What is the Filipino culture like before colonization

History of Spain: The Missionary Mission of the Philippines

The Spanish empire ruled its largest colonies in Latin America: between 1519 and 1532, conquistadors subjugated almost the entire continent with ruthless violence. But the Iberian expansion also spreads to the Pacific island world of Asia - and remains largely peaceful there. Because some courageous monks stand up for the indigenous people

Spain was at the zenith of its power around 1580: This year King Philip II added Portugal to his empire, making him ruler of the entire Iberian Peninsula - the first for almost 900 years. In addition, Spain, with its territories such as the Netherlands and southern Italy, is a European hegemonic power. And it commands a global empire: it includes almost all of Latin America, as well as the widely scattered Portuguese possessions, for example on the west coast of Africa and in Asia.

The distances in this Spanish empire are huge. Commercial goods such as silver from the Andes or dispatches from the central government in Madrid are transported over thousands of kilometers. Likewise, dignitaries must travel long distances to reach their official residence. About 12,000 kilometers from Spain, Manila, capital of the Philippines, which is said to have a bishop for the first time in 1580. The Dominican monk Domingo de Salazar is chosen for this post.

In May 1580, the 68-year-old sailed from Spain to Mexico. 20 friars accompany him, twelve die on the way. Salazar crosses Central America; in March 1581 he then boarded the galleon "San Martin" in Acapulco. On the other side of the Pacific, the clergyman lands at the southeast end of the island of Luzón in the Philippines, crosses mountain passes and navigates a river - until he finally reaches his bishopric in Manila on September 17, 1581 after a journey of almost 16 months.

Two oceans now lie between him and his king. A letter to the Pope takes up to two years. Should problems arise - Salazar has to solve them alone.

The islands are named after Crown Prince Philip

On March 16, 1521, the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to set foot on the archipelago that a later Spanish expedition named "Las Islas Filipinas" in honor of their crown prince and future king Philip II. Only the conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, however, subjugated the Philippines almost completely from 1565 with a small force of around 500 men.

The Spaniards, however, are not the first foreign invaders: Indian and Arab Muslims had conquered parts of the archipelago since the 14th century. But now almost everywhere the Islamic warriors are quickly succumbing to the advance of the Europeans. In 1571 Legazpi defeated the Muslim king of Manila and made the city the seat of governor.

The residence quickly developed into a flourishing port city. From here, the Spaniards trade with China and Mexico - get silver from Latin America and exchange it for spices, porcelain and silk.

In 1578 Manila was raised to the seat of a bishopric. And sent Domingo de Salazar on his long journey. Since Legazpi's first campaign, monks of the great orders have evangelized the locals: Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Jesuits. Because Philip II commissioned the conquistador not only to bring in spices and wealth, but also "to bring our Holy Catholic Faith to the inhabitants of these places". For this purpose, the king appoints friars to travel to the Philippines. No galleon leaves Mexico without a missionary on board.

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Bishop Salazar is an ardent cleric: he founded a seminary, a hospital, had a cathedral built. And he campaigns for the rights of Filipinos vis-à-vis the local administrators and the king; In 1591 he even sails back to Spain to convey to the monarch his concerns about the state of the church on the remote islands. He complains of brutal judges who would impose unnecessarily harsh sentences and indigenous people fleeing into the forests to avoid slavery.

Domingo de Salazar dies three years later in Madrid; the papal bull announcing his elevation to archbishop no longer reaches him. But the mission of the aged clergyman is successful: Probably because of his advocacy, the brutal missionary work of Latin America is not repeated in the Philippines.

The Spanish king distributed the islands to monastic orders

The Spaniards may also have learned from the conquest of South America, which in some areas claimed the lives of 90 percent of the local population. At least they try to convince the tribal leaders peacefully of the virtues of Spanish rule and the Christian faith. Except for a few punitive expeditions and skirmishes, there are no armed conflicts. One by one, the local chiefs establish friendly relations with the Spaniards.

Philip II divides the islands among the monastic orders; the southernmost island of Mindanao, for example, falls to the Jesuits. The missionaries relocate the natives to new villages with a church in the center. The goal: all locals bajo de la campana - under the church bell. The Filipinos do not resist: the scattered village communities have no common leader to unite them in the fight against resettlement.

By order of the king, friars are the masters of the country, many Filipinos never see another Spaniard; Until the middle of the 18th century the law forbade Spanish civilians to settle outside of Manila and a few other cities. The monks collect the taxes for the crown, they speak the native languages, are teachers, judges - and protectors: the church often also serves as a watchtower to warn the Christian villages of attacks by their Muslim neighbors.

The Philippines remained under Spanish rule until 1898

Spanish rule in the Philippines remained virtually unchallenged for centuries, while the former world power lost almost all other colonies by the beginning of the 19th century; In 1812 Madrid even granted the Filipinos Spanish citizenship.

But in 1898 the abdicated Spanish empire lost a war against the USA - and with it its last Pacific colony. After all, the United States is paying $ 20 million in compensation to Madrid. (The Filipinos will not be able to free themselves from the rule of their new American colonial rulers until 1946.) Today, 110 years after the end of Spanish rule, the Philippines is the most Catholic country in Asia: 83 percent of the approximately 91 million inhabitants follow the same beliefs as Domingo de Salazar, their first bishop.

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