalobos, commanding a fleet sent from New Spain, visited the Islands on his way to the Moluccas. In 1564, Miguel de Legazpi was sent from Navidad by Luis de Velasco - 9 to subjugate the Philippines. He sailed with five ships and five hundred men, and after considerable fighting with the natives finally took possession of Manilla in 1581. It was this voyager who gave to the Islands the name “Las Islas de las Filipinas,” which they bear to this day. In many of the early accounts they are called the Lucones, the Manilas, or “Islas del Poniente.” They were known to the Portuguese as the “Islas del Oriente.” In 1584, Francisco de Gualle reached the group, and on his arrival in Mexico gave to the world the first authentic description of the Kura Siwo, or Black Current of Japan, which he states carried his ship to within 200 leagues of New Spain. In 1588, Thomas Cavendish, of England, explored portions of the Archipelago. In 1595 or 1596, the shattered remnant of Alvaro de Mendaña's ill-fated expedition for the settlement of the Solomon Islands found a refuge at the Philippines, which they reached in sore plight, under the command of Quiros and the Doña Isabel Barreto, wife of the late commandant.2 In 1600, Oliver Van Noort, the Dutchman, touched at the Islands in the course of his disastrous voyage, eventually reaching Amsterdam on August 26th, 1601, “after much travail and difficulty,” with only one ship remaining out of five, and but nine men left alive in that. And so the list of early voyagers to these Isles might be continued, Spanish, Portuguese, English, and Dutch.
The Philippine Islands lie between the fifth and nineteenth degrees of North latitude, and consist of the larger islands of Luzon, Mindanao, Palawan, Panay, Samar, Leyte, Mindoro, and Negros, with some hundreds of smaller isles and islets. Their total area is about 150,000 square miles, and the population over 6,000,000. The islands south of Luzon are called the Bisaya Isles.
The Aieta or Aborigines.
At the the time of the Spanish Conquest, in the sixteenth century, the Philippines were inhabited by two very different races. The original inhabitants were the Aieta, a Negrito or Papuan people, probably akin to the Alfuros of the more southern isles; Alfuro being a Portuguese word signifying wild or barbarous. This race has, in former times, occupied much more space in the archipelago than it has within the historic period, which is indicated by its geographical distribution, and it has evidently preceded the dissemination of the lighter coloured races of the island system. In many of the islands, remnants of these ancient people are still found in the mountains and more inaccessible parts. Such are the Semangs of the Malacca peninsula, the original people of Borneo, and the Alfuros of the Moluccas. Pickering, in his “Races of Man,” has divided this race into two, calling one Papuan and the other Negrito, classifying the - 10 Aieta among the latter and the Fijians with the former, but in later years most ethnologists have held that all the original Negrillo tribes, from Fiji to the Malay Archipelago, have sprung from the one primal stock. Tylor considers that probably the Aieta, the Semangs, and Mincopies of the Andaman Isles, are a remnant of a very early human stock.3 On the other hand, Crawfurd, a high authority, says:— “There are many different races of these Asiatic Negroes wholly unconnected with the Australians, and not traceable to any common origin.”With Dr. Semper, he considers the Australians a race, sui generis. Professor Huxley classifies the Negritos of the archipelago with the Tasmanians, but he includes the Australians and various tribes of the Deccan in the Australoid type. The Aieta (Ata, Ita), who, if they were not truly autochthones, represent at least the first wave of migration, bear many resemblances to various Papuan tribes of Melanesia, and even to the far distant outpost of that race in Fiji. This race was presumably the first which settled the various islands of Melanesia, together with some outlying groups, and was overtaken at Fiji by a second wave of migration in the form of the Polynesians, who passed them and settled the many islands of the Pacific. Fornander places the date of the Polynesian hegira at about the second century, and adds that probably about the same time an invasion of the East Indian Islands by Malays and Kling or Telinga peoples of Eastern Hindostan took place. After examining several ancient Aieta skulls, Professor Virchow states that he found two distinct types of crania, the one dolichocephalic, and the other distinctly brachy-cephalic, from which statement it is argued by some anthropologists that there were originally two aboriginal races in the Philippines.
At some remote period of time, long anterior to the discovery of the Philippines by the Spanish, a race, which for want of a better name we term Malayan, had evidently settled in the Islands, and gradually encroaching on the indigenes, had subjugated some tribes, and driven others back into the interior, where, in the vast forests and various mountain ranges, they have preserved their independence and nationality unto this day, Some writers insist that the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes were members of a Pre-Malayan race, also represented by the Wugis of Celebes, the Dyaks of Borneo, and the Rejangs of Sumatra. However this may be, the order of races in the Archipelago was probably: Negrito, Polynesian, Malayan. Antonio de Morga, in his historical account of the Philippines, states: “It was known by tradition that the natives of provinces near Manila were not an indigenous race, but had settled there in bygone times, and that they were Malayo, natives of other islands and remote provinces.”4 These Malayan intruders possibly either came from different localities, or - 11 there may have been several migrations of them at wide intervals of time, for they were divided into many different tribes at the time of the Spanish invasion, each tribe speaking a different dialect of the common language, the principal of which were the Tagalo, Pampango and Bisaya. The invaders appear to have subdued the aborigines in many cases, and forced them from the more level and fertile portions of the land, and, being an agricultural people, they rapidly increased in the marvellously fertile valleys of the larger islands, where the rich soil and humid atmosphere produce a vegetation which is nowhere surpassed, and cultivated fields yield a constant succession of crops. The Chinese have had intercourse with the Philippines from a very early date. They appear to have made yearly trading voyages thither, and exchanged silk, cotton garments, powder, metal bells, iron and porcelain, for buffalo horns, peltries and cotton. Magellan speaks of the Chinese visiting the Philippines, and the Padre Gaubil says that Joung Lo, of the Ming Dynasty, sent ships to Luzon.5 After the religion of Mahomet was extended to the East Indies it was introduced by the Malay sea rovers into the Philippines. These Mahomedan Malays, called “Moros” or Moors by the pagan tribes, gradually extended their religion over the group, and, at the time of the Spanish invasion, were in the habit of making frequent raids from Borneo and Tiernate (?) against the Bisaya Islands.
The Aieta are supposed to number at the present time about twenty thousand people, of which the greatest number are located on the island of Luzon. In the sixteenth century the Negrito race obtained in many of the Bisaya Isles. Cavendish, in 1588, remarked that the island of Negros was inhabited wholly by them; but now,— “In the south of the Philippines the Negrito appear to be almost entirely rooted out. The Mamanuas in Mindanao have Negrito blood in their veins, and in Negros Isle some few families of the Aieta still live in the region round the volcano; but with these exceptions the Autochthones upon the whole of the Bisaya Islands have disappeared. In Luzon their principal habitat is on the north-east coast and in the interior mountains. On Alabat Island, south-east of Manilla, at Baler and Casiguran Bays, and on the whole coast line from Palanan to Cabo Engano, in the extreme north, may be seen the remnants of this indigenous race in its greatest number and purity.”6 Some of these indigenes remain in almost their original state, and have not mixed with the Tagalo tribes, while others have become amalgamated with the various encroaching peoples—Chinese, Malayan, and Spanish. The Bataks are a wild tribe of Negrito descent who inhabit the Palawan Mountains. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, Lee Mahon, a Chinese pirate, invaded the Philippines with seventy vessels, but was defeated by the Spanish, who burnt his vessels. Many of the - 12 Chinese escaped to the mountains, and took up their abode with wild tribes. The Ygarrote Proper are a mountain tribe of mixed native and Chinese descent, but in later times the Spanish have used this term to denote all pagan tribes who hold themselves aloof. The state of culture 'which obtains among the Aieta is certainly not of a high standard.
Gironiere, in his work on the Philippines, remarks:— “The Aieta resemble monkeys more than human beings, both in gesture and appearance. Their sole superiority consists in the ability to make fire, and the use of the bow and arrow. Their colour is black, and they do not know how to get rid of their hair, which forms a strange sort of halo round the head. Their sole dress is an eight-inch girdle, and for food they utilise various fruits and roots, and the produce of the chase, having a habit of eating meat almost raw. Their weapons are a bamboo lance or spear, and bow and arrows, the latter being poisoned. During the day the able bodied of the tribal family go out to hunt, while the old people sit round the camp fire, and at night they all lie down in the ashes and sleep promiscuously. The old women, with their extraordinary hair, decrepit limbs, and pot bellies, are singularly hideous. Their language has a great paucity of words, and is difficult to acquire. Children are named after the place where they are born, and the sick or wounded persons are often buried alive. On the death of a member of the tribe, they sally out to avenge him, and slay the first living thing they encounter as a payment, be it friend or foe, boar, buffalo, stag, or human being. As they proceed on such an expedition they break the twigs off trees in a certain manner to warn friends off their line of march. These indigenes are prodigiously active at climbing trees, clasping the trunk with their hands, and setting the soles of their feet against the trunk.”7 This author made many excursions into the interior of the country, and gives much interesting information concerning the aboriginal race, and the Tagalo-Bisaya invaders. His work is well spoken of by residents of the country. The Papuan or Negrito race would probably never have raised themselves in the scale of civilisation by their own unaided efforts, even if they had never been forced by invaders to take the position of an inferior people. A. R. Wallace, in his work on the Malay Archipelago, says:—“The Papuans have more vital energy than the Malays, and might have advanced as far in civilisation if they had had the same intercourse with civilised nations.” But this is extremely doubtful. As a race, they do not appear to be capable of advancing, and all efforts in that direction have met with signal failure. They certainly acquire a few arts of a more civilised life, such as improvement in winter dwellings and cultivating the soil, but even this much is only seen in those of them who have remained in close con- - 13 tact with the dominant race, and does not extend to the forest tribes. “The teaching of the superior race is addressed to limited intelligences, utterly destitute of the faculty of abstraction, which same faculty has been developed among ourselves by a long process of culture.8
The Aieta are a race despised and looked down upon by both bodies of the invaders of their country, both Tagalo and Spanish, on account of their infantile intelligence and crude morality; but for the very reason of this same primitive state of the intellect they ought to interest us, for they show to us the original state of humanity, the very childhood of the human race. The cause of the savagery of the aborigines of Australia is said to be the fact that they had no cereals or domestic animals, and that they inhabited a sterile and desert country. This argument will not hold good with the Aieta, who dwelt in one of the most fertile and prolific countries in the world, and who have had both rice, and possibly the sweet potato, for an indefinite time. The buffalo also, which is domesticated by the Malay tribes, the Aieta never attempt to tame. What, then, is the true cause of this continued barbarism? Whately, in his “Origin of Civilisation,” states “Savages never did or can raise themselves to a higher condition, they never seem to invent or discover anything, and must have instruction from without.” This scarcely seems to meet the case, for in what manner did such isolated peoples as the Toltecs and Quichas reach an advanced stage of civilisation—a civilisation which evolved a written character, erected vast buildings of sculptured stone, and was versed in astronomical lore. Lubbock, in “Early Conditions of Mankind,” remarks, in refutation of Whately's argument—“The primitive condition of mankind was utter barbarism, from that state certain races independently raised themselves.” The Aieta in question have occupied the land from time immemorial, but have never made any advance towards a higher state. Why did they not evolve such a civilisation as that of ancient Peru and Mexico? Because of the total absence of the aforementioned faculty of abstraction, of the intensely crude state of the intellect, and because “the human race is so constituted,” says Westropp in “Primitive Symbolism,” “that the same objects and the same operations of nature will suggest like ideas in the minds of men of all races, however widely apart.” The operations of nature herself were against them on every side. In Buckle's “History of Civilisation” we read, “Fertility of soil is necessary to the growth of civilisation. All ancient civilisations sprang up in tropic countries, because food was plentiful and little clothing was required.” But, “the only progress which is really effective depends, not on the bounty of nature, but on the energy of man”; and, “In Brazil nature was too powerful and prodigal, and overcame man by exuberance.” Thus nature was in the Philippines, as in many other tropical countries, too bountiful and exuberant, and by her very exuberance prevented the - 14 growth of that civilisation which she encouraged and fostered in other lands. Fertility of soil and easily obtained food are necessary to the evolution of civilisation, but when nature is too prodigal of her gifts she frustrates her own intentions, and man is rendered powerless to cope with her. The luxuriant forest, the superabundant vegetation, the impassable morass, cramp and overcome the energies and isolate the communities of men, thus preventing communication between them and interdicting the interchange of ideas. The Indian of the vast Brazilian forests, the Aieta of the Philippine jungles, and the inhabitants of many similar regions were subdued by fear and veneration of the works of nature. Thus it is that the mythology of every tropical country is based upon terror. To the primitive man a vague feeling of awe is suggested by the contemplation of the storm, a feeling of utter helplessness by the rampant luxuriance of vast forests, a feeling of intense loneliness and littleness by the rush of mighty rivers and the solitude of the unbroken jungle. He peoples the gloomy forest with strange and malignant beings, and fears to enter their dark depths. He sees the work of evil spirits in the flooded river, the roaring cataract, and the lightning-riven tree, and his imagination, occupied by these fearsome subjects, becomes warped and debased. To use the words of Buckle, “Table lands are the natural birthplaces of civilisation,” and of Pickering, “On entering a wooded country man will naturally relapse into a ruder state, and he must either conquer and destroy the forest or he will himself yield before its influence.” And, again, of Argyle in “Primeval Man,” “Indisputable facts of history prove that man has always in him the elements of corruption, he is capable of degradation, his knowledge may decay, his religion become lost.” Primitive man is a savage in the primeval forest and a savage he will remain.
As to how long the Negrito race has been located in the Philippines it is impossible to conjecture, but it is certain that they must have inhabited the islands from a very remote date in prehistoric times. It is possible that in the unknown districts discoveries may yet be made, that will throw some light on the early history and mode of life of these people; but, so far, archeologists have not given us much information as to aboriginal antiquities. Some discoveries in that direction which have been assigned to the indigenous race might possibly be ascribed with more correctness to the Malayan invaders. In the high cliffs which border the narrow strait between the islands of Samar and Leyte are found many prehistoric burial caverns, in which are to be seen fragments of porcelain and earthernware, some of which are crudely glazed; and Antonio de Morga states: “In Luzon were once found very ancient jars of dark-coloured earthenware, of the origin of which the natives were entirely ignorant. They were sold to the Japanese at high prices.” At Poro, in 1851, copper knives, stone bracelets and human bones were dug up from under four feet of soil, and in various prehistoric lake dwellings are found peculiar urns of a - 15 goodly workmanship. Between the Bicol and Pasacao rivers is an ancient unfinished canal, of which no tradition appears to be extant. The same authority tells us that the Ygarrotes proper have smelted and worked copper for centuries.9 It is evident from the statements of early writers, and of the natives themselves, that both gold and copper mining have been carried on from very early times; but whether the knowledge of metals and pottery obtained before the arrival of the Chinese or Malay intruders is decidedly problematical. A cave situated at Lauang is famed for containing large, flat, compressed skulls, about which there has been much conjecture among craniologists, some averring that they indicate a pre-Aieta race; but this argument is a very dubious one, inasmuch as the Aieta had an ancient custom, which is said to obtain yet in some parts, of compressing and flattening the heads of children, a custom indulged in by widely separated races. Such are the Nicobarians and the tribes of the Lower Columbia. “The inhabitants of some of the Philippine Islands had the custom of placing the heads of their newly-born children between two boards, and so compressing them that they no longer remained round, but were extended in length; and a flat occiput was regarded by them as a mark of beauty.10 Reclus, in his description of the Aieta, says: “They were under five feet in height, had bright eyes, high foreheads, hair abundant, bushy, and frizzed out, the legs calfless, and extremities slender.” Morga's description, given by Hakluyt, is as follows: “In various parts of the Island of Luzon are seen natives of a black colour, with tangled hair (cabello de pasas), of low stature, though strong. They are barbarians of little capacity, having no houses or settled dwellings, but bivouac on the mountains and craggy ground, changing their abodes often, and living on game. A barbarous people, inclined to murder.” “The Aieta show a marked deficiency of chin, and their eyes have a decided yellow tinge.”11 Sir John Bowring, in his “Visit to the Philippines” says of the indigenes: “They are slight in form, agile, small and thin. Their hair is black and curly, the head small, forehead narrow, eyes large, penetrating, and veiled by long eyelids; nose of medium size, and depressed, the mouth and lips medium, and teeth long.” Dr. Semper remarks: “With an average height of four feet seven inches for the men, and four feet four for the women, their limbs are uncommonly slender, their hair brown-black, shining and woolly-curled. With slightly swollen lips, flat noses, and dark, copper-brown skin.” By the slenderness of their legs, and large, protruding stomach, the muy barrigodos of the Spanish, they remind us of the smooth or straight-haired natives of Australia. They are careless of their dress, which consists merely of aprons and leg-bandages, but take pains with their ornaments, which comprise ear-pendants, rings for the legs and - 16 arms, neck-chains, and some utensils for tobacco and betel chewing, which they make out of roots, and also plait from the fibres of the pandanus. They also tatoo their bodies, some using the needle, and others making long cuts or gashes in the skin, which form scars or wheals.” As to whether the Aieta were in the Stone or Bronze Age of culture at the time of the Malayo invasion, archeologists differ in opinion, some maintaining that all bronze or copper implements found in excavations and burial-caves were the handiwork of the Tagalo, or were introduced by the Chinese. This is probably the correct opinion, as, when we consider what a crude form of culture was theirs, and how they have never within historic times shown a desire to benefit by the superior arts and knowledge of the dominant race, it is very improbable that they ever invented the art of working metals, and thus raising themselves from the Neolithic Stone Culture to that of the Bronze Era. Craniologists tell us that the Aieta, in common with so many primitive races, are both prognathous and dolicho-cephalic. From measurements made by Dr. Semper it would appear that the average brain-weight of the Aieta crania is 40·53 ounces. The average, deduced from the capacity of two hundred and ten crania of different Oceanic races, is 45·63 ounces.
The Aieta are reported to be of a savage and ferocious character, indolent, independent, and averse to the civilisation of their aggressors. “They are peculiarly wild, and impatient of control; thus they are not easily organised, and so readily fall under the power of the Malays. 12 Without any significant trade, without agriculture, the roots of wild plants, the fish of the sea and rivers, and the chaseable animals of the forest, form their exclusive food. They move about in troops of six to eight families where a root of which they are fond ripens in abundance, or a desired kind of fish appears in shoals on the shore. The implements they use in fishing and the chase are at the same time their weapons. They penetrate into the thickest forest in search of wild honey. The wax they press into cakes and barter for glass beads, rice, and tobacco. But soon are the rice and the honey consumed, and then the old wanderer goes again from one place to another, restless and without repose, sometimes to the sea, sometimes into the deepest mountain defiles, in search of whatever may sustain life.”13
These people can only reckon up to five in counting, in common with many other Negrito tribes. Their name for the Tagalo is “Tao” or “men,” and their own name Aieta is from the Tagalo word for “black” (Ita).14 The social organisation of the race is evidently patriarchal, and the oldest man holds authority as chief. The habitation of the Aieta are of the most primitive description, for they only - 17 build frail huts of branches and palm leaves, and often do not trouble themselves that much, but merely rest at night beneath a tree or around a camp fire. This roving life is a natural sequence of the hunting stage of culture; they are continually roaming through the forest in search of food, their camp fires being the gathering point at which are left the old and infirm people. The dog is their only domesticated animal. The poison for their arrows they obtain from the bark of a certain tree by a process of boiling, the poison when prepared being in the form of a thick paste, in which state it is smeared on the arrow heads. The dress of this people is simplicity itself, consisting generally of merely a girdle round the waist. The unmarried women sometimes wear a kind of scarf or shawl round the shoulders. In ancient times they made a coarse material from the fibre of the abaco or bandala (musa textilis, or Manila hemp) and also from the anana (pine-apple) fibre. “Their ornaments are earrings, armlets, anklets, and necklaces composed of wood, or woven of wood fibrils, or of the pandanus leaf.15 In common with the Innuit and some other hyperborean tribes the Aieta are omophagoi, or raw-eaters, and they never appear to think of providing for the future. When food is plentiful they eat voraciously, and at other times suffer greatly from famine. Regarding one article of food in the Philippines—namely, the sweet potato—it is a long disputed point as to whether it was indigenous in the East Indies, or whether it was introduced from America. The Peruvian name for it was cumar,16 the Mexican camotli, the Tagalo camote. It may be that the latter term was derived from camotli by the Spanish, and adopted in the Philippines for the plant already known there. Crawfurd and other authorities claim that it is a native of the East. Ignatius Donnelly, in “Atlantis,” quotes an extract from the work of a traveller in the Yang-tse-Kiang Valley, who maintains that potatoes, maize, and tobacco have been cultivated in that region from the earliest times. Dr. Witmack says that the sweet potato has two names in Sanskrit, ruktaloo and sharkarakanda.
Marriage among the Aieta is a somewhat unrefined ceremony. On selecting a woman the suitor gives notice to her parents, and a day is appointed on which the woman is sent into the forest with one hour's start. If the suitor finds and returns with her to the camp before sunset the couple are considered legally married according to Aieta views. If, on the other hand, the lady has any objection to the would-be husband and conceals herself effectually in the jungle the suitor then forfeits all right to her. In the disposal of the dead the Aieta resemble many savage tribes, American and African. Above the grave they suspend the bow and arrows of the deceased, in the - 18 belief that every night he will leave it to go hunting. When a man is wounded by a poisoned arrow, or has an incurable malady, he is, in many cases, buried alive.
The religion of the Aieta is a kind of Shamanism, and consists of Nature and ancestor worship. They venerate the memory of the dead, and visit the graves of relatives for years. Chiefs who have made themselves feared and respected in life, are looked upon after death as god-like beings. Their ideas of religious worship are, of course, crude and indistinct. They will reverence for a day, any rock or tree of an unusual shape, and then the object is deserted for another. And here we are reminded of the amount of singular knowledge in existence in various localities, but not yet available to students and lovers of anthropology. Travellers to a great extent despise, and therefore misunderstand, the primitive religions and superstitions of remote and little known peoples. The rites and ceremonies of such races are often an echo, though faint and confused, from prehistoric ages. Who, among the lovers of the noble science of anthropology, that has read of the strange relics of a bygone Polynesian civilisation, but must feel that the manners, customs, and traditions of the successors of that ancient race are worthy of the deepest study. They are the remnants, however incomplete, of a long vanished period. Almost all primitive religions consist of worship paid to Nature and her operations. Mythology is the effort of uncivilised man to explain the mysteries of creation; and if the race advances in civilisation, the mythological cultus is improved. Man, in his primordial state, requires some tangible object to worship, for an abstract idea is beyond his comprehension. His imagination rises to the occasion, and imbues inanimate objects with mysterious powers, and conjures up visions of evil spirits in the primeval forest, the gloomy canyon, or on the lonely mountain peaks. “Imagination is one of the most important faculties of the human mind; without it we could not grasp the Abstract, resist Impulse, rise to Duty, or desire the Unknown. And yet a dangerous faculty, one of the most effective causes of Degradation, the very root of Idolatry, as witness the dependence of the human mind on outward symbols, and the tendency to identify symbols with what they represent.”17 The religion of Mahomet, introduced from Borneo by the Malays, was received with indifference in the Philippines, and when the Spanish padres arrived from New Spain, they cast the seeds of their faith on sterile soil, in which the tree of Christianity refused to bear fruit. For religious doctrines have little effect on a people unless preceded by intellectual culture.
The Aieta, as a nation, are doomed. They are gradually being absorbed by the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes around them, and the time is not very far distant when the indigenes of the “Islas del Filipinas “will be a memory of the past, as are the Guanche and the Tasmanian. - 19 The time during which we may collect information of these old world peoples is fast slipping away, yet a little while and it will be too late. These aborigines, so little known to the world, are well worthy the interest of the ethnologist. Their undoubted antiquity and ancient language, their singular legends and customs of a remote past, their stolid conservatism in the face of their approaching destiny, all combine to render them a peculiarly interesting race. From their rugged mountain homes on the colossal vertebræ of the country, they have looked down for many generations upon the sanguinary encounters between the two races of their invaders. They have seen their old time foes conquered by the hated caras blancas; they see their homes of the dim long ago occupied by an alien people; they recall the ancient freedom of their race, and hear, in the sullen monotone of the distant ocean, their eternal requiem.
1 Callender's Collection of Voyages.
2 “Descubrimiento de las Islas de Salomon.”
4 “Sucesesos de las Islas Filipinas.” Mexico, 1606.
5 Pinekerton's Collection, vol. xi.
6 “Die Philippinen und ihre Bewohner.”—Dr. C. Semper, 1869.
7 “Twenty Years in the Philippines.”
8 “Primitive Folk,” E. Reclus.
9 Jagor, “Travels in the Philippines.”
10 Thevenot, “Voyages Curieux.”
11 Wood's “Natural History of Man.”
12 Brace. “Races of the Old World.”
13 “Die Philippinen and ihre Bewohner.”
14 Malay, hêtam.
15 Featherman. “Social History of the Races of Mankind.”
16 Compare the Polynesian name for sweet potato—kumara and umara.—Editors.
17 Argyle. “Primeval Man.”