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April 30, 2022

In 1830, 7 new ports were opened as an experiment. But due to great frauds in the tolls, they were soon closed again.

This was followed by a custom-house for foreing trade in:

  • Zamboanga in 1831
  • Sual in the Gulf of Lingayen, one of the safest harbours on the west coast of Luzon in 1855
  • Iloílo in Panay in 1855
  • Cebú in 1863

Before 1635, the Spaniards had established a fort at Zamboanga, which reduced the piratical excursions.

In anticipation of an attack by Koxinga, all the available forces, including those of Zamboanga, were collected around Manila. The Moro attacked the island with 60 ships, whereas formerly their armaments used not to exceed six or eight ships. Torrubia, p. 363.

Until 1848, 800-1,500 people have been carried off by the Moro.†


The Zamboanga custom-house was therefore based on political rather than commercial motives, for easy access to the piratical states of the Sulu Sea for selling their products.

Trade, up to the present date, is very small. The exports consist chiefly of a little coffee (in 1871 nearly 6,000 picos), which, from bad management, is worth 30% less than Manila coffee.

and of the collected products of the forest and of the water, such as wax, birds’-nests, tortoise-shell, pearls, mother-of-pearl, and edible holothuria.

The Zamboanga and Sulu trade is entirely in the hands of the Chinese, who alone possess the patience, adaptiveness, and adroitness which are required for it.


Suál is especially important for its rice exports. Its foreign trade is therefore affected by the results of the harvests in Saigon, Burma, and China.

In 1868, when the harvests in those countries turned out good, Suál carried on only a coasting trade.


Cebú has a population of 34,000. It is the chief town of Cebu island and the seat of Government and of the bishop of the Bisayans. It is within 48 hours from Manila by steamer.

It is as favourably situated with regard to the eastern portion of the Bisayan group as Yloílo is for the western, and is acquiring increased importance as the emporium for its products.

Island Distance from Cebu in Miles Exports
Samar 26
Leyte 2.5 abaca from Leyté and
Bohol 4 Sugar and tobacco
Negros 18
Panay rice
Mindanao rice
Misamis (Mindanáo) coffee, wax, Spanish cane, mother-of-pearl

Cebú island extends over 75 square miles. A lofty mountain range traverses it from north to south, dividing the east from the west side, and its population is estimated at 340,000,–4,533 to the square mile.

The inhabitants are peaceable and docile; thefts occur very seldom, and robberies never.

Their occupations are agriculture, fishing, and weaving for home consumption. Cebú produces sugar, tobacco, maize, rice, &c., and in the mountains potatoes ; but the rice produced does not suffice for their requirements, there being only a little level land, and the deficiency is imported from Panáy.

The island has considerable beds of coal, the full yield of which may now be looked for, as the duty on export was abandoned by a decree of May 5, 1869.*

In Luzon and Panáy, the land is mostly owned by the peasantry. In Cebú, it mostly belongs to the mestizos who lease them out in very small allotments.

The owners keep the peasants dependent by usurious loans. This makes its agriculture worse than in almost any other part of country.

The entire value of the exports in 1868 amounted to 1,181,050 dollars; of which

Cebu Exports 1868 Value Destination
Sugar 481,127 dollars
Abacá 378,256 dollars England
Abacá 112,000 America
Tobacco 118,260 Spain

The imports of foreign goods, mostly by the Chinese, come through Manila, where they - purchase from the foreign import houses.

Cebu Imports 1868 Value Source
Cotton stuffs 150,000 dollars (of 182,522 dollars from Manila) England
Others _
Total 1,243,582 dollars


; of which were for English . The entire imports of the island were estimated at , and the exports at 226,989 dollars.

Among the importations were 20 chests of images, a sign of the deeply-rooted worship of the Virgin. For

  • According to the Mineral Review, Madrid, 1866, xvii. 244, the coal from the mountain of Alpacó, in the district of Nága, in Cebú, is dry, pure, almost free of sulphur pyrites, burns easily, and with a strong flame.

In the experiments made at the laboratory of the School of Mines in Madrid it yielded 4% of ashes, and a heating power of 4,825 calories ; i.e., by the burning of one part by weight 4,825 parts by weight of water were heated to 1° C.

Good pit-coal gives 6,000 cal. The first coal pits in Cebú were excavated in the Massánga valley; but the works were discontinued in 1859, after considerable ontlay had been made on them. Four strata of considerable thickness were subsequently discovered in the valley of Alpacó and in the mountain of Oling, in Naga. “The coal of Cebú is acknowledged to be better than that of Australia and Labuan, but has not sufficient heating power to be used, unmixed with other coal, on long sea voyages.”

According to the Catalogue of the Products of the Philippines (Manila, 1866), the coal strata of Cebú have, at many places in the mountain range which runs from north to south across the whole of the island, an average thickness of two miles. The coul is of middling quality, and is burnt in the Government steam works after being mixed with Cardiff coal. The price in Cebú is on the average six dollars per ton.


merly the products for exportation were bought up by the foreign merchants, mostly through Chinese mestizes ; but now they are bought direct from the producers, who thus obtain better prices in consequence of the abolition of the high brokerages. To this and to the energy of the foreign merchants, under favourable circumstances, is the gradual improvement of agriculture principally to be ascribed.

Yloílo is the most important of the newly opened ports, being the central point of the Bisayan group, and situated in one of the most thickly populated and industrious provinces. N. Loney estimates the export of goods woven from the fibre of the pine, from Yloílo and the neighbouring provinces, at about one million dollars annually.

The harbour is excellent, being completely protected by an island which lies immediately before it. At high tide there is about twelve feet of water close in shore for vessels to lie in. On account of the bar, however, ships of a deeper draught than this are obliged to complete their loading outside.

Before the new harbours were opened, all the provinces were compelled to bring their products intended for exportation to Manila, as to receive from the same place their foreign imports.

The cost of which therefore was greatly increased through the extra expenses incurred by the double voyage, reloading, brokerage, and wharfage charges.

According to N. Loney, this shows how profitable the opening of Iloílo has been to the provinces immediately adjoining—Panáy and Negrós, even just after a few years.


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