The Philippines During the Period of European Revolution. 1762–1837


The Philippines During the Period of European Revolution. 1762–1837

The Philippines During the Period of European Revolution. 1762–1837

Manila Philippines Map 1
Manila Philippines Map
Manila Philippines seal
Manila Philippines seal
Manila Philippines Coat of Arms
Manila Philippines Coat of Arms
Manila Philippines Flag
Manila Philippines Flag

The Philippines During the Period of European Revolution. 1762–1837

The New Philosophy of the Eighteenth Century.—The middle of the eighteenth century in Europe was a time when ideas were greatly liberalized. A philosophy became current which professed to look for its authority not to churches or hereditary custom and privilege, but to the laws of God as they are revealed in the natural world. Men taught that if we could only follow nature we could not do wrong. “Natural law” became the basis for a great amount of political and social discussion and the theoretical foundation of many social rights. The savage, ungoverned man was by many European philosophers and writers supposed to live a freer, more wholesome and more natural life than the man who is bound by the conventions of society and the laws of state.

Most of this reasoning we now know to be scientifically untrue. The savage and the hermit are not, in actual fact, types of human happiness and freedom. Ideal life for man is found only in governed society, where there is order and protection, and where also should be freedom of opportunity. But to the people of the eighteenth century, and especially to the scholars of France, where the government was monarchical and oppressive, and where the people were terribly burdened by the aristocracy, this teaching was welcomed as a new gospel. Nor was it devoid of grand and noble ideas—ideas which, carried out in a conservative way, might have bettered society.

It is from this philosophy and the revolution which succeeded it that the world received the modern ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity, and democracy. These ideas, having done their work in America and Europe, are here at work in the Philippines today. It remains to be seen whether a society can be rebuilt here on these principles, and whether Asia too will be reformed under their influence.

Colonial Conflicts between the Great European Countries.—During the latter half of the eighteenth century there culminated the long struggle for colonial empire between European states which we have been following. We have seen how colonial conquest was commenced by the Portuguese, who were very shortly followed by the Spaniards, and how these two great Latin powers attempted to exclude the other European peoples from the rich Far East and the great New World which they had discovered.

We have seen how this attempt failed, how the Dutch and the English broke in upon this gigantic reserve, drove the Spanish fleets from the seas, and despoiled and took of this great empire almost whatever they would. The Dutch and English then fought between themselves. The English excluded the Dutch from North America, capturing their famous colony of New Amsterdam, now New York, and incorporating it (1674) with their other American colonies, which later became the United States of America. But in the East Indies the Dutch maintained their trade and power, gradually extending from island to island, until they gained—what they still possess—an almost complete monopoly of spice production.

War between England and France.—In India, England in the eighteenth century won great possessions and laid the foundation for what has been an almost complete subjugation of this Eastern empire. Here, however, and even more so than in America, England encountered a royal and brilliant antagonist in the monarch of France.

French exploration in North America had given France claims to the two great river systems of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, the latter by far the greatest and richest region of the temperate zone. So, during much of this eighteenth century, England and France were involved in wars that had for their prizes the possession of the continent of North America and the great peninsula of India.

This conflict reached its climax between 1756 and 1763. Both states put forth all their strength. France called to her support those countries whose reigning families were allied to her by blood, and in this way Spain was drawn into the struggle. The monarchs of both France and Spain belonged to the great house of Bourbon. War was declared between England and Spain in 1761. Spain was totally unfitted for the combat. She could inflict no injury upon England and simply lay impotent and helpless to retaliate, while English fleets in the same year took Havana in the west and Manila in the east.

English Victory over French in India and America.—English power in India was represented during these years by the greatest and most striking figure in England’s colonial history—Lord Clive. To him is due the defeat of France in India, the capture of her possessions, and the founding of the Indian Empire, which is still regarded as England’s greatest possession. The French were expelled from India in the same year that the great citadel of New France in America—Quebec—was taken by the English under General Wolfe.

The Philippines under the English.—Expedition from India to the Philippines.—Lord Clive was now free to strike a blow at France’s ally, Spain; and in Madras an expedition was prepared to destroy Spanish power in the Philippines. Notice of the preparation of this expedition reached Manila from several sources in the spring and summer of 1762; but with that fatality which pursued the Spaniard to the end of his history in the Philippines, no preparations were made by him, until on the 22d of September a squadron of thirteen vessels anchored in Manila Bay.


Church at Malate.

Through the mist, the stupid and negligent authorities of Manila mistook them for Chinese trading-junks; but it was the fleet of the English Admiral Cornish, with a force of five thousand British and Indian soldiers under the command of General Draper. For her defense Manila had only 550 men of the “Regiment of the King” and eighty Filipino artillerists. Yet the Spaniards determined to make resistance from behind the walls of the city.

Surrender of Manila to the English.—The English disembarked and occupied Malate. From the churches of Malate, Ermita, and Santiago the British bombarded Manila, and the Spaniards replied from the batteries of San Andres and San Diego, the firing not being very effective on either side.

On the 25th, Draper summoned the city to surrender; but a council of war, held by the archbishop, who was also governor, decided to fight on. Thirty-six hundred Filipino militia from Pampanga, Bulacan, and Laguna marched to the defense of the city, and on the 3rd of October two thousand of these Filipinos made a sally from the walls and recklessly assaulted the English lines, but were driven back with slaughter. On the night of the 4th of October a breach in the walls was made by the artillery, and early in the morning of the 5th four hundred English soldiers entered almost without resistance. A company of militia on guard at the Puerto Real was bayoneted and the English then occupied the Plaza, and here received the surrender of the fort of Santiago.

The English agreed not to interfere with religious liberty, and honors of war were granted to the Spanish soldiers. Guards were placed upon the convent of the nuns of Santa Clara and the beaterios, and the city was given over to pillage, which lasted for forty hours, and in which many of the Chinese assisted.

Independent Spanish Capital under Anda at Bulacan.—The English were thus masters of the city, but during their period of occupation they never extended their power far beyond the present limits of Manila. Previous to the final assault and occupation of Manila, the authorities had nominated the oidor, Don Simon de Anda y Salazar, lieutenant-governor and captain-general of the Islands, with instructions to maintain the country in its obedience to the king of Spain. Anda left the capital on the night of October 4, passing in a little banca through the nipa swamps and esteros on the north shore of Manila Bay to the provincial capital of Bulacan.

Here he called together the provincial of the Augustinian monks, the alcalde mayor of the province, and some other Spaniards. They resolved to form an independent government representing Spain, and to continue the resistance. This they were able to do as long as the British remained in the Islands. The English made a few short expeditions into Bulacan and up the Pasig River, but there was no hard fighting and no real effort made to pursue Anda’s force. The Chinese welcomed the English and gave them some assistance, and for this Anda slew and hung great numbers of them.

The Philippines Returned to Spain.—By the Treaty of Paris in 1763, peace was made, by which France surrendered practically all her colonial possessions to England; but England returned to Spain her captures in Cuba and the Philippines. In March, 1764, there arrived the Spanish frigate “Santa Rosa,” bringing the first “Lieutenant of the King for the Islands,” Don Francisco de la Torre, who brought with him news of the Treaty of Paris and the orders to the English to abandon the Islands.

Resistance of the English by the Friars.—In resistance to the English and in the efforts to maintain Spanish authority, a leading part had been taken by the friars. “The sacred orders,” says Martinez de Zuñiga, “had much to do with the success of Señor Anda. They maintained the Indians of their respective administrations loyal to the orders; they inspired the natives with horror against the English as enemies of the king and of religion, inciting them to die fighting to resist them; they contributed their estates and their property; and they exposed their own persons to great dangers.” The friars were certainly most interested in retaining possession of the Islands and had most to lose by their falling into English hands.

Increase of the Jesuits in Wealth and Power.—In this zealous movement for defense, however, the Jesuits bore no part; and there were charges made against them of treasonable intercourse with the English, which may have had foundation, and which are of significance in the light of what subsequently occurred.

At the close of the eighteenth century, all the governments of Catholic Europe were aroused with jealousy and suspicious hatred against the Jesuits. The society, organized primarily for missionary labor, had gradually taken on much of a secular character. The society was distinguished, as we have seen in its history in the Philippines, by men with great capacity and liking for what we may call practical affairs as distinguished from purely religious or devotional life. The Jesuits were not alone missionaries and orthodox educators, but they were scientists, geographers, financiers, and powerful and almost independent administrators among heathen peoples. They had engaged so extensively and shrewdly in trade that their estates, warehouses, and exchanges bound together the fruitful fields of colonial provinces with the busy marts and money-centers of Europe. Their wealth was believed to be enormous. Properly invested and carefully guarded, it was rapidly increasing.

What, however, made the order exasperating alike to rulers and peoples were the powerful political intrigues in which members of the order engaged. Strong and masterful men themselves, the field of state affairs was irresistibly attractive. Their enemies charged that they were unscrupulous in the means which they employed to accomplish political ends. It is quite certain that the Jesuits were not patriotic in their purposes or plans. They were an international corporation; their members belonged to no one nation; to them the Society was greater and more worthy of devotion than any state, in which they themselves lived and worked.

Dissolution of the Society of Jesus.—Europe had, however, reached the belief, to which it adheres today, that a man must be true to the country in which he lives and finds shelter and protection and in which he ranks as a political member, or else incur odium and punishment. Thus it was their indifference to national feeling that brought about the ruin of the Jesuits. It is significant that the rulers, the most devoted to Catholicism, followed one another in decreeing their expulsion from their dominions. In 1759 they were expelled from Portugal, in 1764 from France, and April 2, 1767, the decree of confiscation and banishment from Spain and all Spanish possessions was issued by King Carlos III. Within a year thereafter, the two most powerful princes of Italy, the king of Naples and the Duke of Parma, followed, and then the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta expelled them from that island. The friends of the order were powerless to withstand this united front of Catholic monarchs, and in July, 1773, Pope Clement XIV. suppressed and dissolved the society, which was not restored until 1814.

The Jesuits Expelled from the Philippines.—The order expelling the Jesuits from the Philippines was put into effect in the year 1767. The instructions authorized the governor in case of resistance to use force of arms as against a rebellion. Besides their colleges in Manila, Tondo, Cavite, Leyte, Samar, Bohol, and Negros, the Jesuits administered curacies in the vicinity of Manila, in Cavite province, in Mindoro and Marinduque, while the islands of Bohol, Samar, and Leyte were completely under their spiritual jurisdiction. In Mindanao their missions, a dozen or more in number, were found on both the northern and southern coasts. Outside of the Philippines proper they were the missionaries on the Ladrones, or Marianas. Their property in the Philippines, which was confiscated by the government, amounted to 1,320,000 pesos, although a great deal of their wealth was secreted and escaped seizure through the connivance of the governor, Raon.

Governor Anda’s Charges against the Religious Orders.—Don Simon de Anda had been received in Spain with great honor for the defense which he had made in the Islands, and in 1770 returned as governor of the Philippines. His appointment was bitterly resented by the friars. In 1768, Anda had addressed to the king a memorial upon the disorders in the Philippines, in which he openly charged the friars with commercialism, neglect of their spiritual duties, oppression of the natives, opposition to the teaching of the Spanish language, and scandalous interference with civil officials and affairs. Anda’s remedy for these abuses was the rigorous enforcement of the laws actually existing for the punishment of such conduct and the return to Spain of friars who refused to respect the law.


The Anda Monument in Manila.

He was, however, only partially successful in his policy. During the six years of his rule, he labored unremittingly to restore the Spanish government and to lift it from the decadence and corruption that had so long characterized it. There were strong traits of the modern man in this independent and incorruptible official. If he made many enemies, it is, perhaps, no less to the credit of his character; and if in the few years of his official life he was unable to restore the colony, it must be remembered that he had few assistants upon whom to rely and was without adequate means.


Igorot Ax.

The Moro Pirates.—The Moros were again upon their forays, and in 1771 even attacked Aparri, on the extreme northern coast of Luzon, and captured a Spanish missionary. Anda reorganized the Armada de Pintados, and toward the end of his life created also the Marina Sutil, a fleet of light gunboats for the defense of the coasts against the attacks of pirates.

Failure of an English Settlement.—The hostility of the Moro rulers was complicated by the interference of the English, who, after the evacuation of Manila, continued to haunt the Sulu archipelago with the apparent object of effecting a settlement. By treaty with the Moro datos, they secured the cession of the island of Balanbangan, off the north coast of Borneo. This island was fortified and a factory was established, but in 1775 the Moros attacked the English with great fury and destroyed the entire garrison, except the governor and five others, who escaped on board a vessel, leaving a great quantity of arms and wealth to the spoils of the Moros. The English factors, who had taken up business on the island of Jolo, fled in a Chinese junk; and these events, so unfortunate to the English, ended their attempts to gain a position in the Jolo archipelago until many years later.


Moro Gong.

Increase in Agriculture.—Anda died in October, 1776, and his successor, Don José Basco de Vargas, was not appointed until July, 1778. With Basco’s governorship we see the beginning of those numerous projects for the encouragement of agriculture and industry which characterized the last century of Spanish rule. His “Plan general economico” contemplated the encouragement of cotton-planting, the propagation of mulberry-trees and silk-worms, and the cultivation of spices and sugar. Premiums were offered for success in the introduction of these new products and for the encouragement of manufacturing industries suitable to the country and its people.

Out of these plans grew the admirable Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais, which was founded by Basco in 1780. The idea was an excellent one, and the society, although suffering long periods of inactivity, lasted for fully a century, and from time to time was useful in the improvement and development of the country, and stimulated agricultural experiments through its premiums and awards.

Establishment of the Tobacco Industry.—Up to this time the Philippine revenues had been so unproductive that the government was largely supported by a subsidy of $250,000 a year paid by Mexico. Basco was the first to put the revenues of the Islands upon a lucrative basis. To him was due the establishment, in 1782, of the famous tobacco monopoly (estanco de tabacos) which became of great importance many years later, as new and rich tobacco lands like the Cagayan were brought under cultivation.


Igorot Drum.

Favorable Commercial Legislation.—The change in economic ideas, which had come over Europe through the liberalizing thought of the eighteenth century, is shown also by a most radical step to direct into new channels the commerce of the Philippines. This was the creation in 1785 of a great trading corporation with special privileges and crown protection, “The Royal Company of the Philippines.”


Igorot Shield.

The company was given a complete monopoly of all the commerce between Spain and the Philippines, except the long-established direct traffic between Manila and Acapulco. All the old laws, designed to prevent the importation into the Peninsula of wares of the Orient, were swept away. Philippine products were exempted from all customs duty, either on leaving Manila or entering Spain. The vessels of the company were permitted to visit the ports of China, and the ancient and absurd prohibition, which prevented the merchants of Manila from trading with India, and China, was removed.

Though still closing the Philippines against foreign trade, this step was a veritable revolution in the commercial legislation of the Philippines. Had the project been ably and heartily supported, it might have produced a development that would have advanced prosperity half a century; but the people of Manila did not welcome the opening of this new line of communication. The ancient commerce with Acapulco was a valuable monopoly to those who had the right to participate in it, and their attitude toward the new company was one either of indifference or hostility.

In 1789 the port of Manila was opened and made free to the vessels of all foreign nations for the space of three years, for the importation and sale exclusively of the wares of Asia; but the products of Europe, with the exception of Spain, were forbidden.

The Royal Company was rechartered in 1805, and enjoyed its monopoly until 1830, when its privileges lapsed and Manila was finally opened to the ships of foreign nations.

Conquest of the Igorrote Provinces of Luzon.—Basco was a zealous governor and organized a number of military expeditions to occupy the Igorrote country in the north. In 1785 the heathen Igorrotes of the missions of Ituy and Paniqui in Nueva Vizcaya revolted and had to be reconquered by a force of musketeers from Cagayan.

Conquest of the Batanes Islands.—Basco also effected the conquest of the Batanes Islands to the north of Luzon, establishing garrisons and definitely annexing them to the colony. The Dominican missionaries long before this time had attempted to convert these islands to Christianity; but the poverty of the people and the fierceness of the typhoons which sweep these little islands prevented the cultivation of anything more than camotes and taro, and had made them unprofitable to hold. Basco was honored, however, for his reoccupation of these islands, and on his return to Spain, at the expiration of his governorship, received the title of “Count of the Conquest of the Batanes.”

A Scientific Survey of the Coast of the Islands.—About 1790 the Philippines were visited by two Spanish frigates, the “Descubierta” and the “Atrevida,” under the command of Captain Malaspina. These vessels formed an exploring expedition sent out by the Spanish government to make a hydrographic and astronomic survey of the coasts of Spanish America, the Ladrones, and the Philippines. It was one of those creditable enterprises for the widening of scientific knowledge which modern governments have successively and with great honor conducted.

The expedition charted the Strait of San Bernardino, the coasts of several of the Bisayan Islands, and Mindanao. One of the scientists of the party was the young botanist, Don Antonio Pineda, who died in Ilocos in 1792, but whose studies in the flora of the Philippines thoroughly established his reputation. A monument to his memory was erected near the church in Malate, but it has since suffered from neglect and is now falling in ruins.

Establishment of a Permanent Navy in the Philippines.—The intentions of England in this archipelago were still regarded with suspicion by the Spanish government, and in 1795 and 1796 a strong Spanish fleet, sent secretly by way of the coast of South America, was concentrated in the waters of the Philippines under the command of Admiral Alava. Its object was the defense of the Islands in case of a new war with Great Britain. News of the declaration of war between these two countries reached Manila in March, 1797, but though for many months there was anxiety, England made no attempt at reoccupation. These events led, however, to the formation of a permanent naval squadron, with head-quarters and naval station at Cavite.


Moro Kris and Sheath.


Moro Beheading Knives.

The Climax of Moro Piracy.—The continued presence of the Moros in Mindoro, where they haunted the bays and rivers of both east and west coasts for months at a time, stealing out from this island for attack in every direction, was specially noted by Padre Zuñiga, and indicated how feebly the Spaniards repulsed these pirates a hundred years ago.

It was the last severe phase of Malay piracy, when even the strong merchant ships of England and America dreaded the straits of Borneo and passed with caution through the China Sea. Northern Borneo, the Sulu archipelago, and the southern coasts of Mindanao were the centers from which came these fierce sea-wolves, whose cruel exploits have left their many traditions in the American and British merchant navies, just as they periodically appear in the chronicles of the Philippines.


Moro Hunting Spear.

Five hundred captives annually seem to have been the spoils taken by these Moros in the Philippines Islands, and as far south as Batavia and Macassar captive Filipinos were sold in the slave marts of the Malays. The aged and infirm were inhumanly bartered to the savage tribes of Borneo, who offered them up in their ceremonial sacrifices. The measures of the Spanish government, though constant and expensive, were ineffective. Between 1778 and 1793, a million and a half of pesos were expended on the fleets and expeditions to drive back or punish the Moros, but at the end of the century a veritable climax of piracy was attained.

Pirates swarmed continually about the coasts of Mindoro, Burias, and Masbate, and even frequented the esteros of Manila Bay. Some sort of peace seems to have been established with Jolo and a friendly commerce was engaged in toward the end of the century, but the Moros of Mindanao and Borneo were increasing enemies. In 1798 a fleet of twenty-five Moro bancas passed up the Pacific coast of Luzon and fell upon the isolated towns of Paler, Casiguran, and Palanan, destroying the pueblos and taking 450 captives. The cura of Casiguran was ransomed in Binangonan for the sum of twenty-five hundred pesos. For four years this pirate fleet had its rendezvous on Burias, whence it raided the adjacent coasts and the Catanduanes.


Moro “Kulintangan” or Xylophone.

The Great Wars in America and Europe.—The English reoccupied Balanbangan in 1803, but held the island for only three years, when it was definitely abandoned. For some years, however, the coasts of the Philippines were threatened by English vessels, and there was reflected here in the Far East the tremendous conflicts which were convulsing Europe at this time. The wars which changed Europe at the close of the eighteenth century, following the French Revolution, form one of the most important and interesting periods of European history, but it is also one of the most difficult periods to judge and describe. We will say of it here only so much as will be sufficient to show the effect upon Spain and so upon the Philippines.

The Revolution of the English Colonies in America.—In 1776 the thirteen English colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America declared their independence of Great Britain. In the unfair treatment of the British king and Parliament they had, they believed, just grounds for revolution. For nearly eight years a war continued by which England strove to reduce them again to obedience. But at the end of that time England, having successively lost two armies of invasion by defeat and capture, made peace with the American colonists and recognized their independence. In 1789 the Americans framed their present constitution and established the United States of America.

The French Revolution.—Condition of the People in France.—In their struggle for independence the Americans had been aided by France, who hoped through this opportunity to cripple her great colonial rival, England. Between America and France there was close sympathy of political ideas and theories, although in their actual social conditions the two countries were as widely separated as could be. In America the society and government were democratic. All classes were experienced in politics and government. They had behind them the priceless heritage of England’s long struggle for free and representative government. There was an abundance of the necessaries of life and nearly complete freedom of opportunity.

France, like nearly every other country of continental Europe, was suffering from the obsolete burden of feudalism. The ownership of the land was divided between the aristocracy and the church. The great bulk of the population were serfs bound to the estates, miserably oppressed, and suffering from lack of food, and despoiled of almost every blessing which can brighten and dignify human life. The life of the court and of the nobility grew more luxurious, extravagant, and selfish as the economic conditions in France became worse. The king was nearly an absolute monarch. His will was law and the earlier representative institutions, which in England had developed into the splendid system of parliamentary government, had in France fallen into decay.

In the other countries of Europe—the German States, Austria, Italy, and Spain—the condition of the people was quite as bad, probably in some places even worse than it was in France. But it was in France that the revolt broke forth, and it was France which led Europe in a movement for a better and more democratic order. Frenchmen had fought in the armies of America; they had experienced the benefits of a freer society, and it is significant that in the same year (1789) that saw the founding of the American state the Revolution in France began. It started in a sincere and conservative attempt to remedy the evils under which France was suffering, but the accumulation of injustice and misery was too great to be settled by slow and hesitating measures. The masses, ignorant, and bitter with their wrongs, broke from the control of statesman and reformer, threw themselves upon the established state and church, both equally detestable to them, and tore them to pieces. Both king and queen died by beheading. The nobility were either murdered or expelled. The revolutionary government, if such it could be called, fell into the hands of wicked and terrible leaders, who maintained themselves by murder and terrorism.

Effects of the Revolution.—These are the outward and terrible expressions of the Revolution which were Seized upon by European statesmen and which have been most dwelt upon by historical writers. But, apart from the bloody acts of the years from 1793 to 1795, the Revolution modernized France and brought incalculable gains to the French people. By the seizure of the great estates and their division among the peasantry, the agricultural products of the country were doubled in a single year, and that terrible condition of semi-starvation which had prevailed for centuries was ended.

The other monarchies of Europe regarded the events in France with horror and alarm. Monarchs felt their own thrones threatened, and a coalition of European monarchies was formed to destroy the republic and to restore the French monarchy and old régime. France found herself invaded by armies upon every frontier. It was then that the remarkable effects produced by the Revolution upon the people of France appeared.

With a passionate enthusiasm which was irresistible, the people responded to the call for war; great armies were enlisted, which by an almost uninterrupted series of victories threw back the forces of the allies. Men rose from obscurity to the command of armies, and there was developed that famous group of commanders, the marshals of France. Out of this terrible period of warfare there arose, too, another, who was perhaps, if we except the Macedonian king, Alexander, the greatest man ever permitted to lead armies and to rule men—Bonaparte, later the emperor, Napoleon the First.

The New Republic under Napoleon the First.—From 1795, when Bonaparte was given command of the invasion of Italy, until 1815, when he was finally defeated at Waterloo in Belgium, Europe experienced almost continuous war. The genius of Napoleon reduced to the position of vassal states Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. In all these countries the ancient thrones were humbled, feudalism was swept away, and the power of a corrupt church and aristocracy was broken. In spite of the humiliation of national pride, these great benefits to Europe of Napoleon’s conquests can not be overestimated. Wherever Napoleon’s power extended there followed the results of the Revolution—a better system of law, the introduction of the liberal “Code Napoleon,” the liberation of the people from the crushing toils of mediævalism, and the founding of a better society. These are the debts which Europe owes to the French Revolution.

The Decline of Spain.—Lack of Progress.—In this advance and progress Spain did not share. The empire of Napoleon was never established in the Peninsula. In 1811 the Spaniards, with, the assistance of the English under the great general, Wellington, repulsed the armies of the French. This victory, so gratifying to national pride, was perhaps a real loss to Spain, for the reforms which prevailed in other parts of Europe were never carried out in Spain, and she remains even yet unliberated from aristocratic and clerical power.

A liberal constitutional government was, however, set up in Spain in 1812 by the Cortes; but in 1814 King Ferdinand, aided by the Spanish aristocracy and clergy, was able to overthrow this representative government and with tyrannical power to cast reforms aside. Fifty thousand people were imprisoned for their liberal opinions, the Inquisition was restored, the Cortes abolished, and its acts nullified. The effect of these acts upon the Philippines will be noticed presently.

Separation of the Philippines from Mexico.—The events of these years served to separate the Philippines from their long dependency on Mexico. In 1813 the Cortes decreed the suppression of the subsidized Acapulco galleon. The Mexican trade had long been waning and voyages had become less profitable. The last of the galleons left Manila in 1811 and returned from Acapulco in 1815, never again to attempt this classical voyage.

The cessation of these voyages only briefly preceded the complete separation from America. From the first period of settlement, the Philippines had in many respects been a sub-dependency of New Spain. Mexico had until late afforded the only means of communication with the mother-country, the only land of foreign trade. Mexican officials frequently administered the government of the Islands, and Mexican Indians formed the larger part of the small standing army of the Philippines, including the “Regiment of the King.” As we have seen, a large subsidy, the situado, was annually drawn from the Mexican treasury to support the deficient revenues of the Philippines.

Rebellion of the South American Countries.—But the grievances of the Spanish American colonists were very great and very real. The revolution which had successively stirred North America and Europe now passed back again to the Spanish countries of the New World, and between 1810 and 1825 they fought themselves free of Spain. The last of the colonies from which the Spaniards were forced to retire was Peru. Mexico achieved her separation in 1820. Spain lost every possession upon the mainland of both Americas, and the only vestiges of her once vast American empire were the rich islands of the Greater Antilles—Cuba and Porto Rico.

Limited Trade with the Philippines.—The Philippines were now forced to communicate by ship directly with Spain. The route for the next fifty years lay by sailing-vessels around the Cape of Good Hope. It occupied from four to six months, but this route had now become practically a neutral passage, its winds and currents were well understood, and it was annually followed by great numbers of vessels of Europe, England, and the United States.

Trade was still limited to the ships of the Royal Philippine Company, and this shipping monopoly lasted until 1835, when a new era in the commercial and industrial life of the Philippines opened. An English commercial house was established in Manila as early as 1809.

Volcanic Eruptions.—The terrible eruptions of Mount Taal, the last of which occurred in 1754, were followed in the next century by the destructive activity of Mount Mayon. In 1814 an indescribable eruption of ashes and lava occurred, and the rich hemp towns around the base of this mountain were destroyed. Father Francisco Aragoneses, cura of Cagsaua, an eye-witness, states that twelve thousand people perished; in the church of Budiao alone two hundred lay dead.

Rebellions in the Philippines.—The Liberal Spanish Cortes.—Two revolts in the Philippines that occurred at this period are of much importance and show the effect in the Philippines of the political changes in Spain. In 1810 the liberal Spanish Cortes had declared that “the kingdoms and provinces of America and Asia are, and ought to have been always, reputed an integral part of the Spanish monarchy, and for that same, their natives and free inhabitants are equal in rights and privileges to those of the Peninsula.”

This important declaration, which if carried out would have completely revolutionized Spain’s colonial policy, was published in the Philippines, and with that remarkable and interesting facility by which such news is spread, even among the least educated classes of Filipinos, this proclamation had been widely disseminated and discussed throughout the Islands. It was welcomed by the Filipino with great satisfaction, because he believed it exempted him from the enforced labor of the polos and servicios. These were the unremunerated tasks required of Filipinos for the construction of public works, bridges, roads, churches, and convents.

Effect of the Repeal of the Declaration of the Cortes.—King Ferdinand VII. in May, 1814, on his return to power, as we have seen, published the famous decree abolishing constitutional government in Spain and annulling all the acts of the Cortes, including those which aimed to liberalize the government of the colonies. These decrees, when published in the Philippines, appeared to the Filipinos to return them to slavery, and in many places their disaffection turned to rebellion. In Ilocos twelve hundred men banded together, sacked convents and churches, and destroyed the books and documents of the municipal archives. Their fury seems to have been particularly directed against the petty tyrants of their own race, the caciques or principales.

The result of Spanish civilization in the Philippines had been to educate, and, to a certain degree, enrich a small class of Filipinos, usually known as principales or the gente ilustrada. It is this class which has absorbed the direction of municipal and local affairs, and which almost alone of the Filipino population has shared in those benefits and opportunities which civilized life should bring.

The vast majority of the population have, unfortunately, fallen or remained in a dependent and almost semi-servile position beneath the principales. In Ilocos this subordinate class, or dependientes, is known as kailian, and it was these kailian who now fell upon their more wealthy masters, burning their houses and destroying their property, and in some instances killing them. The assignment of compulsory labor had been left to the principales in their positions as gobernadorcillos and cabezas de barangay, and these officials had unquestionably abused their power and had drawn down upon themselves the vengeance of the kailian.

This revolt, it will be noticed, was primarily directed neither against friars nor Spanish authorities, but against the unfortunate social order which the rule of Spain maintained.

A Revolt Lead by Spaniards.—A plot, with far more serious motives, took place in 1823. The official positions in the regiments and provinces had previously been held almost entirely by Spaniards born in America or the Philippines. The government now attempted to fill these positions with Spaniards from Manila. The officials, deprived of their positions, incited the native troops which they had commanded, into a revolt, which began in the walled city in Manila. About eight hundred soldiers followed them, and they gained possession of the Cuartel of the King, of the Royal Palace, and of the Cabildo, but they failed to seize the fortress of Santiago. It was not properly a revolt of Filipinos, as the people were not involved and did not rise, but it had its influence in inciting later insurrection.

Insurrection on Bohol.—Since the insurrection on Bohol in 1744, when the natives had killed the Jesuit missionaries, a large part of the island had been practically independent under the leaderDagóhoy. After the expulsion of the Jesuits, Recollects were placed in special charge of those towns along the seacoast, which had remained loyal to Spain. An effort was made to secure the submission of the rebels by the proclamation of a pardon, but the power of the revolt grew rather than declined, until in 1827 it was determined to reduce the rebellion by force. An expedition of thirty-two hundred men was formed in Cebu, and in April, 1828, the campaign took place, which resulted in the defeat of the rebels and their settlement in the Christian towns.

The New Provinces of Benguet and Abra.—It is proper to notice also the slow advances of Spanish authority, which began to be made about this time among the heathen tribes of northern Luzon. These fierce and powerful tribes occupy the entire range of the Cordillera Central. Missionary effort in the latter half of the eighteenth century had succeeded in partly Christianizing the tribes along the river Magat in Neuva Vizcaya, but the fierce, head-hunting hillmen remained unsubdued and unchristianized.

Between 1823 and 1829 the mission of Pidigan, under an Augustinian friar, Christianized some thousands of the Tinguianes of the river Abra. In 1829 an expedition of about sixty soldiers, under Don Guillermo Galvey, penetrated into the cool, elevated plateau of Benguet. The diary of the leader recounts the difficult march up the river Cagaling from Aringay and their delight upon emerging from the jungle and cogon upon the grassy, pine-timbered slopes of the plateau.

They saw little cultivated valleys and small clusters of houses and splendid herds of cattle, carabaos, and horses, which to this day have continued to enrich the people of these mountains. At times they were surrounded by the yelling bands of Igorrotes, and several times they had to repulse attacks, but they nevertheless succeeded in reaching the beautiful circular depression now known as the valley of La Trinidad.

The Spaniards saw with enthusiasm the carefully separated and walled fields, growing camotes, taro, and sugarcane. The village of about five hundred houses was partly burned by the Spaniards, as the Igorrotes continued hostile. The expedition returned to the coast, having suffered only a few wounds. The commandancia of Benguet was not created until 1846, in which year also Abra was organized as a province.


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