The Spanish colonial policy was
virtually designed not only to keep
Philippines under control but also
to exploit her rich natural
resources. The onerous system of
taxation, the arbitrary and unjust
forced labor, the monopolistic
galleon trade and stringent trade
and agricultural policies,
consequently brought about a
distorted and unbalanced economy.
This is the power of the state to impose and collect revenue for
public purpose to promote the welfare of the people of the
One of the laws promulgated by the Indies promulgated by the
Spanish crown was to require conquered inhabitants to pay
tribute in recognition of the Spanish sovereignty. For so many
years, the Filipinos paid tribute amounting to eight reales or
one peso. In 1589, it was increased to ten reales and to twelve in
1851, but finally, abolished in 1884 and was replaced with a
personal cedula tax.
Bandala- natives were coerced to sell their harvest to the
government at very low price.
Polo- the dehumanizing labor where the Spanish government
required all male healthy and physically able between ages 16- 60
to render service for forty days.
Polistas- the natives who rendered forces labor. They were
not paid daily wages and food ration during their working days.
Falla- a fee given to Spaniards to become exepted in
rendering labor force.
Established by Jose Basco Y Vargas in 1781the increase in
revenues of the government through the cultivation of tobacco
became a profitable venture that leads to Mexico to be
The cultivation of tobacco was confined to Nueva Ecija, Cagayan
Valley, Marinduque, and Ilocos Provinces.
The tobacco monopoly brought a considerable profit but the
situation of Philippines didn’t changed. Instead, I brought so much
problem and hardness in life of every Filipinos.
The Galleon Trade
Long before the Spaniards came into the Philippines, the
Filipinos had been trading with different countries, by
virtue of the doctrine of mercantilism, the Spanish
authority closed trade relations with other countries and
allowed only two countries, China and Mexico.
Obras Pias- a Foundation where money from trade
was invested and appropriated to be given to charitable
The encomienda was the right extended by the King upon a
Spaniard who had helped to facilitate the settlement of the territory.
By implication, it was a public office and the person was preferred to
as encomiendero, a holder of encomienda and empowered to
collect taxes from the people under his jurisdiction. In return, under
the laws of the Indies, he was obliged to protect and defend the
people under him against aggression and danger and helped to
convert the natives to Catholicism.
The Encomienderos abused their right by way of forcing the natives
to pay tribute beyond what the law prescribed.
The thunderous and public outcry against the behavior
of encomienderos led to some humane ecclesiastical
officials to inform the king about this unlawful
practices. The clergy were Domingo Salazar, first
bishop of Manila and Martin de Rada, superior of
the Augustinians in the Philippines. The condemned
these encomienderos and held them responsible for the
various violence and atrocities committed against the
On the economic retrogression of the colony, the Spaniards blamed
the indolence, which was inherent of the Filipino character, their
inability for learning, and their perceived congenital inferiority of the
Indios. Nevertheless, this was promptly debunked by Fathers Pedro
Chirino and Antonio De Morga, about the allegation of the Spaniards
by attesting to the marked growth and development of agriculture,
trade and industry, skill and ingenuity of the natives. The economic
retrogression was the government’s imposition of numerous taxes
and its utter insensitiveness to render service upon which taxes were
This was considered as one of the administrative accomplishment
had done by Spain for the people of the colony.
This move was affected by Bishop Domingo Salazar and various
heads of religious orders to ask the King to abolish slavery. The
Bishop and other religious orders signed a document accusing
the Spaniards in the Philippines about the maltreatment of the
Filipinos as slaves in the hands of the colonizers which was
directly contrary to the law of God and the laws of the Indies.
King Philip II, after hearing and evaluating the document, issued
the Royal Decreeof August 9, 1589, emancipating all slaves in the
Culture embraced language, art and religion.
Only the wealthy and educated middle class Filipinos learned to
write and speak in Spanish.
Philippine Literature was predominantly religious in tone,
character and moral quality.
The first printing press was introduced by friars in Manila in 1593
and in the same year, printed the first book in the Philippines, the
The early Filipino printers were engravers and at the same time
who were trained by Spanish missionaries. Among them was
Tomas Pinpin of Mabatang, Abucay, Bataan, Siete Infantes and
Among the Filipinos who distinguished themselves in the fields
of Philippine literature were Jose Dela Cruz (Husing Sisiw 1746-
1829) and Francisco Baltazar (1789-1862). The Florante at Laura’s
“awit” allegorically exposed the Spanish wrong doings in the
On visual arts like painting and architecture interests also
focused on religion. Felix Resurrection Hidaldo, won a silver
medal for his Christian Virgins Exposed and Juan Luna
received his first gold medal for his Spolarium as their entries
for Madrigal Exposition of Fine Arts.
With the help of the soldiers, the missionaries easily
conquered territories of the colony and converted the
natives to Christianity.
The various missionaries who used their religious influence
to facilitate the teaching of Gospel and propagation of
Catholic Christian faith were the Augustinians (1565), the
Franciscans (1577), the Jesuits (1581), the Dominicans (1587),
and the Recollects (1606).
The Filipino conversion to Christianity inevitably meant the adoption of
fiesta as a socio- religious event celebrating the feast day of the
patron saint of the Catholic town as an occasion of thanksgiving for a
bountiful harvest and other blessings.
The Spaniards introduced western architecture with some
modifications to suit the prevailing conditions. Many Philippine
churches show influence of the baroque style, having massive
walls and thick buttress and spiral motifs, ornate sculpture
façade and graceful, curving balustrades.
Education in the Philippines during the Spanish era was not open to all
Filipinos. The Spanish government had absolutely no intention of training the
natives for eventual independence and self- government. During this period,
some schools were exclusively established for education of some Spanish
nationals in the archipelago. They were open only for the people belonged
to the upper social and economics class of society.
University of Santo Tomas- oldest pontifical university in the Philippines
founded by Dominicans in 1611
Colegio De San Juan De Letran- founded in 1601
Colegio De Sta. Potentiana- 1589
Colegio De Sta. Isabel- 1632
College of La Concordia- 1869
Assumption Convent- 1892
In 1863, the Spanish government enacted and implemented an educational
reform primarily designed to improve the state of education throughout the
archipelago. The decree provided for the establishment of at least one school
for boys and one for girls in every town. The decree also provided for the
establishment of a normal school for male teachers under the supervision of
the Jesuits and created a commission of eight members headed by the
Governor General. Instruction in the primary level for both boys and girls
was free and the teaching of Spanish is Compulsory.
A few years later, the Spaniards developed the fear that the natives will
understand the value of education in relation to truth and fairness and they
may turn in foment rebellion. This move from the Spanish authority literally
negated the philosophy of education.
The abolition of Galleon trade in 1815 and the separation of
Mexico from Spain made it necessary for the Spanish Government
to engage in trading relations with other countries. The
government also allowed foreign investors to establish residence
in the Philippines. Spain opened its ports in Manila and other parts
of the country. Foreign banking institutions and other lending and
credit facilities were open. Roads and bridges were built, shipping
lines, inter islands and overseas were improved and
communication system were upgraded.
The opening of the Philippines to world trade and with the
emergence of multifarious forces, e.g., scientific and technological,
industrial, economic, social, and political resulted in economic
changes and prosperity that improved the quality of life of the