The Murillo Bulletin Issue No. 7

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The Murillo Bulletin Journal of PHIMCOS The Philippine Map Collectors Society

Issue No. 7

February 2019

In this Issue:  

The 36th IMCoS Symposium in Manila

The Battle of San Jacinto

Auguste Borget in the Philippines

Earthquakes & Calamities in the 17th & 18th centuries

3/F Glorietta 4 Artspace, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines • T (+63 2) 729-8168 • Fax 824-3770

The only Gallery in the Philippines exclusively selling antique prints and antiquarian books before 1900.

The Murillo Bulletin Issue No. 7

February 2019 In this Issue

PHIMCOS News & Events

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Insulae Indiae Orientalis: the 36th IMCoS Symposium – Manila 2018 by Rudolf J.H. Lietz


August Borget (1809-1877) French Artist and Traveller: his visit to Manila in July 1839 and the Parancillo Bridge by Robin Bridge


A Forest Scene in Jala-Jala – August Borget and Paul de la Gironière by Andoni Aboitiz


British Naval Actions in the Philippines during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars by Thomas B. Colvin, Peter Geldart & Christian Perez Earthquakes and Calamities in the Philippines through colonial written sources and maps of the 17th & 18th centuries by Jorge Mojarro

17 24

PHIMCOS Committees


PHIMCOS Directors & Members


About PHIMCOS The Philippine Map Collectors Society (PHIMCOS) was established in 2007 in Manila as the first club for collectors of antique maps and prints in the Philippines. Membership of the society, which has grown to a current total of 46 members (including individual and joint members, and corporate nominees), is open to anyone interested in collecting historical maps, prints, paintings and photographs of the Philippines. PHIMCOS holds quarterly general meetings at which members and their guests discuss cartographic news and give after-dinner presentations on topics such as maps of particular interest, famous cartographers, the charting of regions of the Philippines, or the lives of prominent Filipino historians. A major focus for PHIMCOS is the sponsorship of exhibitions, lectures and other educational events designed to educate the public about the importance of cartography as a way of learning both the geography and the history of the Philippines. The Murillo Bulletin, the society’s journal, is published twice a year. PHIMCOS welcomes new members. The fee for an Individual Membership is Php.6,000 per annum; for Joint Memberships (for two people) and Corporate Memberships (with two nominees) the fee is Php.10,000 per annum. Members and guests who attend general meetings also pay a contribution towards the cost of dinner and drinks of Php.1,200 per member and Php.1,500 per guest. The application form and additional information on PHIMCOS are available on our website . Front Cover: Detail of the Philippines from A New Chart of the China Sea, and East India Archipelago, … by J.W. Norie, London (1821) 1841; note the prominent volcanoes (Peter Geldart collection)


PHIMCOS News & Events

2018 was a banner year for PHIMCOS. As well as attending our regular quarterly meetings, during the year members had the opportunity to participate in a record number of activities. In May, we participated in the first International Conference on Cartography in Philippine History, and PHIMCOS hosted a special dinner for Tom Harper, Curator of Antiquarian Mapping at the British Library. Then, in June, 15 PHIMCOS members and their relatives travelled to the U.K. to visit the Bodleian Library, the library of the Natural History Museum, the British Library, the National Maritime Museum, and the London Map Fair. Finally, the outstanding cartographic event of the year was the 36th IMCoS Symposium, arranged and sponsored by the Ayala Museum and the Gallery of Prints, and sponsored by PHIMCOS, Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Union Bank and several providers of sponsorship-in-kind. The symposium was held in Manila from 14 to 17 October (see the report on page 5). Following the Manila programme, seven PHIMCOS members travelled to Hong Kong for the second part of the symposium, held at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum from 18 to 20 October, and were able to visit the exhibition A History of Hong Kong in 50 Maps: 1775–1979 arranged by PHIMCOS member Jonathan Wattis. On 15 August the third general meeting of the year was attended by 31 members and 6 guests. Andoni Aboitiz gave us a spirited account of “The Summer of Love … for Maps: the PHIMCOS London Tour 2018” (as reported in The Murillo Bulletin Issue No. 6). Andoni’s talk was followed by a presentation by Jaime Laya on one of the maps we had seen in the British Library, the Topographia dela Ciudad de Manila by Antonio Fernandez de Roxas (Manila (1717) c1739). Dr. Laya has written a detailed description of this important map for the Fourth Edition of Carlos Quirino’s Philippine Cartography 1320-1899, edited by PHIMCOS member Carlos Madrid and published by Vibal Foundation (Manila 2018).

The final general meeting of the year, held on 7 November, attracted 24 members and seven guests. Efren Carandang, the Deputy Administrator of NAMRIA, gave a presentation entitled “Bosquejo Geológico de Panay: A Look at the Past and Present Topography and Natural Resources of Panay”. This was followed by a talk by Robin Bridge on Auguste Borget, the French artist who visited Manila for a week in July 1839, at which Robin displayed his Borget drawing of the Parancillo Bridge; Rolf Lietz showed us his print of the same subject; and Andoni Aboitiz exhibited and talked about an oil painting by Borget of the Jala-Jala Forest, the estate of Paul de la Gironière (see articles on pages 9 and 13).

 

We are particularly pleased by the expansion of our society’s membership. Seven new members joined in 2018, and as a result we now have 28 Individual Memberships, six Joint Memberships and three Corporate Memberships (see page 32). For 2019 we have two new board members, Andoni Aboitiz and Edwin Bautista, and a number of changes to the board committees (see pages 31-32). Upon the recommendation of the board, the members have approved a system of rotating terms for all directors so as to give new PHIMCOS members the opportunity to join the board, with the longest-serving board member(s) being the first to step down each year. In the words of our President, Jimmie González: “Our society has had a very good year and credit goes to our growing membership. Special thanks are given to those who actively participated and supported our events, and we hope you will all continue to do so. We are also most grateful for the invaluable contribution extended by our longstanding founding directors, Alfredo Roca and Rolf Lietz, who graciously retired from the board to give way to two new members, but will continue to play active roles in supporting and promoting the society.”



Insulae Indiae Orientalis

International Map Collectors’ Society (IMCoS) Symposium – Manila 2018 by Rudolf J. H. Lietz


HE INTERNATIONAL Map Collectors’ Society (IMCoS), headquartered in London, is the oldest and largest society of antique and vintage map lovers, composed of dedicated collectors, dealers, librarians, academics, and map enthusiasts in diverse fields coming from different countries across all continents. Part of the society’s activities is the annual IMCoS Symposium, regularly held in major cities on alternating continents, which serves as an opportunity for map collectors and enthusiasts to gather in one venue, and to further broaden their perspectives on the significance and impact of historic and important maps from all over the world. In 2017 the symposium took place in Hamburg, in 2016 in Chicago, in 2015 in Cape Town, and in 2014 in Seoul, being the most recent in Asia. For the first time in the society’s history, from 14 to 17 October 2018 this important international event was held in South East Asia, i.e. the Philippines. Supported by PHIMCOS and IMCoS, the 36th International IMCoS Symposium – Manila 2018, with the theme Insulae Indiae

Orientalis, was conceptualised and organised by your writer as IMCoS Representative of the Philippines. The Ayala Museum was contracted as the symposium and exhibition venue. PHIMCOS created a special IMCoS Symposium Committee, chaired by Dr. Jaime Laya, to support these efforts. The symposium’s other main sponsors were the Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. and Union Bank. The event started with the registration and welcome cocktails on Sunday afternoon at the Makati Diamond Residences, where participants were handed their conference kits: the IMCoS Manila Symposium bag, the exhibition catalogue, an ID with Mabuhay primer, a pen, a notepad, a pocket umbrella featuring the 1598 map of the Philippines by Petrus Kaerius, and a tea-towel designed by David Webb (a veteran of all previous IMCoS symposia bar one) showing all of the 36 countries in which IMCoS symposia have been held. Rudolf J. H. Lietz welcomes all delegates to the symposium in the Ground Floor Lobby of the Ayala Museum on the first morning ѵ


˂ Jaime González, Elizabeth and Rolf Lietz with first day speakers Antonio Carpio, Ambeth Ocampo and Carlos Madrid

Our Guests of Honour cut the ribbon:  H.E. Gerardo Lozano Arredondo, Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines;  Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Justice of the Supreme Court;

In total 89 delegates from 14 countries registered: 39 from overseas (Australia, China, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom and U.S.A.), 29 PHIMCOS members, and 21 from Manila who were not PHIMCOS members. The 11 speakers talked about the many aspects of Insulae Indiae Orientalis, or the East Indies, as our South East Asian archipelagos were called in past centuries. After the welcome addresses by Ma. Elizabeth L. Gustilo, Senior Director, Arts and Culture, Ayala Foundation, Inc.; Rudolf J. H. Lietz, Curator, Gallery of Prints; and Jaime C. González, President, PHIMCOS, and the official opening of the symposium by IMCoS Chairman Hans D. A. Kok, the first three lectures were given by:  Prof. Ambeth R. Ocampo, Department of History, Ateneo de Manila University: Maps and the Emergence of the Filipino Nation

 Dir. Edgar Ryan S. Faustino, Director, Presidential Museum and Library, Malacañan Palace;  H.E. Dr. Gordon Kricke, German Ambassador to the Philippines;  H.E. Jorge Moragas Sánchez, Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines; and  Mr. Mel Velasco Velarde, President, Velarde, Inc. Among the many highlights of the exhibition, which comprised 165 maps and prints, and 16 books, were:  the “Queen of all Philippine maps”, Mapa delas Yslas Philipinas by Fr. Murillo Velarde, which was shown in three examples of the first edition of 1734 in a specifically designated “Murillo Room”: two uncoloured examples, with the vignettes, and one coloured edition sans vignettes; this was probably another first in modern times, some 250 years after the British left Manila taking with them the original copper plates as spoils of war;

 Dr. Carlos Madrid, Director, Instituto Cervantes de Manila: The Philippine Map of Fr. Murillo Velarde – The Current Relevance of a Classic Master  Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Justice of the Supreme Court: Ancient Maps in the South China Sea Dispute As another first in the history of IMCoS symposia, your writer curated a special exhibition Insulae Indiae Orientalis in the Ayala Museum, featuring many of the actual original antique maps, prints and books presented by the 11 speakers in their lectures, the idea being: “no need to fly to any foreign library or museum – you can view most of the originals in person right here in Manila!”

The “Murillo Room”, in which three examples of the 1734 Murillo Velarde map were on display, together with later editions and numerous variants, and two examples of the 1663 Planta de las Islas Filipinas by Marcos de Orozco


˂ 36th IMCoS Symposium participants in front of the Ayala Museum

 two examples of the second, 1744 edition of the map in reduced size: one uncoloured and one old-colour example, still attached to the Murillo book Historia de la Provincia de Philipinas de la Compañia de Jesus, Segunda Parte; the German Jesuit version of the map, published by L. J. Kaliwoda in Vienna in 1748; an example of the 1788 edition, published in Historia General de Philipinas by Juan de la Concepción, with a revised title cartouche in which the Jesuits have been erased; and, to complete the Murillo part of the exhibition, a total of 28 variants from other cartographers and map publishers including J.-N. Bellin, G.M. Lowitz / Homann, T. Kitchin and R. Carr;  a replica of the 1531 manuscript portolan chart of the world by Vesconte Maggiolo, the original of which is the most expensive map ever sold privately at US$10 million;  rare French manuscript maps;

 a Chinese Qing dynasty “pie chart” map centred on the Pearl River Delta “from the Ocean (perspective) of the Fixed Appearance of Stars in the Sky”. The 181 objects in the exhibition originated from 14 local PHIMCOS members, 3 overseas IMCoS members, 7 others and (the majority) Gallery of Prints and myself. As another first, all the symposium lectures and all of the exhibits were documented in a 134-page full-colour catalogue, compiled, curated and published by your writer (available from the Gallery of Prints). Later on Monday, participants gathered at the Gallery of Prints in Glorietta IV to attend the book-launch of the Fourth Edition of Carlos Quirino’s Philippine Cartography 1320-1899, significantly expanded by Dr. Carlos Madrid with a foreword by Dr. Ambeth Ocampo; both PHIMCOS members and the author’s daughter Cynthia Quirino were busy autographing the many books that were sold.

 the third (1617) edition of Insulae Moluccae celeberrimæ…, the iconic map of South East Asia known as the “Spice Map”, first published by Petrus Plancius in 1594;  all known maps by Ferdinand Blumentritt;  the complete set of Philippine charts and maps of Yldefonso de Aragon, published in 1819, bound in two volumes;  a triptych of J. W. Norie’s large six-sheet wall chart A New Chart of the China Sea, and East India Archipelago… (1821) 1854; and

Emcee Marga Binamira with speakers Richard Jackson, Ljiljana Ortolja-Baird and Hans Kok


Tuesday morning saw another four lectures:  Ljiljana Ortolja-Baird, Editor, IMCoS Journal: “A Lady’s Visit to Manilla and Japan”: Anna D’Almeida (1836-1866), a Modern Tourist in the Far East  Rudolf J. H. Lietz, Curator, Gallery of Prints: The Berghaus Maps of the Philippines and his Unfinished “Atlas of Asia”  Dr. Richard T. Jackson, Emeritus Professor, James Cook University, Australia: Rhubarb and Martini: A Strangely Sinister Relationship  Capt. Hans D. A. Kok, Chairman, IMCoS Executive Committee: Local Exploration Highlights in the Days of the Dutch United East India Company (VOC) The afternoon excursion took the participants to the University of Santo Tomas, Asia’s oldest university, founded in Manila in 1611. Fr. Angel A. Aparicio, O.P. and Mrs. Giovanna V. Fontanilla welcomed all visitors in the presence of Secretary General of the University, Fr. Jesus M. Miranda, Jr., O.P. We split into three groups to view the maps and books of the Miguel Benavides Library, specially curated for this event and not normally accessible to the public. Among the many exciting rare tomes, the pièce de résistance was De revolutionibus orbium coelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus, first printed in 1543. Although the book had been listed on the Index librorum prohibitorum in Europe, it was apparently being read in the Philippines! Participants were also shown the Conservation Section and were amazed at the high quality of restoration work done on books and maps, albeit at a speed which, at one book per month, would keep them busy for a few hundred years unless expanded substantially. A case for PHIMCOS to act as additional sponsor to support Philippine Heritage?

The third and final morning covered the four remaining lectures:  Martine Chomel Harent, Former Curator, Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico City: The Trade Between New Spain and Manila and Vice-Versa  Robert Clancy, Emeritus Professor AM FRS[N]: One Step Too Far: The Spanish Lake, The Moluccas and Terra Australis  Dr. Richard A. Pegg, Director and Curator of Asian Art, MacLean Collection, Chicago: Chinese Maps, Trade Networks and the Philippines  Daniel Crouch, Daniel Crouch Rare Books: The Maggiolo Mystery – A Failed Proposal for Peace in a 1531 Portolan The last day’s afternoon excursion brought participants to a dual exhibit specially prepared by the libraries of the Lopez Museum and the Ortigas Foundation, two private museums and libraries in Ortigas. Welcomed by John Silva and Prof. Ambeth Ocampo, delegates were led to the impressive array of maps and books again specially curated for all delegates; an effort particularly notable since the Lopez Museum was packing up in preparation for moving to another building in the near future. That evening, the Farewell Gala Dinner at the Manila Polo Club closed the Manila part of the Symposium. To all who made this event such a resounding success we reiterate a comprehensive Maraming Salamat! Although the 36th IMCoS Symposium – Manila 2018 was a private event for the members of IMCoS, PHIMCOS and registered participants, the exhibition at the Ayala Museum remained open to the public from 9 to 28 October, 2018. All visitors to the museum were therefore afforded the chance to see some of the most important maps and books in existence focusing on this part of the world.

˂ Participants assembled after viewing the displays in the Lopez and Ortigas Libraries 8

August Borget (1809-1877) French Artist and Traveller: His visit to Manila in July 1839 and the Parancillo Bridge by Robin Bridge


ORN IN 1809 as one of four children in a family of French bankers in Issoudun (pop. 10,000 then, and only around 13,000 now) some 130 kms south of Paris, Auguste Borget displayed an early interest in art, especially drawing, and little interest in the family business. In 1829 his parents, recognising his preference for a life in art rather than commerce, sent the 21-year-old to reside with family friends in Paris to enable him to sharpen his artistic skills. There he took lessons and formed a life-long friendship with Honoré de Balzac (some nine years his senior); at one time Borget shared a flat with the author, although their friendship from time to time came under stress from Balzac’s emotions, torrid love life, and lack of financial discipline.

then on to the major Chinese port of Canton (today Guangzhou). He then spent eight months in China, half that time seeing something of South China, including Hong Kong (to be ceded to the British in 1841), the other half based in Macao (now Macau, permanently settled by the Portuguese since 1557) where we know he spent time with the artist George Chinnery. Foreigners were able to spend the cooler six months of the year in Canton (known as the “trading season”) but had to return to their home countries or withdraw to Macao in the warm weather. In September 1838 Borget was given permission (probably by the authorities in Macao) to travel to Canton and may have stayed there until January 1839, by which time the politics of opium were coming to a head, eventually resulting in the First Opium War.

Having seen something of France and Switzerland over six or so years Borget is said to have tired of residence in Europe and announced his intention to travel. So in October 1836 he set out with a young companion named Guillon for what was to become a voyage around the world. They first crossed the Atlantic to New York, where amongst Borget’s drawings are sketches of windmills on the Hudson River, and travelled thence in January 1837 to Brazil and Argentina, and onward to Chile where the companions spent some six months. During that time Borget met and formed a life-long friendship with Johann Moritz Rugendas, a German artist and teacher who at the time was also travelling in South America. We know of Borget’s travels as he was a frequent letter writer to both family and friends. His correspondence has survived, so standing to support the provenance of the drawing I am writing about. From Chile Borget took a boat north to Bolivia (then not a landlocked country) and Peru, continuing westward to Hawaii in May 1838 and

Auguste Borget (image ©Photo Gilles Colosio/Châteauroux Métropole)


In the face of what he decided were certain hostilities in South China (he was quite right!) Borget decided to set sail for the Philippines, staying in Manila for just one week from 28th July to 5th August 1839. He then took ship to India, where he travelled widely and produced what his biographer David James described as “splendid drawings, the finest of his stay in the Far East”.(1) In India Borget was taken ill, and he finally sailed home to France in the summer of 1840, having been away for almost four years. Borget published two books of his resulting works, including lithographs “after” his drawings and paintings. We do not need to dwell on the first book, Sketches of China and the Chinese (1842), as it is focused entirely upon Borget’s time in China. His second book, Fragments d’un voyage autour du Monde, was published three years later in 1845, some nine years after he set out on his round-the-world trip. In this second book are to be found reproductions of both Borget’s drawings and lithographs, including items drawn in Manila and its environs. The drawings and lithographs may have been available for purchase collectively or individually as there are also references to an 1850 edition of Fragments. Borget’s works are to be found today in his published books and in the collections inter alia of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (one of my all-time favourite museums), HSBC, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the National Museum of Singapore, and the Musée de l'Hospice Saint-Roch in Issoudun, the artist’s birthplace. Over the years many works by Borget have been offered at auction, most recently a sizeable number put up by the artist’s descendants at Christie’s, Paris in 2011. Of especial Philippine interest was Lot 170, catalogued (in translation) as “Bridge and river at Pasig in the Philippines, with a distant view of the Cathedral”. This drawing, executed during the week Borget spent in Manila in 1839, is today more accurately described as: “The Parancillo Bridge with distant view of the Cathedral Church of the Immaculate Conception, Pasig”.


An 1850 edition of Fragments d’un voyage autour du Monde was sold at auction by Dorothy Sloan Books in April 2013, and an illustrated précis of the work including zoomable images of the plates is available online.(2) The lithographs are stated to be by and “after” the artist. In other words, those of Borget’s drawings reproduced as lithographs in that text were changed or revised when the plates (actually stones) were made. And in the case of the drawing of the Parancillo Bridge, the changes are very extensive. Borget’s lithograph of the Parancillo Bridge is reproduced in the fascinating book Pasig: River of Life, in which the authors write that it is the “Oldest picture of Pasig, circa 1850. The covered bridge of Parancillo was donated by the Gremio de Mestizo de Sangley of Pasig.“(3) In fact, according to Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno for the National Historical Commission of the Philippines(4), the Parancillo Bridge did not stand over the Pasig itself. Rather, built to connect the nearby market with the city, it straddled the creek named Bitukang Manok (literally “chicken entrails”) because of its zigzag shape. Today this stream is a shallow trickle, largely flowing underground, but in years gone by the Bitukang Manok was an arm of the Pasig River linking it to the Antipolo River. Until the early 20th century the flow was adequate for river craft to travel all the way from Manila to Antipolo, including those carrying pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo.(5) The lithograph of the bridge titled “Pont et Village de Passig à 6 lieues de Manille (Iles Philippines)” reproduced in Fragments d’un voyage autour du Monde is “after” Borget and not a faithful reproduction of Borget’s original 1839 drawing. To give a few examples of the differences:  The tree at the left of the drawing has been changed and two coconut trees added.  A cargo barge with very Chinese-looking crew has been placed on the river.  The dimensions of the bridge have been changed; the superstructure is narrower and taller in the lithograph.

The Parancillo Bridge with distant view of the Cathedral Church of the Immaculate Conception, Pasig (31cm x 50cm). Drawing by August Borget (1839) (author’s collection)

Pont et Village de Passig à 6 lieues de Manille (Iles Philippines) (16.5cm x 21cm). Lithograph from Fragments d’un voyage autour du Monde (1845/1850) (Rudolph J.H. Lietz collection)


 A second barge has been placed on the right in the lithograph, with another coconut tree added and the right-side buildings obscured.  People sitting on and ascending the steps have been introduced on the right bank.  The left bank of the river has been severely reduced in size. Splitting hairs, Borget’s image may therefore not be the oldest known picture of the Pasig itself, but it may be the oldest known drawing of the Parancillo Bridge and the stream that is part of the Pasig River system. What is certain is that it is Borget’s drawing that correctly depicts the bridge, and not the later, modified lithograph. I shall leave the history of the Parancillo Bridge to others to provide, but there is a sad photo of the bridge in 1899, its superstructure gone and what then remained in great need of repair.(6) Robin Hutcheon in his book Souvenirs of Auguste Borget (7) can provide no reason for the changes made to Borget’s drawing when the lithographs were run off, save to suggest that such was the public interest in China and the Chinese at the time of publication of the second book (1845) that the publishers felt copies would sell better if a plate or stone was drawn to give the whole a more “Chinese” feel. It’s hard to conclude he’s wrong!

I have visited several libraries and museums in Manila to trace a copy of the original 1845 publication of Fragments (in passing, the ladies at the Philippine National Library were extremely interested and very helpful) but without success. The book must be rare by any standard, and its author and publisher being neither a Filipino nor a Spaniard would make the book unattractive to an investor in this country save one who knows of Borget’s weeklong visit to Manila and his resulting drawings and lithographs. To end, an example of the lithograph came up at Salcedo Auctions in Manila two or three years ago. I was surprised by its size when contrasted with Borget’s original drawing, being merely 16.5 cm x 21 cm compared to the drawing, which measures 31 cm x 50 cm. I was not the successful bidder! I am happy to have returned Borget’s drawing of the Parancillo Bridge to Manila and am open to ideas for it to have a permanent home in this country. Its provenance is from the family of the artist by descent, having been sold at Christie’s, Paris on 1st April 2011 (Lot 170) and subsequently acquired by me from the Martyn Gregory Gallery, London. In conclusion, I am indebted to Robin Hutcheon for details of Auguste Borget’s life and times.

References (1)

The Artist Traveller by David James, Gazette des Beaux-Arts Vol. 46, Paris (1955).



Pasig: River of Life by Reynaldo Gamboa Alejandro and Alfred A. Yuson, Unilever Philippines, Manila (2000), ISBN-13: 978-9719227205; the authority for the quotation is stated to be Pasig: Noon, Ngayon at Bukas, Araw ng Pasig Foundation, Manila (1994).


Letter from Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno to the author dated 27th March 2013.




Souvenirs of Auguste Borget by Robin Hutcheon, South China Morning Post Limited, Hong Kong (1979). The book also includes a reproduction of Borget’s drawing of “Ruins in [Binondo] Manila”, now in the Peabody Essex Museum.

This article is based on the presentation given to PHIMCOS by the author on 7th November, 2018.


A Forest Scene in Jala-Jala

August Borget and Paul de la Gironière by Andoni Aboitiz


URING the week he spent in the Philippines in the summer of 1839, the French artist August Borget made numerous sketches and drawings, at least one of which he turned into an oil painting in 1841. Borget has managed to weave into this painting a snapshot of what the Philippines was like in the mid-19th century. With artistic licence and a keen eye for detail he has created an image of a moment in time with much theatre. At a cursory glance, the picture (overleaf) is a forest scene in which one is first drawn to the majestic tree anchored with impressive buttresses and adorned with vines and leaves. This is a dao (Dracontomelon dao)(1), a giant of the forest known for growing massive roots. As you will grasp, subsequently, this tree is actually the main subject of the canvas. Much of the action later described will somehow be connected to its presence. This is what is happening: A balete (2) has begun its slow but unstoppable assault on the dao as can be seen by the pipelike vine to the right of the tree. Its embrace, not unlike a boa constrictor’s, can almost be firmly felt around the massive trunk. Further to the right (off centre) is a buri palm (Corypha elate)(3) that has flowered, the first and only time it shall do so as botany dictates that the palm will soon die after such a momentous effort on its part. It is high drama of the sort only nature could conjure after many millions of years of experimentation. The flora are silent actors in the struggle for life played out in this picture. The artist has, without doubt, actually made a visit to this forest. For one to create the detail mentioned earlier means he set his eyes on the vegetation and sketched the spectacle in front of him. This was not a painting created from second- or third-hand accounts, which was not uncommon at the time.

Actually, a drawing related to this scene was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1842. Another drawing of Philippine flora (above, from a private collection) clearly illustrates Borget’s skills at drawing en plein air. In contrast to the hushed interaction between the trees, palms and vines, an adrenalinous act is being played out by the men in the buttress roots and in the foreground. Initially, I had assumed the story told in the painting was about Paul de la Gironière and his famous tale of stopping a charging wild carabao from the forest with his firearm. Indeed, this exploit is richly detailed in various images in his books. Paul Proust de la Gironière (1797–1862) was a Frenchman who settled in the Philippines in 1820 and established a large and profitable hacienda of several thousand hectares in JalaJala, a mountainous peninsula at the eastern end of Laguna de Bay now in the province of Rizal, where he grew coffee, indigo and sugarcane.(4) Such was his success that his plantation was very often visited and recognised extensively. 13

A Forest Scene in Jala-Jala by August Borget (private collection)


A wild carabao surprises an Indian (sic), forcing him to take refuge on a tree where it keeps him under watch for two days. Famished, the Indian descended and was sufficiently agile to seize the tail of the animal which fled and, enraged, tried again and again to rid itself of this hindrance. At each attempt the Indian struck it with his knife. He was found dying, next to the dead animal.(6) The scene is almost certainly of Gironière (unmistakable in his European dress!) arriving at the spot and signalling an all-clear to his party, descending from the tree through its enormous buttress roots. The carabao lying on its side at the lower right of the picture bears knife and not rifle wounds. Gironière is clearly holding a staff and not a firearm as I had always assumed. The brave Filipino is prostrate at Gironière's right. Mortally wounded by his life and death skirmish with the wild animal, he has sacrificed himself to save the others. Hence, my conclusion is that Borget was paying tribute to the Filipino and not Gironière. This is the second act of the drama Borget chose to depict in his multidimensional painting. Engraving of Paul de la Gironière as a hunter, from a drawing by Henri Valentin published in Aventures d'un gentilhomme breton aux îles Philippines (Paris, 1855)

In addition, in 1853 he released what would become a bestseller of his time: Vingt Années aux Philippines – Souvenirs de Jala-Jala (5), a rich description of life in the colony in the mid-19th century, including his encounter with the buffle (carabao) shown above. However, after reading a passage in a note attached to the painting, I discovered that the event was not about Gironière but, more interestingly, it was about a kababayan (countryman).

Still, the industriousness of Gironière is represented by the line of trees on the left side of the canvas. This is clearly a plantation and not the tangle that is normal of a natural forest. The peninsula of Jala-Jala was heavily forested at the time of Borget’s visit. The area was known for its vegetation and wild game including buffalo, deer, wild boar and many species of birds. The forest is known to have survived into the 1950s. A patch of blue water is visible on the horizon which must be Laguna de Bay as Jala-Jala sits right on the lake’s edge.

As I mentioned earlier, this painting was not worked on in the Philippines but was based on Borget’s sketches, memoirs and recollections. The catalogue from the Salon contained the following description of the drawing earlier mentioned:


Detail from Borget’s painting of the Jala-Jala Forest showing Gironière discovering the dying Filipino and the dead carabao (private collection)


In conclusion, after studying and analysing the details of this painting I am deeply impressed by the power of nuance contrasted against movement so skilfully employed by August Borget. He has packed into the one painting so many things happening at the same time: – a bountiful Philippines, now extensively and sadly degraded;

– a moment in colonial Philippines when much (if not all) of the economy was in the hands of foreigners; and – an event in the life of a local man reminding us that bravery and the urge to survive are universal. A picture does indeed say a thousand words!

Notes & References (1)

I thank Raphael “Popo” Lotilla for identifying the species, aka the Pacific walnut.


The name balete or strangler fig denotes several tree species in the genus Ficus found in the Philippines. Strangler figs start upon other trees, later entrap them entirely, and finally kill the host tree; see Wikipedia:


The buri palm, the largest and most common palm found in the Philippines, can live for more than 30 years; see


For a detailed account of Gironière’s life in the Philippines see Chapter 6 “A Frenchman in the Philippines: la Gironière” in Denis Nardin, France and the Philippines From the Beginning to the End of the Spanish Regime, translated by Maria Theresa J. Cruz, National Historical Institute, Manila (1989) 2004.


Comptoir des Imprimeurs-Unis, Paris (1853); the next year the book was translated and published in English as Twenty Years in the Philippines, Harper & Brothers, New-York (1854).


Translated from the French: “Un buffle surprend un Indien et le force à se réfugier sur un arbre où il le garde à vue pendant deux jours. Pressé par la faim, l'Indien descendit et fut assez agile pour s'emparer de la queue de l'animal qui se mit à fuir, et, furieux, essayait de temps en temps de se débarrasser de cet obstacle. A chacune de ses tentatives, l'Indien le frappait de son couteau. Il fut trouvè expirant à côté de l'animal mort.”

Borget’s painting of the Jala-Jala Forest was displayed at the PHIMCOS meeting held on 7th November, 2018.


British Naval Actions in the Philippines

during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars by Thomas B. Colvin, Peter Geldart & Christian Perez


RANCE declared war on the Holy Roman Empire in April 1792 and on Great Britain and the Dutch Republic in February 1793. Initially, the Royal Navy assumed that war in India was unlikely and the East Indies were safe; but in 1794 a small East Indies Squadron was formed under the command of Commodore Peter Rainier, based at Fort St. George (Madras).

armed East Indiamen that had transported the 33rd Regiment of Foot from Bengal; and three other ships carrying the Bengal Marine Battalion of Natives. The land forces were commanded by Major-General Sir James Craig, with the 33rd Regiment under the command of the Hon. Colonel Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.

Second British Invasion of the Philippines

In May Arthur Wellesley had warned his brother, Richard Wellesley, the GovernorGeneral of India, of the navigational problem of attacking Manila in the autumn: “Ships cannot lie in Manilla Bay in safety during the south-west monsoon. They cannot get there after the north-east monsoon will have set in, and being in the China Seas at the time of the Change from the south-west to the north-east is attended with much danger [which] would be removed if they would determine to attack a fort (Cavité) which commands the entrance to Manila Bay; … but in that case they must be stronger both in men and stores, as they will have two sieges instead of one.”(3)

Following the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso between Spain and the First French Republic in August 1796, and Spain’s subsequent declaration of war against England, on 9 November, 1796 the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors of the East India Company (EIC) sent a dispatch to the Governments of Bengal (in Calcutta), Fort St. George and Bombay with orders to make preparations for an expedition against the Philippines. The orders stipulated that “the attempt however [is] not to be made if it should either materially interfere with the preservation and defence of the Conquests made from the Dutch, or be found inconsistent with the safety and tranquillity of the British Possessions in India”.(1) The orders were received in India on 23 March, 1797 and Rear-Admiral Rainier (promoted in 1795) “expressed his willingness to co-operate, urged the necessity for speed and warned the Supreme Government that he could leave only one frigate in India for trade protection”.(2) Rainier, who had served on HMS Norfolk, the flagship of Vice-Admiral Samuel Cornish during the first British invasion of Manila in October 1762, was keen to repeat the British investment. In August 1797 the transport ships, carrying 2,059 troops, assembled in Penang. The invasion fleet consisted of six ships of the line (HMS Victorious, HMS Resistance, HMS Trident, HMS Arrogant, HMS Sybille and HMS Centurion); four frigates (HMS Fox, HMS Hobart, HMS Heroine and HMS Swift); a fireship (the Goonong Asi); a bomb vessel (the Vulcan); five

Wellesley believed that the well-armed East Indiamen, carrying disciplined and well-trained troops, would defeat any French frigates they might encounter; but the question of whether the expedition would have been successful against the Spanish forces in Manila (believed to consist of some 20,000 troops, militia and cavalry, supported by up to 150 gunboats and the batteries of dismasted Spanish ships of the line) was never tested. Manila was saved from attack, not by the Spanish, nor by the French, nor even by the typhoons, but by events unfolding on the other side of the world. Rainier received news from Constantinople that the Treaty of Leoben, a peace agreement between France and the Holy Roman Empire, had been signed on 18 April, 1797. France was now in a position to threaten the British in India. On 28 August, 1797 the whole expedition to invade the Philippines was abandoned, and the ships and troops recalled to protect India and the EIC’s trade in the East Indies. 17

Raids on Manila and Zamboanga The failure of the planned invasion did not deter the Royal Navy from raiding Spanish ships in the Philippines. In early 1798 two of Rainer’s ships, the 44-gun ship HMS Sybille (Captain Edward Cooke), which had been captured from the French in 1794, and the 32-gun frigate HMS Fox (Captain Pulteney Malcolm), sailed from Macao with the intention of reconnoitering the Spanish forces in the Philippines and, if possible, seizing two richly-laden ships of La Real Compañía de Filipinas (4) which they believed were about to sail from Manila. The British ships were disguised as French, and on 12 January they captured a small vessel off Luzon whose master informed them that of the eight ships in the Spanish squadron based at Cavite, only one ship-of-the-line and one frigate were seaworthy. The next day Sybille and Fox sailed past Corregidor into Manila Bay; and the following morning, having seen six dismasted ships in Cavite road, they were met by a Spanish guardboat. The captain came on board Fox, where he was informed by the pilot (who spoke French and Spanish) that the two “French” vessels belonged to the squadron of Rear-Admiral Marquis P.C.C. Guillaume de Sercey; that they had been cruising on the coast of China; and that they had come to Manila for refreshment, and to join up with the Spanish ships when they went to sea. The captain replied that the authorities had promised that all the supplies they needed would be provided, but that none of the ships in port would be ready in less than two months as they lacked stores and their crews were sickly. At this juncture Captain Cooke came on board and was introduced by Captain Malcolm as “Commodore Latour”; as both spoke good French, they proceeded to have a lengthy and instructive conversation with the Spanish captain, while drinking to the success of the Spanish and the French against the British. “Having pumped everything they wanted out of their unsuspecting guest, and observing other boats approaching from the shore, Captains Cooke and Malcolm made known who they really were. The Spanish captain nearly fainted with astonishment; but a bumper of Madeira, coupled with an assurance that he should not be detained as a prisoner, recovered him.”(5)


The two boats from Manila, the barge of RearAdmiral Don Ignacio Maria de Álava (who commanded the Spanish squadron in the Philippines) and a falua (felucca), pulled alongside. The officers (including the governor's nephew and one of the admiral’s aides-decamp) “bringing compliments of congratulation on the safe arrival of their friends the French”(4) were invited into Fox’s cabin, where they were informed of the ruse played upon them. In the meantime, the boats’ crews were taken below, and their clothes exchanged with a party of British seamen. Taking the Spanish boat as well as some of their own, the British then successfully captured three Spanish gunboats and another falua, without firing a shot. In total, the British had taken some 200 prisoners, seven boats, three guns and a large number of other weapons, and had obtained much valuable information on the Spanish naval forces in port. Having given the officers and men a good dinner, the British released their captives; and on the morning of 15 January Sybille and Fox sailed out of Manila Bay, with the three gunboats in tow as prizes.

Plan de la Baye de Manille et de ses Environs Verifié sur la Frégate la Meduse en 1789, Depôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine (1798) (Peter Geldart collection)

One of the gunboats was lost in a heavy squall, but the other ships sailed past Mindoro, Panay and Negros to Mindanao, where they arrived off the fort of Zamboanga on 22 January, 1798. Sybille grounded on the small island of Santa Cruz, but after being interrogated by a Spanish boat from the shore, Fox and the gunboats fired on the fort. In the afternoon all four vessels commenced action against the fort and its western battery, and attempted an unsuccessful landing. But fire from the Spanish shore batteries was heavy and well-directed, and after little more than an hour the British broke off the engagement, having suffered casualties of six killed and 16 wounded. This action was recorded by Alexander Dalrymple in Track of HM Ship Fox to the Attack of Samboangan on the Island Mageendanao, by P. Heywood. The next day the two gunboats were destroyed as they were not fit for the return voyage. En route, the ships stopped at Pollock Harbour on Bongo Bay to the east of Zamboanga to take on badly-needed water, where two seamen were killed and nine captured by the natives; they were eventually freed by the local sultan, but not before HMS Fox and HMS Sybille had returned to Canton for convoy duty. This event was recorded by Dalrymple in Plan of Pollock Bay on the Island Magindanao, by P. Heywood 1798 (London, 11 Jan. 1805) which carries the note: “NB. At this Watering Place, 11 of the Crew of HM Ship La Sybille were cut off by the Natives on 31st Jan.y 1798.”

The Battle of San Jacinto(6) Hostilities between Britain and France ceased with the Treaty of Amiens (signed in March 1802), which was viewed as a “time-out” by the French and with distrust by the British. In Spain the treaty was greeted with jubilation and, as a consequence, the six ships of the Spanish fleet stationed in Cavite (including the 34-gun frigate Fama) returned to Spain in January 1803. The peace did not last; England again declared war on Napoleon in May 1803. The Fama, having separated from the fleet for repairs in Montevideo, joined a four-ship treasure fleet sailing for Spain. The Spanish ships were attacked and defeated by a British fleet under Commodore Graham Moore at Cape Santa Maria in October 1804, and on 12 December 1804 Spain declared war against England. Manila heard the news when the galleon Magallanes arrived from Mexico in April 1805, and it was confirmed at the end of May with the arrival from Île de France (now Mauritius) of the French 32-gun frigate La Sémillante (Captain Léonard-Bernard Motard). The GovernorGeneral, Rafael María de Aguilar, needed funds for the defence of Manila because the authorities in Mexico, fearing another capture following the loss of their treasure ships at Cape Santa Maria, had sent the Magallanes to Manila without the annual situado (subsidy) of 500,000 silver pesos. As the galleon needed extensive repairs, and could not leave on its return passage to Mexico in June, Captain Motard was requested to make La Sémillante ready for a voyage to Acapulco to collect the badly-needed situado.

˂ Track of HM Ship Fox to the Attack of Samboangan on the Island Mageendanao, by P. Heywood by Alexander Dalrymple (London, 30 Nov. 1804) (National Library of Australia MAP Ra 29 v. 2, Plate 151)


Plan and View of St. Jacinto on Ticao ˃ by I.D. of the Panther Man-of-War. 1763 by Alexander Dalrymple (London, 5 August, 1774) (Biblioteca Nacional de España MR/6/I SERIE 53/232)

Meanwhile, Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew had taken command of the Royal Navy’s East Indies squadron. His primary responsibility was to protect the convoys of East Indiamen sailing to and from Canton, and in July 1805 five East Indiamen sailed from Penang escorted by the 54-gun ship-of-theline HMS Cornwallis (a former East Indiaman), the 38-gun frigate HMS Phaeton (Captain John Wood), and the 18-gun brig-sloop HMS Harrier (Captain Edward Ratsky). In the China Sea, Phaeton and Harrier left the convoy and took station southwest of Manila Bay off Cabras Island (Goat Island, in the Lubang group). From 22 July, Harrier cruised along the coasts of Batangas and Mindoro from Fortune Island to Puerto Galera, capturing a Philippine galley near Verde Island; exchanging fire with a lancha (launch) and two faluas off Calapan; and capturing the Del Carmen, another galley (with a valuable cargo), near Fortune Island. On 25 July Harrier attacked the Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, sailing from Manila to Zamboanga, but was then chased off by La Sémillante (which was following the Dolores) after exchanging fire. Although the presence of the British ships soon became widely known from Batangas to Manila and the Visayas, Captain Wood resolved to look for the French frigate. Phaeton joined Harrier at Cabras and the two ships explored the San Bernardino Strait to the south of Marinduque; captured a trading ship from Sulu off the southern tip of Mindoro; and, having sailed along the coast of Burias Island and rounded the north point of Ticao Island, headed for the port of San Jacinto on the east coast of Ticao. Meanwhile La Sémillante had attempted to sail through the Embocadero, at the eastern end of the San Bernardino Strait, on her journey to Acapulco, but was forced back by the winds and 20

currents. On 28 July, she anchored within the small, sheltered harbour of San Jacinto that for centuries had re-provisioned the Manila galleons before they set sail across the Pacific. In the early afternoon of 3 August, 1805 (or, according to the French accounts, on 2 August)(7) the British ships arrived at San Jacinto. Captain Motard had already reinforced the onshore batteries with guns, cannonballs and watchmen and, having spotted the enemy, the French frigate cut its cables, dropped kedge anchors, and was towed through a narrow channel to ground in shallow water protected by a rock wall and the batteries to the south of the harbour. When the British were in range La Sémillante opened fire. Having cleared for battle, Harrier returned fire and headed into the bay; soon after Phaeton, firing her broadsides, followed Harrier into the harbour which, at six fathoms, was too shallow to allow much maneuverability. The Battle of San Jacinto, the furthermost from Europe of all those fought between the French and the British during the Napoleonic wars, was not a long one. Harrier and Phaeton kept up fire on La Sémillante, but were themselves under fire not only from the French ship but also from

a number of gunboats and five batteries on the south point at the entrance to the bay. In danger of drifting onto dangerous rocks, and having suffered considerable damage to their masts, rigging and boats, within three hours the British ships tacked, sailed out of the bay, discontinued the action, and anchored, leaving the village (including the stone church and storehouse) in flames. La Sémillante remained secure, sheltered by the rocks and covered by the shore batteries. The outcome of the battle was inconclusive.(8) The British sustained only two men wounded and, according to the French,(9) La Sémillante’s casualties were also light with four dead and 11 wounded.(10) The next day Motard, who had gained the support of the natives who were “happy with his success [and] glad to have seen the heretics in retreat”(9), prepared his ship for a second battle; but the British realised that La Sémillante was too well protected and decided not to attack. Two days later Phaeton and Harrier sailed through the San Bernardino Strait to shelter (and keep watch) in the harbour of Palapag on the north coast of Samar, but then returned (via Albay) to Macao. La Sémillante stayed in San Jacinto until 12 August, but had suffered too much damage to continue on her voyage; Motard, worried that the British would return with reinforcements, abandoned the voyage to Acapulco and sailed back to Mauritius (via the

east coast of Samar and Mindanao), leaving the Spanish authorities with many worries and no money for at least another year. In 1774 Alexander Dalrymple had published a Plan and View of St. Jacinto on Ticao by I.D. of the Panther Man-of-War. 1763 with an attractive drawing of the fort; and in 1807 the Direccion Hidrografica in Madrid published a detailed Plano del Puerto de S. Jacinto situado el la parte N. de la Isla de Ticao en el Estrecho de S.n Bernardino by Felipe Bauzá y Cañas, the cartographer for the 1789-94 Malaspina expedition. Today San Jacinto is a town of some 30,000 inhabitants, where the main sources of income are fishing and farming, the fort lies in ruins, and the children play next to the Spanish cannon. Capture of the Treasure Ships The arrival of British warships in Philippine waters caused great alarm in Manila and across the archipelago, especially concerning the safety of the Manila galleon and the treasure ships of the Real Compañía. A number of exceptionally violent typhoons prevented further engagements for the remainder of 1805, but in early 1806 the 32-gun frigate HMS Greyhound (Captain Charles Elphinstone, who was a junior officer on Fox in 1798) arrived in the Sulu Sea and, having sailed north to Manila Bay on 20 March, captured a

Inset Plano del Puerto de S. Jacinto in an undated manuscript map from the Malaspina Expedition by Felipe Bauzá y Cañas (Christian Perez collection)


Spanish gunboat near Calapan, the Spanish brig San Rafael (flying American colours), and seven intra-island pontoons. Greyhound then returned to Penang with her booty, pursued by a fleet of Spanish gunboats, but her luck ran out when (now under the command of Captain Hon. William Packenham) she struck the Bagualatan or Iba shoal off the coast of Luzon and was wrecked in October 1808.(11) In 1805 the East Indiaman Tellicherry had carried 166 convicts from England to Botany Bay, and in April 1806 she was on her return passage from Sydney to Canton (to take on a cargo of tea) via the Eastern Passage through the Sea of Mindoro when she struck a reef near Apo Shoal and sank. All 35 crew and passengers were rescued by Filipino mariners and taken to the headquarters of the Real Compañía in Cavite, from where they departed in August for Macao in the American brig Eutaco. Meanwhile Phaeton, having undergone major repairs in Macao, was preparing to escort a convoy back to England when Captain Wood learned (presumably from the passengers on Eutaco) that a Spanish treasure ship was soon to depart Manila, travelling up the western side of Luzon rather than through the San Bernardino Strait in order to avoid any English warships that might be lying in wait near the Embocadero. Phaeton took station off Cape Bojeador, at the northwest tip of Luzon, and promptly captured the Principe Fernando, one of the principal merchant ships of the Real Compañía; she was subsequently ransomed for 400,000 pesos, and resumed her voyage to Lima in September, 1806. The Principe Fernando was ill-fated; she had already been captured by HMS Terpsichore off the Canary Islands in 1797 (and ransomed for 175,000 pesos), and thus became the only Spanish treasure ship to be captured by the British in both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. In early 1807 the British claimed another prize. In search of prize money, Pellew had sent the 36-gun frigate HMS Caroline (Captain Peter Rainier, the admiral’s nephew) to patrol the eastern approaches of the San Bernardino Strait. With considerable good luck, on 28 January Caroline spotted the San Rafael, another treasure ship of the Real Compañía, returning to Manila from Lima. After a chase


and brief exchange of fire, the San Rafael struck her colours and was taken to Penang with her valuable cargo, mainly copper and 500,000 Spanish dollars in silver. In the meantime, in 1806 Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen, Captain-General of the French East Indies, had sent another French frigate, the Canonnière (Captain César-Joseph Bourayne), to Cavite for repairs. In February 1807 the new Governor-General, Mariano Fernández de Folgueras, requested Captain Bourayne to escort the Manila galleon and a frigate of the Real Compañía to Acapulco. This time the mission was a success; the Canonnière was back in Manila at Christmas, having escaped from three British frigates on its journey, and returned to Port Louis in July 1808.(12) In October 1808 Phaeton (Captain Fleetwood Pellew) was involved in the “Nagasaki Harbour Incident” when she entered Nagasaki harbour under a Dutch flag, captured the Dutch representatives from the VOC’s trading post at Dejima, forced the Nagasaki Magistrate to provide supplies, and escaped before the troops and ships mobilised by the Japanese could arrive. Subsequently Phaeton saw action in the invasion of Île de France (1810) and the conquest of Java (1811); sailed home in 1812; returned to the East Indies in 1819; and was finally broken up in 1828. Conclusion The two decades that spanned the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars were a period of great anxiety for the Spanish authorities in the Philippines. Although they were spared attacks on land, the economy of the colony was badly affected by the threat to its trade and the disruption of the voyages of the Manila galleon. With its strategic location spanning the eastern passages from India to China, the Philippines was a potential threat to British trade with Canton; but although the planned invasion was aborted, as the Spanish navy posed little danger and the French navy was largely absent, throughout the wars the British were able to profit from their raids on Manila and the freedom to take prize vessels from the seas surrounding and within the archipelago.

Sources, References & Notes (1)

East India Company, Memorandum regarding a proposed Philippine Expedition 1797, MS in “Papers concerning the Philippines and Penang” IOR/H/77 : 1762-1820 (pp. 325-41), British Library, London.


C. Northcote Parkinson, War in the Eastern Seas, 1793-1815, George Allen & Unwin, London (1954).


Letter from Colonel Wesley to Lord Mornington in Supplementary Despatches and Memoranda of Field Marshal Arthur Duke of Wellington, K.G., India 1797-1805, Volume II, John Murray, London (1858).


La Real Compañía de Filipinas, established by royal decree in 1785, was given a monopoly of trade between Spain and the Philippines (both direct and via South America). The citizens of Manila were allotted 3,000 shares, which they did not take up as the new company was effectively in competition with the Manila galleon. The Real Compañía did not prosper and, although it was rechartered and recapitalised in 1805, its privileges were revoked in 1830. See: William Lytle Schurz, The Royal Philippine Company, The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. III (November 1920).


William James, The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV - Vol. II, Richard Bentley, London (1837).


See: Thomas B. Colvin, British Naval Actions in the Philippines, 1805-1807, Selected Papers of the 24th Annual Manila Studies Conference, De La Salle – College of St. Benilde, Malate, Manila (2015).


In this article dates are given according to the British calendar, but French accounts use the (locally correct) dates from the calendar used by the Spanish, under which the de facto international date line was set to the west of the Philippines so that travellers to the archipelago from New Spain would not lose a day, or gain a day on the return journey.


The only comprehensive victory of the French navy over the British navy during the Napoleonic wars was the Battle of Grand Port (Mauritius) in 1810, in which four British frigates were lost.


Vice-Amiral E. Jurien de la Gravière, “Les Cinq Batailles de La Sémillante“, in Revue des Deux Mondes, Volume LXXXIII, Paris (1887); translation by Christian Perez.


British sources give French casualties of 13 dead and 36 injured.


The Naval Chronicle for 1810 Vol. XXIV (From July to December), Joyce Gold, London.


Denis Nardin, France and the Philippines From the Beginning to the End of the Spanish Regime, translated by Maria Theresa J. Cruz, National Historical Institute, Manila (1989) 2004.

This article is based on the presentation given to PHIMCOS by the authors on 30 May, 2018. Contemporary Japanese drawing of HMS Phaeton (image courtesy of Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture)



Earthquakes and Calamities in the Philippines

Through colonial written sources and maps of the 17th & 18th centuries by Jorge Mojarro


ARTHQUAKES, volcanic eruptions and typhoons have long played a crucial role in the development of social life in the Philippines.(1) The study of such geological and meteorological events began to be a serious concern in the 18th century, when some enlightened friars started to see these catastrophic phenomena as something else than a mere manifestation of God’s will. Jesuit friar Miguel Saderra Masó, in his pioneer research about geological events in the Philippines, was able to compute 102 earthquakes from 1599 to 1865, 433 from 1866 to 1879, and 464 from 1880 to 1889.(2) The increase in the number of earthquakes recorded shows that the technology to register those events had substantially improved during the last decades of the 19th century, especially since the foundation of the Observatorio de Manila in 1865, located then at Padre Faura Street. In order to come out with that exhaustive list of earthquakes and tremors, Fr. Saderra Masó had to rely on manuscripts and some printed sources. Needless to say, when an earthquake was more destructive and calamitous, more people felt the need to leave a first-hand witness account of what happened. Among these there are two kinds of colonial texts in which we can find very reliable testimonies: – Relaciones de sucesos or “accounts of events”: these were the predecessors of actual newspapers, in which news about the missions in the Cordillera, the defence against Moro attacks in the Visayas, some extraordinary miracles, naval battles against the Dutch or the English, and disastrous earthquakes were punctually printed in Manila from the foundation of the first European printing press in 1604.(3) Some of them had very eloquent titles, as for example Relación de la valerosa defensa de los Naturales Bisayas del Pueblo de Palompong en la Ysla de Leyte, de la Provincia de Catbalogan en las Yslas Philipinas, que hicieron contra las Armas Mahometanas de Ylanos y Malanos en el mes de junio de 1754 24

[“Account of the brave defense carried out by Bisayas Natives from the town of Palompong, in the Island of Leyte, of the Province of Catbalogan in the Philippine Islands against the Muslim Armies of Ylanos and Maranos, in June 1754”], Imprenta de la Compañía de Jesús, Manila (1754). – Ecclesiastical chronicles: far from being the boring history of religious affairs indicated in the title, these voluminous books deal with any kind of topic, including civil affairs, wars, new missions with uncontacted people, biographies of notable people, and gossip. Although they are geographically limited to the areas where the religious orders worked, they do attest any kind of geological or environmental event when it happened. Dominicans were the most active chroniclers of their provinces, publishing their Historia de la Provincia del Sancto Rosario … en Philippinas, Iapon, y China by Fr. Diego Aduarte in 1640, with updates by Fr. Baltasar de Santa Cruz in 1693, Fr. Vicente de Salazar in 1742, Fr. Domingo Collantes in 1783, and Fr. Juan Ferrando and Fr. Joaquin Fonseca in 1870-72.(4) The first extraordinary event that was widely registered by the Spanish in the Philippines was the alleged explosion of three volcanos at the same time on 4th January, 1641: in the Sangihe Islands (between Mindanao and North Sulawesi in Indonesia); on Sulu Island; and in Ilocos. A short, rare leaflet titled Strange event of three volcanoes, two with fire and one with water, which exploded [on 4th January of this year of 1641] at the same time in different areas of these Philippine Islands, with huge bangs in the air like artillery and musket fire.(5) This curious account describes how a navy team coming back to Manila from Zamboanga, after doing some repairs in the Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, decided to prepare for combat after hearing the noises caused by a volcano exploding in an island near Sulu, as they thought they were being attacked by artillery.(6) The sky became vastly dark, and a fine rain of ashes started to cover the boats.(7)

The sources are quite expressive when it comes to telling the inexpressible pain the population suffered: “There was so much weeping and wailing that it seemed like the Day of Judgement had arrived. Some wept for their children, who had been entombed in the ruins, others wept for their parents and relatives, and some had no one to console them because they had lost their entire families in the catastrophe; and all of us cried for our sins, that had brought about this punishment.”(8)

Ecclesiastical chronicles tried invariably to explain the extraordinary events from the point of view of Catholic faith; that is, as an unavoidable divine punishment caused by the immorality in which the citizens of the archipelago were living. Gaspar de San Agustín decorates his vivid account of this calamity with some horrific moral examples: “A young man, who liked to have too much fun, was having dinner that night with a woman, with whom he had unlawful communication. They did not care about their salvation. They were caught by the earthquake, which ruined the whole house, burying those two miserable sinners who, with much embarrassment and surprise, had the chance to ask God for his mercy.” “One of the main women of Manila was lucky enough to get out from her house and find a safe place when she felt the earthquake. However, she remembered her jewellery box and, defeated by her greed, she came back to her house in order to take it; but since it is not lawful to look for danger, it happened what will happen when you threaten the Holy Spirit, and so she died because of the house falling on her, providing her a burial with her beloved jewels as a punishment for her greed.”

What happened was quite unfortunate. Big fires had traditionally been a source of tragedy in Manila, from the very foundation of the city, given that most houses were made of flammable materials, especially cogon and wood. As a consequence, the most prominent families had decided in previous years to build their houses with more solid materials, such as brick and stone. It was precisely those cautious families who were the ones who suffered the most casualties during the 1641 Manila earthquake. Probably the most outstanding fact of this multiple geological event was the formation of what today is called Paoay Lake, located near the sand dunes of Ilocos, between San Nicolás and Paoay. This is what the Jesuit account tries to explain as the explosion of a “volcano of water which expelled big stones”. The shaking was such that it abruptly changed the orography of the area. As a consequence, the village of San Juan de Sahagún, under the care of the Augustinian friars, was forever submerged under the waters of the new lake. Oddly enough, I have not been able to find any map noting the presence of this lake until the sketch of Ilocos by Reinato Fruneau: Parte de la costa de Ylocos en la Ysla de Luzón donde se hallan fondeadero para Buques de Porte (1791). The lake was called then “Pahuay”. The second appearance, under the name of “Lago de Nalbuan”, is found in the Plano esférico de las provincias del norte y sur de Ilocos en las Yslas Filipinas o Nueva Castilla by Juan de Sevilla, Depocito (sic) Topografico de Manila (1821).

“That is how the City of Manila fell to the ground, which had been the admiration of Asia until that moment, with such luxurious buildings and whose beauty was commonly praised by visitors who did not find the way to exaggerate her greatness and used to say that, if the world were a ring, Manila would be the diamond.”(9) Detail from Parte de la costa de Ilocos en la ˃ Ysla de Luzón … by Reinato Fruneau (1791) (Biblioteca Nacional de España MR/42/567)


˂ Plano esférico de las provincias del norte y sur de Ilocos en las Yslas Filipinas o Nueva Castilla by Juan de Sevilla (1821), with detail of Lago de Nalbuan ѵ (Biblioteca Nacional de España R/3106 MAPA 4)

General maps of the Philippines tended to ignore this middle-size lake even in the late 19th century; for example, it does not appear in the Carta General del Archipiélago Filipino by Claudio Montero y Gay (Madrid, 1875). The next highly destructive earthquake took place in the province of Tayabas at the beginning of 1743. I was lucky to find an extremely rare printed leaflet by Franciscan friar Melchor de San Antonio in the New York Public Library that provides a complete depiction of the destruction caused by the tremors originated in Mount Banahaw: Brief and truthful account of the sorrowful destruction carried out by earthquakes and tremors in the churches and convents located in the surroundings of the mountains of Tayabas, Lukban, Mahahay, Liliw and Nagcarlan on January 12th of this year 1743, between 5 & 6pm, in these Philippine Islands.(10)


The said friar felt the earthquake in Gumacá but, instead of going directly to the towns and villages around Mt. Banahaw, he decided to continue his pastoral visitation in the provinces of Camarines and Albay. He passed through the areas affected only after two months, when on his way back to Manila, and was able to compile information regarding fatalities, the destruction caused to major buildings, and plans to move certain towns (e.g. Sariaya) to avoid future damage.

ᴧ Detail of Mounts San Cristobal, Mahayhay and Banahao from Croquis de una parte de la Provincia ѵ de Tayabas (1831), by José María Peñaranda (Biblioteca Nacional de España MR/42/586)

The printed source also reflects doubt regarding the very nature of Mt. Banahaw that can be seen in maps of the area: they did not know if it was just a volcano with three mouths or three separate mountains, namely Banahaw, San Cristóbal (to the west) and Banahaw de Lucbán (to the east). The earliest map providing a detailed description of Tayabas province is Croquis de una parte de la Provincia de Tayabas (1831), by the military engineer and cartographer José María Peñaranda, where Mt. Banahaw is named Mahayhay, and Banahaw de Lucbán is named Banahao. Peace did not last long in the province of Laguna: a drawing in the Archivo Franciscano Ibero-Oriental in Madrid by a certain Manuel Magno de Valenzuela depicts the earlier, lighter eruptions of Taal volcano that happened on two days in August 1749 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., comparing the state of the area full of scalding lava and smoke. This previous eruption, still active in June 1750, was a sinister warning of what would happen a few years later. According to historians and geologists, the most destructive geological event that ever occurred in the Philippines was the extraordinary, continuous eruption of Taal volcano during most of the year 1754. The horrendous seven-month eruption of Taal volcano, and the subsequent earthquakes, were described by a Jesuit historian as one of worst natural calamities ever recorded in the archipelago.(11) This event alone produced many written testimonies – five manuscripts and two small imprints: a. a lively and detailed Relación de lo sucedido en el volcán de la Provincia de Taal en año 1754, by the Augustinian Miguel Braña, the prior of Tanauan;(12) b. the Descripción ajustada y exacta relación del bolcán de Taal, y de su furiosa erupción en el año de 1754, most probably by the same author;(13) c. an anonymous manuscript located at the Biblioteca Nacional de México, Relación de lo sucedido con el volcán de la laguna de Bonbong, provincia de Taal y Balayang; d. an account by the Franciscan friar Francisco Bencuchillo (1710-1776);(14)

e. a brief first-hand account by a Jesuit, titled Relación del volcán de Taal por un padre que tiene su misión vecina a dicho volcán, whose only known version is a Spanish translation from the French;(15) f. an anonymous work titled Breve relación de los incendios, tempestades, huaracanes, terremotos y ruinas padecidos en las Islas Philippinas, principalmente en la Provincia de Taal y Balayan desde el 15 de mayo al 4 de diciembre de 1754, y ocasionadas de los continuados reventones del volcán o volcanes que llaman de la Laguna de Bongbong, Herederos de la Viudad de D. Joseph Hogal, Mexico (1759); and(16) g. Relación de lo acaecido en este Pueblo de Taal y Casaysay, en las Islas Filipinas, desde el día dos de Junio by Martín de Aguirre, OSA, Imprenta Nueva de la Biblioteca Mexicana, Mexico (1756).(17) This last source is a chronological and not excessively detailed account of the development of eruptions of Taal volcano from 2nd June until 4th December 1754. Fr. Aguirre composed a brief, hurried and dramatic narration of the destruction of the town of Taal, and the reader can feel at times the author is struggling to find the correct words to properly express the immensity of the disaster. The initial explosion is followed by three months of intermittent loud explosions and flows of very black smoke, until 24th September, when a violent rain of stones and ashes is accompanied by continuous tremors and enormous bangs. He expresses that, from the very beginning, there were “earthquakes with such a loud noise that we felt deaf and could barely hear what two people together would say to each other”.(18) By that date, several houses of the town had already fallen down, including some properties of the mayor. The situation worsened from the end of September until 1st November: “We suffered many tremors, much thunder and lightning, an extraordinary buzz, and several rains of ashes, mud and sand, although it was not continuous because there were ceasefires of an entire day, sometimes even of three or four days, but from 1st November until today everything has been horrendous,


Volcán de Taal by Manuel Magno de Valenzuela a drawing of the eruptions of Taal volcano in 1749-50 (Archivo Franciscano Ibero-Oriental, Madrid AFIO 50/21) (image courtesy of Fr. Cayetano Sánchez OFM, with thanks)


˃ Mapa del territorio de Batangas by Manuel Blanco (1832) (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin PPN 618602429)

there is not a single hour without terrible thunder, lightning: artillery gunfire, with such loud noise, as if two armies were fighting. The fire has gone up until it cannot be seen. Tremors of three days and nights, without any pause. Rains of stones, ashes and sand, with other brews from hell, that have caused several floods and killed many animals and some people”.(19)

The spectacle of devastation and the incoming threats were such that Fr. Aguirre decided to escape to the neighbouring village of Casaysay. He was followed a few days later by the major and his acolyte. In Casaysay their situation did not improve that much. The accumulation of mud in the roofs was threatening the houses, darkness was permanent, there was nothing to eat and drinking water was being transported from Bauan. As if the situation was not desperate enough, a violent hurricane arrived on 2nd December, demolishing the few standing houses and leaving Aguirre and his companions out in the open. It is only then, when the friar says he does not possess anything but the clothes he is wearing, that the narrative becomes personal, and the narrator emphasizes the sincerity and truthfulness of his account. He laments the loss of human lives and livestock, and describes himself as más negro que un carbonero (“blacker than a coalman”). As a consequence, old Tanauan was literally buried, and only very recently Thomas Hargrove

has been able to dive in the lake and find the town’s underwater remains.(20) Fr. Braña’s map of the towns surrounding Taal lake (or Laguna de Bombong, as it was called then) is very eloquent regarding the deep transformation the area suffered. The thin channel that used to connect the lake with the ocean was closed; therefore, the originally salty lake had a biological change which affected the people whose livelihood depended on the food provided by the lake. Lipa and Taal were removed from the shores of the lake and relocated in safer areas, and a completely new town of Tanauan was founded by the survivors of the old town. Cartography was logically affected by this tremendous catastrophe. Maps that uncritically copied Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde’s great Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica delas Yslas Filipinas (Manila 1734) did not reflect the changes that had occurred in the area. A map by the Augustinian botanist Fr. Manuel Blanco, Mapa del territorio de Batangas (1832),(21) was able to place accurately the new locations of the towns, but still showed the channel that used to link the lake and the open sea. It is only from the middle of the 19th century that maps begin to show that channel of water, the Pansipit river, as it is today, for example in the Estudio Geológico del Volcán de Taal by José Centeno (Madrid, 1885) and the map of the Isla de Luzon y sus Adyacentes by Enrique d’Almonte y Muriel (Madrid, 1883). 29

Notes & References (1)

See Greg Bankoff, Cultures of Disaster: Society and natural hazard in the Philippines, Routledge / Curzon, London and New York (2003).


Miguel Saderra Masó, La seismología en Filipinas, Establecimiento Tipo-Litográfico de Ramírez y Compañía, Manila (1895).


We know of at least three titles printed in the Philippines by the Chinese xylographic method from 1593.


Some long excerpts from these works are available in English in the 55-volume compilation The Philippine Islands 1493-1898 by Emma Blair & James Robertson, Arthur J. Clark Company, Cleveland (1903-1909).


The original Spanish title is Succeso raro de tres volcanes, dos de fuego y uno de agua, que reventaron a un mismo tiempo en diferentes partes de estas Islas Filipinas, con grande estruendo por los ayres, como de artillería y mosquetería, Compañía de Jesús, Manila (1645).


An online source indicates that the 1641 eruption did not happen in the Sulu Islands, as Spanish sources suggest, but in Parker volcano, locally called Meligenboy, 25 kms. east from General Santos, Mindanao; see


This multiple explosion was recorded in the following sources: José Fayol, Relación de varios sucesos de mar y tierra en estos últimos años hasta el temblor y ruina del día de San Andrés en 1645, y las peleas y victorias navales contra el holandés en 1646 (Manila, 1647); José Fayol, Epytome y relación general de varios sucesos de mar y tierra desde que fue a ellas por su gobernador D. Diego Faxardo... Manila (1648); Alonso de Paredes, Verdadera relación de la gran destrucción, que con permiso de nuestro Señor, ha habido en la ciudad de Manila… Madrid (1649); Pedro Murillo Velarde, Historia de la Provincia de Filipinas de la Compañía de Jesús, Manila (1749); Juan de la Concepción, Historia General de Filipinas, Sampaloc (1788); and Casimiro Díaz [Gaspar de San Agustín], Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, Valladolid (1891).


In “True account of the great destruction that, with God’s permission, has happened in the city of Manila” by Alonso de Paredes op. cit.


Casimiro Díaz [Gaspar de San Agustín], Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, Valladolid (1891), pp. 474-484.

(10) The original Spanish title is Breve y verídica relación del
lastimoso estrago que hicieron los terremotos y temblores en las iglesias y conventos que están en las faldas de los montes de Sariaya, Tayabas, Lucbán, Mahayhay, Lilio y Nagcarlán el día 12 de enero de este año de 1743, entre las cinco y las seis horas de la tarde, en estas Islas Filipinas, Imprenta de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, Sampaloc (1743). Transcribed and annotated in “Relaciones de sucesos y terremotos en la Filipinas del siglo XVIII” by Jorge Mojarro Romero, Titivillus: International Journal of Rare Books, 4 (2018), pp. 91-123. (11) “Another eruption of Taal Volcano, the most terrible in the history of the Islands. All the towns which surrounded Lake Bombon were destroyed completely. When rebuilt, they were placed at a distance from the lake. There occurred most violent earthquakes which produced disasters in the neighbouring provinces equal to, if not exceeding those of 1749. The spasms, separated by intervals of greater or less duration, lasted 7 months, the principal outbursts being always accompanied by very intense earthquakes which made themselves felt throughout a large part of Luzon, on Mindoro Island, and northern Panay.” See Miguel Saderra Masó, Catalogue of violent and destructive earthquakes in the Philippines. With an appendix: Earthquakes in the Marianas Islands, 1599-1909, Bureau of Printing, Manila (1910), p. 10. (12) Miguel Braña (1719-1774), born in Villamoronta, Palencia, arrived in the Philippines in 1739, where he spent the rest of his life. He worked in the parishes of Tondo, Tanauan, Bauan and Batangas, and died in Imus. His biographers list several circumstantial manuscripts authored by him, but none dealing with the Taal eruption. See Gregorio de Santiago Vela, Ensayo de una Biblioteca Ibero-Americana de la Orden de San Agustín, Imprenta del Asilo de Huérfanos del S. C. de Jesús, Madrid (1914), vol. I, pp. 448-449. (13) See José Ángel del Barrio Muñoz, “Nuevas fuentes para el estudio de la erupción del volcán Taal, 1754” in Anuario de Estudios Americanos, 72, 1, enero-junio 2015, pp. 233-262. The manuscript is located at the Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico. 30

(14) A typewritten copy by José Selgas, SJ can be found at the Observatorio de Manila, Ateneo de Manila. Fr. Bencuchillo is well known for having written an Arte Poético Tagalog which was edited by W. Retana in the first volume of his Archivo del Bibliófilo Filipino Madrid (1895). He also left a very curious Epítome de la historia de la Aparición de Nra. Senora de Caysasay que se venera en el Pueblo de Taal de la provincia de Batangas, y su Sagrada Novena, Sampaloc (1834), translated into Tagalog in 1863. (15) Diego Davin (comp.), Cartas edificantes y curiosas escritas de misiones extranjeras y de Levante por algunos misioneros de la Compañía de Jesús, Imprenta de la Viuda de Manuel Fernández, Madrid (1757), tomo XVI, 1757, pp. 50-54. It has been reedited in Mojarro Romero (2018) op. cit. pp. 124-125. (16) The only copy of this outstanding and late anonymous printed account is at the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, probably from the library of the bibliophile José Toribio Medina (1852-1930). It was transcribed and annotated in Mojarro Romero (2018) op. cit. pp. 120-124. (17) The only extant copies are located at the Lilly Library, Indiana University, and the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile. This could be the same typewritten item (by Fr. Jose Selgás), currently kept at the Observatorio de Manila, copied before World War II from a manuscript at the Convento de San Agustín, Intramuros. (18) “… temblores de tierra con un murmullo tan grande que nos tenía sordos y apenas se podía percibir lo que hablaban dos que se hallaban juntos”. Pages in the imprint are unnumbered. (19) “… padecimos muchos temblores, muchos truenos, relámpagos, un zumbido extraordinario, muchas lluvias de ceniza, lodo y arena, aunque no era continua, pues daba treguas de un día, y algunas veces de tres y cuatro, pero desde el día primero de noviembre hasta el presente todo ha sido horrores, apenas ha pasado hora que no haya habido terribles truenos, relámpagos, artillería, fusilería, con tanto estruendo como si dos ejércitos pelearan. Fuego que ha subido hasta perderse de vista. Temblores de tres días con su noches, sin intermisión. Lluvias de piedra, ceniza y arena, con otros menjurjes infernales, que han causado muchas avenidas y se han llevado muchos animales y algunas personas”. (20) Thomas Hargrove, The Mysteries of Taal, Bookmark, Manila (1991). (21) Published in Mapa general de las almas que administran los PP. Agustinos Calzados en estas islas Filipinas, Impienta de D. Miguel Sanchez, Manila (1845).

This article is based on the presentation given to PHIMCOS on 30th May, 2018; the author is Associate Professorial Lecturer III, Department of Literature, University of Santo Tomas, Manila.

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