From the very first. enlisted men from the near-by Cuartel de España have come over to our quarters to fraternize and assist in “putting us wise” to the local situation, although they generally doubt our entire sanity in accepting, or even thinking of, the proposition of going to live end work in outlying places in the Islands without military protection. Some of these enlisted men have been of considerable service to us in the way of securing several much-needed articles of equipment. From one of them I bought, for a comparatively trifling sum, an extra-quality all-wool army blanket. How he came to be able to dispose of this article in this manner is no concern of mine.
On these occasions, soldier slang of the kind that has been coined in the Philippines is much in evidence and our vocabulary is constantly being enriched by terms heretofore unknown to most of us. One of the most curious terms I heard for the first time the other day when an ex-enlisted man said to me, as we were passing a Chinaman’s tienda, “Let’s see if I can jaw-bone this Chino for a couple of smokes.” I asked him how the term
“jaw-bone” came to be used in the sense of “to buy on credit,” and he answered “No sabe.”
With the enlisted man, the Filipino is always either a “gu-gu” or a”Kakyak.” The former term, of course, comes from the song about the “Goo-goo eyes;” but the origin of the latter is not so clear. Some say it comes from a remark made by a soldier who, upon arriving in the Philippines and noticing what seemed to him a strong resemblance between the Filipinos end the Kanakas of Honolulu, exclaimed: “Why they look just like the — Kakyaks.”
While awaiting assignment, we have been improving our time by taking in as much of the city as possible. Our quarters lie at a considerable distance from the Escolta, the principal business street, while the Walled City with its narrow streets and slimy moat are half way between. To walk to and fro in the August heat is extremely trying to us new-comers. There is a sorry excuse of a horse-drawn street-car line that reaches out to a point somewhere in the direction of Malate Barracks; but every time we try to get a ride, the dinky car gets off the track and the passengers are obliged to engage in the arduous task of helping get it back on, or else do the rest of the trip on foot. Then, too, the tiny beasts that are supposed to furnish the draught power are so skinny and emaciated that no person having a decent regard for the feelings of a dumb brute would have the heart to impose any burden upon them oftener than once or twice. A few street calesas come out to the Barracks occasionally to pick up fares, but they are generally commandeered by the women; so that we men generally ride, if we ride at all, in the springless, rubber-tireless market carretelas, which go bumping over the cobble-stones in a fashion fit to jar our teeth loose end dislocate every bone in our bodies.
In going about the city, I have noticed frequent fresh red splotches upon the streets and walks; and at first I wondered whether the slaughter attendant upon the recent insurrection had not yet subsided. But I soon learned thet these spots were not sore but mere saliva expectorated about by the chewers of betel-nut.
Ever since we came ashore. we have been taking our meals at a temporary restaurant set up in one of the old Exposition buildings by a Chinese contractor. The service is nothing much to speak of, and the cuisine leaves much to be desired. Moreover, a considerable portion of the food is so radically different from anything to which we have ever been accustomed that a number of us have been subjected to violent physical suffering in the process of readjusting our digestive functions to the new regime. The night of our second day at the Barracks, several of us came down with severe attacks of ptomaine poisoning: and it was only “by reason of strength” that we lived to tell the story.
We are called together in almost daily conferences en masse with the General Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Fred W. Atkinson. At one of these meetings, we were addressed by a distinguished member of the United States Senate, who happens to be Looking about the Islands for information pertinent to his calling. Among other things, the speaker impressed upon as the necessity of always going about our work among the Filipinos with our clothing in presentable condition and properly adjusted. While he was speaking, the fact did not escape our notice that one of the distinguished speaker’s detachable cuffs had slipped its moorings and that he was diligently keeping it in place by a dextrous manipulation of the last two fingers of the.near-by hand.