The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
Fedor Jagor; Tomas de Comyn; Chas. Wilkes; Rudolf Virchow.

Part 7 out of 11

[Competition of foreign merchants.] Against a measure of this kind
it would be useless to allege, that, "by the exclusive privilege to
introduce spirits and European effects into the colony, the Company
has contracted the obligation of always keeping it properly supplied;
that their very institution had for the basis the general improvement
of the Islands, and in order duly to comply with these duties, it
becomes indispensably necessary to keep up the present expensive
establishment;" for, in the first place, in order, to render it
incumbent on the company to introduce an indefinite quantity of
European articles, it previously would be necessary to provide a vent
for them, and this can never be the case, unless the exclusion of all
competitors in the market is rigorously carried into effect. As things
now are, the North Americans, English, French, and every other nation
that wishes, openly usurped this privilege, by constantly inundating
the Islands with spirits and all kinds of effects, and it is very
evident that this same abuse which authorizes the infraction of the
above privilege, if in that light it could in any way be considered,
totally exonerates the company from all obligations by them contracted
under a different understanding. Besides, the circumstances which
have taken place since the publication of the royal decree, creating
the above establishment into a corporate body, in the year 1785,
have entirely changed the order established in this respect. In the
first place, the port of Manila has been opened to foreign nations,
in consequence of the disinterested representations of the company
itself, and for the direct advantage of general trade; nor was it
necessary to prevent our new guests from abusing the facilities thus
granted to them, and much less to confine them to the mere introduction
of Asiatic goods, the original plea made use of. In the second, as
soon as the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands became familiar with
the more useful and elegant objects of convenience and luxury, which
they were enabled to purchase from foreigners, at reasonable prices,
it was natural for them to pay little regard to the superfluous aid
of the company, more particularly when the latter were no longer
able to sustain the competition, either in the sale or supply of a
multitude of articles, which, thanks to our own national simplicity,
are scarcely known in Spain, whence their outward-bound cargoes are
divided. Hence it follows that, far from the importation and supplies
of the company being missed, it may with great reason be presumed,
that this formal renunciation of this ideal privilege of theirs,
must rather have contributed to secure, in a permanent manner,
adequate supplies for all the wants and whims of the inhabitants of
the colony; and that the publicity of such a determination would act
as a fresh allurement successively to bring to the port of Manila a
host of foreign speculators, anxious to avail themselves of a fresh
opening for commercial pursuits.

[Company not a philanthropy.] The other objection, founded on the
mistaken notion of its being inherent in, and belonging to, the very
essence of the company, to promote the general improvement of the
Philippine Islands, if well considered, will appear equally unjust. It
is, in fact, a ridiculous, although too generally received, a prejudice
to suppose, that the founders of this establishment proposed to
themselves the plan of sinking the money of the shareholders in
clearing the lands, and perfecting the rude manufactures of these
distant Islands. To imagine this to have been one of the principal
objects of the institution, or to suppose that, on this hard condition,
their various privileges and exemptions were granted to them, is so
far from the reality of the fact, that it would only be necessary
to read with attention the 26th article of the quoted royal decree
of creation, in order more correctly to comprehend the origin and
constitutive system of this political body.

"The latter," says the Duke de Almodovar, "is reduced to two principal
points: the first of which is the carrying of the trade of Asia
with that of America and Europe; and the second, the encouragement
and improvement of the productions and manufacturing industry of
the Islands. The one is the essential attribute of the company,
constituting its real character of a mercantile society; and, in the
other respect, it becomes an auxiliary of the government, to whom
the duties alluded to more immediately belong." If to the above we
add the preamble of the 43rd article of the new decree of 1803, the
recommendation, made to the company, to contribute to the prosperity
of the agriculture and manufacturing industry of the Islands, will
appear as a limited and secondary consideration; for even if the
question were carried to extremes, it could never extend to any more
than the application of four per cent of the annual profits of the
company indistinctly to both branches. If, however, any doubts still
remained, the explanation or solution recently given to this question
would certainly remove them; because, by the simple fact of its being
expressed in the latter part of the aforesaid 43rd article, [Profit
percent to go to Spain.] "That the above-mentioned four per cent was to
be laid out, with the king's approbation, in behalf of the agriculture
and manufacturing industry of Spain and the Philippine Islands," it is
clear that the king reserves and appropriates to himself the investment
of the amount to be deducted from the general dividends, in order to
apply it where and how may be deemed most advisable. Consequently,
far from considering the company in that respect under an obligation to
contribute to the improvement of the Philippines exclusively, the only
thing that can be required of them, when their charter is withdrawn,
is, the repayment to the royal treasury of the four per cent on their
profits, for a purpose so vaguely defined. In following up this same
train of argument, it would seem that, in order to render the amount
to be deducted from the eventual profits of the company, in the course
of time, a productive capital in the hands of the sovereign, the funds
of the society not only ought not to be diverted to the continuation
of projects which consume them, but, on the contrary, it is necessary
to place at their disposal the direct means by which these funds can
be increased, in order to make up to the company in some measure the
enormous losses experienced of late years, and at once free their
commerce from the shackles with which it has hitherto been obstructed.

[Need of special privileges] Finally, after twenty-four years of
impotent and gratuitous efforts in the Philippines, and of the most
obstinate opposition on the part of their rivals, it is now time for
the company, by giving up the ungrateful struggle, to reform in every
respect their expensive establishment in Manila, and to direct their
principal endeavors to carry into effect the project so imperfectly
traced out in the new decree of 1803. The opinion of the most vehement
enemies of the privileged bodies tacitly approves this exception in
their favor. Adam Smith, avowedly hostile to all monopolies, feels
himself compelled to confess that, "without the incentives which
exclusive companies offer to the individuals of a nation carrying
on little trade, possibly their confined capitals would cease to be
destined to the remote and uncertain enterprises which constitute a
commerce with the East Indies."

[Spanish commerce in its infancy.] Our commerce, compared with that
of other nations, notwithstanding what may be said on this subject,
is most assuredly yet in a state of infancy. That with Asia, more
especially, with the exception of the Royal Company, is almost unknown
to all other classes. If it is, therefore, wished to exclude our many
rivals from so lucrative a branch of trade as that which constitutes
supplies for the consumption of the Peninsula and its dependencies, the
means are obvious. The most material fact is in fact already done. The
navigation to the various ports of Asia is familiar to the company's
navy; their factors and clerks have acquired a practical knowledge of
that species of trade, essential to the undertaking, as well as such
information as was at first unknown; but, after the great misfortune
this body has experienced, it will be indispensably necessary to aid
and invigorate them with large supplies of money, following the example
of other governments in similar cases; in order that the successful
issue of their future operations may compensate their past losses,
and worthily correspond with the magnitude of the object.

[Philippines a burden to Spain.] This Asiatic colony, although
considered as conferring great lustre on the crown and name of our
monarch, by exhibiting the vast extent of the limits of his dominions,
has in reality been, during a long series of years, a true burden
to the government, or at least, a possession whose chief advantages
have redounded in favor of other powers, rivals of our maritime
importance. Notwithstanding all that has been said on the score of
real utility, certain it is, that the Philippine establishment has
cost the treasury large sums of money; although, within the last
twenty-five or thirty years, it must be confessed that the public
revenues has experienced a considerable increase, and, of itself,
has become an object of some consequence to the state.

[Profit from tobacco monopoly and foreign trade.] Among the various
causes which have contributed to produce so favorable an alteration,
the chief one have been the establishment of the tobacco monopoly,
on behalf of the crown, and the opening of the port of Manila to the
flag of other nations, at peace with Spain. The first has considerably
increased the entries into the public treasury, and the second
has tended to multiply the general mass of mercantile operations,
independent of the other beneficial effects this last measure must
have produced in a country, whose resources, trade and consumption
had, from the time of the conquest, experienced the fatal shackles
imposed by jealousy and ignorance.

[Improvement in public finances.] The improved aspect the colony
soon assumed, by the introduction of this new system, as was natural,
awakened the attention of ministers, and induced them more easily to
consent to the measures subsequently proposed to them, principally
intended to place those distant dominions on a footing of permanent
security, so as to enable them to repel any fresh attempts on the part
of an enemy. As, however, the productions of the country increased,
the public expenses also became greater, although always in a much
smaller proportion, with the exception of the interval between the
years 1797 and 1802, when the government, fearful of a second invasion,
was compelled, at its own expense, to provide against the danger with
which these Islands were then threatened. If, therefore, as appears
from the official reports of the treasurer-general, Larzabal, in my
possession, the receipts at the treasury, in 1780, amounted only to
$700,000 including the situado, or annual allowance for the expenses
of government sent from New Spain, and after the ordinary charges of
administration had been paid, a surplus of $170,000 remained in the
hands of the treasurer; at present we have the satisfaction to find
that the revenue is equal to $2,625,176.50 and the expenses do not
exceed $2,179,731.87 by which means an annual surplus of $445,444.62
is left, applicable to the payment of the debt contracted during the
extraordinary period above mentioned, now reduced to about $900,000 and
afterwards transferable to the general funds belonging to the crown.

[Economy over Spanish-American colonial administration.] With regard
to the administrative system, it is in every respect similar to the
one observed in our governments of America, with this difference only,
that, in the Philippine Islands, greater economy prevails in salaries,
as well as in the number of persons employed. In former times, the
establishment of intendencies, or boards of administration, was deemed
expedient in Manila, Ilocos, Camarines, Iloilo, and Cebu; but they
were soon afterwards reformed, or rather laid aside, on account of
their being deemed superfluous. I would venture to state the grounds
on which this opinion was then formed; but, as the sphere in which
the king's revenue acts in these Islands increases and extends, which
naturally will be the case if the plans and improvements dictated
by the present favorable circumstances are carried into effect, I do
not hesitate to say that it will be necessary again to appeal to the
establishment of a greater number of boards for the management and
collection of the various branches of the revenue, whether they are
called intendencies, or by any other name; as it will be extremely
difficult for the administration to do its duty, on the confined and
inadequate plan under which it is at present organized.

[Fiscal system.] Under its existing form, it is constituted in the
following manner: The governor of the Islands, in his quality of
superintendent or administrator general, and as uniting in himself
the powers of intendent of the army, presides at the board of
administration of the king's revenue, which is placed in the immediate
charge of a treasurer and two clerks. The principal branches have their
respective general directors, on whom the provincial administrators
depend, and the civil magistrates, in the quality of sub-delegates,
collect within their respective districts, the tributes paid by the
natives in money and produce, and manage everything else relating
to the king's revenue. In ordinary cases, the general laws of the
Indies govern, and especially are the ordinances or regulations of
the Intendents of New Spain (Mexico) ordered to be observed in the
Philippines. It ought further to be observed, that, in these Islands,
the same as in all the vice-royalties and governments of America, there
is a distinct body of royal decrees in force, which, in themselves,
constitute a code of considerable size.

[Opposition to tobacco monopoly.] The process of converting the
consumption of tobacco into a monopoly met with a most obstinate
resistance on the part of the inhabitants, and the greatest
circumspection and constancy were necessary for the governor, Don
Jose Basco, to carry this arduous enterprise into effect. Accustomed
to the cultivation of this plant without any restriction whatever,
and habituated to its use from their infancy, it appeared to the people
the extreme of rashness to seek simultaneously to extirpate it from the
face of the greatest part of the Island of Luzon, in order to confine
its culture within the narrow limits of a particular district. They
were equally revolted at the idea of giving to a common article a
high and arbitrary value, when, besides, it had become one of the
first necessity. Every circumstance, however, being dispassionately
considered, and the principle once admitted that it was expedient for
the colony to maintain itself by means the least burdensome to the
inhabitants, it certainly must be acknowledged that, although odious
on account of its novelty and defective in the mode of its execution,
a resource more productive and at the same time less injurious, could
not have been devised. Hence was it that the partisans of the opposite
system were strangely misled, by founding their calculation on false
data, when they alleged that a substitute, equivalent to the increased
revenue supposed to arise out of the monopoly of tobacco, might have
been resorted to by ordering a proportionate rise in the branch of
tributes. In fact, no one who had the least experience in matters of
this kind, can be ignorant of the open repugnance the natives have
always evinced to the payment of the ordinary head-tax (cedula),
and the broils to which its collection has given rise. Besides,
if well examined, no theory is more defective and more oppressive
on account of the disparity with which it operates, than this same
wrongly-boasted impost; for, however desirous it may be to simplify
the method of collecting the general revenue of a state, if the best
plan is to be adopted, that is, if public burdens are to be rendered
the least obnoxious, it is necessary preferably to embrace the system
of indirect contribution, in which class, to a certain degree, the
monopoly of all those articles may be considered as included which are
not rigorously of the first necessity, and only compel the individual
to contribute when his own will induce him to become a consumer.

[Doubling of insular revenue thru tobacco.] Let this be as it may,
certain it is, that to Governor Basco we are indebted for having
doubled the annual amount of the revenue of these Islands, by merely
rendering the consumption of tobacco subservient to the wants of the
crown. It was he who placed these Islands in the comfortable situation
of being able to subsist without being dependent on external supplies
of money to meet the exigencies of government. It ought, however, to
be remarked that, although they have been in the habit of receiving
the annual allowance of $250,000 for which a standing credit was
opened by the government at home on the general treasury of New
Spain, considerable sums have, nevertheless, on various occasions,
been remitted from the Philippines to Spain, through the channel of
the Captain-General. * * * If these remittances have been suspended
for some years past, it has evidently been owing to the imperious
necessity of applying the ordinary proceeds of the revenue, as well
as other extraordinary means, to unforeseen contingencies arising
out of peculiar circumstances.

[Tobacco belt.] The planting and cultivation of tobacco are now
confined to the district of Gapan, in Pampanga Province, to that of
Cagayan, and to the small Island of Marinduque. The amount of the
crops raised in the above three points and sold to the king, may,
on an average, be estimated at fifty thousand bales, grown in the
following proportion: Gapan, forty-seven thousand bales; Cagayan,
two thousand, and Marinduque, one thousand. This stock, resold at the
monopoly prices, yields a sum equal to about one million of dollars,
and deducting therefrom the prime cost and all other expenses,
legally chargeable on this branch, the net proceeds in favor of the
revenue amount to $550,000 or upwards of one hundred twenty-two per
cent. This profit is so much more secure, as it rests on the positive
fact that, however great the quantity of the article sold furtively and
by evading the vigilance of the guards, as the demand and consumption
are excessive and always exceed the stock on hand, a ready sale cannot
fail to be had for all the stock placed in the hands of the agents
of the monopoly. From this it may also be inferred how much the net
proceeds of this branch would be increased, if without venturing too
far in extending the plantations and consequent purchases, care was
taken to render the supplies more proportionate to the consumption;
for, by a clear profit of one hundred twenty-two per cent, falling
on a larger capital, it follows that a corresponding result would
be obtained. In a word, the sales, far from declining or being in
any way deemed precarious, are susceptible of a great increase,
consequently this branch of revenue merits the serious attention of
government beyond all others.

[Defective sales system.] It is, however, to be lamented that,
instead of every facility being given to the sale of tobacco and the
consumption thus encouraged, the public meet with great difficulties
and experience such frequent obstacles and deficiencies in the
supplies, that with truth it may also be said, the sales are affected
in spite of the administrators themselves. In the capital alone it
is a generally received opinion that a third part more would there
be consumed, if, instead of compelling the purchaser to receive the
tobacco already manufactured or folded, he was allowed to take it from
the stores in its primitive state; and if the minor establishments
in the provinces were constantly supplied with good qualities, an
infinitely larger quantity might be sold, and by this means a great
deal of smuggling also prevented. Such, however, is the neglect and
irregularity in this department, that it frequently happens in towns
somewhat distant from Manila, no other tobacco is to be met with
than what the smugglers sell, and if, perchance, any is to be found
in the monopoly stores, it is usually of the worst quality that can
be imagined.

[Loss from preventable causes.] I pass over, in silence, the other
defects gradually introduced, as evils, in a greater or lesser degree,
inseparable from this part of public administration in every country
in which it has been deemed necessary to establish monopolies; but I
cannot refrain from again insisting on the urgency with which those
in power ought to devote themselves, firmly and diligently, to the
destruction of abuses which have hitherto paralyzed the progress of
the branch in question, because I am well persuaded, that, whenever
corresponding means are adopted, it will be possible in a short
time to double the proceeds. What these means are, it is not easy,
nor indeed essential, to particularize in a rapid sketch, like this,
of the leading features and present state of the Philippine Islands. I
shall, therefore, merely remark, that it will be in vain to wish the
persons engaged in the management of this department to exert their
real zeal and sincerely co-operate in the views of government, as
long as they are not placed beyond the necessity of following other
pursuits and gaining a livelihood in another way; in a word, unless
they have a salary assigned them, corresponding to the confidence and
value of the important object entrusted to their charge, no plan of
reform can be rendered efficient.

[Abuses by revenue officers.] At the same time steps are taken to
augment the revenue arising out of tobacco, it would be desirable,
as much as possible, to improve the methods used with regard to those
who gather in the crops, by endeavoring to relieve them from the heavy
conditions imposed upon them; conditions which, besides exposing them
to the odious effects of revenue-laws, by their very nature bring upon
them many unpleasant consequences, and often total ruin. In order that
a correct opinion may be formed of these defects, it will suffice to
observe that, under pretext of preventing smuggling, the guards and
their agents watch, visit, and, if I may use the expression, live
among the plantations from the moment the tobacco-seedlings appear
above ground, till the crops are gathered in. After compelling the
Filipino planter to cut off the head of the stem, in order that the
plant may not become too luxurious, the surveyors then proceed to
set down, not only the number of plants cultivated on each estate,
but even the very leaves of each, distinguishing their six qualities,
in order to call the farmers to account, respectively, when they
make a defective delivery into the general stores. In the latter
case, they are compelled to prove the death of the plants and even
to account for the leaves missing when counted over again, under the
penalty of being exposed to the rigor of the revenue laws.

[Burdensome and unprofitable inspection.] It cannot indeed be denied
that by this means two important objects are attained, at one and the
same time; the one, the gradual improvement of the tobacco, and the
other, the greater difficulty of secreting the article; but, on the
other hand, how great are the inconveniences incurred? Independent of
the singularity and consequent oppression of a regulation of this kind,
as well as its too great minuteness and complication, it is attended
with very considerable expenses, and renders it necessary to keep on
foot a whole army of guards and clerks, who tyrannize over and harass
the people without any real motive for such great scrupulosity and
profusion. I make this observation because I cannot help thinking
that the same results might nearly be obtained, by adopting a more
simple and better regulated system. I am not exactly aware of the one
followed in the Island of Cuba, but as far as I understand the matter,
it is simply reduced to this: the growers there merely present their
bales to the inspectors, and if pronounced to be sound and good, the
stipulated amount is paid over to them; but if the quality is bad,
the whole is invariably burnt. Thus all sales detrimental to the
public revenue are prevented, and I do not see why the same steps
could not be taken in the Philippine Islands. It must not, however,
be understood, that I presume to speak in a decisive tone on a subject
so extremely delicate, and that requires great practical information,
which, I readily acknowledge, I do not possess. I merely wish by means
of these slight hints, to contribute to the commencement of a reform
in abuses, and to promote the adoption of a plan that may have for
basis the relief of the growers, and at the same time advance the
prosperity of this part of the royal revenue.

[Coco and nipa wine monopoly.] The monopoly of coco and nipa, or
palm-wine, is a branch of public revenue of sufficient magnitude to
merit the second place among the resources rendered available to
the expenditure of these Islands, converted into a monopoly some
years ago. In like manner as the consumption of tobacco, it has
experienced several changes in its plan of administration, this
being at one time carried on, for account of the king, at others,
by the privilege being let out at auction; till at length the Board
of Control, convinced of the great profit gained by the contractors,
resolved at once to take the direction of this departure under their
own charge, and make arrangement for its better administration. Having
with this view established general deposits and licensed houses for
the sale of native wine, with proper superintending clerks they soon
began to reap the fruits of so judicious a determination. In 1780,
the privilege of selling the coco and nipa wine was farmed out, to the
highest bidder, for no more than $45,200 and subsequently the increase
has been so great, owing to the improvements adopted, that at present
net proceeds equal to $200,000 on an average may be relied upon. In
proof of this, the proceeds of this branch, in the year 1809, may be
quoted, when the total balances received at the Treasury, after all
expenses had been paid, amounted to $221,426, in the following manner:

Administration of Manila and district $201,250
Administration of La Pampanga and district 12,294
Administration of Pangasinan and district 7,882

The prime cost and other expenses that year amounted to no more than
$168,557 by which means, on the whole operation, a net profit of
thirteen and one-half per cent. resulted in favor of the treasury.

[Wine monopoly district.] The monopoly of native wine comprehends
the whole of the Island of Luzon, excepting the Provinces of Cagayan,
Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Camarines and Albay, and is under the direction
of three administrators, who act independently of each other in their
respective districts, and have at their disposal a competent number
of guards. These administrators receive in the licensed establishments
the coco and nipa wines, at prices stipulated by the growers. That of
the coco is paid for at the rate of two dollars per jar, containing
twenty gantas, equal to twelve arrobas, seven azumbres and half a
cuartillo, Castilian measure, and at fourteen reals in the places
nearest the depots. The nipa wine is laid at six and one-half reals
the jar, indistinctly; prices which, although extremely low, are still
considered advantageous by the Filipinos themselves, more particularly
when it is besides understood, that, from the circumstance of their
being growers of this article, they are exempted from military service,
as well as several other taxes and public charges.

[Coco-wine.] The coco-wine is a weak spirit, obtained in the following
manner: The tree that produces this fruit is crowned by an assemblage
of large flowers or corollas, from the center or calix of which issues
a fleshy stem, filled with juice. The Indian cuts the extremity of
this stem, and inclining the remainder in a lateral manner, introduces
it into a large hollow tube which remains suspended, and is found
full of sweet and sticky liquor, which the tree in this manner yields
twice in every twenty-four hours. ["Tuba".] This liquid, called tuba,
in the language of the country, is allowed to ferment for eight days
in a large vessel, and afterwards distilled by the Indians in their
uncouth stills, which are no other than large boilers, with a head
made of lead or tin, rendered tight by means of clay, and with a
pipe frequently made out of a simple cane, which conveys the spirit
to the receiving vessels, without passing, like the serpentine tube
used in ordinary stills, through the cooling vats, which so greatly
tends to correct the vices of a too quick evaporation. The tuba,
obtained in level and hot situations, is much more spirituous than
that produced in cold and shady places. In the first, six jars of
juice are sufficient to yield one of spirit, and in the latter,
as many as eight are requisite; a much greater number, however,
would be wanted to rectify this spirit so as to render it equal to
what is usually known by Hollands proof. I am not positively certain
what degree of strength the coco-brandy, or as it is usually called
coco-wine, possesses, but it is evidently inferior to the weakest made
in Spain from the juice of the grape. The only circumstance required
for it to be approved of, and received into the monopoly-stores,
is its being easily ignited by the application of a lighted candle.

[Nipa brandy.] The nipa is a small tree of the class of palms, which
grows in a very bushy form, and multiplies and prospers greatly on
the margins of rivers and watery tracts of land. The tuba, or juice,
is extracted from the tree whilst in its flowering state, in the same
way as that of the coco, and afterwards distilled by a similar process;
but it is more spirituous, from six to six and a half jars being
sufficient to yield one of wine. The great difference remarked in the
prices of these two species of liquor, arises out of the great number
of uses to which the fruit of the cocal or coco tree is applicable,
and the increase of expense and labor requisite to obtain the juice,
owing to the great height of the plant, and the frequent dangers to
which the caritones, or gatherers, are exposed in passing from one
tree to another, which they do by sliding along a simple cane (bamboo).

[Little drunkenness.] The impost on, or rather monopoly of, native
wine, is in itself little burdensome to the community, as it only
falls on the lower and most dissipated orders in society, and for this
reason it is not susceptible of the same increase as that of tobacco,
of which the use is more general, and now become an object of the
first necessity. The native of the Philippine Islands is, by nature,
so sober, that the spectacle of a drunken man is seldom noticed in
the streets; in the capital, where the most corrupt classes of them
reside, it is admirable to see the general abstinence from a vice
that degrades the human species. The consumption of the coco and
nipa wine is, nevertheless, considerable, for it is used in all their
festivities, cock-fights, games, marriages, etc. Accordingly if it is
desired to augment the annual sale of these liquors, no way could be
more efficient than to increase the number of their festive meetings,
and seek pretexts to encourage public diversions, so long as these do
not go contrary to the well-regulated order of society, and conflict
with the duties of those who are intrusted with its superintendence.

[Extension of monopoly urged.] I am still of opinion, however, that,
without resting the prosperity of this branch of the public revenue on
principles possessed of so immoral a tendency, it might be rendered
more productive to the treasury, if the monopoly could be introduced
into the other districts adapted to its establishment. By this I
mean to say that, as hitherto the monopoly has been partial, and
enforced more in the way of a trial than in a general and permanent
manner, much remains to be done, and consequently great scope is
left for improvement in this department of the public revenue. This
most assuredly may be attained, if all the local circumstances and
impediments, more or less superable, which the matter itself presents,
are only taken into due account, and proper exertions made to study
and discover the various indirect means of increasing the total mass
of contributions, by applying a system more productive and analogous
to the nature of the Philippine Islands. With regard to the revenue of
the two particular articles above treated on, I merely wish to make
it understood that, far from introducing by means of the monopoly,
a new vice into the provinces in which I recommend its establishment,
it would rather act, in a certain degree at least, as a corrective
to pre-existing evils, and the government would derive advantages
from an article of luxury, by subjecting its consumption to the
same shackles under which it stands in the northern provinces, where
its administration is established and carried on for account of the
royal treasury.

[Former customs usage.] In former times, when only vessels belonging to
the Asiatic nations visited the port of Manila, with effects from the
coast of Coromandel, or the China junks, and now and then a Spanish
vessel coming from or going to the Island of Java, with spices for
account of Philippine merchants, the receipt of duties was left in
charge of a single royal officer, and the valuations of merchandise
made by him, in concert with two merchants named by the government; but
with the knowledge and assistance of the king's attorney-general. The
modifications and changes which have subsequently taken place in this
department have, however, been frequent, as is evidently shown by the
historical extract from the proceedings instituted before the Council
of the Indies, by the merchants of Seville and Cadiz, in opposition to
those of the Philippine Islands, printed in Madrid, 1736, in folio,
by order of the said council; but as it does not enter into my views
to speak of times so remote, I shall confine my remarks to this branch
considered under its present form.

[Custom house.] In conformity to royal orders of March 15 and May 5,
1786, the Royal Custom House of Manila was definitively organized on
its new plan; and from 1788, was placed under the immediate charge
of an administrator-general, a controller, a treasurer, aided by a
competent number of guards, inspectors, etc., and in every respect
regulated on the plan established in the other custom houses. The
freedom of the port being granted to foreign nations, a privilege
before enjoyed only by those purely Asiatic, and a new line of trade
commenced by the company, the competition in merchandise soon began
to increase, as well as the revenue arising therefrom, in such manner
that, although the exportation of goods was limited to the cargo of
the Acapulco ship, of which the duties are not payable till her arrival
there; notwithstanding also the property imported by the company from
China and India, and destined for their own shipments, was exempt
from duties, and above all, the continual interruptions experienced
by the maritime commerce of the Islands within the last fifteen or
twenty years, the net proceeds of the custom house, from the period
above mentioned of its establishment, till the close of 1809, have not
been less than from $138,000 to $140,000, on an average, independent
of the amount of the king's fifth on the gold of the country, which
is collected by the same administrator, in consequence of its being
trivial; as well as the two per cent. belonging to the Board of Trade,
and by them collected under that title, and afterwards separately
applied to the average-fund and which usually may be estimated from
$20,000 to $25,000.

The general duties now levied in the custom house, are the following:

[Port charges and duties.] Six per cent. almojarisfago is on all
kinds of merchandise imported in foreign bottoms, under a valuation
made by the surveyors, in conformity to the respective prices of
the market at the time on importation; it usually is regulated by
an increase of 50% on the prime cost of India goods, and of 33 1/3%
on those from China. This duty may be considered as, in fact, equal
to nine per cent on the former, and eight on the latter.

Six per cent, or the same duty, on all foreign goods, although imported
in national bottoms.

Three per cent on Spanish goods, imported under the national flag,
equal, according to the above estimate to 4 and 4 1/2%.

Two per cent Board of Trade duty, indistinctly on all foreign property,
equivalent to 2 1/2 or 3%.

Twenty-five per cent anchorage dues, levied on the total amount of
the almojarisfago duty.

An additional of two and one-half per cent, a new and temporary duty,
called subvencion, appropiated to the payment of the loan made to
the king by the Cadiz Board of Trade, and leviable on all kinds of
imported goods, and, of course, equal, according to the usual mode
of valuation, to about three per cent.

Three per cent on the exportation of coined silver and gold of the
country, in dust and, ingots.

An additional or duty of subvencion, or temporary duty on the above,
equal to one-half per cent.

One and a half per cent under the same rate, on all kinds of goods,
and equal to two or two and one half per cent.

One and one-half per cent on the amount of the cargo of the Acapulco
ship, on leaving the port of Manila, equal to 3/4% on the real
prime cost.

[Slight concession to the Company.] The company are considered in
the same light as the rest of the merchants, in the graduation and
payment of duties, on such goods as they sell out of their own stores
for local consumption, to the Company, with the exemption only of
the Board of Trade rate of 2% and 3%, on the exportation of silver,
according to a special privilege, and in conformity to the 61st
Article of the new royal decree of 1803.

Besides the duties above enumerated, there is another trifling one
established for local purposes of peso merchante, being a rate for the
use of the king's scales, levied according to an extremely equitable
tariff, on certain articles only of solid weight, such as iron, copper,
etc. The raw materials as well as all kinds of manufactured articles,
belonging to the Islands, are exempt from duties on their entry in
the port and river of Manila; but some of the first are subject to
the most unjust of all exactions, that is, to an arbitrary tax and
to the obligation of being retailed out on board the vessels in which
they have been brought down, and deliverable only to persons bearing
a written order, signed by the sitting members of the municipal
corporation. Among this class of articles may be mentioned the coco
of Cebu and the wax and oil of the Bisayas, which are rated as objects
of the first necessity.

[Undervaluation of galleon goods.] With regard to the respective
duties on the cargo annually dispatched by the merchants of Manila
to New Spain, the practice of galleon is tolerably well regulated. An
extreme latitude is given to the moderate rates at which it is ordered
to value the goods contained in the manifest, by which means these are
frequently put down at only one-half of their original prime cost;
the commission to frame the scale of valuations which is to be in
force for five years, after which time it is renewed, being left
to three merchants, and made subject to the revision of the king's
attorney-general (fiscal) and the approbation of the governor;
consequently, such being the nature of the tariff on which these
operations are founded, the 33 1/3% to which the royal duties amount
on the $500,000 stipulated in the permit, does not, in fact, affect
the shipper beyond the rate of 15 per cent, in consequence of the
great difference between the prime cost and valuation of the articles
corresponding to the permit; or, what is the same thing, between
the $500,000 nominal value, and $1,100,000 or $1,200,000, the real
amount of the cargo in question. The most remarkable circumstance,
however, is, that the officers of the revenue in Acapulco collect
the above-mentioned 33 1/3% in absolute conformity to the Manila
valuation, and not according to the value of the goods in America,
and without any other formality than a comparison of the cargo with
the ship's papers. In honor of truth, it ought to be further observed
that, although the Manila merchant by this means seeks to exempt
himself from the part of the enormous duties with which it has been
attempted to paralyze the only commercial intercourse he carries on
with New Spain, in every other respect connected with this operation,
he acts in a sufficiently legal manner, and if at their return those
vessels have been in the habit of bringing back near a million of
dollars in a smuggled way, it must be acknowledged that it is the
harshness of the law which compels the merchant to become a smuggler;
for according to the strange regulation by which he is thwarted in the
returns representing the proceeds of his outward operation, he must
either bring the money to the Philippine Islands without having it
declared on the ship's papers, or be obliged to leave the greatest
part of it in the hands of others, subject to such contingencies
as happen in trade. As long, therefore, as the present limitations
subsist, which only authorize returns equal to double the value of
the outward-bound cargo, this species of contraband will inevitably
continue. The governors also, actuated by the principles of reason
and natural justice, will, as they have hitherto done, wink at the
infraction of the fiscal laws; a forbearance, in fact, indirectly
beneficial to them, inasmuch as it eventually contributes to the
general improvement of the colony. Indeed, without this species of
judicious condescension, trade would soon stand still for the want
of the necessary funds to carry it on.

[Unbusinesslike custom ways.] .... It will readily be acknowledged
that, in like manner as the good organization of custom houses is
favorable to the progress of general commerce, so nothing is more
injurious to its growth and the enterprise of merchants, than any
uncertainty or arbitrary conduct in the levying of duties to be
paid by them. This arises out of the circumstance of every merchant,
entering on a new speculation, being anxious to have, as the principal
ground work of his combinations, a perfect knowledge of the exact
amount of his disbursements, in order to be enabled to calculate the
final result with some degree of certainty. Considered in this point
of view, the system adopted in the Islands is certainly deplorable,
since it must be acknowledged that the principles and common rules of
all other commercial countries, are there unknown. For example; this
year a cargo arrives from China or Bengal, and the captain turns in
his manifest. The custom-house surveyors then commence the valuation
of the goods of which his cargo is composed: I say they commence,
because it is a common thing for them not to have finished the estimate
of the scale and amount of corresponding duties, till the expiration
of two, four, and not unfrequently six months. The rule they affect to
follow, in this valuation, is that of the prices current in the market,
and in order to ascertain what these are, they are seen going round
inquiring in the shops of the Sangleys (Chinese), till at length,
finding it useless to go in search of correct and concurrent data,
in a place where there are neither brokers nor public auctions, they
are forced to determine in an arbitrary manner, and as the adage goes,
always take good care to see their employers on the right side of the
hedge. The grand work being ended, with all this form and prolixity,
the sentence of the surveyors is irrevocable. The bondsman of the
captain, who, in the meanwhile, has usually sold his cargo and departed
with a fresh one for another destination, pays in the amount of the
duties, thus regulated by law.

[Variations in valuations.] The practical defects and injurious
consequences of such a system as this, it would be unnecessary
to particularize. It would, however, be less intolerable, if,
once put in force, it could serve the merchant as a guide in the
valuations of his property for a determined number of successive
years. What, however, renders this assessment more prejudicial,
is its instability and uncertainty, and the repetition of the same
operation I have just described every year, and with every cargo that
arrives; but under distinct valuations, according to the reports
or humor of the day. Besides these great defects and irregularity,
the Philippine custom house observes the singular practice of not
allowing the temporary landing of goods entered in transitu and for
re-exportation, as is done on the bonding system in all countries
where exertions are made by those in authority for the extension and
improvement of commerce in every possible way. Of course, much less
will they consent to the drawback or return of any part of the duties
on goods entered outwards, even though they are still on board the
very vessels in which they originally came shipped. Beyond all doubt,
the wrongly understood severity of such a system, has, and will,
continue to prevent many vessels from frequenting the port of Manila,
and trying the market, unable to rely on the same liberal treatment
they can meet with in other places.

[The areca-nut.] The bonga, or areca-nut, is the fruit of a very
high palm-tree, not unlike the one that bears the date, and the
nuts, similar to the latter, hang in great clusters from below the
protuberance of the leaves or branches. Its figure and size resemble
a common nut, but solid, like the nutmeg. Divided into small pieces,
it is placed in the center of a small ball made of the tender leaves
of the buyo or betel pepper, lightly covered with slacked lime,
and this composition constitutes the celebrated betel of Asia, or,
as it is here called, the buyo, the latter differing from that used
in India, inasmuch only as it contains cardamomom.

[Buyo monopoly unsatisfactory.] The government, anxious to derive
advantage in aid and support of the colony, from the great use the
inhabitants make of the buyo, many years ago determined to establish
the sale of the bonga, its principal ingredient, into a monopoly,
either by hiring the privilege out, or placing it under a plan of
administration, in the form in which it now stands. Both schemes have
been tried, but neither way has this branch been made to yield more
than $30,000; indeed the annual proceeds usually have not exceeded
$25,000. In 1809, the total amount of sales was $48,610, and deducting
from this sum the prime cost and expenses of administration, the net
profit in favor of the treasury was equal to no more than $27,078 or
upwards of 125 1/2%. In 1780, the privilege of selling the bonga was
let out at public auction for the sum of $15,765 and this, compared
with the present proceeds, clearly shows that, although the increase
has not advanced equally with the other branches of the revenue, it is
far from having declined. It must nevertheless be confessed, that on
the present footing on which it stands, the smallness of the proceeds
is not worth the trouble required in the collection, and even if the
amount were still greater, it could never serve as an excuse for the
oppression and violence to which this monopoly frequently gives rise.

[Hardships on areca-nut planters.] As the trees producing the bonga
are not confined to any particular grounds, and indiscriminately grow
in all, the plan has been adopted of compelling the Filipinos to gather
and bring in the fruit, raised on their lands, to the depot nearest the
district in which they reside. There they are paid from two, two and
one-half, three and three and one-half reals per thousand, according
to the distance from which they come: and, in order to prevent frauds,
the surveyors belonging to the revenue go out, at certain times of the
year, to examine the bonga plantations, and the trees being counted,
they estimate the fruit, that is, oblige the proprietor to undertake
to deliver in two hundred nuts for each bearing tree, whether or not,
hurricanes deteriorate or destroy the produce, or thieves plunder
the plantations, as very frequently happens. In case deficiencies are
proved against him, he is compelled to pay for them in money, at the
rate of twenty-five reals per thousand, the price at which the king
sells them in the monopoly-stores. Besides, the precise condition of
delivering in two hundred bonga nuts, according to the stipulations
imposed upon him, presupposes the previous exclusion of all the injured
or green ones; and although the ordinary trees usually yield as many as
three hundred nuts each, great numbers are nevertheless spoiled. If, to
the adverse accidents arising out of the storms and robberies, we add
the effects of the whims or ill-humor of the receivers, it is not easy
to imagine to what a length the injuries extend which befall the man
who has the folly or misfortune to become a planter of this article.

[Folly of monopoly plan.] On the other hand, as in the conveyances
from the minor to the larger depots, frauds are frequently committed,
and the heaping together of many millions of nuts inevitably produces
the fermentation and rapid putrefaction of a great number of them,
it consequently follows that the waste must be immense; or if it is
determined to sell all the stock laid in, without any distinction in
quality and price, the public must be very badly served and displeased,
as in fact too often happens. Since, therefore, the habit of using
the buyo is still more prevailing than that of tobacco, when suitable
supplies cannot be had in the monopoly stores, the consumer naturally
resorts to the contraband channels, although he encounters some risk,
and expends more money. It is also very natural that the desire of
gain should thus lead on and daily expose a number of needy persons,
anxious by this means to support and relieve the wants of their
families. Returning, however, to what more immediately concerns the
grower, I do not know that the oppressive genius of fiscal laws has,
in any country of the globe, invented one more refinedly tyrannic,
than to condemn a man, to a certain degree at least, as has hitherto
been the case, to the punishment of Tantalus; for the law forbids the
Filipino to touch the fruit of the tree planted with his own hands,
and which hangs in tempting and luxuriant abundance round his humble

[Its modification desirable.] It would be easy for me to enumerate
many other inconveniences attending this branch of public revenue,
on the footing on which it now stands, if what has already been said
did not suffice to point out the necessity of changing the system,
as those in authority are anxious that the treasury should gain more,
and the king's subjects suffer less. The strong prejudice entertained
against this source of revenue, the inconsiderable sum it produces,
and the complicated form of its organization, have in reality been
sufficient motives to induce many to become strenous advocates for
the total abolition of the monopoly. I do not, however, on this
account see any reasons for altogether depriving the government of
a productive resource, as this might soon be rendered, if it was
placed under regulations less odious and more simple in themselves. I
nevertheless agree, that the perfect monopoly of the areca fruit, or
bonga, is impracticable, till the trees, indiscriminately planted,
are cut down, and, in the same way as the tobacco plantations,
fresh and definite grounds are laid out for its cultivation, on
account of the revenue. I am further aware that this measure is
less practicable than the first; for, independent of all the other
obstacles, it would be necessary to wait till the new plantation
yielded fruit, and also that the public should consent to refrain
from masticating buyo in the meanwhile, a pretension as mad as it
would be to require that the eating of salt should be dispensed with
for a given number of years. But what difficulty would there be,
for example, in the proprietors paying so much a year for each bonga
tree to the district magistrate, the governor of the nearest town,
or the cabeza de Barangay, or chiefs of the clans into which the
natives are divided, in the same manner as the Filipino pays his
tribute? [Tree-tax preferable.] The only one I anticipate is that of
fixing the amount in such way that, at the same time this resource is
made to produce an increased income of some moment, it may act as a
moderate tax on an indefinite property, the amount of which, augmented
in the same price, may be reimbursed to the proprietor by the great
body of consumers. It is not in fact easy to foresee or estimate,
by any means of approximation, the alteration in the current price
of the bonga, that would result from the indefinite freedom of its
cultivation and sale, especially during the first years. Although,
for this reason, it would be impossible to ascertain what proportion
the impost on the tree would then bear with regard to the value of
the fruit, the error that might accrue would be of little moment, as
long as precautions were taken to adopt a very low rate of comparison,
and a proportionably equitable one as the basis of taxation. Supposing
then that the price of the bonga should decline from twenty-five reals,
at which it is now sold in the monopoly stores, to fifteen reals per
thousand, in the general market, and a tax of one-fourth real should
be laid on each tree valued at two hundred bonga nuts, it is clear
that this would be equal to no more than 8 1/2%; or, what is the same,
the tax would be in the proportion one to twelve with the proceeds of
each tree, and the more the value of the fruit was raised, the more
would the rate of contribution diminish. It ought at the same time
to be observed that, under the above estimate, that is, supposing the
price of the article to remain at fifteen reals, the 8 1/2% at which
rate the tax is regulated, would not perhaps exceed five or six per
cent on a more minute calculation; in the first place, because at the
time of making out the returns of the trees, [Exception of immature
and aged trees.] those only ought to be set down which are in their
full vigor, excluding such as through the want or excess of age only
yield a small proportion of fruit; and in the second, because in
the numbers registered, the trees would only be rated at two hundred
although it is well known they usually yield three hundred, in order
by this means the better to avoid all motives of complaint. In this
point of view, and by adopting similar rules of probability, it seems
to me that the government would not risk much by an attempt to change
the present system into a tax levied on the tree itself, on a plane
similar to the one above proposed; more particularly by doing it in
a temporary manner, and rendering it completely subservient to the
corrections subsequent experience might suggest in this particular.

[Difficulty of estimating probable revenue.] The difficulty being,
in this manner, overcome, with regard to the prudent determination
of the rate at which the proprietor of the bonga plantations ought
to contribute, let us now proceed to estimate, by approximation, the
annual sum that would thus be obtained. As, however, this operation
is unfortunately complicated, and in great measure depends on the
previous knowledge of the total number of trees liable to the tax
proposed, details with which we are at not present prepared, it is
impossible to come at any very accurate results. All that can be done
is to endeavor to demonstrate, in general terms, the great increase
the revenue would experience by the adoption of the new plan, and
the real advantage resulting from it to the contributors themselves,
all which may be easily deduced from the following calculation.

Let us, in the first instance, suppose that the consumers of buyo,
in the whole of the Islands, do not exceed one million of persons,
and that each one makes use of three bongas per day, this consumption,
at the end of the year, would then amount to 1,095,000,000 nuts. We
will next divide this sum by two hundred, at which the product of each
tree, one with another, is rated, and the result will be 5,475,000
trees. [Greater, however, than at present.] This number being taxed
at the rate of one-fourth real, would leave the sum of $171,093.75
and deducting therefrom the $25,000 yielded by this branch under its
present establishment, together with $5,132 equal to three per cent
paid to the district magistrates for the charges of collection, we
should still have an annual increase in favor of the, treasury equal
to $140,961.75.

It might perhaps be objected that, in this case, the proprietor,
instead of receiving, as before two and one-half reals for every
thousand bongas, would have to disburse one and one-fourth reals in
the mere act of paying one-fourth real for each tree; a circumstance
which, at first sight, seems to produce a difference not of one and
one-fourth, but of three and one-fourth reals per thousand against
him; though in reality far from this being the case, if we take into
consideration the deficiencies the sworn receiver usually lays to
his charge, the fruit he rejects, owing to its being green or rotten,
and the many and expensive grievances he is exposed to in his capacity
of grower; it will be seen that his disbursements under these heads
frequently exceed the amount he in fact has to receive. [Tax only a
surcharge ultimately paid by consumer.] If, in addition to this, we
bear in mind that, on condition of seeing himself free from guards
and a variety of insupportable restrictions, constituting the very
essence of a monopoly, he would in all probability gladly pay much
more than the tax in question, all the doubts arising on this point
will entirely disappear. Finally, considered in its true light, we
shall not find in the measure above described anything more than a
very trifling discount required of the proprietor from the price at
which he sells his bonga, and which, as already noticed, ultimately
falls on the consumer alone.

[Estimate conservative.] The moderate estimate I have just formed ought
to inspire the more confidence from its being well known that the use
of the buyo is general among the inhabitants of these Islands. The
calculation, as it now stands, rests only on one million consumers,
for each of whom I have only put down three bongas per day, whereas
it is customary to use much more; nor have I taken into account the
infinite number of nuts wasted after being converted into the buyo,
a fact equally well known. Indeed, as the object proposed was no
other than to prove the main part of my assertions, and I trust this
is satisfactorily done, I have not deemed it necessary to include
in the above calculation a greater number of minute circumstances,
nor attempt to deduce more favorable results, which, with the scope
before me, I was most assuredly warranted in doing.

[Advantages.] In a word, from the concurrence of the facts and
reasons above adduced, the following propositions may, without any
difficulty, be laid down. First, that the increase of revenue produced
by the reform in question, would in all probability exceed $150,000
per annum; secondly, that the Filipinos would soon comprehend, and
gladly consent to a change of this kind in the mode of contributing
of which the advantages would be apparent; thirdly, that the persons
employed in the old establishment, might, with greater public utility,
be applied to other purposes; and lastly, that the civil magistrates
would not be harassed with so many strifes and lawsuits, and so many
melancholy victims of the monopoly, and its officers would cease to
drag a wretched existence in the prisons and places of hard labor in
these Islands.

[Cockpit licenses.] The cock-pit branch of the revenue is hired out
by the government, and the license is separately set up at auction
for the respective provinces. Its nature and regulations are so
well known that they do not require a particular description, the
general obligations of the contractors being the same as those in New
Spain. Perhaps the only difference observed in this public exhibition
in the Philippine Islands consists in its greater simplicity, owing to
its being frequented only by the natives, the whites who are present
at this kind of diversion being very few, or indeed none.

[Inconsiderable income.] The cock-pits are open two days in the week,
and the lessees of them receive half a real from every person who
enters, besides the extra price they charge those who occupy the best
seats, the owners of the fighting cocks, for the spurs, stalls for the
sale of buyo, refreshments, etc. Notwithstanding all this, and although
cock-fighting is so general and favorite an amusement among these people
(the rooster may justly be considered as the distinctive emblem of
the Filipino) the annual proceeds of this branch are inconsiderable;
although it must be acknowledged that it has greatly increased since
the year 1780, when it appears the license was let at auction for
only about $14,000 owing, no doubt, to the exclusive privilege of
the contractors not having been extended to the provinces, as was
afterwards gradually done.

[Provincial cockpit revenue.] The total sum paid to the government by
the renters of this branch, according to the auction returns in 1810,
amounted to $40,141 in the following order for the provinces:

Tondo $18,501
Cavite 2,225
La Laguna 2,005
Pampanga 3,000
Bulacan 6,900
Batangas 2,000
Pangasinan 1,200
Bataan 1,050
Iloilo 1,600
Ilocos 600
Tayabas 400
Cebu 360
Albay 300
Total $40,141

[Possibilities of increase.] The causes, to which the increase
that has taken place within the last twenty-five or thirty years is
chiefly to be attributed, have already been pointed out, and for this
reason it would appear that, by adopting the same plan with regard to
the fourteen remaining provinces, of which this captaincy-general
is composed, hitherto free from the imposition of this tax, an
augmentation might be expected, proportionate to the population,
their circumstances, and the greater or lesser taste for cock-fights
prevailing among their respective inhabitants. At the commencement, no
doubt, the rentals would be low, and, of course, the prices at which
the licenses were let out, would be equally so; but the experience
and profits derivable from this kind of enterprises would not fail
soon to excite the competition of contractors, and in this way add
to the revenue of the government. This is so obvious that I cannot
help suspecting attempts have, at some period or other, been made
to introduce the establishment of this privilege, in some of the
provinces alluded to; at the same time I am persuaded that, owing
to the affair not having been viewed in its proper light, seeking
on the contrary to obtain an immediate and disproportionate result,
the authorities have been too soon disheartened and given up the
project without a fair trial. All towns and districts murmur, and,
at first object, to taxes, however light they may be; but, at length,
if they be not excessive, the people become reconciled to them. The
one here proposed is neither of this character, nor can it be deemed
odious on account of its novelty. The natives are well aware that
their brethren in the other provinces are subject to it, and that
in this nothing more is done than rendering the system uniform. I,
therefore, see no reason why the establishment of this branch of
revenue should not be extended to all the points of the Islands. At
the commencement, let it produce what it may, since constancy and
time will bring things to the same general level.

[Indian tributes.] The too great condescension and mistaken humanity
of the government on the one hand, and the fraud and selfishness
of the provincial sub-delegates or collectors, on the other, have
concurred to change a contribution, the most simple, into one of the
most complicated branches of public administration. The first cause
has been owing to a too general acquiescence to receive the amount
of tributes in the produce peculiar to each province, instead of
money; and the second, because as the above officers are the persons
intrusted with the collection, whenever the sale has held out to
them any advantage, they have been in the habit of appropriating the
several articles to themselves, without allowing any benefit to the
treasury. If the prospective sales of the produce appear unfavorable,
it is then forwarded on to the king's store in Manila, surcharged with
freights, exposed to many risks, and the value greatly diminished
by waste and many other causes. No order or regularity being thus
observed in this respect, and the sale of the produce transmitted to
the king's stores being regulated by the greater or lesser abundance in
the general market, and a considerable stock besides left remaining,
from one year to another, and eventually spoiled, it is impossible
to form any exact estimate of this branch. If to these complicated
matters we add the radical vices arising out of the infidelity of the
heads of clans (cabezas de barangay), the difficulty of ascertaining
the defects of the returns made out by them, the variations annually
occurring in the number of those exempted either through age or other
legal motives, and above all, the frequently inevitable tardiness with
which the district magistrates send in their respective accounts,
it will be readily acknowledged, that no department requires more
zeal in its administration, and no one is more susceptible of all
kinds of frauds, or attended with more difficulties.

[A conservative estimate.] In this state of uncertainty, with regard
to this particular branch, I have guided myself by the last general
return of tributes, made out in the accountant-general's office,
on the best and most recent data, and calculating indistinctly the
whole value in money, I have deemed it proper afterwards to make a
moderate deduction, on account of the differences above stated, and
arising out of the collection of the tributes in kind, the expenses of
conveyance, shipwrecks, averages, and other causes already enumerated.

[Fixed charges.] In conformity to this calculation, the total
proceeds of this branch of revenue amount to $505,215 from which
sum are deducted, in the primitive stages of the accounts, the
amount of ecclesiastical stipends, the pay of the troops under
the immediate orders of the chief district magistrates in their
quality of war-captains, together with all other extraordinary
expenses incurred in the provinces by orders of the government, the
remainder being afterwards forwarded to the king's treasury. It ought,
however, to be observed, that the above aggregated sum is more or less
liable to deficiencies, according to the greater or lesser degree of
punctuality on the part of the sub-collectors in making up accounts,
and the solidity of their respective sureties; the failure of this
kind experienced by the revenue being so frequent, that, according to
the returns of the accountant-general, those which occurred between
the years 1762 and 1809, were no less than $215,765 notwithstanding
the great precautions at all times taken to prevent such considerable
injuries, by every means compatible with the precarious tenure of
property possessed by both principals and sureties in this country. All
the above circumstances being therefore taken into due consideration,
and the ordinary and extraordinary discounts made from the total amount
of tributes, the real sum remaining, or the net annual proceeds of
the above branch, have usually not been rated at more than $190,000
and $200,000; a sum respectively extremely small, and which possibly
might be doubled, without the necessity of recurring to any other
measure than a standing order for the collecting of the tributes in
money, as by this means the variety of expenses and complications above
enumerated, would be avoided, and the king's revenue no longer exposed
to any other deficiencies than those arising out of the insolvency
of the sub-collectors and their sureties, or casual risks, and the
trifling charges paid for the conveyance of the money. If in opposition
to this it should be alleged that it would be advisable to except some
of the provinces from this general rule, owing to the advantages the
government might derive from certain tributes being paid in kind,
I do not hesitate to answer that I see no reason whatever why this
should be done, because, if, for example, any quality of rigging
or sail cloth is annually required, it would be easy to obtain it
either by early contracts, or by laying in the articles at the current
market price. Indeed, all supplies which do not rest on this footing,
would be to defraud the natives of the fruits of his industry, and in
the final result this would be the same as requiring of him double or
triple tribute, contrary to the spirit of the law, which unfortunately
is too frequently the case under the existing system.

[Preferability of tribute in money.] Considering this affair in
another point of view, it would be easy for me to demonstrate, if it
were necessary, the mistaken idea that the native is benefited by
receiving in kind the amount of the tribute he has to pay, at the
low prices marked in the tariff used as a standard, by showing the
extortions and brokerage, if I may so term it, to which the practice
gives rise on the part of the district collectors. It will, however,
suffice to call the attention of my readers to the smallness of
the sum constituting the ordinary tribute, when reduced to money,
in order for them to be convinced that it would be superfluous,
as well as hazardous, to attempt to point out how this branch might
be rendered more productive to the state and at the same time less
burdensome to the contributors, more particularly when the rate
assessed does not exceed ten reals per year, a sum so small, that
generally speaking, no family can be found unable to hoard it up, if
they have any inclination so to do. The prevailing error, however, in
this respect, I am confident arises out of a principle very different
from the one to which it is usually attributed. The tributary native
is, in fact, disposed to pay the quota assigned to him into the hands
of the chief of his clan, in money, in preference to kind; because,
independent of the small value at which the articles in kind are
rated in the tariff, he is then exposed to no expenses, as he now is
for the conveyance of his produce and effects; nor is he liable to so
many accidents. But as the chief of each clan has to deliver in his
forty or fifty tributes to the head magistrate, who is answerable for
those of the whole province, it is natural for him to endeavor to make
his corresponding payments in some equivalent affording him a profit;
at the same time the provincial magistrate, speculating on a larger
scale, on the produce arising out of his jurisdiction, seeks to obtain
from the government a profitable commutation in kind for that which
the original contributor would have preferred paying in money. In
order the better to attain his purpose, he asserts, as a pretext,
the impossibility of collecting in the tribute under another form,
alleging, moreover, the relief the native derives from this mode,
whereas, if only duly examined, such a pretence is founded on the
avarice, rather than the humanity of the magistrate.

Leaving to one side the defects attributable to the present mode
of collection, and considering the tribute as it is in itself, the
attentive observer must confess, that in no part of our Indies is
this more moderate; and, indeed, it is evident that the laws generally
relating to the natives of these Islands seem to distinguish them with
a decided predilection above those of the various sections of America.

[Items in tribute.] The tribute in its origin was only eight reals
per family; but the necessity of providing for the increased expenses
of the government gave rise to this rate being afterwards raised
to ten. The Sangley mestizos pay double tribute, and the Sangleys
contribute at the rate of $6 per head. Besides this, all pay a yearly
sum, applicable to the funds belonging to the community, and the above
two casts pay three reals more, as a church rate, and under the name
of the Sanctuary, the whole being in the following form:

Entire Native Tribute Tribute of Mestizos Sangleys

8 Reals, original tribute 16 Reals. $6 each.
1 1/2 Reals for expenses
of troops 3
1/2 Reals to tithes 1
10 Reals, amount of tribute 20 Reals. $6.75
1 Real, community funds 1
3 Reals, sanctuary rate 3
14 Reals, total annual
disbursement. 24 Reals. $6.75

The males commence paying tribute at twenty years of age and
the females at twenty-five, if before they have not entered the
matrimonial state, and in both the obligation ceases at the age of
sixty. The chiefs of clans, or cabezas de barangay and their eldest
sons, or in default of children, the person adopted in their stead,
that is, an entire tribute and a half, are exempt from this tax, as
a remuneration for the trouble and responsibility they may have in
collecting in the forty or fifty tributes, of which their respective
clans are composed. Besides these there are various other classes of
exempted persons, such as the soldiers who have served a certain number
of years, those who have distinguished themselves in any particular
manner in the improvement of industry or agriculture, and others who
have received special certificates, on just and equitable grounds. In
summing up the total number of exempted persons, on an average in
the whole of the provinces, they will be found in the proportion of
fifty to every thousand entire tributes.

[Chinese tax.] The head-tax of the Sangleys has usually been
attended with so many difficulties in its collection, owing to the
facilities with which they absent or secrete themselves, and the
many stratagems this cunning and artful race employ to elude the
vigilance of the commissioners, that the government has at length
found itself compelled to let out this branch, as was done in 1809,
when it was disposed of in the name of one of them for the moderate
sum of $30,000; notwithstanding it is a generally received opinion,
that the number of this description of Chinese, constantly residing
in the Islands, is above 7,000, which, at the rate of $6 per head,
would raise this proportion of the tax as high as $42,000.

[Community funds.] The Community funds belonging to each town, have,
in conformity to the regulations under which they are administered,
a special, or I might say, local application; but collected together
into one stock, as is now the case, and directly administered by the
government, they produce a more general utility. The head town of
the province A, for example, requires to rebuild the public prison
or town-hall, and its own private funds are not sufficient to defray
the expenses of the work in question. In this case, therefore, the
government gives orders for the other dependent towns to make up the
deficiency by taking their proportions from their respective coffers,
as all have an equal interest in the proposed object being carried
into effect. The king's officers, in consequence thereof, draw the
corresponding sums from these funds, the whole of which is under their
immediate superintendence. And in order that the surplus of this stock
may not stand still, but obtain every possible increase in a country
where the premium for money is excessive, when let out at a maritime
risk, it is ordered that some part shall be appropriated in this way,
and on the same terms as those observed by the administrators of the
charity funds belonging to the Misericordia (Charity) establishment,
and the third order of St. Francis, which is another of the great
advantages of assembling this class of property.

In consequence of this judicious regulation, and the success with
which this measure has hitherto been attended, the Community fund
has gone on increasing in such a way that, notwithstanding the sums
drawn from it for the purpose of constructing causeways, bridges,
and other municipal objects, at the commencement of 1810, the stock
in hand amounted to no less than $200,000; and it is natural to
suppose when the outstanding premiums due shall have been paid in,
a considerable augmentation will take place. This branch, although
not exactly comprehended in those which constitute the revenue of the
government, has so obvious an analogy with that of tributes, that I
have not deemed it any essential deviation from the order and method
I have hitherto observed in this work, to introduce it in this place,
as in itself it did not deserve to be classed under a distinct head.

[Tribute burdensome.] Notwithstanding the truth of what has been
said with regard to the moderate rate of the tribute imposed on the
native of the Philippine Islands, it would be extremely desirable if
he could be altogether exonerated from a charge which he bears with
great repugnance, by some other substitute being adopted, indirectly
producing an equivalent compensation. In the first place, because the
just motives of complaint would cease, caused not only by the tribute,
but also the manner of its collection; and an end would then be put
to those intrigues and extortions the district magistrates commit,
under the title of zealous collectors of the king's revenue, and the
power of a multitude of subaltern tyrants, comprehended under the
denomination of chiefs of native clans (cabezas de barangay) would
then also fall to the ground; a power which, if now employed for the
purpose of oppressing and trampling on the liberties of inferiors,
might some day or other be converted into an instrument dangerous
and subversive of our preponderance in the country. In the second
place, if, among all the civilized nations a head-tax (poll-tax)
is in itself odious, it must incontestably be much more so among
those whose unlettered state, far from allowing them to know that
the social order requires a certain class of sacrifices for its
better preservation, makes them attribute exactions of this kind
to an abuse of superiority. Hence are they led to consider these
restraints as the symbols of their own slavery and degradation, as
in fact the natives in these Islands have ample reasons for doing,
when the legal exemption of the whites is considered, without any
other apparent reason than the difference in color. Independent of
this, the substitute above alluded to would be extremely expedient,
inasmuch as it would greatly simplify the plan of administration,
the accountant's department would be freed from the most painful
part of its labors, and the district magistrates and sub-collectors
would not so frequently be entangled in their accounts, and exposed
to expensive and interminable lawsuits, as now so often happens.

[Possible Revenue substitutes.] The difficulty, however, of
finding out this compensation or substitute is a matter of some
consideration. On the one hand, if it was attempted to distribute
the proceeds arising out of the tributes on other branches, such as
tobacco, native wine, bonga, and custom house, it would, at first
sight, appear possible, through the medium of an almost invisible
augmentation in the respective sale prices and in the king's duties,
that this important object might easily be attained; but, on the
other, it might be apprehended that the additional value put on
the articles above-mentioned, would produce in their consumption
a diminution equal to the difference in prices, in which cases no
advantage would be gained. The practicability of the operation, in my
opinion, depends on the proportion in which the means of obtaining the
articles in question respectively stand with the probability of their
being consumed. I will explain myself. If, for example, the annual
stock of tobacco laid in should be insufficient to meet the wants of
the consumers, as constantly occurs, it is clear that this article,
when monopolized, will bear a small augmentation of price, not only
without any inconvenience or risk, but with the moral certainty of
obtaining a positive increase of revenue, the necessary effect of
the total consumption of the tobacco laid in and sold. But as this
does not happen with the branch of native wines, of which the stock
usually exceeds the demand, and as the bonga also is not susceptible
of this improvement, owing to the small place it occupies among the
other resources of the revenue, no other means are left than to add to
the duties of export on silver, and of import on foreign merchandise,
a percentage equivalent to the deficiency not laid on tobacco, unless
it should be deemed more advisable to levy a sumptuary contribution on
coaches, horses and servants, and especially on all kinds of edifices
and houses built of stone and mortar, situated both within and without
the capital.

[Objection to tribute-paying.] However this may be, whatever the king
loses in revenue by the abolition of the native tributes, no doubt,
could be made up by an appeal to other ways and means. It is well-known
that many of the Indian tribes refuse to become subjects of the crown
and object to enter into general society on account of the odious
idea they have formed of paying tribute; or, as they understand it,
the obligation of giving something for nothing, notwithstanding those
who voluntarily submit themselves to our laws, are exempt from tribute,
and this charge falls only on their descendants. But of this they must
either be ignorant, or they regret depriving their posterity of that
independence in which they themselves have been brought up, and thus
transmit to them slavery as an inheritance. As soon, therefore, as a
general exemption of this kind, without distinction of casts, should
be made public, the natives would quit their fastnesses and secluded
places, and satisfied with the security offered to them, would be
seen coming down to the plains in search of conveniences of civilized
life, and all gradually would be reduced to Christianity. Hence
the increase of productions and their consumption, as well as
the extension of agriculture, industry and internal commerce. The
diminution of smuggling tobacco would soon follow, progress would be
made in the knowledge of the mines and natural riches of the country,
and financially, greater facilities would present themselves in
gradually carrying into effect its entire conquest and civilization.

Advantages of such great and extraordinary importance deserve to
be seriously weighed, and to this valuable department of public
administration the early attention of those in authority ought to
be called. Let due inquiries be made, and soon shall we discover
the substantial benefits which would be derived to the treasury
from the adoption of this measure, as popular as it is just, and
also conformable to the liberal spirit of the times. In support of
the preceding arguments, it ought further to be observed, that when
all the branches constituting the king's revenue are well organized,
brought to their most productive state, and the public debt contracted
under unforeseen exigencies paid off, as long as present circumstances
do not vary, an annual surplus of revenue, equal to more than $500,000,
will be left; and as the proceeds of the particular branch of tributes
do not amount to this sum, it is evident their abolition may take
place, not only without any derangement or onerous consequences to the
administration, but even without any deficiency being experienced, or
any necessity to recur to the treasury of New Spain for extraordinary
aid. These reasons acquire still greater force when it is remembered
that, as things now are, all the branches of public revenue are
in a progressively improving condition, and as the whole are still
susceptible of a much more productive organization, the annual surplus
of receipts will rapidly become greater, and consequently also the
necessity will diminish of continuing to burden this portion of His
Majesty's dominions with contributions in order to meet the expenses
of their defence and preservation.

Finally, well convinced of the advantageous results which, in
every sense, would emanate from the revision and reforms proposed,
I abstain from offering, in support of my arguments, a variety of
other reflections which occur to me, not to be too diffuse on this
subject; trusting that the hints I have already thrown out will be
more than sufficient to excite an interest and promote a thorough and
impartial investigation of concerns, highly important to the future
welfare and security of this colony.

[Subaltern branches.] Besides the six preceding branches which
constitute the chief mass of the public revenue in these islands, there
are several smaller ones of less consideration and amount; some having
a direct application to the general expenses of the local government,
and the others, intended as remittances to Spain; a distinction of
little import and scarcely deserving of notice, since the object of the
present sketch is to convey information on a large scale respecting
the King's revenue in these Islands. As some of them, however, yield
proceeds more regular than the others, I have classed together the
receipts of the Pope's Bulls, or "Bulas de Cruzada," playing-cards,
tithes, stamps and gunpowder, under the head of Subaltern Branches,
with regard to the rest, to the general statement already quoted.

In conformity to the returns with which I have been favored from
the public offices, these five branches produced, in the year 1809,
$45,090.75 in the following proportions:

Sales. Expenses. Net Proceeds.
Pope's bulls $15,360.75 $4,422.25 $10,938.50
Playing cards 11,539.125 932.625 10,606.50
Tithes 12,493.00 ---- 12,493.00
Stamps 4,467.50 321.50 4,146.00
Gunpowder 7,307.625 401.125 6,905.375
---- ---- ----
$51,168.125 $6,077.75 $45,090.375

[Tithes.] The scanty proceeds of the tithes will naturally appear
remarkable; but it ought to be remembered that, besides the ordinary
tribute, the natives pay half a real under this denomination,
without any distinction of person, or any reference whatever to their
respective means, the total amount of which is already added to the
tributes, and for this reason not repeated in this place. In addition
also no tithes are levied, except on lands belonging to Spaniards,
churches, regular clergy, ecclesiastical corporations, etc., and even
then the articles of rice, wheat, pulse indigo and sugar, are alone
liable. The above branches are all in charge of administrators,
and from this plan it certainly would be advisable to separate
the tithes and farm them out at public auction, as was proposed
by the king's officers of the treasury, in their report on this,
as well as other points, concerning the revenue, and dated October
24, 1792. From the net proceeds of the gunpowder the expenses of its
manufacture, confided to the commandant of artillery, ought seemingly
to be deducted; but, as they cannot be ascertained with any degree of
certainty, and as besides they are comprehended in the general expenses
of that department, a separate deduction may be dispensed with.

[Disbursements and general expenses.] In order to form a correct idea
of the annual amount of the expenditure incurred by the administration
and defence of the Philippine Islands, it is not necessary in this
place to distinguish each item, separately; or to enumerate them
with their respective sums or particular denominations. Some general
observations on this subject ought, nevertheless, to be made, with a
view to point out the reforms of which this important department of
the public revenue is susceptible.

In the part relating to the interior administration or government,
ample room is certainly left for that kind of economy arising out of
the adoption of a general system, little complicated; but it is besides
indispensably necessary that, at the same time the work is simplifed
and useless hands dismissed, the salaries of those who remain should
be proportionally increased, in order to stimulate them in the due
performance of their duties. It might also be found advisable to
create a small number of officers of a superior order, who would
be enabled to co-operate in the collection of the king's revenue,
and the encouragement of agriculture, commerce and navigation,
in their respective departments. The additional charges in this
respect cannot be of any great consequence; although, in reality,
by the receipts increasing through the impulse of an administrative
order more perfect, and the expenses being always the same, the main
object, so anxiously sought for in another way, would be thus attained.

[Defence expenses.] The reverse, however, happens with regard
to the expenses of defence, as I have called them, the better to
distinguish them from those purely relating to the interior police
or administration. Every sacrifice, most assuredly, ought to appear
small, when the object is to preserve a country from falling into the
hands of an enemy, and it ought not to excite surprise, if, during the
course of the last fifteen years, several millions of dollars have been
expended in the Philippines, in order to shield them from so dreadful
a misfortune. But the late memorable revolution in the Peninsula has
given rise to so great a change in our political relations, and it
is extremely improbable that these Islands will be again exposed to
the same danger and alarm, that the government may now, without any
apparent risk, dispense with a considerable part of the preparations
of defence, at one time deemed indispensably necessary. A colony that
has no other strong place to garrison than its capital, and on the
loyalty of whose inhabitants there are sufficient motives to rely,
ought, in my opinion, to be considered as adequately provided against
all ordinary occurrences in time of peace, with the 4,000 regulars,
more or less, of all arms, the usual military establishment. In case
any suspicions should arise of an early rupture with the only power
whose forces can inspire the governors of these Islands with any kind
of apprehensions, means will not be wanting to an active and provident
minister, of giving proper advice, so as to allow sufficient time for
the assembling of the battalions of provincial militia and all the
other necessary preparations of defence, before the enemy is in an
attitude to effect an invasion of a country so far distant from his
own possessions on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel. Consequently,
by disbanding the corps of provincial infantry, cavalry and artillery,
which continue uselessly to be kept on foot, an annual saving of
from $220,000 to $250,000 would take place, an amount too great to
be expended unless imperiously called for by the evident dread of a
premeditated attack from an hostile quarter.

[Shipping reform.] The navy is another of the departments in which
reforms may be introduced, of no small moment to the treasury. Of
course by the government merely dispensing with the policy of keeping
in readiness two large ships to convey to Acapulco the cargos, for
which the Manila merchants enjoy an annual licence, and leaving to
the latter the full liberty of following up their speculations on
their own account and risk, in vessels of their own, individually or
with joint stock, a saving would result in favor of the crown equal to
$140,000 to $150,000 per annum, and without preventing the receipt in
Acapulco of the customary duties of $160,000 or $166,000 corresponding
to the said licenses. This will evidently be the case, because as
long as the large disposal of funds of the charitable institutions
are employed in maritime risks, and the private property of others
is besides added to them, the amount of the operations undertaken by
the merchants of the Philippines to New Spain, when divested of all
restraint, will always exceed $500,000 per annum. Nor is there now
any further occasion for the government to continue granting this
species of gratuitous tutelage to a body of men possessed of ample
means to manage their own affairs, and who demand the same degree of
freedom, and only seek a protection similar to that enjoyed by their
fellow-countrymen in other parts of the king's dominions.

[Galleon graft.] In case the above reform should be adopted, it might
be deemed requisite for the government to undertake the payment of some
of the charges under the existing order of things, defrayed out of the
freights to which the merchandise shipped in the Acapulco traders is
liable; because, calculating the freight at the usual rate of $200 for
each three bales, or the amount of one ticket, out of the one thousand
constituting the entire cargo, and of which one-half, or $100,000 more
or less, is appropriated to the ecclesiastical chapter, municipality,
officers of the regular army (excluding captains and the other higher
ranks) and the widows of Spaniards, who in this case would be losers,
independent of the remaining $100,000 or 500 tickets distributed
among the 200 persons having a right to ship to Acapulco, it would, at
first sight, appear reasonable for the treasury to indemnify the above
description of persons by a compensation equivalent to the privation
they experience through the new arrangement of the government. But
as the practice of abuses constitutes no law, and what is given
through favor is different to that which is required by justice,
there are no reasons whatever why the treasury should be bound to
support the widows of private persons, from the mere circumstance of
their deceased husbands having been Spaniards; more particularly if
it is considered that, far from having acquired any special merit
during their lifetime, most of them voluntarily left their native
country for the purpose of increasing their fortunes, and others were
banished from it, owing to their bad conduct. Neither can it be said
that the municipality have a legal right, in the case before stated,
to receive any equivalent for the value of their respective annual
tickets, which, when disposed of, usually amount to about $20,000 in
the first place, because it is well-known that the eleven aldermen's
seats, of which that body is composed, seats which can either be
sold or resigned, originally did not cost as much as $50,000 and
clearly the principal invested is out of all kind of proportion with
the enormous premium or income claimed. In the second place, although
the above municipal situations were originally purchased with a view
to obtain some advantages, these formerly were very different to what
they are at present, when the great increase of shippers to Acapulco,
or in more plain terms, of purchase of tickets competing to obtain
them, has given to these permits a value more than triple to that
they possessed thirty years ago.

[Indemnifying the aldermen.] In order, therefore, to do away with
all motives of doubt and dispute, as well as for many other reasons
of public utility, the best plan, in my opinion, would be, to return
to each alderman his money, and the present municipal constitution
being dissolved, the number of members might be reduced to four, with
their corresponding registrar, and like the two ordinary "alcaldes,"
elected every year without any other reward than the honor of presiding
over and representing their fellow-citizens. Under this supposition,
the only classes entitled to compensation, strictly speaking,
would be the ecclesiastical chapter and the subaltern officers,
whose respective pay and appointment are not in fact sufficient
for the decency and expenses of their rank in society. Of course it
would then be necessary to grant them more adequate allowances, but,
according to reasonable calculations, the sum total annually required
would not exceed $30,000; consequently, the reform projected with
regard to the Acapulco ships would still eventually produce to the
treasury a saving of from $60,000 to $70,000 in the first year of
its adoption, and of $110,000 to $120,000 in every succeeding one.

[The navy.] It is, on the other hand, undeniable that, if the royal
navy and cruising vessels, or those belonging to the Islands and
under the immediate orders of the captain-general, were united into
one department, and placed under one head, considerable economy
would ensue, and all motives of discord and emulation be moreover
removed. Such would be the case if the change was attended with no
other cirumstances than the consequent diminution of commanders,
subaltern officers, and clerks; but it would be also proper to unite
the arsenals, and adopt a more general uniformity in the operations and
dependences of this part of the public services. It is equally certain
that, during peaceful times, the two schooners and sixty gunboats,
constituting the number of the above-mentioned cruising vessels, would
be in great measure useless; whilst in case of a rupture, they are not
sufficient to protect the trade of these Islands from the attacks of an
enemy, notwithstanding they now cost the government considerable sums
in repairs, etc., in order to keep them fit for service. The government
ought therefore to guard against this waste of public money, without,
however, neglecting the defence of the Islands, objects which, in my
opinion, might easily be reconciled. Intelligent persons have judged
that by reducing the naval forces to two frigates, two schooners,
and about a dozen gunboats, the essential wants of the colony would be
duly answered, in ordinary times; and some of the vessels might then
be destined to pursue hydrographical labors in the Archipelago, which,
unfortunately, are in a most backward state, whilst others could be
sent on their periodical cruises against the Moros. By this means, at
least, the navy department would be greatly simplified, and cease to be
eternally burdensome to the government. With regard to the superfluous
gunboats, it would be expedient to distribute them gratuitously among
the marine provinces and Bisayan Islands, on the only condition of
their being always kept fit for service; as, in one sense, the great
expenses of maintaining them would be thus saved by the treasury, and,
another, the inhabitants of those portions of the coast would be in
possession of means sufficiently powerful to repel the aggressions of
the Moros, who commit great ravages on their settlements. Finally,
if besides the reforms of which the army and navy are susceptible,
it is considered that the public works, such as prisons, schools,
bridges, and causeways, so expensive in other countries, in the
Philippines are constructed by the natives on the most reasonable
terms, out of the community funds; that there is no necessity to build
fortifications, and maintain numerous garrisons; that the clergy, to
whose zeal and powerful influence the preservation of these Islands
is chiefly due, do not cost the treasury annually above $200,000 and
that the geographical situation of the colony in great measure shields
it from the attacks of external enemies, it will readily be confessed,
that a wise and firm government might undertake, without the dread of
having to encounter any great obstacles, an administrative system,
in a general point of view, infinitely more economical than the one
hitherto followed; might be able to extirpate numerous abuses, and
by calling forth the resources of the country gradually raise it to
a flourishing condition, and cause it hereafter to contribute largely
to the other wants of the crown. Hence was it that the distinguished
voyager, La Perouse (Chap. 15), contemplating these Islands with a
political eye, did not hesitate to affirm "that a powerful nation,
possessed of no other colonies than the Philippines, that should
succeed in establishing there a form of government best adapted to
their advantageous circumstances, would justly disregard all the
other European establishments in Africa and America."

[Objectionable office-holders.] In our colonies, appointments and
command far from being sought as a means to obtain a good reputation,
or as affording opportunities of contributing to public prosperity,
are, it is too well known, only solicited with a view to amass
wealth, and then retire for the purpose of enjoying it. Commercial
pursuits being besides attended with so many advantages that those
only decline following them who are divested of money and friends;
whilst the situation in the revenue are so few in number, compared
with the many candidates who solicit them, that they are consequently
well appointed, it follows that the excess left without occupation,
besides being considerable, is generally composed of needy persons, and
not the most suitable to exercise the delicate functions of collectors
and magistrates in the provinces. From this class nevertheless the
host of officers are usually taken who, under the name of collectors,
surveyors and assessors of tributes, intervene in, or influence
the public administration. Owing to the variety and great number of
persons emigrating to America, ample field, no doubt, is there left
for selection, by which means the viceroys may frequently meet with
persons suitable and adequate to the above trusts, if prudent steps
are only taken; but in this respect the case is very different in the
Philippines, where chance alone occasionally brings over a European
Spaniard, unemployed or friendless. In these remote Islands, also,
more than in any other quarter, people seek to live in idleness, and,
as much as possible, without working, or much trouble. As long as
hopes are entertained of doing something in the Acapulco speculations,
every other pursuit is viewed with indifference, and the office of
district or provincial magistrate is only solicited when all other
resources have failed, or as a remedy against want. As the applicants
for these situations are therefore not among the most select classes,
it very frequently happens that they fall into extremely improper
and unworthy hands.

It is in fact common enough to see a hairdresser or a lackey converted
into a governor; a sailor or a deserter transformed into a district
magistrate, collector, or military commander of a populous province,
without any other counsellor than his own crude understanding,
or any other guide than his passion. Such a metamorphosis would
excite laughter in a comedy or farce; but, realized in the theatre
of human life, it must give rise to sensations of a very different
nature. Who is there that does not feel horror-struck, and tremble
for the innocent, when he sees a being of this kind transferred from
the yard-arm to the seat of justice, deciding, in the first instance,
on the honor, lives, and property of a hundred thousand persons, and
haughtily exacting the homage and incense of the spiritual ministers
of the towns under his jurisdiction, as well as of the parish curates,
respectable for their acquirements and benevolence, and who, in their
own native places, would possibly have rejected as a servant the very
man whom in the Philippines they are compelled to court and obey as
a sovereign.

In vain do the laws ordain that such offices shall not be given away to
attendants on governors and members of the high court of justice, for
under pretext of the scarcity of Europeans experienced in the colony,
means are found to elude the statute, by converting this plea into an
exception in favor of this description of persons. By such important
offices being filled in this manner, it is easy to conceive the various
hardships to which many of the provinces and districts are exposed;
nor can any amelioration be expected as long as this plan is persisted
in and the excesses of the parties go without punishment.

[Evils from officials in trade.] Independent, however, of the serious
injuries and great errors persons of the class above described cannot
fail to commit in the exercise of their functions, purely judicial, the
consequences of their inordinate avarice are still more lamentable,
and the tacit permission to satisfy it, granted to them by the
government under the specious title of a licence to trade. Hence may
it be affirmed, that the first of the evils, and the one the native
immediately feels, is occasioned by the very person the law has
destined for his relief and protection. In a word, he experiences
injuries from the civil magistrates presiding over the provinces,
who, at the same time, are the natural enemies of the inhabitants,
and the real oppressors of their industry.

It is a known and melancholy fact that, far from promoting the
felicity of the provinces intrusted to their care, the magistrates
attend to nothing else but their own fortunes and personal interests;
nor do they hesitate as to the means by which their object is to
be attained. Scarcely are they seated in the place of authority,
when they become the chief consumers, purchasers, and exporters of
every thing produced and manufactured within the districts under
their command, thus converting their licence to trade into a positive
monopoly. In all lucrative speculations the magistrate seeks to have
the largest share; in all his enterprises he calls in the forced aid
of his subjects, and if he deigns to remunerate their labor, at most
it is only on the same terms as if they had been working on account
of the king. These unhappy people bring in their produce and crude
manufactures to the very person who, directly or indirectly, is to fix
upon them an arbitrary value. To offer such and such a price for the
articles is the same as to say, another bidding shall not be made. To
insinuate is to command--the native is not allowed to hesitate, he must
either please the magistrate, or submit to his persecutions. Being
besides free from all competition in the prosecution of his traffic,
since he is frequently the only Spaniard resident in the province,
the magistrate therein acts with unbounded sway, without dread,
and almost without risk of his tyranny ever being denounced to the
superior tribunals.

[Speculating in tributes.] In order, however, that a more correct
idea may be formed of the iniquitous conduct of many of these public
functionaries, it is necessary to lay open some part of their irregular
dealings in the collection of the Indian tributes. It is well known
that the government, anxious to conciliate the interests of the
tributary classes with those of the revenue, frequently commutes
the pecuniary capitation tax into an obligation to pay the amount in
produce or manufactures. A season comes when, owing to the failure
of the crops, the productions have risen to an excessive price,
and consequently infinitely above the ordinary rates affixed by law,
which are generally the lowest, and the natives, unable to keep their
bargains without considerable injury or endangering the subsistence
of their numerous families, implore the favor of the magistrate,
petitioning him to lay their calamitous situation before the superior
government, in order to have the payment of their tribute in kind
remitted, and offering to pay it in money. This is the precise moment
when, as his own profits depend on the misery of the province under
his command, he endeavors to misuse the accidental power with which he
is invested. Hence it happens that, instead of acting as a beneficent
mediator, and supporting the just solicitations of the natives, he at
first disregards their petition, and then all at once transforming
himself into a zealous collector, issues his notifications, sends
his satellites into the very fields to seize on the produce, and in a
most inexorable manner insists on collecting till necessity compels
him to suspend the measure. The principal object being attained,
that is, having now become master of the gleanings and scanty crops
of his bereft subjects, on a sudden his disposition changes, he is
moved to pity, and in the most pathetic language describes to the
government the ravages done to the plantations by the hurricanes,
and the utter impossibility of collecting in the tributes that year in
kind. On such a remonstrance he easily obtains permission to change the
standing order, and proceeding on to collect in some of the remaining
tributes in money, merely to save appearance, with perfect impunity
he puts the finishing stroke to the wicked act he had commenced, by
applying to himself all the produce his collectors had gathered in,
and places to the credit of the treasury the total amount of the
tributes, corresponding to his jurisdiction, in money.

Supposing, for example, that this has happened in the province of
Antique, where the payment of the capitation-tax generally takes place
in the unhusked rice, rated at two reals per cavan, and, through the
effects of a bad season, this article should rise as high as ten or
twelve reals. It is clear that the magistrate, by accounting for the
tributes with the revenue office in money, and collecting them in kind
at the rate fixed by law, would by the sales gain a profit of 400 or
500 per cent; at the same time the native, by the mere circumstance
of then paying in kind, would have paid the tribute corresponding to
five or six years in a single one, without, on that account, having
freed himself from the same charge in the following seasons.

[No check on extortion.] When the extortionate acts as these are
practised, to what lengths may it not be expected the other excesses
and abuses of authority are carried? To the above it ought moreover
to be added, that the provincial magistrates have no lieutenants,
and are unprovided with any other auxiliaries in the administration
of justice, except an accompanying witness and a native director;
that the scrutinies of their accounts, to which they formerly were
subject, are now abolished, and, in short, that they have no check
upon them, or indeed any other persons to bear testimony to their
irregularities, except the friendless and miserable victims of their
despotism and avarice.

Notwithstanding, however, what is above stated, it sometimes happens
that a magistrate is to be met with, distinguished from the rest by
his prudence and good conduct; but this is a miracle, for by the very
circumstance of his being allowed to trade, he is placed in a situation
to abuse the wide powers confided to him, and preferably to attend
to his personal interests; in fact, if the principle is in itself
defective, it must naturally be expected the consequences will be
equally baneful. The lamentable abuses here noticed are but too true,
as well as many others passed over in silence; and the worst of all
is, that there is no hope of remedying them thoroughly, unless the
present system of interior administration is altogether changed. In
vain would it be to allege the possibility of removing the evil by the
timely and energetic interposition of the protector of the natives;
for although this office is in itself highly respectable, it cannot
in any way reach the multitude of excesses committed, and much less
prevent them; not only because the minister who exercises it resides
in the city, where complaints are seldom brought in, unless they come
through the channel of the parish curates; but also on account of the
difficulty of fully establishing the charges against the magistrates,
in the way the natives are at present depressed by fear and threats, as
well as restrained by the sub-governors and other inferior officers of
justice, who, being dependent upon, and holding their situations from
the magistrates, are interested in their monopolies and extortionate
acts being kept from public view.

[Less complaisant laws needed.] If, therefore, it is not possible
entirely to eradicate the vices under which the interior administration
of these Islands labors, owing to the difficulty of finding persons
possessed of the necessary virtues and talents to govern, in an upright
and judicious manner, let us at least prevent the evils out of the
too great condescension of our own laws. In the infancy of colonies,
it has been the maxim of all governments to encourage the emigration
and settlement of inhabitants from the mother-country, without paying
much attention to the means by which this was to be done. It was not to
be wondered at that, for reasons of state, defects were overlooked,--at
such periods were even deemed necessary. Hence the relaxation in the
laws in favor of those who, quitting their native land, carried over
with them to strange countries their property and acquirements. Hence,
no doubt, also are derived the full powers granted to those who took
in charge the subjection and administration of the new provinces,
in order that they might govern, and at the same time carry on their
traffic with the natives, notwithstanding the manifest incompatibility
of the two occupations; or rather, the certainty that ought to have
been foreseen that public duties would generally be postponed, when
placed in competition with private interests and the anxious desire
of acquiring wealth.

Subsequently that happened which was, in fact, to be dreaded, viz.,
what at first was tolerated as a necessary evil, sanctioned by the
lapse of time has at length become a legitimate right, or rather a
compensation for the supposed trouble attached to the fulfillment of
the duties of civil magistrates; whilst they, as already observed,
think of nothing but themselves, and undergo no other trouble or
inconvenience than usually fall on the lot of any other private
merchant. In the Philippines, at least, many years having elapsed
since the natives peaceably submitted to the dominion of the king,
every motive has ceased that could formerly, and in a certain degree,
justify the indulgence so much abused, at the same time that no
plausible pretext whatever exists for its further continuation.

Although hitherto the number of whites, compared to that of the
people of color, has not been great, as the whole of the provincial
magistracies, collectorships, and subaltern governments, do not exceed
twenty-seven, the scarcity of Spaniards ought not to be alleged as a
sufficient reason; nor can it be doubted these situations might at any
time be properly filled, if the person on whom the choice should fall
were only certain of living with decency and in a suitable manner,
without being carried away with the flattering hopes of withdrawing
from office, with ten, twenty, and even as high as fifty thousand
dollars of property, as has heretofore been the case, but satisfied
with a due and equivalent salary they might receive as a reward for
the public services they perform.

I do not therefore see why the government should hesitate in resolving
to put a stop to evils which the people of the Philippines have not
ceased to deplore from the time of the conquest, by proscribing, under
the most severe penalties, the power of trading, as now exercised
by the provincial magistrates. The time is come when this struggle
between duty and sordid interest ought to end, and reason, as well
as enlightened policy, demand that in this respect our legislation
should be reformed, in order that the mace of justice, instead of
being prostituted in search of lucre, may henceforwards be wholly
employed in the support of equity and the protection of society.

[Urgence of reform.] The only objection which, at first sight, might
be started against the suggestions here thrown out is the increased
expense which would fall on the treasury, owing to the necessity of
appropriating competent salaries for the interior magistrates under
the new order of things. Independent, however, of the fact that the
rapid improvements the provinces must assume, in every point of view,
would superabundantly make up this trifling difference; yet supposing
the sacrifice were gratuitous, and even of some moment, it ought
not, on that account, to be omitted, since there is no public object
more important to the sovereign himself, than to make the necessary
provision for the decorum of the magistracy, the due administration
of justice, and the maintenance of good order among his subjects.

The position being established, that a number of whites more
than sufficient might be obtained, eligible and fit to perform
the duties of civil magistrates, which they would be induced to
undertake, if adequate terms were only proposed, it would seem that
no ill consequences might be expected from at once assimilating
the regulations of these provincial judicatures to those of the
corregimientos, or mayoralties of towns in Spain, or in making out an
express statute, on a triple scale, for three classes of magistrates,
granting to them emoluments equivalent to the greater or lesser
extent of the respective jurisdictions. As far as regards the pay, it
ought to be so arranged as to act as a sufficient stimulus to induce
European colonists to embrace this career, in a fixed and permanent
way, which hitherto they have only resorted to as a five years'
speculation. Conformably to this suggestion, and owing to the lesser
value attached to money in India, compared with Europe, on account of
the greater abundance of the necessaries of life, I am of opinion that
it would be expedient to affix an annual allowance of $2,000 to each
of the appointments of the six principal and most populous provinces,
$1,500 for the next in importance, and for the twelve or thirteen
remaining, at the rate of $1,000 each; leaving to the candidates
the option of rising according to their length of services and good
conduct, from the lowest to the highest, as is the case in Spain.

[Objects to be gained.] The first part of the plan above pointed
out embraces two objects. The one is to prevent the provincial
magistrates from carrying on traffic, thus depriving them of every
pretext to defraud the natives of what is their own; and the other,
to form, in the course of a few years a class of men hitherto unknown
in the Philippine Islands, who, taught by practice, may be enabled to
govern the provinces in a more correct and regular manner, and acquire
more extended knowledge, especially in the judicial proceedings of
the first instance, which, owing to this defect, frequently compel
the litigants to incur useless expenses, and greatly embarrass the
ordinary course of justice. Although the second part at first seems
to involve an increased expense of $36,000 or $37,000 annually,
when well considered, this sum will be found not to exceed $20,000,
because it will be necessary to deduct from the above estimate the
amount of three per cent. under the existing regulations allowed to
the magistrates for the collection of the native tributes, in their
character of subdelegates, generally amounting to $16,000 or $17,000;
besides only taking into account such real and effective disbursements
or extraordinary expenses as in fact they may legally have incurred
in the performance of their duties.

Should it, however, be deemed expedient, from causes just in their
nature, hereafter to exonerate the natives from the obligations of
paying tributes, by which means the amount deducted for the three
per cent. commission could not then be brought into account, let
me be allowed to ask what enlightened government would hesitate
submitting to an additional expense of so trifling an import, in
exchange for beholding more than two millions of men forever freed
from the extortionate acts of their old magistrates; and, through
the effects of the new regulations, the latter converted into real
fathers of the people over whom they are placed? How different would
then be the aspect these fine provinces would present to the eyes
of the philosophical observer who would, in that case, be able to
calculate to what an extent the progress of agriculture and industry
in these islands might be carried.

[Demoralization of over-seas service.] Nevertheless, I do not wish
to insinuate that by the better organization of the provincial
governments, the present irregularities and abuses of authority
would entirely cease; because I am aware, more especially in the
Indies, that the persons who hold public situations usually have too
exaggerated ideas of their own personal importance, and easily mistake
the gratification of their own whims for firmness of character,
in the necessity of causing themselves to be respected. Still it
is an incontestable fact that, by removing the chief temptation,
and rescinding altogether the license to trade, the just complaints
preferred by the native against the Spaniard would cease; the motives
of those continual disputes which arise between the magistrates
and the ministers of the gospel exercising their functions in the
same provinces, and the zealous defenders of the rights of their
parishioners, would be removed, and the inhabitants of Manila,
extending their mercantile operations to the interior, without the
dread of seeing them obstructed through the powerful competition
of the magistrates in authority there, would be induced to settle
in or connect themselves with the provinces, and thus diffuse their
knowledge, activity and money among the inhabitants, the true means
of encouraging the whole.

What has already been said will suffice to convince the lover of
truth and the friend of general prosperity, how urgent it is to
introduce as early as possible, the reform proposed into the interior
administration of this important, although neglected colony; and it
is to be hoped that the government, guided by these same sentiments,
will not be led away by those narrow-minded people, who predict danger
from every thing that is new; but, after due and mature deliberation,
resolve to adopt a measure dictated by reason, and at the same time
conformable to the best interests of the state.

Of little avail would have been the valor and constancy with which
Legaspi and his worthy companions overcame the natives of these
islands, if the apostolic zeal of the missionaries had not seconded
their exertions, and aided to consolidate the enterprise. The latter
were the real conquerors; they who, without any other arms than their
virtues, won over the good will of the islanders, caused the Spanish
name to be beloved, and gave to the king, as it were by a miracle,
two millions more of submissive and Christian subjects. These were
the legislators of the barbarous hordes who inhabited the islands
of this immense Archipelago, realizing, by their mild persuasion,
the allegorical prodigies of Amphion and Orpheus.

[Pioneer Philippine government a theocracy.] As the means the
missionaries called in to their aid, in order to reduce and civilize
the Indians, were preaching and other spiritual labors, and, although
scattered about and acting separately, they were still subject to
the authority of their prelates, who, like so many chiefs, directed
the grand work of conversion, the government primitively established
in these colonies must necessarily have partaken greatly of the
theocratical order, and beyond doubt it continued to be so, till,
by the lapse of time, the number of colonists increased, as well as
the effective strength of the royal authority, so as to render the
governing system uniform with that established in the other ultramarine
dominions of Spain.

This is also deduced from the fragments still remaining of the first
constitution, or mode of government introduced in the Batanes Islands


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