Spanish colonial motives were not, however, strictly commercial. The Spanish at first viewed the Philippines as a stepping-stone to the riches of the East Indies (Spice Islands), but, even after the Portuguese and Dutch had foreclosed that possibility, the Spanish still maintained their presence in the archipelago. Quick Facts
1Other government offices and ministries are located in Quezon City and other Manila suburbs. 2Piso in Filipino; peso in English and Spanish.
Republika ng Pilipinas (Filipino); Republic of the Philippines (English) Form of government
unitary republic with two legislative houses (Senate ; House of Representatives ) Head of state and government
President: Benigno S. Aquino III
(2013 est.) 94,982,000
The Portuguese navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan headed the first Spanish foray to the Philippines when he made landfall on Cebu in March 1521; a short time later he met an untimely death on the nearby island of Mactan. After King Philip II (for whom the islands are named) had dispatched three further expeditions that ended in disaster, he sent out Miguel López de Legazpi, who established the first permanent Spanish settlement, in Cebu, in 1565. The Spanish city of Manila was founded in 1571, and by the end of the 16th century most of the coastal and lowland areas from Luzon to northern Mindanao were under Spanish control. Friars marched with soldiers and soon accomplished the nominal conversion to Roman Catholicism of all the local people under Spanish administration. But the Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu, whom the Spanish called Moros, were never completely subdued by Spain. Spanish rule for the first 100 years was exercised in most areas through a type of tax farming imported from the Americas and known as the encomienda. But abusive treatment of the local tribute payers and neglect of religious instruction by encomenderos (collectors of the tribute), as well as frequent withholding of revenues from the crown, caused the Spanish to abandon the system by the end of the 17th century.
The governor-general, himself appointed by the king, began to appoint his own civil and military governors to rule directly. Central government in Manila retained a medieval cast until the 19th century, and the governor-general was so powerful that he was often likened to an independent monarch. He dominated the Audiencia, or high court, was captain-general of the armed forces, and enjoyed the privilege of engaging in commerce for private profit. Manila dominated the islands not only as the political capital. The galleon trade with Acapulco, Mex., assured Manila’s commercial primacy as well. The exchange of Chinese silks for Mexican silver not only kept in Manila those Spanish who were seeking quick profit, but it also attracted a large Chinese community. The Chinese, despite being the victims of periodic massacres at the hands of suspicious Spanish, persisted and soon established a dominance of commerce that survived through the centuries.