Encomienda System

Topics: Spain, Spanish language, Encomienda Pages: 3 (698 words) Published: August 17, 2013
Christine Marie A. Aroña BSA 2A


In elementary and high school classes, Filipino students are generally taught that an encomienda was a piece of land given to a Spaniard for a certain period of time. Included on that land are the indios (natives) who were the original settlers. The receiver of the encomienda is called an encomendero. The encomendero had the right to exploit the natives for labor but without enslaving them.

Unfortunately, it is hardly taught that an encomienda was a quid pro quo affair. What is hardly taught these days is that it was the duty of the encomendero to protect the natives from tribal enemies, to educate them, i.e., to teach them the Spanish language, and to indoctrinate them into the Christian faith.

To wit, an encomienda was a legal system employed by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor. And this system was later applied to the Philippines. HARDLY SLAVERY!

In this scheme, the Spanish crown grants the encomendero a specified number of indios (for a limited time period) for whom they were to take responsibility by accomplishing the aforementioned duties. That is why it is called an encomienda in the first place: it is from the Spanish verb “encomendar” which means “to entrust”. In return, the encomendero could extract labor from their wards in the form of labor, gold (if available), or other products (mainly agricultural produce). Unfortunately, many Spanish encomenderos committed abuses such as brutal treatment of the Filipinos, collecting more tribute than that authorized by law, forcing the people to work for them, and seizure of the people’s animals and crops without just compensation. Many natives were forced to do hard labor and subjected to extreme punishment and death if they resisted.

Because of the abuses of encomenderos, much bad feeling resulted. First, peace and order, which the colonizers and the early...
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