Spanish Colonial Government and Cavite Mutiny Icon

January 4, 2022

Apart from the priests, the first-comers consisted only of officials, soldiers and sailors. To them, naturally, fell all the high profits of the China trade.

Manila was their chief market. It also attracted a great portion of the external Indian trade, which the Portuguese had frightened away from Malacca by their excessive cruelty.

The Portuguese still remained in Macao and the Moluccas. But they wanted those remittances which were almost exclusively sought after by the Chinese, viz., the silver which Manila received from New Spain.

In 1580 Portugal, together with all its colonies, was handed over to Spain. This event to the decay of Portugal (1580-1640) witnessed the Philippines at the height of their power and prosperity.

The Governor of Manila ruled over a part of Mindanao, Sulu, the Moluccas, Formosa, and the original Portuguese possessions in Malacca and India.

“All that lies between Cape Singapore and Japan is subject to Luzon. Their ships cross the ocean to China and New Spain, and drive so magnificent a trade that, if it were only free, it would be the most extraordinary that the world could show.

It is incredible what glory these islands confer upon Spain. The Governor of the Philippines treats with the Kings of Cambodia, Japan, China. The first is his ally, the last his friend ; and the same with Japan. He declares war or peace, without waiting for the command from distant Spain.”*

But the Dutch had now begun the struggle, which they managed to carry on against Philip II

Even in 1610, Di los Rios complained that:

  • the Philippines very much changed because of the Dutch progress
  • the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu, feeling that they were supported by Holland, were continually in a state of discontent.

The downfall of Portugal occasioned the loss of her colonies once more.

Philippine agriculture and commerce were kept backward because of:

  • Spanish policy
  • the government of the priests
  • especially the jealousy of the Spanish merchants and traders

The subsequent history of the Philippines is as unsatisfactory and uninteresting as that of all the other Spanish-American possessions. These were filled with:

  • ineffective expeditions against pirates
  • continuous disputes between the clerical and secular authorities

After the first excitement of religious belief and military renown had subsided, the conquerors were seized with an intense feeling of selfishness. Frauds and peculations were the natural sequence.

Foreign Invaders and Local Discontent of the Creoles

The colony had scarcely been molested by external enemies, with the exception of pirates. In the earliest time, the Dutch had engaged occasionally in attacks on the Bisayas.

But in 1762 during the war of the Bourbon succession, an English fleet was able to take Manila easily.

  • The Chinese allied themselves with the English.
  • A great insurrection broke out among the natives.
  • The Philippines was governed provisionally by a feeble archbishop.

Anda, an energetic patriot and dignitary of the Church, inflamed the natives against the British. The priests’ zealousness* made the English glad to retreat. The war ended in the following year.

*Superphysics note: The British were Anglicans. The Spanish were Catholics.

But before then, the insurrection considerably expaneded and was not suppressed until 1765 by dividing and conquering the different tribes. Ilócos lost 269,270 persons or half of its population, as represented by Zuñiga.

The natives revolted because of:

  • severity
  • lack of tact of the Government and their instruments
  • bigoted dissensions

Yet none of these are of any great danger to the Spanish rule because:

  • the discontent has always been confined to a single district, as the natives do not form a united nation
  • the natives have no bond of a common speech
  • there is no general interest binding the different native tribes together.
  • the communications and laws among them scarcely reach beyond the borders of the villages and their dependencies.

The attitude of the half-castes and creoles [mestizos] are much more important in triggering a revolution than the condition of the constantly-excited natives who really have no steady object in view.

  • Their discontent increases in proportion to their numbers and prosperity.

A military revolt broke out in 1823 led by 2 creoles which could have ended Spanish rule easily.

The Cavite Mutiny

The latest of all the risings of the half-castes has been the most dangerous to:

  • the Spanish power
  • all the European population.

On January 20, 1872, between 8pm-9pm, the artillery, marines, and the garrison of the arsenal revolted in Cavite and murdered their officers.

A lieutenant who tried to warn Manila fell into the hands of a crowd of natives.

The news therefore did not reach the capital until the next morning.

  • All the available troops were at once dispatched
  • After a heavy preliminary struggle, they succeeded the following day in storming the citadel.

A dreadful slaughter of the rebels ensued and not a soul escaped.

  • Among them was not a single European
  • But there were many half-castes, of whom several were priests and lawyers.

The first accounts were written under the influence of terror and might have exaggerated many particulars. Yet both official and private letters agree in describing the conspiracy as being:

  • long contemplated
  • widely spread
  • well planned.

The whole fleet and many troops were absent at the time, engaged in the expedition against Sulu.

  • A portion of the garrison of Manila were to rise at the same time as the revolt in Cavite
  • Thousands of natives were to precipitate themselves on the caras blancas (pale faces), and murder them.

The conspiracy’s failure was caused by the rebels mistaking a rocket fired during a Church festival as agreed signal, and began the attack too soon.