Spanish Colonization

Topics: Philippines, Manila, Viceroyalty of New Spain Pages: 9 (2983 words) Published: December 2, 2012
Spanish Colonization
Early Spanish expeditions

Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521.

The Philippine islands first came to the attention of Europeans with the Spanish expedition around the world led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Magellan landed on the island of Cebu, claiming the lands for Spain and naming them Islas de San Lazaro. He set up friendly relations with some of the local chieftains and converted some of them to Roman Catholicism. However, Magellan was killed by natives, led by a local chief named Lapu-Lapu, who go up against foreign domination.

Over the next several decades, other Spanish expeditions were send off to the islands. In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos led an expedition to the islands and gave the name Las Islas Filipinas (after Philip II of Spain) to the islands of Samar and Leyte. The name would later be given to the entire archipelago. Spanish colonization

Permanent Spanish settlement was not established until 1565 when an expedition led by the Conquistadores, Miguel López de Legazpi, arrived in Cebu from Mexico (New Spain). Spanish leadership was soon established over many small independent communities that previously had known no central rule. Six years later, following the defeat of the local Muslim ruler, Rajah Solayman, Legazpi established a capital at Manila, a location that offered the excellent harbor of Manila Bay, a large population, and proximity to the ample food supplies of the central Luzon rice lands. Manila became the center of Spanish government, including military, religious, and commercial activities in the islands. Despite the opposition of the Portuguese, who desired to maintain their monopoly on East Indies trade, the Spanish had secured a foothold in the Philippines, which became their outpost as the Spanish East Indies. The Philippines was administered as a province of New Spain until Mexican independence (1821).

Occupation of the islands was accomplished with relatively little bloodshed, partly because most of the population (except the Muslims) offered little armed resistance initially. A significant problem the Spanish faced was the subjugation of the Muslims of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The Muslims, in response to attacks on them from the Spanish and their native allies, raided areas of Luzon and the Visayas that were under Spanish colonial control. The Spanish conducted intermittent military campaigns against the Muslims, but without conclusive results until the middle of the 19th century.

Church and state were inseparably linked in Spanish policy, with the state assuming responsibility for religious establishments. One of Spain's objectives in colonizing the Philippines was the conversion of the local population to Roman Catholicism. The work of conversion was facilitated by the absence of other organized religions, except for Islam, which predominated in the south. The pageantry of the church had a wide appeal, reinforced by the incorporation of Filipino social customs into religious observances. The eventual outcome was a new Roman Catholic majority of the main Austronesian lowland population, from which the Muslims of Mindanao and the upland tribal peoples of Luzon remained detached and alienated (such as the Ifugaos of the Cordillera region and the Mangyans of Mindoro).

At the lower levels of administration, the Spanish built on traditional village organization by co-opting local leaders. This system of indirect rule helped create a Filipino upper class, called the principalia, who had local wealth, high status, and other privileges. This perpetuated an oligarchic system of local control. Among the most significant changes under Spanish rule was that the Filipino idea of communal use and ownership of land was replaced with the concept of private ownership and the conferring of titles on members of the principalia.

The Philippines was not profitable as a colony, and a long war with the Dutch in the...
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