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9. How did the piratical attacks contribute to indolence among the Filipinos?

A very extraordinary thing which showed the facility with which the Filipinos learned Spanish
was that fifty years before the arrival of the Spaniards in Luzon, in the very same year of 1521
when they first came to the Islands, there were already people of Luzon who understood
Castilian. In the negotiations for peace between the survivors of Magellan’s expedition and the
chiefs of Paragua after the death of the servant-interpreter henry, “they availed themselves of
the services of a Moro who had been captured in the island of the King of Luzon who
understood some Castilian,” (Martin Mendez, doc, cit.) Where did this extemporaneous
interpreter learn Castilian? In the Moluccas? In Malacca, from the Portuguese? In Cebu during
the short stay of Magellan’s expedition? The Spaniards had not reached Luzon before 1571.

Legazpi’s expedition found in Butuan several traders from Luzon embarked in their paraws
(boats) laden with iron, wax, blankets, porcelain, etc. (Gaspar de San Agustin), plenty of
foodstuffs, trade, activity, life in all the southern islands. The first news they heard was that
Luzon, or its capital, Manila, was the point to which largest boats from China went and that even
the traders from Borneo went there to get their stock.

They reached the Island of Cebu, “abounding in provisions, with mines and gold placers and
peopled with natives”, as Morga says. “Very populous and the port is frequented by many shops
that came from the islands and kingdoms near India”, says Colin, and although they were
received peacefully, soon discords arose. The city was taken by force and burned. The fire
destroyed the food supplies and naturally famine broke out in that town of one hundred
thousand inhabitants, as the historians say, and among the members of the expedition; but the
neighboring islands quickly remedied the situation, thanks to the abundance of their own food
supplies.

All the histories of those first years, in short, abound in long accounts of the industry and
agriculture of the people – mines, gold placers, looms, cultivated farms, barter, (trade),
shipbuilding, poultry and stock-raising, silk and cotton-weaving, distilleries, manufacture of
arms, pearl-fisheries, the civet industry, horn and leather industry, etc. All these could be found
at every step and considering the time and conditions of the Islands, they prove that there was
life, there was activity, there was movement.

And if this, which is a deduction, does not convince one whose mind is imbued with unjust
prejudices, of some worth should be the testimony of the much-quoted Dr. Morga who was
Lieutenant Governor of the Philippines and Justice in the Audiencia of Manila for seven years,
and after rendering valuable service in the Archipelago, was appointed Criminal Judge in the
Audiencia of Mexico and Counsellor of the Inquisition. His testimony, we say, is highly credible
not only because all his contemporaries have spoken of him in terms that border on veneration
but also because his work – from which we take these questions – is written with much
circumspection and prudence with reference to the authorities in the Philippines as well as to
the mistakes they occupations of the Chinese – “are very far from pursuing these occupations
and have even forgotten much about farming, poultry and stock-raising, weaving cotton
blankets as they used to do when they were pagans and a long time after the conquest of the
country.”

The whole Chapter CIII of his work deals with this moribund and greatly forgotten industry and
yet in spite of that how long is his Chapter VIII!

And not only Morga, not only Chirino, Colin, Argensola, Gaspar de San Agustin, and others agree
in this matter; modern travelers after two hundred and fifty years, considering the prevailing
decadence and misery, assert the same thing. When Dr. Hands Meyer saw how well the
unconquered tribes cultivate their land, working energetically, he asks himself if they would not
become indolent when they in turn were converted into Christianity and placed under a
paternal government.

Consequently, the Filipinos in spite of the climate, in spite of their few necessities (they then had
less than now) were not the indolent creatures of our time, and as we shall see later on, neither
were their morals and their mode of living what they are now pleased to attribute to them.