Felix Berenguer de Marquina

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A portrait of Félix Berenguer de Marquina, the Governor-General of the Philippines from 1788 to 1793. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento)

Félix Ignacio Juan Nicolás Antonio José Joaquín Buenaventura Berenguer de Marquina y Fitzgerald (1736 – 1826)[1] was the Governor-General of the Philippines from 1 July 1788 to 1 September 1793.[2]

Biography

Marquina was the son of Ignacio Bereguer de Marquina y Pasqual de Riquelme and Mary Fitzgerald from Alicante, Spain.[3]

From 1757 to 1769, he was an educator at the Naval Academy in Cartagena, Spain, specializing in mathematics and astronomy.[4]

As Governor-General

On 1 July 1788, he was appointed as governor-general, succeeding José Basco. Before his appointment, Pedro de Sarrio (Soriano) served as acting governor-general.

He ordered in a decree of 29 March 1789 that the appointment of cabezas de barangay (head of a barangay) should be done by the provincial governor after being proposed by the principalia of the barangay.[5] He drew up a plan called "Plan of reforms for the government of Filipinas" in January 1790, which he intended to implement in order to make the archipelago advanced and self-sufficient.[6] He ensured that the obras pías will be administered honestly.[7] He ordered the demolition of houses that were standing within the walls of Intramuros, Manila.[8]

Marquina also proposed numerous reforms including: the fortification of Manila and Cavite; an increase in the military force; an increase in the capitalization tax on the Chinese; the opening of the port of Manila to foreign traders; changes in the galleon trade; the formation of a company of marines; the establishment of an acordado or police force in the provinces; the transfer of the natives from Batanes Islands to Cagayan; the establishment of a gold mint; the occupation of various islands by Spaniards in order for them to engage in agriculture; the creation of a single fund where the revenues from the sale of tobacco, wine, and customs duties were placed; among others.[9] He also proposed that the archipelago be turned into a viceroyalty, and that its viceroy should be independent from the influence of both the Real Audiencia and the religious orders.[10]

Some of these proposed reforms were eventually implemented. The Manila port was opened to all European products through a royal decree in 1789.[11] Marquina decreed on 2 March 1790 the regulations for the production and sale of wine under the monopoly arrangement, and the exemption of dealers from polo and personal services.[12] The royal government promulgated a decree on 14 May 1790 which ordered the Chinese to pay a capitation tax of six pesos a year.[13] Military regiments in Pampanga, Zambales, and Bataan were formed in the same year.[14]

Events During His Term

Numerous events occurred during Marquina's term as governor-general. An expedition was sent from Spain in July 1789 to make scientific observations and draw plans and maps of the coasts of Spanish America, the Marianas Islands, and the Philippines.[15] One of the members of the expedition was Antonio Pineda, a Spanish officer who was tasked to study the flora of the archipelago.[16] He died in July 1792 while conducting his studies in Ilocos.[17]

On 14 December 1788, King Charles III died, but news of his death only arrived in the archipelago in July 1790.[18] Eventually, Charles IV acceded to the throne, with the solemn proclamation of his accession being celebrated in Manila with fiestas which lasted for weeks.[19]

A smallpox epidemic occurred in the archipelago during Marquina's term.[20] In response, Marquina donated large sums of money to parish priests in order to aid the citizens who were suffering from poverty during that time.[21] Moro attacks on merchant ships, which were initiated by Sultan Ali-Mudin's successor Mahomet Sarpudin, continued to ravage the archipelago.[22]

Controversies and End of Term

During his term as governor-general, Marquina encountered difficulties in implementing reforms in the archipelago due to the Real Audiencia’s opposition to many of his measures and proposals.[23]

The conflict between Marquina and the Audiencia heightened when charges were levelled against him. Marquina was accused by the fiscal and the oidores of the Audiencia of numerous crimes.[24] Such crimes were the following: carelessness in defending the archipelago against the Moros, immoral relations with certain Spanish women, amassing of fortune through trade and by diverting the proceeds of the royal revenue to himself, permitting merchants to conduct business without proper licenses, and allowing foreign merchants to remain in Manila illegally.[25]

An investigation was conducted by Agustín de Amparán, who was commanded by a royal order to put Marquina in a place outside of Manila in order for the investigation to continue without interference.[26] Eventually, Marquina was relieved from his position and was sent to the Laguna de Bay area.[27] He was succeeded by Rafael María de Aguilar. The investigation was conducted and concluded on 22 July 1793.[28] However, Governor-General Aguilar ordered another investigation during which Marquina can properly defend himself.[29] This was because Amparán had been unfair to Marquina and refused to receive any testimony from him.[30] Marquina was summoned, was given a lawyer for his defense, and the cases against him were thoroughly reviewed.[31] Marquina's defense was forwarded to the Council of Indies, and eventually it was decided by the Council that a retrial be organized.[32] The trial commenced after a three-year delay. Immediately after the trial, Marquina left the archipelago and went to Nueva España (Mexico), but he was obliged to deposit 50,000 pesos.[33]

Marquina was eventually found guilty of the charges, and was asked to pay a fine of 40,000 pesos.[34] He was also asked to pay an additional fine of 16,000 pesos to cover certain illegitimate profits which he had acquired by granting unlawful trading concessions to an Armenian merchant.[35] However, as the Council saw that the trial of Marquina had been irregular and that he had already suffered the consequences of his actions, it was decided that the fine imposed on him can be reduced to 2,000 pesos with costs of trial.[36] Marquina appealed on 12 October 1797 that he be excused from paying the 2,000 pesos, however the Council denied his petition.[37]

Aftermath

In 1799, King Charles IV appointed him as the Viceroy of Nueva España.[38]

Some sources claim that Marikina City, a city that is part of the National Capital Region (NCR), was named after him.[39]

References

  1. Real Academia de la Historia, "Félix Berenguer de Marquina y Fitz-Gerald," accessed 4 February 2021, http://dbe.rah.es/biografias/11695/felix-berenguer-de-marquina-y-fitz-gerald
  2. Carlos Quirino, Old Manila, ed. María Eloísa G. Parco-de Castro, 2nd ed. (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2016), 294.
  3. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  4. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  5. José Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas, 1764-1800," in The Philippine Islands 1493-1898, trans. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, vol. 50 (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 60-1.
  6. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 61-2.
  7. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 68.
  8. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 68.
  9. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 62-4.
  10. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 62.
  11. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  12. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 64-5.
  13. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 65.
  14. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 65.
  15. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 61.
  16. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 61.
  17. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 61.
  18. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 65.
  19. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 66.
  20. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 68.
  21. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 68.
  22. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 68.
  23. Charles Henry Cunningham, The Audiencia in the Spanish Colonies As Illustrated by the Audiencia of Manila (1583-1800) (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919), accessed 19 January 2021, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41443/41443-h/41443-h.htm, 140.
  24. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 141.
  25. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 141.
  26. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  27. Quirino, Old Manila, 294; Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  28. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  29. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  30. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  31. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  32. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142-3.
  33. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 143.
  34. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 143-4.
  35. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 144.
  36. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 144.
  37. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 144.
  38. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  39. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.

Citation

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