Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]

The land area of the Philippine islands is approximately 128,000 square miles, or a little more than the combined areas of all the New England states, New York and New Jersey. The islands of Mindanao and Luzon, which are the largest in the group and of nearly equal size, are each over 40,000 square miles in area; nine have singly an area of over 1,000 square miles, thirty-one exceed 100 square miles each, while there are many hundreds of others of lesser extent. The surface is much broken, the larger islands being traversed with more or less well-defined mountain ranges reaching an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 feet, with occasional peaks of 8,000 to 10,000 feet altitude. There are twenty more or less active volcanoes, and earthquakes are frequent in parts of the archipelago. The islands are wellwatered by many streams and rivers, several of the latter affording means of transportation for long distances from the coast.

Climate and soil.

Lying entirely within the torrid zone, between the fifth and twentysecond degrees north latitude, the climate is everywhere tropical, but it is rarely excessively hot, and the range of temperature is within narrow limits. In the vicinity of Manila, the mean annual temperature is about 80°, that of the month of May, usually the hottest month, being 84°, while the average mean for January is 77°. The average diurnal range of temperature near the coast for the year is only 11°. In the interior valleys and on the higher mountains this range is somewhat greater; in some of the mountain districts, the climate is particularly delightful, and many plants of the temperate regions can be grown with success.

Generally speaking, there are two well-marked seasons, a wet and a dry, though there are certain sections where the rainfall is very uniform throughout the year. At Manila, and usually along the western coasts, from November to June, or during the northwest trade-winds, the season is dry, while during the southwest monsoon, or from June to

November, is the rainy season. Along the Pacific coast, east of the mountains, these dry and wet seasons are reversed. During the monsoon period, typhoons occur that are sometimes so severe as to cause great damage to crops.

The rainfall is largely controlled by the physical characters of the country, and varies from about fifty inches to over one hundred and twenty inches, being heaviest on the slopes facing the Pacific. The relative humidity of the atmosphere is high at all times, while during the rainy season it is practically saturated with moisture; and the consequent rapid development of mold causes much annoyance and has to be carefully guarded against. The continuous heat and excessive moisture are strong factors in the rapid and luxuriant growth of all vegetation which prevails in these islands. With water lacking, the richest soils yield but a dwarfed and stunted growth. Where the dry season is at all pronounced, a watersupply by irrigation is essential to the profitable production of many of the cultivated crops.

The soils vary greatly in composition and fertility. Those consisting chiefly of volcanic ash and the alluvial deposits along the river - bottoms are very rich, in some cases of apparently inexhaustible fertility. Such are the abaca soils in Albay province, in the vicinity of the volcano Mayon, and the tobacco lands in the Cagayan valley. The rich, heavy loams along the rivers, composed largely of silt with a large percentage of organic matter, will always be the most productive, and, excepting perhaps for the growing of special crops, will always command the highest price. There is a great deal of land that has become unproductive or depleted through continuous cropping and bad cultivation. The Filipino farmer rarely applies fertilizers to his lands, and in most places the use of manure or the value of crop rotation and good tillage are unknown. Thorough cultivation and the employment of greenmanures will doubtless render productive many of the lands that are now wholly unremunerative. A systematic study of Philippine soils was begun



Fie. 137. The Philippine islands.

[graphic][ocr errors]

by the Insular Bureau of Agriculture in 1902, and reports on the abaca soils, the soils of Batangas province and of other provinces in Luzon, including the tobacco soils of northern Luzon, have been published in the reports and bulletins of that Bureau. A map showing the location and character of the Batangas soils was published from data gathered by a special survey, the first ever made within the tropics.

The agricultural industry in the Philippines.

There are 815,453 farms in the islands of an estimated area of 6,987,076 acres, the average size being only 8.57 acres, against 146.6 acres in the United States. Nearly 50 per cent are less than two and one-half acres in extent, and very many are no larger than ordinary kitchen-gardens, but under slight cultivation they contribute materially to the comfort and subsistence of their owners. The sugar plantations, and occasionally the rice and hemp farms, are of much greater extent, sometimes embracing thousands of acres.

One and a quarter million of farmers and farm laborers own or manage and work these farms, yet only about 45 per cent of their area is cultivated, and their total area is less than 10 per cent of the area of the islands. La Laguna province in Luzon stands first in the extent of its agricultural lands, over 53 per cent of its area being in farms, while in Benguet province it is less than 0.1 per cent. In addition to the number of farmers and farm laborers above noted, there are over three thousand florists and nearly fifteen thousand herdsmen, who may be classed as agriculturists.

Agricultural products supply 94 to 95 per cent of the total value of all exports, derived almost entirely from the four staples, hemp, sugar, tobacco and copra, more than 65 per cent arising

of the producer. Among these products are rice, corn, sweet-potatoes, cotton, maguey, gabe (Colocasia eseulenta), bananas, and a great variety of other native and introduced fruits, vegetables


Fig. 139.

Bringing zacate hay to market in the Philippines. (.See page 181.)

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

and fiber-plants, fully enumerated in the Philippine Census Report (IV. pp. 117 to 176).

About 80 per cent of the farms are worked by the owners of the land; less than 2 per cent are cash tenants, while about 16 per cent are share tenants, occupying holdings for which rental is paid by a part, usually one-half, of the crop. When labor is employed on the larger farms and plantations, the laborers usually live with their families on the place, in houses furnished them by the owner, who also furnishes their food of rice and fish in addition to their wages, paid either in money or in a share of the crops produced. The method varies in different provinces, as does the amount paid. In Pangasinan, nearly all work is done on shares, payments being made or any advances returned when the crops are harvested. In Albay, the hemp-workers receive one-half the amount of fiber they produce per day, which may vary in value from four to eight pesos; ordinary laborers receive one peso (the Spanish dollar) per day. In Iloilo province, farm laborers receive one peso per week, a place to live, and two rations per day. In La Laguna province it is customary to pay the laborers on the coconut plantations one-fifth the crop. In Pampanga, most of the laborers are tenants and work the fields on shares. On the sugar plantations in Negros Occidental, the overseer is paid $22 per month, the foreman $11, the mill-hands $4 and the field-hands $3, and board, which usually costs fifty cents a week per man. In Oriental Negros the ordinary farm laborer is paid twelve cents Mexican per day, with two meals, which generally consist of cooked rice with a little salted or dried fish and occasionally fresh vegetables. Generally speaking, the price of farm labor ranges from forty cents to one dollar Mexican per day. Wages have advanced 50 per cent or more, in some localities, since American occupation. The Insular Bureau of Agriculture has never experienced any difficulty in securing all the laborers needed on its experiment stations and farms, and, for the most part, this labor has been satisfactory, as the natives are quick to learn how to handle American farming tools, and make excellent teamsters.

The better quality of rice land which can be easily irrigated, is valued in Pangasinan from $150 to $200 Mexican per hectare; in Albay, rice lands are valued at 50 to 80 pesos per hectare, and well-planted hemp lands near the main roads, 100 to 150 pesos per hectare; in Occidental Negros, the value of land varies from 25 to 100 pesos per hectare. Lands planted to coconuts, coffee, cacao or hemp are often sold at prices agreed on for each plant or tree. In general, prices for land are based more on the financial necessities or sentiment of the owner than on the real producing power of the land itself.

The farming implements of the Filipino are of the simplest and crudest character, the bolo (a long knife) being the implement in most general use. The bolo is employed on every occasion and for a great variety of purposes, from the felling of trees and clearing of land to the making of toothpicks. The single plow, drawn by the slow-moving carabao, or waterbuffalo, guided by a rope attached to his horns or nose, is a one-handled wooden affair with a straight beam and practically no mold-board. The plow points are usually of iron, but so made that they do little more than scratch the surface. Working with this outfit, plowing is a slow and tedious process. In preparing rice lands, the plow is worked under water, simply stirring up the mud in its course. After plowing, the land is gone over with a kind of harrow, consisting of a single bar with a number of long, sharp teeth. Wooden harrows, made of several sections of bamboo stems, a few inches of the branches being left for teeth, are used on the uplands. These implements, with the bolo, constitute the outfit of the majority of the farmers.

The principal agricultural products.

With the exception of rice, sugar-cane, tobacco and corn, all crops grow without even the care of planting, often to the extent of fully supplying the simple wants of the natives. This liberality of the soil has naturally led to indolence and apparent lack of thrift difficult to overcome and little understood by those living in less-favored climes. Of the wild products, hemp and coconuts are by far the most important, and both are extensively cultivated. The principal crops of the several provinces are enumerated below:

Albay Hemp, rice, coconut, corn, cacao,


Antique Rice, corn, sugar-cane.

Bataan Rice, sugar-cane, corn.

Benguet Rice, corn, coffee, potatoes.

Bohol Rice, sugar-cane, corn, tobacco, hemp,


Bulacan Rice, sugar-cane, sweet-potato, gabe,


Cagayan Tobacco, rice, corn, nipa.

Camarines .... Rice, hemp, corn, coconut, sugarcane, coffee, cacao.

Capiz Rice, corn, sugar-cane, coconut,

hemp, tobacco.

Cebu Rice, corn, sugar-cane, tobacco, hemp,


Cotabato .... Rice, corn, hemp, sugar-cane, coconut.

Cavite Rice, sugar-cane.

Davao Hemp, rice, corn, coconut, cacao,

tobacco, coffee. Ilocos Norte . . . Sugar-cane, coconut, rice, maguey. Ilocos Sur .... Rice, corn, indigo, sugar-cane, cotton, tobacco.

Iloilo Rice, corn, tobacco, sugar-cane, hemp.

Isabela Tobacco, rice, corn.

La Laguna . . Coconut, sugar-cane, rice, hemp.

Leyte Hemp, rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, tobacco.

Lepanto Bontoc . . Coffee, cacao, rice, tobacco.

Misamis Corn, rice, coconut, hemp, tobacco,

cacao, coffee.

Mindoro Coconut, hemp, rice.

Negros Oriental . . Sugar-cane, hemp, rice, corn, coconut, cacao.

Negros Occidental . Sugar-cane, rice, corn, coconut, cacao, hemp.

Neuva Ecija . . . Rice, corn, sugar-cane, coffee, cacao, tobacco. . . . Rice, sugar-cane, corn. . . . Rice, sugar-cane, corn, coconut, nipa, cacao, tobacco.

Paragua Rice, copra, tobacco, hemp.

Romblon Tobacco, hemp, rice, corn, coconut.

Rizal Rice, sugar-cane, mango, banana.

Samar Hemp, rice, coconut.

Sorsogon .... Hemp.

Surigao Hemp, rice, cacao, coconut, corn.

Tarlac Rice, sugar-cane, corn, tobacco, cacao.

Tayabas Hemp, rice, coconut, corn, sugarcane.

Union Rice, sugar-cane, tobacco, corn, coconut, cacao. Nueva Vizcaya . . Rice.

Zambales .... Rice, tobacco, cotton, sugar-cane, corn, maguey. Zamboanga .... Rice, coconut, corn, sugar-cane.

The culture of rice.

Rice is the staple article of food of the native Filipino, being to him what bread is to the American. Its cultivation antedates the Spanish sovereignty, and at one time large quantities were exported to China. During recent years, however, the production has fallen off to such an extent that large imports have had to be made in order to prevent actual famine. In 1904, the amount imported was valued at over eleven million dollars. This was reduced the following year to about seven million, indicating a marked improvement in the industry. The area of good rice lands is so extensive that, with modern methods of cultivating and handling the crop, the production ought to meet all local demands and furnish a large surplus for revenue.

About 150 varieties of rice are recognized in the Philippines, distinguished primarily into lowland and upland rice, the several varieties varying in the size, shape and color of the grain; some varieties are more prolific than others; there are early and late varieties, and there is great difference in the quality of the grain. Mimis yields a white transparent grain of excellent flavor, and

« AnteriorContinuar »