Part 2 of 20
AT THE west, there is a chain of high mountains, which divide it from the province of Zambales; and at the east, there is another one which runs from south to north, in front of San Miguel, and stops at the west.
Almost at its center, you find the famous Mount Arayat, which can be seen from Manila at the north-northwest quadrants. It is like a pyramid in shape. It has as many slopes as there are level grounds. Its various asymmetric ravines, which are seen in the upper portion, emerging from the summit, reveal the existence of an extinct volcano, although no memory of its eruptions has remained among the inhabitants.
From the foot to the summit, as well as in the ravines, one can find all kinds of trees. The forests in this mountain and those of the cordillera of Zambales and those which cross this province at the north, until they unite with those of the [page 3] Caravallo Mountains, are inhabited by indios, aetas or negritos.
Some of the indios are infidels, but most of them are "balanes". This is the name given to those who do not belong to any known tribe, and who are descendants of the fugitives (because of some crime) coming from the civilized pueblos. They are being joined by others for the same reason. The Rio Chico (Small River) and its environs are inhabited by many of these "balanes". They live in huts. Their food consists of rice, yoro, champaca, fish, rootcrops, birds, carabaos and venison, which are found in abundance in those woods.
Their customs are quite barbaric. They are bandits, thieves, cruel people. They go to the highways and footpaths to intercept and rob travelers and traders. They seize as many domesticated cows, horses and carabaos as they can; and bring them to their dwelling-places in the forests, where it is not possible for the indios of the pueblos to look for them with out risking their lives.
The aetas or negritos were, without doubt, the first inhabitants of these islands. Then, when the Malays came to stay here for good, they fled and went into hiding in the mountains and forests. They are short in stature. They look frail and sickly. Their color is black or mulatto. Those who live in the woods of Porac, Mabalacat, Capas, Patling and Tarlac move around naked. They cover their shoulder with a leaf of the anoso palm, which hangs from their neck, and their waist with whatever sprigs they find. They have small houses made of simple canes and cogon. They sow palay, corn, camote, ube, gabe and mangos, aside from cultivating tobacco.
Taking advantage of these crops to engage in business, they bring them to the lowland pueblos of the resettled-christianized indios or [page 4] to the Spaniards, in exchange for hard cash or for commodities they need. They also bring tapa or jerked-venison and jerked-carabeef, pajos and other products which they have in their forests. As a result of this trading, there are some among these aetas who live a fairly comfortable life.
These aetas or negritos are divided into different groups, each one having its own customs, language and style of dress. Among them, there is a group known as "baluga", who live in Mount Arayat and associate with the above-mentioned balanes", thereby acquiring the customs of the latter.