I have lived in towns with newspapers and in towns without them, and have come to believe with Gilbert Chesterton that the newspaper is used chiefly for the suppression of truth, and am inclined to add, on my own account, the propagation of hysteria.
The Filipino’s Christmas Festivities and His Religion
Autumn Weather—Winter Weather—A Christmas Tree for Filipino Children—A Christmas Eve Ball—Early Mass on Christmas—Visitors—Attitude of the Filipino to Religion—His Ideas of the Fine Arts Formed by the Church—Joys and Sorrows Carried to Church—Religion Not a Source of Party Animosity—Filipinos More Likely to Become Rationalists than Protestants.
What with typhoons, earthquakes, talk of insurrection, the novelty of military life about us, and the effort to comprehend the native, the days sped quickly by at Capiz. October and November came and went in alternate stages of storm and sunshine. For days at a time the fine rain drove like a snow storm before a northeast wind, and it was difficult to realize that the deluge was the remnant of a great blizzard which, starting on the vast frozen plains of Siberia, had swept southward, till crossing the China Sea it gathered up a warm flood and inundated us with it. We spoke of its being autumn at home, but we could not realize the fact. When clear days came, they were so warm, so glinting with sunlight, that it seemed all the world must be bathed in glory. It would rain steadily for a week or ten days, and then there would come one of those clear days when every breath of vapor was blown out of the sky, the heavens were a field of turquoise, and the mountain chains were printed against them in softest purple.
With the month of December the weather changed, the rain ceased, and the dry chill winter of the tropics set in. The nights were so cold that one was glad to nestle into bed under a blanket. The northeast wind still blew, but fresh and cool from the sea, and hardly a cloud floated in the sky. We drove often out to the open beach where the surf came in gloriously, and the great mountain island of Sibullian, away to the north, hung half cloud, half land in the sky.
Christmas was near at hand, and we began to think of turkey and other essentials. Presents to home folk had to be mailed early in November, and after that an apathy came on us. Thanks to Mrs. C——, the energetic wife of a military man of private fortune, Christmas was destined to wear, after all, an Anglo-Saxon hue.
The Filipinos do not understand Santa Claus or the Christmas Tree. The giving of presents is by no means a universal custom of theirs, and such as are given are given on the festival of Tres Reyes, or The Three Kings, some six or eight days after Christmas. Mrs. C—— decided to give a Christmas festival to certain Filipino children, and she actually managed to disinter, from the Chinese shops, a box of tiny candles, and the little devices for fastening them to the tree. No Christmas pine could be found, but she got a lemon tree, glossy of foliage. With the candles and strings of popcorn and colored paper flowers, this was converted into quite the natural article. She invited several of us to dinner on Christmas Eve, and we went early to see the celebration.