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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

Even of the little Catanduanes


The smaller groups and islets were almost as thoroughly exploited. Even of the little Catanduanes, lying off the Pacific coast of Luzon, Morga could say, "They are well populated with natives,--a good race, all encomended to Spaniards, with doctrine and churches, and an alcalde-mayor, who does justice among them."

He says of the Babuyanes at the extreme north of the archipelago, "They are not encomended, nor is tribute collected among them, nor are there Spaniards among them, because they are of little reason and politeness, and there have neither been Christians made among them, nor have they justices." They continued in this condition until a few years before the end of Spanish rule. In 1591, however, the Babuyanes had been given in encomienda to Esteban de la Serna and Francisco Castillo. They are put as having two thousand inhabitants and five hundred "tributantes," but all unsubdued ("todos alcados").

On some islands the hold of the Spaniards was more extensive in Morga's day than at a later time. Then the island of Mindoro was regarded as important, and in the early years and decades of Spanish power appears to have been populous along the coasts. Later it was desolated by the Moro pirates and long remained wild and almost uninhabited except by a shifting population from the mainland of Luzon.

The Encomiendas.--The first vessels that followed the expedition of Legaspi had brought orders from the king that the Islands should be settled, and divided in encomiendas to those who had conquered and won them. [35] On this instruction, Legaspi had given the Filipinos in encomienda to his captains and soldiers as fast as the conquest proceeded.

We are fortunate to have a review of these encomiendas, made in 1591, about twenty-five years after the system was introduced into the Islands. [36] There were then 267 encomiendas in the Philippines, of which thirty-one were of the king, and the remainder of private persons.

Population under the Encomiendas.--From the enumeration of these encomiendas, we learn that the most populous parts of the archipelago were La Laguna, with 24,000 tributantes and 97,000 inhabitants, and the Camarines, which included all the Bicol territory, and the Catanduanes, where there were 21,670 tributantes and a population of over 86,000, In the vicinity of Manila and Tondo, which included Cavite and Marigondon, the south shore of the bay, and Pasig and Taguig, there were collected 9,410 tributes, and the population was estimated at about 30,000. In Ilocos were reported 17,130 tributes and 78,520 souls.

The entire valley of the Cagayan had been divided among the soldiers of the command which had effected the conquest. In the list of encomiendas a few can be recognized, such as Yguig and Tuguegarao, but most of the names are not to be found on maps of to-day. Most of the inhabitants were reported to be "rebellious" (alcados), and some were apparently the same wild tribes which still occupy all of this water-shed, except the very banks of the river; but none the less had the Spaniards divided them off into "repartimientos." One soldier had even taken as an encomienda the inhabitants of the upper waters of the river, a region which is called in the Relacion "Pugao," with little doubt the habitat of the same Igorrote tribe as the Ipugao, who still dwell in these mountains. The upper valley of the Magat, or Nueva Vizcaya, does not appear to have been occupied and probably was not until the missions of the eighteenth century.


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