Tuesday, June 14, 2005
: . More Images from Filipinas 1847
How the inhabitants of lowland Christian Philippines dressed, danced, spoke, sang, played, kissed, and mourned and buried their dead in 1847. From an album of watercolors by letras y figuras artist Jose Honorato Lozano, about whom very little is known, not even the date of his birth and of his death. The album was sold to the Biblioteca Nacional de España in the late nineteenth century but was completely unknown to Filipino art historians until January 2000, when Regalado Trota Jose, scholar of Philippine colonial religious art and architecture, saw it exhibited in Madrid, mainly for his benefit, by the library's Fine Arts Section Director. The find offered proof that a large number of major Philippine works of art are yet to be discovered even in the most likely places and in more surprising venues, like Antiques Roadshow where another Lozano album was found. It also proved that eager art collectors haven't even gotten close to picking clean the flea markets, galleries, and auction houses of Europe and the Americas, a task thought to have already been accomplished in the 1970s. The hefty, expensive (even in the Philippines where it costs close to 5,000 pesos), and hard to find book where the album has been reproduced in its entirety was published to familiarize Filipinos with historically significant, if aesthetically unremarkable, works of art uncovered (by Filipinos) only in the past two decades. For good or ill, few Filipinos will ever get to see or read the book in a country where even middle class booklovers find books costing a few hundred pesos to be beyond their means. Even in the United States, I believe less than five libraries, mainly those with large Southeast Asian collections, own copy of the book in their stacks and only two or three of the many US-based Filipiniana bookshops offer the book for sale -- and at exorbitant prices. Of course, Lozano painted for the very wealthy or for outgoing foreign businessmen, tourists, and colonial officials so they can fondly remember their brief sojourn in the tropics. Even in his lifetime, few of his "countrymen" saw his works. Hopefully, a few more will see them through this post.
Burial of a Child
The demise of a member of a native family is an occasion for festivity and rejoicing. The moment one becomes terminally ill, the natives start making preparations for the event, including the food to be served on the day of the death. This must undoubtedly be the reason behind the profanity with which cadavers are often brought to the cemetery. They are always carried on an open stretcher, on the shoulders of four men, with the dead wearing the habit of St. Francis if the deceased is male, or of the nuns if female. These are carried on the run, and if the carriers are either happy or drunk, they shout a lot as if they were coachmen. This is a sad spectacle which is offensive and lacks the respect due to the dead. It is surely strange that the open stretchers have not been transformed into closed boxes [coffins] to ensure that they are carried with due respect. The Chinese bring their dead to the cemetery in closed boxes [coffins] that four carriers bear with two tingas [carrying poles]. Another Chinese, while scattering papers on the floor [Chinese characters for the name of the deceased are written on them] leads the procession.
Transporting cadavers on public roads must also be avoided, especially in the afternoon or in the early morning when these are very busy or crowded. Upon hearing the music, one is sure that it is the burial of an infant. The poor people bring the infant to the head of the procession, placed on a tray like a cake or a sweet. At the corners of the procession body, there are four sharply dressed young men, wearing the clothes of saints with much aplomb. The richer or wealthier ones are brought around to the sounds of musicians and in the manner that the drawing shows. They are always dressed as bishops or saints, and sometimes represent the figure of San Sebastian. It is easy to deduce the lengths that they go to keep the cadaver upright. The families follow behind, the women wearing mantos [mantles] or a similar black cloth, the men wearing scarves or ribbons of the same color round their neck.
Europeans and mestizos inter their dead by bringing the body from the church to the cemetery in a casket, loaded on a carriage with the relatives and friends following behind the carriage. The number of participants can vary as can the formality, depending on the social status of the deceased.
The natives are not fond of dancing if that what is moving at a certain speed is called. They sing and dance the cundiman and the cumintang. Although some use castanets in certain dance steps and show a certain amount of liveliness, these are undoubtedly modern additions. This is because their dances are some kind of pantomime in which they sing. With their actions, the dancers express the words that are being enunciated, but with such a lilt [accent] and such languidness that they look as they are dying or possessed by great sentiments.
There are also other dances similar to these called sacamanteca, talindao, and lagrimas o sentimiento [tears or feelings], which are truly pantomimes as in this latter dance, the female dancer sits on a chair pretending to be asleep or to have fainted. This lasts until with his words and gestures, and using his hat for effect, the male dancer is able to wake her up or revive her. There are some professional male and female dancers who go to houses when there are functions. There, they usually dance the bolero, the fandango and other Spanish dances, the waltz and even the mazurka. The mestizas and some native women also the dance the contradanza as well as the waltzes. What is astonishing is that their silver- and gold- embroidered chapines or chinelas [slippers] seldom fall off in spite of the fact that these are held only by their toes.
The harp without pedals is the favorite instrument of the natives.
Manila Native Woman
Depending on the number of members in a community, there is in each town a certain number of alguacilles [bailiffs] or ministrillos, or mambaras as they are called in certain provinces. They are under the supervision of the gobernadorcillo, and their only distinctive sign of office is a long cane of bejuco which they use to command natives. The bailiff often prevails with a little amount of haughtiness and abuse of position characteristic of small time ministers. His dress is as varied as any of the natives, but he always wears a hat and a coat on top of his shirt, like the retired captains, principales and barangay leaders. The alguaciles are in charge of arresting those who commit some of form of crime. They are also the ones who implement the orders of the mayor or of the gobernadorcillo. They attend all the official acts related to justice and generally do not pay tribute.
It can be noted that many of the titles of the people of authority in the country as well as their actions are expressed in the diminutive. This could be explained as arrogance on the part of the conquerors that formalized these names. Gobernadorcillo is the title given to the mayor, mediquillo to the doctor, bandilla for a member of the gobernadorcillo's council; even licurquillos is the name given to the youth that have studied in some school. These licurquillos are the ones who compose the songs of the natives, the comedies [comedias] and the extravagant memorials and recourses, which should be preserved because of their strange conception and the expression of their ideas. The natives are very fond of comedy and there is hardly a town affair in which there are no comedies. They set up a theater, which generally is made with a type of screen with two or three doors and curtains. In Tondo, there is a theater where a play is presented during the feast days. Comedies are also presented. These are usually set in ancient historical times and arranged by the theater. In them, there are always Moors and Christians, and these comedies last for 15 or more days. The women perform songs. With grandiose gestures, the men sometimes appear as they were rabid. This is because in the language of the country, there are words with many syllables that are difficult to pronounce such as caligaligayang tingnan which simply means good or beautiful. The bird that can be seen in this drawing is a heron that is locally called camaboy. Some call them dominicus or Dominicans because their colors are similar to the color of friar's cassocks. These are domesticated and have long lives.
The costume that is depicted in this drawing is exactly that of an elegant native woman of Manila. The peineta; the hairpin and the gold rings; the necklace or the gold and coral rosary with a medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico hanging from one end; the payo or umbrella; the crêpe shawl; the shirt or the blouse of piña or jusi; the saya of silk or cambaya; the short tapis worn by the more elegant women, made of silk from Baliuag; and the embroidered slippers, constitute the true costume of the wealthy native women of Manila. To these they add an embroidered piña handkerchief, which they hold in their hands. When they go to church, they place the handkerchief on their heads, gathering the ends under their chin. With this image, one can have a good idea of this member of the feminine sex. Generally they cannot be called beauteous, although some could be called beautiful particularly if they are very young, because when they become mothers or when they reach a certain age, native women deteriorate fast. Undoubtedly, the tendency of the women to wrinkle is caused by the strong heat of the climate. At home, they usually remove their tapis and are left with the loose saya, a dress that is charming because when you lift the skirt to one side you can see the white embroidered chemise. When without the shawl and with only the undershirt, you can see a part of their waist as well as the shoulders and the neck which in general are nicely shaped.
The Spanish that they speak is charming and has been given the name "kitchen Spanish" due to the tone and the absolute languidness with which they speak it. Duele conmigo este mi cabeza means "I have a headache" but the way they say it can be literally translated as "This my head hurts with me." Dale usté con de aquél su panuelo, meaning "Give him his handkerchief," literally translates as "Give you with him his handkerchief." ¿Como no? meaning "why not?" literally translates as "how not?" Más que! which does not mean anything in Spanish, can be literally translated as "even though." But the most charming of all is their use of the sentence: Usté cuidao. All of these are expressions that give one the idea of the Spanish spoken by the mestizos and the natives. They do not use the gender forms of Spanish words or the plural adjectives and pronouns, as these are also absent in Tagalog. Thus, they say Este tijeras, and un punda for una funda, as they also always interchange the "f" and the "p," or other letters such as Pilifino for Filipino, cape for café, cabayo for caballo, buerta for vuelta. The Yo el cuidao or Yo usté cuidao, which is applied to all and used to answer various questions, is very expressive. ¿Harás esto? Yo cuidao, which can be translated as: "Will you do this? I'll take care of it." ¿Cuánto vale esto? Usté cuidao meaning "How much is this? Make an offer or whatever you can afford." Procura que no se vaya fulano. El cuidao, meaning "Make sure he does not leave. He should fend for himself or he is old enough to take care of himself." Hence, the short phrase usté cuidao expresses completely different concepts, depending on how it is said and the tone in which it is said. It also answers questions in such a manner that it does not compromise the speaker.
Native Woman and her Son
The natives are fond of playing. Aside from cockfighting, monte, and panguigui which they play with various sets of cards and which are difficult to explain, natives have many other games to entertain themselves. We will describe the principal ones with as much precision and brevity as possible.
The game of sipa is similar to pelota with the sole difference being that instead of using their hands, the natives play with their feet, head, shoulders, arms, knees, and heels. As depicted in this drawing, the natives form a circle in the middle of the street or in any available space. The ball or sipa is made with woven bejuco but has holes for the toes. Generally, altar servers, choir members of churches and household servants play this. However, any native who passes by the street can join the game if he wishes and if no one objects.
Another game that they are fond of is the chanca [sungka] which is a type of wood shaped like a solid banca with seven round holes on each side and a large one at each end. In the side holes, they put seven sigayes, a type of small shell. They play by taking all the sigayes in the last hole on the right and putting one sigay in each hole until they reach the hole in the end, referred to as the house. Finally, the winner is the one who has the least sigayes in the holes. It is played with a lot of speed and with different combinations.
The biacan is a betting game where the objective is to cut a standing piece of sugarcane from top to bottom with one stroke of the bolo [machete]. To play this game the player is made to stand on a banco [stool] or an elevated place. The upper leaves of the cane are removed, and the player slashes at the middle of the cane with his bolo while falling from the banco. He who has cut the cane at the middle is the winner.
The sucatan is another game that the natives play involving cutting the sugarcane sideways.
These games are generally played near the stores that sell buyo, where they also sell sugarcane. It is difficult to find simpler games or those that show their primitive origins.
They also play the rayuela [hopscotch] or cara y cruz [heads or tails] and other popular games we did not include in this chapter.
Generally, this is how lower class natives dress everyday. The only variation is made in the color of the saya, the tapis and the camiseta [undershirt], and by adding to it the indispensable scarf which they wear the way they please. The natives especially the farmwomen, are dressed as shown in the plate. Generally, as in all of the Indies, they carry their children on their hips instead of in their arms. Many children can be seen during fiestas dressed, and with their hair shorn, like friars. A rare phenomenon that can be seen among natives is that their children are born much whiter, becoming darker as they grow up. While still small, they all have a large black stain on their rump [tailbone]. This native woman carries in her hand a bunch of mangoes, the best fruit that I know of in the country. The tree of the same name, which is large and has abundant foliage, produces this.
During the rainy season, natives wear a type of wooden clogs like the one seen in the drawing, which in their language is called baquia. The natives do not kiss, except in part of the body, which they love to smell with much affection. These include the hands of the priest or each other's hands, or other parts, as proof of their affection. They say goodbye by rubbing each other's noses.
In general, it can be assumed that the farmwomen work as much as or even more than the men. Aside from domestic work, they assist in the farm task, especially in reaping rice stalks immersed in water up to the middle of their thighs. They are the ones who go to sell in the market or the tiangue, and they generally carry all the produce, which is not too heavy. The tiangue is held at night in the plaza under the light of the jaepes, which are cone-shaped lamps made with nipa leaves and filled with resin or tar, placed on top of three pieces of bamboo canes that serve as the lamp holder.