Friday, January 18, 2013

The Philippine Islands [summary]: Volume 7 (2 of 5)

Volume VII: 1588–1591
Volumes:| 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

This volume covers four years. Natives discovered conspiring against the Spaniards were caught and punished. Trade between Nueva España (Mexico) and China is beginning, and is affecting the Philippines. Many Chinese immigrated here. There is conflict between the religious and government authorities regarding tax collection.
            The Jesuit Sanchez went to Spain as envoy for reforms demanded by the people. He prepared a document on the social, economic, and religious conditions of the colony. It contains statistics on the population, number of troops, encomiendas, convents, government officials, Chinese immigrants and their businesses, things for sale, imported, and exported. The governor de Vera asks the King to supply more weapons for protection and defence for ships and on land, due to the capture of the ship Santa Ana by the English pirate Thomas Candish.
            As a result of Sanchez's trip, the King has decided on many reforms to be implemented. A new governor, Gomez Dasmariñas, was appointed to fulfil the King's instructions. Aid was granted for more churches and hospitals. Trade with Mexico must be restricted to the Philippines, and only Christian Chinese must be allowed here. Agriculturists were sent from Spain to teach farming, along with cattle and horses to breed. Scattered natives must be gathered in settlements and taught Christianity. Bishop Salazar was appointed official protector of the natives. More reforms for the rights of natives were implemented.
            The Bishop Salazar writes to the King about the Spaniards' abuse to the 'Indians' (the term for natives). He recommends sending religious people who will protect the natives, and elect new officials who are not corrupt. The bishop believes the calamities that Spaniards suffer are God's revenge on their ill treatment of the natives.
            De Vera writes to the King to ask for more reinforcements and supplies. The soldiers die fast and the environment is unhealthy, and Manila's hospital has no doctor. The fort in Manila is being rebuilt strongly due to damage from earthquakes. The Dominicans are converting many Chinese to Christianity. Some Borneans killed three Spaniards and were punished. They suspect that this is planned together by Filipinos, Borneans, and other peoples who want to drive out the Spaniards.
            The royal fiscal Gaspar de Ayala writes to the King regarding business matters. Chinese trade is slow due to wars and epidemics in China. Other rebels in Cebu and Cagayan were discovered, and troops were sent. The taxes of the natives increased because of the fort building in Manila. He writes about the bishop offending the Augustinians for sending Dominicans into their field among the Chinese. The soldiers sent to Cagayan has returned unsuccessful, they only destroyed crops which will only incite rebels to revenge.
            The Franciscan missionary Juan de Plasencia writes extensively about the culture of the Tagalogs: social organization, property, inheritance, marriage customs, burial practices, and religious beliefs. The chief god is Bathala, and they engage in pagan worship. They believe in omens and divination. There are varied classes of sorcerers and witches.
            Bishop Salazar reports the increase of the Chinese population, their relations with the Spaniards, the establishment of the Parián or Chinese community, and their conversion. Salazar admires the quality of Chinese goods and the skill of their craftsmen, some who learn from Spaniards but usually make better products. An example mentioned is Juan de Vera, a bookbinder who learned from a Mexican. Some of their popular products are shoes, clothes, religious art, and sculptures.
            Documents about tax collection mention the heavy taxes imposed on the natives. Some natives were forced to pay, and the Bishop recommends lower taxes and pay back damages to the natives.    

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