Preparing Our Moros for Government



A CURIOUS and interesting process has been going on in Mindanao of the Philippines; the West is being grafted upon the East; American government and ways are passing to Oriental savages.

The most troublesome and inaccessible tribe were the Lanao Moros, living about the fine lake of that name, high in the mountains and forests of the interior of Mindanao. From thence in the past they had sallied forth when they pleased, in piratical and slave-taking expeditions that made the name of Moro the terror of the Philippines. Returning thither, their ways had seemed to close behind them. It was for the Americans to open these ways: for here, as perhaps over all the earth, road-making was to be the first step, and to merge with government-making and civilization.

For the Malanaos, as these Moros called themselves, the two began together. United States troops began laboriously to open a road from the north shores of Mindanao to the borders of Lake Lanao. The work fell to the soldier; for, with the coming of civil government to the other Philippines, the Moros, because of their long tradition of piracy, lawlessness, and savagery, had been left to the care of the army. From this work, from his part and charge thereof, and from his subsequent experience as first governor of Lanao, the writer speaks.

Having heard only fearful rumors of the military prowess and dire fanaticism of the Moros, we came to find a numerous people in a native state of political chaos, to the civilized mind incomprehensible, for reasonable beings incredible. Nothing, not even pandemonium, could be said to reign in such disorder. An infinity of chiefs called dattos, with pompous titles — sultan and rajah — suggesting power and authority, yet having none, divided a fine country into many minute sovereign and independent followings, of uncertain jurisdiction as to persons, places, and things. There were five tribes, which, however, differed only in name, — not in condition or characteristics. These tribes had their traditional, hereditary sultans, doubled and trebled perhaps, but always largely nominal, and, except for their immediate personal following, with but little real authority. Over their “sons” — the general people and the countless lesser dattos and sultans of the tribe — they had influence, hardly control. The latter governed themselves, that is, lived as they pleased, as they could, or as they were allowed by their neighbors. More, probably, than any other man on earth the Moro did as he pleased; his only restraint was his fear of others.

With perhaps a dozen separate datto groups within a radius of a mile, with no common superior to adjust differences, followers of different dattos wrangled, lay in wait for one another, made war, or watched one another in a state of armed peace that was worse than war. With no other means of squaring accounts than by war and aggression, these were continual. Rivalry and jealousy were the predominant tones. Fear on the datto’s part that, if he were severe with his followers, they would leave him and, by joining some neighbors, disturb the local balance of power, prevented the punishment of any but domestic offenses; and so Moros everywhere were thieves, robbers, pirates, and slave-takers, in a state of continual violence and wrong-doing toward one another and all men, so far as they dared.

They loved markets, trade, and intercourse, but for these there was no protection except individual prowess. If wives or children went out without guard but a little way from home, they were likely to be nabbed and run off into slavery by prowling man-hunters, shifted about, sold quickly from hand to hand, and lost beyond all power of tracing. They showed signs of industry, but for this virtue savagery offers no encouragement. Trained in the use of the dagger, kris, two-handed sword and spear, all Moros were soldiers, proud, quick-tempered, quarrelsome, ever on the lookout for opportunity to try their skill in arms, without which, waking or sleeping, they were never caught.

Such were the Moros. There was no government. The only suggestion of it was found in the datto. Manifestly here not only had the foundations of government and order yet to be laid, but the very places for them were to be made and prepared.

From a few fights that had preceded our coming, it had been made plain to the American authorities that with our superior intelligence, arms, and organization we could, whenever desired, absolutely wipe the Moros off the earth. There was, however, in such proceeding neither purpose nor glory, and the policy was to grant opportunity to the Moros, if they would take it, for better things in peace. Thence, logically, my first steps were to try to demonstrate to them our good intentions, to place on exhibition before them the advantages, the benefits, of peace, order, and government, — things which they had not.

Beginning then, the labor of soldiers slowly and painfully for four months worked a road through jungle, forest, and mountain toward the heart of the Moro country. In this time, though often invited and always treated with great consideration, but a few straggling Moros came to visit me. With these, however, I spent time patiently, squatting or sitting about camp, sometimes talking, often in silence, all day to the very night, so long as they would stay, to allow them to look and learn, to observe us for themselves, and satisfy their curiosity; then, as they went away, I invited them to come again to-morrow.

They came in little bunches, and the dattos talked. They rarely spoke directly upon the subject which nevertheless I could see was uppermost in their thoughts, —our coming. They either disdained any show of interest in it that might imply concern or fear about our presence, — for a Moro is nothing if not proud, — or else preferred to draw their own conclusions from time and observation.

In the outset of trying to establish friendly relations, ill luck befell. Simultaneously with the Americans there appeared amongst the Moros the most fearful of all diseases, the Asiatic cholera, and straightway it was charged upon us. The white men were in league with the Cholera Man, and had brought his devils to destroy the Moros. My few friends dropped away out of sight, whence they had come. Prowling bands, even lone Moros, beset the trails and camp, lying in wait and attacking with fury and bitterness lone sentinels and small parties. A single old datto, Alandug, stayed. From his seacoast village he had looked wider upon the world, and was wiser than his fellows. I did not need to tell him, for he easily saw for himself, our mortal terror of the cholera, whose cause we called germs, he, devils. He did not, however, understand why we were not dying like the Moros. I showed him the soldiers boiling their water, and told him that before drinking we thus drove the cholera forth from the water in which it lived. To my surprise he never flinched at the statement, he swallowed it whole; this truth, so hard of acceptance among wiser men, found ready belief with this savage. Long afterward I knew why. It agreed with the Moro religious theory that all diseases are but devils that have slipped from the outside into the body. Our theory and theirs, so different, yet the same, proved a first bond, something common between white man and brown. Alandug told the other Moros what a just theory the Americans had of the cholera, and how the awful disease had killed but few Americans. In a short time my friends began to come back with him, bringing all the ills of human flesh for cure by advice of the white man, in whose medical theories they had quickly acquired confidence. Thenceforward medicine, and especially quinine, became my ally, esteemed above right, reason, principle, and, upon occasions, even above force. The labor of building a great road through mountain and tropical forest was slow. We were still, after months, far from the Moro country, not among the people we had come to reach. A weekly market at a coast settlement, and the season of salt-boiling, were, however, bringing parties of Moros from the far interior past us to the coast. Curiosity induced them to squat, talk, and smoke with me, while they “sized up” the Americans and admired their beautiful arms.

Thus daily I spent hours with them. The first thing ever in their eyes and thoughts was arms, — firearms, — but on this subject I would not talk. They were greatly impressed with the quantity and variety of the things we had. Here I was ready for them. The Moros were very poor, they said; they relied upon arms and the religion of the Prophet; their sultans and dattos were mighty, and were not subject to or ruled over by one another, or by any man, because they were brave, feared not death, and their mountains covered them. I told them of the might, but assured them of the friendly intentions, of the Americans; that we had not come to fight, but to open roads, so that the Moros could come to buy, sell, trade, work with the Americans and grow rich; that we had come to bring the Moros all the valuable and useful things which they saw we had. I ended with an offer to hire and pay them for working on the road. Thereat they professed much pleasure. In this, my thoughts were on work for peace, theirs on arms for war, firearms, which in the Moro eye shut out sight and consideration of all things else. Moved by the hope of getting these, some smaller dattos near, after much talk, declared themselves ready to accept the offer of work. Old Alandug came first, with a handful of ugly-looking followers, whom we treated like kings, and handled like infernal machines ready to go off at any time. When at the end of the day they received their pay, their thoughts turned upon the coin, the money in hand, in a sort of charmed, pleased surprise. The next day saw their numbers grow; succeeding days new groups were added, with growing confidence, but armed, always armed, stuck all over with daggers and krises. A few days’ work, however, and my old friend, Alandug, fell from me for a while on the arms question. A stray Moro, a low-bred, common fellow, taking advantage of the datto’s absence at work with me, had eloped at one fell swoop with two of the datto’s young wives. The datto must have revenge, and, to obtain it, rifles from me, his brother, who had come to do the Moros good. Disappointed at my refusal, he went away sulking; but, as I had expected, his people in a day or two sneaked back to work without him, to get from the Americans the sure pay and regular food which made them forget their datto’s anger. It was an augury of good which, as time passed, I was to see more and more realized.

The market-goers and salt-makers carried the news of the money-getting to the interior, and other strangers appeared, strengthening the number of our laborers and friends, and weakening the ranks of the hesitating or hostile. Pay for work was sure, and the burning desire for arms began to be forgotten in an awakened love of gain. A new force was at work among Moros, and what, in civilized men, we rail at as low and vile, became in these savages a saving virtue, making for peace and progress. The followers of the datto Alag and the men of Pugaan, who, on account of a damsel bought and paid for but never delivered, had for years been attacking one another on sight, and dared not now, as they loved their lives, meet on market or trail, wiped the score from memory to come and earn money together on the American road. The sultan of Balet and the sultan of Momungan, nextdoor neighbors who, in away to rack the nerve and wreck the best men ever built, had long been either at war or in a state of continual guard night and day against each other’s raids, forgot the old cannon that had been the cause of the trouble, and came to work on the road without friction. Men to whom it had been discredit, if not dishonor, to be found without arms, gradually came to lay them aside at the white man’s insistence, for a short time at least, while they labored. Harder still for a Moro, — whose law is an eye for an eye, conduct for conduct to all generations, — a datto, a favorite of mine, under the same influence, came after six months to look, if not with forgiveness, at least without excitement and feverish desire to kill, upon a Moro road laborer of mine, some of whose people in long-gone times had fought and wounded the datto’s grandfather.

A boyhood spent among simple, ignorant plantation negroes, later experience as officer over them and over others like them, the Filipinos, had strongly impressed upon me the distrust which such people always feel toward middlemen of all kinds, especially interpreters. Direct speech alone satisfies them. With the Moros the constant effort and practice of our all-day seances had in a few months obviated alike the need of interpreter and the possibility of distrust: I had learned their own tongue. They could talk with me directly, and they soon were coming oftener and farther to do it.

From the beginning, among these visitors had appeared many panditas, scribes and priests, men of solemn dignity and preoccupied mien. They made a great show of silence; but, notwithstanding this, I could see that in reality, by look, gesture, and occasional word, they generally directed the speech of the datto whom they accompanied. They touched so often upon religious matters and customs that I had quickly felt the need of being informed on the subject of Mohammedan teaching, especially concerning conduct and foreign relations. I accordingly “primed” myself at once, and was soon astonishing the panditas, who were themselves really ignorant of their religion, with my learned talk crammed for the occasion from Sales’s translation of the Koran. With the Moros in Spanish times, religion had been the greatest stumbling-block. In their view the Koran was the whole law, established long ago in the days of the Prophet, so that change and innovation in anything that it governed (and it governed all things) were not only unnecessary, but wrong. Now we, the Americans, had not, like the Spaniards, come talking a new religion. We had the correct Moro theory of disease. Moreover, we had, as it were, slipped up on their weak human side by appealing to their love of gain, and by keeping them employed had even kept their thoughts from the usual fanatical channels into which they were wont to turn on meeting new things. In short, before the Moros knew it, they had been surprised, juggled out of their usual position, and on this one point of religion, where we had expected the greatest difficulty, we were, on account of a little study and pains (I almost said trick), not only to have none, but were to meet with real assistance in getting control of the bulk of the Moros. Religion is the one thing, if there is any, that faintly holds together the incoherent groups of the race. After many visits from less important priests, came the chief and most reverend one in all Lanao, an old and very shrewd man. I received and treated him with great dignity and show of respect, and talked the Koran with him as long as he pleased. Delighted with his first reception, he came again and often. In a few months he was my stanch friend, and was sending letters and messages to his people, many of whom were now either preparing for war or had already been committing acts of war against the Americans. He told them that he spoke the will of Allah-’taAllah (God); it was that they live in peace and accept the Americans. He assured them that the Americans also, like the Moros, knew the will of Allah-’taAllah and the words of the Prophet. With this old man I advised on many subjects, and one of his last acts with me was to rise, to my great surprise, in a grand assembly of his people a year after our first meeting, and solemnly announce it as the will of God, made known to him, that the Americans rule over the Moro people and tax them to the fifth of all their goods! He could have given no greater proof of loyalty, for the rock on which his people split was taxes.

For nearly a year the presence of the Americans, contact with them, observation, the example they offered of order, obedience, and government, the practice which in working with the Americans the Moros themselves received in obedience, order, industry, and responsibility, were lessons to the Moros preparatory to government, which was to follow. On many these lessons were unmistakably having the desired effect; on others, not. The latter committed against the Americans every aggression that treachery and stealth could devise. Sentinels were stabbed in the dark, lone soldiers ambushed, cut up, and killed, small parties attacked, tents, tools, and arms stolen and carried away. Our patience long left these things unpunished, hoping that with time and a better comprehension of us the Moros would of themselves see the folly of continuing such acts. On the contrary, as the road went deeper and deeper into the Moro country, these aggressions became worse and more frequent. Our enemies, and even our friends, began to think we were afraid. Unpunished, enjoying to the full at our expense the gratification of their Moro love of lawlessness, our enemies taunted our friends with a foolish self-denial in abstaining from the sport. The friends felt and protested that we were making no difference between good and bad, between friend and foe. They demanded, and indeed it was right, that a distinction should be made.

There was, therefore, better feeling when one morning all learned that we had surprised in his mountains, captured the arms, destroyed the rendezvous and scattered the band of Datto Matuan, whose followers, as all Moros knew, had beset and robbed the American camps. This was emphasized when, a few days later, after wandering all night through the forest and mountains and wading lake and marshes, we had captured the fort and had utterly wiped out the band of the sultan of Birimbingan. His people under pretense of selling fruit had treacherously approached, cut up, and disabled for life an American soldier. Jeeringly referring to the American slowness to act against their enemies, he had answered my demand for redress by saying that he would take my message under consideration for some months, and then let me know whether he would talk about the matter at all. But respect grew when the news spread of a score dead in the town of Bacayauan, whose people had killed a soldier for the purpose of robbery, and who, when called upon for justice, had first ignored, and then, fortifying the town, had defied the Americans.

Nothing that happened between Americans and Moros was hidden. For the sake of instruction and effect Moros were made to know or hear all, and in these expeditions the effect was increased in Moro eyes by the fact that the Americans had distinguished well, and no friendly Moro had suffered at their hands. There was in consequence a wider call for American flags as a symbol of friendship. It was enough. Punitive measures were thereupon stopped. They were stopped out of policy also, with a view to the future pacification of even the bad Moros, on the knowledge that with them it is revenge, an eye for an eye, to the end of time, without regard to how justly he who first lost an eye deserved to lose it. For this reason a “kill and burn” policy can never succeed with Moros, can do nothing more than destroy them.

These object-lessons had gradually, with the passage of time, brought many villages and settlements to a peaceful recognition of the American commander as their common superior. As this process went on it brought to light the miserable conditions under which these savages had always lived, — willing, yet of themselves helpless, to throw them off. I was overwhelmed with a flood of complaints, requests to adjudicate claims, settle disputes and differences between different dattos and villages, punish countless robberies, burnings, murders, and woundings, for which there had never in Moro history been any other tribunal than war and counter-aggression. The story led back as far as tradition goes, and opened a broad field of work, too broad for one man.

It was plain that here, at least, near the road, the preparations for government had outrun the provision of machinery for its operation. However, something had to be done. I therefore quietly assumed the functions of lawmaker, ruler, and judge, ruled and settled disputes and differences on my own judgment and knowledge of conditions. The law was scarcely of record, — neither was the old English Common Law, — and the government was somewhat informal; but, like all simple folk, Moros seemed to prefer personality to form in government. Fortunately, too, with my clients exact justice according to civilized ideas was not necessary, nor in demand. Moro ideas of justice were, from their history, tradition, and lives, naturally hazy and faint, not to say nil. It was more important here that there be some law than that it be perfect, some decision and end of controversy than that they be just.

My dictum was therefore accepted in general by the Moros near. Soon, however, the rumor of these things spreading, acts in intentional contempt and defiance of them as representing the growing American authority began to be committed by remoter dattos. Military men stationed among them need never seek occasions of quarrels with Moros. Moro ignorance, folly, and perversity can be relied upon to furnish plenty of occasions, and such occasions as cannot be ignored or pardoned. Two such were now forced upon me. The sultan of Detse-en, amongst the most powerful Moros, under threat of war to the bitter end, was required to make full apology, and to cut off his son from the succession to the sultanate, for public and boastful abuse of the American flag. It was a fit and effective though severe punishment. The second was even worse. One morning I surprised and captured, and soon had tried and sentenced to seventeen years’ imprisonment, two dattos who, to show their disregard and contempt of what the Americans had enjoined, had made, against Filipinos, a successful slave-taking expedition by sea, under the American flag, which they had somehow managed to get hold of! With the Moros restraint of personal liberty is the most grievous of all things; it is inflicted for no crime, however great, and is allowed for but one cause, — insanity. The punishment of the two dattos, therefore, spoke straight to the Moro heart, and all were made to hear it. Death were far preferable. The abused flag came into my hands along with the dattos. That was the latest, no doubt it will be the last, time that the American flag will cover a slave-taking expedition.

The road had now been finished. In its concluding stages the competition among the Moros for the work, for the opportunity to earn money, had become so sharp as to be troublesome. Dattos were quarreling with one another about it, and, once started at work at a given point, they were so self-willed and determined that they could hardly be stopped to be directed elsewhere.

The road work ended, the danger of idleness arose, for it had now become evident to me that Moros could be managed in two ways only, — by putting them at work and keeping them at work, or by putting them in fear and keeping them in fear. There is no possibility of living in quiet with unoccupied or uncowed Moros. I preferred the method of work.

On my offer to hire them now to fetch supplies from the seacoast, there were repeated all the doubt, hesitation, and delay of the time when they first began work upon the road, complicated this time by fear that the Americans might try to make them carry bacon or something that contained some product of the hog, to the Mohammedan the lowest and vilest of things, accursed of God and the Prophet. After repeated reassurances on this point, they began. At first, to make sure, they would carry only flour, but the work proved profitable and became most popular. Then they took boxed stuff, then canned stuff, then ceased to question what, — every man wisely curbing his curiosity, holding his tongue, carrying all things that came, and bacon at last among the rest!

Assuredly the leaven of new ideas was working. Gradually, in the past few months, the Moros had accepted much ; and this demonstrated their readiness to accept more, of what was American. The time seemed opportune to give more form to this beginning of control. Accordingly the writer was duly appointed governor of the Lanao Moros, with a small staff, and a scheme of government somewhat like that obtaining over the rest of the Philippines. Its defects were manifest at the very first effort to put it in operation. It failed to turn to account, to place itself at the head of, the weak but only organization in all Moro-land, the datto group, and to lay hold of the only power known to Moros, the authority of the datto.

On a small scale and imperfectly I had already had a government in operation in the only way that government can for years be operated among the Moros, — one-man power without formality, backed by force and a knowledge of the conditions, and exercised upon the people through their dattos. As the law for the new government did not contain these essential provisions, it would not work; but the little machinery of government which had previously been set up went on working quietly, until the new law by amendment adapted itself to the requirements of conditions, and the governor became de jure what he had already long been de facto, — father, adviser, judge, sheriff, ruler, lawmaker, with the dattos as his subalterns and assistants.

Formal acceptance of government was naturally regarded by the Moros as a serious step, even where they had already in effect been living under that same government for some months. Reasons were demanded. I therefore held meetings to explain and satisfy all. Argument was made as varied and as different as the dattos themselves. Here came in profitably the knowledge which I had gradually been acquiring of each and every one’s circumstances and history. For one, it was sufficient to point out that Americans had not bothered his religion or his women; for another, that he had suffered no injustice from us as he had from other Moros, Filipinos, or Spaniards; for this one, that tribal wars in which his people had almost been wiped out had been stopped by the Americans; for that one, that we had suppressed the thieves who had been robbing him of his women and goods. It was enough to remind the sultan of Sungud how he and his people had prospered by the Americans, and the datto of Punud that he was wearing rich clothes since we came. It satisfied some that we had not come and tried to place over them the Filipinos, upon whom the Moros look with contempt as the immemorial source of their slave supply, and with hatred as their traditional enemies; and others, that we had already adjusted and would go on adjusting — it was the purpose of the government to adjust — differences, and punishing wrongs between the different groups of the Moros, and so wipe out the sudden deadly attacks by one another from which all had suffered, and of which all stood in constant dread before the Americans came among them.

“Why do you want this, and what do you come here for, anyhow ? ” questioned, at one of these meetings, the old sultan of Bayabao, after I had just finished dealing out quinine to him and his begging retinue one raw, rainy day. “We are satisfied as we are,” he added vehemently, as he sat shivering in bare feet, thin shirt, and flimsy trousers before me, well, warmly, and dryly clad.

“Have you such shoes and clothes as I to warm your body and protect your feet ? Or have you such medicines as I have just given you to cure your sickness ?” I answered. “Do you know how to make them ? ” He was silent and the great crowd listened. “We do, and have come to show you. That is why.”

To this day he and his people have not fought the Americans, nor resisted their government.

It pleased and convinced many when I pointed out and emphasized, what they already knew, that now, with a security hitherto unknown to them, they were able to travel through all Lanao.

Such were the reasons given, and they were pointed out and patiently repeated as the direct good which had already come, and of which more was to be expected, from the power and authority of the Americans. They won over gradually, without war, half of all the Malanaos, and government went on taking on more form; but the most numerous, warlike, and inaccessible tribe, under the most influential hereditary sultan of all, remained stubbornly hostile and aggressive. In twos and threes, his people prowled about, and by cunning, stealth, and lying in wait, lost no opportunity to rob, assault, stab, kill. They would accept nothing the Americans said, for while with most men it is credulity, with Moros it seems to be incredulity, that goes with ignorance of the world. To them, accustomed to see men governed only by desires and passions, it was inconceivable that the Americans bore these aggressions from any other cause than fear or weakness. Tradition and experience were all against such an idea. To them, whose largest example of power had been a datto who could muster a few hundred men, it was wholly incredible, and they ridiculed the idea, that the United States could bring against them any more men or arms than they had already brought. To them it was inconceivable that any man who could would not without more ado destroy his enemy. That the Americans had not done this meant therefore that the Americans could not do it. To talk to them of power without exercising it, or of punishment without executing it, was taken as mere vaporing. To my persuasion, demands, and threats alike, therefore, their dattos sent jeering replies or answered me with worse aggressions. The last straw was the murder of four soldiers by stealth, to secure their arms. Then followed a deadly punitive expedition. It carried surprise and astonishment, a fearful lesson to foolish, boastful savages whose ideas of war were one thousand, and of power three thousand years behind their age. This was the last argument, and to my next invitation not only those who had been punished, but the few others who had stood aloof, declared their readiness, and in a short time came under the new government.

In organizing them, wherever they could be won over and had made full submission, those dattos who had led in hostility were appointed to authority over their people under the United States; for history shows that such men, under the conqueror, and whether the conqueror wills it or no, remain the strong spirits and real rulers of their country. Violent changes were thus avoided.

All had now come under American authority, and the work of inducing them to accept government was practically finished. There was, however, one thing that still stuck in the throats of all, choking and gagging even those who willingly and peacefully had long been living under the new order. This was the question of taxation, a delicate subject, a last test with Moros, because it is a matter of religion. There had been much talk and murmur of this through all the tribes and groups. Therefore I again held a meeting, at which were assembled all the sultans, dattos, and men of consequence, for question and discussion. I laid before them all the reasons. It appealed to the dattos who had been appointed to offices over their people, to say that we must have money to pay them, but these were very few. Again, for the common good, I said, — to punish criminals and catch thieves; but the common good had little meaning for men who had known no government, no res publica, nothing common ; let every man care for himself, was their idea. In all their experience taxes stood for what had been wrung for selfish purposes by the strong from the weak, by conqueror from conquered, by master from his bondman; and money paid for any other cause than direct barter and sale meant tribute, a horrible thing of subjection, dishonor, and slavery. That good should be alleged of taxation was incomprehensible; that it was intended for the good of those who paid it was past belief. All their experience and tradition were contrary to such a thing. Public spirit could not be appealed to, for long habit of life in minute communities had effectually throttled the budding of such a feeling, and left only selfishness.

Yet I felt no uncertainty as to the ultimate outcome of the matter; for by experience I had learned that in all things whatsoever, to the last, the white man outclasses, and can always find some intellectual way to go around, a Moro. In this matter it came thus: —

The Moros, like all other natives of the Philippines, are possessed of a consuming desire to carry a “pass,” — some sort of an official certificate as to character, home, business, and the like, of the bearer, — and they are willing to pay any amount therefor, and never think of it as taxation. On this weak point the Moros showed the first signs of yielding. Then the plan of indirect taxation caught, pleased, and overcame them, as it catches wiser men than they. Imported cotton cloth paying duty at the custom house had long been reaching the Moros through a few coast traders, and was now in large use among all Moros. Touching the jacket of the nearest datto, “You are a lot of foolish and ignorant children,” I said. “You are haggling about paying taxes when you have already been doing it for years, and have actually been giving the Americans money to pay me, to pay the interpreter and all my soldiers.” This at once caught their attention. The explanation followed. They understood it remarkably quickly. They saw the humor and the truth of the thing, and, wondering at the finesse that had been able to make them contribute to their own subjugation, yielded in a sort of nonplussed way, feeling, no doubt, that it was useless to hope to escape a people who could devise such a smart system of getting money from other people without the latter’s even knowing it. To my help also at this juncture came my old friend, the priest Noskalim, the Metropolitan, as it were, of Lanao, with, if not a revelation, something better — wisdom — to his people: “It is the will of Allah-’ta-Alfah, The Merciful, who has many names.”

In these ways government and civilization have gained upon them.

  1. Compare Major Bullard’s article on “ RoadBuilding among the Moros,” in the Atlantic for December, 1903.