The wind is howling and the clouds are racing across the moon, giving us fitful glimpses of the surrounding mountains and the bay and the plains 2500 feet below. The bay of Tabaco is winking with hundreds of lights used on the fishing boats to lure the fish into the nets. As we sit huddled in blankets on the porch of this little four room rest house, it seems hard to believe that we were uncomfortably warm about four hours ago.
We arrived here at sunset to find that we were the only guests and that except for a good cup of coffee this hostelry’s larder was defunct. How we thanked Mr. Harrison for advising us to bring along canned goods and eggs. The management, (one Filipino and several small boys) is most cordial and anxious to please but that cannot hide the native curiosity. Eyes are upon us at every turn until I have a perpetual “petticoat is showing” feeling.
Our drive this morning was beautiful and most instructive. The dirt road wound through groves of cocoanut and abaca trees, through barrios that gave the appearance of near-cleanliness and out into the lush green of the ubiquitous rice paddy. Along the road shoulders and in every vacant space, hundreds of husked cocoanuts lay drying in the sun.
From the abaca tree, which I can’t tell from the banana, comes the hemp from which Manila rope is made. In this district, the stalks are stripped by hand and the fibers removed; a stripping machine would triple the output, but, except in rare cases, the Filipino is impervious to any such frilly improvement. His is a hand-to-mouth existence; and, if he ever thinks of tomorrow, it 1s only as the ideal time to accomplish what ought to be done today.
That this racial characteristic makes business in the Islands very difficult, we gathered from Mr. Harrison’s account of his first experience with a native salesman. He selected for his intelligence and education an agent to send to the outlying districts of the Bicol region; the man was to receive a small salary plus a bonus for each sale he made. When no sales whatever were forthcoming from the section, it was found that the agent had settled down to live on his small salary and had done absolutely nothing towards furthering the company’s business.
This time our friend reached Pilar while the launch was still in the harbor. With three boys carrying a bag apiece, we walked down to the beach where we said goodbye. Brief case in hand, he mounted to the shoulders of a smiling little brown man and was thus transported to the waiting banca in which he was paddled out to the boat.
He somehow typified American enterprise in the Philippines.