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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

As these barangays were grouped into pueblos


Old Social Order of the Filipinos but Little Disturbed.--Some governors seem to have done their utmost to improve the condition of the people and to govern them well. Santiago de Vera, as we have seen, even went so far as to commission the worthy priest, Padre Juan de Plasencia, to investigate the customs and social organization of the Filipinos, and to prepare an account of their laws, that they might be more suitably governed. This brief code--for so it is--was distributed to alcaldes, judges, and encomenderos, with orders to pattern their decisions in accordance with Filipino custom. [43]

In ordering local affairs, the Spaniards to some extent left the old social order of the Filipinos undisturbed. The several social classes were gradually suppressed, and at the head of each barrio, or small settlement, was appointed a head, or cabeza de barangay. As these barangays were grouped into pueblos, or towns, the former datos were appointed captains and gobernadorcillos.

The Payment of Tribute.--The tribute was introduced in 1570. [44] It was supposed to be eight reales or a peso of silver for each family. Children under sixteen and those over sixty were exempt. In 1590 the amount was raised to ten reales. To this was added a real for the church, known as "sanctorum," and, on the organization of the towns, a real for the caja de communidad or municipal treasury. Under the encomiendas the tribute was paid to the encomenderos, except on the royal encomiendas; but after two or three generations, as the encomiendas were suppressed, these collections went directly to the insular treasury. There was, in addition to the tribute, a compulsory service of labor on roads, bridges, and public works, known as the "corvee," a feudal term, or perhaps more generally as the "polos y servicios." Those discharging this enforced labor were called "polistas."

Conversion of the Filipinos to Christianity.--The population had been very rapidly Christianized. All accounts agree that almost no difficulty was encountered in baptizing the more advanced tribes. "There is not in these islands a province," says Morga, "which resists conversion and does not desire it." [45] Indeed, the Islands seem to have been ripe for the preaching of a higher faith, either Christian or Mohammedan. For a time these two great religions struggled together in the vicinity of Manila, [46] but at the end of three decades Spanish power and religion were alike established. Conversion was delayed ordinarily only by the lack of sufficient numbers of priests. We have seen that this conversion of the people was the work of the missionary friars. In 1591 there were 140 in the Islands, but the Relacion de Encomiendas calls for 160 more to properly supply the peoples which had been laid under tribute.

Coming of the Friars.--The Augustinians had been the first to come, accompanying Legaspi. Then came the barefooted friars of the Order of Saint Francis. The first Jesuits, padres Antonio Sedeno and Alonzo Sanchez, came with the first bishop of the Islands, Domingo de Salazar, in 1580. They came apparently without resources. Even their garments brought from Mexico had rotted on the voyage. They found a little, poor, narrow house in a suburb of Manila, called Laguio (probably Concepcion). "So poorly furnished was it," says Chirino, "that the same chest which held their books was the table on which they ate. Their food for many days was rice, cooked in water, without salt or oil or fish or meat or even an egg, or anything else except that sometimes as a regalo they enjoyed some salt sardines." [47] After the Jesuits, came, as we have seen, the friars of the Dominican order, and lastly the Recollects, or unshod Augustinians.


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