Polista

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A polista is a Filipino male who participated in the forced labor or polo y servicio during the Spanish period. Polistas were forced constructions crew that built colonial structures and ships.


At first, the system only required men to work out of a term of forty days a year. This changed at the implementation of the new system called prestacion personel. The royal decree of 1863 carried out the orders for the new system. All males domiciled in the Philippines from age sixteen years for those under parental control and from eighteen for those who had attained independence, were to render twenty-four days of personal services annually until they reached the age of sixty.


Spaniards and other foreigners were covered as well with this decree. However, the latter two being rich were expected to pay the two or two-and-a-half pesos that the decree required to be exempted from the service obligation.


Polistas were made to work from sunrise to sunset with mid day rest period. The break would last from one and a half to two hours. The ordinances prescribed the polistas to work harder when the need for rigging and tackle of vessel was urgent. It declared that the forced labor was the best spiritual cure for the indolent Filipinos. They were responsible for building galleons. They were obliged to render their service as a form of tribute to the Spanish King. According to the law, polistas shall receive daily wages and rice ration. However, natives never received any.


References

  • Corpuz, O.D. 2005. The Roots of the Filipino Nation Volume I. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press.



Citation

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