At Tayug a great concourse of people welcomed us, with arches, flags, and decorations. The presidencia, or town hall, was filled with the notabilities, and Mr. Forbes was presented with an address by one of the senoritas. Suitable answer having been made, we adjourned, the men first, the women following when we had done, according to native custom, to the side rooms, where a surprisingly good tiffin had been got ready for us, venison, chickens, French rolls, dulces (sweets), whiskey and soda, Heaven knows what else, to which, all unwitting of our doom, we did full justice. About two miles beyond Tayug lies San Francisco, the initial point of our real mounted journey. The people along this part of the road had simply outdone themselves in the matter of arches, there being one at every hundred yards almost. At San Francisco the crowd was greater than at Tayug; and here was set out for us another sumptuous tiffin, in a house built the day before for this very purpose, of bamboo and nipa palm. Access to it was had by a ladder and we sat down at a table, while the senoras of the place waited on us, every inch of standing-room being occupied by people who had crowded in to see the performance of the Governor-General and of his comitiva! And perform we did—we had to! Ducks, chickens, venison, camotes (sweet potatoes), peppers, beer, red wine—no one would have thought that but three-quarters of an hour before we had just gone through the same thing. But it would have been the height of discourtesy to give way to our inclination by showing a lack of appetite; moreover, it is not often that a party is held in a house built to be used merely one hour. So we did honor to the occasion, but had to let out our belts before mounting immediately afterward.
Padre Juan Villaverde.—His
great trail.—The beginning of
the mountain journey.—Nozo.
The point to which we had come, San Francisco, marks the beginning of the Juan Villaverde trail from the Central Valley of Luzon through the mountains before us, to the province of Nueva Vizcaya. All day the chain we were to pierce had been in sight, and I for one had been wondering where we were to find a practicable entrance, so forbiddingly vertical did the range appear to be.
Now the Spaniards in the Philippines at best were but poor road-or trail-makers. Indeed, in the matter of trails they were simply stupid, in some cases actually going straight up a hill and down the other side, when the way around was no longer, and of course far easier to maintain. But Padre Juan Villaverde of the Dominicans was a great and honorable exception. Quite apart from this aspect, we hear so much that is evil of the friars that it is a pleasure, when possible, to point out the good they did, a thing more frequently possible than people imagine it is. For Father Villaverde gave his life to missionary