Chocolate Deck: 50 Luscious Indulgences (1st Edition)
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Criticism, physical discovery of the age, and contact with foreigners shook the ancient belief in the fabulous and the supernatural; the rising generation began to inquire about more certain scientific theses. The immutability of Theology is inharmonious to Science—the School of Progress; and long before they had finished their course in these Islands the friars quaked at the possible consequences.
Public opinion protested against an order of things which checked the social and material onward [ 6 ] movement of the Colony. And, strange as it may seem, Spain was absolutely impotent, even though it cost her the whole territory as indeed happened to remedy the evil. In these Islands what was known to the world as the Government of Spain was virtually the Executive of the Religious Corporations, who constituted the real Government, the members of which never understood patriotism as men of the world understand it.
Every interest was made subservient to the welfare of the Orders. If, one day, the Colony must be lost to them , it was a matter of perfect indifference into whose hands it passed.
It was their happy hunting-ground and last refuge. But the real Government could not exist without its Executive; and when that Executive was attacked and expelled by America, the real Government fell as a consequence. If the Executive had been strong enough to emancipate itself from the dominion of the friars only two decades ago, the Philippines might have remained a Spanish colony to-day. But the wealth in hard cash and the moral religious influence of the Monastic Orders were factors too powerful for any number of executive ministers, who would have fallen like ninepins if they had attempted to extricate themselves from the thraldom of sacerdotalism.
Whatever the fallacy may be, not a few are beguiled into thinking that its antiquity should command respect. Prosperity began to dawn upon the Philippines when restrictions on trade were gradually relaxed since the second decade of last century.
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As each year came round reforms were introduced, but so clumsily that no distinction was made between those who were educationally or intellectually prepared to receive them and those who were not; hence the small minority of natives, who had acquired the habits and necessities of their conquerors, sought to acquire for all an equal status, for which the masses were unprepared. It will be shown in these pages that the government of these Islands was practically as theocratic as it was civil. Upon the principle of religious pre-eminence all its statutes were founded, and the reader will now understand whence the innumerable Church and State contentions originated.
One cannot help feeling pity for the Spanish nation, which has let the Pearl of the Orient slip out of its fingers through culpable and stubborn mismanagement, after repeated warnings and similar experiences in other quarters of the globe. Happiness is merely comparative: with a lovely climate—a continual summer—and all the absolute requirements of life at hand, there is not one-tenth of the misery in the Philippines that there is in Europe, and none of that forlorn wretchedness facing the public gaze.
Beggary—that constant attribute of the highest civilization—hardly exists, and suicide is extremely rare. A humdrum life is incompatible here with the constant emotion kept up by typhoons, shipwrecks, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, brigands, epidemics, devastating fires, etc. Without venturing on the prophetic, one may not only draw conclusions from accomplished facts, but also reasonably assume, in the light of past events, what might have happened under other circumstances.
No unforeseen circumstances whatever caused the United States to drift unwillingly into Philippine affairs. The war in Cuba had not the remotest connexion with these Islands. It was hardly possible to believe that the defective Spanish-Philippine squadron could have accomplished the voyage to the Antilles, in time of war, with every neutral port en route closed against it. In any case, so far as the ostensible motive of the Spanish-American War was concerned, American operations in the Philippines might have ended with the Battle of Cavite.
Up to this point there is nothing to criticize, in face of the universal tacit recognition, from time immemorial, of the right of might. American dominion has never been welcomed by the Filipinos. All the principal Christianized islands, practically representing the whole Archipelago, except Moroland, resisted it by force of arms, until, after two years of warfare, they were so far vanquished that those still remaining in the field, claiming to be warriors, were, judged by their exploits, undistinguishable from the brigand gangs which have infested the Islands for a century and a half. The general desire was, and is, for sovereign independence; and although a pro-American party now exists, it is only in the hope of gaining peacefully that which they despaired of securing by armed resistance to superior force.
The question as to how much nearer they are to the goal of their ambition belongs to the future; but there is nothing to show, by a review of accomplished facts, that, without foreign intervention, the Filipinos would have prospered in their rebellion against Spain. Even if they had expelled the Spaniards their independence would have been of short duration, for they would have lost it again in the struggle with some colony-grabbing nation.
A united Archipelago under the Malolos Government would have been simply untenable; for, apart from the possible secessions of one or more islands, like Negros, for instance, no Christian Philippine Government could ever have conquered Mindanao and the Sulu Sultanate; indeed, the attempt might have brought about [ 9 ] their own ruin, by exhaustion of funds, want of unity in the hopeless contest with the Moro, and foreign intervention to terminate the internecine war. Seeing that Emilio Aguinaldo had to suppress two rivals, even in the midst of the bloody struggle when union was most essential for the attainment of a common end, how many more would have risen up against him in the period of peaceful victory?
The expulsion of the friars and the confiscation of their lands would have surprised no one cognizant of Philippine history. But what would have become of religion? Would the predominant religion in the Philippines, fifty years hence, have been Christian? Recent events lead one to conjecture that liberty of cult, under native rule, would have been a misnomer, and Roman Catholicism a persecuted cause, with the civilizing labours of generations ceasing to bear fruit.
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No generous, high-minded man, enjoying the glorious privilege of liberty, would withhold from his fellow-men the fullest measure of independence which they were capable of maintaining. Did one not reflect that America, from her birth as an independent state, has never pretended to follow on the beaten tracts of the Old World, her brand-new method of colonization would surprise her older contemporaries in a similar task.
She has been the first to teach Asiatics the doctrine of equality of races—a theory which the proletariat has interpreted by a self-assertion hitherto unknown, and a gradual relinquishment of that courteous deference towards the white man formerly observable by every European. This democratic doctrine, suddenly launched upon the masses, is changing their character. The polite and submissive native of yore is developing into an ill-bred, up-to-date, wrangling politician.
Hence rule by coercion, instead of sentiment, is forced upon America, for up to the present she has made no progress in winning the hearts of the people. Outside the high-salaried circle of Filipinos one never hears a spontaneous utterance of gratitude for the boon of individual liberty or for the suppression of monastic tyranny. The Filipinos craving for immediate independence, regard the United States only in the light of a useful medium for its attainment, and there are indications that their future attachment to their stepmother country will be limited to an unsentimental acceptance of her protection as a material necessity.
Measures of practical utility and of immediate need have been set aside for the pursuit of costly fantastic ideals, which excite more the wonder than the enthusiasm of the people, who see left in abeyance the reforms they most desire. The system of civilizing the natives on a [ 10 ] curriculum of higher mathematics, literature, and history, without concurrent material improvement to an equal extent, is like feeding the mind at the expense of the body. No harbour improvements have been made, except at Manila; no canals have been cut; few new provincial roads have been constructed, except for military purposes; no rivers are deepened for navigation, and not a mile of railway opened.
The enormous sums of money expended on such unnecessary works as the Benguet road and the creation of multifarious bureaux, with a superfluity of public servants, might have been better employed in the development of agriculture and cognate wealth-producing public works. The excessive salaries paid to high officials seem to be out of all proportion to those of the subordinate assistants.
Extravagance in public expenditure necessarily brings increasing taxation to meet it; the luxuries introduced for the sake of American trade are gradually, and unfortunately, becoming necessities, whereas it would be more considerate to reduce them if it were possible. It is no blessing to create a desire in the common people for that which they can very well dispense with and feel just as happy without the knowledge of. The deliberate forcing up of the cost of living has converted a cheap country into an expensive one, and an income which was once a modest competence is now a miserable pittance.
Innovations, costing immense sums to introduce, are forced upon the people, not at all in harmony with their real wants, their instincts, or their character. What is good for America is not necessarily good for the Philippines. To rule and to assimilate are two very different propositions: the latter requires the existence of much in common between the parties. Even the descendants of whites in the Philippines tend to merge into, rather than alter, the conditions of the surrounding race, and vice versa. It is quite impossible for a race born and living in the Tropics to adopt the characteristics and thought of a Temperate Zone people.
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The Filipinos are not an industrious, thrifty people, or lovers of work, and no power on earth will make them so. Ideal government may reach a point where its exactions tend to make life a [ 11 ] burden; practical government stops this side of that point. White men will not be found willing to develop a policy which offers them no hope of bettering themselves; and as to labour—other willing Asiatics are always close at hand.
Uncertainty of legislation, constantly changing laws, new regulations, the fear of a tax on capital, and general prospective insecurity make large investors pause. Democratic principles have been too suddenly sprung upon the masses. The autonomy granted to the provinces needs more control than the civil government originally intended, and ends in an appeal on almost every conceivable question being made to one man—the Gov.
There are many who still think, and not without reason, that ten years of military rule would have been better for the people themselves.
A reasonable amount of personal freedom, with justice, would suffice for them; whilst the trading class would welcome any effective and continuous protection, rather than have to shift for themselves with the risk of being persecuted for having given succour to the pulajanes to save their own lives and property. Civil government, prematurely inaugurated, without sufficient preparation, has had a disastrous effect, and the present state of many provinces is that of a wilderness overrun by brigand bands too strong for the civil authority to deal with.
But one cannot fail to recognize and appreciate the humane motives which urged the premature establishment of civil administration. Scores of nobodies before the rebellion became somebodies during the four or five years of social turmoil. Some of them influenced the final issue, others were mere show-figures, really not more important than the beau sabreur in comic opera.
Yet one and all claimed compensation for laying aside their weapons, and in changing the play from anarchy to civil life these actors had to be included in the new cast to keep them from further mischief. The moral conquest of the Philippines has hardly commenced. The benevolent intentions of the Washington Government, and the irreproachable character and purpose of its eminent members who wield the destiny of these islanders, are unknown to the untutored masses, who judge their new masters by the individuals with whom they come into close contact.
The hearts of the people cannot be won without moral prestige, which is blighted by the presence of that undesirable class of immigrants to whom Maj. But, apart from this, the common policy of its enlightened Gov. So much United States money and energy have been already expended in these Islands, and so far-reaching are the pledges made to their inhabitants, that American and Philippine interests are indissolubly associated for many a generation to come.
It does not necessarily follow that the fullest measure of national liberty will create real personal liberty. Such an idea does not at all appeal to Asiatics, according to whose instinct every man dominates over, or is dominated by, another.
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If America should succeed in establishing a permanently peaceful independent Asiatic government on democratic principles, it will be one of the unparalleled achievements of the age. For this implied monastic indiscriminate acquisition of real estate several of the best native families some of them personally known to me were banished to the Island of Mindoro. Ancient maps show the islands and provinces under a different nomenclature.
Luzon and Mindanao united would be larger in area than all the rest of the islands put together.
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Luzon is said to have over 40, square miles of land area. The northern half of Luzon is a mountainous region formed by ramifications of the great cordilleras, which run N. All the islands are mountainous in the interior, the principal peaks being the following, viz. Most of these mountains and subordinate ranges are thickly covered with forest and light undergrowth, whilst the stately trees are gaily festooned with clustering creepers and flowering parasites of the most brilliant hues. The Mayon, which is an active volcano, is comparatively bare, whilst also the Apo, although no longer in eruption, exhibits [ 14 ] abundant traces of volcanic action in acres of lava and blackened scoriae.
Between the numberless forest-clad ranges are luxuriant plains glowing in all the splendour of tropical vegetation. The valleys, generally of rich fertility, are about one-third under cultivation. There are numerous rivers, few of which are navigable by sea-going ships. Vessels drawing up to 13 feet can enter the Pasig River, but this is due to the artificial means employed. Steamers of feet draught have entered the Rio Grande, but the sand shoals at the mouth are very shifty, and frequently the entrance is closed to navigation.
The river, which yearly overflows its banks, bathes the great Cagayan Valley,—the richest tobacco-growing district in the Colony. Immense trunks of trees are carried down in the torrent with great rapidity, rendering it impossible for even small craft—the barangayanes —to make their way up or down the river at that period.
The Rio Grande de la Pampanga rises in the same mountain and flows in the opposite direction—southwards,—through an extensive plain, until it empties itself by some 20 mouths into the Manila Bay.
The whole of the Pampanga Valley and the course of the river present a beautiful panorama from the summit of Arayat Mountain, which has an elevation of 2, feet above the sea level. The whole of this flat country is laid out into embanked rice fields and sugar-cane plantations.