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Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization and Evangelization

Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization and Evangelization

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Published by Steve B. Salonga

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Published by: Steve B. Salonga on Mar 17, 2011
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Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization and Evangelization
The Initial Encounter Vol. 1
 A History of Christianity in the Philippines
T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr.New Day Publishers, Quezon City, Phil. 1985
Chapter 5Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization and Evangelization
In previous chapters, some indication had been made of the nature of the Filipinos' response to the Spanish conquest and the initial evangelizationefforts of the Augustinian friars. This present chapter will carry the narrativeof the first quarter century of the Spanish domination of the Philippines up toabout 1590. While this terminal date is arbitrary, in terms of the Filipinos'responses to Spanish temporal objectives, this date may be consideredsignificant, for it marked the end of the troubles immediately connected withthe conspiracies of 1587­1588, a rather widespread resistance movement,which though poorly coordinated and ultimately unsuccessful, did cause nosmall tremor on the part of the Spaniards. In terms of evangelization, 1590also seems to mark the end of one era, characterized by an initially slow andthen moderately paced advance in conversions, the next era being ushered inby a new Spanish program to hasten and intensify the evangelization of theislands. VISAYAN RESPONSES (1565­1571): A RESUME As will be recalled, after initial friendliness which lasted only a fewdays, it was hostility and defiance which the people of eastern Visayasaccorded Legazpi's fleet, especially as the latter coasted southward fromSamar to the central Visayan islands. The Spaniards' subsequent discovery of the cause of this unfriendly welcome provided Legazpi a scapegoat for his
Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization and Evangelizationsubsequent troubles, and up to 1571 he would still be blaming the Portuguesefor leaving the Spaniards "so badly accredited" with the local peoples,apparently unable to appreciate the fact that the Visayans could have justified reasons of their own for abhorring the Spaniards' presence.The Cebuanos, with whom the Spaniards would have the most contactduring the first five years, likewise met the Spaniards with hostility anddefiance, and as late as 1574 the conquistadors would still hark to the factthat the Cebuanos themselves had initiated the battle which led to thedestruction of Sugbu, forgetting that it was their sudden appearance andtheir demands which had provoked such reaction from the local people. Aswould be recalled, even after the Spaniards' capture of Sugbu, the Cebuanoscontinued to engage them in guerrilla­type action at Mandawe and what isnow Compostela, and then in the nightly raids on the Spanish camp. Themurder of Arana, which brought down heavy Spanish reprisals, was part of this continuing defiance, aggravated by Spanish forages in the countrysideand the desecration and robbery of local burial grounds. It was not until thecapture of important hostages and Legazpi's skillful use of these as pawns inthe ensuing negotiations that Rajah Tupas and his chiefs were forced tosubmit. Thus, despite subsequent Spanish claims, the submission of theCebuanos was neither voluntary nor the fruit of Legazpi's diplomacy, but wasrather the result of duress and distress. Legazpi did employ his diplomaticskills, but only aftewards­in outmaneuvering the local chiefs in thesubsequent negotiations, so that not only were they inveigled to agree to anunequal treaty but also to hand over their own settlement.From this time onwards, two distinct Filipino responses may bediscerned the first was from those who would not surrender on any account tothe Spaniards, and the second, from those who were forced to submit and live"in peace" with the latter.DEFIANCE AND DECAMPMENTThe Cebuanos who had not submitted to Legazpi, or those who, aftersubmission had promptly renounced it, generally took the course of 
Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization and Evangelizationdecampment, withdrawal, and avoidance, and at times, but only when itcould not be helped, armed resistance. Thus, the people of Mactan fled toLeyte rather than be forced to submit to Legazpi, and Spanish accountsindicate that others took similar flight to other islands. The people whoremained on the island of Cebu either took to the mountains and secludedvalleys, or else congregated themselves in those settlements farthest fromSpanish­occupied Sugbu. As a Spanish account of 1582 would indicate,Sugbu, which previously had probably up to 4,000 inhabitants, could boast of no more than 800, and was not much larger than two or three of the biggersettlements elsewhere on the island at that time,
when the Spaniards couldaccount for only a total of 3,500 people on the entire island.When contact with the Spaniards was unavoidable, the Visayansresorted to various strategems, such as profession of friendship or pretense of having earlier submitted to Legazpi, as did the people of Cabalian andCalabazan; an outward show of submission, as did Datu Siumbas of westernNegros, when cessation of further Spanish entradas was sought; ambush of Spanish expeditions whenever a favorable opportunity arose, as did takeplace in eastern Negros where one soldier was lost, or in southern Leytewhere another seven were slain; and in general, a systematic endeavor todeprive the Spaniards of food resources. As would be recalled, this policy of avoidance by the Visayans was such that the Spaniards would discover in1570 that in many places, less than a sixth of the population earlier reportedto be in existence were actually there by that time.SUBMISSION AND SUBTERFUGEOn the other hand, the response of those Visayans who were forced tosubmit and live in peace, or at least, without open hostility, vis­a­vis theSpaniards, presents an interesting case of coping through wits and wiles. Although Spanish documents generally speak of such people as docile,submissive, and friendly, a closer look into the more detailed accountsactually show them to have taken the course of oblique resistance to Spanishdomination, their leaders sometimes proving to be skillful diplomatic artists,

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