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A Gift in Disguise

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A Gift in Disguise

The aim of Spanish colonization is summed in three (3) words: Gospel, Gold and Glory. They wanted to spread Christianity in the New World. Priest of different orders were sent to the Philippines for the conversion of the natives. They also wanted to obtain the Philippines in order to increase their fortunes and treasury. It was not only because of religion and fortune why Spain did not abandon the Philippines. It was glory which made them hold onto us. They would not abandon the Philippines to either the British or Portuguese because this would bring shame to Spain. The Philippines was not formally organized as a Spanish colony until Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was appointed as the first Governor-General. He selected Manila for the capital of the colony because of its fine natural harbor and the rich lands surrounding the city that could supply it with different products.

According to Fraser Weir, there were two lasting effects of the Spanish rule on the Philippine society. First was the conversion of the natives to Roman Catholicism. Second was the creation of landed elites. It was under the direct order of King Philip II that the conversion of the Philippines to Christianity was not to be accomplished by force. When the Spaniards came, they introduced a centralized government which was has the supreme authority in all the lands and people. In RT Cunningham's article, he said that the Spaniards influenced agriculture and architecture. New infrastructure was built and new crops and livestock were introduced during the Spanish occupation. One chief source of abuse was the encomienda system. The encomienderos ruled like the feudal lords of Medieval Europe. Territories were exploited to the limit. These encomienderos abused, overtaxed, cheated, and practically enslaved the Filipinos. Another burden imposed on the native Filipinos by the colonial authorities, according to Joel Reyes and Rodolfo Perez, was the bandala. This is the compulsory sale by native farmers of their farm product to the government. Not only were the goods or products undervalued but most of the time they were not even paid for. One problem which was evident during the Spanish era was the Polo or forced labor. This was compulsory for all Filipino natives from 16 to 60 years of age. The natives worked in the building and repair of roads and bridges, cutting of timber, and working in foundries and shipyards.

Spanish colonization may have exploited our land, enslaved our Filipino brothers, and may have maltreated and abused us in so many ways. But we should realize that by forcing Filipino natives to work for them was also advantageous for us. Yes, it was actually for them but it is also true that these same infrastructures became the means by which Filipino artistic talents and inclinations were expressed. The Philippines wasn't even a country when they came. It was just a series



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