Was David Fagen A Stud?

David Fagin – His surname was spelt in different ways, in one of the few verifiable images of him. Click photo for full report.

One of my pet peeves is the use of random photographs of American-American soldiers, some dating from the American Civil War, labelled as “David Fagen”. They appear on most Facebook posts about one of the few Buffalo Soldiers to desert to Philippine Republican forces during the Philippine-American War.

Buffalo soldiers served creditably in the American Civil War, the Apache Wars, Cuba, Mexico, and the Philippines, in both the Philippine-American and World War Two.

In the Philippine-American War not a single Buffalo soldier was implicated in committing atrocities despite serving in hot-spots like Samar. That is not to say they were perfect, one Buffalo soldier cut off the arm of a Filipina so he could take her bracelet, but in general their behaviour was exemplary.

Most saw their service as a way of demonstrating that they were Americans, despite the shoddy treatment handed out to them in their home country.

So, taking a random anonymized photograph and mislabelling it as someone else deprives the man pictured of his identity, his honour, his courage, his existence.

None of the photographs supposedly depicting him were identified as such contemporaneously with one exception, the sketch given above, from the Salt Lake City Herald of 30 October 1900, which may be derived from a photograph of him in civilian attire. The article is based on interviews with those who knew him, both civilians and military and gives a fascinating insight into the character of David Fagen.

Does it change our image of him?

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An Apache Chief Meets the Negritos

Drawing together all the threads of history leads us on fascinating adventures and familiar names on unfamiliar trails. Those of us who travel the highways and byways of Philippine history know that US Major-General Henry Ware Lawton was killed in the Battle of Paye during the Philippine-American War by a sniper under the command of Filipino General Licerio Geronimo and that Lawton was involved in the surrender of Apache Chief, Geronimo. The links between Geronimo and the Philippines come together again at the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair when the legendary Apache chief saw Igorottes for the first time.

At the time of the fair, Geronimo had been a prisoner of war for almost 20 years, he was in his 70s. He was allowed off the reservation at Fort Sill under guard for special events. He was such a VIP prisoner that he had the ear of President Theodore Roosevelt.

He had a deal with a photographer under which he got 10 cents for every 25 cent photograph he sold. He also sold his autograph for varying amounts and was allowed to keep all the money. He also sold Indian artifacts like War Bonnets. All 9in all he did well financially, making as much as $2 a day, about $30 today and he amassed more money than he had ever had in his life.

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The Day Brownouts Were Invented – Lighting Up Manila

19th Century Westinghouse incandescent bulb

Anyone familiar with the Philippines is familiar with blackouts, power outages, or, in Filipino English ‘brownouts’, a term intended, prehaps to soften the blow of sudden darkness. Equally, one becomes familiar with the yelps of joy when lights go back on and people can resume the serious business of karaoke.

Imagine how much more magical it would have been when the first electric lights shone in the streets of Mania, switched on with much pomp and ceremony. Few history books mention that day but an American businessman working with Peabody & Co left a first-hand account that captures the excitement and wonder of the day.

Electricity arrived in Manila in the late 1880s, at least for the very wealthy who could afford private electrical installations. For everyone else, it was coconut oil, kerosene, gas or candles.

If you wanted to take a look at electric lights you could pop over to the wharves at the mouth of the Pasig leading to the Bridge of Spain. There was also an electric light on the bridge to guide vessels after sunset.

Street lighting was provided by kerosene lamps.

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How Drug Wars Paid For The Most Expensive Piña Dress In The World

Queen Victoria in 1844

Public demonstrations of status and wealth require investing in things that are unnecessary, expensive, beautiful, and preferably labour-intensive, whether it is a Cartier watch, a Lamborghini, or a trophy wife. As Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Imelda Marcos and Donald Trump show, these items need not be tasteful or stylish, nor need the wealth be honourably acquired.

Embroidered Piña, the Philippine textile derived for the leaves of a pineapple, ticks all the boxes. It is unnecessary in that cheap cotton covers the body just as well, it is costly, inarguably beautiful, and certainly labour-intensive. Literally fit for a queen, that queen being Victoria.

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The Shocking Case of the Manila Ambulance

De Dion-Bouton electric and petrol-powered vehicales werepopular in the Philippine around 1910. So much fun, apparently, they’d put your black chauffeur out of a job.

Sometimes one comes across a bit of information that makes one raise an eyebrow in surprise then, a moment later, makes one wonder why one was surprised in the first place. So it was when I discovered that the first motorised ambulances in Manila were not run on petrol or diesel but on electricity and steam.

Today, much is made of the new electric-powered jeepneys on city streets today, but the basic technology is more than 125 years old.

When I think of electric vehicles I think not of Tesla’s battery-powered sportscars but the humble British milk float. Early each morning this once-common vehicle delivered bottles of milk to nearly everybody’s doorstep from a little before dawn. Its characteristic sound was a faint thump as the drive engaged then a quiet hum and a rattle of glass bottles as it set off to its next delivery.

The loudest noise about it was often the whistling of the milkman.

Having once earned pocket money helping a milkman on his rounds, I still rescue a dropped bottle by putting my foot underneath it.

It was that silence that made electric ambulances ideal in the first two decades of 20th century Manila. But electric ambulances were not the only driving force in town, as we shall see.

It was steam-powered vehicles that gave us the word chauffeur, derived from a French term meaning someone who heats up the boiler for a steam-engined vehicle it lives on in Tagalog as tsuper.

And we may have a few more surprises.

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Mushi-mushi, Halo-Halo To All That

Clarke’s, the first ice cream in Manila?

Language is a bit of a challenge trying to identify when ice cream and even halo-halo emerged. ‘Sorbetes‘ in Tagalog covers both frozen water/fruit juice confections and ice creams. In Spanish we have helado attached to chilled/iced products like quesos helado, mentioned in an 1875 Manila directory.

Aha, you may think: Cheese ice cream! But there is no cheese in quesos helados. A speciality of Madrid, these are variously coloured water-ice sorbets put into small shaped moulds with milk added. When frozen they look like little cheeses, hence the name.

Helado is also used for ice-cream, sorbete for sorbet, hielo for ice and sorbete de leche specifically for ice cream as well as Mantecado and helado Leche..

Upper-crust menus were often in French. Glace is the French for ice, creme glace is ice cream, and sorbet is sorbet, but, again glace can cover both sorbet and ice cream.

The same applies also in the English term ‘ices’.

A 1911 adverisement for La Campana. Note helados, sorbete and helado, also horchata.

A 1913 instruction to ice cream makers and sellers uses mantecado for ice cream, a term that does not seem to appear in 19th century Philippines.

Then there is garapinera. While often assumed to be an ice cream/sorbet maker even that may be unsafe. Online friend Zeidrick J Cudilla brought my attention to an 1866 Spanish-Visayan dictionary which mentions garapinyera as a box in which beverages are kept, but does not imply ice was used.

In Waray it refers generically to a container for water.

 

To add to the confusion, garapinera also refers to the insulated container vendors carried their product around in rather than the device it was made with.

You can watch how ice cream was made in Victorian times here:

So, as far as we know, the first unambiguous appearance of ice-cream was in 1902 during a visit by the USS Alert to the Philippines.

Continue reading “Mushi-mushi, Halo-Halo To All That”

Hot Times, Frosty Americans

William Henry Corbusier built the first American ice plant in the Philippines.

Although ice was available in Manila, cold storage was another matter. Posh houses, hotels and so on, could store vegetables, fruit and water in their ice boxes but unless you had a convenient cow in your yard, as the Tafts did, fresh milk was a luxury.

Vendors sold carabao milk which had been brought into Manila by train, kept in a store at ambient temperature overnight then put on the streets as late as 4pm. To say the least, it wasn’t in the best of condition by the time it was purchased, and any bacteria would be thriving well.

With no wholesale cold storage available various chemicals, including formaledhyde would be added.

No wonder canned milk was preferred by those who could afford it.

Americans, including 60,000 soldiers at any one time, demanded beef but it was often so putrid when imported from the US that even those who cooked it would run away and throw-up. Again, chemicals were used resulting in meat of varying degrees of inedibility.

Australia developed the first refrigerated ships and the Americans in the Philippines became the backbone of the Australian beef industry. But there was a need for somewhere cold to store it.

Another ice issue arose from efforts to fight infectious diseases through vaccination throughout the islands. Ice chests could keep vaccines fresh but ice was not available outside Manila, at least in the quantities needed.

Ice could be a matter of life and death.

Enter the all-but-forgotten American Civil War veteran William Henry Corbusier, the pioneer of American ice plants and cold storage in the Philippines.

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End Run

Here we are. The last decade of the 19th century and no confirmed sighting of ice cream nor the equipment to make it with, the garapinyera.

That gap may have much to do with the class structure of the Philippines at the time.

Who cared about the kitchen worker who made the ice cream? Much as no-one thought it important to gather the experiences of the common tao who bore the brunt of the Philippine revolution and the war of independence against the USA.

The comparison is certainly valid: Professional kitchens are as hierarchical as a military unit. A unit of kitchen workers, from dish-washer to Chef is known as a brigade. They do the work but are beneath being noticed in 19th century Manila.

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Down and Dirty

‘Dirty ice-cream’ refers to the product sold by street vendors rather than that bought in a shop and eaten at home or consumed in a cafe or restaurant.

‘Dirty’ in this context, it is widely believed, does not mean unsanitary. A ‘dirty kitchen’ in the Philippines is an area where raw food is prepared for cooking from which it is taken to the ‘clean kitchen’ for cooking and dishing.

In fact the term may have emerged in the first two decades of the 20th century frozen products from vendors were dangerous treats.

We may have Julius Witte to thank for it.

Milk vendor goes to work

Maybe it is significant that the earliest reference I have found to what today is referred to as ‘dirty ice cream, or at least sorbet flavoured water ice sold by street vendors,, comes in a book written in French by Alfred Marche and published in 1887, when Julius Witte was running his ice plant, the only one so-far known at the time.

Marche describes a typical Manila street morning with milk vendors carrying vases on their heads, sellers of fresh grass and hay for horses, Chinese barbers who also cleaned customer’s ears and trimmed their nose hairs, and sellers crying out “Sorbete! Sorbete!” ”

Jose Rizal also mentions a sorbet vendor in Binondo in Chapter Four of Noli Me Tangere, published in 1887 with the same cry.

The sorbeteros repeated the same shrill cry, Sorbeteee!while the smoky lamps still lighted the identical Chinese stands and those of the old women who sold candy and fruit.

Together, these suggest that ambulant vendors were a common sight by the end of the 1880s.

At the moment we don’t know the fate of Julius Witte’s ice business. His perfumery and ironworks continued but nothing is heard of the ice plant after the final years of 1880.

Did he sell it on? If so, it may have been acquired by one of two companies – San Miguel or Fabrica de Hielo.  Whatever was the case, the De Witte plant vanishes as the Philippines enters a new era.

 

Part Six: End Run

Part Four: Here Comes The Ice Man

Here Comes The Iceman

Julius ‘Julio’ De Witte, opened the first know ice plant in Manila,

In the 1850s commercial ice-making became viable. There were several technologies developed at the time but the most common used the evaporation of ammonia to produce the freezing effect. You experience a similar effect if you put rubbing alcohol on your skin.

These early ice plants reportedly produced an inferior product to New England ice, according to Mark Twain. Over time the technology improved and made its way to Manila.

It was no longer necessary to import ice all the way from the US although customs duties for imported ice remained at zero into the American period in the Philippines..

Julius Witte, who hispanised his name to Julio for business purposes had set up an ice plant at 21 Calle Barraca by 1873. Witte had an ironworks and dealt in perfume essences such as ylang-ylang.

While it is widely believed that any reference to sorbete automatically indicates ice-cream an 1875 guide references sorbet and what may have been ice-cream as separate products, sorbete and helado, but has no reference to a helado maker, indicating that there was no commercial ice-cream being manufactured in the Philippines at the time. If it did exist it was limited to restaurants and possibly private homes.

Continue reading “Here Comes The Iceman”