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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

Limited Trade with the Philippines


liberal constitutional government was, however, set up in Spain in 1812 by the Cortes; but in 1814 King Ferdinand, aided by the Spanish aristocracy and clergy, was able to overthrow this representative government and with tyrannical power to cast reforms aside. Fifty thousand people were imprisoned for their liberal opinions, the Inquisition was restored, the Cortes abolished, and its acts nullified. The effect of these acts upon the Philippines will be noticed presently.

Separation of the Philippines from Mexico.--The events of these years served to separate the Philippines from their long dependency on Mexico. In 1813 the Cortes decreed the suppression of the subsidized Acapulco galleon. The Mexican trade had long been waning and voyages had become less profitable. The last of the galleons left Manila in 1811 and returned from Acapulco in 1815, never again to attempt this classical voyage.

The cessation of these voyages only briefly preceded the complete separation from America. From the first period of settlement, the Philippines had in many respects been a sub-dependency of New Spain. Mexico had until late afforded the only means of communication with the mother-country, the only land of foreign trade. Mexican officials frequently administered the government of the Islands, and Mexican Indians formed the larger part of the small standing army of the Philippines, including the "Regiment of the King." As we

have seen, a large subsidy, the situado, was annually drawn from the Mexican treasury to support the deficient revenues of the Philippines.

Rebellion of the South American Countries.--But the grievances of the Spanish American colonists were very great and very real. The revolution which had successively stirred North America and Europe now passed back again to the Spanish countries of the New World, and between 1810 and 1825 they fought themselves free of Spain. The last of the colonies from which the Spaniards were forced to retire was Peru. Mexico achieved her separation in 1820. Spain lost every possession upon the mainland of both Americas, and the only vestiges of her once vast American empire were the rich islands of the Greater Antilles--Cuba and Porto Rico.

Limited Trade with the Philippines.--The Philippines were now forced to communicate by ship directly with Spain. The route for the next fifty years lay by sailing-vessels around the Cape of Good Hope. It occupied from four to six months, but this route had now become practically a neutral passage, its winds and currents were well understood, and it was annually followed by great numbers of vessels of Europe, England, and the United States.

Trade was still limited to the ships of the Royal Philippine Company, and this shipping monopoly lasted until 1835, when a new era in the commercial and industrial life of the Philippines opened. An English commercial house was established in Manila as early as 1809.

Volcanic Eruptions.--The terrible eruptions of Mount Taal, the last of which occurred in 1754, were followed in the next century by the destructive activity of Mount Mayon. In 1814 an indescribable eruption of ashes and lava occurred, and the rich hemp towns around the base of this mountain were destroyed. Father Francisco Aragoneses, cura of Cagsaua, an eye-witness, states that twelve thousand people perished; in the church of Budiao alone two hundred lay dead. [84]

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