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

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

Section One

Note about the web version of this diary:

What follows is transcribed text from George Percival Scriven's Bohol Diary. The journal was written partly as a personal memoir and partly as a draft or notes for a book that he was planning on writing. Because of this, the journal jumps from a personal narrative to various drafts for paragraphs that describe the invasion and occupation of Bohol Island. The order and flow of Scriven's writing have been preserved.
In this presentation for the web, the diary has been divided into nine sections so that it is easier to view and retrieve via the net. The breaks are made arbitrarily at about every ten pages. They are not divided by subject matter nor were the original sections denoted by Scriven himself. You may proceed through the diary in order, or skip directly to a particular section via the links at the bottom of each of the web pages. The <angle bracket> symbols around particular words indicate that those words were in the margins or inserted outside the lines of the text. The words that appear crossed out here were crossed out by Scriven in the diary. In this transcription, word spellings were kept as they were in the original. The accompanying photos are not part of the Scriven collection, but were derived from other collections in the Duke University Special Collections Library.

Tagbilaran, Island of Bohol,
Philippine Islands, Sunday Morning,
March 25, 1900,
The Hospital.

I have been here, in the hospital I mean, sick with a fever six days now, and am beginning to feel really better this morning though weak. I seem to have had a pretty sharp attack of Dengue fever with a great deal of pain for two or three days and much weakness but thanks to skilful treatment and the great care of Dr. (Captain) C.L. Furbush, of the 44th Vol. Infantry, seem fairly in the road to recovery, which means a good deal to a man playing Robinson Crusoe -- with some two hundred others -- on this hitherto unknown island of the archipelago.
Still it is hard to imagine, as I write in the cool, well shaded room of the house we have

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taken as a hospital that the little command under Major Hale is as absolutely cut off from the world as is the case, without means of communication with the other islands, except by native's boat, with no transport of its own, no cables, simply provisioned for two months and tossed on the shore of an unknown island, to meet and control conditions of which no knowledge could be previously obtained and with two companies of infantry to protect, control, [mould?], overawe if necessary, a population of something like two hundred and fifty thousand natives who for nearly two years have lived under their own independent government. However, as I say, it is a pretty house -- this hospital -- in all but its name; surrounded by bananas and topped by [feathery?] palms it is a true lodge in a wilderness from our point of view, whereas from another it occupies a corner of a street that for cleanness and straightness might belong to a New England village, and on this bright Sunday morning, as the people return in groups from church, has the moral air of that great land, an [inner?] breath of peace and good will to men stealing out as it were over a sunshine and heat such as New England never felt. Indeed the groups returning from church are good to look upon, all dressed in their best, clean and sober minded, the men usually without hats and bare-footed, but wearing oftentimes a light coat, [otherwise?] the inevitable shirt and trousers, the women with bare feet as a rule, and perhaps [slippers?], with black shirts and over their heads a garment

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not unlike the head dress of the Breton peasants, with a stiff piece over the head like an Italian [illegible ] and a long white veil trimmed or embroidered at the edges, a picturesque garment, but goulish [sic ] as the shades of evening fall and a silent c[ ] comes moving down the street from vesper service.
The Bojolanos are a pleasant people, larger and of lighter color than the natives of other islands of the Visayas whom I have seen, and with more open and intelligent faces. They appear friendly and respectful but are very shy. The women are modest in appearance and prettier than others, they have finer complexions and their mouths and teeth do not seem as fouled by the use of beetle-nut; they are larger, too, with more curves to their figures and flesh on their bones than have the willowy, bamboo shaped houris of Panay. They seem very modest and unsophisticated too and Dr. Furbush is [authority?] for saying there is no venereal disease on the island -- pretty well for nearly 250 thousand people. Certainly it is a primitive Robinson Crusoe kind of an island in Arcadia now that the Spaniard has gone. But alas the snake has entered Paradise, small pox is rampant, and dysentery and fevers plentiful enough. Doctors there seem to be none, but a medicine woman or man here do their practices on the miseries of the sick. One little child dying of dysentery the doctor found with a green leaf tied to its leg, and its chest sprinkled with tea leaves. But what can they do for things, it is the best they have. This child died in spite of all the doctor could do, and he worked hard over it, and the poor mother almost a child herself was frustrated with grief for her first-born. The father, however, seemed stolid and indifferent, but it seems was [reproved?] for his callousness by the sympathy

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of neighbors, hard as it seems that these people are not heartless to their own as there is reason to believe the case with many of the Malays. In fact their lighter color, larger frames and well nourished bodies, well developed and rounded limbs seem to indicate a better type than the skinny monkey like inhabitants of Panay, and the quantity of clothing worn especially by women, the more graceful flowing garments and set of the clothes seem to indicate a nearer affinity to European ideas amongst the Bojolanos than elsewhere in the Visayas.
(These latter notes were added Tuesday March 27. I am still confined to the hospital: my ninth day, but I am much better and hope soon to cross the island to Tubigon, thence to Cebu by banca.)
See page 12
Now for a somewhat continued narrative of the occupation of Bohol by the forces of the United States which may be called the Passing or
The Collapse of a Republic
Towards the middle of March 1900 the United States had progressed so far in the road to actual possession of the new territory acquired in the East by the Treaty of Paris that our troops were occupying the attention of rebellious natives on five of the principal islands of the Philippine archipelago; we were in peaceful possession of a foot hold on two more in the extreme south, had captured the little island of Romblon by force of arms, and were about to occupy the Surigao district of northern Mindanao. But there remained some six or seven thousand
<other> islands <of> which we had seen only the shores and <mountain tops> and even in the Visayas where the struggle for independence had lacked the inspiration of the presence of the fitful Aguinaldo, intermediate and [illegible] though it was, only Cebu, Negros, and Panay -- besides insignificant Romblon -- had felt the hand and enjoyed the dollar of the American. But at this time great activity was shown
At this time the great, if somewhat ill defined original Visayas Military District occupying the center of the Philippine group appears to have been curtailed by the occupation from Luzon of the islands of Leyte and Samar, cutting them off from the middle group of the archipelago and leaving the Visayas composed -- from a military point of view -- of Panay, Negros, Cebu <& Bojol> since Masbate was at this time a kind of no man's land and Paragua and smaller islands did not enter the count.

*Now of Bohol nothing really was known, the few poor books on the Visayas, like the maps, gave valueless outlines of doubtful facts; visitors to the island were infrequent, and their information vague, and trustworthy guides were not to be found. The island had been shut within itself for more than a year, and it was known to have its own government, its own laws, its police and its church; and it was known to have maintained its people from native aggression from without and to have maintained its republican state within the greater native Republic <for more than a year. It contained about a quarter of a million of people.

other islands of which we had seen only the shores and the mountain tops; and even in the Visayas, where the struggle for independence had lacked from the first the inspiration of the presence of the fitful Aguinaldo only Cebu, Negros and Panay -- besides insignificant Romblon -- had felt the hand and enjoyed the dollar of the American. However great activity was being shown by our troops and the time for the occupation of the important outlying islands, hitherto unnoticed, had come. An expedition from the north had taken possession of Leyte and Samar, cutting them off in a military sense from the great middle Kingdom of the Visayas & reducing that ill defined district which [originally?] occupied the center of the archipelago to practically the four islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Bohol, in addition to Masbate (whose time had not yet come) and Paragua, and smaller groups that were a sort of No-Man's Land.
On Panay, Negros & Cebu, troops had for months been stationed and governments established; but Bojol was an unknown land, and on March 14, Major H.C. Hale with companies B & C, 44th Volunteer Infantry sailed from Iloilo on board the transport Elcano to take possession of the island and to protect its inhabitants. This expedition I had the privilege of accompanying in connection with certain work of my [illegible] corps.

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