Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Philippine Islands [summary]: Volume 6 (1 of 5)

Maybe its bad form to post school assignments in personal blogs, but as a supporter of Open Access, I'd post 5 of these essays here. Someone might need it. If you're into Philippine history, this might be slightly interesting. These are brief summaries of volumes 6-10 of the 55-issue The Philippine Islands (1909) by Blair & Robertson, focusing on the Spanish occupation. The Philippine Islands is a major source of English translations of important historical documents and letters from 1493-1898 (spanning 300 years!). I did this for the subject LIS 318 (Filipiniana Resources Mgt) last semester.

The full title/bibliographic description:
The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898: explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the Catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the close of the nineteenth century (1903-1909) / translated from the originals; edited and annotated by Emma Blair and James Alexander Robertson; with historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord Bourne. Cleveland, Ohio: A.H. Clark, Co. 55v.: ill, facsimiles, maps, portraits.

Volume VI: 1583-1588 (There was always conflict between Church and government, this contains things about Chinese settlers)
Volumes: | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

The Philippine Islands offers a comprehensive look at Philippine history through its use of primary sources arranged chronologically. Letters, portraits, maps, inventories, and other documents provide evidence of the cultural setting of the time under the Spanish rule. The documents used are mostly from the Historical Archives of Spain and translated into English by various scholars from different American universities.
This volume covers two decades of the Spanish occupation. The Filipino population lessened, and even the Spanish colonists are poor due to heavy taxes. The Spanish soldiers who were supposed to protect ruled with cruelty, and these soldiers themselves are mostly unpaid and some have turned to business.
The documents in this volume are on the economic condition and commercial relations of the colony with China and Mexico. The Spanish are dependent on China for food and goods. Some see the need of encouraging agriculture in the islands.  Spain’s king Felipe II was planning to conquer China so that the Spanish colonies with great need would be replenished with resources.
In this period the Audiencia was established by a royal decree. It served as the Supreme Court headed by the Captain-General, and he has the power to appoint church officials and supervise missionary work. This volume contains excerpts on rules and regulations in courts and jails. The religious orders get their money from the King, and account statements of treasuries show lack of funds. The Audiencia’s enquiry on the colony’s state show prevalent scarcity, poverty, low population, and many non-working people. An envoy was sent to Spain to ask for aid and reforms from the central government. Maintaining the Audiencia was expensive, so some proposed to close it. 
A letter to the King from Melchor Davalos, an auditor, reports about rebelling Moros, opportunistic Chinese traders, and the revolt of the natives in the Spanish post in the Moluccas. The governor Santiago de Vera writes to the Archbishop of Mexico on the same concerns.
Included are some excerpts about the Philippines from History of the Great Kingdom of China by Juan Mendoza. Here he recorded the exploits of the Chinese pirate Limahong and the Spaniards’ attempt to stop him, and Spain’s failed attempts to start missionary work in China. It also tells the progress of Christianity in the archipelago, the products of the islands, things imported from China and their prices.
A letter about a plan on the conquest of China shows the Spanish's racist views on the Filipinos. The Spanish officials looked up to the Chinese, but the natives were treated cruelly and made slaves. The population is decreasing and the islands' condition is deteriorating. Spain's plan was to invade China as a starting point to control Asia and prevent other European nations to take over.
Santiago de Vera writes about a fire destroying the city of Manila, so he started forbidding the use of wood in building and use stone instead. He also built a fort in the city for defence. Manila is a major market place where trade with other countries is flourishing. Trading posts were established in China and Japan, and missionary work there is beginning. Sea accidents such as pirates capturing ships affect the trade in Spain and its colonies. With the best ships lost, colonists are no longer sent to add to the declining population. The Jesuits were planning to establish colleges but there were not enough students to teach yet.

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