Sangley - History


Spanish explorers and conquistadors landed in the Las Islas de Filipinas, which they named in honor of Philip II of Spain. The Spanish colonization of the Philippines required more skilled laborers and they recruited Chinese immigrants from the islands. The economy became highly dependent upon the Chinese for their economic role as traders and artisans. Most of the Chinese living in the Manila area settled in a place called the Parían near Intramuros.

The Spanish encouraged the Chinese to convert to Catholicism. Many of the Chinese men married native women, and over time the multi-cultural mestizo de sanglay caste developed. Although the colonial government never imposed on them the adoption of Spanish surnames and were allowed to keep their Chinese surnames, in many cases they chose to change them to the likes of Lopez, Jalandoni, Palanca, Paterno, Rizal, Laurel, Osmeña, etc., or to made them look Hispanic by concatenation, for example: Lacson, Biazon,Gaspar, Tuazon, Ongpin, Yuchengco, Quebengco, Cojuangco, Cukingnan, Cuyegkeng, Yaptinchay, Yupangco, Tanchanco, Tiongson, Tanbengco, Tanjuatco, Locsin, Tetangco, etc.

In 1574, a few years after the Spaniards established Manila as the colonial capital of the Philippines, the Chinese pirate Limahong (traditional Chinese: 林風) attacked Manila and burned it to the ground, retreating later to other places around the Luzon coast where his forces continued the killings and looting. Some of them deserted Limahong, settled down and interbred with the locals.

In 1603 a Chinese revolt took place right after a visit to Manila by three official Mandarin Chinese representatives accompanied by a large fleet of ships, who disclosed that they were searching for "a mountain of gold". This odd claim prompted the Spanish to conclude that there was an imminent invasion from China in the making. At the time the local Chinese outnumbered the Spaniards by twenty to one, and Spanish authorities feared that they would join the invading forces. The revolt was led by Joan Bautista de Vera, a wealthy Catholic Chinese who was highly esteemed by the Spaniards, and feared and respected by the Sanglays. He tried not to arise suspicions, by mingling with the Spanish and posing as a confident during the preparation. He even carried out a census to ascertain the number of men of his race, which he justified at the time as being necessary for a certain work he had to do. When he found that there were enough Chinese men to carry out the revolt, he gave orders to construct a fort and quarters at a hidden location in Tondo, where some rice, provisions, and weapons were stored. The Sanglays began to gather there, planning the insurrection for St. Andrew's day, but when they realized that their intentions had been discovered, decided to anticipate that day. On the eve of St. Francis, two thousand Sanglays met in the quarters. Joan Bautista de Vera tried to misguide the governor by telling him that the Sanglays were meeting on the opposite side of the river. The governor however did not fall for it and had him arrested and carefully guarded. He was later executed.

The insurrection was put down by joint Spanish, native and Japanese forces led by Luis Pérez Dasmariñas. A large number of the 20,000 Chinese that composed the colony were killed during the revolt. In the aftermath, the Chinese Ming government played down those events in an attempt to preserve their commercial interests, and in 1605 a Fukien official issued a letter claiming that the Chinese who had participated in the revolt were unworthy of China's protection anyway, describing them as "deserters of the tombs of their ancestors". Chinese rulers at the time had banned the emigration of their subjects and considered those who had left their ancestral homeland to settle in foreign lands as traitors who "ceased to be Chinese."

In 1662, the Chinese pirate, Cheng Ch'eng-kung, (Koxinga), attacked several towns on Luzon's coast and demanded tribute from the colonial government, threatening to attack Manila if his demands were not met. The Spanish refused to pay the tribute and reinforced the garrisons around Manila. Although most of the Manila Chinese distanced themselves from the pretensions of Koxinga, and in the end the invasion did not materialize, an increasing anti-Chinese sentiment grew within much of the population and hordes of locals massacred hundreds of Chinese in the Manila area.

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