The Philippines was governed by Spain through a viceroy from Mexico. The highest office was that of the Governor-General, the chief executive of the Spanish colonial government, appointed by the Spanish king. The town is managed by a gobernadorcillo. The barangay is the smallest political unit under a cabeza de barangay. The social hierarchy was in this order: at the top were the peninsulares or the Spaniards from Spain, next were the insulares, Spaniards born in the Philippines and also called Filipinos, the mestizos, born of Spanish and Chinese descent, at the bottom were the indios, the local inhabitants. A total of 300 insurections and rebellions by the Filipinos all over the achipelago were recorded in the more than 3000 years of Spanish colonialization. 19th century was defined by liberal thinking for the following reasons: 1)Mexico rebelled against Spain and this brought revolutionary thinking to Manila; 2) the opening of the Suez Canal made the trip to Manila from Europe faster thereby bringing liberal ideas to the Philippines; and 3) rise of the middle class Liberalism is a set of political beliefs which puts primary consideration on the freedom and rights of the individual which includes the freedom of speck, of expression and of the press. In 1869, Carlos Maria de la Torre became the first liberal governor-general of the Philippines. For two year, until 1871, he instituted liberal reforms that benefited the Filipino middle class. Padre Jose Burgos campaigned for the Filipinization of the parochial churches in the Philippines and asked for the expulsion of friars back to Spain. The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 was used to condemn Frs. Burgos, Zamora, and Gomez to death by garrote or musketry. The martyrdom of Gomburza was winessed by Paciano Rizal, Jose’s brother. Rizal’s first novel Noli Me Tangere was dedicated to the martyred priests.
The economic policies of Gov. Gen. Jose Basco y Vargas opened the Philippines to the world market. These economic policies were the galleon trade and the monopolies of tobacco, wine and gambling. The galleon trade made Mexico Philippines’ trade partner. The route of the trade was from manila to Acapulco and back. From Acapulco, Mexico the Philippines got its silver and gold coins while the Philippines exported tobacco, wine, sugar and goods from China. The Philippines was the bridge of Asia to Europe and this trade allowed the emergence of the Filipino middle class composed mainly by insulares and mestizos. The encomienda system was transformed into Hacienda system wherein the vast tracks of land were devoted for the planting of single crops for export.(e.g. Ilocos for tobacco, Negros for sugar cane, etc.)
The first banks in the Philippines were managed by Spanish friars knows as Obras Pias. This banks lent money to the members of middle class which were used by them as capital for their export business. The first rural bank established was the Rodriguez Bank. The Mercado family was a typical middle class family of the 19th century who rented land from the Dominican friars.
Schools and universities were opened and managed by Spanish friars. The most popular among them were the Ateneo de Municipal under the Jesuit fathers and Universidad de Santo Tomas under the Dominican friars.
There were schools for boys and girls. For boys, schools teach history, languages, humanities, medicine, theology and law. While for girls, shools offer courses for dress making, home making, cooking and gardening.