Philippines through the Centuries
Republika g Pilipinas

Early History and Spanish Rule
starting before 1521 till 1898
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Early History

Negrito, proto-Malay, and Malay peoples were the principal peoples of the Philippine archipelago. The Negritos are believed to have migrated by land bridges some 30,000 years ago, during the last glacial period. Later migrations were by water and took place over several thousand years in repeated movements before and after the start of the Christian era.

The social and political organization of the population in the widely scattered islands evolved into a generally common pattern. Only the permanent-field rice farmers of northern Luzon had any concept of territoriality. The basic unit of settlement was the barangay, originally a kinship group headed by a datu (chief). Within the barangay, the broad social divisions consisted of nobles, including the datu; freemen; and a group described before the Spanish period as dependents. Dependents included several categories with differing status: landless agricultural workers; those who had lost freeman status because of indebtedness or punishment for crime; and slaves, most of whom appear to have been war captives.

Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from the Indonesian islands. By 1500 Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the Manila area by 1565. Muslim immigrants introduced a political concept of territorial states ruled by rajas or sultans who exercised suzerainty over the datu. Neither the political state concept of the Muslim rulers nor the limited territorial concept of the sedentary rice farmers of Luzon, however, spread beyond the areas where they originated. When the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century, the majority of the estimated 500,000 people in the islands still lived in barangay settlements.

The early Spanish Period, 1521-1762

Seekarte von Indien und Südostasien aus dem 1600. Jahrhundert The first recorded sighting of the Philippines by Europeans was on March 16, 1521, during Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe. Magellan landed on Cebu, claimed the land for Charles I of Spain, and was killed one month later by a local chief. The Spanish crown sent several expeditions to the archipelago during the next decades. Permanent Spanish settlement was finally established in 1565 when Miguel López de Legazpi, the first royal governor, arrived in Cebu from New Spain (Mexico). Six years later, after defeating a local Muslim ruler, he established his capital at Manila, a location that offered the excellent harbor of Manila Bay, a large population, and proximity to the ample food supplies of the central Luzon rice lands. Manila remained the center of Spanish civil, military, religious, and commercial activity in the islands. The islands were given their present name in honor of Philip II of Spain, who reigned from 1556 to 1598.

Spain had three objectives in its policy toward the Philippines, its only colony in Asia: to acquire a share in the spice trade, to develop contacts with China and Japan in order to further Christian missionary efforts there, and to convert the Filipinos to Christianity. Only the third objective was eventually realized, and this not completely because of the active resistance of both the Muslims in the south and the Igorot, the upland tribal peoples in the north. Philip II explicitly ordered that pacification of the Philippines be bloodless, to avoid a repetition of Spain's sanguinary conquests in the Americas. Occupation of the islands was accomplished with relatively little bloodshed, partly because most of the population (except the Muslims) offered little armed resistance initially.

Church and state were inseparably linked in carrying out Spanish policy. The state assumed administrative responsibility - funding expenditures and selecting personnel - for the new ecclesiastical establishments. Responsibility for conversion of the indigenous population to Christianity was assigned to several religious orders: the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustinians, known collectively as the friars - and to the Jesuits. At the lower levels of colonial administration, the Spanish built on traditional village organization by co-opting the traditional local leaders, thereby ruling indirectly.

The native chief Lapulapu killed the explorer of the Philippines Magellan This system of indirect rule helped create in rural areas a Filipino upper class, referred to as the principalía or the principales (principal ones). This group had local wealth; high status and prestige; and certain privileges, such as exemption from taxes, lesser roles in the parish church, and appointment to local offices. The principalía was larger and more influential than the preconquest nobility, and it created and perpetuated an oligarchic system of local control. Among the most significant and enduring changes that occurred under Spanish rule was that the Filipino idea of communal use and ownership of land was replaced with the concept of private, individual ownership and the conferring of titles on members of the principalía.

Religion played a significant role in Spain's relations with and attitudes toward the indigenous population. The Spaniards considered conversion through baptism to be a symbol of allegiance to their authority. Although they were interested in gaining a profit from the colony, the Spanish also recognized a responsibility to protect the property and personal rights of these new Christians.

The church's work of converting Filipinos was facilitated by the absence of other organized religions, except for Islam, which predominated in the south. The missionaries had their greatest success among women and children, although the pageantry of the church had a wide appeal, reinforced by the incorporation of Filipino social customs into religious observances, for example, in the fiestas celebrating the patron saint of a local community. The eventual outcome was a new cultural community of the main Malay lowland population, from which the Muslims (known by the Spanish as Moros, or Moors) and the upland tribal peoples of Luzon remained detached and alienated.

The Spanish found neither spices nor exploitable precious metals in the Philippines. The ecology of the islands was little changed by Spanish importations and technical innovations, with the exception of corn cultivation and some extension of irrigation in order to increase rice supplies for the growing urban population. The colony was not profitable, and a long war with the Dutch in the seventeenth century and intermittent conflict with the Moros nearly bankrupted the colonial treasury. Annual deficits were made up by a subsidy from Mexico.

Colonial income derived mainly from entrepôt trade: The "Manila galleons" sailing from Acapulco on the west coast of Mexico brought shipments of silver bullion and minted coin that were exchanged for return cargoes of Chinese goods, mainly silk textiles. There was no direct trade with Spain. Failure to exploit indigenous natural resources and investment of virtually all official, private, and church capital in the galleon trade were mutually reinforcing tendencies. Loss or capture of the galleons or Chinese junks en route to Manila represented a financial disaster for the colony.

The thriving entrepôt trade quickly attracted growing numbers of Chinese to Manila. The Chinese, in addition to managing trade transactions, were the source of some necessary provisions and services for the capital. The Spanish regarded them with mixed distrust and acknowledgment of their indispensable role. During the first decades of Spanish rule, the Chinese in Manila became more numerous than the Spanish, who tried to control them with residence restrictions, periodic deportations, and actual or threatened violence that sometimes degenerated into riots and massacres of Chinese during the period between 1603 and 1762.


In 1762 Spain became involved in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) on the side of France against Britain; in October 1762, forces of the British East India Company captured Manila after fierce fighting. Spanish resistance continued under Lieutenant Governor Simón de Anda, based at Bacolor in Pampanga Province, and Manila was returned to the Spanish in May 1764 in conformity with the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the war. The British occupation nonetheless marked, in a very significant sense, the beginning of the end of the old order.

Well known collage about the Spanish rule and the struggle for freedom of the Philippines Spanish prestige suffered irreparable damage because of the defeat at British hands. A number of rebellions broke out, of which the most notable was that of Diego Silang in the Ilocos area of northern Luzon. In December 1762, Silang expelled the Spanish from the coastal city of Vigan and set up an independent government. He established friendly relations with the British and was able to repulse Spanish attacks on Vigan, but he was assassinated in May 1763. The Spanish, tied down by fighting with the British and the rebels, were unable to control the raids of the Moros of the south on the Christian communities of the Visayan Islands and Luzon. Thousands of Christian Filipinos were captured as slaves, and Moro raids continued to be a serious problem through the remainder of the century. The Chinese community, resentful of Spanish discrimination, for the most part enthusiastically supported the British, providing them with laborers and armed men who fought de Anda in Pampanga.

After Spanish rule was restored, José Basco y Vargas one of the ablest of Spanish administrators, was the governor from 1778 to 1787, and he implemented a series of reforms designed to promote the economic development of the islands and make them independent of the subsidy from New Spain. In 1781 he established the Economic Society of Friends of the Country, which, throughout its checkered history extending over the next century, encouraged the growth of new crops for export - such as indigo, tea, silk, opium poppies, and abaca (hemp) - and the development of local industry. A government tobacco monopoly was established in 1782. The monopoly brought in large profits for the government and made the Philippines a leader in world tobacco production.

The venerable galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico continued as a government monopoly until 1815, when the last official galleon from Acapulco docked at Manila. The Royal Company of the Philippines, chartered by the Spanish king in 1785, promoted direct trade from that year on between the islands and Spain. All Philippine goods were given tariff-free status, and the company, together with Basco's Economic Society, encouraged the growth of a cash-crop economy by investing a portion of its early profits in the cultivation of sugar, indigo, peppers, and mulberry trees for silk, as well as in textile factories.

Trade with Europe and America

As long as the Spanish empire on the eastern rim of the Pacific remained intact and the galleons sailed to and from Acapulco, there was little incentive on the part of colonial authorities to promote the development of the Philippines, despite the initiatives of José Basco y Vargas during his career as governor in Manila. After his departure, the Economic Society was allowed to fall on hard times, and the Royal Company showed decreasing profits. The independence of Spain's Latin American colonies, particularly Mexico in 1821, forced a fundamental reorientation of policy. Cut off from the Mexican subsidies and protected Latin American markets, the islands had to pay for themselves. As a result, in the late eighteenth century commercial isolation became less feasible.

Growing numbers of foreign merchants in Manila spurred the integration of the Philippines into an international commercial system linking industrialized Europe and North America with sources of raw materials and markets in the Americas and Asia. In principle, non-Spanish Europeans were not allowed to reside in Manila or elsewhere in the islands, but in fact British, American, French, and other foreign merchants circumvented this prohibition by flying the flags of Asian states or conniving with local officials. In 1834 the crown abolished the Royal Company of the Philippines and formally recognized free trade, opening the port of Manila to unrestricted foreign commerce.

Ansicht auf Manila von See aus dem 1900. Jahrhundert By 1856 there were thirteen foreign trading firms in Manila, of which seven were British and two American; between 1855 and 1873 the Spanish opened new ports to foreign trade, including Iloilo on Panay, Zamboanga in the western portion of Mindanao, Cebu on Cebu, and Legaspi in the Bicol area of southern Luzon. The growing prominence of steam over sail navigation and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 contributed to spectacular increases in the volume of trade. In 1851 exports and imports totaled some US$8.2 million; ten years later, they had risen to US$18.9 million and by 1870 were US$53.3 million. Exports alone grew by US$20 million between 1861 and 1870. British and United States merchants dominated Philippine commerce, the former in an especially favored position because of their bases in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the island of Borneo.

By the late nineteenth century, three crops - tobacco, abaca, and sugar - dominated Philippine exports. The government monopoly on tobacco had been abolished in 1880, but Philippine cigars maintained their high reputation, popular throughout Victorian parlors in Britain, the European continent, and North America. Because of the growth of worldwide shipping, Philippine abaca, which was considered the best material for ropes and cordage, grew in importance and after 1850 alternated with sugar as the islands' most important export. Americans dominated the abaca trade; raw material was made into rope, first at plants in New England and then in the Philippines. Principal regions for the growing of abaca were the Bicol areas of southeastern Luzon and the eastern portions of the Visayan Islands.

Sugarcane had been produced and refined using crude methods at least as early as the beginning of the eighteenth century. The opening of the port of Iloilo on Panay in 1855 and the encouragement of the British vice consul in that town, Nicholas Loney (described by a modern writer as "a one-man whirlwind of entrepreneurial and technical innovation"), led to the development of the previously unsettled island of Negros as the center of the Philippine sugar industry, exporting its product to Britain and Australia. Loney arranged liberal credit terms for local landlords to invest in the new crop, encouraged the migration of labor from the neighboring and overpopulated island of Panay, and introduced stream-driven sugar refineries that replaced the traditional method of producing low-grade sugar in loaves. The population of Negros tripled. Local "sugar barons" - the owners of the sugar plantations - became a potent political and economic force by the end of the nineteenth century.

Chinese and Chinese Mestizos

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, deep-seated Spanish suspicion of the Chinese gave way to recognition of their potentially constructive role in economic development. Chinese expulsion orders issued in 1755 and 1766 were repealed in 1788. Nevertheless, the Chinese remained concentrated in towns around Manila, particularly Binondo and Santa Cruz. In 1839 the government issued a decree granting them freedom of occupation and residence.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, immigration into the archipelago, largely from the maritime province of Fujian on the southeastern coast of China, increased, and a growing proportion of Chinese settled in outlying areas. In 1849 more than 90 percent of the approximately 6,000 Chinese lived in or around Manila, whereas in 1886 this proportion decreased to 77 percent of the 66,000 Chinese in the Philippines at that time, declining still further in the 1890s. The Chinese presence in the hinterland went hand in hand with the transformation of the insular economy. Spanish policy encouraged immigrants to become agricultural laborers. Some became gardeners, supplying vegetables to the towns, but most shunned the fields and set themselves up as small retailers and moneylenders. The Chinese soon gained a central position in the cash-crop economy on the provincial and local levels.

Couple of chinese mestizos who often were Ilostrados (tenants) Of equal, if not greater, significance for subsequent political, cultural, and economic developments were the Chinese mestizos. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, they composed about 5 percent of the total population of around 2.5 million and were concentrated in the most developed provinces of Central Luzon and in Manila and its environs. A much smaller number lived in the more important towns of the Visayan Islands, such as Cebu and Iloilo, and on Mindanao. Converts to Catholicism and speakers of Filipino languages or Spanish rather than Chinese dialects, the mestizos enjoyed a legal status as subjects of Spain that was denied the Chinese. In the words of historian Edgar Vickberg, they were considered, unlike the mixed-Chinese of other Southeast Asian countries, not "a special kind of local Chinese" but "a special kind of Filipino."

The eighteenth-century expulsion edicts had given the Chinese mestizos the opportunity to enter retailing and the skilled craft occupations formerly dominated by the Chinese. The removal of legal restrictions on Chinese economic activity and the competition of new Chinese immigrants, however, drove a large number of mestizos out of the commercial sector in mid-nineteenth century. As a result, many Chinese mestizos invested in land, particularly in Central Luzon. The estates of the religious orders were concentrated in this region, and mestizos became inquilinos (lessees) of these lands, subletting them to cultivators; a portion of the rent was given by the inquilino to the friary estate. Like the Chinese, the mestizos were moneylenders and acquired land when debtors defaulted.

By the late nineteenth century, prominent mestizo families, despite the inroads of the Chinese, were noted for their wealth and formed the major component of a Filipino elite. As the export economy grew and foreign contact increased, the mestizos and other members of this Filipino elite, known collectively as ilustrados, obtained higher education (in some cases abroad), entered professions such as law or medicine, and were particularly receptive to the liberal and democratic ideas that were beginning to reach the Philippines despite the efforts of the generally reactionary - and friar-dominated - Spanish establishment.

The Friarocracy

The power of religious orders remained one of the great constants, over the centuries, of Spanish colonial rule. Even in the late nineteenth century, the friars of the Augustinian, Dominican, and Franciscan orders conducted many of the executive and control functions of government on the local level. They were responsible for education and health measures, kept the census and tax records, reported on the character and behavior of individual villagers, supervised the selection of local police and town officers, and were responsible for maintaining public morals and reporting incidences of sedition to the authorities. Contrary to the principles of the church, they allegedly used information gained in confession to pinpoint troublemakers. Given the minuscule number of Spanish living outside the capital even in the nineteenth century, the friars were regarded as indispensable instruments of Spanish rule that contemporary critics labeled a "friarocracy" (frialocracia).

Controversies over visitation and secularization were persistent themes in Philippine church history. Visitation involved the authority of the bishops of the church hierarchy to inspect and discipline the religious orders, a principle laid down in church law and practiced in most of the Catholic world. The friars were successful in resisting the efforts of the archbishop of Manila to impose visitation; consequently, they operated without formal supervision except that of their own provincials or regional superiors. Secularization meant the replacement of the friars, who came exclusively from Spain, with Filipino priests ordained by the local bishop. This movement, again, was successfully resisted, as friars through the centuries kept up the argument, often couched in crude racial terms, that Filipino priests were too poorly qualified to take on parish duties. Although church policy dictated that parishes of countries converted to Christianity be relinquished by the religious orders to indigenous diocesan priests, in 1870 only 181 out of 792 parishes in the islands had Filipino priests. The national and racial dimensions of secularization meant that the issue became linked with broader demands for political reform.

Binondo Church around 1870 The economic position of the orders was secured by their extensive landholdings, which generally had been donated to them for the support of their churches, schools, and other establishments. Given the general lack of interest on the part of Spanish colonials - clustered in Manila and dependent on the galleon trade - in developing agriculture, the religious orders had become by the eighteenth century the largest landholders in the islands, with their estates concentrated in the Central Luzon region. Land rents -paid often by Chinese mestizo inquilinos, who planted cash crops for export - provided them with the sort of income that enabled many friars to live like princes in palatial establishments.

Central to the friars' dominant position was their monopoly of education at all levels and thus their control over cultural and intellectual life. In 1863 the Spanish government decreed that a system of free public primary education be established in the islands, which could have been interpreted as a threat to this monopoly. By 1867 there were 593 primary schools enrolling 138,990 students; by 1877 the numbers had grown to 1,608 schools and 177,113 students; and in 1898 there were 2,150 schools and over 200,000 students out of a total population of approximately 6 million. The friars, however, were given the responsibility of supervising the system both on the local and the national levels. The Jesuits were given control of the teacher-training colleges. Except for the Jesuits, the religious orders were strongly opposed to the teaching of modern foreign languages, including Spanish, and scientific and technical subjects to the indios (literally, Indians; the Spanish term for Filipinos). In 1898 the University of Santo Tomás taught essentially the same courses that it did in 1611, when it was founded by the Dominicans, twenty-one years before Galileo was brought before the Inquisition for publishing the idea that the earth revolved around the sun.

The friarocracy seems to have had more than its share of personal irregularities, and the priestly vow of chastity often was honored in the breach. In the eyes of educated Filipino priests and laymen, however, most inexcusable was the friars' open attitude of contempt toward the people. By the late nineteenth century, their attitude was one of blatant racism. In the words of one friar, responding to the challenge of the ilustrados, "the only liberty the Indians want is the liberty of savages. Leave them to their cock-fighting and their indolence, and they will thank you more than if you load them down with old and new rights."

Apolinario de la Cruz, a Tagalog who led the 1839-41 Cofradía de San José revolt, embodied the religious aspirations and disappointments of the Filipinos. A pious individual who sought to enter a religious order, he made repeated applications that were turned down by the racially conscious friars, and he was left with no alternative but to become a humble lay brother performing menial tasks at a charitable institution in Manila. While serving in that capacity, he started the cofradía (confraternity or brotherhood), a society to promote Roman Catholic devotion among Filipinos. From 1839 to 1840, Brother Apolinario sent representatives to his native Tayabas, south of Laguna de Bay, to recruit members, and the movement rapidly spread as cells were established throughout the southern Tagalog area. Originally, it was apparently neither anti-Spanish nor nativist in religious orientation, although native elements were prevalent among its provincial followers. Yet its emphasis on secrecy, the strong bond of loyalty its members felt for Brother Apolinario, and, above all, the fact that it barred Spanish and mestizos from membership aroused the suspicions of the authorities. The cofradía was banned by the authorities in 1840.

In the autumn of 1841 Brother Apolinario left Manila and gathered his followers, then numbering several thousands armed with rifles and bolos (heavy, single-bladed knives), at bases in the villages around the town of Tayabas; as a spiritual leader, he preached that God would deliver the Tagalog people from slavery. Although the rebel force, aided by Negrito hill tribesmen, was able to defeat a detachment led by the provincial governor in late October, a much larger Spanish force composed of soldiers from Pampanga Province - the elite of the Philippine military establishment and traditional enemies of the Tagalogs - took the cofradía camp at Alitao after a great slaughter on November 1, 1841.

The insurrection effectively ended with the betrayal and capture of Brother Apolinario. He was executed on November 5, 1841. Survivors of the movement became remontados (those who go back into the mountains), leaving their villages to live on the slopes of the volcanic Mount San Cristobal and Mount Banahao, within sight of Alitao. These mountains, where no friar ventured, became folk religious centers, places of pilgrimage for lowland peasants, and the birthplace of religious communities known as colorums.

The Development of a National Consciousness

Religious movements such as the cofradía and colorums expressed an inchoate desire of their members to be rid of the Spanish and discover a promised land that would reflect memories of a world that existed before the coming of the colonists. Nationalism in the modern sense developed in an urban context, in Manila and the major towns and, perhaps more significantly, in Spain and other parts of Europe where Filipino students and exiles were exposed to modern intellectual currents. Folk religion, for all its power, did not form the basis of the national ideology. Yet the millenarian tradition of rural revolt would merge with the Europeanized nationalism of the ilustrados to spur a truly national resistance, first against Spain in 1896 and then against the Americans in 1899.

Following the Spanish revolution of September 1868, in which the unpopular Queen Isabella II was deposed, the new government appointed General Carlos María de la Torre governor of the Philippines. An outspoken liberal, de la Torre extended to Filipinos the promise of reform. In a break with established practice, he fraternized with Filipinos, invited them to the governor's palace, and rode with them in official processions. Filipinos in turn welcomed de la Torre warmly, held a "liberty parade" to celebrate the adoption of the liberal 1869 Spanish constitution, and established a reform committee to lay the foundations of a new order. Prominent among de la Torre's supporters in Manila were professional and business leaders of the ilustrado community and, perhaps more significantly, Filipino secular priests. These included the learned Father José Burgos, a Spanish mestizo, who had published a pamphlet, Manifesto to the Noble Spanish Nation, criticizing those racially prejudiced Spanish who barred Filipinos from the priesthood and government service. For a brief time, the tide seemed to be turning against the friars. In December 1870, the archbishop of Manila, Gregorio Melitón Martínez, wrote to the Spanish regent advocating secularization and warning that discrimination against Filipino priests would encourage anti-Spanish sentiments.

According to historian Austin Coates, "1869 and 1870 stand distinct and apart from the whole of the rest of the period as a time when for a brief moment a real breath of the nineteenth century penetrated the Islands, which till then had been living largely in the seventeenth century." De la Torre abolished censorship of newspapers and legalized the holding of public demonstrations, free speech, and assembly--rights guaranteed in the 1869 Spanish constitution. Students at the University of Santo Tomás formed an association, the Liberal Young Students (Juventud Escolar Liberal), and in October 1869 held demonstrations protesting the abuses of the university's Dominican friar administrators and teachers.

typical evening party in the 19th. century The liberal period came to an abrupt end in 1871. Friars and other conservative Spaniards in Manila managed to engineer the replacement of de la Torre by a more conservative figure, Rafael de Izquierdo, who, following his installation as governor in April 1871, reimposed the severities of the old regime. He is alleged to have boasted that he came to the islands "with a crucifix in one hand and a sword in the other." Liberal laws were rescinded, and the enthusiastic Filipino supporters of de la Torre came under political suspicion.

The heaviest blow came after a mutiny on January 20, 1872, when about 200 Filipino dockworkers and soldiers in Cavite Province revolted and killed their Spanish officers, apparently in the mistaken belief that a general uprising was in progress among Filipino regiments in Manila. Grievances connected with the government's revocation of old privileges - particularly exemption from tribute service - inspired the revolt, which was put down by January 22. The authorities, however, began weaving a tale of conspiracy between the mutineers and prominent members of the Filipino community, particularly diocesan priests. The governor asserted that a secret junta, with connections to liberal parties in Spain, existed in Manila and was ready to overthrow Spanish rule.

A military court sentenced to death the three Filipino priests most closely associated with liberal reformism - José Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora - and exiled a number of prominent ilustrados to Guam and the Marianas (then Spanish possessions), from which they escaped to carry on the struggle from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Europe. Archbishop Martínez requested that the governor commute the priests' death sentences and refused the governor's order that they be defrocked. Martínez's efforts were in vain, however, and on February 17, 1872, they were publicly executed with the brutal garrote on the Luneta (the broad park facing Manila Bay). The archbishop ordered that Manila church bells toll a requiem for the victims, a requiem that turned out to be for Spanish rule in the islands as well. Although a policy of accommodation would have won the loyalty of peasant and ilustrado alike, intransigence - particularly on the question of the secularization of the clergy - led increasing numbers of Filipinos to question the need for a continuing association with Spain.

José Rizal and the Propaganda Movement

Between 1872 and 1892, a national consciousness was growing among the Filipino émigrés who had settled in Europe. In the freer atmosphere of Europe, these émigrés - liberals exiled in 1872 and students attending European universities - formed the Propaganda Movement. Organized for literary and cultural purposes more than for political ends, the Propagandists, who included upper-class Filipinos from all the lowland Christian areas, strove to "awaken the sleeping intellect of the Spaniard to the needs of our country" and to create a closer, more equal association of the islands and the motherland. Among their specific goals were representation of the Philippines in the Cortes, or Spanish parliament; secularization of the clergy; legalization of Spanish and Filipino equality; creation of a public school system independent of the friars; abolition of the polo (labor service) and vandala (forced sale of local products to the government); guarantee of basic freedoms of speech and association; and equal opportunity for Filipinos and Spanish to enter government service.

The National Hero of the Philippines: José Rizal The most outstanding Propagandist was José Rizal, a physician, scholar, scientist, and writer. Born in 1861 into a prosperous Chinese mestizo family in Laguna Province, he displayed great intelligence at an early age. After several years of medical study at the University of Santo Tomás, he went to Spain in 1882 to finish his studies at the University of Madrid. During the decade that followed, Rizal's career spanned two worlds: Among small communities of Filipino students in Madrid and other European cities, he became a leader and eloquent spokesman, and in the wider world of European science and scholarship - particularly in Germany - he formed close relationships with prominent natural and social scientists. The new discipline of anthropology was of special interest to him; he was committed to refuting the friars' stereotypes of Filipino racial inferiority with scientific arguments. His greatest impact on the development of a Filipino national consciousness, however, was his publication of two novels - "Noli Me Tangere" (Touch me not) in Berlin (Germany) in February 1887 and "El Filibusterismo" (The reign of greed)in Gent at Belgium in 1891. Rizal drew on his personal experiences and depicted the conditions of Spanish rule in the islands, particularly the abuses of the friars. Although the friars had Rizal's books banned, they were smuggled into the Philippines and rapidly gained a wide readership.

Other important Propagandists included Graciano Lopez Jaena, a noted orator and pamphleteer who had left the islands for Spain in 1880 after the publication of his satirical short novel, Fray Botod (Brother Fatso), an unflattering portrait of a provincial friar. In 1889 he established a biweekly newspaper in Barcelona, La Solidaridad (Solidarity), which became the principal organ of the Propaganda Movement, having audiences both in Spain and in the islands. Its contributors included Rizal; Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian geographer and ethnologist whom Rizal had met in Germany; and Marcelo del Pilar, a reformminded lawyer. Del Pilar was active in the antifriar movement in the islands until obliged to flee to Spain in 1888, where he became editor of La Solidaridad and assumed leadership of the Filipino community in Spain.

In 1887 Rizal returned briefly to the islands, but because of the furor surrounding the appearance of Noli Me Tangere the previous year, he was advised by the governor to leave. He returned to Europe by way of Japan and North America to complete his second novel and an edition of Antonio de Morga's seventeenth-century work, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (History of the Philippine Islands). The latter project stemmed from an ethnological interest in the cultural connections between the peoples of the pre-Spanish Philippines and those of the larger Malay region (including modern Malaysia and Indonesia) and the closely related political objective of encouraging national pride. De Morga provided positive information about the islands' early inhabitants, and reliable accounts of pre-Christian religion and social customs.

After a stay in Europe and Hong Kong, Rizal returned to the Philippines in June 1892, partly because the Dominicans had evicted his father and sisters from the land they leased from the friars' estate at Calamba, in Laguna Province. He also was convinced that the struggle for reform could no longer be conducted effectively from overseas. In July he established the Liga Filipina (Philippine League), designed to be a truly national, nonviolent organization. It was dissolved, however, following his arrest and exile to the remote town of Dapitan in northwestern Mindanao.

The Propaganda Movement languished after Rizal's arrest and the collapse of the Liga Filipina. La Solidaridad went out of business in November 1895, and in 1896 both del Pilar and Lopez Jaena died in Barcelona, worn down by poverty and disappointment. An attempt was made to reestablish the Liga Filipina, but the national movement had become split between ilustrado advocates of reform and peaceful evolution (the compromisarios, or compromisers) and a plebeian constituency that wanted revolution and national independence. Because the Spanish refused to allow genuine reform, the initiative quickly passed from the former group to the latter.

The Katipunan

Famous picture of the Katipunan After Rizal's arrest and exile, Andres Bonifacio, a self-educated man of humble origins, founded a secret society, the Katipunan, in Manila. This organization, modeled in part on Masonic lodges, was committed to winning independence from Spain. Rizal, Lopez Jaena, del Pilar, and other leaders of the Propaganda Movement had been Masons, and Masonry was regarded by the Catholic Church as heretical. The Katipunan, like the Masonic lodges, had secret passwords and ceremonies, and its members were organized into ranks or degrees, each having different colored hoods, special passwords, and secret formulas. New members went through a rigorous initiation, which concluded with the pacto de sangre, or blood compact. The Katipunan spread gradually from the Tondo district of Manila, where Bonifacio had founded it, to the provinces, and by August 1896 - on the eve of the revolt against Spain - it had some 30,000 members, both men and women. Most of them were members of the lower-and lower-middle-income strata, including peasants. The nationalist movement had effectively moved from the closed circle of prosperous ilustrados to a truly popular base of support.

The 1896 Uprising and Rizal's Execution

During the early years of the Katipunan, Rizal remained in exile at Dapitan. He had promised the Spanish governor that he would not attempt an escape, which, in that remote part of the country, would have been relatively easy. Such a course of action, however, would have both compromised the moderate reform policy that he still advocated and confirmed the suspicions of the reactionary Spanish. Whether he came to support Philippine independence during his period of exile is difficult to determine.

He retained, to the very end, a faith in the decency of Spanish "men of honor," which made it difficult for him to accept the revolutionary course of the Katipunan. Revolution had broken out in Cuba in February 1895, and Rizal applied to the governor to be sent to that yellow fever-infested island as an army doctor, believing that it was the only way he could keep his word to the governor and yet get out of his exile. His request was granted, and he was preparing to leave for Cuba when the Katipunan revolt broke out in August 1896. An informer had tipped off a Spanish friar about the society's existence, and Bonifacio, his hand forced, proclaimed the revolution, attacking Spanish military installations on August 29, 1896. Rizal was allowed to leave Manila on a Spanish steamship. The governor, however, apparently forced by reactionary elements, ordered Rizal's arrest en route, and he was sent back to Manila to be tried by a military court as an accomplice of the insurrection.

The rebels were poorly led and had few successes against colonial troops. Only in Cavite Province did they make any headway. Commanded by Emilio Aguinaldo, the twenty-seven-year-old mayor of the town of Cavite who had been a member of the Katipunan since 1895, the rebels defeated Civil Guard and regular colonial troops between August and November 1896 and made the province the center of the revolution.

Under a new governor, who apparently had been sponsored as a hard-line candidate by the religious orders, Rizal was brought before a military court on fabricated charges of involvement with the Katipunan. The events of 1872 repeated themselves. A brief trial was held on December 26 and - with little chance to defend himself - Rizal was found guilty and sentenced to death. On December 30, 1896, he was brought out to the Luneta and executed by a firing squad.

Accusation versa Rizal Rizal's death filled the rebels with new determination, but the Katipunan was becoming divided between supporters of Bonifacio, who revealed himself to be an increasingly ineffective leader, and its rising star, Aguinaldo. At a convention held at Tejeros, the Katipunan's headquarters in March 1897, delegates elected Aguinaldo president and demoted Bonifacio to the post of director of the interior. Bonifacio withdrew with his supporters and formed his own government. After fighting broke out between Bonifacio's and Aguinaldo's troops, Bonifacio was arrested, tried, and on May 10, 1897, executed by order of Aguinaldo.

As 1897 wore on, Aguinaldo himself suffered reverses at the hands of Spanish troops, being forced from Cavite in June and retreating to Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan Province. The futility of the struggle was becoming apparent, however, on both sides. Although Spanish troops were able to defeat insurgents on the battlefield, they could not suppress guerrilla activity. In August armistice negotiations were opened between Aguinaldo and a new Spanish governor. By mid-December, an agreement was reached in which the governor would pay Aguinaldo the equivalent of US$800,000, and the rebel leader and his government would go into exile. Aguinaldo established himself in Hong Kong, and the Spanish bought themselves time. Within the year, however, their more than three centuries of rule in the islands would come to an abrupt and unexpected end.


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