Peninsulares was a term that refers to full-blooded white Spaniards who were born and raised in the Iberian Peninsula during the Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Those who belonged to this sociopolitical class were at the top of the racial hierarchy. They enjoyed maximum command and influence in the Hispanic Philippine society.
Racist Belief During Colonization
During the Spanish colonial rule, much value was placed on births that were untarnished by foreign blood. Full-blooded Spaniards who were born in colonies were automatically deemed inferior to the peninsulares, as they were born among the colonized people. Those who ranked second in the Spanish racial hierarchy were known as the criollos or creoles. Specifically, in the Philippines, they were the insulares. The other groups that comprised the Spanish caste system are as follows: the mestizos, who were of mixed Spanish and Amerindian ancestry; the mullatos, who were of mixed Spanish and black ancestry; and then the blacks.
Because the peninsulares were at the peak of the hierarchy, they had the most control over the spheres of economy, education, politics, and even religion. And while there were also those who hailed from other sociopolitical classes who held significant positions, it was not enough to overturn the policies that protected the interests of the peninsulares both in Spain and in the colonies.
The Peninsulares in Philippine History
Even outside their homeland (Iberian Peninsula), the influence of the peninsulares for a time made them immune to the politically turbulent climate of each Spanish colony. What can be called as a "hierarchy of inferiority" ensured the vice-lke grip of the peninsulares on all aspects of society; the indios (i.e. the natives) were subservient to all classes above them, the mestizos were subservient to the insulares, while the insulares were subservient to the peninsulares.
The bureaucracy in the Philippines was dominated by the peninsulares, who were usually appointed to a position of power despite lacking the necessary qualifications, leading to discontent among the insulares. The tension between the two eventually triggered what is known as The Bayot Revolt of 1822. Led by brothers Joaquin, Manuel, and Jose Bayot—who were sons of Colonel Francisco Bayot from the Spanish army stationed in Manila—the uprising aimed to oust the Spanish government in the Philippines and install Colonel Francisco Bayot as the King. The revolt did not come into fruition, however, as the brothers and their supporters were arrested swiftly under the order of Governor General Mariano Fernandez de Folgueras.
- Majul, Cesar Adib. ‘’Principales, Ilustrados, Intellectuals and the Original Concept of a Filipino National Community’’. 1977.
- Quimpo, Nathan Gilbert. ‘’Colonial Name, Colonial Mentality and Ethnocentrism’’. 2000.