Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and “The Deed of the Six Manila Men”

Deed of the Manila Men

While browsing through various online archives, I occasionally come upon evidence of how Filipinos figured into 19th century Western print culture, usually in the form of the mysterious “Manilla Men.” They are mentioned in novels and essays by Melville, William Dean Howells, and Mark Twain; and Nathaniel Hawthorne briefly mentions sharing a picnic lunch with two Manila Men in a diary entry from 1868. As the Philippine American war heated up, American newspapers employed various writers–such as Lafcadio Hearn–to tell their tales about Filipinos and what they perceived as Filipino culture. This morning, while looking for references to Filipino newspapers in the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site, I stumbled across a “true” story about a mutiny by Arthur Conan Doyle in — of all places — the Omaha Daily Bee, March 29, 1899: a short story entitled “The Deed of the Six Manila Men.” It was also published in the San Francisco Call, same month and year, with the title “Mutiny of the Flowery Land.” As usual, for those times, the characterization of the Manila Men is pretty unflattering and racist, and also underlines the idea that they were considered untrustworthy:

“The Manila Men appeared to submit to discipline, but there were lowering brows and sidelong glances that warned their officers not to trust them too far. Grumbles came from the forecastle as to the food and water–and the grumbling was perhaps not altogether unreasonable.”

The whole story can be read in one of the two links above, and you can read a Times news report (1864) about it here. A much more detailed and lengthy report of the execution was also published in The Age (Melbourne, Australia), April 15, 1864.






Reading List

Adding a reading list (see under “Pages”) in the sidebar. It’s a work in progress, and new categories will be added. At this time I’m interested in finding/adding books that provide information on the material production: printing presses, spirit duplicators, and other modes of production used by ethnic presses and publishers; business/community relations and advertising; subscription drives; and the economics of producing ethnic (and especially Filipina/o American and Asian American) periodicals, pamphlets, and ephemera in the early to mid- 20th century.

Hilario Moncado’s Influence in Salinas

Recently, Asian Cultural Experience (ACE) of Salinas, CA received a donation from the Lila Vezzola collection of a number of items related to the charismatic (and controversial) Filipino leader, Hilario Moncado, who had followers in the Salinas Valley. A select group of those followers became vegetarian, and would periodically hike up into the hills above the valley to fast and meditate.  The collection includes various books and pamphlets, photos, and one print issue of the Equifilibricum Press. Pictured below is a photo of one of the pamphlets, in which Moncado expounds on how Philippine Independence will help to relieve the economic depression in the United States (1930s):

525x800 PhilippineIndependence_Cover_Vezzola collection

For more information, see Steffi San Buenaventura, “The Master and the Federation: A Filipino-American Social Movement in California and Hawaii” (1991).

Street Art in the Philippines

For one artists’ group, this means exposing social inequities and promoting positive action. Ang Gerilya artists collective.

Ang Gerilya

Pamphlets: Filipino American History in THE TORCH

A pdf copy of The Torch (1930) published by the Philippines Mail (Salinas), is now available for download on the Pamphlets page of this website. This special issue presents a frank discussion about racial conflicts experienced by Filipinos in the Monterey Bay Area and Salinas Valleys during the Great Depression era.

Filipina Lives and Voices in Literature

Speaking of #allpinayeverything, Barbara Jane Reyes wrote about Filipinas she taught in her USF class in 2012 in her Harriet blog article, “Filipina Lives and Voices in Literature,” for The Poetry Foundation. Worth mentioning again for Filipino American History Month #allpinayeverything. Thanks to Barbara Jane for mentioning Helen Rillera (Angelica Floresca Marquez) in The Commonwealth Cafe (scroll down to see article). But check out also her references to Colonel Yay Panlilio, Evangeline Canonizado Buell, and Jeanette Gandioco Lazam.

Helen Rillera (Angelica Floresca Marquez) at the wheel, in San Francisco, 1930s. Thanks to the Cacdac Family Collection.

Filipina/o American History Month

This year, it’ll be #AllPinayEverything in the CommonwealthCafe for #FilAmHistoryMonth. What have pinays contributed to the lives of Filipina/os and Filipina/o communities?

Abe Ignacio’s Discovery

Just found this great article in the Philippine, which describes how Abe Ignacio, one of the founding authors of The Forbidden Book, became interested in the representation of Filipina/os in American newspapers. Abe’s discovery helps us to reconstruct how Filipina/os were perceived in San Francisco during the early 20th century. Check out the article: “Filipinos in San Francisco a Century Ago.”

Filipina/o students in Berkeley and San Francisco were painfully aware of how they were perceived in the U.S., and they were moved to write about it in The Filipino Student magazine, especially after the 1906 earthquake, when they realized that Filipino victims of the quake were not going to receive any help. General Frederick Funston was in charge of bringing order to the City after the quake and restoring communications infrastructure. Funston was made Brigadier General for his leadership in capturing General Emilio Aguinaldo during the Philippine-American War. Read more about that in the Editorials & Essays section of this website.