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Spanish Colonialism

New European Arrival

Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to discover the Philippine archipelago in 1521 A.D.

After establishing the first catholic missionary and claiming the land for Spain, Magellan was summarily killed at the battle of Maktan Island by Lapu-Lapu a local Datu who objected to his Spanish claim of the islands.

In 1565 A.D. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi conquered the Philippines formalizing Magellan's former claim to the islands.

Datu Lapu-Lapu

 

Governance

The Spanish crown governed the Philippines through the regional government of Mexico. This continued until the Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, when Philippine governance shifted to Council of the Indies in Spain. In 1837 the abolition of the Council of the Indies shifted Philippine governance into the Council of Ministers and again in 1863 shifted to the Ministry of Colonies.

Representation and Legacy

Philippines representation in the legislative body of Spain occurred for 3 periods including 1810-1813, 1820-1823, and 1836-1837. Unification of Church and State was part of the basic legacy left by the Spanish in the Philippines. Although the contemporary constitution guarantees the separation of church and state modeled after the American system, the evidence of religious power is evident in the day to day operations of government in the Philippines.

 

Ferdinand Magellan

Unification

The Spanish presence in the Philippines changed forever the depth and scope of the political system. Centralization and Nationalization of power, commerce and industry were the main results of note. Barangays were consolidated into townships (pueblos) and townships consolidated into provinces. Each township was ruled by a local governor (gobernadorcillo) while each province was ruled by a centralized Governor who was representative of the Governor General. Specialized chartered cities in the western fashion were also formed under Spanish rule, the first of which was Cebu (1565 A.D.) followed by Manila (1571 A.D.).

Governor General

The Governor General residing in Manila exercised the supreme authority of government in the Spanish colony. The Governor General exercised executive, administrative, legislative and judicial powers, as well as being commander in chief of all military units stationed in the Philippines and holding certain special religious leader powers. This obviously disproportionate centralization of power on one man led to many stating he was "more powerful than the King of Spain himself". Assistance was granted to the Governor General by the Board of Authorities and the Council of Administration as well as other councils, boards and officers.

Judiciary

The Royal Audiencia established in 1583 acted as the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Under the Royal Audiencia were two Territorial Audiencia established in 1893 in Cebu and Vigan. Regular Courts begun to be established in the provinces in 1886. Justice of the Peace Courts begun to be established in 1885 throughout the country.

Religious matters where usually handled by a special ecclesiastical court, whereas military matters where often handled in a specialized military court.

Results of Spanish Rule

The complications of Spanish rule including such matters as fairness to the Philippine citizen under the Spanish Judiciary, various levels of corruption by Spanish officials, and the pillaging of certain national resources by the foreign power are often offset by the many benefits gained under such rule.

In a wide view of world colonialism, the Spanish occupation of the Philippine Archipelago was relatively mild and humane. Philippine natives freely intermarried and mingled with Spaniards. Spanish authority suppressed and stopped localized tribal wars and put an end to slavery. The uplifting of the Philippines from a primitive tribal pagan culture to a technically advanced and Christian society can also be attributed to Spanish rule. The Spanish were solely responsible for the unification and nationalization of the Philippine islands and its many peoples.

In short, the Philippine people were not brutalized victims.

The Era of Revolution

On July 7, 1892 the secret society of the Katipunan and a group of Filipino patriots led by Andreas Bonifacio signed a covenant in blood. In 1896 Revolution struck.

The Katipunan was the first clear break from Spanish rule with the clear goal of establishing a sovereign and free Philippine nation. The Katipunan established the Supreme Council (national), Provincial Councils, Popular Councils (municipal) and Judicial Councils throughout the Philippines. At the Tejeros Convention of March 22, 1897 an election was held that resulted in General Emilio Aguinaldo being established as President.

On November 1, 1897, a constitutional republic was established by the new President in Biak-na-Bato.

Andres Bonifacio

This republic was based on a limited constitution, that being with a time limit of two years. This temporary constitution was aimed exclusively to the end of establishing an independent nation from all foreign powers.

The outbreak of the Spanish-American War and the extensive chaos surrounding the internal politics of the Philippines resulted in President Aguinaldo instigating Dictatorial law on May 23, 1898. The most notable achievement under the Dictatorial Government was the public Proclamation of Philippine Independence at Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

On June 29, 1898, General Aguinaldo established a new Revolutionary Government in place of his previous Dictatorial Government. The stated aims of the new government was "to struggle for the independence of the Philippines, until all nations including Spain will expressly recognize it" and "to prepare the country for establishment of a real republic".

On September 15, 1898, the Revolutionary Congress met in Malolos, Bulacan. The Malolos Congress ratified on September 29, 1898 the Proclamation of Independence made by General Aguinaldo previously in Kawit, Cavite and framed the "Malolos Constitution".

General
Emilio Aguinaldo

On January 23, 1899 the first democratic constitution ever promulgated in Asia was inaugurated. Although this government was never formally recognized by any nation, it gained the obedience of the Philippine people of whom it governed thus signifying a legitimate governance.

End of an Era

In February, 1899, the United States annexed the Philippines as a result of Spanish-American War. In April, 1901, General Aguinaldo was captured. Although the new Malolos Constitutional Republic was short lived it holds a few significant titles. It was the first Asian war of independence against a foreign colonial power and also the first established constitutional democracy in Asia.

 

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