In order to take leave of the nineteenth century and the old year and to welcome the new year and the new century, the honorable president invited to his house all the leading men of Palanan and the officers of his escort, as well as the charming lady dancers of this town.
The entertainment commenced at 7 o’clock in the evening with dances and rigadoons. About 11.30 o’clock all sat down at the table to eat supper, and when it struck 12 the band played the national air. After supper the honorable president and all the officers proposed toasts. When all this was over, dances and rigadoons commenced again and lasted till 4 o’clock in the morning, when the guests dispersed.
Everything being conveniently prepared, in order to cause a failure of the Americans’ plans of attack we, at 5.30 a.m., abandoned this camp of “Tierra Virgen,” after having lived there peacefully for two months and twenty-one days. Capt. Juan H. Pilar, chief, and Señors Villareal, Carasco, Catindig, Subido, Ruis, de Leon, and the greater part of the soldiers remained behind in the province to operate as guerrillas. The honorable president only carried with him 16 sharpshooters and Señors Villa and Barcelona and Lieutenants Magsarile and P. Reyes.
In order that our direction to Palanan would not be perceived by anyone, on leaving the camp we took the route along the river in the interior of the woods. We followed the river’s course, all of us being wet. After marching continuously in the river for five hours we left it and took a course through the interior of the woods for the settlement of the Calingas at Catalangan. About 2 p.m. we encountered an old Calinga man, who had come from the settlement. On being asked if there was anything at the settlement, he told us that on this morning 25 Americans were there—for what purpose he did not know—and that these left about 10 a.m. We took this Calinga for our guide, telling him to conduct us by a route far from the settlement. After a conversation of fifteen minutes we resumed the march through the interior of the woods. About 4 o’clock, after our having marched continuously, the Calinga announced to us that we would have to emerge into the open field as the woods ended at that point. The honorable president then ordered that we should halt here first, while the guide went on to the settlement to inquire among the other Calingas respecting the movements of the Americans. After an hour the Calinga returned with his son, a Christian, informing us that 25 American cavalrymen were stationed on two rivers near us; but they did not know for what reason.
The presence of the Americans on the river was undoubtedly for the purpose of cutting off our retreat. Then the honorable president ordered us to hide in the woods; and at 5 o’clock we resumed the march. After seeing several pieces of woods, entering and passing through them, about 7 o’clock we placed ourselves in one of these, where we found a little house inhabited by a Calinga man and his wife.
We slept very uneasily throughout the whole night, because the Calinga man said we were distant only about one hour from Maluna where the Americans have their central camp, and therefore they could have surprised us at midnight.