Diary of Alfred Burton Welch

Sunday 1-29-99

Wrote to Miss Adams in a.m. At 11 Frank Coombs and I went to senora Rivera’ Casa on Calle Looban, 29. About 20 natives were there. We were presented and after low bows and many “Ahs” the orchestra played. Senor Rivera was very polite. Wanita, Romanita, and a little boy, Alfredo, were my favorites. Wanita is a mixed Spanish & Filipino. Very pretty and gracious. What eyes! Such glances from her fan. Her dress was pale blue silk skirt, with a long train, covered with a splendid silk veil-like over-skirt. Very low neck and shoulders bare to the point. Sleeves very wide and flaring from the shoulder to the forearm where it ends in a bell. Bodice of light silk. Around her neck was a stiffly starched neck cloth –the points pinned at the ends by a magnificent diamond brooch. This neck “tie” does not touch the neck at all. Hair done up in great high pompadour rolls. Splendid diamonds in ears –and on her fingers. Black silk stockings and the tiniest foot in a high heeled shoe. And, of course, the Inevitable fan of ivory, fathers and silk. Men in white suits a la Manila.

I led the way to dining room with Senora and, or!, what a feast we had. Soup –macaroni– native thin olives, smoked fish and some other peculiar dish. Next fish –chicken– beef –pork– salad –oh, so on, for at least 15 courses. Everything served by native waiters in native style. Great bouquets of flowers scented the room. And here I saw my first passion flower, which only gives out its odor at night and early morn. We toasted Aguinaldo and they returned it by shouting, “Viva McKinley, President.” Adjourned to other large room, where black coffee was served. More music and some of the cleverest black art and mind reading I ever saw, by Senor Riza, 30 Escolta, Master of Fencing. Then we went again to table and were served with “dulce” and drank H²O.

Then such waltzes and quadrilles. It is a perfect story to see them waltz. He bends low and she tells all she can as she looks into his eyes. They swing apart and dance separately, looking over their shoulders at each other. Then, as they finish, he kneels and thanks her. They were greatly interested in our photographs of Frisco & Manila. Then we were served with chockolate in the dining room, after which the party.