Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rizal and His Times (19th Century)



Objectives: At the end of this topic, the students are expected to:

1. Understand social context of Rizal’s time both in the global and local levels,

2. Know the socio-political factors that contributed to the growth of national consciousness during Rizal’s time,

3. Identify the sources of discontent of the Filipinos against the Spaniards and friars during the 19th century,

4. Appreciate the influence of the social context to the life and writings of Dr. Jose Rizal

5. Answer the guide questions correctly and apply the key concepts in the exercises of the chapter.

Key Concepts

Industrial Revolution

French Revolution

American Revolution

Suez Canal

Influx of Liberal Ideas

Twilight of Spanish Rule in 19th Century





Racial Discrimination


It is difficult to say when Filipinos began to think of themselves as Filipinos and not simply as Tagalogs, Ilokanos or Visayans. Probably the preliminary stage in the development of national consciousness was reached when indios realized that they have something in common, that is, a common grievance against the Spaniards (De la Costa 1965: 213). Our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was the first to think the indios as one nation when he first used the word “Filipino” to refer to all inhabitants in the country whether they are of Spanish or Filipino blood. During the Spanish period, the native inhabitants were called “Indios” while only the inhabitants with Spanish blood (peninsulares, insulares or mestizos) were regarded as Filipinos. Rizal could not have thought of one people and one nation which include all people in archipelago without the influence of the social milieu of his time. Rizal was born and grew up in the 19th century, a period of massive changes in Europe, Spain and in the Philippines. During this era, the glory and power of Spain had waned both in her colonies and in the world.


Conversely, one cannot fully understand Rizal’s thought without understanding the social and political context of the 19th century. Social scientists marked the 19th century as the birth of modern life as well as the birth of many nation-states around the world. The birth of modernity was precipitated by three great revolutions around the world: the Industrial revolution in England, the French Revolution in France and the American Revolution.

Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution is basically an economic revolution which started with the invention of steam engine and resulted to the use of machinery in the manufacturing sector in the cities of Europe. It has changed the economy of Europe from feudalism—an economic system which relied on land and agriculture--to capitalism which relied on machinery and wage labor. The merchants of Europe who became rich through trade became the early capitalists of this emerging economy. Farmers from rural areas migrated to the cities and became industrial workers while their wives remained as housekeepers at home in what Karl Marx’s characterized as the first instance of the domestication of women.

The Industrial Revolution that started in Europe had repercussions to the Philippine economy. A radical transformation of the economy took place between the middle of the eighteenth century and the middle of the nineteenth; something that might almost be called an agricultural revolution, with a concomitant development of agricultural industries and domestic as well as foreign trade (De la Costa 1965: 159). The economic opportunities created by the Industrial Revolution had encouraged Spain in 1834 to open the Philippine economy to world commerce. As a result, new cities and ports were built. Foreign firms increased rapidly. Foreigners were allowed to engage in manufacturing and agriculture. Merchant banks and financial institutions were also established. The British and Americans improved agricultural machinery for sugar milling and rice hulling and introduced new methods of farming. The presence of these foreign traders stimulated agricultural production, particularly sugar, rice, hemp, and—once the government monopoly was removed in 1882—tobacco. Indeed, the abolition of restrictions on foreign trade has produced a balanced and dynamic economy of the Philippines during the 19th century (Maguigad & Muhi 2001: 46; Schumacher 1997: 17).

Furthermore, the fast tempo of economic progress in the Philippines during the 19th century facilitated by Industrial Revolution resulted to the rise to a new breed of rich and influential Filipino middle class. Non-existent in previous centuries, this class, composed of Spanish and Chinese mestizos rose to a position of power in the Filipino community and eventually became leaders in finance and education (Agoncillo 1990: 129-130). This class included the ilustrados who belonged to the landed gentry and who were highly respected in their respective pueblos or towns, though regarded as filibusteros or rebels by the friars. The relative prosperity of the period has enabled them to send their sons to Spain and Europe for higher studies. Most of them later became members of freemasonry and active in the Propaganda Movement. Some of them sensed the failure of reformism and turned to radicalism, and looked up to Rizal as their leader (PES 1993:239)

Lastly, safer, faster and more comfortable means of transportation such as railways and steamships were constructed. The construction of steel bridges and the opening of Suez Canal opened shorter routes to commerce. Faster means of communications enable people to have better contacts for business and trade. This resulted to closer communication between the Philippines and Spain and to the rest of the world in the 19th century (Romero 1978: 16).

The French Revolution

If the Industrial Revolution changed the economic landscape of Europe and of the Philippines, another great Revolution changed their political tone of the period—the French Revolution. The French revolution (1789-1799) started a political revolution in Europe and in some parts of the world. This revolution is a period of political and social upheaval and radical change in the history of France during which the French governmental structure was transformed from absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the rich and clergy to a more democratic government form based on the principles of citizenship and inalienable rights. With the overthrow of monarchial rule, democratic principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity--the battle cry of the French Revolution--started to spread in Europe and around the world.

Not all democratic principles were spread as a result of the French Revolution. The anarchy or political disturbance caused by the revolution had reached not only in neighboring countries of France, it has also reached Spain in the 19th century. Spain experienced a turbulent century of political disturbances during this era which included numerous changes in parliaments and constitutions, the Peninsular War, the loss of Spanish America, and the struggle between liberals and conservatives (De la Costa 1965: 159). Moreover, radical shifts in government structure were introduced by liberals in the motherland. From 1834 to 1862, for instance, a brief span of only 28 years, Spain had four constitutions, 28 parliaments, and 529 ministers with portfolio (Zaide 1999: 203). All these political changes in Spain had their repercussions in the Philippines, cracking the fabric of the old colonial system and introducing through cracks perilous possibilities of reform, of equality and even emancipation” (De la Costa 1965: 159).

Because of this political turmoil in the motherland, the global power of the “Siglo de Oro of Spain in the sixteenth century as the mistress of the world with extensive territories had waned abroad in the nineteenth century. Her colonies had gained momentum for independence owing to the cracks in political leadership in the motherland. In fact, Cuba, a colony of Spain, was waging a revolution against Spain when Rizal volunteered to discontinue his exile in Dapitan to work as volunteer doctor there in order for him to observe the revolution. The divided power of Spain was triggered by successive change of regimes due to the democratic aspiration created by the French Revolution. This aspiration had inspired colonies under Spain and Portugal to revolt in order to gain independence from their colonial masters in the 19th century.

The American Revolution

Finally, the American Revolution, though not directly affecting the local economy and politics of the Philippines in the nineteenth century, had important repercussions to democratic aspirations of the Filipino reformist led by Rizal during this period. The American Revolution refers to the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which the 13 colonies of North America overthrew the rule of the British Empire and rejected the British monarchy to make the United States of American a sovereign nation. In this period the colonies first rejected the authority British Parliament to govern without representation, and formed self-governing independent states. The American revolution had given the world in the 19th century the idea that colonized people can gain their independence from their colonizers. The Americans were able to overthrow their British colonial masters to gain independence and the status of one free nation-state. This significant event had reverberated in Europe and around the world and inspired others to follow. Indirectly, the American Revolution had in a way inspired
Filipino reformists like Rizal to aspire for freedom and independence. When the Philippines was opened by Spain to world trade in the 19th century, liberal ideas from America borne by ships and men from foreign ports began to reach the country and influenced the ilustrados. These ideas, contained in books and newspapers, were ideologies of the American and French Revolutions and the thoughts of Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Jefferson, and other political philosophers (Zaide 1999: 214)


Aside from the three great revolutions in Europe, the birth of social sciences such as sociology, history and anthropology, also had a significant influence to the intellectual tradition of the 19th century. The reliance on human reason and science rather on dogmas of the Catholic Church has its roots in the intellectual movement called The Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment or simply The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a time in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority.

Enlightenment philosophers such Michel de Montaigne, believed that human reason could be used to combat ignorance, superstition, and tyranny and to build a better world. Their principal targets were religion (embodied in France in the Catholic Church) and the domination of society by a hereditary aristocracy.

The reliance on human reason rather on faith and religion has paved the way to the birth of social sciences in the 19th century to study scientifically the changes and conditions of Europe during this period. The massive changes in society brought about by the three great revolutions has resulted to dissatisfaction


In addition to the three great revolutions, the weakening of the grip of the Catholic Church of the growing secularalized society of Europe and Spain has implications to the Philippines. Conversely, the Catholic Church in Europe was a most powerful institution in Europe. The union of Church State has identified the Church with the monarchy and aristocracy since the Middles Ages. Since it upheld the status quo and favored the monarchy, the Church in the nineteenth century had been considered an adversary to the new Republican states and the recently unified countries. The French saw the Church as a threat to the newly formed republican state and Bismarck of Germany also saw it as a threat to the unified German Empire. In Spain, the liberals considered the Church as an enemy of reforms. Thus they sought to curtail to influence of the Church in political life and education. This movement against the Catholic Church called anti-clericalism had gained strength in the nineteenth century not only for political reasons but also of the materialistic preferences of the people generated by the economic prosperity of the period (Romero et al 1978: 17-18).

The declining influence of the Catholic Church in Europe and Spain has little effect, however, to the control and power of the local Church in the Philippines. Despite the anti-clericalism in Spain, the power of the friars in the Philippines in the 19th century did not decline; instead, it became consolidated after the weakening of civil authority owing to constant change in political leadership. This means that Filipinos turned more and more to the friars for moral and political guidance as Spanish civil officials in the colony became more corrupt and immoral. The union of the Church and State and the so-called “rule of the friars” or “frailocracy” continued during this period. In the last decades of the 19th century, the Spanish friars were so influential and powerful that they practically ruled the whole archipelago. The Spanish civil authorities as well as patriotic Filipinos feared them. In every Christian town in the country, for instance, the friar is the real ruler, not the elected gobernadorcillo. He was the supervisor of local elections, the inspector of the schools, the arbiter of morals, and the censor of books and stage shows. He could order the arrest of or exile to distant land any filibustero (traitor) or anti-friar Filipino who disobeyed him or refused to kiss his hands (Zaide 1999: 209).

One of the aims of Dr. Rizal and the propagandists in order to prepare the Filipino people for revolution and independence was to discredit the friars. Exposing the abuses and immoralities of the friars is one way to downplay their power and influence among the people and thus can shift the allegiance of the Indios from the friars to the Filipino reformists and leaders. The strengthening power of the friars in the 19th century has encouraged the nationalists to double their efforts to win the people to their side.


The Opening of the Suez Canal

Aside from these three great revolutions and the declining influence of the Church during this period, there were also other factors that facilitated the growth of nationalistic aspirations of Dr. Jose Rizal and other Filipino ilustrados. Foremost among them is the opening of the Suez Canal to international shipping on November 17, 1869. This canal is 103 miles long and connects the Mediterranean with the Gulf of Suez and hence with the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its significance could not be underestimated. With the opening of this canal, the distance of travel between Europe and the Philippines was significantly shortened and brought the country closer to Spain. In previous years, a steamer from Barcelona had to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, and reached Manila after a hazardous voyage of more than three months. With this canal, the trip was reduced to only 32 days (Zaide 1999: 215).

The opening of the Suez Canal facilitated the importation of books, magazines and newspapers with liberal ideas from Europe and America which eventually influenced the minds of Jose Rizal and other Filipino reformists. Political thoughts of liberal thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau (Social Contract), John Locke (/two Treatises of Government), Thomas Paine (ommon Sense) and others entered the country (Maguigad & Muhi 2001; 62). Moreover, the shortened route encouraged more and more Spaniards and Europeans with liberal ideas to come to the Philippines and interact with Filipino reformists. The opening of this canal in 1869 further stimulated the local economy which give rise—as already mentioned above--to the creation of the middle class of mestizos and ilustrados in the 19th century.

The shortened route has also encouraged the ilustrados led by Rizal to pursue higher studies abroad and learn liberal and scientific ideas in the universities of Europe. Their social interaction with liberals in foreign lands has influenced their thinking on politics and nationhood.

The Democractic Rule of Gov. Gen. Dela Torre

The first-hand experience of what it is to be liberal came from the role modeling of the first liberal governor general in the Philippines—Governor General Carlos Ma. Carlos Dela Torre. Why Govenor Dela Torre was able to rule in the Philippines has a long story. The political instability in Spain had caused frequent changes of Spanish officials in the Philippines which caused further confusion and increased social as well as political discontent in the country. But when the liberals deposed Queen Isabela II in 1868 mutiny, a provisional government was set up and the new government extended to the colonies the reforms they adopted in Spain. These reforms include the grant of universal suffrage and recognition of freedom and conscience, the press, association and public assembly. General Carlos Ma. De la Torre was appointed by the provisional government in Spain as Governor General of the Philippines (Romero et al 1978: 21).

The rule of the first liberal governor general in the person of General de la Torre became significant in the birth of national consciousness in the 19th century. De la Torre’s liberal and pro-people governance had given Rizal and the Filipinos during this period a foretaste of a democratic rule and way of life. De la Torre put into practice his liberal and democratic ways by avoiding luxury and living a simple life. During his two-year term, Governor De la Torre had many significant achievements. He encouraged freedom and abolished censorship (Maguigad & Muhi 2001: 63). He recognized the freedom of speech and of the press, which were guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution. Because of his tolerant policy, Father Jose Burgos and other Filipino priests were encouraged to pursue their dream of replacing the friars with the Filipino clergy as parish priests in the country (Zaide 1999: 217).

Governor De la Torre’s greatest achievement was the peaceful solution to the land problem in Cavite. This province has been the center of agrarian unrest in the country since the 18th century because the Filipino tenants who lost their land had been oppressed by Spanish landlords. Agrarian uprisings led by the local hero, Eduardo Camerino, erupted several times in Cavite. This agrarian problem was only solved without bloodshed when Governor De la Torre himself went to Cavite and had a conference with the rebel leader. He pardoned the latter and his followers, provided them with decent livelihood and appointed them as members of the police force with Camerino as captain (Ibid).

The Cavite Mutiny and the Martyrdom of GOMBURZA

Two historical events in the late 19th century that hastened the growth of nationalism in the minds of Rizal, reformists and the Filipino people is the Cavite Mutiny and the martyrdom of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora or popularly known as GOMBURZA. The Cavite Mutiny is a failed uprising against the Spaniards due to miscommunication. On the night of January 20, 1872, a group of about 200 soldiers and workers led by Lamadrid, a Filipino sergeant, took over by force the Cavite arsenal and fort. Before this, there was an agreement between Lamadrid and his men and Filipino soldiers in Manila that they would join forces to stage a revolt against the Spaniards, with firing of rockets from the city walls of Manila on that night as the signal of the uprising. Unfortunately, the suburbs of Manila celebrated its fiesta on that very night with a display of fireworks. The Cavite plotters, thinking that the fighting had been started by Manila soldiers, killed their Spanish officers and took control of the fort. On the following morning, government troops rushed to the Cavite arsenal and killed many mutineers including Lamadrid. The survivors were subdued, taken prisoners and brought to Manila (Zaide 1999: 218-220).

This unfortunate incidence in Cavite became an opportunity, however, for the Spaniards to implicate the three Filipino priests who had been campaigning for Filipino rights, particularly the right of Filipino priests to become parish priests or “Filipinization” of the parishes in the country. These three priests, especially Father Jose Burgos, the youngest and the most intelligent, championed the rights of the Filipino priests and were critical of Spanish policies. The Spanish government then wanted them to be placed behind bars or executed. To do this, it magnified the event and made it appear as a “revolt” against the government. Thus, after the mutineers were imprisoned, Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (GOMBURZA) were arrested and charged falsely with treason and mutiny under a military court. To implicate them, the government bribed Francisco Zaldua, a former soldier, as the star witness. With a farcical trial, a biased court, and a weak defense from their government-hired lawyers, the three priests were convicted of a crime they did not commit. Governor Izquierdo approved their death sentence and at sunrise of February 17, 1872, Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora were escorted under heavy guard to Luneta and were executed by garrote (strangulation machine) before a vast crowd of Filipinos and foreigners (Ibid.).

The execution of GOMBURZA had hastened not only the downfall of the Spanish government but also the growth of Philippine nationalism. The Filipino people resented the execution of the three priests because they knew that they were innocent and were executed because they championed Filipino rights. Among those in the crowd who resented the execution was Paciano, the older brother of Jose Rizal, who inspired the national hero to follow the cause of the three priests. Rizal dedicated his novel Noli Me Tangere to GOMBURZA to show his appreciation to the latter’s courage, dedication to Filipino rights, and sense of nationalism.

Discontent with Spanish Institutions

Spain introduced into the country mechanisms or institutions to enable the colonial government in the country to comply with its obligations of supporting the Church’s mission of Christianizing the natives and to contribute to the Spanish King’s economic welfare. These institutions include the encomienda, the polo or forced labor and the tributo or tribute. The tribute consisted of direct (personal tribute and income tax) and indirect (customs duties and the bandala), taxes, monopolies (rentas estancadas) of special crops and items as spirituous liquors (1712-1864), betel nut (1764), tobacco (1782-1882), explosives (1805-1864), and opium (1847) (Agoncillo 1990: 81). These colonial systems also became the major sources of discontent of many indios during the Spanish period. Because of the oppressive nature of these systems, many revolts and uprisings erupted in various parts of the country which contribute tod the weakening of the Spanish rule in the 19th century.

The Tribute or Tributo

As a sign of vassalage to Spain, the Filipino paid tribute to the colonial government in the island (Zaide 1999: 107). In July 26, 1523, King Charles V decreed that Indians who had been pacified should contribute a “moderate amount” in recognition of their vassalage (Cushner 1979: 101). In theory the tribute or tax was collected from the natives in order to defray the costs of colonization and to recognize their vassalage to the king of Spain (Ibid). From the point of view of the Catholic Church, tribute could be extracted from the natives only if it was used primarily for the work of Christianization like the building of churches in the colony, support for missionaries, and so on. But from the point of view of the natives, the payment of the tribute was, however, seen as a symbol of acceptance of their vassalage to Spain.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was first to order the payment of tribute, both in the Visayas and Luzon. His successors followed this practice. As mentioned above, the buwis (tribute) during this period consisted of two types: the direct taxes which came from personal tribute and income tax, and indirect taxes which were collected from customs duties and bandala taxes, monopolies (rentas escantadas) of special crops and items (Agoncillo 1990: 81).

The tribute or buwis was collected from the natives both in specie (gold or money) and kind (e.g. rice, cloth, chicken, coconut oil, abaca, etc.). The King of Spain preferred the payment of gold but the natives paid largely in kind. That was why King Philip II was annoyed upon knowing that most of the tributes in the colony was paid in kind (Cushner 1979: 104). In the 1570s, the tribute was fixed at eight reales (1 real=121/2 centavos) or in kind of “gold, blankets, cotton, rice, bells” and raised to fifteen reales till the end of the Spanish period. Until the mid-nineteenth century, the Filipinos were required to pay the tribute of 10 reales; 1 real diezmos prediales (tithes), 1 real town community chest, 3 reales of sanctorum tax for church support or a total of 15 reales (Agoncillo 1990: 1-82).

In addition, a special tax called bandala was also collected from the natives. Coming the word mandala ( a round stack of rice stalks to be threshed), bandala is an annual enforced sale or requisitioning of goods, particularly of rice or coconut oil, in the case of Tayabas. If not paid, outright confiscation of goods or crops if this tax is not paid or paid only in promissory notes. This type of tax is so oppressive that it sparked a revolt in 1660-61. In November 1782, bandala was abolished in provinces of Tondo, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Tayabas and Cavite since natives refused to plant rice and other crops because of this tax (Agoncillo 1990: 82).

By 1884, the tribute was replaced by the cedula personal or personal identity paper which resembles with the present community or residence tax today. Everyone, whether Filipino or other nationalities, over eighteen years of age, was required to pay this kind of tax (Ibid.: 83).

The intended effect of the tribute was primarily to advance the Christianization of the natives in the archipelago. The unintended effect however was exploitation of the natives at the hands of some abusive Spaniards in the collection of this tribute. Due to its lack of uniformity and fixed policy in collecting tribute in the beginning, many natives complained of paying taxes beyond legal prescription. Says Renato Constantino, “The tribute-collectors—alcaldes, mayors, encomenderos, gobernadorcillos, and cabezas—often abused their offices by collecting more than the law required and appropriating the difference” (Constantino 1975: 51).

The Encomienda

Another colonial system that is intimately connected with the tribute is the encomienda system. The word “encomienda” comes from the Spanish “encomendar” which means “to entrust.” The ecomienda is a grant of inhabitants living in particular conquered territory which Spain gave to Spanish colonizer as a reward for his services (Zaide 1987: 76). It is given by the king of Spain as gesture of gratitude to those who assisted him in colonizing the Indies. In the strict sense, it is not a land grant but a grant to exercise control over a specific place including its inhabitants. This includes the right for the encomendero (owner of encomienda) to impose tribute or taxes according to the limit and kind set by higher authorities (Agoncillo 1990: 84). In exchange for this right, the encomendero is duty-bound by law to (1) defend his encomienda from external incursions, (2) to keep peace and order, and (3) to assist the missionaries in evangelizing the natives within his territory (Ibid).

The encomiendas during the Spanish period were of two kinds—the royal and private. The royal encomiendas which consisted of big cities, seaports, and inhabitants of regions rich in natural resources were owned by the king. The private encomiendas were owned by private individuals or charitable institutions such as the College of Santa Potenciana and the Hospital of San Juan de Dios (Zaide 1987:76). By 1591, a total of 257 encomiendas with a total population of over 600,000 were created by the Spanish king in the Philippines (31 royal and 236 private). The encomienda system lasted a little longer and finally ended in the first decade of the 19th century (Zaide 1987: 77).

Like the tribute, the encomienda system is one of the major sources of discontent of the natives against the Spanish rule. This system has empowered the Spanish encomiendero to collect tribute or taxes according to his whim or desire. Because there was no systematic taxation system in the colony, the encomiendero has the option to collect the tribute in gold, cash, or kind. When gold was abundant and money was scarce, he demanded cash or reales; when reales were plentiful and there was scarcity of gold, they asked for gold, even when the poor Filipinos were coerced to buy them. During bumper harvests, he demanded products like rice, tobacco or even all of the Filipino possessions, and they were forced “to travel great distances” to try to buy them at high rates. The encomiendero has indeed become abusive because of his discretionary power to collect taxes within his jurisdiction. Filipinos who resisted his power were publicly flogged, tortured or jailed. These unjust collections of taxes within the encomienda system became one of the causes of intermittent uprisings in the Philippines during the Spanish period (Agoncillo 1990: 84-85).

The Polo or Forced Labor

In addition to the tribute, the Polo or forced labor is another Spanish that had created discontent among the indios during the Spanish times. The word “polo” is actually a corruption of the Tagalog pulong, originally meaning “meeting of persons and things” or “community labor”. Drafted laborers were either Filipino or Chinese male mestizos who were obligated to give personal service to community projects, like construction and repair of infrastructure, church construction, or cutting logs in forests, for forty days. All able-body males, from 16 to 60 years of old, except chieftains and their elder sons, were required to render labor for these various projects in the colony. This was instituted in 1580 and reduced to 15 days per year in 1884 (Constantino 1975: 51).

There were laws that regulate polo. For instance, the polista (the person who renders forced labor) will be paid a daily wage of ¼ real plus rice. Moreover, the polista was not supposed to be brought from a distant place nor required to work during planting and harvesting seasons (Ibid: 52). Despite restrictions, polo resulted to the disastrous consequences. It resulted to the ruining of communities the men left behind. The promised wage was not given exactly as promised that led to starvation or even death to some polistas and their families. Moreover, the polo had affected the village economy negatively. The labor drafts coincided with the planting and harvesting seasons; forced separation from the family and relocation to different places, sometimes outside the Philippines; and reduction of male population as they were compelled at times, to escape to the mountains instead of working in the labor pool (Agoncillo 1990: 83).


During the Spanish period, there was a union of Church and State. The Catholic religion became the State religion. Both civil and ecclesiastical authorities served God and king. Thus, the functions of the government officials oftentimes overlapped with those of the clergy in the Church. Under the arrangements between the Pope and the Spanish King called the Patronato Real de las Indias, civil and Church authorities must coordinate to Christianize the natives in the colony. Since evangelization of the natives is the only reason, according to the Church, that gave Spain the right to colonize the Philippines and to extract tribute, civil authorities should support the material needs of the missionaries in building Churches and catechizing the inhabitants. Thus, the government provided salaries to the Spanish missionaries and the clergy, making them technically government officials.

The union of Church and State also implies the non-payment of all forms of tribute or taxes by the Catholic Church and members of its clergy. The Church did not pay any personal or income tax to the government. Instead, the government contributed a huge amount of the taxes or duties collected from the colony went to the Church for its evangelization work. Owing to this union, the clergy and friars enjoyed political influence in the country. In the town, for instance, the parish priest holds immense power compared to the gobernadorcillo or town mayor. He represented the Spanish King in his area of responsibility. He supervised local elections, education, charities, morals and taxation. Until 1762, members of the Church hierarchy like bishops and archbishops acted as governors generals in case of vacancy in the gubernatorial office. Among them were: Archbishop Francisco Francisco de la Cuesta (1719-21), Bishop Juan de Arrechederra (1745-50), Bsihop Lino de Espeleta (1759-61) and Archbishop Manuel Antonio Rojo (1761-62) (Zaide 1999: 111).

With today’s doctrine of Separation of Church and State introduced by the Americans, it is unthinkable for bishops and priests to hold public office or exercise government power owing to the ban imposed by the Pope to the clergy. With vast powers both spiritual and political in their hands, Spanish friars and the clergy held absolute powers in the colony during the Spanish period. This had attracted the attention of the reformists and ilustrados led by Jose Rizal that resulted to a nationalist desire for reforms in the country and eventually independence from Spain.

Abuses and Immoralities of the Friars

Although not all friars are bad, abusive and immoral friars became a source cause of people’s disenchantment with the Spanish rule. The Filipino reformists led by Dr. Rizal hated the abusive friars and wanted them to be expelled from the country as attested by their “Anti-Friars Manifesto of 1888”:

The bad friars were portrayed by Rizal in his two novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo and by Graciano Lopez Jaena as Fray Botod (Zaide 1999:211). These bad friars were arrogant, abusive and immoral. They impregnated native women and sire illegitimate children.

The reformist Marcelo H. Del Pilar parodied the Ten Commandments to ridicule the friars:

1. Thou shalt worship and love the friars above all.

2. Thou shalt not cheat them of their stipends.

3. Thou shalt sanctify the friar, Sundays or holidays.

4. Thou shalt pawn thyself to pay for the burial of thy father and mother.

5. Thou shouldst not die if thou hast not the money to pay for thine interment.

6. Thou shalt not covet his wife.

7. Thou shalt not steal with him.

8. Thou shalt not accuse him even if thou be called a liar.

9. Thou not refuse him your wife.

10. Thou shalt not deny him your property (Del Pilar in Agoncillo 1990:136-137).

Racial Discrimination

Another area of animosities between Filipinos and Spaniards that led to discontent of the Spanish rule is racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is a form of social exclusion where people are prevented from having access to public goods by virtue of their physical traits. It is an abusive behavior of one race against another. In colonization, the white colonizers who are Caucasians often down on their colonized people or natives as inferior by virtue of their skin, height, nose, or physical traits. In the Philippines, the Spanish authorities regarded the brown Filipino as an inferior people and derisively called them “Indios” or Indians. This racial prejudice against native Filipinos existed in the government offices, in the armed forces, in the universities and colleges, in courts of justice, and in high society (Zaide 1999: 211). Although the laws applied in the colony recognized no difference between various races, documentary evidence on racism in the Philippines is abundant. A description of Pardo de Tavera illustrates this racial discrimination in social etiquette:

The townspeople were obliged to remove their hats when a Spaniard passed, and this was especially the case if he occupied some official position; if the Spaniard happened to be a priest; in addition to the removal of the hat the native was obliged to kiss his hat. No Indian [i.e.,Filipino] was allowed to sit at the same table with a Spaniard, even though the Spaniard was a guest in the Indian’s house. The Spaniards addressed the Filipinos [i.e., Spaniards born in the Philippines] by the pronoun “thou”, and although many of the Spaniards married pure blood native women, the wives were always looked down on in society as belonging to an inferior class (de Tavera in Agoncillo 1990: 121).

The friars and some Spanish writers the Filipino race in their writings. They maligned the indios and degraded them as “neither a merchant nor an industrial, neither a farmer nor a philosopher”. The Franciscan Fr. Miguel Lucio y Bustamante opined in his Si Tandang Basio Macunat (Manila, 1885) that the Filipino could never learn the Spanish language or be civilized: “The Spaniards will always be a Spaniard, and the indio will always be an indio…The monkey will always be a monkey however you dress him with shirt and trousers, and will always be a monkey and not human” (Ibid).

To prove that indios were not inferior people, some talented and intelligent Filipinos excelled in their chosen fields. Juan Luna excelled in painting. Fr. Jose Burgos in Theology and Canon Law. Jose Rizal, by surpassing the Spanish writers in literary contests and winning fame as a physician, man-of-letters, scholar, and a scientist, proved that a brown man could be as great or even greater than a white man (Zaide 1999:211).

The decline of the Spanish rule in the 19th century and the popularity of Rizal and his reform agenda were products of an interplay of various economic, social, political and cultural forces both in the global and local scale. The three great revolutions, namely: Industrial, French and American as well the birth of the social sciences and liberal ideas had gradually secularized societies in the 19th century and thereby weakened the influence of religion in people’s mind, especially the well-educated reformists and ilustrados. The political turmoil in Spain caused by the rapid change of leadership and struggle between conservatives and liberals had also weakened the Spanish administration in the Philippines. Although the influence of the Catholic Church in the 19th century led by the friars had not diminished, the liberal and progressive ideas of Rizal and the reformists had already awakened the nationalist sentiment of the natives that soon became the catalyst for political change in the late 19th century.


I. CONCEPT RECALL. Write on the blank the letter of the word or phrase that best fits

the given statement.

______ 1. This refers to the period in the 16th century when Spain became the most powerful

country in the world.

A. Siglo de Oro B) Golden Era C) Glorious Years D) Jubilee Year

______ 2. These were not considered Filipinos during the Spanish period.

A. Insulares B. Peninsulares C. Indios D. Mestizos

______ 3. This is an economic revolution that changed the economy of Europe in the 19th

century from feudalism to capitalism.

A. American B. French C. Industrial D. Socialism

______ 4. This political revolution that started in France changed the political landscape in

Europe from monarchy to democracy.

A. American B. French C. Industrial D. Socialism

_______ 5. This refers to the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which

the 13 colonies overthrew the rule of the British Empire and rejected the British


A. French Revolution B. British revolution

C. American Revolution D. Industrial revolution

_______6. This refers to a time in Western philosophy and cultural life in 18th century in which

reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority.

A. Thomism B. Enlightenment C. Secularism D. Existentialism

_______ 7. This term refers to the rule of the friars during the Spanish regime.

A. Frailocracy B. Friarcracy C. Friarocracy D. Friarlocracy

_______ 8. With the opening of this canal, the distance of travel between Europe and the

Philippines was significantly shortened and brought the country closer to Spain.

A. Panama B. Suez C. Granada D. Cadiz

_______ 9. He was the first liberal and democratic governor general during the Spanish period.

A. Nozaleda B. Polavieja C. De la Torre D. Corcuerca

_______ 10. He was the leader of the 200 soldiers who staged the Cavite Mutiny.

A. Procupio B. Madrid C. Burgos D. Lamadrid

II. DISCRIMINATION. Write the letter of the item that does not belong to the group.

________ 1. A. Burgos B. Pelaez C. Gomez D. Zamora

________ 2. A. Polo B. Encomienda C. Tribute D. Abuses

________ 3. A. French B. Industrial C. Spanish D. American

________ 4. A. Sociology B. Anthropology C. Biology D. History

________ 5. A. Montesquieu B. Rousseau C. Plato D. Jefferson

III. FREE-FORM. Answer the following essay questions briefly.

  1. Discuss how the significance of the following revolution to the world and to the Philippines in the 19th century:

A. Industrial Revolution


B. French Revolution


C. American


  1. Discuss how the following problems and institutions contributed to the growth of Filipino nationalism and weakening of the Spanish rule:

A. Opening of the Suez Canal


B. Discontent with Spanish Institutions


C. Abuses and Immoralities of the Friars


D. Racial Discrimination



I. Reflection Paper

Write a two-page, double-spaced, word-processed reflection paper on relevance of Rizal’s nationalism to the present political problems of the country answering the following guide questions:

1. Is Rizal’s nationalist ideal still applicable to the Philippine situation today? Why or why not?

2. Like Rizal during 19th century, what would you do today to address our country’s problem on corruption and abuse of power?

II. Short Video/Slide Production

Form a small group of 4 or 5 members and make a short one (1) to two (2) minutes video or slide production which promotes Jose Rizal’s nationalist aspirations especially for the youth. You can edit it using a moviemaker editing software. This will be presented in class.

Criteria for Grading:

Originality - - - - - - - 20 %

Message - - - - - - - - - 30 %

Creativity - - - - - - - - 30%

Audience Impact - - - - - - 20%




Agoncillo, Teodoro A. (1990). History of the Filipino People. Quezon City: Garotech


De la Costa, Horacio (1965). Readings in Philippine History. Manila: Bookmark.

Maguigad, Rogelio and Muhi, Estrellita (2001). Brief History of the Filipino People. Manila: V.

Valencia Enterprise.

Romero, Ma. Corona ( 1978). Rizal and the Development of National Consciousness. Quezon

City: JMC Press, Inc.

Schumacher, John N. (1997). The Propaganda Movement 1880-1895. Quezon City: Ateneo de

Manila University Press.

_________ (1993) Philippine Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Quezon City: Philippine

Social Science Council.

Zaide, Sonia M. (1999). The Philippines, a Unique Nation. Quezon City: All-Nations Publishing

Co., Inc.




  2. Complete for my research paper in Rizal 😀😀😀😀 thanks

  3. Complete for my research paper in Rizal 😀😀😀😀 thanks

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