Cedula Personal

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The Cedula Personal or head tax was a form of taxation which replaced the tributary system in 1884. This served as a paper which was used as proof that one was a colony of Spain and a legitimate member of a pueblo. Before, Filipinos and Chinese only had to pay tribute, but it was revised that all residents of the Philippines were obliged to pay the cedula.

Introduced in a 19th-century reform of the tax system which followed the Revolt Against the Tribute of 1589, the cédula was a mandatory identification card to assess and determine those who were subject to “prestacion personal” or forced labor. It was issued to all indios or natives between the ages of 18 and 60 upon payment of a residence tax of eight reales or its equivalent in goods, and was paid annually. This tax was later increased to fifteen reales. When the peso fuerte was introduced in 1854, the residence tax became one peso fuerte and seven reales.

The cedula also served as a residence tax certificate and as a passport. Spanish authorities used it to restrict the movement of people as those who could not present their cedulas could be arrested and imprisoned by the Guardia Civil.

In August 1896, Katipuneros gathered in a small barrio near Manila to defy the Spanish colonial government. Katipunan Supremo and leader Andres Bonifacio asked those who were present to raise their cedulas and tear them into pieces. As they destroyed their cedulas, they cried, “Mabuhay ang Kalayaan!”

The Cry of Pugad Lawin was a remarkable event in the history of Filipinos, when more than 500 members of the Katipunan tore their cedulas as a sign of rebellion against Spanish colonizers. The First Cry of Pugadlawin took place on 23 August 1896.


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