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The Spanish kings must be given credit for entire sincerity in their efforts to secure the well-being of the natives. They prohibited their enslavement, much to the disgust of the officials. The laws, ordinances and decrees commanded the utmost consideration for their physical as well as spiritual welfare.24 All sorts of checks and restraints were imposed; but they did not, it is to be feared, seriously restrain the high-handed and arbitrary officials who had interests to serve which were in no way connected with the saving of souls.
This farming out of the colony meant the exploitation of the natives, who were required to supply the wealth. The lands and the natives thereon were granted in encomiendas as rewards for services, real or imaginary, to persons who were charged with the collection of the tribute and the care of the people. The tributes were of course collected, but the natives were neglected and often cruelly oppressed.
All the protégés and parasites of the governors had to be provided with places which would enable them to live and prosper. Before the arrival of Ronquilla, Manila had managed to struggle along with four magistrates; but as the new governor had seventeen deserving friends to provide for the magistracies were increased to seventeen. As Bishop Salazar wrote, these people came out poor and were granted scant salaries so "they deprive the natives of the rice from the fields and of all the other harvesting products that they can get.”
Salazar, who was the first Bishop of the Islands, has been called "the Las Casas of the Philippines.” He was an authoritative and rather arbitrary person, who made himself the advocate of reforms and the special champion of the natives. Many abuses had already grown up in the local administration. Salazar wrote long letters to the King denouncing the cruelties of the encomenderos and the secular authorities, and praying for the reform of the administration. The dissatisfaction with conditions was so general that in 1586 a junta, in which all the estates were represented, met in Manila and prepared a memorial
24 Lea, "The Indian Policy of Spain,” Yale Review, August, 1899.
setting forth the requirements of the colony, which was carried to the king by a priest named Sanchez.25
The envoy, who really represented Bishop Salazar, arrived at Seville in 1587, and while waiting for his audience with the king took an active part in the controversy which was raging between the factions over the proper way to conduct missionary work. One party was contending that the propaganda of the faith ought to be purely apostolic; that the doctrines of poverty and humility should prevail; that violence should never be resorted to, and that those who rejected the true religion should be left to their folly. The other regarded such methods as useless and held that the true religion should be forced upon the unwilling and recalcitrant by persuasion if possible, by force of arms if necessary. Father Sanchez cast his lot with the belligerent faction.
Finally the king, after careful consideration of the memorial, determined to reorganize the Philippine service. The decree which was issued determined the amount of tribute which should be paid by the natives and its apportionment among the Church, treasury and army; the amount of customs duties to be charged and the number of troops to be maintained. It made provision for the prompt payment of salaries; the payment of the balance of the debt incurred at the time of the original occupation of the islands; the fortification of Manila, the construction of penitentiaries and the foundation of separate hospitals for Spaniards and Indians. The governor and bishop were recommended to consider the matter of establishing refuges for young women and dowries for native women who married Spaniards. The offices of secretary and notary were no longer to be sold, and the governor was thereafter to make grants of land to those only who had been three years in the islands and would actually improve the lands granted. All previous grants which had been
25 For the Memorial, see B. & R., VI, p. 157. After Sanchez had sailed the cabildo of Manila caused another document to be prepared and ordered it sent to him. It was lost when the Santa Ana was captured by Thomas Candish off the California coast. A copy was furnished Bishop Salazar and incorporated in his description of conditions in the Philippines. See B. & R., VII, pp. 32-51.
made to their relatives by governors and magistrates were directed to be canceled.
More Augustinian friars were to be sent to the islands, and they were to be followed by missionaries from the other orders. Of the expenses of the outgoing friars one-half of the passage money was to be paid by the king and one-half by the clergy out of the funds accruing from their share of the tribute. Slaves held by Spaniards were to be immediately set free, and natives thereafter born were declared free. Provision was also made for the ultimate freedom of all natives then held in bondage. The audiencia, which had been established in 1583, and which had not proved satisfactory to the ecclesiastical authorities, was abolished and a sort of advisory council provided for the governor.
Apparently at the instance of Sanchez, Gomez Perez Desmariñas was sent out as governor, with authority to name his son as his successor, and the changes and reforms were included in his instructions. In the meantime Governor Ronquillo had died and the senior magistrate of the audiencia was acting as governor.
Desmariñas proved to be a strong and energetic man; but as he would admit no ecclesiastical partnership in the administration of the secular government he was soon at cross purposes with Bishop Salazar. He sailed in personal command of an expedition against the Dutch in the Moluccas and was murdered by his Chinese crew, who mutinied and took possession of the fleet, thus bringing the enterprise to a disastrous end. According to one of the contemporary chroniclers, Desmariñas was "the only Governor who held office during the first quarter of the seventeenth century who was fitted for his position, and did more for the happiness of the natives in three years than all his predecessors and successors."
Bishop Salazar, after quarreling with the new governor, as he had done with his predecessor, began to long for the days when the audiencia had been there to share his troubles. Notwithstanding his extreme old age, the bishop determined to journey to far-away Spain and lay his claims and grievances before the king in person. His influence was very great and the visit re
sulted in the reestablishment of the audiencia and the raising of the See of Manila to an Archbishopric. Salazar was appointed as the first Archbishop of Manila, but died before his investiture was officially authorized by the Pope, leaving in Philippine history the reputation of a sincere friend of the native people.
In the year 1606 Doctor Antonio de Morga, who had been the senior magistrate of the audiencia, published an elaborate description of conditions, from which it appears that the Spaniards had by that time substantially completed their constructive work in the Philippines. The situation changed but little thereafter until near the middle of the nineteenth century.
Two and One-Half Centuries of Stagnation
Loss of Energy-Quarrels of Officials--Character of Governors--Financial Difficulties-Governor Corcuera and Archbishop Guerrero--Salcedo and Pobleta--Vargas and Pardo-Difficulties of Reformers--Ferdinand de Bustamente-Capture of Manila by British-Archbishop Roja and Simon de Anda -The Indemnity and the Dishonored Drafts-A Friar's Opinion of Governor Torre-Chinese Uprisings and Massacres-Moro Raids--The Obras PiasAn Enterprising Governor--The Liberal Movement in Spain-Representation in the Cortes-Discontent-Description of Conditions by Mas and Matta.
There is little of general interest in the history of the Philippines during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was a long dreary period filled with the eternal quarrels of governors, audiencias and ecclesiastics, enlivened by occasional Moro raids and massacres of Chinese. The spirit seemed to have gone out of Spanish rule. The State felt that its work was done, and the people were left for the Church to educate and civilize. Isolated and its activities restricted by a narrow commercial policy, the beautiful land simply marked time while the world moved on its way. Once, for a few months, it was drawn within the influence of world forces. The unexpected appearance of a British fleet in the bay for a while galvanized the community into unwonted activity; but Manila was only a pawn in the European game and, unfortunately for the country, the conquerors sailed away, leaving it to take up anew its droning life.
It would be an unprofitable task even to name all the men who, each for a few years, ruled over the colony. Many of them were corrupt, seeking only ways and means to repair their own broken fortunes.
1 A complete list of Spanish governors with a brief summary of the events of each administration is printed in B. & R., XVII, p. 285 et seq.