Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Philippine Islands

PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, a group of islands, a possession of the United States, forming a part of the Eastern Archipelago. They extend between lat. 21° 10' and 4° 40' north, 116° 40' and 126° 34' east. The total length is about 1150 statute miles, and the width about 650 miles.

There are over 3,100 islands, of which 1,473 are without names. The largest islands are Luzon, 40,969 square miles; Mindanao, 36,292 square miles; Samar, 5,031 square miles; Negros, 4,881 square miles; Panay, 4,611 square miles; Palawan, 4,027 square miles; and Mindoro, 3,861 square miles.

Topography.—The topography of the islands is varied. Nearly all are heavily wooded and most of them are traversed by mountain ranges. The two largest islands, Luzon and Mindanao, have broad plains and level valleys. The east coast of Luzon is bordered for 350 miles by a high mountain range, the Sierra Madre. West of this is the fertile valley of Cagayan river, where the largest part of the tobacco is grown.

Climate.—The climate of the archipelago is warm, as it lies entirely within the tropics. Northeast trade winds prevail from November to June, and the east coasts have a heavy rainfall. The temperature does not vary greatly during the day. There are frequent cyclonic storms of wind and rain which are known as typhoons. These frequently do great damage.

Collier's 1921 Philippine Islands - country house typical of native Filipinos.jpg
© E. M. Newman

Agriculture.—There are great possibilities for agriculture and these have been greatly developed during the American occupation. The chief products are rice, abaca, sugar, coconuts, corn, and tobacco. The year 1918 was the best yet experienced in the agricultural industry. The total value of the leading crops was about 350,000,000 pesos (a peso equals $.50).

Commerce.—The commerce of the isl- ands has greatly increased in recent years. The trade for 1919 exceeded that of any other year. Imports were valued at $107,774,263, which was about 30 per cent, more than in 1918, and about double the average before the World War. The chief imports were of machinery, cotton, textiles, and rice. The exports for 1919 were valued at $122,729,238, an increase of about $6,000,000 over the value of the exports for 1918. The remarkable development of the coconut oil manufacturing industry was the chief feature of trade in 1918. The sugar trade of the island was benefited greatly by post-war conditions. The average figure received per pound was 4.3 cents. Of the total foreign trade, imports from the United States were valued at $64,645,144, and the exports to the United States at $79,333,548.

Mineral Resources.—The islands are rich in minerals, but so far the product has not been greatly developed. Over one hundred mineral species and varieties have been classified. Coal and gold have been found in nearly every island so far investigated. The total gold production is valued at over $1,000,000 yearly. Great quantities of coal are known to exist, but its deposits have not yet been exploited. Iron is produced to a small extent. Other minerals which occur are Portland cement, asbestos, gypsum, petroleum, salt, stone, sulphur, asphalt and gravel.

Education.—Under American rule education has been fostered and there has been great improvement in the conditions. There were in 1918, 4,747 schools in the islands. There was an annual enrollment of 671,398, an average monthly enrollment of 669,475 and an average daily attendance of 521,377.

Special attention has been given to vocational education and nearly every community of any size is provided with facilities for teaching useful trades to the natives.

Health and Sanitation.—Prior to American occupation sanitary conditions were extremely bad. Vigorous steps were taken at once to remedy these and the results have been marked. In spite of the improved condition there are frequent epidemics which kill large numbers of people. In 1919 there were an especially large number of these. Over 13,000 deaths occurred from small-pox, which was brought from Manila in December, 1917, by sailors. During the same year there were two epidemics of influenza which resulted in the deaths of many people. Cholera also appeared in several provinces during the year, but it was confined to a comparatively small area. Six provinces have been organized into sanitary divisions and only seven provinces remain to be organized. Special attention is given to the health of children. Dispensaries and nurses are maintained to instruct mothers in the care of their children.

Finance.—The expenditure for government in 1918 amounted to 57,496,043 pesos, and the receipts were 86,690,105 pesos. The budget estimate was introduced in 1917. The total amount of money in circulation at the end of 1918 was 131,151,883 pesos. There are on the islands four banks which engage in general banking business. Their combined capital is about three million dollars. The government supports an agricultural bank and postal savings system. These have both been successful.

Religion.—The greater number of people are Roman Catholic. Absolute freedom of worship is guaranteed by the terms of the treaty of peace with Spain made in 1898. Several of the tribes, including the Moros in the south, are pagan.

Government.—The authority of the United States is administered by a governor-general. A complete civil central government was established in 1901, which includes four executive departments in charge of secretaries. The work of these is divided into a number of bureaus. Several important measures relating to the administration of the government have been passed since American occupation. An act of 1902 provided for the creation of a legislative lower house called the assembly. An upper house also was created and the two together formed the Philippine Legislature. The Assembly is composed of elected members from the regularly organized provinces, according to their population. The judicial system is also established, corresponding practically to the system in the United States.

History.—The Philippines were discovered and visited by Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Magellan discovered in March 15, 1521, a group of islands which he named after St. Lazarus. This explorer lost his life in a skirmish with the natives a few weeks later on Maetan Island, near Cebu. The islands were taken into possession by Spain in 1565, and five years following the conquest of Luzon was carried on. In 1571 Manila was founded and rapidly became the seat of Spanish power. The Spaniards remained in possession of the islands practically undisturbed until the Spanish-American War. They made little progress in economic development and their methods with the natives resulted in bitter feeling which gave rise to several attempts to secure independence. The most important of these was that under José Rizal, in 1896. This attempt was put down and conditions were still in a threatening state when the United States went to war with Spain over the independence of Cuba. A fleet under Admiral Dewey was sent at once to the Philippines and the city was surrendered after a brief bombardment on May, 17, 1898.

By the treaty of peace with Spain signed on Dec. 10, 1898, the entire archipelago was ceded to the United States. On June 12th, however, an insurrection broke out headed by Emilio Aguinaldo, who proclaimed the independence of the Philippine Islands. This resulted in a protracted series of operations in which Aguinaldo was finally captured on March 23, 1901. This put an end to active opposition, although it was necessary to pacify the islands by a series of expeditions, some of which resulted in considerable losses to American troops. Peace was finally brought about. The first session of the Philippine Legislature was held on Oct. 15, 1907. Although peace has prevailed in the islands there has been a very definite attempt to bring about their independence by peaceful means, and by propaganda carried on both in the Philippines and in the United States. The American Congress has expressed a desire to give their independence to the Filipinos when they had reached a state of development which would justify it. Native leaders who desire the independence urge that this point has already been reached.

On the whole, the people of the islands have been satisfied with American rule. They have reached the point of economic and intellectual development which they failed to achieve during the hundreds of years of Spanish domination. During the World War a regiment was organized and although it was not called upon for active service it was ready to give such services if they were needed.

Population.—The last census of the islands was taken in 1918, when the population was 10,350,640. Of these about 8,500,000 are Christians, 316,000 Mohammedan, and 620,000 pagan. The population of Manila, the chief city, in 1918, was 283,613, of whom 245,500 were Filipinos. Exclusive of the Army and Navy, there are about 5,000 Americans in the islands, chiefly in Manila.

Collier's 1921 Philippine Islands.jpg
Copyright, L. L. Poates Eng. Co., 1921