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The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 – Volume 25 of 55 / 1635-36 / 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 Close of the Nineteenth Century


The scope of the present volume (1635–36) is mainly commercial and financial matters on the one hand, and ecclesiastical affairs on the other. The paternalistic tendencies of the Spanish government are obvious in the former direction, with various restrictions on trade, and annoying imposts on all classes of people. The Portuguese of Macao are accused of ruining the Chinese trade with the islands, absorbing it to their own profit and the injury of the Spaniards. In ecclesiastical circles, the topic of prime interest is the controversy between Governor Corcuera and Archbishop Guerrero, ending in the latter’s exile to Mariveles Island; it is an important episode in the continual struggle between Church and State for supremacy, and as such rightly demands large space and attention in this series. In this and several other documents may be noticed the steadily increasing influence and power of the Jesuit order in the Philippines at that period.

From Recopilación de leyes de las Indias (lib. ix, tit. xxxxv) are compiled a series of laws relating to navigation and commerce, dated from 1611 to 1635—in continuation of those already given in Vol. XVII of this series. Married men going from Nueva España must take their wives also, or provide for them while absent. Convents shall not allow Chinese merchandise to be concealed in their houses. Royal officials who may sail in any fleet sent from Spain to the Philippines are forbidden to carry any merchandise thither on their private accounts. Flour for government use in the islands shall be provided there, and not be brought from Nueva España. The lading on the trading ships to that country must be allotted more equitably, and for the general welfare of the Philippine colonists. Disabled or incapable seamen must not be taken on these ships; provision is made for the protection and safety of the Indian deck-hands thereon; and only persons of rank are allowed to carry more than one slave each. Trade between Mexico and Peru is again forbidden; and private persons in the Philippines are not permitted to send ships, soldiers, or seamen to the mainland or other regions outside the islands. The valuation of merchandise taken to Nueva España from Filipinas shall be made at Mexico, according to certain regulations. The officers of the trading ships shall be paid for four months only, each voyage; and the ships must leave Acapulco by December, and reach the islands by March. Extortion from the sailors by the royal officials at Acapulco is strictly forbidden. The official appointed to inspect the Chinese ships at Manila must be chosen, not by the governor alone, but by him and the Audiencia jointly. The shipment of money from New Mexico to Filipinas in excess of the amount allowed is forbidden under heavy penalties. The governors of Filipinas must keep the shipyards well equipped and provided. The ships that sail thence to Nueva España must depart in June; and careful account must be taken, by special officials, of all goods in the cargoes, and of all that the vessels carry on the return trip.

A group of royal decrees and orders occurs during the years 1633–35, concerning various interests of the Philippines. The viceroy of Nueva España is ordered (September 30, 1633) to see that the seamen needed in the islands be well treated at Acapulco, and allowed to invest some money in the Mexican trade. The governor of the Philippines is warned (March 10, 1634) to see that the lading of vessels in that trade be equitably allotted to the citizens. The viceroy is directed, at the same time, to send more reënforcements of men to the islands. The moneys granted to the city for its fortifications have been diverted to the general fund; the governor is notified (September 9, 1634) to correct this, and, two months later, to prevent the Portuguese of Macao from trading in the islands. Again (February 16, 1635) he is directed to prevent people from leaving the Philippines, and religious from going to Japan; and at the same time is despatched a reply to the Audiencia regarding some matters of which they had informed the king. The governor is ordered (November 5, 1635) to see that the garrisons in Ternate are regularly changed.

Juan Grau y Monfalcón, procurator-general for the Philippines at the Spanish court, memorializes the king (1635) regarding the importance of those islands to Spain, which country should preserve her domain there, not only for the service of God and the spread of the Catholic faith, but for the increase of the royal revenues. The writer gives a summary of the Chinese population in the islands, and the extent of their trade; the number of Indians paying tribute, and their products. The Spaniards of Manila are greatly impoverished by their losses in conflagrations and shipwrecks, and need royal aid. If it be not given them, Manila will be lost to the Dutch, whose increasing power and wealth in the Orient is described. Especially do they request the abolition of the additional duty of two per cent on goods exported to Nueva España, which they are unable to pay. The history of this tax is outlined, and numerous reasons for its abolition are adduced. The inhabitants of Manila no longer make large profits in their trade with Nueva España; nor are the expenses of that trade such a burden as formerly on the royal treasury. The same results are really obtained from the tax levied on the Chinese goods that are carried to Manila, and this additional tax is too heavy a burden on the people. The royal duties alone amount to twenty-seven per cent on their investments of capital, and the costs and expenses to even a greater sum. Too much pressure of this sort will cause the people of Manila to abandon entirely a profitless trade; in that case the customs duties would cease, and the islands would fall into the hands of the Dutch. The misfortunes and losses of Manila by fires and shipwrecks must also be taken into account, as well as the loyalty with which they serve the crown—always ready to risk their lives and property for it, and often loaning money to the treasury in its needs. The royal fiscal makes reply to this document, advising the royal Council to give this matter very careful attention, and to consider not only the need of the inhabitants but the low condition of the royal finances; he recommends mild measures. The procurator thereupon urges, in brief, some of his former arguments (also citing precedents) for the discontinuance of the two per cent duty. An interesting compilation from the accounts of the royal treasury at Manila shows the total receipts in each of its different funds for the five years ending January 1, 1635, each year separately.

A letter of consolation to the Jesuits of Pintados who have suffered so much from the Moro pirates is sent out (February 1, 1635) by the provincial of the order, Juan de Bueras. Andrés del Sacramento, a Franciscan friar at Nueva Cáceres, complains to the king (June 2, 1635) of interference in the affairs of that order by certain brethren of the Observantine branch, who have by their schemes obtained control of the Filipinas province; and asks that the king assign the province to one or the other branch, allowing no one else to enter it. About the same time, a high Franciscan official at Madrid writes, probably to one of the king’s councilors, promising to investigate and punish certain lawless acts by Manila friars of his order.

The Jesuits of Manila having asked for a grant from the royal treasury to rebuild their residence there, the matter is discussed in the royal Council, and a decree issued (July 10, 1635) ordering the governor of the Philippines to investigate the need for such appropriation, and to report it, with other information, to the king. Pedro de Arce, who has been ruler ad interim of the archdiocese of Manila, notifies the king (October 17, 1635) of his return to his own bishopric of Cebú; and of his entrusting to the Jesuits the spiritual care of the natives of Mindanao, where the Spanish fortress of Zamboanga has been recently established. He asks the king to confirm this, and to send them more missionaries of their order.

In 1632 a memorial is presented before the municipal council of Manila by one of its regidors, representing the injuries and losses arising from the trade which has been commenced there by the Portuguese of Macao. It seems that they have absorbed the trade formerly carried on by the Chinese with Manila, and have so increased the prices of goods that the citizens cannot make a profit on the goods that they send to Nueva España. Navada presents seventeen considerations and arguments regarding this condition of affairs. He states that in earlier years the authorities of Manila forbade the Portuguese to come to Manila, for the same reasons that are now so urgent; that investments of capital are now seldom made by citizens of the Philippines, for lack of returns thereon; and that the royal revenues are defrauded by the enormous losses in the proceeds from the customs duties on the goods brought by the Portuguese, as compared with those realized on the goods of the Sangley traders. The Portuguese are making enormous profits, and this is ruining the citizens of the islands; moreover, they buy their goods from the Chinese at sufficient prices to satisfy the latter, and they misrepresent the condition and actions of the Spaniards, so that the Chinese are prevented from coming to Manila. The Portuguese will make no fair agreement as to prices, and some of them remain in Manila to sell their left-over goods; and these even ship goods to Nueva España in the royal ships, with the connivance of certain citizens—all of which defrauds the Spaniards, and violates the royal decrees. Moreover, the Portuguese bring from China only silks, for the sake of the great profits thereon; while cotton cloth and other articles needed by the poor (which formerly were supplied by the Sangleys) are now scarce and high-priced. The Portuguese should be forbidden to carry on the China trade; this would quickly restore its conduct by the Chinese themselves, and funds to the royal treasury from the increase in customs duties. Manila is the only market for this trade, and can easily hold it. The Portuguese have even carried their insolence so far as to attack the Chinese trading ships (for which the Audiencia has neglected to render justice to the Chinese); they also ill-treat Spaniards who go to trade at Macao, and deal dishonestly with those who let them sell goods on commission. If the Portuguese are forbidden to trade in Manila, the Chinese will again come to trade; the citizens will enjoy good profits on their investments, and incomes from their possessions in the Parián. This memorial by Navada is discussed by the city council, who unanimously decide to adopt his recommendations and to place the matter before the governor and the citizens. The Spanish government favor (1634–36) depriving the Portuguese of the Manila trade, and decrees are sent to the islands empowering the governor and other officials to do what seems best in the case. To these papers are added a letter to the king by Juan Grau y Monfalcón, urging that the decree of 1593 be reissued, forbidding any Spanish vassals to buy goods in China, these to be carried to Manila by the Chinese at their own risk. He submits, with his letter, tables showing the comparative amounts of duties collected at Manila on the goods brought by the Chinese and the Portuguese respectively; also a copy of the aforesaid decree of 1593.

A royal decree of February 1, 1636, prolongs the tenure of encomiendas for another generation, in certain of the Spanish colonies, in consideration of contributions by the holders to the royal treasury; and various directions are given for procedure therein. The procurator Monfalcón, in a letter to the king (June 13, 1636), commends the military services of the Filipinos, and asks for some tokens of royal appreciation of their loyalty.

An account of conflicts between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in 1635–36 is taken from the Conquistas of the Augustinian writer Fray Casimiro Diaz. With this main subject he interpolates other matters from the general annals of that time. Among these is a relation of the piratical raids of the Moros into Leyte and Panay in 1634; the invaders kill a Jesuit priest. In June of the following year arrives the new governor, Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera. At the same time, Archbishop Guerrero begins his rule over the churches of the islands; and controversies at once arise between him and the governor over the royal patronage and other church affairs. Among these is an attempt to divide the Dominican province into two, which is favored by Corcuera. This arouses bitter controversies, which involve both ecclesiastics and laymen and many conflicting interests. A case occurs in Manila in which a criminal’s right of sanctuary in a church is involved; this leads to various complications between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, involving also the religious orders—the Jesuits siding with the governor, the other orders with the archbishop. The successive events and acts in this controversy are quite fully related, the writer, as would naturally be expected, placing most of the blame upon the governor. A truce is made between the parties (January, 1636), but it soon falls apart and the quarrels begin anew; they go to such lengths that finally (in May of that year) the archbishop is sent into exile on Mariveles Island, in Manila Bay. The cathedral cabildo take charge ad interim of the archdiocese. Within a month, however, the archbishop is released, and permitted to return to the charge of his diocese, but on humiliating conditions. Diaz notes that ever after this episode Governor Corcuera was followed by losses, troubles, and afflictions; that many of his relatives and partisans came to untimely ends; that the archiepiscopal palace of that time was utterly destroyed in subsequent earthquakes; and that after the persecution of the archbishop the sardines in Manila Bay almost wholly disappeared. Even after the prelate’s restoration, other controversies arise, which embitter his few remaining years; and he narrowly escapes capture by the Moro pirates.

Another account of the contentions of the governor with the archbishop and the orders is that given in a “letter written by a citizen of Manila to an absent friend” (June 15, 1636); it is obtained from one of the Jesuit documents preserved at Madrid. The events of that controversy are narrated from a different standpoint than Diaz’s—defending the governor and the Jesuits, and blaming the friars for having caused most of the trouble. The writer makes his account more valuable by presenting various documents and letters concerned in the affair; and describes many occurrences that do not appear in other accounts. This letter is also avowedly despatched to refute certain statements made by the Dominicans in their version of the controversy of 1635–36. It is evidently written by some friend of the Jesuits who was a lawyer—possibly by Fabian de Santillan, whom they appointed judge-conservator against the bishop. In it is a curiously lifelike and interesting picture of the dissensions that then involved all circles of Manila officialdom, both civil and religious; and of certain aspects of human nature which are highly interesting, even if not always edifying.

Governor Corcuera writes to Felipe IV (June 19, 1636), commending the Jesuits and their work in the islands, and asking that more of them be sent thither, in preference to those of other orders. The bishop of Nueva Cáceres also writes by the same mail, commending Corcuera and complaining of the hostility displayed by the orders against the governor, and of their ambition and arrogance. The bishop (himself an Augustinian) arraigns all the friar orders except his own, in scathing terms, saying of these religious: “They live without God, without king, and without law, … as they please, and there is no further law than their own wills.” “They say openly in their missions that they are kings and popes.” Zamudio accuses them of being “notorious traders,” of domineering over both the Indians and the alcaldes-mayor, and of infringing upon the royal patronage; and claims that the conduct of the Franciscans in Camarines is such that he cannot remain there in his own diocese. He ascribes the late troubles with the archbishop mainly to the mischievous influence of the friars, and explains his restoration to his see as “the act of a Christian gentleman” on Corcuera’s part. The friars in Zamudio’s diocese have refused to let him make a visitation among them, although he obtained from the governor a guard of soldiers to protect him. He recommends that the friars be deprived of their missions, and replaced by secular priests.

The archbishop of Manila furnishes (1636) a list of the persons composing the ecclesiastical cabildo of the Manila cathedral; and another, of ecclesiastics outside that body from whom might well be supplied any positions in the cabildo which his Majesty might be pleased to declare vacant. In each case the archbishop mentions various particulars of the man’s age, family, qualifications for office, etc., and of his career thus far in the Church. According to the archbishop, some of those now in the cabildo are quite unworthy or incompetent for such positions.

The Editors

April, 1905.

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