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

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

Section Two

(2 Now of Bohol little really was known for in all probability no American's foot had yet brushed its shores. The few poor books on the Visayas, like the maps, gave valueless outlines of doubtful facts, visitors from the island were infrequent, and information attainable even in Cebu was vague. Trustworthy guide[s] could not be [found?] and such knowledge as was possessed by Americans came for the most part from observations made by the navy and others along the coast and from foreign, chiefly English, merchants who had in former times traded with the Boholano ports. But the island had been shut within itself for more than a year, its ports were closed, and beyond the fact that a government existed that was believed to be not unfriendly to the United States, that there was an armed force of indefinite strength which had successfully protected the people from disorder within and from native aggression without, that there were laws and a [church?], little was really known of the republic which stood as a sort of state within a state, and a part of Aguinaldo's great informal confederation. Of the real character and temper of this quarter of a million of people who inhabited the island, nothing was understood.
4 The time had come to crash the shell of Bohol's isolation and to add her to the group of sister islands already received into the fold -- for this purpose Major H.C. Hale, 44 U.S. Volunteers with two companies, B & C, of that regiment were selected to take possession of Bohol and protect its people, and on March 14,
See page 15 [p. 25 below ]

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Tagbilaran, Tuesday Wednesday March 27 28, 1900
I returned an hour or two ago from a charming drive with Dr. Furbush to a little place on the south coast called Baclayon, where half of one company of Major Hale's command has been placed. It is a most charming little town dropped down upon the shores of the sea and facing a far away island looking green and romantic across the blue intervening waters, broken into white crests under the whip of the sharp sea breeze, but nearer shore blowing in ripples of clearest crystal over the coral sand, with here and there a patch of beautiful color which makes the shore at times the rival of the feathery background of palms and bananas rising behind the quaint huts and white convent and church of the village itself. It was market day to-day and from all parts of the island had come men and women to sell and buy beneath the overhanging [porch?] of the old stone market place.People had come too from neighboring towns of the coast in canoes and larger boats, and indeed even the wild birds seem[ed] to loiter on the shore to enjoy the scene, for there as the tide ebbed and flowed were blue herons and white [stalking?] amongst the shallows, waders of various kinds and here and there a long nosed curlew feeding well apparently on the abundant marine life. A charming spot on a summer morning with its great stone church, surrounded by gigantic old trees, that run down almost to the sea, and form a

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natural park, beautiful and stately [illegible]. Here by the church, are the barracks of our men, in a long one story stone building, part of which is also the school house of the boys. Here we found the little fellows under the charge of a pleasant-looking native teacher going through the rudiments of reading or arithmetic at the tops of their voices as the custom is in Spanish schools. Both Spanish and Visayan seemed taught. In the main church building was the school for little girls, and here too a pleasant-faced young woman teacher -- a native -- came forward to greet us. The priest who at this time was showing us about was a <former priest was> Recollect friar so he said, and seemed quite content with his flock and its surroundings, pointing out the stables cut from the living rock in rear of the church, and where a number of excellent horses stood in the stone stalls <sedan chair>. The church is evidently a rich one and has silver lamps and a beautiful altar piece show[ing] that here as ever it has known how to keep its control of the imaginations of these poor people. Indeed the magnificence or rather the grandeur of the churches on this little island have [sic] astonished me. Nearly all of stone and of good size they make a strong contrast to the bamboo huts of the people. But these too seem clean and suit them somehow, and the idea of poverty and squalor is never

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associated with them. But on Bohol the houses are often of wood and of a very good class; the people show every evidence of comfort, and well being; the expression of their faces is open and kindly and for the most part they seem well fed. The women are very modest and wear more and better clothing than the bean poles of Panay, and the men though wearing often a mere [idea?], still manage to appear modest. The better class of men wear coat and trousers like other civilized people.
However, to continue more connectedly, Dr. Furbush and I started about 6:45 A.M. in a Quilis (or [Hudrik?]) drawn by our shaft and our four horses, and beautiful indeed was the morning as we plunged along the rock road by the water leading from this town to the bridges and forking continuing the one branch to Daoiss(?) and the island across the straight [sic], the other along the south coast; a more beautiful drive can hardly be imagined at any time with the green waving forest on one side and the blue ocean on the other of an almost perfect road cut from the living rock itself in places, at others running over the surface or perhaps crossing a quaint little Spanish bridge ancient and time worn. It was the first time I had been out of the hospital since a week from the preceding Monday (except for a few hours at sunset last evening) nine days in all, and so the charm of the morning was heightened. On we went keeping close by the sea, passing an occasional hut, where alas ever we saw the yellow flag indicating small-pox the great curse of this region which Dr. Furbush has so designated by decree of

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the Presidente. Then after looking at the barracks and school at Baclayon, on we continued a few miles up the coast, always following the same good road running amidst the same picturesque scenes, with a hut or larger house here and there a horse, or group of cattle or caribao and always comfort; now and again a bamboo chapel was placed along the road as if the grand churches of the larger towns were not enough for these religious people. About three miles away at a large barrio where was a church and a large convent or monastery we halted, having gone far enough. Here we found a cuartel of the police or really the native soldiery, and as usual a few spears and bolos, besides some of the little flower pot cannon which are used, I believe, at celebrations and stand upright when fired. In this barracks were a few soldiers and police, but they were very civil and allowed us to examine everything. There was a villainous picture of Aguinaldo on the wall and a copy or two framed and in Spanish and Visayan of Aguinaldo's Proclamation of Jan'y 8, 1899. All of course highly treasonable but [objects?] they did not make the slightest attempt to conceal, and in which they found no harm. The great building near the church formerly occupied by the Frailes or monks seemed now partly unoccupied, but was in a good state of repair.

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