The Voyeur History Part II: Pacifying the “Natives”



Two questions about the “pacification” of Luzon should be asked: Did we welcome warmly the colonizers or did we refuse and repulse their advances?


The book on Lucban (A Town the Franciscans Built), written by Leandro Tormo Sanz and published by the Historical Conservation Society in 1971, provides significant insights, albeit small glimpses. into what I call little histories of little events.


From various sources, these were revealed: Rajah Matanda received the offer of peace from Legapi and was thus converted to Christianity. The book, however, states this: “but the lord of Navotas, a town located next to Manila, said that he did not want the peace or friendship of the Governor, and he had to be defeated in a battle by the sea.” That, we must admit, is admirable and there is nothing there in that line, which says the said chieftain weighed in the mighty of the conquistadores; he rightfully expressed his offer to fight and to defend his territory.


From the same documents, news filtered in indicating how the natives of Pampanga “refused to be friends with the Spaniards.” What followed is revealing: “The Maestro de Campo had to go there with one hundred soldiers to “pacify” (quotation marks mine) them.


This seemed to be the pattern: offer the arms of peace but if the “natives” refused, then arms – violent and strong – were then brandished. The inhabitants of Cainta and Taytay also refused to accept the offer of friendship because they were, quoting Francisco Colin who wrote Labor evangelica, “sure of their false Anitos that will protect them against the true God.”


Colin’s full name is Fr. Francisco Colin, SJ, and he wrote Labor Evangelica de la Compañia de Jesus, en los Islas Filipinas (Work of Evangelization of the Society of Jesus in the Philippine Islands.


The Jesuit missionary was a historian and educator and spent considerable number of years in the Philippines and documented historical accounts around 1640. The book itself, known as Labor Evangelica, was published in 1663 and tells of the Jesuit mission not only in the Philippines but also in China and Japan. If Moluccas appeared frequently in the accounts on the Philippines, it was because it was part of the Jesuit Philippine province, a singularly Jesuit way of apportioning territories.


One of the most interesting points to read in Colin’s account was how he lumped Camarines with the Pintados, the area which covering Samar and Leyte and the neighboring sites.


Colin also was interested in social classes in the societies he encountered. For example, the enumerated the three kinds and classes of people, which included the chiefs which he explained as being called by the Visayans as “dato,” and the Tagalogs “maginoo.” Colin also defined the “timauas,” being called “maharlicas” among the Tagalogs. How accurate these observations is no more the point than the fact that conquest always involved gathering information about those one was looking to subjugate.


Colin would be the source also of detailed accounts of the religions and rituals; thus, this quote now appearing in the book on the pacification campaign in some parts of Luzon. From that bigoted remarks came this long paragraph: “The Gobernador waited for one or two months for the natives to come back for his friendship, and to achieve this, sent some native friends to convince them, but they refused the offer, so Legazpi sent his grandson, Juan de Salcedo with soldiers to subdue (underscoring mine) them by force. The encounter took place on August 15, 1571.”


Cainta and Taytay would eventually be vanquished, and with that the rest of the Laguna towns “accepted Spanish dominion.” It was from this point also that, according to Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin, the conquering force learned about the mines of Paracale. This would push Juan de Salcedo to find a route to that place in what is now found in present-day Camarines Norte.


Next week, we search for Gold.


As a non-historian, it is a joy to share how the Internet has made available archival materials that were used to be accessible only to researchers who had money to travel abroad. Now, any zealous researcher can search for The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 – Volume 40 of 55, by Francisco Colin and Francisco Combés and Gaspar de San Agustín. Edited by Emma Blair and James Alexander Robertson (yes, your Blair and Robertson), the materials cover topics, such as “Explorations by Early Navigators, Descriptions of the Islands and Their Peoples, Their History and Records of the Catholic Missions, as Related in Contemporaneous Books and Manuscripts, Showing the Political, Economic, Commercial and Religious Conditions of Those Islands” and many others.


The account of Pigafetta is part of this collection under The Project Gutenberg EBook of the Philippine Islands, 1493-1898.