Rafael Maria de Aguilar

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Rafael María de Aguilar y Ponce de Leon (26 January 1753 – 8 August 1806)[1] was the Governor-General of the Philippines from 1 September 1793 to 7 August 1806.[2] He was the longest-serving Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines.[3]

Biography

Aguilar was the son of Don Fernando Pedro de Aguilar Ponce de León and Dona Josefa Fernández de Santillán y Villacís.[4] He was a knight of the Order of Alcántara.[5]

Career

He served as a colonel of the Provincial Regiment in L’Escala until in 1789.[6] The following year, he married his niece Francisca Javiera de Nieto y Aguilar Ponce de León.[7] He then served as politico-military governor of Alcántara until on 22 December 1792.[8]

He formally assumed the position of governor-general on 1 September 1793, replacing Félix Berenguer de Marquina who was relieved from his position after being accused of numerous crimes by members of the Real Audiencia.[9] One of his first acts as governor-general was to organize another investigation during which Marquina can properly defend himself.[10] This was because Agustín de Amparán, the person who conducted a trial regarding the accusations, had been unfair to Marquina and refused to receive any testimony from him.[11] Aguilar summoned Marquina, appointed a lawyer for his defense, and thoroughly reviewed the cases filed against him.[12] Marquina's defense was forwarded to the Council of Indies, and eventually it was decided by the Council that a retrial be organized.[13] After a trial which was delayed for three years, Marquina was eventually found guilty of the charges, and was asked to pay a fine.[14]

Reforms in the Military

During Aguilar's term, reforms in the defenses of the archipelago were introduced. This was in response to reports that the British were once again planning to invade the archipelago.[15] At that time, Spain and Great Britain were at war starting in 1796 (the Anglo-Spanish War).[16] He improved the Army, in which he raised a force of 10,000 armed men composed of companies of Spaniards and mestizos.[17] He imposed a tax on native troops.[18] He stationed detachments in outmost batteries in areas around the city.[19] He strengthened the walls of Intramuros, and tore down houses outside of it.[20] He initiated reforms in the Navy, in which he increased its forces and established a naval station in Corregidor Island.[21]

He also took steps in order to continue the campaigns against the Moros. A shipyard called La Barraca was erected in Binondo in 1794, whose primary goal was to construct vessels which would be used against Moro pirates.[22]

Numerous steps were undertaken by the royal government throughout his term to strengthen the naval force of the colony. As part of preparations for a British attack, a squadron of five vessels was sent to Cavite on 25 December 1796.[23] It was led by Ignacio María de Álava, who then introduced reforms in the Navy.[24] Through the royal decree of 24 September 1796, the shipyard at San Blas in California was transferred to the port of Cavite in order to aid in the campaigns against the Moros and other European colonizers.[25] In a royal decree of 27 September 1800, a naval bureau was ordered to be established in Manila.[26]

The archipelago's naval strength was eventually tested when in 1797, Álava sent his squadron on 19 April to attack the British fleet which was on its way to China.[27] However, an unexpected typhoon nearly wrecked the squadron, leading to the failure of the mission.[28]

Other Implemented Reforms

Aguilar introduced other reforms in the archipelago. He prescribed on 30 January 1799 a method of making the registration of the natives for the collection of tributes.[29] He prohibited on 30 October of the same year the exportation of small silver coins.[30] He ordered in 1800 that no public work would commence without the previous knowledge of the colonial government in order to avoid such works to be constructed with consequences to the natives.[31]

Balmis Expedition

It was during the term of Aguilar that a philanthropic expedition led by Francisco Xavier de Balmis arrived in the Philippines.[32] This expedition was organized under the orders of King Charles IV in 1802 to administer smallpox vaccinations for the inhabitants of Spain's colonies.[33] The expedition arrived in Manila on 15 April 1805.[34] It was said that close to 20,000 individuals were vaccinated, including Aguilar's children.[35]

In honor of the efforts of the King, Aguilar arranged for the installation of a statue of the King in today's Plaza Roma in Intramuros, Manila.[36] The statue was eventually installed through the efforts of the citizens of Manila. It has been in the plaza since 1824, except from the 1960s until in 1981 when it was replaced by a statue of the Gomburza.[37]

End of Term and Death

On 7 August 1806, Aguilar resigned from his position because of health reasons.[38] A day later, he passed away.[39] Mariano Fernández de Folgueras assumed as acting Governor-General.

Aguilar was the longest-serving Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines, having served for thirteen years.[40]

References

  1. Real Academia de la Historia, "Rafael María de Aguilar Ponce de León and Fernández de Santillán," accessed 26 January 2021, http://dbe.rah.es/biografias/7231/rafael-maria-de-aguilar-ponce-de-leon-y-fernandez-de-santillan
  2. Carlos Quirino, Old Manila, ed. María Eloísa G. Parco-de Castro, 2nd ed. (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2016), 294.
  3. 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), 74.
  4. Real Academia de la Historia, "Rafael María de Aguilar Ponce de León and Fernández de Santillán."
  5. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  6. Real Academia de la Historia, "Rafael María de Aguilar Ponce de León and Fernández de Santillán."
  7. Real Academia de la Historia, "Rafael María de Aguilar Ponce de León and Fernández de Santillán."
  8. Real Academia de la Historia, "Rafael María de Aguilar Ponce de León and Fernández de Santillán."
  9. Quirino, Old Manila, 294; 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#pb142, 142.
  10. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  11. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 141-3.
  12. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142.
  13. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 142-3.
  14. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 143-4.
  15. "Preface," in The Philippine Islands 1493-1898, trans. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, vol. 50 (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 12.
  16. "Preface," 12.
  17. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 69.
  18. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  19. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 69.
  20. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 69.
  21. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 69.
  22. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 69-70.
  23. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 70.
  24. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 70.
  25. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 70-71.
  26. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 73.
  27. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 70.
  28. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 70.
  29. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 72.
  30. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 72.
  31. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 73.
  32. Carlos Franco-Paredes, Lorena Lammoglia, and Jose Ignacio Santos-Preciado, "The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Expedition to Bring Smallpox Vaccination to the New World and Asia in the 19th Century," Clinical Infectious Diseases 41, no. 9, (1 November 2005), https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/41/9/1285/278013, 1288.
  33. Franco-Paredes, Lammoglia, and Santos-Preciado, "The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Expedition," 1286.
  34. Franco-Paredes, Lammoglia, and Santos-Preciado, "The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Expedition," 1288.
  35. Franco-Paredes, Lammoglia, and Santos-Preciado, "The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Expedition," 1288; Ambeth R. Ocampo, "Carlos IV, Manila, and smallpox," Philippine Daily Inquirer, 20 August 2014, https://opinion.inquirer.net/77650/carlos-iv-manila-and-smallpox
  36. Real Academia de la Historia, "Rafael María de Aguilar Ponce de León and Fernández de Santillán."
  37. Ocampo, "Carlos IV."
  38. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 74.
  39. Quirino, Old Manila, 294.
  40. Montero y Vidal, "Events in Filipinas," 74.

Citation

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