Advantages of such great and extraordinary importance deserve to be seriously weighed, and to this valuable department of public administration the early attention of those in authority ought to be called. Let due inquiries be made, and soon shall we discover the substantial benefits which would be derived to the treasury from the adoption of this measure, as popular as it is just, and also conformable to the liberal spirit of the times. In support of the preceding arguments, it ought further to be observed, that when all the branches constituting the king's revenue are well organized, brought to their most productive state, and the public debt contracted under unforeseen exigencies paid off, as long as present circumstances do not vary, an annual surplus of revenue, equal to more than $500,000, will be left; and as the proceeds of the particular branch of tributes do not amount to this sum, it is evident their abolition may take place, not only without any derangement or onerous consequences to the administration, but even without any deficiency being experienced, or any necessity to recur to the treasury of New Spain for extraordinary aid. These reasons acquire still greater force when it is remembered that, as things now are, all the branches of public revenue are in a progressively improving condition, and as the whole are still susceptible of a much more productive organization, the annual surplus of receipts will rapidly become greater, and consequently also the necessity will diminish of continuing to burden this portion of His Majesty's dominions with contributions in order to meet the expenses of their defence and preservation.
Finally, well convinced of the advantageous results which, in every sense, would emanate from the revision and reforms proposed, I abstain from offering, in support of my arguments, a variety of other reflections which occur to me, not to be too diffuse on this subject; trusting that the hints I have already thrown out will be more than sufficient to excite an interest and promote a thorough and impartial investigation of concerns, highly important to the future welfare and security of this colony.
[Subaltern branches.] Besides the six preceding branches which constitute the chief mass of the public revenue in these islands, there are several smaller ones of less consideration and amount; some having a direct application to the general expenses of the local government, and the others, intended as remittances to Spain; a distinction of little import and scarcely deserving of notice, since the object of the present sketch is to convey information on a large scale respecting the King's revenue in these Islands. As some of them, however, yield proceeds more regular than the others, I have classed together the receipts of the Pope's Bulls, or "Bulas de Cruzada," playing-cards, tithes, stamps and gunpowder, under the head of Subaltern Branches, with regard to the rest, to the general statement already quoted.
In conformity to the returns with which I have been favored from the public offices, these five branches produced, in the year 1809, $45,090.75 in the following proportions:
Sales. Expenses. Net Proceeds. Pope's bulls $15,360.75 $4,422.25 $10,938.50 Playing cards 11,539.125 932.625 10,606.50 Tithes 12,493.00 —— 12,493.00 Stamps 4,467.50 321.50 4,146.00 Gunpowder 7,307.625 401.125 6,905.375 —— —— —— $51,168.125 $6,077.75 $45,090.375
[Tithes.] The scanty proceeds of the tithes will naturally appear remarkable; but it ought to be remembered that, besides the ordinary tribute, the natives pay half a real under this denomination, without any distinction of person, or any reference whatever to their respective means, the total amount of which is already added to the tributes, and for this reason not repeated in this place. In addition also no tithes are levied, except on lands belonging to Spaniards, churches, regular clergy, ecclesiastical corporations, etc., and even then the articles of rice, wheat, pulse indigo and sugar, are alone liable. The above branches are all in charge of administrators, and from this plan it certainly would be advisable to separate the tithes and farm them out at public auction, as was proposed by the king's officers of the treasury, in their report on this, as well as other points, concerning the revenue, and dated October 24, 1792. From the net proceeds of the gunpowder the expenses of its manufacture, confided to the commandant of artillery, ought seemingly to be deducted; but, as they cannot be ascertained with any degree of certainty, and as besides they are comprehended in the general expenses of that department, a separate deduction may be dispensed with.
[Disbursements and general expenses.] In order to form a correct idea of the annual amount of the expenditure incurred by the administration and defence of the Philippine Islands, it is not necessary in this place to distinguish each item, separately; or to enumerate them with their respective sums or particular denominations. Some general observations on this subject ought, nevertheless, to be made, with a view to point out the reforms of which this important department of the public revenue is susceptible.
In the part relating to the interior administration or government, ample room is certainly left for that kind of economy arising out of the adoption of a general system, little complicated; but it is besides indispensably necessary that, at the same time the work is simplifed and useless hands dismissed, the salaries of those who remain should be proportionally increased, in order to stimulate them in the due performance of their duties. It might also be found advisable to create a small number of officers of a superior order, who would be enabled to co-operate in the collection of the king's revenue, and the encouragement of agriculture, commerce and navigation, in their respective departments. The additional charges in this respect cannot be of any great consequence; although, in reality, by the receipts increasing through the impulse of an administrative order more perfect, and the expenses being always the same, the main object, so anxiously sought for in another way, would be thus attained.
[Defence expenses.] The reverse, however, happens with regard to the expenses of defence, as I have called them, the better to distinguish them from those purely relating to the interior police or administration. Every sacrifice, most assuredly, ought to appear small, when the object is to preserve a country from falling into the hands of an enemy, and it ought not to excite surprise, if, during the course of the last fifteen years, several millions of dollars have been expended in the Philippines, in order to shield them from so dreadful a misfortune. But the late memorable revolution in the Peninsula has given rise to so great a change in our political relations, and it is extremely improbable that these Islands will be again exposed to the same danger and alarm, that the government may now, without any apparent risk, dispense with a considerable part of the preparations of defence, at one time deemed indispensably necessary. A colony that has no other strong place to garrison than its capital, and on the loyalty of whose inhabitants there are sufficient motives to rely, ought, in my opinion, to be considered as adequately provided against all ordinary occurrences in time of peace, with the 4,000 regulars, more or less, of all arms, the usual military establishment. In case any suspicions should arise of an early rupture with the only power whose forces can inspire the governors of these Islands with any kind of apprehensions, means will not be wanting to an active and provident minister, of giving proper advice, so as to allow sufficient time for the assembling of the battalions of provincial militia and all the other necessary preparations of defence, before the enemy is in an attitude to effect an invasion of a country so far distant from his own possessions on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel. Consequently, by disbanding the corps of provincial infantry, cavalry and artillery, which continue uselessly to be kept on foot, an annual saving of from $220,000 to $250,000 would take place, an amount too great to be expended unless imperiously called for by the evident dread of a premeditated attack from an hostile quarter.
[Shipping reform.] The navy is another of the departments in which reforms may be introduced, of no small moment to the treasury. Of course by the government merely dispensing with the policy of keeping in readiness two large ships to convey to Acapulco the cargos, for which the Manila merchants enjoy an annual licence, and leaving to the latter the full liberty of following up their speculations on their own account and risk, in vessels of their own, individually or with joint stock, a saving would result in favor of the crown equal to $140,000 to $150,000 per annum, and without preventing the receipt in Acapulco of the customary duties of $160,000 or $166,000 corresponding to the said licenses. This will evidently be the case, because as long as the large disposal of funds of the charitable institutions are employed in maritime risks, and the private property of others is besides added to them, the amount of the operations undertaken by the merchants of the Philippines to New Spain, when divested of all restraint, will always exceed $500,000 per annum. Nor is there now any further occasion for the government to continue granting this species of gratuitous tutelage to a body of men possessed of ample means to manage their own affairs, and who demand the same degree of freedom, and only seek a protection similar to that enjoyed by their fellow-countrymen in other parts of the king's dominions.
[Galleon graft.] In case the above reform should be adopted, it might be deemed requisite for the government to undertake the payment of some of the charges under the existing order of things, defrayed out of the freights to which the merchandise shipped in the Acapulco traders is liable; because, calculating the freight at the usual rate of $200 for each three bales, or the amount of one ticket, out of the one thousand constituting the entire cargo, and of which one-half, or $100,000 more or less, is appropriated to the ecclesiastical chapter, municipality, officers of the regular army (excluding captains and the other higher ranks) and the widows of Spaniards, who in this case would be losers, independent of the remaining $100,000 or 500 tickets distributed among the 200 persons having a right to ship to Acapulco, it would, at first sight, appear reasonable for the treasury to indemnify the above description of persons by a compensation equivalent to the privation they experience through the new arrangement of the government. But as the practice of abuses constitutes no law, and what is given through favor is different to that which is required by justice, there are no reasons whatever why the treasury should be bound to support the widows of private persons, from the mere circumstance of their deceased husbands having been Spaniards; more particularly if it is considered that, far from having acquired any special merit during their lifetime, most of them voluntarily left their native country for the purpose of increasing their fortunes, and others were banished from it, owing to their bad conduct. Neither can it be said that the municipality have a legal right, in the case before stated, to receive any equivalent for the value of their respective annual tickets, which, when disposed of, usually amount to about $20,000 in the first place, because it is well-known that the eleven aldermen's seats, of which that body is composed, seats which can either be sold or resigned, originally did not cost as much as $50,000 and clearly the principal invested is out of all kind of proportion with the enormous premium or income claimed. In the second place, although the above municipal situations were originally purchased with a view to obtain some advantages, these formerly were very different to what they are at present, when the great increase of shippers to Acapulco, or in more plain terms, of purchase of tickets competing to obtain them, has given to these permits a value more than triple to that they possessed thirty years ago.
[Indemnifying the aldermen.] In order, therefore, to do away with all motives of doubt and dispute, as well as for many other reasons of public utility, the best plan, in my opinion, would be, to return to each alderman his money, and the present municipal constitution being dissolved, the number of members might be reduced to four, with their corresponding registrar, and like the two ordinary "alcaldes," elected every year without any other reward than the honor of presiding over and representing their fellow-citizens. Under this supposition, the only classes entitled to compensation, strictly speaking, would be the ecclesiastical chapter and the subaltern officers, whose respective pay and appointment are not in fact sufficient for the decency and expenses of their rank in society. Of course it would then be necessary to grant them more adequate allowances, but, according to reasonable calculations, the sum total annually required would not exceed $30,000; consequently, the reform projected with regard to the Acapulco ships would still eventually produce to the treasury a saving of from $60,000 to $70,000 in the first year of its adoption, and of $110,000 to $120,000 in every succeeding one.
[The navy.] It is, on the other hand, undeniable that, if the royal navy and cruising vessels, or those belonging to the Islands and under the immediate orders of the captain-general, were united into one department, and placed under one head, considerable economy would ensue, and all motives of discord and emulation be moreover removed. Such would be the case if the change was attended with no other cirumstances than the consequent diminution of commanders, subaltern officers, and clerks; but it would be also proper to unite the arsenals, and adopt a more general uniformity in the operations and dependences of this part of the public services. It is equally certain that, during peaceful times, the two schooners and sixty gunboats, constituting the number of the above-mentioned cruising vessels, would be in great measure useless; whilst in case of a rupture, they are not sufficient to protect the trade of these Islands from the attacks of an enemy, notwithstanding they now cost the government considerable sums in repairs, etc., in order to keep them fit for service. The government ought therefore to guard against this waste of public money, without, however, neglecting the defence of the Islands, objects which, in my opinion, might easily be reconciled. Intelligent persons have judged that by reducing the naval forces to two frigates, two schooners, and about a dozen gunboats, the essential wants of the colony would be duly answered, in ordinary times; and some of the vessels might then be destined to pursue hydrographical labors in the Archipelago, which, unfortunately, are in a most backward state, whilst others could be sent on their periodical cruises against the Moros. By this means, at least, the navy department would be greatly simplified, and cease to be eternally burdensome to the government. With regard to the superfluous gunboats, it would be expedient to distribute them gratuitously among the marine provinces and Bisayan Islands, on the only condition of their being always kept fit for service; as, in one sense, the great expenses of maintaining them would be thus saved by the treasury, and, another, the inhabitants of those portions of the coast would be in possession of means sufficiently powerful to repel the aggressions of the Moros, who commit great ravages on their settlements. Finally, if besides the reforms of which the army and navy are susceptible, it is considered that the public works, such as prisons, schools, bridges, and causeways, so expensive in other countries, in the Philippines are constructed by the natives on the most reasonable terms, out of the community funds; that there is no necessity to build fortifications, and maintain numerous garrisons; that the clergy, to whose zeal and powerful influence the preservation of these Islands is chiefly due, do not cost the treasury annually above $200,000 and that the geographical situation of the colony in great measure shields it from the attacks of external enemies, it will readily be confessed, that a wise and firm government might undertake, without the dread of having to encounter any great obstacles, an administrative system, in a general point of view, infinitely more economical than the one hitherto followed; might be able to extirpate numerous abuses, and by calling forth the resources of the country gradually raise it to a flourishing condition, and cause it hereafter to contribute largely to the other wants of the crown. Hence was it that the distinguished voyager, La Perouse (Chap. 15), contemplating these Islands with a political eye, did not hesitate to affirm "that a powerful nation, possessed of no other colonies than the Philippines, that should succeed in establishing there a form of government best adapted to their advantageous circumstances, would justly disregard all the other European establishments in Africa and America."
[Objectionable office-holders.] In our colonies, appointments and command far from being sought as a means to obtain a good reputation, or as affording opportunities of contributing to public prosperity, are, it is too well known, only solicited with a view to amass wealth, and then retire for the purpose of enjoying it. Commercial pursuits being besides attended with so many advantages that those only decline following them who are divested of money and friends; whilst the situation in the revenue are so few in number, compared with the many candidates who solicit them, that they are consequently well appointed, it follows that the excess left without occupation, besides being considerable, is generally composed of needy persons, and not the most suitable to exercise the delicate functions of collectors and magistrates in the provinces. From this class nevertheless the host of officers are usually taken who, under the name of collectors, surveyors and assessors of tributes, intervene in, or influence the public administration. Owing to the variety and great number of persons emigrating to America, ample field, no doubt, is there left for selection, by which means the viceroys may frequently meet with persons suitable and adequate to the above trusts, if prudent steps are only taken; but in this respect the case is very different in the Philippines, where chance alone occasionally brings over a European Spaniard, unemployed or friendless. In these remote Islands, also, more than in any other quarter, people seek to live in idleness, and, as much as possible, without working, or much trouble. As long as hopes are entertained of doing something in the Acapulco speculations, every other pursuit is viewed with indifference, and the office of district or provincial magistrate is only solicited when all other resources have failed, or as a remedy against want. As the applicants for these situations are therefore not among the most select classes, it very frequently happens that they fall into extremely improper and unworthy hands.
It is in fact common enough to see a hairdresser or a lackey converted into a governor; a sailor or a deserter transformed into a district magistrate, collector, or military commander of a populous province, without any other counsellor than his own crude understanding, or any other guide than his passion. Such a metamorphosis would excite laughter in a comedy or farce; but, realized in the theatre of human life, it must give rise to sensations of a very different nature. Who is there that does not feel horror-struck, and tremble for the innocent, when he sees a being of this kind transferred from the yard-arm to the seat of justice, deciding, in the first instance, on the honor, lives, and property of a hundred thousand persons, and haughtily exacting the homage and incense of the spiritual ministers of the towns under his jurisdiction, as well as of the parish curates, respectable for their acquirements and benevolence, and who, in their own native places, would possibly have rejected as a servant the very man whom in the Philippines they are compelled to court and obey as a sovereign.
In vain do the laws ordain that such offices shall not be given away to attendants on governors and members of the high court of justice, for under pretext of the scarcity of Europeans experienced in the colony, means are found to elude the statute, by converting this plea into an exception in favor of this description of persons. By such important offices being filled in this manner, it is easy to conceive the various hardships to which many of the provinces and districts are exposed; nor can any amelioration be expected as long as this plan is persisted in and the excesses of the parties go without punishment.
[Evils from officials in trade.] Independent, however, of the serious injuries and great errors persons of the class above described cannot fail to commit in the exercise of their functions, purely judicial, the consequences of their inordinate avarice are still more lamentable, and the tacit permission to satisfy it, granted to them by the government under the specious title of a licence to trade. Hence may it be affirmed, that the first of the evils, and the one the native immediately feels, is occasioned by the very person the law has destined for his relief and protection. In a word, he experiences injuries from the civil magistrates presiding over the provinces, who, at the same time, are the natural enemies of the inhabitants, and the real oppressors of their industry.
It is a known and melancholy fact that, far from promoting the felicity of the provinces intrusted to their care, the magistrates attend to nothing else but their own fortunes and personal interests; nor do they hesitate as to the means by which their object is to be attained. Scarcely are they seated in the place of authority, when they become the chief consumers, purchasers, and exporters of every thing produced and manufactured within the districts under their command, thus converting their licence to trade into a positive monopoly. In all lucrative speculations the magistrate seeks to have the largest share; in all his enterprises he calls in the forced aid of his subjects, and if he deigns to remunerate their labor, at most it is only on the same terms as if they had been working on account of the king. These unhappy people bring in their produce and crude manufactures to the very person who, directly or indirectly, is to fix upon them an arbitrary value. To offer such and such a price for the articles is the same as to say, another bidding shall not be made. To insinuate is to command—the native is not allowed to hesitate, he must either please the magistrate, or submit to his persecutions. Being besides free from all competition in the prosecution of his traffic, since he is frequently the only Spaniard resident in the province, the magistrate therein acts with unbounded sway, without dread, and almost without risk of his tyranny ever being denounced to the superior tribunals.
[Speculating in tributes.] In order, however, that a more correct idea may be formed of the iniquitous conduct of many of these public functionaries, it is necessary to lay open some part of their irregular dealings in the collection of the Indian tributes. It is well known that the government, anxious to conciliate the interests of the tributary classes with those of the revenue, frequently commutes the pecuniary capitation tax into an obligation to pay the amount in produce or manufactures. A season comes when, owing to the failure of the crops, the productions have risen to an excessive price, and consequently infinitely above the ordinary rates affixed by law, which are generally the lowest, and the natives, unable to keep their bargains without considerable injury or endangering the subsistence of their numerous families, implore the favor of the magistrate, petitioning him to lay their calamitous situation before the superior government, in order to have the payment of their tribute in kind remitted, and offering to pay it in money. This is the precise moment when, as his own profits depend on the misery of the province under his command, he endeavors to misuse the accidental power with which he is invested. Hence it happens that, instead of acting as a beneficent mediator, and supporting the just solicitations of the natives, he at first disregards their petition, and then all at once transforming himself into a zealous collector, issues his notifications, sends his satellites into the very fields to seize on the produce, and in a most inexorable manner insists on collecting till necessity compels him to suspend the measure. The principal object being attained, that is, having now become master of the gleanings and scanty crops of his bereft subjects, on a sudden his disposition changes, he is moved to pity, and in the most pathetic language describes to the government the ravages done to the plantations by the hurricanes, and the utter impossibility of collecting in the tributes that year in kind. On such a remonstrance he easily obtains permission to change the standing order, and proceeding on to collect in some of the remaining tributes in money, merely to save appearance, with perfect impunity he puts the finishing stroke to the wicked act he had commenced, by applying to himself all the produce his collectors had gathered in, and places to the credit of the treasury the total amount of the tributes, corresponding to his jurisdiction, in money.
Supposing, for example, that this has happened in the province of Antique, where the payment of the capitation-tax generally takes place in the unhusked rice, rated at two reals per cavan, and, through the effects of a bad season, this article should rise as high as ten or twelve reals. It is clear that the magistrate, by accounting for the tributes with the revenue office in money, and collecting them in kind at the rate fixed by law, would by the sales gain a profit of 400 or 500 per cent; at the same time the native, by the mere circumstance of then paying in kind, would have paid the tribute corresponding to five or six years in a single one, without, on that account, having freed himself from the same charge in the following seasons.
[No check on extortion.] When the extortionate acts as these are practised, to what lengths may it not be expected the other excesses and abuses of authority are carried? To the above it ought moreover to be added, that the provincial magistrates have no lieutenants, and are unprovided with any other auxiliaries in the administration of justice, except an accompanying witness and a native director; that the scrutinies of their accounts, to which they formerly were subject, are now abolished, and, in short, that they have no check upon them, or indeed any other persons to bear testimony to their irregularities, except the friendless and miserable victims of their despotism and avarice.
Notwithstanding, however, what is above stated, it sometimes happens that a magistrate is to be met with, distinguished from the rest by his prudence and good conduct; but this is a miracle, for by the very circumstance of his being allowed to trade, he is placed in a situation to abuse the wide powers confided to him, and preferably to attend to his personal interests; in fact, if the principle is in itself defective, it must naturally be expected the consequences will be equally baneful. The lamentable abuses here noticed are but too true, as well as many others passed over in silence; and the worst of all is, that there is no hope of remedying them thoroughly, unless the present system of interior administration is altogether changed. In vain would it be to allege the possibility of removing the evil by the timely and energetic interposition of the protector of the natives; for although this office is in itself highly respectable, it cannot in any way reach the multitude of excesses committed, and much less prevent them; not only because the minister who exercises it resides in the city, where complaints are seldom brought in, unless they come through the channel of the parish curates; but also on account of the difficulty of fully establishing the charges against the magistrates, in the way the natives are at present depressed by fear and threats, as well as restrained by the sub-governors and other inferior officers of justice, who, being dependent upon, and holding their situations from the magistrates, are interested in their monopolies and extortionate acts being kept from public view.
[Less complaisant laws needed.] If, therefore, it is not possible entirely to eradicate the vices under which the interior administration of these Islands labors, owing to the difficulty of finding persons possessed of the necessary virtues and talents to govern, in an upright and judicious manner, let us at least prevent the evils out of the too great condescension of our own laws. In the infancy of colonies, it has been the maxim of all governments to encourage the emigration and settlement of inhabitants from the mother-country, without paying much attention to the means by which this was to be done. It was not to be wondered at that, for reasons of state, defects were overlooked,—at such periods were even deemed necessary. Hence the relaxation in the laws in favor of those who, quitting their native land, carried over with them to strange countries their property and acquirements. Hence, no doubt, also are derived the full powers granted to those who took in charge the subjection and administration of the new provinces, in order that they might govern, and at the same time carry on their traffic with the natives, notwithstanding the manifest incompatibility of the two occupations; or rather, the certainty that ought to have been foreseen that public duties would generally be postponed, when placed in competition with private interests and the anxious desire of acquiring wealth.
Subsequently that happened which was, in fact, to be dreaded, viz., what at first was tolerated as a necessary evil, sanctioned by the lapse of time has at length become a legitimate right, or rather a compensation for the supposed trouble attached to the fulfillment of the duties of civil magistrates; whilst they, as already observed, think of nothing but themselves, and undergo no other trouble or inconvenience than usually fall on the lot of any other private merchant. In the Philippines, at least, many years having elapsed since the natives peaceably submitted to the dominion of the king, every motive has ceased that could formerly, and in a certain degree, justify the indulgence so much abused, at the same time that no plausible pretext whatever exists for its further continuation.
Although hitherto the number of whites, compared to that of the people of color, has not been great, as the whole of the provincial magistracies, collectorships, and subaltern governments, do not exceed twenty-seven, the scarcity of Spaniards ought not to be alleged as a sufficient reason; nor can it be doubted these situations might at any time be properly filled, if the person on whom the choice should fall were only certain of living with decency and in a suitable manner, without being carried away with the flattering hopes of withdrawing from office, with ten, twenty, and even as high as fifty thousand dollars of property, as has heretofore been the case, but satisfied with a due and equivalent salary they might receive as a reward for the public services they perform.
I do not therefore see why the government should hesitate in resolving to put a stop to evils which the people of the Philippines have not ceased to deplore from the time of the conquest, by proscribing, under the most severe penalties, the power of trading, as now exercised by the provincial magistrates. The time is come when this struggle between duty and sordid interest ought to end, and reason, as well as enlightened policy, demand that in this respect our legislation should be reformed, in order that the mace of justice, instead of being prostituted in search of lucre, may henceforwards be wholly employed in the support of equity and the protection of society.
[Urgence of reform.] The only objection which, at first sight, might be started against the suggestions here thrown out is the increased expense which would fall on the treasury, owing to the necessity of appropriating competent salaries for the interior magistrates under the new order of things. Independent, however, of the fact that the rapid improvements the provinces must assume, in every point of view, would superabundantly make up this trifling difference; yet supposing the sacrifice were gratuitous, and even of some moment, it ought not, on that account, to be omitted, since there is no public object more important to the sovereign himself, than to make the necessary provision for the decorum of the magistracy, the due administration of justice, and the maintenance of good order among his subjects.
The position being established, that a number of whites more than sufficient might be obtained, eligible and fit to perform the duties of civil magistrates, which they would be induced to undertake, if adequate terms were only proposed, it would seem that no ill consequences might be expected from at once assimilating the regulations of these provincial judicatures to those of the corregimientos, or mayoralties of towns in Spain, or in making out an express statute, on a triple scale, for three classes of magistrates, granting to them emoluments equivalent to the greater or lesser extent of the respective jurisdictions. As far as regards the pay, it ought to be so arranged as to act as a sufficient stimulus to induce European colonists to embrace this career, in a fixed and permanent way, which hitherto they have only resorted to as a five years' speculation. Conformably to this suggestion, and owing to the lesser value attached to money in India, compared with Europe, on account of the greater abundance of the necessaries of life, I am of opinion that it would be expedient to affix an annual allowance of $2,000 to each of the appointments of the six principal and most populous provinces, $1,500 for the next in importance, and for the twelve or thirteen remaining, at the rate of $1,000 each; leaving to the candidates the option of rising according to their length of services and good conduct, from the lowest to the highest, as is the case in Spain.
[Objects to be gained.] The first part of the plan above pointed out embraces two objects. The one is to prevent the provincial magistrates from carrying on traffic, thus depriving them of every pretext to defraud the natives of what is their own; and the other, to form, in the course of a few years a class of men hitherto unknown in the Philippine Islands, who, taught by practice, may be enabled to govern the provinces in a more correct and regular manner, and acquire more extended knowledge, especially in the judicial proceedings of the first instance, which, owing to this defect, frequently compel the litigants to incur useless expenses, and greatly embarrass the ordinary course of justice. Although the second part at first seems to involve an increased expense of $36,000 or $37,000 annually, when well considered, this sum will be found not to exceed $20,000, because it will be necessary to deduct from the above estimate the amount of three per cent. under the existing regulations allowed to the magistrates for the collection of the native tributes, in their character of subdelegates, generally amounting to $16,000 or $17,000; besides only taking into account such real and effective disbursements or extraordinary expenses as in fact they may legally have incurred in the performance of their duties.
Should it, however, be deemed expedient, from causes just in their nature, hereafter to exonerate the natives from the obligations of paying tributes, by which means the amount deducted for the three per cent. commission could not then be brought into account, let me be allowed to ask what enlightened government would hesitate submitting to an additional expense of so trifling an import, in exchange for beholding more than two millions of men forever freed from the extortionate acts of their old magistrates; and, through the effects of the new regulations, the latter converted into real fathers of the people over whom they are placed? How different would then be the aspect these fine provinces would present to the eyes of the philosophical observer who would, in that case, be able to calculate to what an extent the progress of agriculture and industry in these islands might be carried.
[Demoralization of over-seas service.] Nevertheless, I do not wish to insinuate that by the better organization of the provincial governments, the present irregularities and abuses of authority would entirely cease; because I am aware, more especially in the Indies, that the persons who hold public situations usually have too exaggerated ideas of their own personal importance, and easily mistake the gratification of their own whims for firmness of character, in the necessity of causing themselves to be respected. Still it is an incontestable fact that, by removing the chief temptation, and rescinding altogether the license to trade, the just complaints preferred by the native against the Spaniard would cease; the motives of those continual disputes which arise between the magistrates and the ministers of the gospel exercising their functions in the same provinces, and the zealous defenders of the rights of their parishioners, would be removed, and the inhabitants of Manila, extending their mercantile operations to the interior, without the dread of seeing them obstructed through the powerful competition of the magistrates in authority there, would be induced to settle in or connect themselves with the provinces, and thus diffuse their knowledge, activity and money among the inhabitants, the true means of encouraging the whole.
What has already been said will suffice to convince the lover of truth and the friend of general prosperity, how urgent it is to introduce as early as possible, the reform proposed into the interior administration of this important, although neglected colony; and it is to be hoped that the government, guided by these same sentiments, will not be led away by those narrow-minded people, who predict danger from every thing that is new; but, after due and mature deliberation, resolve to adopt a measure dictated by reason, and at the same time conformable to the best interests of the state.
Of little avail would have been the valor and constancy with which Legaspi and his worthy companions overcame the natives of these islands, if the apostolic zeal of the missionaries had not seconded their exertions, and aided to consolidate the enterprise. The latter were the real conquerors; they who, without any other arms than their virtues, won over the good will of the islanders, caused the Spanish name to be beloved, and gave to the king, as it were by a miracle, two millions more of submissive and Christian subjects. These were the legislators of the barbarous hordes who inhabited the islands of this immense Archipelago, realizing, by their mild persuasion, the allegorical prodigies of Amphion and Orpheus.
[Pioneer Philippine government a theocracy.] As the means the missionaries called in to their aid, in order to reduce and civilize the Indians, were preaching and other spiritual labors, and, although scattered about and acting separately, they were still subject to the authority of their prelates, who, like so many chiefs, directed the grand work of conversion, the government primitively established in these colonies must necessarily have partaken greatly of the theocratical order, and beyond doubt it continued to be so, till, by the lapse of time, the number of colonists increased, as well as the effective strength of the royal authority, so as to render the governing system uniform with that established in the other ultramarine dominions of Spain.
This is also deduced from the fragments still remaining of the first constitution, or mode of government introduced in the Batanes Islands and missions of Cagayan, administered by the Dominican friars in a spiritual and temporal manner; as well as from what may frequently be observed in the other provinces, by any one who bestows the smallest attention. Although the civil magistracies have since been regulated, and their respective attributes determined with due precision, it has not hitherto been possible, notwithstanding the pains taken to make the contrary appear, to do without the personal authority and influence the parish curates possess over their flocks. The government has, in fact, constantly been obliged to avail themselves of this aid, as the most powerful instrument to insure respect and a due subordination, in such manner that, although the parish curates are not at present equally authorized to interfere in the civil administration, in point of fact, they are themselves the real administrators.
[Standing of parish priests.] It happens that, as the parish curate is the consoler of the afflicted, the peacemaker of families, the promoter of useful ideas, the preacher and example of every thing good; as in him liberality is seen to shine, and the Indians behold him alone in the midst of them, without relatives, without traffic, and always busied in their care and improvement, they become accustomed to live satisfied and contented under his paternal direction, and deliver up to him the whole of their confidence. In this way rendered the master of their wishes, nothing is done without the advice, or rather consent, of the curate. The subaltern governor, on receiving an order from the superior magistrate, before he takes any step, goes to the minister to obtain his sanction, and it is he in fact who tacitly gives the mandate for execution, or prevents its being carried into effect. As the father of his flock, he arranges, or directs, the lawsuits of his parishioners; it is he who draws out their writings; goes to the capital to plead for the Indians; opposes his prayers, and sometimes his threats, to the violent acts of the provincial magistrates, and arranges every thing in the most fit and quiet manner. In a word, it is not possible for any human institution to be more simple, and at the same time more firmly established, or from which so many advantages might be derived in favor of the state, as the one so justly admired in the spiritual ministry of these islands. It may therefore be considered a strange fatality, when the secret and true art of governing a colony, so different from any other as is that of the Philippines, consists in the wise use of so powerful an instrument as the one just described, that the superior government, within the last few years, should have been so much deluded as to seek the destruction of a work which, on the contrary, it is, above all others, advisable to sustain.
In this, as well as many other cases, we see how difficult, or rather how absurd it is, to expect to organize a system of government, indistinctly adapted to the genius and disposition of all nations, however great the discordance prevailing in their physical and moral constitutions. Hence it follows that, by wishing to assimilate the administrative plan of these provinces to the one adopted in the sections of America, inconveniences are unceasingly met with, evidently arising out of this erroneous principle. Whatever may be asserted to the contrary, there is no medium. It is necessary to insure obedience either through dread and force, or respect must be excited by means of love and confidence. In order to be convinced that the first is not practicable, it will only be necessary to weigh well the following circumstances and reflections.
The number of the whites compared to that of the natives is so small, that it can scarcely be estimated in the proportion of 15 to 25,000. These provinces, infinitely more populous than those of America, are entirely delivered up to the charge of provincial [Friars only check on officials.] magistrates, who carry with them to the seats of their respective governments, no other troops than the title of military commandants, and their royal commission on parchment. Besides the friars, it sometimes happens that no other white person is to be found in an entire province, but the presiding magistrate. It is the duty of the latter to collect in the king's revenue; to pursue robbers; appease tumults; raise men for the regiments in garrison at Manila and Cavite; regulate and head his people in case of an external invasion, and, in short, it is he who is to do everything in the character of magistrate and in the name of the king. Considering, therefore, the effective power required for the due performance of so great a variety of duties, and the want of that species of support experienced by him who is charged with them, can it be denied that it would be risking the security of these dominions too much, to attempt forcibly to control them with means so insufficient? If the inhabitants become tumultuous and rise up, on whom will the magistrate call for aid to repress and punish them? In such a predicament, is any other alternative left him than to fly or die in the struggle? If among civilized nations, it is deemed indispensable that authority should always appear accompanied with force, how can it be expected, among Indians, that the laws will otherwise be respected, when left naked and unsupported?
[Missionaries' achievements.] Evidently, it is necessary to appeal to aid of another kind, and to employ means, which, although indirect ones, are, beyond all dispute, the best adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the country,—means which, by influencing the mind, excite veneration, subdue the rude understanding of the inhabitants, and incline them to bear our dominion without repugnance. It is well understood what these means are, how much they are at hand, and how greatly also they have always been envied by other European nations, who have sought to extend and consolidate their conquests in both the Indies. Let us listen to La Perouse, if we wish to know and admire the army with which our missionaries subdued the natives of both Californias; let us read, dispassionately, the wonderful deeds of the Jesuits in other parts of America, and, above all, let us visit the Philippine Islands and, with astonishment, shall we there behold extended ranges, studded with temples and spacious convents; the Divine worship celebrated with pomp and splendor; regularity in the streets, and even luxury in the houses and dress; schools of the first rudiments in all the towns, and the inhabitants well versed in the art of writing. We shall there see causeways raised, bridges of a good architecture built, and, in short, all the measure of good government and police, in the greatest part of the country, carried into effect, yet the whole is due to the exertions, apostolic labors and pure patriotism of the ministers of religion. Let us travel over the provinces, and we shall there see towns of 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 Indians, peacefully governed by one weak old man, who, with his doors open at all hours, sleeps quiet and secure in his dwelling, without any other magic, or any other guards, than the love and respect with which he has known to inspire his flock. And, when this is contemplated, can it be deemed possible, through foolish jealousy and vain wish for those persons only pointed out by the general laws in ordinary cases, to intervene in the government of the natives, that the fruit of so much time constancy are not to be lost, but also by hereafter disregarding and rejecting a co-operation, as efficient as it is economical, that attempts should purposely be made to destroy the mainspring of the whole of this political machine?
[Curtailing priestly authority.] Such, nevertheless, are the mistaken ideas which, within the last few years, have unhappily led to the adoption of measures, diametrically opposed to the public interest, under the pretext of curtailing the excessive authority of the parish-curates. The superior government, not satisfied with having deprived the ministers of the faculty of personally prescribing certain correctional punishments, which although of little moment, when applied with discretion, greatly contributed to fortify their ascendency, and consequently, that of the sovereign; but, in order to exclude and divest them of all intervention in the civil administration, a direct attempt has also been made to lower the esteem in which they are held, by awakening the distrust of the Indian, and, as much as possible, removing him to a greater distance from them. In proof of this, and in order that what has been said may not be deemed an exaggeration, it will suffice to quote the substance of two regulations, remarkable for their obvious tendency to weaken the influence and credit of the spiritual administrators.
By one of these, it is enacted that in order to prevent the abuses and notorious malversation of the funds of the sanctuary, specially applicable to the expenses of the festivities and worship of each parish, and arising out of the real and half for this purpose contributed by each tributary person, and collected and privately administered by the curate, the same shall hereafter be kept in a chest with three keys, and lodged in the head-town of each province. The keys are to be left, one in possession of the chief magistrate, another in the hands of the governor of the respective town, and the remaining one with the parish-curate. By the other measure it is declared, as a standing rule, that no Indian, who may lately have been employed in the domestic service of the curate, shall in his own town be considered eligible to any office belonging to the judicial department.
On measures of this kind, comments are unnecessary; their meaning and effect cannot be mistaken. I shall, therefore, merely observe, that no untimely means could have been devised more injurious to the state, to the propagation of religion, and even to the natives themselves. It is, in fact, a most strange affair, that such endeavors should have been made to impeach the purity, by at the same time degrading the respectable character of the parish-curates, more particularly at a period when, owing to partality and the scarcity of religious men, it would have seemed more natural to uphold, and by new inducements encourage the zeal and authority of the remaining few. This step appears the more singular, I repeat, at a moment when, neither by suspending the sending out of missionaries to China, and the almost entire abandonment of the spiritual conquest of the Igorots and other infidel tribes, inhabiting the interior of these islands, have the above Spanish laborers been able to carry on the ordinary administration, nor prevent entire provinces from being transferred, as is now the case, into the hands of Indians and mestizo clergymen of the Sangley race, who, through their great ignorance, corrupt morals, and total want of decorum, universally incur the contempt of the flocks committed to their care, and, in consequence of their tyrannical conduct, cause the people to sigh for the mild yoke of their ancient pastors.
[Friars bulwark of Spanish rule.] If, therefore, it is the wish of the government to retain the subjection of this colony, and raise it to the high degree of prosperity of which it is susceptible, the first thing, in my opinion, that ought to be attended to is the good organization of its spiritual administration. On this subject we must not deceive ourselves. I again repeat, that as long as the local government, in consequence of the want of military forces, and owing to the scarcity of Europeans, does not in itself possess the means of insuring obedience, no other alternative remains. It is necessary to call in to its aid the powerful influence of religion, and to obtain from the Peninsula fresh supplies of missionaries. As in their nature the latter are essentially different from the other public functionaries, it is well known they neither seek nor aspire to any remuneration for their labors, their only hope being to obtain, in the opinion of the community at large, that degree of respect to which they justly consider themselves entitled. Let, therefore, their pre-eminences be retained to them: let them be treated with decorum; the care and direction of the Indians confided to their charge, and they always be found united in support of justice and the legitimate authority.
[Unwise to discredit priests.] Nothing is more unjust, and of nothing have the spiritual directors of the provinces so much reason to complain, than the little discernment with which they have sometimes been judged and condemned, by causing the misconduct of some of their individual members to affect the whole body. Hence is it that no one can read without shame and indignation, the insidious suggestions and allusions, derogatory to their character, contained in the Regulations of Government framed at Manila in the year 1758, and which although modified by orders of the king, are at the present moment still in force, owing to the want of others, and found in a printed form in the hands of every one. Granting that in some particular instances, real causes of complaint might have existed, yet in the end, what does it matter if here and there a religious character has abused the confidence reposed in him, as long as the spirit by which the generality of them are actuated, corresponds to the sanctity of their state, and is besides conformable to the views of government? Why should we be eternally running after an ideal of perfection which can never be met with? Nor, indeed, is this necessary in the present construction of society.
[Testimony in their behalf] If, however, any weight is to be attached to imposture with which, from personal motives, attempts have been made to obscure the truth, and prejudice the public mind against the regular clergy; or, if the just defense on which I have entered, should be attributed to partiality or visionary impressions, let the Archives of the Colonial Department be opened, and we shall there find the report drawn up by order of the king on November 26, 1804, by the governor of the Philippine Islands, Don Rafael Maria de Aguilar, with a view to convey information regarding the enquiries at that time instituted respecting the reduction of the inhabitants of the Island of Mindoro; a report extremely honorable to the regular clergy, and dictated by the experience that general had acquired during a period of more than twelve years he had governed. Therein also will be seen the answer to the consultation addressed to his successor in the command, Don Mariano Fernandez de Folgueras, under date of April 25, 1809, in which he most earnestly beseeches the king to endeavor, by every possible means, to send out religious missionaries; deploring the decline and want of order he had observed with his own eyes in the towns administered by native clergymen, and pointing out the urgent necessity of intrusting the spiritual government of these provinces to the dexterous management of the former. Testimonies of such weight are more than sufficient at once to refute the calumnies and contrary opinions put forth on this subject, and at the same time serve as irrefragable proofs of the scrupulous impartiality with which I have endeavored to discuss so delicate a matter.
In a general point of view, I have alluded to the erroneous system, which during the last few years has been pursued by the government with regard to the parish-curates employed in the interior, and also sufficiently pointed out the advantages reasonably to be expected if the government, acting on a different policy, or rather guided by other motives of state, instead of following the literal text of our Indian legislation, should come to the firm determination of indirectly divesting themselves of a small portion of their authority in favor of the religious laborers who are acting on the spot. Having said thus much, I shall proceed to such further details as are more immediately connected with the present chapter.
[Ecclesiastical Organization.] The ecclesiastical jurisdiction is exercised by the metropolitan archbishop of Manila, aided by the three suffragans of Nueva Segovia, Nueva Caceres and Cebu.
The archbishopric of Manila comprehends the provinces of Tondo, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Cavite, Laguna de Bay, Zambales, Batangas, and the Island of Mindoro.
The bishopric of Nueva Segovia comprehends the province of Pangasinan, the missions of Ituy and Paniqui, the provinces of Ilocos, Cagayan, and the missions of the Batanes Islands.
That of Nueva Caceres comprehends the provinces of Tayabas, Nueva Ecija, Camarines and Albay.
That of Cebu comprehends the Islands of Cebu and Bohol, Iloilo, Capiz and Antique, in the Island of Panay, the Islands of La Paragua, Negros and Samar, Misamis, Caraga and Zamboanga in that of Mindanao, and the Mariana Islands.
The archbishop has a salary of $5,000 and the bishops $4,000 each. The curacies exceed 500, and although all of them originally were in charge of persons belonging to the religious orders, owing to the expulsion of the Jesuits and the excessive scarcity of regular clergy, so many native priests have gradually been introduced among them, that, at present, nearly half the towns are under their direction. The rest are administered by the religious orders of St. Augustine, St. Dominic and St. Francis, in the following manner:
Towns. The Augustinians 88 The barefooted Augustinians (Recoletos) 52 The Dominicans 57 The Franciscans 96 Total 293
It ought, however, to be observed, that since the detailed statement was made out, from which the above extract has been taken, so many members of the religious orders have died, that it has been necessary to replace them in many towns with native clergymen, as a temporary expedient, and till new missionaries shall arrive from Spain.
[Dual supervision over friars.] The monastic curates are immediately subject to their provincial superior, in the character of friars but depend on the diocesan bishop in their quality of parish priests; and in like manner obey their own provincial vicars, as well as those of the bishop. They are alternately eligible to the dignities of their own order, and generally promoted, or relieved from their ministry, at the discretion of the provincial chapter, or according to the final determination of the vice-patron or bishop, affixed to the triple list presented to him. Besides the ordinary obligations attached to the care of souls, they are enjoined to assist at the elections of governors and other officers of justice, in their respective towns, in order to inform the chief magistrate respecting the aptitude of the persons proposed for election on the triple lists, and to point out the legal defects attributable to any of them. On this account, they are not, however, allowed to interfere in the smallest degree with any of these proceedings, and much less make a formal proposal, as most assuredly would be advisable if permitted so to do, in favor of any particular person or persons in their opinion fit for the discharge of the above mentioned duties. It is their obligation to ascertain the correctness of the tribute lists presented to them for their examination and signature by the chief of the clans, by carefully comparing them with the registers kept in their own department; and also to certify the general returns, without which requisite the statements transmitted by the chief magistrates to the accountant-general's office are not admitted. Above all they are bound to affix their signatures to the effective payments made by the magistrate to their parishioners on account of daily labor, and to certify similarly the value of materials employed in public works. Besides the above, they are continually called upon to draw up circumstantial reports, or declarations, required by the superior tribunals; they receive frequent injunctions to co-operate in the increase of the king's revenue and the encouragement of agriculture and industry; in a word, there is scarcely a thing to which their attention is not called, and to which it is not expected they should contribute by their influence, directly or indirectly.
[Allowances from treasury.] The royal treasury pays them an annual allowance equal to $180, in kind and money, for each five hundred tributes under their care, and this, added to the emoluments of the church, renders the total proceeds of a curacy generally equivalent to about from six to eight reals for each entire tribute; but from this allowance are to be deducted the expenses of coadjutors, subsistence, servants, horses, and all the other charges arising out of the administration of such wearisome duties; nor are the parishioners under any other obligation than to provide the churches with assistants, or sacristans and singers, and the curates with provisions at tariff prices.
[Need of more European clergy.] Finally, as from what has been above stated it would appear, that as many as five hundred religious persons are necessary for the spiritual administration of the interior towns and districts, besides the number requisite to do the duty and fill the dignities of the respective orders and convents in the capital, independent of which there ought to be a proportionate surplus, applicable to the progressive reduction of the infidel tribes inhabiting the uplands, as well as the preaching of the Gospel in China and Cochinchina, most assuredly, it would be expedient to assemble and keep together a body of no less than seven hundred persons, if it is the wish of the government, on a tolerable scale, to provide for the wants of these remote missions. At the present moment the number does not exceed three hundred, including superannuated, exempt from service, and lay-brothers, whilst the native clergymen in effective possession of curacies, and including substitutes, coadjutors and weekly preachers, exceed one thousand. And as the latter, in general unworthy of the priesthood, are rather injurious than really serviceable to the state, it should not be deemed unjust if they were altogether deprived of the dignity of parish curates, and only allowed to exercise their functions in necessary cases, or by attaching them to the curacies in the quality of coadjutors. By this plan, at the same time that the towns would be provided with suitable and adequate ministers, the native clergymen would be distributed in a proper manner and placed near the religious persons charged to officiate, would acquire the necessary knowledge and decorum, and in the course of time might obtain character and respect among their countrymen.
To many, a measure of this kind may, in some respects, appear harsh and arbitrary; but persons, practically acquainted with the subject and country, will deem it indispensable, and the only means that can be resorted to, in order to stop the rapid decline remarkable in this interesting department of public administration. Fortunately, no grounded objections can be alleged against it; nor is there any danger of serious consequences resulting from the plan being carried into effect. In vain would it be to argue that, if the reform is to take place, a large number of priests would be reduced to beggary, owing to the want of occupation; because, as things now stand, many of the religious curates employ three or four coadjutors, and, no doubt, they would then gladly undertake to make provision for the remainder of those who may be thrown out of employment. On the other hand, with equal truth it may be observed that the inhabitants of the interior, far from regretting, or taking part on behalf of the native clergy, would celebrate, as a day of gladness and rejoicing, the removal of the latter, in return for their beloved Castilian Fathers.
[Restriction of native ordinations recommended.] In case the ideas above suggested should be adopted in all their parts, it may be proper to add that an injunction ought to be laid on the reverend bishops in future to confer holy orders with more scrupulosity and economy, than, unfortunately, heretofore has been the case; by representing to them that, if, at certain periods the Popes have been influenced by powerful reasons not to insist on ordinations taking place in Europe, as was formerly the case, very weighty motives now equally urge the government to decline, in the Philippine Islands, paying so much to religious vocation, and to relax in the policy of raising the natives to the dignity of the priesthood.
[Moro depredations.] Long have the inhabitants of the Philippines deplored, and in vain remonstrated, against the ravages committed on their coasts and settlements by the barbarous natives of the Islands of Mindanao, Basilan and Jolo, as well as by the Malanos, Ilanos and Tirone Moros and others; and there is nothing that so much deserves the attention, and interests the honor of the Captain-General commanding in this quarter, as an early and efficient attempt to check and punish these cruel enemies. It is indeed true that, in the years 1636 and 1638, General Don Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera, undertook in person and happily carried into effect the reduction of the Sultan of Mindanao and the conquest of the Island of Jolo, placing in the latter a governor and establishing three military posts there; under the protection of the garrisons of which, Christianity was considerably extended. It is equally true, that on the subsequent abandonment of this important acquisition, owing to the government being compelled to attend to other urgent matters, the enemy acquired a greater degree of audacity, and the captain-general in command afterwards sent armaments to check his inroads. On one of these occasions, our troops obliged an army of more than 5,000 Moros, who had closely beset the fortress of Zamboanga, to raise the siege; and also in the years 1731 and 1734, fresh detachments of our men were landed on the Islands of Jolo, Capul and Basilan, and their success was followed by the destruction and ruin of the fortified posts, vessels, and settlements of those perfidious Mahometans. It is not, however, less certain that at the periods above mentioned, the war was carried on rather from motives of punishment and revenge, and suggested by a sudden and passing zeal, than in conformity to any progressive and well-combined system. Since then these laudable military enterprises have been entirely neglected, as well on account of the indolence of some of the governors, as the too great confidence placed in the protestations of friendship and treaties of peace with which, from time to time, the Sultans of Jolo and Mindanao have sought to lull them to sleep. Their want of sincerity is proved by the circumstance of the piracies of their respective subjects not ceasing, the chiefs sometimes feigning they were carried on without their license or knowledge; and, at others, excusing themselves on the plea of their inability to restrain the insolence of the Tirones and other independent tribes. Nevertheless, it is notorious that the above-mentioned sultans indirectly encouraged the practice of privateering, by affording every aid in their power to those who fitted out vessels, and purchasing from the pirates all the Christians they captured and brought to them.
[A missionary's appeal.] Father Juan Angeles, superior of the mission established in Jolo, at the request of Sultan Alimudin himself (or Ferdinand I as he was afterwards unworthily called on being made a Christian with no other view than the better to gain the confidence of the Spaniards) in a report he sent to the government from the above Island, under date of September 24, 1748, describing the Sultan's singular artifices to amuse him and frustrate the object of his mission, fully confirms all that has just been said, and, on closing his report, makes use of the following remarkable words:
"When is it we shall have had enough of treaties with these Moros, for have we not before us the experience of more than one hundred years, during which period of time, they have not kept a single article in any way burdensome to, or binding on, themselves? They will never observe the conditions of peace, because their property consists in the possession of slaves, and with them they traffic, the same as other nations do with money. Sooner will the hawk release his prey from his talons than they will put an end to their piracies. The cause of their being still unfaithful to Spain arises out of this matter having been taken up by fits and starts, and not in the serious manner it ought to have been done. To make war on them, in an effectual manner, fleets must not be employed, but they must be attacked on land, and in their posts in the interior; for it is much more advisable at once to spend ten with advantage and in a strenuous manner to attain an important object than to lay out twenty by degrees and without fruit."
[Governmental lenience.] It is an undeniable fact that the government, lulled and deceived by the frequent embassies and submissive and crouching letters which those fawning sultans have been in the habit of transmitting to them, instead of adopting the energetic measures urged by the above-mentioned missionary, have constantly endeavored to renew and secure the friendship of those chiefs, by means of treaties and commercial relations; granting, with this view, ample licenses to every one who ventured to ship merchandise to Jolo, and winking at the traffic carried on by the governors of the fortress of Zamboanga with the people of Mindanao; whilst the latter, on their part, sporting with our foolish credulity, have never ceased waging a most destructive war against us, by attacking our towns situated on the coast, not even excepting those of the Island of Luzon. They have sometimes carried their audacity so far as to show themselves in the neighborhood of the capital itself, and at others taken up their temporary residence in the district of Mindoro and in places of the jurisdictions of Samar and Leyte; and in short, even dared to form an establishment or general deposit for their plunder in the Island of Buras, where they quietly remained during the years 1797, 1798 and 1799 to the great injury of our commerce and settlements.
[Authority for war not lacking.] This want of exertion to remedy evils of so grievous a nature is the more to be deplored as the Philippine governors have at all times been fully authorized to carry on war, and promote the destruction of the Moros, under every sacrifice, and especially by the royal orders and decrees of October 26, and November 1, 1758, and July 31, 1766, in all of which his majesty recommends, in the most earnest manner, "the importance of punishing the audacity of the barbarous infidels, his majesty being desirous that, in order to maintain his subjects of the Philippines free from the piracies and captivity they so frequently experience, no expenses or pains should be spared; it being further declared, that as this is an object deeply affecting the conscience of his majesty, he especially enjoins the aforesaid government to observe his order; and finally, with a view to provide for the exigencies arising out of similar enterprises, the viceroy of New Spain is instructed to attend to the punctual remittance, not only of the usual "situado," or annual allowance, but also of the additional sum of $70,000 in the first and succeeding years, etc." In a word, our monarchs, Ferdinand VI and Carlos III, omitted nothing that could in any way promote so important an object; whether it is that the governors have disregarded such repeated orders from the sovereigns, or mistaken the means by which they were to be carried into effect, certain it is that the unhappy inhabitants of the Philippines have continued to be witnesses, and at the same time the victims of the culpable apathy of those who have successively held the command of these Islands within the last fifty or sixty years.
[Native efforts for self-defence.] Abandoned therefore to their own resources, and from time to time relieved by the presence of a few gunboats which, after scouring the coasts, have never been able to come up with the light and fast sailing vessels of the enemy, the inhabitants of our towns and settlements have been under the necessity of intrenching and fortifying themselves in the best way they were able, by opening ditches and planting a breastwork of stakes and palisades, crowned with watch towers, or a wooden or stone castle; precautions which sometimes are not sufficient against the nocturnal irruptions and robberies of the Moros, more especially when they come with any strength and fire-arms, in general scarce among the natives.
[Moro piratical craft.] The pancos, or prows, used by the Moros, are light and simple vessels, built with numerous thin planks and ribs, with a small draft of water; and being manned by dexterous rowers, they appear and disappear from the horizon with equal celerity, flying or attacking, whenever they can do it with evident advantage. Some of those vessels are large, and fitted out with fifty, a hundred, and sometimes two hundred men. The shots of their scanty and defective artillery are very uncertain, because they generally carry their guns suspended in slings; but they are to be dreaded, and are extremely dexterous in the management of the campilan, or sword, of which they wear the blades long and well tempered. When they have any attack of importance in view, they generally assemble to the number of two hundred galleys, or more, and even in their ordinary cruises, a considerable number navigate together. As dread and the scarcity of inhabitants in the Bisayan Islands cause great ranges of the coast to be left unsettled, it is very easy for the Moros to find numerous lurking-places and strongholds whenever they are pressed, and their constant practice, in these cases, is to enter the rivers, ground their vessels, and hide them among the mangroves and thick foliage, and fly with their arms to the mountains, thus almost always laughing at the efforts of their opponents, who seldom venture to follow them into the thickets and morasses, where the musket is of no use and a single step cannot be taken with any security.
[Outrages suffered.] The fatal consequences and ravages of this system of cruising and warfare round the Islands are incalculable. Besides plundering and burning the towns and settlements, these bloody pirates put the old and helpless to the sword, destroy the cattle and plantations, and annually carry off to their own homes as many as a thousand captives of both sexes, who, if they are poor and without hopes of being redeemed, are destined to drag out a miserable existence amidst the most fatiguing and painful labor, sometimes accompanied with torments. Such is the dread and apprehension of these seas that only those navigate and carry on trade in them who are able to arm and man their vessels in a way corresponding to the great risks they have to run, or others whom want compels to disregard the imminent dangers which await them. Among the latter class, the Bisayans, or "painted (tattooed) natives," are distinguished, an extremely warlike people of whom great use might be made. Reared from their infancy amidst danger and battle, and greatly resembling the Moros in their features and darkness of skin, they are equally alike in the agility with which they manage the long sword and lance, and such is the courage and implacable odium with which they treat their enemies that, if not taken by surprise, they sell their lives very dear, sacrificing themselves in a most heroic manner, rather than to be led away as captives.
In order, however, that a more correct idea may be formed of the wicked policy and atrocious disposition of these Moros, and with a view to do away with the misconceptions of those who are of opinion that incentives to trade, and other slow and indirect means ought to be employed for the purpose of overcoming them, it will suffice to quote the following examples among a number of others, even more recent ones, which might equally be brought forward.
[Instances of treachery.] In 1796, the governor of Zamboanga dispatched, with regular passports and under a safe conduct obtained from the Sultan of Mindanao, Lieutenant Don Pantaleon Arcillas, with a sergeant, eight men, and a guide, in order to bring into the fortress the cattle belonging to the king's farm, which had strayed away and got up in the lands of the above-mentioned Mahometan prince. Five days after their departure, whilst the lieutenant was taking his meals at the house of a "Datu," or chief, named Oroncaya, he was suddenly surrounded by seventy Moros, who, seizing upon him, bound him to a tree and then flayed him alive, from the forehead to the ankle. In this miserable and defenceless situation, the barbarous "Datu" wreaked his vengeance on his body by piercing it all over with his "kris," or dagger, and then ordered his skin to be hung up on the pole of one of his ferocious banners.
In the year 1798, whilst the schooner San Jose lay at anchor at Tabitabi, near Jolo, the sons-in-law and nephews of the sultan went out to meet her in two large prows, exhibiting at the same time every demonstration of peace, and, sending forward a small vessel with refreshments, they invited the captain to come on board of them. The latter, deceived by the apparent frankness and high rank of the Moros, with the greatest good faith accepted the invitation, and proceeded on board, accompanied by two sailors, with a view to make arrangements for barter. Scarcely had they got on board of the large prow, when they were surrounded and seized, and the captain, who was a Spaniard, compelled to sign an order to his mate to deliver up the schooner, which he reluctantly did, under the hope of saving his own and his companions' lives. The Moros proceeded on board the Spanish vessel, and, in the meantime, the two sailors were taken back to the boat, and there killed with daggers in the presence of all. The schooner's sails were next hoisted, and she was brought into Jolo, where the cargo and crew were sold in sight of, and with the knowledge and consent of the sultan; an atrocity for which he has always refused to give any satisfaction to a nation, thus openly and barbarously outraged by his own relatives, and in defiance of the existing treaties of peace. Such is the cruel character, and such the execrable policy of the Moros generally inhabiting the Islands situated in the Philippine seas.
[Growth of Moro power.] The most lamentable circumstance is, that these infidel races, at all times to be dreaded, owing to their numbers and savage ferocity, after the lapse of a century of almost uninterrupted prosperity, and encouraged also by our inattention, have at length gradually attained so formidable a degree of power, that their reduction now must be considered an extremely arduous and expensive enterprise, although an object urgently requisite, and worthy of the greatness of a nation like ours. In order, however, that the difficulties of so important an undertaking may be justly appreciated, it may be proper to observe that the Island of Mindanao alone, at the present moment, contains a population equal, if not larger, than that of Luzon, and the margins of the immense lake, situated in its center, are covered with well-built towns, filled with conveniences, the fruits of their annual privateering, and of the traffic they carry on with the inhabitants of the Island of Jolo. True it is, and it may be said, equally fortunate, that they are greatly divided into parties, subject to a variety of "datus," or independent chiefs, in name only inferior to the one who styles himself the sultan of the whole Island. As, however, the fortresses and districts of Caraga, Misamis, and Zamboanga occupy nearly three parts of the circumference of the Island, these Moros freely possess no more than the southern part, commencing at about twenty-five leagues from Cape San Augustin, and ending in the vicinity of Zamboanga; so that the largest number of their naval armaments are fitted out and issued to sea, either by the great river of Mindanao, or from some of the many bays and inlets situated on the above extent of coast.
[Jolo.] The Island of Jolo, although small compared with that of Mindanao, is, nevertheless, in itself the most important, as well as the real hotbed of all the piracies committed. Its inhabitants, according to the unanimous reports of captives and various merchants, in skill and valor greatly exceed the other Mahometans who infest these seas. The sultan is absolute, and his subjects carry on trade with Borneo, Celebes, and the other Malayan tribes scattered about this great Archipelago. In the port of Jolo, as already noticed, sales are made of Christians captured by the other Moros. The Chinese of Amoy, as well as the Dutch and British, carry them manufactured goods, opium and arms, receiving, in return, black pepper, bees' wax, balato, edible nests, tortoise-shell, mother-of-pearl, gold dust, pearls, etc., and from Manila also a vessel usually goes once a year with goods; but all act with the greatest precaution in this dangerous traffic, guarding, as much as possible, against the insidious acts of that perfidious government. The great number of renegades, of all casts, who have successively naturalized themselves there; the abundance of arms, and the prevailing opulence, have, in every respect, contributed to render this Island a formidable and powerful state. The capital is surrounded with forts and thick walls, and the famous heights, standing near it, in case of emergency, afford a secure asylum where the women can take refuge and the treasures of the sultan and public be deposited, whilst in the plains below the contest may be maintained by more than 50,000 combatants, already very dexterous in the use of the musket and of a bold and courageous character. The navy of these Islanders is also very respectable, for, besides a great number of smaller prows and war-boats, they have some of a large size, capable of carrying heavy artillery on their decks, mounted on corresponding carriages, and not suspended in slings as is the custom of the people of Mindanao. In a word, Jolo is an Island governed by a system of administration extremely vigorous and decisive; dread and superstition sustain the throne of the tyrant, and the fame of his greatness frequently brings to his feet the ulemas, or missionaries of the Koran, even as far as from the furthest margin of the Red Sea. The prince and people, unanimous in the implacable odium with which they view all Christians, cannot be divided or kept on terms of peace; and if it is really wished to free these seas from the evils and great dangers with which they are at all times threatened, it is necessary at once to strike at the root, by landing and attacking the Jolonese in their strongholds, and break the charm by which they are held together.
This, at least, is the constant and unshaken opinion of all experienced persons and those versed in Philippine affairs; and if, by the substantial reasons and existing circumstances, I convince myself sufficiently to openly recommend war to be undertaken against the Moros and pushed with the utmost vigor, and more particularly commencing the work by a formal invasion of Jolo; still, as I feel myself incompetent to trace a precise plan, or to discuss the minute details more immediately connected with the object, I feel it necessary to confine myself to the pointing out, in general terms, of the means I judge most conducive to the happy issue of so arduous but important an enterprise, leaving the rest to more able and experienced hands.
[Council of war recommended.] As a previous step, I conceive that a council of war ought to be formed in Manila, composed of the captain-general, the commanders of the navy, artillery, and engineer department, as well as of the regular corps, who, in conformity to all the antecedent information lodged in the secretary's office for the captain-generalship, and the previous report of some one of the ex-governors of Zamboanga and the best informed missionaries, may be enabled to deliberate and proceed on to a mature examination of the whole affair, taking into their special consideration everything regarding Jolo, its early reduction, the number of vessels and men required for this purpose, the most advantageous points of attack, and the best season in which this can be carried into execution. After all these matters have been determined upon, the operation in question ought to be connected with the other partial and general arrangements of the government, in order that a plan the best adapted to localities and existing circumstances may be chosen, and without its being necessary to wait for the king's approbation of the means resolved upon, owing to the distance of the court and the necessity of acting with celerity. If, however, on account of the deference in every respect due to the sovereign, it should be thought proper to reconcile his previous sanction with the necessity of acting without loss of time, the best mode would be to send from Spain an officer of high rank, fully authorized, who, as practised on other occasions, might give his sanction, in the name of the king, to the resolutions adopted by the council of war, and take under his own immediate charge, if it should be so deemed expedient, the command of the expedition against Jolo, receiving the appointment of governor of the Island, as soon as the conquest should be carried into effect, as a just reward for his zeal and valor.
[War popular in Philippines.] Supposing an uniformity of opinions to prevail with regard to the expediency of attempting the subjugation of Jolo, and supposing also the existence of the necessary funds to meet the expenses of a corresponding armament, it may be positively relied upon that the project would be extremely popular, and meet with the entire concurrence and support of the Philippine Islands. The military men, aware of the great riches known to exist in the proposed theatre of operations, would emulously come forward to offer their services, under a hope of sharing the booty, and the warlike natives of the Bisayas would be impelled on by their hatred to the Moros, and their ardent wishes to avenge the blood of their fathers and children. On the other hand, the abundance of regular and well disciplined officers and troops, at present in the colony and the number of gun-boats found in the ports, a want of which, on other occasions, has always been experienced, will afford ample scope for the equipment of a force competent to the important enterprise in view. In fact, if the operation is arranged in a systematic manner, and all the precautions and rules observed as are usual in cases of attacks premeditated against European and civilized establishments, there is no reason to expect any other than a flattering and decisive result, since, in reality, the whole would be directed against an enemy contemptible on account of his barbarism and his comparative ignorance of the art of war.
[Native assistance.] The preparations deemed necessary being made in Manila, and the Bisayan auxiliaries assembled beforehand in Zamboanga, with their arms and respective chiefs, the whole of the operation in question, it may be safely said, might be terminated within the period of three or four months. Supposing even 2,000 regular troops are destined for this expedition, with a corresponding train of field pieces, and at the moment there should not be found in the Islands a sufficient number of larger vessels to embargo or freight for their conveyance, a competent quantity of coasters, galleys and small craft might be met with at any time sufficiently capacious and secure to carry the men. This substitute will be found the less inconvenient, because, as the navigation is to be performed among the Islands during the prevalence of the north winds, usually a favorable and steady season of the year, the voyage will consequently be safe and easy. It will also be possible to arrive at the point agreed upon, as a general rendezvous, in twenty, or five-and-twenty days, which place, for many reasons, ought to be the fortress of Zamboanga, situated in front of Jolo and at moderate distance from that Island; it being from this port that, in former times, the Philippine governors usually sent out their armaments, destined to make war against the Basilanese and Jolonese.
[Mindanao also needs attention.] As soon as this important and memorable enterprise has been carried into effect, and the punishment and total subjugation of these faithless Mahometans completed and the new conquest placed under a military authority, in the mean time that the lands are distributing and arrangements making to establish the civil administration, on the same plan followed in the other provinces of the Philippine government, the armament ought to return to Zamboanga with all possible speed; but, after stopping by the way to reduce the small island of Basilan and leaving a fortress and garrison there. Immediately afterwards, and before the various tribes of Moros inhabiting the Island of Mindanao have been able to concert among themselves and prepare for their defence, it would be advisable to direct partial expeditions towards both flanks of Zamboanga, for the purpose of burning the settlements of the natives and driving them from the shores into the interior. Forts ought then to be raised at the mouths of the inlets and rivers, and a fourth district government formed in the southern part of the island; in such manner that, by possession being taken of the coasts, the government and district of Zamboanga may be placed in contact with the new one established on the one side, and on the other with the district of Misamis, also the new district with that of Caraga, the western part of which territory is already united to that of Misamis. Such, at least, was the opinion of Lieutenant-Colonel Don Mariano Tobias, an officer deservedly celebrated for his prudence and consummate skill in these matters, and this he substantially expressed in a council of war, held on August 28, 1778, for the purpose of deliberating on the most advisable means to check the Moros, as appears by a long and intelligent report drawn upon this subject on April 26, 1800, by the adjutant-general of this colony, Don Rufino Suarez.
In case it should be determined to adopt the means proposed by Colonel Tobias, for the purpose of holding the Moros of Mindanao in check, and to which, unfortunately, due regard has not hitherto been paid, notwithstanding the enterprise presents very few difficulties, owing to the little opposition to be expected from the infidel natives, the latter would then be left completely surrounded and shut up in the heart of the island, and their active system of privateering, with which they have so many years infested these seas, entirely destroyed. If, through the want of garrisons and population, it should not, however, be possible to deprive them of all their outlets, by which means they would still be able occasionally to send some of their cruising vessels, nevertheless there would be facilities with which it would be possible to pursue and counteract the ravages of the few pirates who might furtively escape out of some river, while now they are fitted out, and well manned and armed to the number of one and two hundred war-boats, openly in their ports.
[A plan for future policing.] After the emporiums of slavery have been destroyed by the conquest of Jolo, and the other general measures adopted, as above pointed out, the government would then be in a situation to turn its attention, with much greater ease, to the arrangement of all the other minor schemes of precaution and protection suited to the difference of circumstances and locality, without the concurrence of which the work would be left imperfect, and in some degree the existence of those settled in the new establishments rendered precarious. As, however, I am unprepared minutely to point out the nature of these measures, or distinctly to lay down a ground-work for future civilization and improvement, I shall merely observe, that what would then remain to be done would neither require any great capital, or present obstacles which might not easily be overcome. The Moros being then concentrated in the Island of Mindanao, and this completely surrounded on all sides by our forts and settlements, in the manner above described, the only enemies let loose on these seas would be either the few who might, from time to time, elude the vigilance of our troops and district-commanders, or those who might have escaped from Jolo previous to its conquest, and taken up their abode in one or other of the Bisayas Islands; or, in short, such as are out cruising at the time our armament returns to Zamboanga and takes possession of the southern coast of Mindanao; in which case they would be compelled to resort to a roving life, establishing, like the Jolo fugitives, temporary dwellings among the mangroves and thickets bordering on the shore.