The Rise of the Philippine Middle Class (Ilustrados)

Length: 6 Pages 1474 Words

In the mid-18th century (1750s), there were 5 principal social classes in the Philippines. These were the Peninsulares, the Insulares, the clase media or middle class, the Chinese and the indio. The Peninsulares, which included the Spanish friars, were the Spaniards born in Spain, ( the Iberian peninsula) and were the wealthiest and most politically powerful among the social classes. The Insulares were the Spaniards born in the Philippines. The clase media consisted of three subclasses: the Spanish mestizos or mestizos de Español; the principalia; and the Chinese mestizos or mestizos de Sangley. The Chinese and the indio or natives made up the lower half of the social pyramid. The mestizos or half-breed, which initially referred only to those of Spanish-native descent, had an indio parent and a Spanish or Chinese parent. Usually, Spanish who married indios were in the lower strata of Spanish society. Mestizos, in general, constituted no more than 2% of the population but because of the even smaller population of creoles in the Philippines, they were able to take some control over commerce and industry and acquire (and dispense of) a disproportionate share of wealth. Chinese mestizos who had a higher position in societ Continue...

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They also competed with the Chinese in the business sector. Another was for the borrower to use the money for other things and for the lender to use the land. The center of their activities where in Spain where they felt that it would be easier for them to express what they wanted to say and they believed that if the Spanish Government became aware of the evils of the Spanish colonial policy and the abuses of the friars, they would do something about it. A gremio is a self-governing organization. The pacto de retroventa is a system where the ownership of a land was turned over from the debtor to the creditor. The mestizos and the natives who were in Spain and were exposed to liberal ideas became known in Manila as los ilustrados or Sthe enlightened ones . Some of these functions were keeping census and tax records, managing the education system and choosing local government officials. Because few Spanish lived outside Intramuros, the religious orders usually performed the executive functions of the government in the local level. According to the historian Edgar Vickberg, they were considered Sa special kind of Filipino and not a Sspecial kind of Chinese , the way other mixed-Chinese were considered in other Southeast Asian countries. 39) The children of the rich mestizos and Surbanized natives were sent to Manila and Spain to study. The Maura Law or the Royal Decree of 1894 gave landowners one year to register their land. Sometimes, with the deadline for the payment looming, the creditors deliberately leave town so that the ownership of the land is defaulted to them. One was for the borrower to rent his own land and use the borrowed money on the land. Even indigenous tribes, who were then not under Spanish rule, ost their ancestral lands.


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