The Austrian Frigate Novara visits Manila in 1858

excerpts from
Karl Scherzer (1861)

  • Historical notes relating to the Philippines
  • From Cavite to Manila
  • The river Pasig
  • First impressions of the city
  • Its inhabitants
  • Tagales and Negritoes
  • Preponderating influence of Monks
  • Visit to the four chief monasteries
  • Conversation with an Augustine Monk
  • Grammars and Dictionaries of the idioms chiefly in use in Manila
  • Reception by the Governor-general of the Philippines
  • Monument in honour of Magelhaens
  • The "Calzada"
  • Cockfighting
  • "Fiestas Reales"
  • Causes of the languid trade with Europe hitherto
  • Visit to the Cigar-manufactories
  • Tobacco cultivation in Luzon and at the Havanna
  • Abáca, or Manila hemp
  • Excursion to the "Laguna de Bay"
  • A row on the river Pasig
  • The village of Patero
  • Wild-duck breeding
  • Sail on the Lagoon
  • Plans for canalization
  • Arrival at Los Banos
  • Canaoe trip on the "enchanted sea"
  • Alligators
  • Kalong Bats
  • Gobernador and Gobernadorcillo
  • The Poll-tax
  • A hunt in the swamps of Calamba
  • Padre Lorenzo
  • Return to Manila
  • The "Pebete"
  • The military Library
  • The civil and military Hospital
  • Ecclesiatical processions
  • Ave Maria
  • Tagalian merriness
  • Condiman
  • Lunatic Asylum
  • Gigantic serpent thirty-two years old
  • Departure
  • Chinese pilots
  • First glimpse of the Celestial Empire
  • The Lemmas Channel
  • Arrival in Hongkong Harbour
Conversation with an Augustine Monk

On our remarking that so far as worldly consideration was concerned, the cloister enjoyed far more cordial support in Manila than either in Spain or Cuba, one of the Augustinians who was accompanying us, a tall commanding figure, attired in the plain garb of the order, replied: "The Government knows that it has need of us, that it could not get on a day without us, therefore it leaves us in peace, and places no impediments in our path as in Spain."* And he was right. Whensoever the monks lift the finger, Spain has ceased to rule in the Philippines. The spiritual reins have ever bridled the secular authority, and such a state of things is the severest impediment to the development of the country and its intellectual growth.
* This opinion of our Angustinian guide is not shared out there. An Austrian traveller, as widely renowned as highly cultivated, Baron von Hügel, relates, in his Diary already alluded to, the following singular revelations by a friar in Manila: "The Philippine Islands belong to the Augustine monks in Manila, Don Pasquale (the then Governor) or another may ruffle it and talk large,- in the interior we are the true masters. Tell me where you want to go and everything shall be laid open for you!... Police in the interior? It is laughable to hear of such an idea! As if such were possible! and I should be glad to make the acquaintance of that official who would venture to ask even the simple question of who any man is, who is under the protection of our order! Should you like to ascend the Majay-jay, the highest hill in the interior? An Augustinian friar shall accompany you thither. Should you care to make an excursion to the Lagoons and thence proceed to the Pacific Ocean? An Augustinian friar shall be your guide. Have you a hankering to visit the forests of Ilocos northwest from Manila, or to sail down the great river Lanatin? An Augustinian shall arrange all that for you. In one word, say what you wish to do!"
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created: March 08, 1998
updated: March 08, 1998
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger