Mary arrives in Manila with the others and together they meet friends who try to dissuade them from their mission to establish a girl's boarding school. They forge ahead anyway and start a small kindergarten after struggling to find living quarters, a facility and staff amid the post-war chaos.

With the end of the war in 1898, Spain had ceded the Phillipines to the USA, and Manila was now occupied by the US Army, and the population was in foment, with the old ways yeilding to American energy. The missionaries, brought for the soldiers, were trying to evangelize  the  natives  with  small  success  because  although  they

could speak Spanish, they didn't understand the native patois. They meet Rev. James B. Rodgers, the first Methodist missionary, and Nicholas Zamora, the first native ordained minister. At one of the social functions, she meets Douglas MacArthur, then a young Army officer.

Since the provisional government was beginning to provide public education, the decision was made to discontinue the school and Mary was sent to Singapore. In a revealing confidence, the final paragraphs state her strategy for introducing social reforms.


Manila - - The Beginning


"It was in the early morning of a bright November day, 1899, when we steamed into the Manila Harbor. The radiance of the tropical sun shone around about us, and the cool sea breeze seemed to add to the welcome we were receiving on every side. The stars and stripes were planted everywhere, and when our boys from the adjoining ship filled the air with welcome sounds of national and popular airs, it did not seem at all strange and far away after all", so reads one of sister Mary’s first letters. Her letters are filled with the joy of living, of discovering new lands and people. Sometimes she is full of weariness but not despair, writing of problems and setbacks. Other times she is laughing with delight in her kinder- garten children or young students or over funny incidents.

Such an incident she wrote of in one of her first letters. After the shipload of teachers and missionaries had left the Port of San Francisco, Mary had decided to go over the contents of one of her trunks. As she opened it, she began to sneeze violently! What could  it be?   A   bottle   of  red  pepper  had  been  put  in  by  Sister


Harriet. No, not as a joke but as a cure, a necessary medicine to have on hand in the far away Orient! Mary found the culprit bottle, one-half full. She shook out the sneeze-making enemy from her clothes, successfully. To Mary it was her first calamity, not to be dwelt upon, to only laugh at. lt turned into a blessing as one of the Missionaries was taken ill on ship board and Mary used red pepper tea as one of the home cures she brought with her. lt worked! !

Unique experiences and trying ones were to mingle with the pioneer work of these early teachers in mission schools, but Mary never regretted leaving her home land to help children far across the Pacific. Three months of trying experiences in house hunt- ing for their school and kindergarten center, also plans for evangel- istic work, followed. The greatest obstacle was from priests who opposed them; the superstitions and fears which the priests had built up in the minds of the people were beyond belief! They met some American nuns who were glad to confide their struggles; who said, "and to think we are under such priests and bishops and can never return to our home in America". This lsland Country was probably the most completely Roman Catholic land in Asia.

Although Mary and the other missionaries had gathered about them friends from government and social service centers and some of the earlier missionaries, all warned them that their stated ideals and hopes of accomplishment would be impossible to bring about.

After a long search, at last they found a suitable home and center at 168 Amera Ermito Avenue. The school fees brought in very little money toward their expenses. Heat in April and May was exhausting, and Mary felt physically and spiritually exhausted. Her school was about twenty minutes away nearer the city. Life was  extremely difficult, but not without humor.

They were looking for a cook and it fell to Mary’s lot to interview the applicants. Finally one was selected, but the next one seemed more promising. When Mary had to refuse him he said, "Come nexty time, want cook, sometime you catchie cook, you cathchie me".

Mary went visiting to get children for her school. The huts were on poles, to provide against wet weather, no glass in windows, only bamboo doors and blinds to keep out the rain. One room was reserved for the pet — chickens — two rooms for the family. On the wall was  a  poor  paper  picture  of  a  Madonna  with  a  tiny


candle in front. There was no vegetable garden, though the soil was rich enough. If they did make one, the priests would come and demand the contents. There were so many children every- where!  When Mary went visiting, the mothers received her grac- iously as she managed to climb the steep bamboo steps, but then they immediately began refusuals for fear of the priests. On shipboard all  teachers and missionaries had studied Spanish. Therefore, Mary could make out the mother’s refusuals, though not all, because it  was  usually long and with many facial expressions showing terror and anguish over the priests’ repraisals. "Our Sunday School there numbered over eighteen, but the priests found it out and mothers withdrew their children."

Sister Mary wrote about seeing the bicycle races going past their home. lt was not all fun for the participants because gambling was in back of the projects and fighting came as the events ended. Also, they were warned through underground American Army sources  that riots would soon break out. A near neighbor warned them to ask for a contingent of soldiers to protect them. Another came  with a gun to loan them, but Mary, as spokesman said, "We would  not  think  of  using physical help" and thanked the kindly people.

In one letter Mary wrote, "We had a real insurrection and I know it reached American Newspapers, so l may as well mention it. What has troubled me most is that you, little mother, are worried. The  papers exaggerated, and you must always bear that in mind. The  authorities were fully alive to the situation, and I do not have  the  slightest fear if another comes. l am glad l am blessed with  some courage. it's such a pity the lies of the land owners and the  friars will cause havoc and that makes our situation like an occasional  tinderbox because the natives are not to be trusted when rumors start. The spirit of resentment has been built up over the years  against the native Spanish and now against all foreigners. lt has been cultivated. Trust in anyone is hidden under a deep crust. We  regret the type of U.S.A. soldier who has stolen from the natives and plundered as the Spanish did, but we are glad of the better element whom we do meet. They come here to meet us and see us  and stay and stay and finally speak about what it means to them to  know their own kind. "Nice Women", they repeat to us!

To quote from one of Mary’s later letters: "I gave a little time  to  a small kindergarten — 12 children; three Phillipinos, one Spanish and the rest American. The latter all left for the States at intervals.    One  Phillipino   mother  came  so  regretfully   stating  that


if she left her three little ones with me she could not go to Mass. The  government public schools were in a position to be more suc- cessful and we were glad they were being established quite rapidly. But I felt any visiting did some good. The women and children were  using tobacco as excessively as the men. I refused and made a great point with the mothers that later in life the children would suffer. Knowing how impressionable the women are, I believe my  seed of objection and explanation will bear fruit."

"Our experience in Manila were pioneering in so many ways. We had to prepare our own meals, as servants, such as we could afford to hire, were woefully ignorant. Living expenses were ex- tremely high and eatables scarce and poor quality, chicken of poor quality. When you have lived on that food for three or four months with no variation it becomes monotonous. Mrs. Moot, one of our party, visited sick soldiers in the hospital. There were thousands of  them brought in from all parts of the island. We had studied Spanish with Dr. Norton on board ship and continued to. Dr. Norton  went  to  work in the hospital and did Evangelistic work also."

She wrote, "We are quite excited tonight! A man, a man has  come! A Mr. Rodgers. We have been wanting a man to head  up  this family of women missionaries. To be sure, he is married, but that does not matter, he can head up the work here. The house we selected needs repairs and the servants given strict orders. The native servants with their families have actually taken up  residence in our carriage house without permission. It is quite spacious under the house with only one carriage. Mrs. Rodgers is a  sweet woman and tactful. She will examine the situation of the servant’s families in the carriage house."

“We attended religious services in a few Protestant centers. There was a great Cathedral built by the self denial of the poor people. In some way it came into Protestant hands, for exhibition mostly, but we held service there. It was a tremendous sight. Nicholas Zamara, our very talented zealous Phillipino preacher, conducted the service and spoke with great earnestness. He held the attention of all until the close."

“To get to one church service in the suburb, we drove three miles or more in our caramata to the Pasing River, where, taking a native ’banca’ or canoe hewn out of a great log, we were rowed across the river and up a side stream. The men had not been able to  persuade their wives to come,   but we found most of the  men  of


the village assembled to hear the New Gospel of Light and Love and  Liberty. The president of the village had opened his home to us  and the large front room was filled with intelligent, eager listen- ers. I went to the piano and played "Nearer my God to Thee" which  they sang in Spanish. lt was so encouraging that here was a  neucleus of Protestant Christians. They sang other hymns in Spanish. Nicholas Zamara, our forerunner of the Protestant move- ment, spoke as usual."

As a result of the few excellent Protestant schools, one Friar decided that the Catholics should have a good school for girls so he  opened one called "Collegio for Senioritas". ln all my reading of  Protestant Missionary work, l have found that the native Catholic leaders tried to outdo the newer Protestant workers, which was all to the good. The missionaries rejoiced that they could stimulate a better  program for the natives than their own priests had provided because the missionaries’ work for them was of a higher caliber. Sometimes it would be a Catholic hospital which was challenged to  be more sanitary, procure more modern equipment, try to main- tain a finer spirit among the staff and give the native nurses a real  training.

Living in Manila was not without its social life. The newly established American Government and Military Posts there did not have enough women for official occasions. The several single missionaries were often invited to brighten these functions. Mary wrote of one such occasion: "The new young officers looked so nice  in their bright uniforms. l sat next to an exceptionally intelli- gent  one at dinner last night. His name was Douglas MacArthur!"

At the time Mary arrived in Manila, 1898, the protest against Protestants was keen. There are many letters from my sister telling of hatred and opposition 71 years ago. These l will not repeat, but  the missionaries gave out love where hate existed and took small steps, then bigger ones where possible, toward reconciliation. Even many soldiers did what they could. Intermediate schools, colleges, were started all over the island. Dr. Laubach, the great linguist, started his work with wild tribes, writing their language and  then sending translation of words for scriptures to the American Bible Society so that those tribes could be left with portions of the scripture in their own language. The American Bible Society was active there from the first of the occupation. lt was reported that 50,000 Bibles, Spanish translation, were burned in the first shipment. Then Agilpay who was the head of the split church and one of the heroes of the Revolution, came forward. He had his picture put in the


back of each Bible, of the new shipment; so the friars or previous bible owners did not dare to burn them. He was so well known and honored that his picture protected their Bibles.

Seventy years ago Mary wrote, "We cannot oppose the hierachy with accusations but we can set an example. We can set a  pattern of godly actions. We will be an open book read even by the priests". Recently l read such a contrast: in 1971 in Bagiu City where 69 Catholic Bishops met in conference, they denounced wide- spread corruption and exploitation of the poor. The Conference wrote, "The failure of the government is the failure of every citizen and of the Catholic Church. There must be no more cruel treatment by landowners or enrichment of priests by excessive charges for burial and marriage services." This is Asia’s largest Catholic nation. The church has inaugurated 200 projects including rural credit unions, farming co-operatives and manpower training programs. The  hierarchy has made the boldest move to date. lt attacks the sins  of the government; i.e. bribing, extortion, illegal traffic in arms and the oppression of the weak and miscarriage of justice by political  strategy. The prelates have decided to mend their own ways. Church assets will be published and clerical opulence cut, gold  crosses and chains will be replaced by plain black cloth sashes and bronze crosses instead of gold."

In my recent correspondence of 1971, there came a letter from our Union Christian College at San Fernando, Phillipines. Their  Protestant President had been invited to speak at a Roman Catholic College (97% Catholic including priest and nuns). It includ- ed an account of a Catholic Bishop who had come to give the bene- diction at an Ecumenical Easter Morning Service cancelling one of his six Easter Masses so that he could come. When the President of  the Protestant College spoke, he asked the Catholic Bishop to be chairman of an important committee which was working on National Constitutional amendments. Things are changing! The early missionaries made a definite contribution toward tolerance and understanding and progress.


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