History of the Philippines (1565–1898)

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The history of the Philippines from 1565 to 1898, also known as the Spanish Philippines or the Spanish colonial period, was the period during which the Philippines were ruled as the Captaincy General of the Philippines within the Spanish East Indies, initially under New Spain until Mexican independence in 1821, which gave Madrid direct control over the area. Forty-four years after Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines and died in the Battle of Mactan during his Spanish expedition to circumnavigate the globe, the Spaniards successfully annexed and colonized the islands during the reign of Philip II of Spain, whose name remained attached to the country. The Spanish colonial period ended with the Philippine Revolution in 1898, which marked the beginning of the American colonial era of Philippine history.

Spanish colonialization[edit]


The Spaniards had been exploring the Philippines since the early 16th century. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator in charge of a Spanish expedition to circumnavigate the globe, was killed by warriors of datu Lapulapu at the Battle of Mactan. In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos arrived at the islands of Leyte and Samar and named them Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain, at the time Prince of Asturias.[1] Philip became King of Spain on January 16, 1556, when his father, Charles I of Spain (who also reigned as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), abdicated the Spanish throne. Philip was in Brussels at the time and his return to Spain was delayed until 1559 because of European politics and wars in northern Europe. Shortly after his return to Spain, Philip ordered an expedition mounted to the Spice Islands, stating that its purpose was "to discover the islands of the west".[2] In reality its task was to conquer the Philippines for Spain.[3] At the time of the first Spanish missions, the population of Luzon and the Visayas is estimated to lay somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million, with overall density being low.[4]

Conquest under Philip II[edit]

Pages of the Doctrina Christiana, an early Christian book in Spanish and Tagalog. The book contained Latin and baybayin suyat scripts. (1593)

King Philip II of Spain, whose name has remained attached to the islands, ordered and oversaw the conquest and colonization of the Philippines. On November 19 or 20, 1564 a Spanish expedition of a mere 500 men led by Miguel López de Legazpi departed Barra de Navidad, New Spain, arriving off Cebu on February 13, 1565, conquering it despite Cebuano opposition.[5]:77[6][7]:20–23 Spanish policy towards the colonization of the Philippines was that it should be a peaceful conversion rather than a military conquest, a product of internal Spanish debates following the violence of their conquest of the New World, and of Philip II's personal convictions. The reality on the ground was different, as hardship for the colonizing soldiers contributed to looting and enslavement, despite the entreaties of representatives of the church who accompanied them. In 1568, the crown permitted the establishment of the encomienda system that it was abolishing in the New World, effectively legalizing a more oppressive conquest. Although slavery had been abolished in the Spanish Empire, it was allowed to continue in some forms the Philippines due to its already present use on the islands.[8]

Due to conflict with the Portuguese, who blockaded Cebu in 1568, and persistent supply shortages,[9] in 1569 Legazpi transferred to Panay and founded a second settlement on the bank of the Panay River. In 1570 Legazpi sent his grandson, Juan de Salcedo, who had arrived from Mexico in 1567, to Mindoro to punish the Muslim Moro pirates who had been plundering Panay villages. Salcedo also destroyed forts on the islands of Ilin and Lubang, respectively south and northwest of Mindoro.[5]:79

In 1570, Martín de Goiti, having been dispatched by Legazpi to Luzon, conquered the Kingdom of Maynila. Legazpi followed with a larger fleet including both Spanish forces and some Visayan allies,[5]:79–80 taking a month to bring these forces to bear due to slow speed of local ships.[10] This large force caused the surrender of neighboring Tondo. An attempt by some local leaders to defeat the Spanish was repelled. Legazpi renamed Manila Nueva Castilla, and declared it the capital of the Philippines,[5]:80 and thus of the entire Spanish East Indies,[11] which also encompassed Spanish territories in Asia and the Pacific.[12][13] Legazpi became the country's first governor-general.

In 1573, Japan expanded its trade in northern Luzon.[14][failed verification] In 1580, the Japanese lord Tay Fusa established the independent Wokou Tay Fusa state in non-colonial Cagayan.[15] When the Spanish arrived in the area, they subjugated the new kingdom, resulting in 1582 Cagayan battles.[16] With time, Cebu's importance fell as power shifted north to Luzon.[citation needed]In the late 16th century the population of Manila grew even as the population of Spanish settlements in the Visayas decreased.[17]

Spanish settlers[edit]

The Spanish successfully invaded the different local states by employing the principle of divide and conquer.[18] Under Spanish rule, disparate barangays were deliberately consolidated into towns, where Catholic missionaries were more easily able to convert the inhabitants to Christianity.[19][20] Under Spanish rule, Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity.[21] They also founded schools, a university, hospitals, and churches.[22] To defend their settlements, the Spaniards constructed and manned a network of military fortresses across the archipelago.[23] Slavery was also abolished. As a result of these policies the Philippine population increased exponentially.[24][25]

Spanish rule brought most of what is now the Philippines into a single unified administration.[26][27] From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as part of the Mexico-based Viceroyalty of New Spain, later administered from Madrid following the Mexican War of Independence.[28] Administration of the Philippine islands were considered a drain on the economy of Spain,[29] and there were debates about abandoning it or trading it for some other territory. However, this was opposed for a number of reasons, including economic potential, security, and the desire to continue religious conversion in the islands and the surrounding region.[30][31] The Philippines survived on an annual subsidy provided by the Spanish Crown,[29] which averaged 250,000 pesos[32] and was usually paid through the provision of 75 tons of silver bullion being sent from the Americas.[33] Financial constraints meant the 200-year-old fortifications in Manila did not see significant change after being first built by the early Spanish colonizers.[34]

Some Japanese ships visited the Philippines in the 1570s in order to export Japanese silver and import Philippine gold. Later, increasing imports of silver from New World sources resulted in Japanese exports to the Philippines shifting from silver to consumer goods. In the 1570s, the Spanish traders were troubled to some extent by Japanese pirates, but peaceful trading relations were established between the Philippines and Japan by 1590.[35] Japan's kampaku (regent), Toyotomi Hideyoshi, demanded unsuccessfully on several occasions that the Philippines submit to Japan's suzerainty.[36]

On February 8, 1597, King Philip II, near the end of his 42-year reign, issued a Royal Cedula instructing Francisco de Tello de Guzmán, then Governor-General of the Philippines to fulfill the laws of tributes and to provide for restitution of ill-gotten taxes taken from indigenous Filipinos. The decree was published in Manila on August 5, 1598. King Philip died on September 13, just forty days after the publication of the decree, but his death was not known in the Philippines until middle of 1599, by which time a referendum by which indigenous Filipinos would acknowledge Spanish rule was underway. With the completion of the Philippine referendum of 1599, Spain could be said to have established legitimate sovereignty over the Philippines.[37]

The European population in the archipelago steadily grew although native Filipinos remained the majority. During the initial period of colonialization, Manila was settled by 1200 Spanish families.[38] In Cebu City, at the Visayas, the settlement received a total of 2,100 soldier-settlers from New Spain (Mexico).[39] Spanish forces included soldiers from elsewhere in New Spain, many of whom deserted and intermingled with the wider population.[40][41][42] Immigration blurred the racial caste system[43][44][45] Spain maintained in towns and cities.[46] At the immediate south of Manila, Mexicans were present at Ermita[47] and at Cavite[48] where they were stationed as sentries. In addition, men conscripted from Peru, were also sent to settle Zamboanga City in Mindanao, to wage war upon Muslim defenders[49] There were also communities of Spanish-Mestizos that developed in Iloilo,[50] Negros[51] and Vigan.[52] Interactions between indigenous Filipinos and immigrant Spaniards plus Latin-Americans eventually caused the formation of a new language, Chavacano, a creole of Mexican Spanish.They depended on the Galleon Trade for a living. In the later years of the 18th century, Governor-General Basco introduced economic reforms that gave the colony its first significant internal source income from the production of tobacco and other agricultural exports. In this later period, agriculture was finally opened to the European population, which before was reserved only for indigenous Filipinos.

Manila was the western hub of the trans-Pacific trade.[53] Manila galleons were constructed in Bicol and Cavite.[54][55] The Philippine economy depended on this trade, which was inaugurated in 1565 between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico. Trade between Spain and the Philippines was via the Pacific Ocean to Mexico (Manila to Acapulco), and then across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to Spain (Veracruz to Cádiz). Manila became a major center of trade in Asia between the 17th and 18th centuries. All sorts of products from China, Japan, Brunei, the Moluccas and even India were sent to Manila to be sold for silver 8-Real coins which came aboard the galleons from Acapulco. These goods, including silk, porcelain, spices, lacquerware and textile products were then sent to Acapulco and from there to other parts of New Spain, Peru and Europe.

During its rule, Spain quelled various indigenous revolts,[56] as well as defending against external military challenges.[29][57] The Spanish considered their war with the Muslims in Southeast Asia an extension of the Reconquista.[58] War against the Dutch from the West, in the 17th century, together with conflict with the Muslims in the South nearly bankrupted the colonial treasury.[59] Moros from western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago also raided the coastal Christian areas of Luzon and the Visayas. Settlers had to fight off the Chinese pirates (who lay siege to Manila, the most famous of which was Limahong in 1573).

Spanish government[edit]

Spanish Colonial Bureaucracy [60]
Level of government Headed by Description
Spanish Empire Monarch of Spain Civil and Spiritual Authority (through Royal Patronage)
Council of Indies
  • Composed of 6 to 10 appointed royal councilors
  • Governed all the Spanish colonies in the King's name, and had legislative power
  • Served as the court of appeals for the colonies
Viceroyalty of New Spain (abolished after Mexico gained independence in 1821) Viceroy of New Spain Governed New Spain on the King's behalf
Central Government in Manila Captain General
  • Initially exercised executive (as Governor), legislative, judicial (as President of the Audiencia), military (as Captain General), and ecclesiastical (as Vice Patron) powers
  • By 1821 or 1875, the office became Governor General
  • Appointed by the King with the advice of the council and probably the Viceroy prior to 1821
  • Balanced by the Audiencia
Archbishop of Manila
  • Had full spiritual authority over the army and navy as military Vicar General of the islands
  • Advised the Captain General, especially in matters concerning the governance and provisioning of the Church in the Philippines
  • Ecclesiastical governor of the islands' suffragan dioceses, headed by bishops.
  • Appointed dignitaries or the staff of a diocese, if the captain general failed to do so
Real Audiencia de Manila
  • Functioned as the Supreme Court and advised the Captain General
  • Initially composed of four judges (oidores), an attorney-general (fiscal), and a constable, with attached advocates for the accused, a defender of the naturales ("natives"), and other minor officials; the number of oidores and fiscales would be increased after
  • Took charge of government upon the death of the governor (mayor) up to the arrival of his successor
Local government
Provincia/Alcaldía Mayor Bishops of Suffragan Dioceses
Alcalde Mayor (for Provinces)
  • Exercised executive and judiciary powers in the province
  • Collected tribute
  • Until the mid-19th century, he had the privilege to engage in trade (indulto de comercio), which occasioned many abuses against the local population
  • No provision was made restricting the alcalde mayor to engage in trade
Corregidor (for Districts)
  • If a provincia was large, the alcalde mayor had a corregidor to administer over corregimientos (provincial district)
  • Exercised executive and judiciary power
Junta Provincial (1893–1898)
  • Provincial council which assisted the alcalde mayor
  • Composed of a public prosecutor, finance administrator, treasurer, vicars forane, provincial doctor, and four principles of the capital elected by the capitanes municipales of the province
Pueblo/Municipio Gobernadorcillo
  • Administered over a pueblo, assisted by other pueblo officials
  • Position was initially restricted to the local married men of the elite (principalia)
  • By 1768, the position became elective. Any person elected acquired elite status, diluting the political power given by the Spanish to the hereditary datus the old Principalía class.
Capitan Municipal (1893–1898)
  • Equivalent of the pre-Maura Law gobernadorcillo
  • Head of the tribunal municipal
  • Elected by the residents of the municipio
Tribunal Municipal (1893–1898) Municipal council composed of the municipal captain, the chief lieutenant, the lieutenant of police, the lieutenant of fields and the lieutenant of livestock, all of which were elected by the residents of the municipio
Barangay Cabeza de Barangay
  • Administered over a barangay of 40 to 50 families
  • Collected tribute in the barangay
  • Position was originally hereditary among the local elites of the pre-colonial period
  • Position was made elective in 1786; the gobernadorcillo and other cabezas chose a name and presented it to the Governor General for appointment to the position in a specific barangay.
  • After three years of service, a cabeza was qualified for election to the office of the gobernadorcillo.

Political system[edit]

Fort San Pedro was first of many fortresses to protect the islands from invaders such as pirates and other colonizers.

The Spanish quickly organized their new colony according to their model. The first task was the reduction, or relocation of indigenous Filipinos into settlements. The earliest political system used during the conquista period was the encomienda system, which resembled the feudal system in medieval Europe. The conquistadores, friars and native nobles were granted estates, in exchange for their services to the King, and were given the privilege to collect tribute from its inhabitants. In return, the person granted the encomienda, known as an encomendero, was tasked to provide military protection to the inhabitants, justice and governance. In times of war, the encomendero was duty bound to provide soldiers for the King, in particular, for the complete defense of the colony from potential invasions of outside powers such as the Dutch, British and Chinese. The encomienda system was abused by encomenderos and by 1700 was largely replaced by administrative provinces, each headed by an alcalde mayor (provincial governor).[61] The most prominent feature of Spanish cities was the plaza, a central area for town activities such as the fiesta, and where government buildings, the church, a market area and other infrastructures were located. Residential areas lay around the plaza. During the conquista, the first task of colonization was the reduction, or relocation of the indigenous population into settlements surrounding the plaza.

National government[edit]

Chinese settlers in the Philippines

On the national level or social class, the King of Spain, via his Council of the Indies (Consejo de las Indias), governed through his representative in the Philippines, the Governor-General of the Philippines (Gobernador y Capitán General). With the seat of power in Intramuros, Manila, the Governor-General was given several duties: head of the supreme court, the Royal Audiencia of Manila; Commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and the economic planner of the country.[citation needed] All executive power of the local government stemmed from him and as regal patron, he had the authority to supervise mission work and oversee ecclesiastical appointments. His yearly salary was 40,000 pesos. The Governor-General was commonly a peninsular Spaniard, a Spaniard born in Spain, to ensure loyalty of the colony to the crown or tiara.

Provincial government[edit]

On the local level, heading the pacified provinces (alcaldías), was the provincial governor (alcalde mayor). The unpacified military zones (corregimiento), such as Mariveles and Mindoro, were headed by the corregidores. City governments (ayuntamientos), were also headed by an alcalde mayor. Alcaldes mayores and corregidores exercised multiple prerogatives as judge, inspector of encomiendas, chief of police, tribute collector, capitan-general of the province, and even vice-regal patron. Their annual salary ranged from P300 to P2000 before 1847 and P1500 to P1600 after 1847. This could be augmented through the special privilege of "indulto de commercio" where all people were forced to do business with him. The alcalde mayor was usually an Insular (Spaniard born in the Philippines). In the 19th century, the Peninsulares began to displace the Insulares, which resulted in the political unrests of 1872, notably the 1872 Cavite mutiny and the Gomburza executions.

Municipal government[edit]

The pueblo or town was headed by the Gobernadorcillo or little governor. Among his administrative duties were the preparation of the tribute list (padron), recruitment and distribution of men for draft labor, communal public work and military conscription (quinto), postal clerk and judge in minor civil suits. He intervened in all administrative cases pertaining to his town: lands, justice, finance and the municipal police. His annual salary, however, was only P24 but he was exempted from taxation. Any native or Chinese mestizo, 25 years old, proficient in oral or written Spanish and has been a cabeza de barangay of 4 years can be a gobernadorcillo.

Any member of the Principalía, who speaks or who has knowledge of the Spanish language and has been a Cabeza de Barangay of 4 years can be a Gobernadorcillo. Among those prominent is Emilio Aguinaldo, a chinese mestizo,[62] and who was the Gobernadorcillo of Cavite El Viejo (now Kawit). The officials of the pueblo were proficient. taken from the Principalía, the noble class of pre-colonial origin. Their names are survived by prominent families in contemporary Philippine society such as Duremdes, Lindo, Tupas, Gatmaitan, Liwanag, Mallillin, Pangilinan, Panganiban, Balderas, Zabarte and Agbayani, Apalisok, Aguinaldo to name a few.[citation needed]

Barrio government[edit]

Old view of a street in Cebu

Every barangay was further divided into "barrios", and the barrio government (village or district) rested on the barrio administrator (cabeza de barangay). He was responsible for peace and order, recruited men for communal public works, and collecting the barrio's taxes. Cabezas should be literate in Spanish and have good moral character and property. Cabezas who served for 25 years were exempted from forced labor.

In addition, this is where the sentiment heard as, "Mi Barrio", first came from.

The Residencia and the Visita[edit]

To check the abuse of power of royal officials, two ancient Castilian institutions were brought to the Philippines: the Residencia, dating back to the 5th century, and the Visita, which differed from the residencia in that it was conducted clandestinely by a visitador-general sent from Spain and might occur anytime within the official's term, without any previous notice. Visitas could be specific or general.

Maura law[edit]

The legal foundation for municipal governments in the country was laid with the promulgation of the Maura Law on May 19, 1893. Named after its author, Don Antonio Maura, the Spanish Minister of Colonies at the time, the law reorganized town governments in the Philippines with the aim of making them more effective and autonomous. This law created the municipal organization that was later adopted, revised, and further strengthened by the American and Filipino governments that succeeded Spanish.


A sketch of a Manila galleon used during the Manila-Acapulco trade
Malacañang Palace was the seat of the colonial government of the Philippines.
Puerta de Santa Lucia gate is one of the gates of the walled city (Intramuros), Manila.

Manila-Acapulco galleon trade[edit]

The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade was the main source of income for the colony during its early years. Service was inaugurated in 1565 and continued into the early 19th century. The Galleon trade brought silver from New Spain, which was used to purchase Asian goods such as silk from China, spices from the Moluccas, lacquerware from Japan and Philippine cotton textiles.[63] These goods were then exported to New Spain and ultimately Europe by way of Manila. Thus, the Philippines earned its income through the trade of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon. To Spain, the galleon trade was the link that bound the Philippines to her.[64]

While the trade did bring some results which were beneficial to the Philippines, most effects were disadvantageous.[65] However, the trade did result in cultural and commercial exchanges between Asia and the Americas that led to the introduction of new crops and animals to the Philippines such as tomatoes, avocado, guava, papaya, pineapple, and horses.[65] These gave the colony its first real income. The trade lasted for over two hundred years, and ceased in 1815 just before the secession of American colonies from Spain.[66]

Royal Society of Friends of the Country[edit]

José de Basco y Vargas, following a royal order to form a society of intellectuals who can produce new, useful ideas, formally established the Spanish Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country, after the model of the Royal Basque Society. Composed of leading men in local and foreign scholarships and training grants in agriculture and established an academy of design. It was also credited to the carabao ban of 1782, the formation of the silversmiths and gold beaters guild and the construction of the first paper mill in the Philippines in 1825. It was introduced in 1780, vanished temporarily in 1787–1819, 1820–1822 and 1875–1822, and ceased to exist in the middle of the 1890s.

Royal Company of the Philippines[edit]

On March 10, 1785, King Charles III of Spain confirmed the establishment of the Royal Philippine Company with a 25-year charter.[67] After revocated the Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas that had a monopoly on Venezuelan trade, the Basque-based company was granted a monopoly on the importation of Chinese and Indian goods into the Philippines, as well as the shipping of the goods directly to Spain via the Cape of Good Hope. The Dutch and British both bitterly opposed it because they saw the company as a direct attack on their trade in Asia. It also faced the hostility of the traders of the Galleon trade (see above) who saw it as competition. This gradually resulted in the death of both institutions: The Royal Philippine Company in 1814 and the Galleon trade in 1815.[68]

The first vessel of the Royal Philippine Company to set sail was the "Nuestra Señora de los Placeres" commanded by the captain Juan Antonio Zabaleta.[69]


Spanish coin minted in Manila 1829, during the reign of Ferdinand VII of Spain

Also there was the bandalâ (from the Tagalog word mandalâ, a round stack of rice stalks to be threshed), an annual forced sale and requisitioning of goods such as rice. Custom duties and income tax were also collected. By 1884, the tribute was replaced by the cedula personal, wherein everyone over 18 were required to pay for personal identification.[70] The local gobernadorcillos were responsible for collection of the tribute. Under the cedula system taxpayers were individually responsible to Spanish authorities for payment of the tax, and were subject to summary arrest for failure to show a cedula receipt.[71]

Aside from paying a tribute, all male Filipinos as well as Chinese immigrants from 16 to 60 years old were obliged to render forced labor called "polo". This labor lasted for 40 days a year, later reduced to 15 days. It took various forms such as the building and repairing of roads and bridges, construction of public buildings and churches, cutting timber in the forest, working in shipyards and serving as soldiers in military expeditions. People who rendered the forced labor was called "polistas". He could be exempted by paying the "falla" which is a sum of money. The polista were according to law, to be given a daily rice ration during their working days which they often did not receive.[72]

Dutch attacks[edit]

The two merchant galleons, the Encarnacion and Rosario, which were hastily converted to warships to meet the superior Dutch armada of 18 vessels during the battles of La Naval de Manila in 1646 (artist's conception)
Maria Clara gown, the Philippine national dress, was made during the colonial era by Filipinos.

There were three naval actions fought between Dutch corsairs and Spanish forces in 1610, 1617 and 1624. Known as the First, Second and Third Battles of Playa Honda. The second battle is the most famous and celebrated of the three, with nearly even forces (10 ships vs 10 ships), resulting in the Dutch losing their flagship and retreating. Only the third battle of 1624 resulted in a Dutch naval victory.

In 1646, a series of five naval actions known as the Battles of La Naval de Manila was fought between the forces of Spain and the Dutch Republic, as part of the Eighty Years' War. Although the Spanish forces consisted of just two Manila galleons and a galley with crews composed mainly of Filipino volunteers, against three separate Dutch squadrons, totaling eighteen ships, the Dutch squadrons were severely defeated in all fronts by the Spanish-Filipino forces, forcing the Dutch to abandon their plans for an invasion of the Philippines.

On June 6, 1647, Dutch vessels were sighted near Mariveles Island. In spite of the preparations, the Spanish had only one galleon (the San Diego) and two galleys ready to engage the enemy. The Dutch had twelve major vessels.

On June 12, the armada attacked the Spanish port of Cavite. The battle lasted eight hours, and the Spanish believed they had done much damage to the enemy flagship and the other vessels. The Spanish ships were not badly damaged and casualties were low. However, nearly every roof in the Spanish settlement was damaged by cannon fire, which particularly concentrated on the cathedral. On June 19, the armada was split, with six ships sailing for the shipyard of Mindoro and the other six remaining in Manila Bay. The Dutch next attacked Pampanga, where they captured the fortified monastery, taking prisoners and executing almost 200 Filipino defenders. The governor ordered solemn funeral rites for the dead and payments to their widows and orphans.[73][74][75]

There was an expedition the following year that arrived in Jolo in July. The Dutch had formed an alliance with an anti-Spanish king, Salicala. The Spanish garrison on the island was small, but survived a Dutch bombardment. The Dutch finally withdrew, and the Spanish made peace with the Joloans, and then also withdrew.[73][74][75]

There was also an unsuccessful attack on Zamboanga in 1648. That year the Dutch promised the natives of Mindanao that they would return in 1649 with aid in support of a revolt against the Spanish. Several revolts did break out, the most serious being in the village of Lindáo. There most of the Spaniards were killed, and the survivors were forced to flee in a small river boat to Butuán. However, Dutch aid did not materialize or have objects to provide them. The authorities from Manila issued a general pardon, and many of the Filipinos in the mountains surrendered. However, some of those were hung or they were enslaved.[73][74][75]

The demands of these wars has been regarded as a potential cause of population decline.[76]

British occupation of Manila[edit]

Postern of Our Lady of Solitude, through which Governor General Simón de Anda y Salazar escaped with most government papers and about half the treasury

In August 1759, Charles III ascended the Spanish throne. At the time, Great Britain and France were at war, in what was later called the Seven Years' War.

British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764, however they were unable to extend their conquest outside of Manila as the Filipinos stayed loyal to the remaining Spanish community outside Manila.[7]:81–83 Spanish colonial forces kept the British confined to Manila. Catholic Archbishop Rojo, who had been captured by the British, executed a document of surrender on October 30, 1762, giving the British confidence in eventual victory.[77][78]

The surrender by Archbishop Rojo was rejected as illegal by Don Simón de Anda y Salazar, who claimed the title of Governor-General under the statutes of the Council of Indies. He led Spanish-Filipino forces that kept the British confined to Manila and sabotaged or crushed British-fomented revolts, such as the revolt by Diego Silang. Anda intercepted and redirected the Manila galleon trade to prevent further captures by the British. The failure of the British to consolidate their position led to troop desertions and a breakdown of command unity which left the British forces paralysed and in an increasingly precarious position.[79]

The Seven Years' War was ended by the Peace of Paris signed on February 10, 1763. At the time of signing the treaty, the signatories were not aware that the Manila was under British occupation and was being administered as a British colony. Consequently, no specific provision was made for the Philippines. Instead they fell under the general provision that all other lands not otherwise provided for be returned to the Spanish Crown.[80]

Resistance against Spanish rule[edit]

Town of Jaro, Iloilo, Philippines

Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines was constantly threatened by indigenous rebellions and invasions from the Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and British. The previously dominant groups resisted Spanish rule, refusing to pay Spanish taxes and rejecting Spanish excesses. All were defeated by the Spanish and their Filipino allies by 1597. In many areas, the Spanish left indigenous groups to administer their own affairs but under Spanish overlordship.

From its inception, the Captaincy General of the Philippines was governed from Mexico City as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. However, following Mexican independence in 1821, the Philippines and other Spanish Pacific islands were ruled directly from Madrid. The loss of supply routes and trading posts via Mexico presented logistical issues to the Spanish government, isolating the Philippines and rendering them more difficult to govern efficiently.

Early resistance[edit]

The Resistance against Spain did not immediately cease upon the conquest of the Austronesian cities. After Rajah Patis of Cebu, some indigenous Filipino nobles resisted Spanish rule. Throughout their rule, the Spanish government had faced numerous revolts across the country, most of which they had successfully quelled while others were won through agreements with the leaders of the revolts themselves.

The Spanish–Moro conflict lasted for several hundred years. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Spain conquered portions of Mindanao and Jolo,[81] and the Moro Muslims in the Sultanate of Sulu formally recognized Spanish sovereignty.[82][83]

During the British occupation of Manila (1762–1764), Diego Silang was appointed by them as governor of Ilocos and after his assassination by fellow Filipinos, his wife Gabriela continued to lead the Ilocanos in the fight against Spanish rule. Resistance against Spanish rule was regional in character, based on ethnolinguistic groups.[84]

Hispanization did not spread to the mountainous center of northern Luzon, nor to the inland communities of Mindanao.

The opening of the Philippines to world trade[edit]

Old photo of Manila's streets with Bahay na bato edifices and kalesa, Filipino style of architecture and transportation developed during the Spanish era

In Europe, the Industrial Revolution spread from the United Kingdom to Spain during the period known as the Victorian era. The industrialization of Europe created great demands for raw materials from the colonies, bringing with it investment and wealth. Governor-General Basco had opened the Philippines to this trade. Previously, the Philippines was seen as a trading post for international trade but in the nineteenth century it was developed both as a source of raw materials and as a market for manufactured goods.

Following the opening of Philippine ports to world trade in 1834,[85] shifts started occurring within Filipino society.[86][87] The decline of the Manila Galleon trade contributed to shifts in the domestic economy. Communal land became privatized to meet international demand for agricultural products, which led to the formal opening of the ports of Manila, Iloilo, and Cebu to international trade.[88]

Rise of Filipino nationalism[edit]

Tagalog Filipino mestizo, early 1800s. Original caption: Métis indiens-espagnols (Spanish-indian Mestizos). From Aventures d'un Gentilhomme Breton aux iles Philippines by Paul de la Gironiere, published in 1855.
The opening of Philippine trade to the world gave rise to business and imposing edifices that made Manila the 'Paris of Asia'. La Insular Cigar Factory is one of the most popular.

The development of the Philippines as a source of raw materials and as a market for European manufactures created much local wealth. Many Filipinos prospered. Everyday Filipinos also benefited from the new economy with the rapid increase in demand for labor and availability of business opportunities. Some Europeans immigrated to the Philippines to join the wealth wagon, among them Jacobo Zobel, patriarch of today's Zobel de Ayala family and prominent figure in the rise of Filipino nationalism. Their scions studied in the best universities of Europe where they learned the ideals of liberty from the French and American Revolutions. The new economy gave rise to a new middle class in the Philippines, usually not ethnic Filipinos.

In the mid-19th century, the Suez Canal was opened which made the Philippines easier to reach from Spain. The small increase of Peninsulares from the Iberian Peninsula threatened the secularization of the Philippine churches. In state affairs, the Criollos, known locally as Insulares (lit. "islanders"). were displaced from government positions by the Peninsulares, whom the Insulares regarded as foreigners.

The Latin American wars of independence and renewed immigration led to shifts in social identity, with the term Filipino shifting from referring to Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula and in the Philippines to a term encompassing all people in the archipelago. This identity shift was driven by wealthy families of mixed ancestry, for which it developed into a national identity.[89][90] This was compounded by a Mexican of Filipino descent, Isidoro Montes de Oca, becoming captain-general to the revolutionary leader Vicente Guerrero during the Mexican War of Independence.[91][92][93]

The Insulares had become increasingly Filipino and called themselves Los hijos del país (lit. "sons of the country"). Among the early proponents of Filipino nationalism were the Insulares Padre Pedro Peláez, archbishop of Manila, who fought for the secularization of Philippine churches and expulsion of the friars; Padre José Burgos whose execution influenced the national hero José Rizal; and Joaquín Pardo de Tavera who fought for retention of government positions by natives, regardless of race. In retaliation to the rise of Filipino nationalism, the friars called the Indios (possibly referring to Insulares and mestizos as well) indolent and unfit for government and church positions. In response, the Insulares came out with Indios agraviados, a manifesto defending the Filipino against discriminatory remarks.

The tension between the Insulares and Peninsulares erupted into the failed revolts of Novales and the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 which resulted to the deportation of prominent Filipino nationalists to the Marianas and Europe who would continue the fight for liberty through the Propaganda Movement. The Cavite Mutiny implicated the priests Mariano Gomez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (see Gomburza) whose executions would influence the subversive activities of the next generation of Filipino nationalists, José Rizal, who then dedicated his novel, El filibusterismo to these priests.

A national public school system was introduced in 1863.[94][95][96]

Rise of Spanish liberalism[edit]

Colegio San Juan de Letran, Intramuros Manila (ca. 1880)

After the Liberals won the Spanish Revolution of 1868, Carlos María de la Torre was sent to the Philippines to serve as governor-general (1869–1871). He was one of the most loved governors-general in the Philippines because of the reforms he implemented.[citation needed] At one time, his supporters, including Padre Burgos and Joaquín Pardo de Tavera, serenaded him in front of the Malacañan Palace.[citation needed] Following the Bourbon Restoration in Spain and the removal of the Liberals from power, de la Torre was recalled and replaced by Governor-General Izquierdo who vowed to rule with an iron fist.[citation needed]


Freemasonry had gained a generous following in Europe and the Americas during the 19th century and found its way to the Philippines. The Western World was quickly changing and sought less political control from the Roman Catholic Church.

The first Filipino Masonic lodge was Revoluccion. It was established by Graciano Lopez Jaena in Barcelona and was recognized in April 1889. It did not last long after he resigned from being its worshipful master on November 29, 1889.

In December 1889, Marcelo H. del Pilar established, with the help of Julio Llorente, the Solidaridad in Madrid. Its first worshipful master was Llorente. A short time later, the Solidaridad grew. Some its members included José Rizal, Pedro Serrano Laktaw, Baldomero Roxas, and Galicano Apacible.

In 1891, Del Pilar sent Laktaw to the Philippines to establish a Masonic lodge. Laktaw established on January 6, 1892, the Nilad, the first Masonic lodge in the Philippines. It is estimated that there were 35 masonic lodges in the Philippines in 1893 of which nine were in Manila. The first Filipino freemason was Rosario Villaruel. Trinidad and Josefa Rizal, Marina Dizon, Romualda Lanuza, Purificacion Leyva, and many others join the masonic lodge.

Freemasonry was important during the time of the Philippine Revolution. It pushed the reform movement and carried out the propaganda work. In the Philippines, many of those who pushed for a revolution were member of freemasonry like Andrés Bonifacio. In fact, the organization used by Bonifacio in establishing the Katipunan was derived from the Masonic society. It may be said that joining masonry was one activity that both the reformists and the Katipuneros shared.

Ilustrados, Rizal and Katipunan[edit]

Filipino Ilustrados in Spain

Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three activist Catholic priests were executed on weak pretences.[97][98][99] This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines.[citation needed]

The mass deportation of nationalists to the Marianas and Europe in 1872 led to a Filipino expatriate community of reformers in Europe. The community grew with the next generation of Ilustrados studying in European universities. They allied themselves with Spanish liberals, notably Spanish senator Miguel Morayta Sagrario, and founded the newspaper La Solidaridad.

Among the reformers was José Rizal, who wrote two novels while in Europe. His novels were considered[by whom?] the most influential of the Illustrados' writings causing further unrest in the islands, particularly the founding of the Katipunan. A rivalry developed between himself and Marcelo H. del Pilar for the leadership of La Solidaridad and the reform movement in Europe. Majority of the expatriates supported the leadership of del Pilar.[citation needed]

Rizal then returned to the Philippines to organize La Liga Filipina and bring the reform movement to Philippine soil. He was arrested just a few days after founding the league.[citation needed] Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion. This radicalized many who had previously been loyal to Spain.[100] As attempts at reform met with resistance,[101] in 1892, Radical members of the La Liga Filipina, which included Bonifacio and Deodato Arellano, founded the Kataastaasan Kagalanggalang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK), called simply the Katipunan, which had the objective of the Philippines seceding from the Spanish Empire.

The Philippine Revolution[edit]

Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine president

By 1896 the Katipunan had a membership by the thousands. That same year, the existence of the Katipunan was discovered by the colonial authorities. In late August Katipuneros gathered in Caloocan and declared the start of the revolution. The event is now known as the Cry of Balintawak or Cry of Pugad Lawin, due to conflicting historical traditions and official government positions.[102] Andrés Bonifacio called for a general offensive on Manila[103][104] and was defeated in battle at the town of San Juan del Monte. He regrouped his forces and was able to briefly capture the towns of Marikina, San Mateo and Montalban. Spanish counterattacks drove him back and he retreated to the mountains of Balara and Morong and from there engaged in guerrilla warfare.[105] By August 30, the revolt had spread to eight provinces. On that date, Governor-General Ramon Blanco declared a state of war in these provinces and placed them under martial law. These were Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Tarlac, Laguna, Batangas, and Nueva Ecija. They would later be represented in the eight rays of the sun in the Filipino flag.[106][failed verification] Emilio Aguinaldo and the Katipuneros of Cavite were the most successful of the rebels[107] and they controlled most of their province by September–October. They defended their territories with trenches designed by Edilberto Evangelista.[105]

Marcela Agoncillo (center), principal seamstress of the first official flag of the Philippines

Many of the educated ilustrado class such as Antonio Luna and Apolinario Mabini did not initially favor an armed revolution. Rizal himself, whom the rebels took inspiration from and had consulted beforehand, disapproved of a premature revolution. He was arrested, tried and executed for treason, sedition and conspiracy on December 30, 1896. Before his arrest he had issued a statement disavowing the revolution, but in his swan song poem Mi último adiós he wrote that dying in battle for the sake of one's country was just as patriotic as his own impending death.[108][page needed]

While the revolution spread throughout the provinces, Aguinaldo's Katipuneros declared the existence of an insurgent government in October regardless of Bonifacio's Katipunan,[109] which he had already converted into an insurgent government with him as president in August.[110][111] Bonifacio was invited to Cavite to mediate between Aguinaldo's rebels, the Magdalo, and their rivals the Magdiwang, both chapters of the Katipunan. There he became embroiled in discussions whether to replace the Katipunan with an insurgent government of the Cavite rebels' design.[citation needed] This internal dispute that led to the Tejeros Convention and an election in which Bonifacio lost his position and Emilio Aguinaldo was elected as the new leader of the revolution.[112]:145–147 On March 22, 1897, the convention established the Tejeros Revolutionary Government.[citation needed] Bonifacio refused to recognize this and he was executed for treason in May 1897.[113][114] On November 1, the Tejeros government was supplanted by the Republic of Biak-na-Bato.[citation needed]

By December 1897, the revolution had resulted to a stalemate between the colonial government and rebels. Pedro Paterno mediated between the two sides for the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. The conditions of the armistice included the self-exile of Aguinaldo and his officers in exchange for $MXN800,000 (about $US12,800,000 today[a]) to be paid by the colonial government.[citation needed] Aguinaldo then sailed to Hong Kong for self exile.[116]

The Spanish–American War[edit]

The House of Emilio Aguinaldo is where the proclamation of Philippine Independence from Spain took place on June 12, 1898.

On April 25, 1898, the Spanish–American War began. On May 1, 1898, in the Battle of Manila Bay, the Asiatic Squadron of the U.S. Navy, led by Commodore George Dewey aboard the USS Olympia, decisively defeated the Spanish naval forces in the Philippines. With the loss of its naval forces and of control of Manila Bay, Spain lost the ability to defend Manila and therefore the Philippines.

On May 19, Emilio Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines aboard a U.S. Navy ship and on May 24 took command of Filipino forces. Filipino forces had liberated much of the country from the Spanish.[citation needed] On June 12, 1898 Aguinaldo issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence declaring independence from Spain.[116] Filipino forces then laid siege to Manila, as had American forces.

In August 1898, the Spanish governor-general covertly agreed with American commanders to surrender Manila to the Americans following a mock battle. On August 13, 1898, during the Battle of Manila (1898), Americans took control of the city.[citation needed] In December 1898, the Treaty of Paris (1898) was signed, ending the Spanish–American War and selling the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. With this treaty, Spanish rule in the Philippines formally ended.[117][118]

On January 23, 1899, Aguinaldo established the First Philippine Republic in Malolos.[119]

As it became increasingly clear the United States would not recognize the First Philippine Republic, the Philippine–American War broke out[120] on February 4, 1899, with the Battle of Manila (1899).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Mexican dollar at the time was worth about 50 US cents, equivalent to about $16 today.[115] The peso fuerte and the Mexican dollar were interchangeable at par.


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