My first Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines has come and gone, and it was duly celebrated. Some days ago, the steward, and the enlisted men attached to the Army Hospital at Cabatuan very graciously invited all the American teachers in the interior portion of the province, as well as all the hospital corps men stationed in the surrounding towns, to join them in celebrating the occasion. Wednesday evening when I returned to my quarters from the day’s work, I Found’ McC—~– there in company with B—– the hospital corps man from Lambunao, twelve miles up in the hills above Jeniuay. B—– had brought with him a huge but cleverly fashioned dummy made chiefly out of gunny-sacks stuffed with rice-straw. The weather being perfect and the moon at the
full, we decided to go down to Cabatuan that night. We hired a carabao and quilez, strapped the funny-looking dummy into standing position at the rear of the vehicle and at half past nine set out. We had six miles to go and a lazy sluggish animal – the ideal sort of conditions for enabling us to get the fullest effect of a balmy white night in the heart of the tropics. the moon-flowers, as large as dinner-plates were strongly suggestive of ghosts; and the little streamlets purled down toward the sea as merrily as if perfect peace had reigned here these hundred years.
in such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o’er trip the dew
And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself
And ran dismayed away.
In addition to the dummy, we had brought along an instrument designed for the sole purpose of making an unearthly noise — a tin can with a rosined string attached to the bottom. The natives all along the way gaped at us and wondered. Near midnight we reached Cabatuan and proceeded at once to rouse all the Americans living there, just to let them know we had arrived.
Next morning we spent a couple of hours decorating the Hospital. We did not have far to go to find the “greens,”
for gorgeous palms and flowers of many kinds and hues grew all about. Presently in came an orchestra of native musicians, after which we sang, danced the Virginia reel, and made merry until two p.m., the hour set for dinner.
I say we sang. The longing of enlisted men for home and the bitterness of feeling engendered by hard campaigning in tropical jungles, with mosquitoes, fever, and crazing itch, and food none too plentiful, and all the discomforts of war in a land of blazing sun and steaming rain, are aptly illustrated by some of the soldier songs one hears, which after all are funny enough that after a time they may perhaps be devoid of offence to our recent enemies. One is a parody on “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,” the refrain running as follows:
Damn, damn, damn the insurrectos —
Pock-marked kakyak ladrones.
And beneath the starry flag
We’ll corral them with a Krag —
Then we’ll want to see our own beloved homes.
And the refrain of another:
Oh, it’s home, boys, home,
It’s home we ought to be.
It’s home , boys, home ,
Back in God’s countree
Where the oak and the ash
And the bonny maple grow —
To Hell a Manila ,
For it’s home we’re bound to go.
Until the hour set for dinner. And such a dinner! Roast duck, roast chicken, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, apple
pie, mince pie, plum pudding and all — away out here in the heart of the tropics, and not an American woman anywhere near to take a hand in the preparation. A lot of Filipinos gathered around fairly early in the day and looked on in wonder — and later with longing eyes. And their longing was not in vain; for we had more than aplenty and the surplus was fallen upon and soon devoured by our unbidden, but none the less welcome, guests.
Meantime, the old presidente of the town had caught the spirit of the occasion. (We had gotten him up in the wee small hours of the night before, but he had taken the joke like the good sport he is.) When our dinner was over and MeC—– and I were about to set out on our return to Janiuay, we were informed that we, with our carabao, quilez, and dummy, were wanted by the presidente to head a parade. So, for more than an hour we drove about the streets of the town, followed by several hundred Filipinos with a brass band and the Stars and Stripes.