Domingo Roxas

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Domingo Roxas y Ureta (1782-1843) was the patriarch of the Roxas Family which would give rise to the Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clans. He was also the founder of Casa Roxas, which after various incarnations would be the progenitor of today's leading Philippine business conglomerate Ayala Corporation.

Early Life

Don Domingo was born in 1782. His parents were Mariano Roxas and Ana Maria de Ureta. He had five siblings, among which were Antonio Roxas y Ubaldo and two friars Raymundo Roxas y Ubaldo and Fray Buenaventura Joseph de Ubaldo. It is said that the Roxas family can trace its roots to Antonio Fernandez de Roxas of Acapulco, pilot of the galleon San Jose, who decided to stay in the Philippines.

He married Maria Saturnina Ubaldo and they had 3 children:

In 1834 Don Domingo established Casa Roxas, together with a partner Antonio de Ayala to engage in sugar, coffee, cotton, and indigo cultivation, as well as to manufacture liquors, castings, and gun power. It was a propitious time as the Philippines had just been opend up to foreign trade. Ayala had arrived earlier in the Philippines together with his uncle the Archbishop of Manila Jose Segui.

Don Domingo showed extreme foresight when he went into the sugar industry. The Real Compañia de Filipinas had liberalized investment in agriculture. To this end, Don Domingo had purchased tracts of land in Calatagan, Batangas in 1829 to start a hacienda. He was a believer in the latest industrial technology and had sent for a young Frenchman by the name of Yves Leopold Germain Gaston to move to Batangas in 1837 to set up his business. Although not initially successful the young Frenchman would marry a local Prudencia Fernandez and they would move to Silay, Negros where they pioneered sugar production there.

Don Domingo belonged to a cadre of young creoles or criollos who were among the leading businessmen and exponents of social change in the early 1800s, among them Jose Damaso Gorricho, who acquired Escolta and was progenitor of Pardo de Tavera fortune), Antonio Rocha, builder of Malacañang Palace, Basque trader Eugenio de Otadui, and Jose Maria Jugo, exponent of the Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais. As such he was among the prime movers for social and political change in the Philippines.

Libertarian Tendencies

Don Domingo was incarcerated three times. The Spanish colonial authorities suspected that he was a sympathizer of the Filipino cause and had not only published anti-Spanish tracts, but supported rebellions. This was because Don Domingo was one of the earliest industrialists of the Philippines and had opposed the sugar and alcohol monopoly. He was also an advocate for liberal reforms, and was especially influenced by Sociedad de los Amigos del Pais's call for a more liberal economy.

After the promulgation of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, many criollos or locally born Spanish residents supported the charter's call for equal rights for both colonized and colonizer. There was a growing call for change, as manifested by many hojas volantes or anonymous tracts such as El Filantropo (1816) or El Indio Agraviado published in 1821.

Thus began a series of his association with several major mutinies.

He was implicated in several uprisings, the first was the Andres Novales revolt of 1823, the second was the uprising of Apolinario de la Cruz or Hermano Pule in 1841 and the last was the Tayabas regiment mutiny in 1843.

The Andres Novales Revolt and Domingo Roxas

After Mexico promoted its independence from Spain, Spanish officials in the Philippines began to be very concerned about the loyalty of creoles in the administration. They very much feared that the winds of change in the Hispanic world would infect the Philipines.

Historian Jolita C. Atienza wrote: "This prompted the monarchial government to ship military and administrative personnel to the Philippine Islands to discourage any libertarian movement. The arrival in Manila of Governor-General Martinez, accompanied by a large contingent of Spanish sergeants, was intended to replace and block the promotion of Filipino army officials, irrespective of seniority and capability. This event only exacerbated the rivalry between the creole's (local-born Spaniards) and peninsulares (Spanish born in Spain), the former, regarded as second class citizens by the latter."

Historian Carlos Quirino wrote: " February 1823, a dozen of the leading suspects among the creoles who called themselves 'hijos del pais' were deported to Spain. Among them were Domingo Roxas, leading businessman..., Jose Ortega, general manager of the Royal Company, the barrister Jose Maria Jugo, Captain Jose Bayot and his two brothers, Luis Rodriguez Varela, former mayor of Tondo and self-styled count of the Philippines, Regino Mijares, sergeant-major of the king's regiment, and a dozen other suspects. Ordered to leave for Misamis Province, Andres Novales instead convinced the brother officers and non-commissioned officers of the king's regiment to join him in a coup d'etat in June (second) of that year. These 'americanos,', composed mostly of Mexicans with a sprinkling of creoles and mestizos from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and other former colonies of Spain in South America, supported Novales. With about 800 native soldiers they seized early in the morning the royal palace, the city's cabildo and important government buildings in Intramuros, killed the lieutenant governor, Mariano Fernandez de Folgueras, but failed to seize Fort Santiago because his brother who commanded the citadel at the last minute refused to open its gates.

Andres Novales revolted, because his commanders had ordered him to surrender arms. Fearing that this was a ruse to replace them with newly-arrived troopps from Spain, the soldiers mutinied. The government commanded Pampango troops to counterattack. Novales was captured, court martialed and executed, but the seeds of dissension had been laid earlier by Luis Rodriguez Varela who had written a tract called Proclama Historial in which he referred to himself as "el conde Filipino," one of the earliest uses of the term as "a form of political and national determination" Gemma Guerrero Cruz

Hermano Pule and Domingo Roxas's Role

It was not only a turbulent time for creoles to assert their rights, but also for native-born religious leaders to battle for their religious freedom. Apolinario de la Cruz or Hermano Pule was a lay brother who sought the freedom to organize his own religious confraternity which he called Cofradia de San Jose in 1832. His movement based in Lucban, Tayabas quickly grew by attracting thousands of adherents in Batangas, Laguna as well as in Tondo, Manila. By 1841 it was estimated that there were over 4,000 adherents. The local priests who controlled the parishes were quickly alarmed by the rapid rise of the movement, which was conducted in the local language and involved no Spaniards. They labeled it as heresy.

Many letters of complaint were directed to Governor-General Marcelino Oraa and Archbishop Jose Segui of Manila. Hermano Pule however wanted to legalize the existence of the brotherhood. To this end, he interceded with Don Domingo to present his case to the Real Audiencia in Manila. Don Domingo prepared the papers, and involved several lawyers Don Jose Florentino, Don Felipe Vidal de Marifosque, and Don Toribio Pantoja but the Audiencia refused to table the petition. Perhaps Hermano Pule was counting on Don Domingo's connection to Archbishop Jose Segui, who was the uncle of his business partner Antonio de Ayala.

On January 29, 1841, Hermano Pule once again sent a letter to the bishop of Nueva Caceres, reiterating his position that the cofradia was not against the Catholic faith. He again followed up, by asking Don Domingo to file one more an appeal with the Audiencia in Manila.

On September 18, 1841 Spanish troops were ordered to break up a huge meeting of its members and ordered the arrest of its leader, but forced to fight, Pule rallied 4,000 followers on October 23, 1841 and vanquished the forces of Alcalde-Mayor Joaquin Ortega and his 300 men. A counterattack was launched on November 1, 1841 and Hermano Pule was captured, executed and decapitated and hundreds of his followers were massacred on November 4.

Don Domingo was arrested for his involvement with the Hermano Pule revolt.

The Tayabas Regiment Mutiny

Hermano Pule's followers were ordered to surrender arms in exchange for an amnesty, but in Manila, a Tagalog regiment stationed in Malate led by Sgt. Iriarte Samaniego rose up in arms on January 20, 1843. They killed their officers and seized the barracks. They captured Fort Santiago and after a bloody battle, they defeated by Spanish troops. Sgt. Samaniego was captured and shot at Bagumbayan on January 22.

The Final Years

On Don Domingo's third incarceration in 1842 his daughter Margarita Roxas de Ayala took on a dangerous voyage to Spain to personally seek his pardon from Queen Isabela II. After six months of patiently waiting outside the Spanish royal court, Isabella II was so impressed with young Margarita's determination that she granted her father's release.

After sailing in 1843 for several months back to the Philippines (the Suez Canal had still not been opened), she arrived too late to see her father's liberation, for he had died in from an illness while jailed in Fort Santiago.


After his death, his daughter Margarita assumed control of Casa Roxas togehter with the two sons. The business was renamed Roxas Hijos. The following year, Margarita married Antonio de Ayala, her father's business partner, consolidating her control of the business. She would begin a series of companies that would lay the basis of the Philippines' biggest conglomerate Ayala Corporation.

Don Domingo's other son Jose Bonifacio would buy the Jesuit estate of Hacienda de San Pedro de Macati, a landholding that would become the basis of the Zobel de Ayala fortune.

Mariano would go on to help found the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, the country's first art school. It would spawn the creative genius of Damian Domingo, the country's first Filipino painter of note.

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