An American negress, a dressmaker who was working for me, told me that there was a petrified man, an American, in the Paco Cemetery, and that the body was on exhibition. She had been to see it, and it was wonderful. I had my doubts about the petrifying, but as I had to pass the cemetery on leaving her house, I asked the custodian at the gate if there was such a body there. He said that the body had just been removed by the city authorities to be placed in the “Cemeterio del Norte,” where there is a plot for paupers. The body was that of an American, buried in the cemetery five years before. His rent, five pesos a year, had been prepaid for five years, but his time had run out. When they came to take out the body, which had been embalmed, it was found in a remarkable state of preservation. The custodian said, with an irreligious grin, that in the old days the condition of the body would have been called a miracle, and a patron saint would have been made responsible, and all the people would have come, bearing lighted candles, to do honor to the saint; and he added regretfully that it was no good in these days. The Americans would say that it was because of their superior embalming process. “But what a chance missed!” he said, “and what a pity to let it go with no demonstration!” There are many ways of looking at the same thing. I could not help laughing, thinking of the negress. She said, “He’s sittin’ up there by the little church, lookin’ as handsome as life—and him petrified!”
Sports and Amusements
Dancing, Cock-fighting, Gambling, Theatricals—Sunday in the Philippines—Lukewarmness of Protestant Christians in the Philippines—How a Priest Led Astray the Baptist Missionary’s Congregation on Thanksgiving—Scarcity of Amusements in Provincial Life—An Exhibition of Moving Pictures—Entertainments for the Poorer Natives—The Tragedy of the Dovecot.
The Filipino’s idea of a good time is a dance. Sometimes, in the country, a dance will go on for forty-eight hours. People will slip out and get a little sleep and come back again. Next to the dance, the cock-fight is their chief joy. A cock-fight is, however, not a prolonged or painful thing. Tiny knives, sharp as surgical instruments, are fastened to each bird’s heels, and the cock which gets in the first blow generally settles his antagonist.
Gambling is the national vice. The men gamble at monte and pangingue, and over their domino games, their horses, and their game-cocks. The women of both high and low class not infrequently organize a little card game immediately after breakfast and keep at it till lunch, after which they begin again and play till evening. Women also attend the cock-fights, especially on Sunday. Often the cockpit is in the rear of the church and the convento; and the padre derives a revenue from it.