At the outset of the 19th Century, the Industrial Revolution, combined with the end of the galleon trade between Acapulco in New Spain (Mexico) and Manila, forced Spain to end the isolationist policies that it had imposed on Philippines since it had taken control of the islands in 1542. In addition, many of Spain's colonies, most importantly Mexico, began to revolt against Spanish rule and gained their independence around this time period. Cut off from the lucrative trade that had been their main source of income and protected Latin American markets, the islands had to find a way to pay for themselves. Colonial authorities had no choice but to open the Philippines to foreign trade and promote economic development. As a result, a growing number of merchants arrived in Manila, spurring the integration of the Philippines into an international commercial system, which linked industrialized Europe and North America with sources of raw materials and markets in the Americas and Asia. In 1834, the Spanish Crown abolished the Royal Company of the Philippines and formally recognized free trade, opening the port of Manila to unrestricted foreign commerce. Economic development, free trade, and increased demand for raw materials resulted in the emergence of a new mestizo class, the descendants of Chinese merchants who had settled on the islands and married Filipino women. Through the acquisition of land, they became an economically privileged class in the new cash-crop economy. In the decades to come, this new Filipino elite would also produce notable nationalist leaders who would advocate reform and protest the injustices suffered under the colonial regime, eventually leading to a full-scale revolution.

It was during this pivotal time period in both Filipino and Spanish histories that the Francisco Enriquez y Giron Collection was written. As a leading Spanish official in Manila, his title being Delegate General of the Royal Lands, Colonel of Infantry, and Quartermaster General and Superintendent, Francisco Enriquez y Giron was exposed to the corrupt and inefficient practices of the colonial government and witnessed first hand the impact that increased commercialization had on the islands and on Spanish control. His frustration with inept members of the government, most notably Mariano Ricafort Palacín y Abarca, who was Governor and Captain General at the time, is extremely manifest in his letters. The discomfort he suffered was worsened by the fact that his position in the government allotted him no real authority to enact what he believed to be positive change. Enriquez' letters also touch on topics relating to his personal experiences in the Philippines, such as epidemics and earthquakes the population had to endure. Of most interest are his references to the diminishing status of Spaniards in the colony, as many of the natives no longer went out of their way to act meek and compliant in the presence of Europeans. The information and alternative perspectives found in these original letters is quite impressive and is extremely helpful to anyone researching the experiences of Spanish officials during the initial stages of economic development in the Philippines.

This archive is comprised of 14 letters arranged in chronological order that total to 58 pages of original material. Most of the letters were written by Don Francisco Enriquez y Giron to his friend Don Manuel Bernaldez Pizarro, an official residing in Madrid and descendant of the famous Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro. One of the letters was penned by Gertrudis Seguera, wife of Enriquez, and sent to her friend, Josepha Folgueras, which offers an interesting female point of view. All of the letters were written entirely in Spanish with rich and legible ink and remain in fairly nice condition.


ALS - Autograph Letter Signed.

FEG - Francisco Enriquez y Giron.

MBP - Manuel Bernaldez Pizarro.

GS - Gertrudis Seguera.

JF - Josepha Folgueras.

ACCESSION DATA: Status: Open Access Provenance: Purchased from Scott Petersen in 2002. Processed by Kathy Banuelos, April 2002

BULK DATES: 1824 - 1831
SPAN DATES: 1824 - 1831