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Agnes Uzochika Aja

EL 170 6 May 2013

Reflection on Expedition to the Mines of the Igorrotes

Blair and Robertsons The Philippine Islands has provided a wealth of knowledge in the cataloguing of the history of the Philippines. It is a translation of Spanish accounts of the Philippines made from 1493 to 1898, the length of the Spanish occupation of the country. The translated works topics range from detailed descriptions of the culture of the Fil ipinos when the Spanish arrived to the measures taken by the Spanish to civilize the peoples of the Philippines. If one were to focus on the Spanish accounts of discovering mines worked by the Igorots (Expedition to the Mines of the Igorrotes, located in the 51st volume of Blair and Robertsons translation), it is evident how eager and determined the Spanish colonizers were to seize any profitable resource for the benefit of Spain. The account about the Igorot mines is a very detailed recount of the journey to the mountains of northeastern Luzon, deadly encounters with the Igorots, and the extraction and examination of ores. Despite the obvious prejudices he held against the tribal peoples of the Philippines, the Captain and Sargentomayor Alonso Martin Quirante, author of the account, still manages to capture a picture of the Igorots, their conduct, way of life, dress, and technology. The translated output reads like an expedition account one expects to come from the year 1624. What is meant by that statement is that the account takes time to include as much information as possible in the account (duration of the expedition, number of men brought along, daily occurrences). Judging from the extreme detail in the translated output, Blair and Robertson have most likely stuck closely to the original text. As a matter of fact, the translators have been so faithful to the text as to allow some elements of exoticization to appear in the output. Prominent examples of this are some Spanish words that have been left untranslated to indicate to the reader that he is in fact reading an account that was originally written in Spanish. The preservation of Spanish words in the English text for example, libras and real prevents the reader from fully comprehending the text, especially if he has had little to no previous knowledge of Spanish. This comprehension problem is encountered more in reading the sections of the account describing Spanish attempts at smelting and assessing the ores that had been collected from the Igorot mines. The English-speaking reader, without added research, would have no or only a vague idea of how much seventeen libras of lead or one real of gold would weigh, for example. The reader has no reference to latch on to, since the measurement of weight is expressed in Spanish. The closest possible clues to the amount of ores extracted from the mines are the four hundred small rice-baskets needed to send the ores for reassessment in Manila and Quirantes expressed disappointment in the amount. The impression is that however much the amount of metals collected from the Igorot

mines, it did not warrant the amount of effort exerted. So while the retention of Spanish words lends authenticity to the translated output, doing so diminishes the readers comprehension of the text. In comparison to the usage of Spanish words in crucial parts of the translated output, the other awkward passages are fairly minor. The awkwardness of the following example can mostly be ascribed to the length of time that has passed since the accounts translation and the present day. The writing out of dates into words serves as this texts minor awkwardness. For the present-day reader used to the current style of writing, reading one thousand six hundred and twenty-four instead of 1624 is a bit unusual. This way of writing the year may have been carried out by Blair and Robertson to date the text as something coming from a much earlier time, a decision that does in fact cue the reader to regard the text as such. In this account of the Expedition to the Mines of the Igorrotes, it is evident that Blair and Robertson employed elements of exoticization to reinforce the authenticity of the account. This was done through the use of untranslated Spanish words throughout the text and the use of dated forms of writing out dates. But as was said earlier, the translators attempt to establish the authenticity of the translated output through exoticization may eventually lead the majority of English-speaking readers away from a fully-nuanced understanding of the output. The reader would, therefore, benefit from further research on the Spanish terms used in the text in order to enrich his potential for understand the finer points of the text.

Reference Text Blair, E. & Robertson, J. (1903-1909). The Philippine Islands, 1423-1898, vol. 51. Cleveland: A.H. Clark. 262-303