National Geographic : 1898 Jun
288 NOTES ON SOME PRIMITIVE PHILIPPINE TRIBES At the time of my first visit I was unable to learn anything as to conditions in the interior from the half dozen officials who with a few friars and a couple of Spanish merchants constituted the Spanish population of the island. I was informed, however, that the Mangyans were head-hunters and cannibals. We began our explorations at a most unfortunate time. The rainfall is enormous in this island, and the rains were just be ginning at the time of our arrival. The daily showers increased in duration and violence until they became almost continuous, and finally, after thirteen days and nights of uninterrupted downpour, we beat a retreat. We returned to the island a second and yet a third time, how ever, and profiting by our first experience, began operations at the commencement of the dry season. By utilizing canoes where streams were sufficiently deep, and by tramping along their dry beds when water failed, we were able to quickly pene trate to the very center of the island. We found that most of the surface details given on our charts were incorrect, and ex plored two large rivers where, according to the charts, no rivers should have been. The Mangyans fled at our approach, but we eventually suc ceeded in gaining their confidence, and found that the alarming accounts which we had heard of them had very little founda tion in fact. They proved perfectly harmless when decently treated. The men were clad in the usual clout, and in that alone. The dress of the women is different from that of any other Philippine tribe. It consists of numerous coils of a cord braided of split rattan, or other similar vegetable substance, wound around the body at the hips and supporting a clout of bark. This bark is made soft by careful pounding between stones, and at a short distance it looks exactly like cloth. The cord is usually stained black, although a kind woven in black and yellow check is especially prized. Girl babies are provided with two or three coils as soon as they can toddle, and the quantity is constantly added to as time goes by, so that the appearance presented by some of the old women is ludicrous in the extreme. This cord usually constitutes the only earthly treasure of the wearer, although the women some times ornament themselves with armlets or anklets of twisted rattan and beads made from the seeds of plants. Coins, copper wire, and bits of bright metal are highly prized as ornaments, but feathers are never used.