Philippines: Progress and Revolution. 1837–1897
Philippines: Progress and Revolution. 1837–1897
Philippines: Progress and Revolution. 1837–1897
Progress during the Last Half-Century of Spanish Rule.—We have now come to the last half-century and to the last phase of Spanish rule. In many respects this period was one of economic and social progress, and contained more of promise than any other in the history of the Islands. During this last half-century the Spanish rulers had numerous plans for the development and better administration of the Philippines, and, in spite of a somewhat wavering policy and the continual sore of official peculation, this was a period of wonderful advancement. Revolution and separation from Spain came at last, as revolutions usually do, not because there was no effort nor movement for reform, but because progress was so discouragingly slow and so irritatingly blocked by established interests that desired no change.
Effect of Opening the Port of Manila to Foreign Trade.—Increase in Agriculture.—The opening of the port of Manila to foreign trade, in 1837, was followed by a period of rising industry and prosperity. Up to this time the archipelago had not been a producing and exporting country, but the freeing of trade led to the raising of great harvests for foreign export, which have made world-wide the fame of certain Philippine productions. Chief among these are of course Manila hemp and tobacco. These were followed by sugar and coffee culture, the latter plant enriching the province of Batangas, while the planting of new cocoanut groves yearly made of greater importance the yield of that excellent product, copra. These rich merchandises had entered very little into commerce during the early decades of the century.
Increase in Exports.—In 1810 the entire imports of the Philippines amounted in value to 5,329,000 dollars, but more than half of this consisted of silver sent from Mexico. From Europe and the United States trade amounted to only 175,000 dollars. The exports in the same year amounted to 4,795,000 dollars, but a million and a half of this was Mexican silver exported on to China, and the whole amount of exports to Europe and the United States was only 250,000 dollars.
In 1831 the exportation of hemp amounted to only 346 tons. But the effect upon production of opening Manila to foreign trade is seen in the export six years later of 2,585 tons. By 1858 the exportation of hemp had risen to 412,000 piculs, or 27,500 tons. Of this amount, nearly two thirds, or 298,000 piculs, went to the United States. At this time the North Atlantic seaboard of America was the center of a most active ship-building and ship-carrying trade. The American flag was conspicuous among the vessels that frequented these Eastern ports, and “Manila hemp” was largely sought after by American seamen to supply the shipyards at home. Of sugar, the export in 1858 amounted to 557,000 piculs, of which more than half went to Great Britain.
After 1814 general permission had been given to foreigners to establish trading-houses in Manila, and by 1858 there were fifteen such establishments, of which seven were English and three American.
Other Ports Opened to Foreign Commerce.—In 1855 three other ports were opened to foreign commerce—Sual in Pangasinan on the Gulf of Lingayan, Iloilo, and Zamboanga. In 1863, Cebu likewise was made an open port. The exports of Sual consisted only of rice, and in spite of its exceptional harbor this port never flourished, and is to-day no more than an unfrequented village.
Iloilo exported leaf tobacco, sugar, sapan or dyewood (an industry long ago ruined), hemp, and hides. Zamboanga through the Chinese had a small trade with Jolo and the Moro Islands, and exported the produce of these seas—sea-slug (tripang), shark fins, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shell, etc. For some years the customs laws in these ports were trying and vexatious, and prevented full advantage being taken of the privileges of export; but in 1869 this service was, by royal decree, greatly liberalized and improved. Since that date the Philippines have steadily continued to grow in importance in the commercial world.
The Form of Government under the Spanish.—General Improvements.—This is perhaps a convenient place to examine for the last time the political system which the Spaniards maintained in the country. In 1850 there were thirty-four provinces and two politico-military commandancias. In these provinces the Spanish administration was still vested solely in the alcalde mayor, who until after 1886 was both governor or executive officer and the judge or court for the trial of provincial cases and crimes.
Many of the old abuses which had characterized the government of the alcaldes had been at least partially remedied. After 1844 they had no longer the much-abused monopoly privilege of trade, nor had they as free a hand in controlling the labor of the inhabitants; but opportunities for illegal enrichment existed in the administration of the treasury and tax system, and these opportunities were not slighted. Up to the very end of Spanish rule the officials, high and low, are accused of stealing public money.
The Pueblo.—The unit of administration was the pueblo, or township, which ordinarily embraced many square miles of country and contained, numerous villages, or “barrios.” The center of the town was naturally the site where for centuries had stood the great church and the convent of the missionary friars. These locations had always been admirably chosen, and about them grew up the market and trading-shops of Chinese and the fine and durable homes of the more prosperous Filipinos and mestizos.
About 1860 the government began to concern itself with the construction of public buildings and improvements, and the result is seen in many pueblos in the finely laid-out plazas and well-built municipal edifices grouped about the square—the “tribunal,” or town house, the jail, and the small but significant schoolhouses. The government of the town was vested in a “gobernadorcillo” and a council, each of the “consejales” usually representing a hamlet or barrio.
But the Spanish friar, who in nearly every pueblo was the parish curate, continued to be the paternal guardian and administrator of the pueblo. In general, no matter was too minute for his dictation. Neither gobernadorcillo nor councillors dared act in opposition to his wishes, and the alcalde of the province was careful to keep on friendly terms and leave town affairs largely to his dictation. The friar was the local inspector of public instruction and ever vigilant to detect and destroy radical ideas. To the humble Filipino, the friar was the visible and only representative of Spanish authority.
The Revolt of 1841.—Repression of the People by the Friars.—Unquestionably in the past, the work of the friars had been of very great value; but men as well as institutions may lose their usefulness, as conditions change, and the time was now approaching when the autocratic and paternal régime of the friars no longer satisfied the Filipinos. Their zeal was no longer disinterested, and their work had become materialized by the possession of the vast estates upon which their spiritual charges lived and labored as tenants or dependents. The policy of the religious orders had, in fact, become one of repression, and as the aspirations of the Filipinos increased, the friars, filled with doubt and fear, tried to draw still tighter the bonds of their own authority, and viewed with growing distrust the rising ambition of the people.
Apolinario de la Cruz.—The unfortunate revolution of 1841 shows the wayward and misdirected enthusiasm of the Filipino; and the unwisdom of the friars. Apolinario de la Cruz, a young Filipino, a native of Lukban, Tayabas, came up to Manila filled with the ambition to lead a monastic life, and engaged in theological studies. By his attendance upon lectures and sermons and by imitation of the friar preachers of Manila, Apolinario became, himself, quite an orator, and, as subsequent events showed, was able to arouse great numbers of his own people by his appeals.
It was his ambition to enter one of the regular monastic orders, but this religious privilege was never granted to Filipinos, and he was refused. He then entered a brotherhood known as the Cofradia, or Brotherhood of San Juan de Dios, composed entirely of Filipinos. After some years in this brotherhood, he returned in 1840 to Tayabas and founded the Cofradia de San José, his aim being to form a special cult in honor of Saint Joseph and the Virgin. For this he requested authorization from Manila. It was here that the lack of foresight of the friars appeared.
The Opposition of the Friars.—Instead of sympathizing with these religious aspirations, in which, up to this point, there seems to have been nothing heretical, they viewed the rise of a Filipino religious leader with alarm. Their policy never permitted to the Filipino any position that was not wholly subordinate. They believed that the permanence of Spanish power in these islands lay in suppressing any latent ability for leadership in the Filipino himself. Their influence, consequently, was thrown against Apolinario, and the granting of the authority for his work. They secured not only a condemnation of his plan, but an order for the arrest and imprisonment of all who should attend upon his preaching.
Apolinario Forced to Rebel.—Apolinario thereupon took refuge in independent action. His movement had already become a strong one, and his followers numbered several thousand people of Laguna, Tayabas, and Batangas. The governor of Tayabas province, Don Joaquin Ortega, organized an expedition to destroy the schism. Accompanied by two Franciscan friars, he attacked Apolinario in the month of October, 1840, and was defeated and killed. One account says that Apolinario was assisted by a band of Negritos, whose bowmanship was destructive. There are still a very few of these little blacks in the woods in the vicinity of Lukban.
Apolinario was now in the position of an open rebel, and he fortified himself in the vicinity of Alitao, where he built a fort and chapel.
His religious movement became distinctly independent and heretical. A church was formed, of which he was first elected archbishop and then supreme pontiff. He was also charged with having assumed the title of “King of the Tagálog.”
Finally a force under the new alcalde, Vital, and General Huet early in November attacked Apolinario’s stronghold and after a fierce struggle defeated the revolutionists. About a thousand Filipinos perished in the final battle. Apolinario was captured and executed. He was then twenty-seven years of age.
Organization of Municipal Governments.—In 1844 an able and liberal governor, General Claveria, arrived, and remained until the end of the year 1849. A better organization of the provincial governments, which we have seen, followed Claveria’s entrance into office, and in October, 1847, came the important decree, organizing the municipalities in the form which we have already described, and which remained without substantial modification to the end of Spanish rule, and which has to a considerable extent been followed in the Municipal Code framed by the American government.
Subjection of the Igorrote Tribes.—With Claveria began a decisive policy of conquest among the Igorrote tribes of northern Luzon, and by the end of Spanish rule these mountains were dotted with cuartels and missions for the control of these unruly tribes. The province of Nueva Vizcaya has been particularly subject to the raids of these head-hunting peoples. Year after year the Christian towns of the plains had yielded a distressing sacrifice of life to satisfy the savage ceremonials of the Igorrotes.
In 1847, Claveria nominated as governor of Nueva Vizcaya, Don Mariano Ozcariz, whose severe and telling conquests for the first time checked these Igorrote outrages and made possible the development of the great valleys of northern Luzon.
Spanish Settlements on Mindanao.—Zamboanga.—With Claveria’s governorship we enter also upon the last phase of Moro piracy. In spite of innumerable expeditions, Spain’s occupation of South Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago was limited to the presidio of Zamboanga. She had occupied this strategic point continuously since the reëstablishment of Spanish power in 1763, The great stone fort, which still stands, had proved impregnable to Moro attack, and had long been unmolested.
Distributed for a distance of some miles over the rich lands at this end of the Zamboanga peninsula was a Christian population, which had grown up largely from the descendants of rescued captives of the Moros. Coming originally from all parts of the Bisayas, Calamianes, and Luzon, this mixed population has grown to have a somewhat different character from that of any other part of the Islands. A corrupt Spanish dialect, known as the “Chabucano,” has become the common speech, the only instance in the Philippines where the native dialect has been supplanted. This population, loyal and devotedly Catholic, never failed to sustain the defense of this isolated Spanish outpost, and contributed brave volunteers to every expedition against the Moro islands.
Activity of Other Nations.—But Spain’s maintenance of Zamboanga was insufficient to sustain her claims of sovereignty over the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi groups. Both the Dutch and English planned various moves for their occupation and acquisition, and in 1844 a French fleet entered the archipelago and concluded a treaty with the sultan of Sulu for the cession of the island of Basilan for the sum of one million dollars. Writings of the French minister and historian, M. Guizot, show that France hoped, by the acquisition of this island, to obtain a needed naval base in the East and found a great commercial port within the sphere of Chinese trade.
Conquest of the Gulf of Davao.—But this step roused the Spaniards to activity and the occupation of the island. A naval vessel subdued the towns along the north coast, and then proceeding to the mouth of the Rio Grande, secured from the sultan of Maguindanao the cession of the great Gulf of Davao. Spain took no immediate steps to occupy this gulf, but in 1847 a Spaniard, Don José Oyanguran, proposed to the governor, Claveria, to conquer the region at his own expense, if he could be furnished with artillery and munitions and granted a ten years’ government of Davao, with the exclusive privilege of trade.
His offer was accepted by the governor and the Audiencia, and Oyanguran organized a company to secure funds for the undertaking. In two years’ time he had subdued the coast regions of this gulf, expelled the pirates who harbored there, and founded the settlement of Nueva Vergara. He seems to have been making progress toward the conquest and commercial exploitation of this region, when jealous attacks in Manila induced Governor Urbistondo to cancel his privilege and to relieve him by an officer of the government.
In subsequent years the Jesuits had a few mission stations here and made a few converts among the Bagobos; but the region is still an unsubdued and unutilized country, whose inhabitants are mainly pagan tribes, and whose rich agricultural possibilities lie undeveloped and unclaimed.
The Samal Pirates.—The Sulu.—The piratical inhabitants of the Sulu archipelago are made of two distinct Malayan peoples—the Sulu (or Sulug), and the Samal, who are known throughout Malaysia as the “Bajau” or “Orang laut” (Men of the Sea). The former appear to be the older inhabitants. They occupy the rich and populous island of Jolo and some islands of the Siassi group, immediately south.
The Samal.—The Samal, or Bajau, are stated to have come originally from Johore. Many of them live almost exclusively in their boats, passing their lives from birth to death upon the sea. They are found throughout most parts of Malaysia, the position of their little fleets changing with the shifting of the monsoons. In the Sulu archipelago and a few points in South Mindanao, many of these Samal have shifted their homes from their boats to the shore. Their villages are built on piles over the sea, and on many of the low coral reefs south of Siassi and east of Tawi-Tawi there are great towns or settlements which have apparently been in existence a long while.
Fifty years ago the Samal were very numerous in the many islands between Jolo and Basilan, and this group is still known as the Islas Samales. Like the Sulu and other Malays, the Samal are Mohammedans, and scarcely less persistent pirates than their fellow-Malays. With the decline of piratical power among the Sulu of Jolo, the focus of piracy shifted to these settlements of the Samal, and in the time of Claveria the worst centers were the islands of Balanguingui and Tonquil, lying just north of the island of Jolo. From here pirate and slaving raids upon the Bisayan Islands continued to be made, and nearly every year towns were sacked and burned and several hundred unfortunate captives carried away. The captives were destined for slavery, and regular marts existed for this traffic at Jolo and on the Bay of Sandakan in Borneo.
Arrival of Steam Warships.—In 1848 the Philippines secured the first steam war vessels. These were the “Magellanes,” the “Elcano,” and the “Reina de Castilla.” They were destined to revolutionize Moro relations.
The Destruction of the Samal Forts.—Hitherto it had been possible for the great Moro war praos, manned by many oarsmen, to drop their masts on the approach of an armed sailing-vessel, and, turning toward the “eye of the wind,” where no sailing-ship could pursue, row calmly away from danger. Steam alone was effective in combating these sea-wolves. Claveria took these newly arrived ships, and with a strong force of infantry, which was increased by Zamboangueño volunteers, he entered the Samal group in February, 1848, and landed on the island of Balanguingui.
There were four fortresses situated in the mangrove marshes of the island. These, in spite of a desperate resistance, were carried by the infantry and Zamboangueños and the pirates scattered. The conduct of the campaign appears to have been admirable and the fighting heroic. The Moros were completely overwhelmed; 450 dead were burned or interred; 124 pieces of artillery—for the most part, the small brass cannon called “lantacas”—were captured, and 150 Moro boats were destroyed. The Spaniards cut down the cocoanut groves, and with spoil that included such rich pirate loot as silks, silver vases, ornaments, and weapons of war, and with over two hundred prisoners and three hundred rescued captives, returned to Zamboanga. This was the most signal victory ever won by Europeans in conflict with Malay piracy. The effectiveness of this campaign is shown by the fact that while in the preceding year 450 Filipinos had suffered capture at the hands of Moro pirates, in 1848 and the succeeding year there was scarcely a depredation. But in 1850 a pirate squadron from Tonquil, an island adjacent to Balanguingui, fell upon Samar and Camaguin. Fortunately, Governor Urbistondo, who had succeeded Claveria, vigorously continued the policy of his predecessor, and an expedition was promptly dispatched which destroyed the settlements and strongholds on Tonquil.
Destruction of the Moro Forts at Jolo.—A year later war broke out again with Jolo, and after a varied interchange of negotiations and hostilities, the Spaniards stormed and took the town in February, 1851. The question of permanent occupation of this important site was debated by a council of war, but their forces appearing unequal to the task, the forts of the Moros were destroyed, and the expedition returned. Jolo is described at this time as a very strongly guarded situation. Five forts and a double line of trenches faced the shore. The Moro town is said to have contained about seven thousand souls, and there was a barrio of Chinese traders, who numbered about five hundred.
Treaty with the Sultan of Jolo.—A few months later the governor of Zamboanga concluded a treaty with the sultan of Jolo by which the archipelago was to be considered an incorporated part of the Spanish possessions. The sultan bound himself to make no further treaties with or cessions to foreign powers, to suppress piracy, and to fly the Spanish flag. The Moros were guaranteed the practice of their religion, the succession of the sultan and his descendants in the established order, boats of Jolo were to enjoy the same trading privileges in Spanish ports as other Filipino vessels, and the sultan retained the right to all customs duties on foreign trading-vessels. Finally, “in compensation for the damages of war,” the sultan was to be paid an annual subsidy of 1,500 pesos and 600 pesos each to three datos and 360 pesos to a sherif.
The End of Malay Piracy.—In these very years that Malay piracy was receiving such severe blows from the recuperating power and activity of the Spanish government on the north, it was crushed also from the south by the merciless warfare of a great Englishman, the Raja Charles Brooke of Sarawak. The sources of pirate depredation were Maguindanao, the Sulu archipelago, and the north and west coasts of the great island of Borneo. We have seen how these fleets, century after century, swept northward and wasted with fire and murder the fair islands of the Philippines.
But this archipelago was not alone in suffering these ravages. The peaceful trading inhabitants of the great island groups to the south were persistently visited and despoiled. Moreover, as the Chinese trade by the Cape of Good Hope route became established in the first half of the nineteenth century, these pirates became a great menace to European shipping. They swarmed the China Sea, and luckless indeed was the ship carried too far eastward on its course. Every American schoolboy is familiar with the stories of fierce hand-to-hand struggles with Malay pirates, which have come down from those years when the American flag was seen everywhere in the ports of the Far East.
About 1839 a young English officer, who had been in the Indian service, Charles Brooke, having armed and equipped a yacht of about 140 tons, set sail for the coast of Borneo, with the avowed intent of destroying Malay piracy and founding an independent state. In all the romantic stories of the East there is no career of greater daring than that of this man. In 1841, having engaged in several bloody exploits, Brooke forced from the sultan of Borneo the cession of Sarawak, with the government vested in himself as an independent raja.
Brooke now devoted himself with merciless severity to the destruction of the pirates in the deep bays and swampy rivers, whence they had so long made their excursions. Later he was assisted by the presence of the English man-of-war “Dido,” and in 1847 the sultan of Brunei ceded to Great Britain the island of Labuan. In 1849, Brooke visited Zamboanga in the English man-of-war “Mœander,”and concluded a treaty with the sultan of Sulu, which greatly alarmed the Spaniards.
Brooke’s private correspondence shows that he was ambitious and hopeful of acquiring for England parts of the Dutch possessions in the south and the Spanish Philippines in the north; but his plans were never followed up by England, although in 1887 North Borneo was ceded to an English company, and all the northern and eastern portions of this great island are now under English protection.
Liberal Ideas among the Filipinos.—The release from Moro piracy, the opening of foreign commerce, and the development of agricultural production were rapidly bringing about a great change in the aspirations of the Filipino people themselves. Nearly up to the middle of the nineteenth century the Filipinos had felt the full effect of isolation from the life and thought of the modern world. But the revolutionary changes in Europe and the struggles for constitutional government in Spain had their influence, even in these far-away Spanish possessions. Spaniards of liberal ideas, some of them in official positions, found their way to the Islands, and an agitation began, originating among Spaniards themselves, against the paternal powers of the friars.
Influence of the Press.—The growth of periodic literature accelerated this liberalizing movement. The press, though suffering a severe censorship, has played a large part in shaping recent thought in these islands and in communicating to the Filipino people those ideas and purposes which ever inspire and elevate men. The first newspaper to make its appearance in the Philippines was in 1822—“El Philantropo”; but journalism assumed no real importance until the forties, when there were founded “Semanario Filipino” (1843), and almost immediately after several others—“El Amigo de Pais” (1845), “La Estrella” (1846), and “La Esperanza” (1847), the first daily. These were followed by “Diario de Manila” (1848); in 1858 “El Comercio” appeared, the oldest of the papers still in existence.
Papers conducted by Filipinos and in the Filipino tongues are of more recent origin, but these early Spanish periodicals had a real effect upon the Filipinos themselves, training up a class familiar with the conduct of journalism and preparing a way for the very influential work of the Filipino press in recent years.
Establishment of an Educational System.—Return of the Jesuits.—But more important than all other influences was the opening of education to Filipinos. In 1852 a royal decree authorized the Jesuits to return to the Philippines. The conditions under which they came back were that they should devote themselves solely to missions in the unoccupied fields of Mindanao, and to the higher education of the Filipinos.
The Public Schools.—In 1860, O’Donnell, the Spanish minister of war and colonies (Ultramar), founded the system of public primary instruction. A primary school for boys and one for girls was to be established in each pueblo of the Islands. In these schools, instruction was to be given in the Spanish language. A superior commission of education was formed, which consisted of the governor, the archbishop, and seven other members added by the governor himself.
The system was not secular, for it primarily was devoted to the teaching of religious doctrine. The Spanish friar, the pueblo curate, was the local inspector of schools and practically directed their conduct. It was not wholly a free system, because tuition was required of all but the poorest children; nor was it an adequate system, because, even when most complete, it reached only a small proportion of the children of a parish, and these very largely were of the well-to-do families. And yet this system, for what it accomplished, is deserving of great credit.
Besides the church, the convent, and the tribunal, nearly every town in the Philippines, toward the close of Spanish rule, had also, in the public plaza, its public school buildings for boys and for girls. In these towns a number of Filipinos were taught to converse in the Spanish language and at least the rudiments of Spanish education. But this system did not give opportunity for education to the little child of the humble fisherman and the husbandman.
The Manila Normal School.—To prepare Filipino teachers to do this work of primary instruction, a decree of 1863 established the Manila Normal School. In charge of the Jesuits, this school was inaugurated in January, 1865. And about the same date the government decreed the foundation of the Jesuit “Ateneo Municipal” for higher instruction in the classics and sciences that should conduct the student to the degree of bachelor of arts. The influence of these institutions upon the development of the Filipino has been remarkable. In one or the other of them have been trained nearly all of those young men who in recent years have stirred the Filipino people to wide ambitions and demands. At the same time the excellent Jesuit observatory, which has done such important work in meteorology, was established in charge of Padre Faura.
Increase in Spanish Population.—The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought immense changes to the Islands. Previous to this date Spanish residents had been few. Almost the only class deeply interested in the Islands and permanently established here had been the friars. But with communication by steamer in thirty days from Barcelona to Manila, a new interest was felt by Spaniards in the Philippines, though unfortunately this interest was greatest among the politicians. Some of the projects planned and decreed can only be regarded as visionary and beyond the point of serviceability, and others, more unfortunately still, had for their purpose the creation of offices and emoluments for Peninsula politicians; but they all contributed to bring to an end the paternal government under which there was no prospect of further enlightenment or progress for the Filipino.
Increase in the Number of Wealthy, Educated Filipinos.—The Filipino had now become embarked upon a new current of intellectual experience—a course of enlightenment which has been so full of unexpected development, and which has already carried him so far from his ancestor of one hundred years ago, that we can not say what advance another generation or two may bring. Throughout all the towns of the Islands a class was rapidly growing up to which the new industries had brought wealth. Their means enabled them to build spacious and splendid homes of the fine, hard woods of the Philippines, and to surround themselves with such luxuries as the life of the Islands permitted. This class was rapidly gaining education. It acquired a knowledge of the Spanish language, and easily assumed that graceful courtesy which distinguishes the Spaniard.
The only misfortune, as regards this class, was that it was very small. It could embrace but a few families in each populous town. Some of these had Chinese and Spanish blood in their veins, but other notable families were pure Filipinos.
Attitude of the Spanish and the Friars toward Filipino Education.—The great mistake committed by the Spaniard was that he rarely welcomed the further progress of the native population, and the center of this opposition to the general enlightenment of the race was the friars. Thus those who had been the early protectors and educators, little by little, because of their extreme conservatism and their fear of loosening the ties that bound the Filipino to the church and to Spain, changed into opponents of his progress and enemies of his enlightenment; but the education which the church itself had given to the Filipino, and which had been fostered by the state and especially in recent times by the Jesuits, had made the Filipino passionately ambitious for more enlightenment and freedom.
The Rule of Governor Torre.—Liberal Reforms.—In 1868, Queen Isabella II. of Spain was deposed, and a little later a revolutionary government, the “Republic of Spain,” was founded. It was the brief triumph of that reforming and liberal spirit which for so many years had been struggling to free Spain from the burdens of aristocracy and ecclesiasticism.
The natural consequence was the sending of a liberal governor to the Philippines and the publication of liberal principles and reforms. This governor was General de la Torre. He was a brave and experienced soldier and a thorough democrat at heart. He dispensed with the formality and petty pomp with which the governors of Manila had surrounded themselves; he dismissed the escort of halberdiers, with their mediæval uniforms and weapons, which had surrounded the governor-generals since 1581, and rode out in civilian’s clothes and without ostentation. His efforts were directed to encouraging the Filipinos and to attaching them to Spain. In the eyes of the Spanish law, for a brief period, Spaniard and colonists had become equal, and La Torre tried to enforce this principle and make no distinction of race or birth. While Filipinos were encouraged and delighted, it is impossible to describe the disgust of the Spanish population and the opposition of the friars. La Torre was attacked and opposed, and the entire course of his governorship was filled with trouble, in which, naturally, liberal ideas gained wider and wider currency among the Filipinos.
Effect of the Opposition of the Friars.—The friars, being the most influential opponents of the Filipino, naturally came to be regarded by the Filipinos as their greatest enemies, and the anti-friar spirit daily spread and intensified. A party was formed which demanded that the friars vacate the parishes, and that their places be filled by secular priests, in accordance with the statutes of the Council of Trent. This party was headed by a native priest, Dr. José Burgos.
A Filipino Movement for Reform.—After the fall of the republic in Spain and the restoration of the monarchy, the administration in the Philippines attempted to extirpate the rising tide of liberal thought; but these ideas had taken root and could not be suppressed. The Filipino party, if so we may call it, continued to plan and work for reform. It numbered not only those of Filipino blood, but many of Spanish descent, born in the Philippines. There is no certain evidence that they were at this time plotting for independence, or that their actions were treasonable; but the fear and hatred felt by the Spaniards resulted frequently in the exile and punishment of known advocates of reform.
The Cavite Revolt.—In 1872 there occurred an important outbreak known as the Cavite Revolt. Two hundred native soldiers at the Cavite arsenal rose, killed their officers, and shouted “Death to Spain!” They had fellow-conspirators among the troops in Manila, but owing to mistakes in their plans these failed to rise with them and the revolt was easily suppressed.
It was immediately followed by the arrest of a large number of Filipinos who had been conspicuous in La Torre’s time and who were advocates of reform. This number included the three priests, Fathers Burgos, Zamora, and Gomez, besides Don Antonio Regidor, Don Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, Don Pedro Carillo, and others. A council of war condemned to death forty-one of the participants in the Cavite riot, and these were shot on the morning of the 27th of January, 1872, on the Field of Bagumbayan. On the 6th of February a council of war condemned to death eleven more soldiers of the regiment of artillery, but this sentence was commuted by the governor to life imprisonment. On the 15th of February the same council of war sentenced to death upon the garrote, the priests Burgos, Zamora, Gomez, and a countryman, Saldua; and this sentence was executed on the morning of the 17th.
The Spread of Secret Organizations.—Masonry.—New ground for fear was now found in the spread of secret organizations, which were denounced as Free Masonry. This is a very ancient institution which, in Protestant countries like England and America, has a very large membership, and in these countries its aims are wholly respectable. It has never in any way been connected with sedition or other unworthy movements. Its services are, in fact, largely of a religious character and it possesses a beautiful and elaborate Christian ritual; but in Latin countries Masonry has been charged with political intrigue and the encouragement of infidelity, and this has resulted in clerical opposition to the order wherever found. The first Masonic lodge in the Philippines was established about 1861 and was composed entirely of Spaniards. It was succeeded by others with Filipino membership, and in one way or another seems to have inspired many secret organizations.
The “Liga Filipina,” and Dr. Rizal.—Large numbers of Filipinos were now working, if not for independence, at least for the expulsion of the friars; and while this feeling should have been met by a statesmanlike and liberal policy of reform, the government constantly resorted to measures of repression, which little by little changed the movement for reformation into revolution.
In 1887 the “Liga Filipina,” was formed by a number of the younger Filipino patriots, chief among whom was Dr. José Rizal y Mercado. Rizal, by his gifts, his noble character, and his sad fate, has gained a supreme place in the hearts of Filipinos and in the history of the Islands. He was born in 1861 at Calamba, on Laguna de Bay, and even as a child he was affected with sadness at the memory of the events of 1872 and with the backward and unhappy condition of his countrymen. He was educated by the Jesuits at the Ateneo Municipal in Manila, and his family having means, he was enabled to study in Spain, where he took a degree in medicine, and later to travel and study in France, England, and Germany.
It was in this latter country that he produced his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. He had been a contributor to the Filipino paper published in Spain, “La Solidaridad,” and, to further bring the conditions and needs of his country to more public notice, he wrote this novel dealing with Tagálog life as represented at his old home on Laguna de Bay and in the city of Manila. Later he published a sequel, El Filibusterismo, in which even more courageously and significantly are set forth his ideas for reform.
His work made him many enemies, and on his return to Manila he found himself in danger and was obliged to leave. He returned again in 1893, and was immediately arrested and sentenced to deportation to Dapitan, Mindanao. Here he remained quietly in the practice of his profession for some years.
The Katipunan.—Meanwhile the ideas which had been agitated by the wealthy and educated Filipinos had worked their way down to the poor and humble classes. They were now shared by the peasant and the fisherman. Especially in those provinces where the religious orders owned estates and took as rental a portion of the tenants’ crop, there was growing hatred and hostility to the friars. The “Liga Filipina” had been composed of cultivated and moderate men, who while pressing for reform were not inclined to radical extremes, nor to obtain their ends by violent means.
But there now grew up and gradually spread, until it had its branches and members in all the provinces surrounding Manila, a secret association composed largely of the uneducated classes, whose object was independence of Spain, and whose members, having little to lose, were willing to risk all. This was the society which has since become famous under the name of “Katipunan.” This secret association was organized in Cavite about 1892. Its president and founder was Andres Bonifacio. Its objects were frankly to expel the friars, and, if possible, to destroy the Spanish government.
Rebellion of 1896.—A general attack and slaughter of the Spaniards was planned for the 20th of August, 1896. The plot was discovered by the priest of Binondo, Padre Gil, who learned of the movement through the wife of one of the conspirators, and within a few hours the government had seized several hundred persons who were supposed to be implicated. The arrests included many rich and prominent Filipinos, and at the end of some weeks the Spanish prisons contained over five thousand suspects. Over one thousand of these were almost immediately exiled to far-distant Spanish prisons—Fernando Po, on the west coast of Africa, and the fortress of Ceuta, on the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile the Katipunan was organizing its forces for struggle. On the 26th of August, one thousand insurgents attacked Caloocan, and four days later a pitched battle was fought at San Juan del Monte. In this last fight the insurgents suffered great loss, their leader, Valenzuela, was captured and, with three companions, shot on the Campo de Bagumbayan. The rising continued, however, and the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija were soon in full rebellion. The center of revolt, however, proved to be Cavite, This province was almost immediately cleared of Spaniards, except the long neck of land containing the town of Cavite and protected by the fleet. Here the insurgents received some organization under a young man, who had been prominent in the Katipunan—Emilio Aguinaldo.
The governor-general, Blanco, a humane man, who afterwards for a short time commanded in Cuba, was recalled, and General Polavieja replaced him. The Spanish army at the beginning of the revolt had consisted of but fifteen hundred troops, but so serious was the revolt regarded that Spain, although straining every energy at the moment to end the rebellion in Cuba, strengthened the forces in the Philippines, until Polavieja had an army of twenty-eight thousand Spaniards assisted by several loyal Filipino regiments. With this army a fierce campaign in Cavite province was conducted, which after fifty-two days’ hard fighting ended in the defeat of the insurgents and the scattering of their forces.
Death of Dr. Rizal.—For the moment it looked as though the rebellion might pass. Then the Spanish government of Polavieja disgraced itself by an act as wanton and cruel as it was inhuman and impolitic.
Four years Dr. Rizal had spent in exile at Dapitan. He had lived quietly and under surveillance, and it was impossible that he could have had any share in this rebellion of 1898. Wearied, however, with his inactivity, he solicited permission to go as an army doctor to the dreadful Spanish hospitals in Cuba. This request was granted in July, and Rizal had the misfortune to arrive in Manila at the very moment of discovery of the rebellion in August. Governor Blanco hastened to send him to Spain with a most kindly letter to the minister of war, in which he vouched for his independence of the events which were taking place in Manila.
His enemies, however, could not see him escape. Their persecution followed him to the Peninsula, and, upon his arrival in Spain, Rizal was at once arrested and sent back to Manila a prisoner. His friend Blanco had gone. Polavieja, the friend and tool of the reactionary party, was busy punishing by imprisonment, banishment or death all Filipinos who could be shown to have the slightest part or association in the movement for reform. And by this clique Dr. Rizal was sentenced to execution. He was shot early on the morning of December 30, 1896. At his death the insurrection flamed out afresh. It now spread to Pangasinan, Zambales, and Ilocos.
End of the Revolt by Promises of Reform.—Polavieja returned to Spain, and was succeeded by Gen. Primo de Rivera, who arrived in the spring of 1897. The Spanish troops had suffered several recent reverses and the country swarmed with insurgents. The policy of Primo de Rivera was to gain by diplomacy where the energy of his predecessor had failed. In July, 1897, an amnesty proclamation was issued, and in August the governor-general opened negotiations with Aguinaldo, whose headquarters were now in the mountains of Angat in Bulacan. Primo de Rivera urged the home government to make some reforms, which would greatly lessen the political importance of the friars. He was vehemently opposed by the latter, but it was probably upon the promise of reform that Aguinaldo and his fellow-insurgents agreed, for the payment of 1,700,000 pesos, to surrender their arms, dismiss the insurgent forces, and themselves retire from the Islands. This agreement was made, and on December 27, 1897, Aguinaldo left the port of Sual for Hongkong.
The Spanish Misrule Ended.—Conditions in the provinces still continued very unsatisfactory, and in its very last hours the Spanish government lost the remnant of its prestige with the people by a massacre in Calle Camba, Binondo, of a company of Bisayan sailors. Ten days after this occurrence a revolt blazed out on the island of Cebu. Had events taken their course, what would have been the final conclusion of the struggle between Spaniards and Filipinos it is impossible to say. On the 25th day of April the United States declared war upon Spain, and the first day of May an American fleet reached Manila harbor, and in the naval fight off Cavite, Spanish dominion, which had lasted with only one brief interruption for 332 years, was broken.