Principalía

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The Principalía [i.e., chieftain class or nobility]<ref>Cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 331.</ref> was the ruling class in the towns of Spanish Philippines composed of the Gobernadorcillo or the Municipal Captain who presided over it,<ref> In 1893, the Maura Law was passed to reorganize town governments with the aim of making them more effective and autonomous, changing the designation of town head from gobernadorcillo to capitan municipal effective 1895. Cf. Wikipedia article: Emilio Aguinaldo, n. 1 (Early life and career).</ref> the First Lieutenant, the former Municipal Captains or former Gobernadorcillos, the municipal judges, the cabezas de baranggay, the newly elected (cabezas reformados),<ref> The cabecería, i.e., headship of the barangays, was a more ancient institution of native nobilities that pre-dates the Spanish conquest and was doubtless hereditary. The increase of population during the Spanish regime consequently needed the creation/ election of new cabezas. The emergence of the mestizo culture (both Spanish mestizos and Chinese mestizos) had also necessitated this and even the subsequent creation of separate institutions or offices of Gobernadorcillos for the different mestizo groups and for the natives living in the same territories or cities with large population. Cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, pp. 324- 326.</ref> and the awardees of the medal of Civil Merit.<ref> Cf. Principalía in Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana, Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, S.A., 1991, Vol. XLVII, p. 410.</ref> The distinction or status of being part of the Principalía could be both acquired or inherited as attested by the Royal Decree of December 20, 1863 (signed in the name of Queen Isabel II by the Minister of the Colonies, José de la Concha) regarding the requirement of proficiency of the Castilian language for those who are considered to be raised to this rank, unless they enjoy this distinction or quality by right of inheritance.<ref> Article 16 of the Royal Decree of December 20, 1863 says: After a school has been established in any village for fifteen years, no natives who cannot speak, read and write the Castilian language shall form part of the principalía unless they enjoy that distinction by right of inheritance. After the school has been established for thirty years, only those who possess the above-mentioned condition shall enjoy exemption from the personal service tax, except in the case of the sick. Isabel II, Royal Decree of December 20, 1863, Art. 16 in The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XLVI, p. 85. The Royal Decree was implemented in the Philippines by Governor General Gándara through a circular signed on August 30, 1867. Section III of the circular says: The law has considered them very carefully and it is fitting for the supervisor to unfold before the eyes of the parents so that their simple intelligence may well understand that not only ought they, but that it is profitable for them to send their children to school, for after the schools have been established for fifteen years in the village of their habitation those who cannot speak, read, or write Castilian: Cannot be gobernadorcillos; nor lieutenants of justice; nor form part of the Principalía; unless they enjoy that privilege because of heredity... General Gándara, Circular of the Superior Civil Government Giving Rules for the Good Discharge of School Supervision in The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XLVI, 133.</ref> Upon the change of regimes, from monarchy under Spain to democracy under the Americans, the Principalía and their descendants lost their traditional and legal powers and privileges.

This privileged upper class was exempted from forced labor during the colonial regime. It was the town’s aristocracy, which could be roughly comparable to the Patrician class of Ancient Rome or of the Italian city-states and towns, and other European territories during the Medieval and Renaissance Periods. The members of this class enjoyed exclusive privileges, e.g., only the Principales were exempted from paying tax,<ref> The cabezas, their wives, and first-born sons enjoyed exemption from the payment of tribute to the Spanish Crown. Cf. Ibid., Vol. XLII, p. 326.</ref> allowed to vote, be elected to public office and be addressed by the title: Don or Doña.<ref>Cf. Ibid., Vol. XL, p. 218.</ref> They were also given certain roles in the parish Church, e.g., assisting the Spanish parish priest in pastoral and worship activities. For most part, the social privileges of the Principales were freely acknowledged as befitting their greater social responsibilities. And these responsibilities were great. It was from their ranks that the elective municipal offices were filled- offices which carried more burdens than emoluments. The Gobernadorcillo that time, for example, received a very nominal salary and received no public funds for public services he was expected to maintain, like the post office, jail house, construction and repair services of public infrastructure and buildings. So, he has to be a man of means and wealth.<ref>Cf. H. de la Costa, S. J., Reading in Philippine History, Manila 1973, pp. 182-183. Also cf. Gregorio F. Elizalde, Pageant of Philippine History, Vol. I, p. 294. Also cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 326.</ref>

Contents

History and evolution

File:Philip II- King of Spain, the Americas and the Philippines.jpg
Bronze statue erected in Intramuros, Manila in honor of Philip II, King of Spain during the centennial celebration of the Independence of the Republic of the Philippines in 1998.
From the beginning of the colonial regime, the Spaniards built on traditional local socio-political organization of the barangay and co-opted to empower the traditional local leaders and datus thereby ruling indirectly.<ref> For the social system of the pre-conquest Filipino society confer Barangay in Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europea-Americana, Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, S. A., 1991, Vol. VII, p.624. The article also says: Los nobles de un barangay eran los más ricos ó los más fuertes, formándose por este sistema los dattos ó maguinoos, principes á quienes heredaban los hijos mayores, las hijas á falta de éstos, ó los parientes más próximos si no tenían descendencia directa; pero siempre teniendo en cuenta las condiciones de fuerza ó de dinero...Los vassalos plebeyos tenían que remar en los barcos del maguinoo, cultivar sus campos y pelear en la guerra. Los siervos, que formaban el término medio entre los esclavos y los hombres libres, podían tener propriedad individual, mujer, campos, casa y esclavos; pero los tagalos debían pagar una cantidad en polvo de oro equivalente á una parte de sus cosechas, los de los barangayes bisayas estaban obligados á trabajar en las tieras del señor cinco días al mes, pagarle un tributo anual en arroz y hacerle un presente en las fiestas. Durante la dominación española, el cacique, jefe de un barangay, ejercía funciones judiciales y administrativas. A los tres años tenía el tratamiento de don y se reconocía capacidad para ser gobernadorcillo, con facultades para nombrarse un auxiliar llamado primogenito, siendo hereditario el cargo de jefe. It should also be noted that the more popular and official term used to refer to the head of the barangay or to the cacique during the Spanish Regime was Cabeza de Barangay.</ref>In a law signed on 11 June 1594, Philip II ordered that the honor and privilege to rule pertaining to this native Filipino nobles should be retained and protected. He also ordered the Spanish governors in the islands to show these native nobles good treatment, and even ordered the natives to pay respect and tribute due to these nobles as they did before the conquest without prejudice to the things that pertain to King himself or to the encomenderos. The royal decree says: “It is not right that the Indian chiefs of Filipinas be in a worse condition after conversion; rather they should have such treatment that would gain their affection and keep them loyal, so that with the spiritual blessings that God has communicated to them by calling them to His true knowledge, the temporal blessings may be added, and they may live contentedly and comfortably. Therefore, we order the governors of those islands to show them good treatment and entrust them, in our name, with the government of the Indians, of whom they were formerly lords. In all else the governors shall see that the chiefs are benefited justly, and the Indians shall pay them something as a recognition, as they did during the period of their paganism, provided it be without prejudice to the tributes that are to be paid us, or prejudicial to that which pertains to their encomenderos.”<ref>Felipe II, Ley de Junio 11, 1594 in Recapilación de leyes, lib. vi, tit. VII, ley xvi. Also cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVI, pp. 155-156.</ref>

The system of indirect rule helped create in rural areas a Filipino upper class, referred to later as the Principalía or the Principales. This group had local wealth, high status, privileges, and prestige. The Principalía was larger and more influential than the pre-conquest nobility.<ref>Cf. footnote n.2.</ref> It created and perpetuated an oligarchic system of local control. <ref>Cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 331; Ibid., Vol. XL, p. 218.</ref>

In some provinces like, Iloilo, the ruling Spanish government encouraged foreign merchants to trade with the locals but they were not given certain privileges like ownership of land. From this contact and social intercourse between foreign merchants, e.g., Chinese, Indians, and especially with the Spanish colonizers, a new culture eventually came into being, i.e., the mestizo culture. The mestizo class was born from the intermarriages of the Spaniards and merchants with the Malayo-Polynesian natives especially with the rich and landed local nobles.<ref>Cf. also Encomienda; Hacienda; Iloilo.</ref> Their descendants, especially the Spanish mestizos, emerged later as the more influential part of the ruling class or the Principalía.<ref>Cf. The Impact of Spanish Rule in the Philippines in www.seasite.niu.edu.[1] </ref>

Certain class symbols

At the later part of the Spanish Regime, this class of elite Christian landowners started to sport a distinctive type of salakot, a Filipino headdress commonly used in the Philippines during the pre-conquest and colonial periods.<ref>Blair and Robertson mentioned the salakot as part of the usual attire of the Principalía. They call the headress "mushroom hat". They say: Their (Principalía) usual dress is black jacket, European trousers, mushroom hat, and colored (velvet) slippers; many even wear varnished [i.e., patent leather] shoes. The shirt is short, and worn outside the trousers. The Gobernadorcillo carries a tassled cane [baston], the lieutenants wands [varas]. On occasions of great ceremony, they dress formally in frock coat, (and) high crowned hat... Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 331.</ref> Instead of the usual headgear made of rattan or reeds, which ordinary Filipinos would wear, the Gobernadorcillos and cabezas de barangay would use more precious materials like tortoise shell and precious metals. The ornate salakots of this ruling class were usually embossed with silver and sometimes decorated with silver coins or pendants that hang around the rim of the headgear.<ref>Alfredo R. Roces, et. al., eds., Ethnic Headgear in Filipino Heritage: the Making of a Nation, Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing, Inc., 1977, Vol. IV, pp. 1106-1107.</ref>


References

  1. ^ Cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 331.
  2. ^ In 1893, the Maura Law was passed to reorganize town governments with the aim of making them more effective and autonomous, changing the designation of town head from gobernadorcillo to capitan municipal effective 1895. Cf. Wikipedia article: Emilio Aguinaldo, n. 1 (Early life and career).
  3. ^ The cabecería, i.e., headship of the barangays, was a more ancient institution of native nobilities that pre-dates the Spanish conquest and was doubtless hereditary. The increase of population during the Spanish regime consequently needed the creation/ election of new cabezas. The emergence of the mestizo culture (both Spanish mestizos and Chinese mestizos) had also necessitated this and even the subsequent creation of separate institutions or offices of Gobernadorcillos for the different mestizo groups and for the natives living in the same territories or cities with large population. Cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, pp. 324- 326.
  4. ^ Cf. Principalía in Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana, Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, S.A., 1991, Vol. XLVII, p. 410.
  5. ^ Article 16 of the Royal Decree of December 20, 1863 says: After a school has been established in any village for fifteen years, no natives who cannot speak, read and write the Castilian language shall form part of the principalía unless they enjoy that distinction by right of inheritance. After the school has been established for thirty years, only those who possess the above-mentioned condition shall enjoy exemption from the personal service tax, except in the case of the sick. Isabel II, Royal Decree of December 20, 1863, Art. 16 in The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XLVI, p. 85. The Royal Decree was implemented in the Philippines by Governor General Gándara through a circular signed on August 30, 1867. Section III of the circular says: The law has considered them very carefully and it is fitting for the supervisor to unfold before the eyes of the parents so that their simple intelligence may well understand that not only ought they, but that it is profitable for them to send their children to school, for after the schools have been established for fifteen years in the village of their habitation those who cannot speak, read, or write Castilian: Cannot be gobernadorcillos; nor lieutenants of justice; nor form part of the Principalía; unless they enjoy that privilege because of heredity... General Gándara, Circular of the Superior Civil Government Giving Rules for the Good Discharge of School Supervision in The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XLVI, 133.
  6. ^ The cabezas, their wives, and first-born sons enjoyed exemption from the payment of tribute to the Spanish Crown. Cf. Ibid., Vol. XLII, p. 326.
  7. ^ Cf. Ibid., Vol. XL, p. 218.
  8. ^ Cf. H. de la Costa, S. J., Reading in Philippine History, Manila 1973, pp. 182-183. Also cf. Gregorio F. Elizalde, Pageant of Philippine History, Vol. I, p. 294. Also cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 326.
  9. ^ For the social system of the pre-conquest Filipino society confer Barangay in Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europea-Americana, Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, S. A., 1991, Vol. VII, p.624. The article also says: Los nobles de un barangay eran los más ricos ó los más fuertes, formándose por este sistema los dattos ó maguinoos, principes á quienes heredaban los hijos mayores, las hijas á falta de éstos, ó los parientes más próximos si no tenían descendencia directa; pero siempre teniendo en cuenta las condiciones de fuerza ó de dinero...Los vassalos plebeyos tenían que remar en los barcos del maguinoo, cultivar sus campos y pelear en la guerra. Los siervos, que formaban el término medio entre los esclavos y los hombres libres, podían tener propriedad individual, mujer, campos, casa y esclavos; pero los tagalos debían pagar una cantidad en polvo de oro equivalente á una parte de sus cosechas, los de los barangayes bisayas estaban obligados á trabajar en las tieras del señor cinco días al mes, pagarle un tributo anual en arroz y hacerle un presente en las fiestas. Durante la dominación española, el cacique, jefe de un barangay, ejercía funciones judiciales y administrativas. A los tres años tenía el tratamiento de don y se reconocía capacidad para ser gobernadorcillo, con facultades para nombrarse un auxiliar llamado primogenito, siendo hereditario el cargo de jefe. It should also be noted that the more popular and official term used to refer to the head of the barangay or to the cacique during the Spanish Regime was Cabeza de Barangay.
  10. ^ Felipe II, Ley de Junio 11, 1594 in Recapilación de leyes, lib. vi, tit. VII, ley xvi. Also cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVI, pp. 155-156.
  11. ^ Cf. footnote n.2.
  12. ^ Cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 331; Ibid., Vol. XL, p. 218.
  13. ^ Cf. also Encomienda; Hacienda; Iloilo.
  14. ^ Cf. The Impact of Spanish Rule in the Philippines in www.seasite.niu.edu.[1]
  15. ^ Blair and Robertson mentioned the salakot as part of the usual attire of the Principalía. They call the headress "mushroom hat". They say: Their (Principalía) usual dress is black jacket, European trousers, mushroom hat, and colored (velvet) slippers; many even wear varnished [i.e., patent leather] shoes. The shirt is short, and worn outside the trousers. The Gobernadorcillo carries a tassled cane [baston], the lieutenants wands [varas]. On occasions of great ceremony, they dress formally in frock coat, (and) high crowned hat... Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVII, p. 331.
  16. ^ Alfredo R. Roces, et. al., eds., Ethnic Headgear in Filipino Heritage: the Making of a Nation, Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing, Inc., 1977, Vol. IV, pp. 1106-1107.

Cross References

  • Regalado Trota Jose, The Many Images of Christ (particularly in the section: Spain retains the old class system) in Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People, Jose S. Arcilla,ed, Philippines: Asia Publishing Company, Limited, 1998, Vol. III, pp. 178-179.
  • Alfredo R. Roces, et. al., eds., The Ruling Class in Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation, Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing, Inc., 1978, Vol. V, pp. 1155-1158.

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