The Impact of
Spanish Rule in the Philippines


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Spanish-Filipino mestizo costume, 1800s

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Chinese-Filipino mestizo costume, 1800s

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Spanish-Filipino mestizo costume, 1800s

  • An important impact of Spanish rule in the Philippines is the creation of a mestizo culture with entrenched landed interests and a highly skewed land distribution.
  • The Spaniards made the local datus head of the barangays, who eventually acquired large landholdings.
  • Some of the barangay heads were natives, but many important families arose at this time through the intermarriages of two types:

    First, the Spanish-Indio mestizo that had a higher status: it is a socially exclusive class from which the scholars and literatis of Manila emerged and today have close ties to Spain and the United States;

    Second, the Chinese-Indio mestizo that had a lower status: this class blended with Filipino rural cultures; it also acquired large tracts of land through money lending. From this class emerged an important economic group of Filipino-Chinese in the Philippines today. This class competed with migrant Chinese in trade but were less successful in business.

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Chinese chow-chow sellers in Manila, 1800s

  • The Spanish colonization of the Philippines was not absolute.
  • Some areas of the archipelago were not successfully subjugated by the Spaniards, especially in some Muslim territories in Mindanao and the mountain regions of Luzon island where tribal cultures continue to exist until today.
  • The continuing conflicts with Muslim Filipinos and highland Luzon tribal peoples who were never Christianized ultimately led to arrangements for autonomous regions in Mindanao and northern Luzon. 

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A moro-moro play depicting
Spanish war against Muslims

in the Philippines

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Muslim Bethrotal
ni Carlos V. Francisco, 1958

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