National Geographic : 1942 Feb
Facts about the Philippines antialien land laws, their hemp-growing colony numbers around 18,000 Japanese. At Davao they built a consulate. Here in normal times their merchant ships dock to unload Japanese-made goods for retail shops run by Japanese, and to load hemp, coconut oil, dried fish, and other products for Japan. Tea houses, schools, parks, shrines, experi mental farms, costumes, speech, even the beer, are all Japanese. Good roads traverse Minda nao, a "big green spot on the path of the Southern Cross." "Cleanest, best-kept hemp fields I saw anywhere in the islands lie around Davao," reads a line from the notebook of our keen eyed cameraman. "Here Japanese boss every thing, but most of the hard field work was being done by the Filipinos. I saw Filipino women hanging out the hemp to dry, after it had been stripped on machines made in Ger many. Japanese villages lie between the big plantations." Filipino Home Seekers Migrate to Mindanao Because parts of Luzon and Cebu are so overcrowded, and because vast, rich Mindanao is so thinly populated, the Philippine Govern ment aids migration here and land settlement. This movement is growing. Thousands of families, it is planned, will finally be home steaded or "resettled" in the fertile valleys of Mindanao. The Moros, however, still make up about 25 per cent of all Mindanao's population; they look with sullen eyes on this Christian invasion. Much of this land they claim, as our Plains Indians claimed their buffalo lands, not by right of title recorded in books, but by tribal heritage. Some 29,000 Japanese now live in the Philip pines, as against 117,500 Chinese. In times past, without any doubt, the slant-eyed sons of Nippon were less unpopular than the Chinese. But since there are some 16,000,000 Fili pinos, speaking 87 dialects, it is difficult to say just "what the Filipinos thought of the Japanese" before this war started. Some few young Filipinos have gone to Japan to study aviation, scientific fishing, and agriculture. One or two subversive move ments in the Philippines were probably di rected by Filipino radicals living in Japan. Among Filipinos, too, there are a very few who may feel that the white man's day in Asia is over, and that they may as well cast their lot with the Japanese. Till now, however, almost all educated Fili pinos merely looked on the Japanese as a thrifty, sharp-trading foreign element that controlled most of the deep-sea fishing, were developing a giant hemp industry in Davao, gaining a foothold in lumbering, and spread ing an annual $10,500,000 worth of their cheap rubber-soled shoes, cotton cloth, crockery, toys, and other manufactured goods about the vil lage markets. Sugar Is the Biggest Crop Small Negros Island, near the heart of the group, grows more than 75 per cent of all the annual Philippine sugar crop of one million tons. In a big year the crop has been 1,500, 000 tons, but production is now controlled for quota reasons (page 193). Near by, east, is poor, overcrowded, recently bombed Cebu Island, where Spain started her first Philippine colony in 1565. Across the strait from Cebu is tiny Mactan Island, where Magellan fell in 1521. Northwest from Negros is Panay, another poor island. From here, and from Cebu, some 200,000 hungry workers go each season to Negros to work in cane fields and sugar mills. Sailing along Negros coast, you see some vast cane fields, looking from a distance like tall corn. They spread from the coast back into the foothills. High smokestacks from sugar mills, or centrals, rise here and there. Some 2,000,000 Filipinos earn their living working with cane. Twice that many work with coconuts, which are scattered all over the islands. Sugar cane grows mostly on Negros, Luzon, Panay, and Cebu. The Government-owned Manila Railroad earns 333 per cent of its income derived from freight from hauling cane and sugar, and sugar is the leading export of the islands. Sea Roads to the Philippines Sea routes that link us with the Philippines are vital, not only to our welfare in peace times, but now to our national defense. Were certain essential raw materials cut off by lack of steamers to the East, our Nation's continued existence might be in jeopardy. From the Philippines we import much hemp, chromite, coconut oil, sugar, and some manga nese. Rubber, tin, and quinine may reach us from Singapore and Java by way of Manila. You can think of Manila as the hub of our Pacific transportation wheel. To the islands, directly, we send canned milk, cigarettes, steel, oil, machinery, flour, meat, and many supplies for our Army and Navy based there. To a degree, also, in normal times, Manila is our distributing center for many other Far East markets.