Spain and Portugal were the two superpowers who pushed through their ultimate goals to discover the rest of the world. These nations, with their greed for material wealth, set colonies in the Americas, Africa and East Asia to establish their powers to greater heights.
Because of a high demand for exotic spices in Europe, Spain was forced to circumnavigate the world in search for the Spice Islands (Muruku Islands) with an ultimate goal which was to accumulate wealth through mercantilist trade and to expand the rule of Spain throughout the corners of the globe. Because of this, Spain met the islands of the Philippines. The rediscovery of our country by Magellan on March 17, 1521, marks a new age in our history. After this discovery, Spain sent various expeditions for the conquest and colonization of our country, namely the Loaisa expedition (1525), the Cabot expedition (1526), the Saavedra expedition (1527), the Villalobos expedition (1542), and the Legazpi expedition (1564).
It was the Legazpi expedition which succeeded in colonizing our country and establishing Spanish rule. Spain had three aims in colonizing our country, namely (1) to spread Christianity, (2) material wealth, and (3) to acquire political glory.
Under Spanish rule our country developed religiously, economically, politically, and culturally. Our land acquired a national name ¬¬¬¬- Filipinas. Our people came to be known as Filipinos. Towns, cities, provinces, schools, hospitals and charitable institutions were established. New plants and animals, the Christian religion and Spanish civilization, and new industries were introduced. Domestic and foreign trades with China and Japan were fostered. Communication and transportation were improved.
Our country during the Spanish reign was a crown colony of Spain, in the sense that it belonged to the Spanish crown. From 1565 to 1821, our archipelago was governed by the Viceroy of Mexico in the name of the Spanish king. All officials, royal decrees, and troops for the Philippines came from Mexico. It was also the Mexican viceroy, not the king of Spain, who sent the annual subsidy to Manila to cover up the annual deficit of the Philippine government. In 1821 Mexico won her independence from Spain, so that from this year to 1898, Spain directly ruled our country.
Spain as a colonizing power was marred by certain defects such as (1) inefficiency and corruption in the colonial government, (2) abuses by the friars, (3) racial discrimination against our people, (4) denial of human rights to Filipinos, and (5) inequality of Spaniards and Filipinos before the law.
These colonial defects, however, were offset by the good things done by Spain in our country. By and large, we owe her a lasting debt of gratitude. She gave the majority of the people a great religion, taught us how to build more durable buildings, roads, and trade facilities, introduced new crops and livestock and better methods of farming, and brought our people into contact with the western culture.
Settlement Patterns Before and During the Spanish Period
During the Pre-Colonial period, the social unit in the Philippine islands was the barangay which comes from the Malay term balangay meaning boat. They were headed by a datu or the village chief. Barangays were generally small and consisted of thirty to one hundred houses and the population varied from one hundred to five hundred persons. The largest barangay was Manila which had two thousand inhabitants at the time of the Spanish conquest.
Communities were coastal, near-coastal and riverine in orientation. This was because the principal sources of protein came from the seas and rivers; people rely more on fishing than on hunting. People travelled principally by water, the movement of the population were across rivers and along the coasts. Trails followed by the streams; neither roads nor any wheeled vehicles were there. It was in the coastal communities that were more...
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