The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
By Fedor Jagor et al

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Public Domain Books

Chapter XXVI

[Importance of Chinese.] An important portion of the population remains to be discussed, viz. the Chinese, who are destined to play a remarkable part, inasmuch as the development of the land-cultivation demanded by the increasing trade and commercial intercourse can be affected only by Chinese industry and perseverance. Manila has always been a favorite place for Chinese immigrants; and neither the hostility of the people, nor oppressing and prohibitory decrees for a long time by the Government, not even the repeated massacres, have been able to prevent their coming. The position of the Islands, south-east of two of the most important of the Chinese provinces, must necessarily have brought about a trade between the two countries very early, as ships can make the voyage in either direction with a moderate wind, as well in the south-west as the north-east monsoon. [Early Chinese Associations.] In a few old writers may even be found the assertion that the Philippine Islands were at one time subject to the dominion of China; and Father Gaubil (Lettres Edifiantes) mentions that Jaung-lo (of the Ming dynasty) maintained a fleet consisting of 30,000 men, which at different times proceeded to Manila. The presence of their ships as early as the arrival of Magellan in the extreme east of the archipelago, as well as the China plates and earthenware vessels discovered in the excavations, plainly show that the trade with China had extended far earlier to the most distant islands of the archipelago. It formed the chief support of the young Spanish colony, and, after the rise of the Encomiendas, was nearly the only source of its prosperity. It was feared that the junks would offer their cargoes to the Dutch if any obstacle was put in the way of their coming to Manila. The colony certainly could not maintain its position without the “Sangleys,” [246] who came annually in great numbers in the junks from China, and spread all over the country and in the towns as [Industrial and commercial activity.] shopkeepers, artisans, gardeners, and fishermen; besides which, they were the only skillful and industrious workers, as the Filipinos under the priestly domination had forgotten altogether many trades in which they had engaged in former times. I take these facts from Morga.

[Unsuccessful attempts at restriction.] In spite of all this, the Spaniards have, from the very commencement, endeavored rigorously to limit the number of the Chinese; who were then, as they are now, envied and hated by the natives for their industry, frugality, and cunning, by which means they soon became rich. They were an abomination, moreover, in the eyes of the priests as being irreclaimable heathens, whose example prevented the natives from making progress in the direction of Christianity; and the government feared them on account of the strong bond of union existing between them, and as being subjects of so powerful a nation, whose close proximity threatened the small body of Spaniards with destruction. [247] Fortunately for the latter, the Ming dynasty, which at that time was hastening to its downfall, did not think of conquest; but wickedly disposed powers which sprang into existence upon their downfall brought the colony into extreme danger.

[Limahong and the Mandarins’ visit.] In the attack of the noted pirate, Limahong, in 1574, they escaped destruction only by a miracle; and soon new dangers threatened them afresh. In 1603 a few mandarins came to Manila, under the pretence of ascertaining whether the ground about Cavite was really of gold. They were supposed to be spies, and it was concluded, from their peculiar mission, that an attack upon the colony was intended by the Chinese.

[Early massacre of Chinese.] The archbishop and the priests incited the distrust which was felt against the numerous Chinese who were settled in Manila. Mutual hate and suspicion arose; both parties feared one another and prepared for hostilities. The Chinese commenced the attack; but the united forces of the Spaniards, being supported by the Japanese and the Filipinos, twenty-three thousand, according to other reports twenty-five thousand, of the Chinese were either killed or driven into the desert. When the news of this massacre reached China, a letter from the Royal Commissioners was sent to the Governor of Manila. That noteworthy document shows in so striking a manner how hollow the great government was at that time that I have given a literal translation of it at the end of this chapter.

[Chinese laborers limited.] After the extermination of the Chinese, food and all Chinese other necessaries of life were difficult to obtain on account of the utter unreliability of the natives for work; but by 1605 the number of Chinese [248] had again so increased that a decree was issued limiting them to six thousand, “these to be employed in the cultivation of the country;” while at the same time their rapid increase was taken advantage of by the captain-general for his own interest, as he exacted eight dollars from each Chinaman for permission to remain. In 1539 the Chinese population had risen to thirty thousand, according to other information, to forty thousand, when they revolted and were reduced to seven thousand. “The natives, who generally were so listless and indifferent, showed the utmost eagerness in assisting in the [Another massacre.] massacre of the Chinese, but more from hatred of this industrious people than from any feeling of friendship towards the Spaniards.” [249]

[The pirate Kog-seng.] The void occasioned by this massacre was soon filled up again by Chinese immigrants; and in 1662 the colony was once more menaced with a new and great danger, by the Chinese pirate Kog-seng, who had under his command between eighty and one hundred thousand men, and who already had dispossessed the Dutch of the Island of Formosa. He demanded the absolute submission of the Philippines; his sudden death, however, saved the colony, and occasioned a fresh outbreak of fury against the Chinese settlers in Manila, a great number of whom were butchered in their own “quarter" (ghetto). [250] Some dispersed and hid themselves; a few in their terror plunged into the water or hanged themselves; and a great number fled in small boats to Formosa. [251]

[Another expulsion.] In 1709 the jealousy against the Chinese once more had reached such a height that they were accused of rebellion, and particularly of monopolizing the trades, and, with the exception of the most serviceable of the artisans and such of them as were employed by the Government, they were once again expelled. Spanish writers praise the salutariness of these measures; alleging that “under the pretence of agriculture the Chinese carry on trade; they are cunning and careful, making money and sending it to China, so that they defraud the Philippines annually of an enormous amount.” Sonnerat, however, complains that art, trade, and commerce had not recovered from these severe blows; though, he adds, fortunately the Chinese, in spite of prohibitory decrees, are returning through the corrupt connivance of the governor and officials.

[Thrifty traders.] To the present day they are blamed as being monopolists, particularly by the creoles; and certainly, by means of their steady industry and natural commercial aptitude, they have appropriated nearly all the retail trade to themselves. The sale of European imported goods is entirely in their hands; and the wholesale purchase of the produce of the country for export is divided between the natives, creoles, and the Chinese, the latter taking about one-half. Before this time only the natives and creoles were permitted to own ships for the purpose of forwarding the produce to Manila.

In 1757 the jealousy of the Spaniards broke out again in the form of a new order from Madrid, directing the expulsion of the Chinese; and in 1759 the decrees of banishment, which were repeatedly evaded, were carried into effect: but, as the private interests of the officials did not happen to coincide with those of the creole traders, the consequence was that “the Chinese soon streamed back again in incredible numbers,” and made common cause with the English upon their invasion in 1762. [252] [Anda’s and 1819 massacres.] Thereupon, Sr. Anda commanded “that all the Chinese in the Philippine Islands should be hanged,” which order was very generally carried out. [253] The last great Chinese massacre took place in 1819, when the aliens were suspected of having brought about the cholera by poisoning the wells. The greater part of the Europeans in Manila also fell victims to the fury of the populace, but the Spaniards generally were spared. The prejudice of the Spaniards, especially of the creoles, had always been directed against the Chinese tradesmen, who interfered unpleasantly with the fleecing of the natives; and against this class in particular were the laws of limitation aimed. They would willingly have let them develop the country by farming but the hostility of the natives generally prevented this.

[Expulsion of merchants from Manila.] A decree, issued in 1804, commanded all Chinese shopkeepers to leave Manila within eight days, only those who were married being allowed to keep shops; and their residence in the provinces was permitted only upon the condition that they confined themselves entirely to agriculture. Magistrates who allowed these to travel in their districts were fined $200; the deputy-governor $25; and the wretched Chinese were punished with from two to three years’ confinement in irons.

In 1839 the penalties against the Chinese were somewhat mitigated, but those against the magistrates were still maintained on account of their venality. In 1843 Chinese ships were placed upon terms of equality with those of other foreign countries (Leg. Ult., II., 476). In 1850 Captain-General Urbiztondo endeavored to introduce Chinese colonial farming, and with this object promised a reduction of the taxes to all agricultural immigrants. Many Chinese availed themselves of this opportunity in order to escape the heavy poll-tax; but in general they soon betook themselves to trading once more.

[Oppressive taxation.] Of late years the Chinese have not suffered from the terrible massacres which used formerly to overtake them; neither have they suffered banishment; the officials being content to suppress their activity by means of heavy and oppressive taxes. For instance, at the end of 1867 the Chinese shopkeepers were annually taxed $50 for permission to send their goods to the weekly market; this was in addition to a tax of from $12 to $100 on their occupations; and at the same time they were commanded thenceforth to keep their books in Spanish (English Consular Report, 1859).

[Excellent element in population.] The Chinese remain true to their customs and mode of living in the Philippines, as they do everywhere else. When they outwardly embrace Christianity, it is done merely to facilitate marriage, or from some motive conducive to their worldly advantage; and occasionally they renounce it, together with their wives in Manila, when about to return home to China. Very many of them, however, beget families, are excellent householders, and their children in time form the most enterprising, industrious, and wealthy portion of the resident population.

[Formidable competitors.] Invigorated by the severe struggle for existence which they have experienced in their over-populated country, the Chinese appear to preserve their capacity for labor perfectly unimpaired by any climate. No nation can equal them in contentedness, industry, perseverance, cunning, skill, and adroitness in trades and mercantile matters. When once they gain a footing, they generally appropriate the best part of the trade to themselves. In all parts of external India they have dislodged from every field of employment not only their native but, progressively, even their European competitors. Not less qualified and successful are they in the pursuance of agriculture than in trade. The emigration from the too thickly peopled empire of China has scarcely begun. As yet it is but a small stream, but it will by-and-by pour over all the tropical countries of the East in one mighty torrent, completely destroying all such minor obstacles as jealous interference and impotent precaution might interpose.

[Sphere of futureinflunce.] Over every section of remote India, in the South Sea, in the Indian Archipelago, in the states of South America, the Chinese seem destined, in time, either to supplant every other element, or to found a mixed race upon which to stamp their individuality. In the Western States of the Union their number is rapidly on the increase; and the factories in California are worked entirely by them, achieving results that cannot be accomplished by European labor.

[Mongolian vs. Caucasion in America.] One of the most interesting of the many questions of large comprehensiveness which connect themselves with the penetration of the Mongolian race into America, which up till now it had been the fashion to regard as the inheritance of the Caucasians, is the relative capacity of labor possessed by both these two great races, who in the Western States of America have for the first time measured their mutual strength in friendly rivalry. Both are there represented in their most energetic individuality; [254] and every nerve will be strained in carrying on the struggle, inasmuch as no other country pays for labor at so high a rate.

[Efficiency and reliability of Chinese labor.] The conditions, however, are not quite equal, as the law places certain obstacles in the way of the Chinese. The courts do not protect them sufficiently from insult, which at times is aggravated into malicious manslaughter through the ill-usage of the mob, who hate them bitterly as being reserved, uncompanionable workers. Nevertheless, the Chinese immigrants take their stand firmly. The western division of the Pacific Railway has been chiefly built by the Chinese, who, according to the testimony of the engineers, surpass workmen of all other nationalities in diligence, sobriety, and good conduct. What they lack in physical power they make up for in perseverance and working intelligently together. The unique and nearly incredible performance that took place on April 28, 1859, when ten miles of railway track were laid in eleven working hours along a division of land which had in no way been prepared beforehand, was accomplished by Chinese workmen; and indeed only by them could it have been practicable. [255]

[Chinese cleverness and industry.] Of course, the superiority of the European in respect Chinese of the highest intellectual faculties is not for a moment to be doubted; but, in all branches of commercial life in which cleverness and perservering industry are necessary to success, the Chinese certainly appear entitled to the award. To us it appears that the influx of Chinese must certainly sooner or later kindle a struggle between capital and labor, in order to set a limit upon demands perceptibly growing beyond moderation.

[Chinese problem in America.] The increasing Chinese immigration already intrudes upon the attention of American statesmen questions of the utmost social and political importance. What influence will this entirely new and strange element exercise over the conformation of American relations? Will the Chinese found a State in the States, or go into the Union on terms of political equality with the other citizens, and form a new race by alliance with the Caucasian element? These problems, which can only be touched upon here in a transitory form, have been dealt with in a masterly manner by Pumpelly, in his work Across America and Asia, published in London in 1870.

Letter of the Commissary-General of Chinchew to Don Pedro De Acuņa, Governor of the Philippines

To the powerful Captain-General of Luzon:

“Having been given to understand that the Chinese who proceeded to the kingdom of Luzon in order to buy and sell had been murdered by the Spaniards, I have investigated the motives for these massacres, and begged the Emperor to exercise justice upon those who had engaged in these abominable offences, with a view to security in the future.

“In former years, before my arrival here as royal commissioner, a Chinese merchant named Tioneg, together with three mandarins, went with the permission of the Emperor of China from Luzon to Cavite, for the purpose of prospecting for gold and silver; which appears to have been an excuse, for he found neither gold nor silver; I thereupon prayed the Emperor to punish this imposter Tioneg, thereby making patent the strict justice which is exercised in China.

“It was during the administration of the ex-Viceroy and Eunuchs that Tioneg and his companion, named Yanglion, uttered the untruth already stated; and subsequently I begged the Emperor to transmit all the papers bearing upon the matter, together with the minutes of Tioneg’s accusation; when I myself examined the before-mentioned papers, and knew that everything that the accused Tioneg had said was utterly untrue.

“I wrote to the Emperor and stated that, on account of the untruth which Tioneg had been guilty of, the Castilians entertained the suspicion that he wished to make war upon them, and that they, under this idea, had murdered more than thirty thousand Chinese in Luzon. The Emperor, complying with my request, punished the accused Yanglion, though he omitted to put him to death; neither was Tioneg beheaded or confined in a cage. The Chinese people who had settled in Luzon were in no way to blame. I and others discussed this with the Emperor in order to ascertain what his pleasure was in this matter, as well as in another, namely, the arrival of two English ships on the coast of Chinchew (Fukien or Amoy district)–a very dangerous circumstance for China; and to obtain His Imperial Majesty’s decision as to both these most serious matters.

“We also wrote to the Emperor that he should direct the punishment of both these Chinese; and, in acknowledging our communication, he replied to us, in respect to the English ships which had arrived in China, that in case they had come for the purpose of plundering, they should be immediately commanded to depart thence for Luzon; and, with regard to the Luzon difficulty, that the Castilians should be advised to give no credence to rogues and liars from China; and both the Chinese who had discovered the harbor to the English should be executed forthwith; and that in all other matters upon which we had written to him, our will should be his. Upon receipt of this message by us–the Viceroy, the Eunuch, and myself–we hereby send this our message to the Governor of Luzon, that his Excellency may know the greatness of the Emperor of China and of his Empire, for he is so powerful that he commands all upon which the sun and moon shine, and also that the Governor of Luzon may learn with what great wisdom this mighty empire is governed, and which power no one for many years has attempted to insult, although the Japanese have sought to disturb the tranquillity of Korea, which belongs to the Government of China. They did not succeed, but on the contrary were driven out, and Korea has remained in perfect security and peace, which those in Luzon well know by report.

“Years ago, after we learnt that so many Chinese perished in Luzon on account of Tioneg’s lies, many of us mandarins met together, and resolved to leave it to the consideration of the Emperor to take vengeance for so great a massacre; and we said as follows:–The country of Luzon is a wretched one, and of very little importance. It was at one time only the abode of devils and serpents; and only because (within the last few years) so large a number of Chinese went thither for the purpose of trading with the Castilians has it improved to such an extent; in which improvement the accused Sangleyes materially assisted by hard labor, the walls being raised by them, houses built, and gardens laid out, and other matters accomplished of the greatest use to the Castilians; and now the question is, why has no consideration been paid for these services, and these good offices acknowledged with thanks, without cruelly murdering so many people? And although we wrote to the King twice or thrice concerning the circumstances, he answered us that he was indignant about the before-mentioned occurrences, and said for three reasons it is not advisable to execute vengeance, nor to war against Luzon. The first is that for a long time till now the Castilians have been friends of the Chinese; the second, that no one can predict whether the Castilians or the Chinese would be victorious; and the third and last reason is, because those whom the Castilians have killed were wicked people, ungrateful to China, their native country, their elders, and their parents, as they have not returned to China now for very many years. These people, said the Emperor, he valued but little for the foregoing reasons; and he commanded the Viceroy, the Eunuch, and myself, to send this letter through those messengers, so that all in Luzon may know that the Emperor of China has a generous heart, great forbearance, and much mercy, in not declaring war against Luzon; and his justice is indeed manifest, as he has already punished the liar Tioneg. Now, as the Spaniards are wise and intelligent, how does it happen that they are not sorry for having massacred so many people, feeling no repentance thereat, and also are not kinder to those of the Chinese who are still left? Then when the Castilians show a feeling of good-will, and the Chinese and Sangleyes who left after the dispute return, and the indebted money is repaid, and the property which was taken from the Sangleyes restored, then friendship will again exist between this empire and that, and every year trading-ships shall come and go; but if not, then the Emperor will allow no trading, but on the contrary will at once command a thousand ships of war to be built, manned with soldiers and relations of the slain, and will, with the assistance of other peoples and kingdoms who pay tribute to China, wage relentless war, without quarter to any one; and upon its conclusion will present the kingdom of Luzon to those who do homage to China.

“This letter is written by the Visitor-General on the 12th of the second month.”

A contemporary letter of the Ruler of Japan forms a somewhat notable contrast:–

Letter of Daifusama, Ruler of Japan

“To the Governor Don Pedro de Acuņa, in the year 1605:

“I have received two letters from your Excellency, as also all the donations and presents described in the inventory. Amongst them was the wine made from grapes, which I enjoyed very much. In former years your Excellency requested that six ships might come here, and recently four, which request I have always complied with.

“But my great displeasure has been excited by the fact that of the four ships upon whose behalf your Excellency interposed, one from Antonio made the journey without my permission. This was a circumstance of great audacity, and a mark of disrespect to me. Does your Excellency wish to send that ship to Japan without my permission?

“Independently of this, your Excellency and others have many times discussed with me concerning the antecedents and interests of Japan, and many other matters, your requests respecting which I cannot comply with. This territory is called Xincoco, which means ’consecrated to Idols,’ which have been honored with the highest reverence from the days of our ancestor until now, and whose actions I alone can neither undo nor destroy. Wherefore, it is in no way fitting that your laws should be promulgated and spread over Japan; and if, in consequence of these misunderstandings, your Excellency’s friendship with the empire of Japan should cease, and with me likewise, it must be so, for I must do that which I think is right, and nothing which is contrary to my own pleasure.

“Finally, I have heard it frequently said, as a reproach, that many Japanese–wicked, corrupt men–go to your kingdom, remaining there many years, and then return to Japan. This complaint excites my anger, and therefore I must request your Excellency henceforth not to allow such persons to return in the ships which trade here. Concerning the remaining matters, I trust your Excellency will hereafter employ your judgment and circumspection in such a manner as to avoid incurring my displeasure for the future.”


Preface  •  Chapter I  •  Chapter II  •  Chapter III  •  Chapter IV  •  Chapter V  •  Chapter VI  •  Chapter VII  •  Chapter VIII  •  Chapter IX  •  Chapter X  •  Chapter XI  •  Chapter XII  •  Chapter XIII  •  Chapter XIV  •  Chapter XV  •  Chapter XVI  •  Chapter XVII  •  Chapter XVIII  •  Chapter XIX  •  Chapter XX  •  Chapter XXI  •  Chapter XXII  •  Chapter XXIII  •  Chapter XXIV  •  Chapter XXV  •  Chapter XXVI  •  Chapter XXVII