Jose Bonifacio Roxas

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Jose Bonifacio Roxas y Ubaldo (1834-1888) was a pioneer industrialist, landowner, and supporter of the Filipino cause.

Early Life

He was born on June 14, 1834 in San Miguel, Manila. His parents were the prominent businessman Domingo Roxas and his mother was Maria Saturnina Ubaldo.

He had 2 other siblings: his elder sister Margarita, who would later marry their father's business partner Antonio de Ayala and Mariano who would be actively involved in their father's business together with Margarita.

Don Jose married Juana de Castro and they had an only child Pedro Pablo Roxas, who would become one of the most important businessmen of his time.

Born into extreme wealth, he also inherited his father's progressive ideas. After the promulgation of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, his father supported the charter's call for equal rights for both colonized and colonizer. The father was implicated in several uprisings, the first was the Andres Novales revolt of 1823, the second was the uprising of Apolinario de la Cruz in 1841 and the last was the Tayabas regiment mutiny in 1843. When his father was imprisoned in Fort Santiago, Jose Bonifacio's sister Margarita sailed to Spain to secure their father's release.

Displaying an independent character, he ventured on his own in 1843 on the death of his father, when Casa Roxas was split into his own business and Roxas Hijos, which was under the direction of his sister and other brother.

Calatagan, Calauang, and Hacienda San Pedro Macati

He developed the family's huge tract of land in Calauang, Laguna, more than 7,813 hectares, and had his son Andres Roxas and his daughter-in-law Teria settle there. He became a rice producer in Nasugbu. He imported the latest technology and machinery from England, continuing the tradition of his father for the sugar hacienda in Calatagan.

With enough of his own capital, in 1851 he secured 1,761 hectares of the Hacienda de San Pedro de Macati, which would become the basis of the Zobel de Ayala Family wealth. This was the former Jesuit hacienda which was expropriated by the Spanish government in 1791. Don Jose showed foresight in purchasing the then useless area from its previous owners, which included Don Pedro de Galarraga, the Marques de Villamediana, Don Jose Col, Don Manuel Gomez, and finally Don Simeon Bernardino Velez.

Philanthropic and Civic Works

E. Arsenio Manuel wrote that Don Jose founded a society to train locals in crafts and industries. Trinindad Pardo de Tavera showed in his research that DonJ ose was among the first to send young Filipinos to Europe for further study in industrial arts. In fact Don Jose wrote several tracts in Tagalog and Spanish, addressing the need to educate young Filipinos in trade:

  • Mabuting regla na dapat sundin nang manga magsasaca nang palay sa manga buquid na pinatutubigan o sahod ulan lamang sa aquing manga hacienda sa Nasugbu at sa San Pedro de Macati. Manila, 1876.
  • Manga catangculan at aalinsunurin sa icahuhusay at pangangalap nang pagpasigla nang pagcatutot sa manga artes at oficios. Binondo, 1870.
  • Breves explicaciones sobre el origen, objecto, fines y constitución de la Sociedad para el fomento de la enseñanza de artes y oficios. No date, no publisher.

Paardo de Tavera wrote in 1903 that these booklets exhibited his interest in scientific methods of farming and in sharing advanced ideas with his people.

Historian Carlos Quirino stated that Don Jose was interested in the religious needs of the people who lived in his haciendas, petitioning, for example, for the establishment of a church in the barrio of Looc, Nasugbu.

He was also not afraid to support Protestants and non-Christians, as attested by his signing a deed of lease on March 11, 1864 with the British Consul-General at that time, John William Peary Farren, to provide for the burial of non-Catholics. Don Jose leased a land of 31,656 "varas cuadradas" (22,467.85 sq meters) for a period of 90 years, so that Protestands and non-Catholic British, Jewish, Japanese residents of the Philippines a final resting place. In July 1973 this would be handed back by the British Consulate back to Ayala Corporation, the successors in title to Don Jose.

E. Arsenio Manuel wrote that Don Jose supported the movement to assimilate the country as one of the provinces of Spain and to that objective, Don Jose joined a secret society of reformer called Comite de Reformadores before 1871. Active in this group were Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, Father Jose Burgos, and young Filipino students. Don Jose joined his other peers such as Manuel Genato, Antonio Regidor, Florentino Torres, and Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista.

Don Jose died on June 8, 1888, just a week shy of his 46th birthday. Little did he know that his son Pedro Pablo Roxas would continue on his great legacy of business and progressive ideas.


  • E. Arsenio Manuel. Dictionary of Philippine Biography, Vol. 3. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1986
  • T.H. Pardo de Tavera, Biblioteca Filipina. Washington DC: 1903.
  • Carlos Quirino. "More Documents on Burgos" in Philippine Studies, Vol 18, no 1. Jan 1970 issue.
  • [ David Mahoney. "The British (Protestant) Cemetery of San Pedro, Makati, Manila"]

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