Project Gutenberg’s The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, by E.H. Blair ilustrisimo lameco
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Title: The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803
       Volume III, 1569-1576

Author: E.H. Blair

Release Date: December 6, 2004 [EBook #13616]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the PG Distributed Proofreaders Team.

The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803


Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the beginning of the nineteenth century


Volume III, 1569–1576

Edited and annotated by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson with historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord Bourne.

Page 1

Contents of Volume III

Page 4

1 This document is printed in both Spanish text and English translation.


  • Portrait of Fray Martin de Rada, O.S.A.; photographic reproduction of painting in possession of Colegio de Agustinos Filipinos, Valladolid. … Frontispiece
  • Landing of the Spaniards at Cebú, in 1565; photographic reproduction of a painting at the Colegio de Agustinos Filipinos, Valladolid. … 35
  • Map showing the first landing-place of Legazpi in the Philippines; photographic facsimile of original (manuscript) map, contained in the pilots’ log-book of the voyage, preserved in the Archivo General de Indias, at Sevilla. … 47
  • “Asiae nova descriptio” (original in colors), map in Theatrum orbis terrarum, by Abraham Ortelius (Antverpiae, M. D. LXX), fol. 3; reduced photographic facsimile, from copy in Boston Public Library. … 86, 87

Page 5


The documents presented in this volume cover the last three years of Legazpi’s administration in the islands, the governorship of Guido de Lavezaris, and the beginning of that of Francisco de Sande. In the brief period which we thus far survey, the first decade of Spanish occupation (1565–75), are already disclosed the main elements of the oriental problem of today: the conflicting claims of powerful European nations, striving for advantage and monopoly in the rich trade of the East; the eagerness of unscrupulous Europeans to subjugate the wealthy but comparatively defenseless Chinese people, and the efforts of the latter to exclude foreigners from their country; the relations between the dominant whites and the weaker colored races; the characteristics, racial and local, of the various oriental peoples; the Chinese migration to the islands; and the influence of the missionaries. Interesting comparisons may be made between the conquests by the Spaniards in the Philippines and those made at an earlier period in New Spain.

The royal treasurer in the Philippines, Guido de Lavezaris, writes (June 5, 1569) to Felipe II, describing the Portuguese attack on Cebú in the preceding autumn, and briefly mentioning some other Page 6matters. A letter from another official, Andrés de Mirandaola (dated three days later), informs the king of the wreck of a vessel despatched to Spain with a rich cargo of spices; and he too describes briefly the encounter with the Portuguese. The danger of another attack leads the Spaniards to remove their camp to Panay, as being safer than Cebú. Mirandaola pleads for reënforcements, and asks that soldiers, of more industrious sort than hitherto, be sent to the islands. He also gives some interesting information about China and its people; and asks for an increase of his salary.

A letter from Legazpi (July 1, 1569) to the viceroy of New Spain describes the difficulties between the Portuguese and Spaniards at Cebú, and complains of Pereira’s hostile actions there. The settlement has been removed to Panay; they send their only remaining ship to New Spain, to entreat aid in their distress and imminent danger, for the Portuguese threaten to drive the Spaniards out of the Philippines. All the expense hitherto incurred will be wasted unless a permanent and suitably-equipped settlement be made at some good port. If supplies cannot be sent, Legazpi asks for ships with which to transport the Spaniards home, and wishes to resign his office as governor. With this letter he sends an account of the islands, “and of the character and condition of their inhabitants.” The natives are unreliable, and utterly slothful. Cinnamon is the only product of the islands which can be made profitable to the Spaniards, until they can secure control of the gold mines, and have them worked. Legazpi offers practical advice as to the best methods of treating the natives, conducting commerce, etc. His title of Page 7governor in Cebú is confirmed (August 14, 1569) by royal decree.

A letter from Fray Diego de Herrera (January 16, 1570) to Felipe II gives a brief account of events since Legazpi arrived at the islands. He praises the courage and loyalty of the soldiers, and asks the king to reward them; and asserts that the hostilities of the Portuguese must be checked before much can be done to convert the natives. A document without signature narrates the events of “the voyage to Luzón” in May, 1570. It is a simple but picturesque account of the campaign which resulted in the conquest of Luzón and the foundation of Spanish Manila—evidently written by one who participated in those stirring events. The Moros (Mahometans) of Manila profess a readiness to make a treaty of peace with the Spaniards; but they treacherously begin an attack on the latter—which, however, results in their own defeat. The Spaniards capture the city and set it on fire, which compels the Moros to abandon it. The victors make compacts of peace with the neighboring villages, and return to Panay. Illustrative of this episode is the “act of taking possession of Luzón,” dated June 6, 1570.

A letter from Legazpi to the king (July 25, 1570) outlines the events of the past year. He renews his entreaties for some light-oared vessels, in which he could send exploring parties through the archipelago. In pursuance of a royal order, he sends back to Mexico the Portuguese who are among his troops; but he cannot banish the other foreigners, as they include his best workmen. He asks royal favor and rewards for some of his officers. On October 21 of the same year, he despatches to the king a formal Page 8complaint that Pereira had again appeared at the Spanish settlement (now in Panay), and demolished its fortifications.

A writer unknown gives an outline of the controversies regarding the Line of Demarcation, and of the Spanish discoveries in the Philippines, and the voyages made between the archipelago and Mexico, up to 1571. Lists of supplies needed [1571?] for the struggling colony forcibly indicate the difference between the wants of civilized Europeans and those of the semi-barbarous tribes in the Philippines.

Another picturesque account of the reduction of Luzón is furnished (April 20, 1572) by an unknown writer, who claims to have obtained his information from actual participants in that campaign. He mentions various interesting details not included in the earlier account, and narrates occurrences after the conquest of Manila. Legazpi goes to that place (May, 1571) to establish his official residence; the natives at his approach set fire to the village, which they had rebuilt after its destruction by the Spaniards in the preceding year. The seat of government for the archipelago is founded there; and amicable relations (involving the payment of tribute by the natives) are established between the Spaniards and the people of some neighboring villages. Other communities refuse to make submission, and defy the invaders; but they are successively reduced to subjection by the Spaniards. After narrating these transactions, the writer gives a brief description of the people of Luzón, their mode of dress, religious rites, and various customs; and makes commendatory mention of the Chinese who have settled on that island, who are now converted to the Christian faith. Page 9He then enumerates the islands thus far explored by the Spaniards, mentioning their principal resources and products. In June, 1572, Legazpi formally establishes the Spanish city of Manila, and appoints municipal officers.

An official statement is made by Legazpi’s son Melchior, royal accountant in New Spain (March 2, 1573), of the expenses attending the Philippine enterprise during the past four years. Layezaris makes report (June 29, 1573) of Legazpi’s death (August 20 preceding), and of affairs in the islands since then. Allotments of lands which include the natives who reside thereon (known as “repartimientos” or “encomiendas”), are being made in the islands, as fast as they are pacified. Most of Luzón is now subdued; its resources are great, and will maintain numerous Spanish settlements. The Chinese trade with its ports is extensive, and steadily increasing; and those traders are bringing wares of better quality than formerly. Lavezaris complains of Portuguese hostility and intrigues; a Bornean king also has attempted an expedition against the Spaniards. The governor sends a cargo of cinnamon to Felipe; if only he had ships in which to transport that precious commodity, he could ruin the Portuguese trade therein. This enterprising official has sent to New Spain plants of ginger, tamarind, cinnamon, and pepper; the first two are already flourishing there. He suggests that it would be well to send to the islands Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries, to continue the conversion of the natives, already begun by the Augustinians. He asks rewards for his officers, as having faithfully served the king amid great dangers and hardships—especially Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo. He Page 10advises that municipal officers be changed annually to prevent abuses.

A Spanish captain, Diego de Artieda, writes (1573) a “Relation of the Western Islands.” He enumerates the islands thus far discovered by the Spaniards, describing their location, appearance, and natural resources. He adds much curious information about the natives—concerning their religious beliefs and rites, customs, mode of dress, weapons, food, industries, social condition, etc. Artieda notes all that he has been able to learn concerning Japan and China, with interesting details as to their civilization, and the skill of the Chinese as artisans; he mentions the antiquity of printing among them. He offers to conduct an armed expedition against the coast of China, if the king will supply him with two vessels and eighty soldiers. He advises that Spain abandon the attempt to establish a footing in the Philippines, or else that she ignore the Treaty of Zaragoza and trade with the Moluccas.

Martin Enriquez, viceroy of New Spain, writes (December 5, 1573) to Felipe II, announcing the arrival of ships with despatches from the Philippines. With them has come the Augustinian friar Diego de Herrera, who is on his way to Spain to inform the king of the acts of violence and injustice which are being committed in the islands—especially by the soldiers, who receive no pay and therefore maintain themselves by raids on the native villages. Several Spanish officers have been sent thence to Mexico, by way of punishment for various misdemeanors; from them the viceroy has obtained much information, which he records for the king’s benefit. The resources of the Philippines are great; but “every one Page 11asserts that the chief deficiency of that land is justice; and without justice there is no safety.” A new governor is needed there. Reënforcements and supplies have been sent thither from New Spain every year; but many persons die, and there has been little increase of population. The riches of China incline some of the Spaniards to plan for its subjugation to Spanish power. Commerce with that land would be very desirable; but the viceroy cannot persuade Spanish merchants to embark therein, on the uncertain and vague reports thus far received; moreover, the Chinese already possess all the goods that the Spaniards would export to them. Enriquez asks that some large ships be provided for the Philippine trade, for which he has no vessels of adequate size. He sends to the king a cargo of gold, spices, silks, wax, and other goods. He asks that artillery and rigging be sent him, and supplies for a reënforcement which he is planning to despatch next year to the Philippines. He requests the king to reward the faithful services rendered by Legazpi; and to do so by providing for his daughters, now of marriageable age, and giving to his son Melchior some grant in New Spain. The viceroy asks for orders in various matters, especially in regard to the Inquisition; and enumerates the documents he sends with this letter.

Andrés de Mirandaola writes (January 8, 1574) to the king. He enumerates the gold mines thus far discovered in the Philippines, and the advantages possessed by the islands; and urges the establishment of Spanish power therein. He describes, as well as he can from reports, the extent and resources of China, and hints that Spain might find it worth while to conquer that rich kingdom. Page 12

Of much interest is the brief narrative (sent from Mexico January 11, 1574) by Fernando Riquel, Legazpi’s notary, of events in the islands during 1570–73. The governor founds a town in Cebú, and allots to his followers the land and the natives who reside thereon. In April, 1571 he conducts an expedition for the conquest of Luzón (the events of which have been related in previous documents). Riquel mentions the coming of the ships, Legazpi’s death, and other events. The islands are in a peaceful condition; the lands are allotted in such districts as have been pacified; there is promise of an abundant income from the tributary natives; and the gold mines are very rich. The Chinese trade is described; and Riquel thinks that China, notwithstanding its great population, could be subjugated “with less than sixty good Spanish soldiers.” His narrative is followed by a list of the articles carried in the ships which bear his letters—gold, spices, silks, cotton cloth, and porcelain.

On June 21, 1574 Felipe II bestows on Luzón the title of “New kingdom of Castilla,” and on Manila that of “Distinguished and ever loyal city;” and permits the establishment of a new municipal office. On the same day Fray Martin de Rada, provincial of the Augustinians in the Philippines, gives his written opinion regarding the exaction by the Spaniards of tributes from the Indians. He declares that he and all his brethren regard the conquests made in these islands as unjust; and denounces the acts of injustice, oppression, and extortion committed against the helpless natives. Rada asserts that the rate of tribute is three times as high as it ought to be, considering the poverty of the Indians; and urges the Page 13governor to reduce the amount levied to one-third of the present exaction, and to protect the natives from oppression.

Lavezaris and other officials at Manila undertake to defend themselves from Rada’s accusations, writing (probably very soon after his “Opinion”) a letter to the king to state their side of the contention. They deny some of Rada’s statements, and excuse their action in other matters, casting the blame for many evils on the treachery of the natives. They claim that they are protecting the friendly Indians, and have nearly broken up the robbery and piracy formerly prevalent among those peoples. They assert that the natives are well supplied with food, clothing, and gold, and that the tribute levied is moderate, and not a burden on the people; also that it is regulated according to the relative wealth of different classes and regions. This is illustrated by interesting quotations of prices and values, and enumeration of goods obtained in trade, and of the products of native industry. The officials admit that the natives pay tribute only under compulsion, but say, “They like to be compelled to do so;” and they consider all poverty among the Indians as due to laziness and drunkenness. It is also far better for them to pay tribute than to be raided by the Spanish soldiers for the means of supporting themselves, as was done before the encomiendas were made.

Two letters from Lavezaris (July 17 and 30, 1574) give account of the past year’s events. Juan de Salcedo has conquered the rich province of Los Camarines in Luzón; and the governor will try to found a Spanish settlement there. The town founded at Cebú was almost deserted by the Spaniards; but Page 14Lavezaris obliges them to return thither and aids them in their poverty. He hopes to establish commerce with Borneo and eventually to found a Spanish post in that island; and has other plans for increasing the domination of Spain in the East Indies. Juan de Salcedo has subdued the province of Ilocos, and founded the town of Fernandina. The Chinese trade is steadily increasing. The natives of Luzón are being rapidly converted, and missionaries are needed to care for their souls; Lavezaris especially recommends the Theatins for this work. He forwards a cargo of cinnamon to the king, to which he adds various curiosities, and specimens of oriental jewelry; and sends to New Spain certain plants and roots of economic value, which he desires to introduce there. He has been obliged to send Mirandaola to New Spain under arrest; so the office of factor is vacant, and should be filled. An attorney-general is also needful in the islands. Lavezaris complains of the Augustinian friars for opposing the collection of tributes from the natives. Some reënforcements have come from New Spain. Upon receiving this letter, the royal Council orders that arrangements be made to furnish necessary supplies for the islands from New Spain. Another copy of the document is forwarded to Spain, to which, as it goes on a later vessel, the governor adds some further items of news. Salçedo has pacified not only Los Camarines, but Albay and the island of Catanduanes. The prospect is excellent for the establishment and prosperity of Spanish colonies in the island of Luzón. The governor sends with his letter maps of Luzón and the coast of China. A letter (undated) from Lavezaris enumerates the reasons for which persons are enslaved among the Page 15native tribes. He advises that the Spaniards adopt this institution; otherwise, “this land cannot be preserved.”

An undated letter (1575?) by the same official, to the viceroy of New Spain, mentions the orders given by the latter that all Indians and negroes carried from the islands must be returned. Some Chinese junks have been seized and pillaged. As a result, the trade which was flourishing between the Spaniards and the Moros of Luzón has been almost destroyed for the time—a serious matter, for the Moros supply the Spaniards with provisions. Lavezaris asks that more married men be sent to the islands. Some remarkably fine pearls have been obtained near Bantayán. He asks the viceroy to provide him with a cipher code for future communications.

Captain Juan Pacheco Maldonado sends to Felipe II (probably in 1575) a report on the condition and needs of the Spanish colony in the Philippines. He begins by narrating briefly the conquest of Luzón; then describes the island and its trade, which is carried on with both China and Japan. On account of its wealth and importance, Luzón should be thoroughly subjugated; and Maldonado enumerates the provisions that should be made for that end. Forty or fifty ecclesiastics should be sent; and to aid in their labors a prelate should be app

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