George Percival Scriven:
An American in Bohol, The Philippines, 1899-1901

An On-line Archival Collection
Special Collections Library, Duke University


Section Four



{31}
resistance. The delegation requested Major Hale to leave his troops and take their carriage to town, <but when> this was declined, and the absence of the President remarked, the conference on the shore ended amidst numerous handshakings and salaams which, however, did not cover [i.e. convey?] any great amount of credibility, and the natives withdrew. It was a strange scene <the [next?] morning> on the sandy shore of this little inlet bending like a scycle [sic ] between the palm covered heights of two almost unknown islands <of the [illegible ] seas>, the long line of <coral beach dotted with> armed men stretching away at intervals <to the trees> and already extended inland to prevent attack, the dark skinned group of natives, deeply moved at the enforced surrender of their pretty land to an alien and stranger <race> the little band of American officers dripping from the sea <but with grave faces [attending?]> the commander <of the expedition> who kindly, but with firm words made clear to all, that he came as the representative of his country to take possession of the land in the name of the United States and humanly speaking forever.
The delegation <Here insert brackets> withdrew, and after a few necessary dispositions of the men, and instructions to begin unloading the stores Major Hale with the three officers I have mentioned and a small escort started for the capital of the island. It was a beautiful walk along a well made road often cut from the living rock and lined with delicate foliage through which on the left a frequent view of the straight [sic] between the islands could be seen with the wooded shores of Panglao(?) beyond. Pretty cottages of bamboo here and there peeped from the cocoanut

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palms by the wayside, and pleasant faced people <saluted us politely or> peeped at us shyly as we passed. They showed no fear of the strangers, these well looking people, their huts were not deserted, and even the women and children continued quietly <at> their work as if nothing unusual were happening. And so through the hot breathless morning we continued until the huts became more frequent and there appeared before us a bamboo gate which marked the confines of the town. Here an incident happened. As we approached -- the four officers in advance -- a carriage drove smartly up to the barrier and a tall man wearing an opera hat, evening dress and with a red sash around his waist and a dandified cane in his hand jumped to the ground approached & stopped. We all stopped halted and saluted, and the [arrival?] standing in the middle of the road in the full blaze of the morning sun, explained <with dignity> that he was the President of the Provisional Republic of Bohol; that in accordance with the decree of the council he had come to surrender the government to the Americans but that he did so under protest and because there was no recourse. The people of Bohol had no guns and could not resist; they were suffering because their ports were closed and food was scarce and dear. He held in his hand the protest of the government, and desired to proceed to the Government House and there read it and make the formal surrender in the presence of the Council and chief men. And so with Major Hale on one side of the Governor, the writer on the other, the two other officers and escort following in rear, we marched up the road towards the great church, thence across the plaza and to

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the Government House above whose entrance hung the scutcheon of Bohol, an ellipse bearing a sun rising above three mountain peaks and with three stars above, surrounded by the legend "Gobierno Republicano de Bohol," the whole bordered by the colors white, red, and blue from inside out. No flag was flying from the staff, but a squad of native soldiers or police wearing the blue and white striped uniforms <of the Spaniards> and carrying a lance and long knife or bolo was drawn up in front and saluted as we passed in, our own escort remaining at rest outside. Passing on through the stone sally port with guard room at the side and past the gloomy windows of the prison <cells> where the faces of the native prisoners gazed out at us through the bars, we, still accompanied by the President ascended to a large room looking out upon church and plaza, and found ourselves in the presence of the assembled dignity of Bohol.
Perhaps forty or fifty men were gathered together in this large bare room, ornamented only -- if the word may be used -- by a wretchedly flat and wooden painting of Aguinaldo done in uniform; all stood expectant and all <were> deeply impressed <by the simple scene and indeed> the gravity of the occasion was evident <[...illegible...] of a quarter of million of people and of a government>, and it would perhaps be difficult to imagine a group in which the actors were more deeply affected than <the natives> here. All were quiet, dignified and grave, and emotion showed not only merely in the

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Evidently the devotion of the people of the island to Aguinaldo was extreme
amounting almost to worship. Everywhere his picture was displayed and copies of his celebrated decree of January 8, 1899 exhibited. It was a hard blow to them to be forbidden to honor, or help further, their patriot [...illegible...]

To the Presidente -- Your protest is of no avail. I have the force to take your island and I have done so. Sat., in Gov't House on approach.

The president of the town asked if their flag might fly beside our own, the answer was that there was but one flag now in the island that of the United States. Saturday in Govt House.

Next day Major Hale met the headmen and again recurred to their expression of fear that they would become slaves, and said that after fighting for years to free <her> slaves the United States was the last country of the world to enslave others. Sunday meeting.


The protest against surrender having been read and delivered and the brief speeches ended, the formal meeting dissolved and <presently> the practical questions of the quartering of the men, unloading of the stores and details of occupation arranged with the people. Presently the remainder of the troops <came marching into town &> just behind them <the telegraph which> the Signal Corps detachment which <had> in about <some> fifty minutes after landing had carried the from <the shore> landing place to the capital, a distance of about a mile and a half

{37} [continued from p. 35 ]
voice but in the eye. All were standing <Everybody stood>, the four Americans together and in front of the Presidente, the others grouped in rear, but two or three persons only spoke. <First> The President began by reading in pidgin supposed English the protest <of the council> against surrender of the island; this was <the words were> incomprehensible, but the meaning of all was clear enough. The provisional government surrendered the island which had in a manner been delivered to it in trust by Aguinaldo, not because it wished to do so but because it was forced <by superior power> so to do. They had no arms they could not resist, therefore they <must> yielded. The reply was clear [an arrow here points to the passage on p. 36 that begins "To the Presidente..."] The American troops had have come under the my command of Major Hale as representative of the Government of the United States to take possession of the island and to protect the people; we come as friends and not as enemies; but that all allegiance to Aguinaldo must be renounced, <all contributions cease. Henceforth Bohol become a part of the U.S. forever.> The proceedings were brief, the protest read by the President -- who spoke English -- was delivered to Major Hale; a few short brief remarks were made by the President of the town of Tagbilaran, the other & by the Councillor [sic] of Justice, a Tagallo [sic] but one who had lived for thirty years in Bohol and an able man. He seemed to fear not that he should become a citizen of the United States but a slave as he expressed it, and so with others who seemed to think that they would be deprived of their liberties and reduced to virtual slavery. They were told that their liberties would be respected, and the words seemed to cheer them. Indeed since then <it was soon evident that> the more the people learned of the strangers & of their new country the more reconciled they became to the soldiers & to the loss of their shadow of independence. And so it is hoped will the feeling of contentment grow.

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and placed headquarters in telephonic communication with the shore station and thence with the ships by flag. Probably it was the first application of electricity ever seen on Bohol, and the Presidente inquired with some anxiety about danger to the people from the wire. Then at one o'clock with troops drawn up in line <and presenting arms> the flag was raised above the Government House and the island of Bohol became formally a part of the <territory of> United States of America. Finished above

Practical questions relating to the occupation of the island and on the quartering of the troops, treatment of the people, <and the> landing of the stores now occupied attention, and it soon became evident that the people though uncertain of our [wants?] were friendly, and <that> the President Mr. Bernabi Reyes, a man of very superior ability and education <had> accepted the inevitable and was prepared to do all in his power to assist the new government. The men were quartered temporarily in the school buildings; houses were rented for officers and store rooms, the Government House was taken for offices, <and a hospital established.> Men were prohibited forbidden from entering to enter native houses huts, an order was issued prohibiting the sale of tuba -- the fermented juice of the cocoanut, a tarif [sic] schedule was arranged <announced> fixing the prices of certain ordinary commodities; natives were directed to cleanse their premises, and to make certain sanitary dispositions and a rigid inspection and cleansing sanitation of buildings <was> instituted by the surgeon of the command Captain C. L. Furbush. At his desire also native children were sent to him the hospital for vaccination <and on> the day after our arrival

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