HIS­TOR­I­CAL AN­I­MALS A his­tor­i­cal record of snakes from Manila by Wally Suarez

Animal Scene - - CONTENTS - Part One of Two Parts Text and pho­tos by WALLY SUAREZ

In its his­tor­i­cal sense, the city of Manila, en­com­passed only the bound­aries of what is cur­rently In­tra­muros, with the arra­bales, or sub­urbs, sur­round­ing it be­long­ing to the king­dom of Tun­dun, which was var­i­ously re­ferred to as Tun­duk, or Tondo. Over time, these ad­ja­cent ar­eas be­came ab­sorbed un­der a greater Manila, although the de­gree of devel­op­ment was mostly cen­tered on In­tra­muros and the busi­ness cen­ters of nearby Es­colta, Divi­so­ria, and Bi­non­doc, now Bi­nondo. The fringes of the city were still mostly cov­ered in forests of vari­able in­tact­ness; one only needs to be re­minded that dur­ing the crit­i­cal mo­ments prior to the out­break of the 1896 rev­o­lu­tion, An­dres Boni­fa­cio and his men gath­ered at Makangkong, within Bal­intawak, with the place be­ing cho­sen due to the pro­tec­tive na­ture of its dense forests, apart from its higher el­e­va­tion which pro­vided tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage over the lower ter­rains of Kalookan and into the en­trance of the Manila city proper, lo­cated in present day Mon­u­mento. Sim­i­larly, Tan­dang Sora’s prop­erty was lo­cated deep into the for­est, and pro­vided se­cu­rity for re­cu­per­at­ing Katipuneros. Nev­er­the­less, in con­trast to the Ger­mans and the Bri­tish, the Span­ish dis­played very lit­tle in­ter­est in nat­u­ral his­tory, and due to the paucity of D one can only won­der what species have we since lost dur­ing

the course of Manila’s devel­op­ment as a city. Still, La Real So­ciedad Eco­nom­ica de Ami­gos del Pais, es­tab­lished on April 26, 1781, had as one of its agenda a study of the colony’s nat­u­ral his­tory, although, as was pointed out by Ed­ward H. of Philip­pine snakes was but a “ju­ve­nile at­tempt”. Ed­ward H. Tay­lor is of course, per­haps the most D to have ever worked on Philip­pine rep­tiles and am­phib­ians. In 1919, his The Snakes of the Philip­pine Is­lands was writ­ten and pub­lished three years later in Manila, and this work pro­vides us a glimpse of the snake species found within the city un­til the early part of the 20th cen­tury. This pa­per is heav­ily drawn from this work by Tay­lor. For the pur­poses of this ar­ti­cle we shall be oper­at­ing within a con­cep­tual + which means that ev­ery time it is men­tioned, we are re­fer­ring to Manila in its cur­rent sense, although it goes with­out say­ing that what­ever oc­curred or still oc­curs within the city also ex­isted or prob­a­bly con­tin­ues to ex­ist on ad­ja­cent cities. Note too that the mu­seum spec­i­mens from the Bureau of Science men­tioned here no longer ex­ists, af­ter the heavy de­struc­tion of the build­ing com­plex af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

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