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If one has thoughts of going out to the Philippines he should learn how to speak Spanish, and how to accept, "cum grano salis," descriptions of the country, either too glowing or too gloomy. Some have gone to Manila and liked it, others have made their retreat homeward echo with tales of weary woe about this Malay capital. To each it seems to mean something different according as he kept his health or lost it, as he fell in with the life or didn't, and as he was successful or unsuccessful in that for which he left the upper side of the globe. Before buying one's ticket for the Far East one must not be moved by the suggestions of "thoughtful" persons, who say you are going to the ends of the earth and must therefore take all sorts of clothes, pianos, and means of subsistance. Accept their sympathy but not always their advice, and if Manila be your destination, be assured you are not bound for an altogether isolated village. They may do some things out there with are not down on the programme of a day's routine in the United States. The fire-engine may be drawn by oxen, the vatives--contrary to Biblical suggestion-- may build the roof to their shanties first and make arrangements for underpinning afterward; women may smoke cigars, and snakes may be more effective rat-catchers than cats or terriers. But there are shops in Manila, tailors, drug-stores,parks tramways, chuches, electric lights, schools, and theatres which are not altogether unlike those in the Western world.
And in time of peace,the capital is not an altogether bad sort of a place to live in, though I can't say, as much for the lesser towns. One may be susceptible to fever,in which case he must avoid sleeping near the ground or going about much in the sun. He may suffer from prickly heat, in which case he will not want to take oatmeal, drink chocolate, eat mangoes, or smoke pipes. Or he may become a mark for sprue--that peculiarly oriental disease which seems to destroy the lining to one's interior--in which case the quicker he takes the steamer for Japan or for Frisco the better. He may run against small-pox, but ought not to take it. He will have a cold or two, but won't hear of cholera or find a native word for yellow fever. Should the wind strike in from the northwest during the wet season, he must took out for typhoons, and not be surprised if, like my friend the Englishman, he some day finds only his upright piano on the spot where his light-biult house stood-- the rest of his things having hastened to the next village. If he feels the ground, getting restless he must look out for the oil lamps on the table, or the tiles on the roof. He must not take too cold baths, sleep in silk pajamas, or walk when he has the "peseta" to ride. And in all things he will be better off by remembering to apply that motto of the ancient Greeks, meden agan --in nothing to excess.
Manila in the new Mecca, and for some time to come she is going to be looked in the map, talked about at the dinner-table and by the fireside, and written up from all quarters. At present this Pearl or the Orient is but a jewel in the rough, but with good men to make her laws, and her gates wide open to the pilgrims of the world, she soon should shine as brilliantly as any city in the Far East.
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Table of Contents of Yesterdays in the Philippines
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