Other Spanish Expeditions to the Philippines

Samar & Leyte

After Ferdinand Magellan, other Spanish expeditions were dispatched to the Philippines over the next decades. In 1543, Ruy Lopez de Villalobos gave the name Las Islas Filipinas to the islands of Samar and Leyte. However, it was not until 1565 that the Spaniards, under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, founded a colony on Cebu, and extended the name Filipinas to the whole group of islands after King Philip II of Spain.
Although the Portuguese navigator Magellan had discovered the Philippine archipelago in 1521, neither Portuguese or Spanish had settled there and so Don Luis de Velasco, the viceroy of New Spain (Mexico), sent Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to claim it in 1564.
Legaspi Statue at Fort San Pedro, Cebu Legazpi's Statue outside Fort San Pedro, Cebu
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Spanish explorer who established a Spanish dominion over the Philippines that lasted for more than three centuries, until the Spanish-American War of 1898 went to New Spain in 1545. He served for a time as clerk in the government of the viceroy. Legazpi left Acapulco in November 1564 with a fleet of five ships and 500 men including six Augustinian missionaries in addition to Fr. Andres de Urdaneta who served as navigator and spiritual adviser, and Guido de Lavezarez, a survivor of the Magellan’s expedition. They reached Cebu, one of the southern islands of the archipelago, in April 1565, founding the first Spanish settlement on the site of the modern city, Cebu naming it “Villa del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus" (Town of the Most Holy Name of Jesus) after an image of Santo Niño in one of the native houses.
He remained in Cebu until compelled to move out to Panay by Portuguese pirates. Searching for a suitable place to establish his capital and hearing of the rich resources in Luzon, he sent an expedition to the northern island of Luzon in 1570 under Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo to explore its location and potentials. He did not accompany his men during their conquest of Manila because of health problems and advanced age.
Landing in Batangas , Goiti with a force of 120 Spaniards explored the Pansipit River which drains Taal Lake. They then proceeded north and on May 8, they arrived at Manila Bay. There, they were welcomed by the natives. Goiti's soldiers camped there for a few weeks while forming an alliance with the Muslin leader, Rajah Sulayman, a vassal under the Sultan of Brunei and the Muslim ruler of the Kingdom of Maynilad, a pre-historic state at the mouth of Pasig River facing what is now Manila Bay. Rajah Sulayman, along with his co-ruler Rajah Matanda and Lakan Dula, was one of three monarchs who figured most significantly in the Spanish conquest of the Port of Manila and the Pasig River delta. Spanish accounts describe him as the most aggressive of the three rulers - a characteristic chalked up to his youth relative to the other two rulers.
However, the Rajah's ally in northern shores of Manila Bay, historically known as the young Bambalito of Macabebe, Pampanga, asked Rajah Sulayman to revoke his alliance with the Spaniards. Rajah Sulayman refused because of the "word of honor" to the Spaniards. Rajah Sulayman had his conditions for Bambalito that if they were able to kill as least 50 Spaniards, he would revoke his alliance with Goiti, and Rajah Sulayman would help expel the conquerors. Bambalito rode back to Macabebe and formed a fleet of two thousand five hundred moros consisting of soldiers from the villages along Manila Bay particularly from Macabebe and Hagonoy, Bulacan. On May 30, 1570, Bambalito sailed to Tondo and encountered the Spaniards headed by Martin de Goiti at Bangkusay Channel on June 3, 1570. Bambalito and his fleet lost the battle, and after disputes and hostility had erupted between the two groups, the Spaniards occupied the Islamized states of Tondo and Maynilad.
 Rajah Sulayman by Flickr Rajah Sulayman by Flickr
After deposing Rajah Sulayman, Goiti occupied their settlements before returning to Panay. Legazpi then sailed to Luzon after hearing that the villages had been conquered and established the city of Manila on June 24, 1571.
In Manila, he formed a peace pact with the native councils as well as the local rulers, Rajah Sulayman and Lakan Dula. Lakan and Rajah are the same title of the native royalty. He also ordered the construction of the walled city of Intramuros.
Within a year, with the help of his grandson, Juan de Salcedo, Legazpi had almost the whole country under Spanish rule, with the exception of the Sulu islands and parts of Mindanao and interior Luzon. Legazpi overcame native resistance with little difficulty, since there was no sizable organized political power among the Philippine Malays. Islam was weak in Luzon and the northern islands but the Muslins in the southern islands resisted Spanish rule right up to the 19th century.
Legazpi and his chaplain, Padre Andres de Urdaneta, were able to lay the foundation for the conversion of the people to Christianity, the Spain’s most durable legacy.
The country was soon divided into religious zones of influence. The Augustinians received Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Ilocos, Cebu and Panay. The Franciscans acquired Bicol and parts of Laguna and Tayabas. The Jesuits operated in Cavite, Marinduque, Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Negros, and some areas in Mindanao. The Dominicans took Bataan, Pangasinan and the Cagayan Valley. The Recollects occupied Romblon and points of northern Palawan, Luzon, and Mindanao. By the end of the 16th century, much of the archipelago was under Spanish control.
Subsequently, Manila became the capital of the new Spanish colony and Spain’s major trading port in East Asia. Legazpi governed the Philippines for a year before dying suddenly of a heart attack on August 20, 1572. He was laid to rest in San Agustin Church in Intramuros.
Philippine Guide by Jill and Rebecca Gale de Villa
Insight Guide Philippines by Discovery Channel
Encyclopedia Britannica

Until next time. The Philippine story continues.

Legaspi Built Intramuros, the Seat of Spanish Rule

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi founded the city of Manila in 1571, 50 years after the Spanish discovery of the Philippines. Manila, being better positioned than Cebu for trade with China, was made the original capital of the Philippines.
Intramuros Wall by Wikipedia Intramuros - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Here the colonizers built Intramuros, an impregnable European style thick stone-walled city which was the seat of Spanish rule located south of the Pasig River. Although Intramuros was laid out as a pentagon, its uneven sides more approximate a triangle. The twenty-foot-high walls stretched for nearly 4.5 km (3 miles). In some places, they reached twenty-five feet in height and had a thickness of up to forty feet at the bottom. Inside, following Legaspi’s blueprint for the capital, succeeding Spanish governors built churches, chapels, convents, palaces for the governor-general and the archbishop, schools, university (in as early as 1611), printing press, hospitals and soldiers’ barracks, and grand houses for the assorted elite all surrounded by baluartes (battlements) and puertas (gates).
Intramuros 4 Casa Manila

Now a ruin, Intramuros was once a well-planned city, with cobbled lanes, streets and plazas, and tiled roofed houses. Outside the city’s high walls flowed a moat, in the old European style of protection. Only Spaniards and Spanish mestizos (mixed race) were permitted to live within the confines of the walls. Drawbridges went up each night. Natives were moved elsewhere, while the Chinese, necessary for financial matters, trade, and menial jobs “not good enough for a Spaniard,” were moved outside the walls, but within canon range.
Intramuros Street by Wikipedia.org Street inside Intramuros - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Though Intramuros is a far cry from the bustling Spanish city it once was, it has come a long way from the ravages of wartime. During WWII, effectively utilizing the Intramuros District together with the city’s strongly reinforced concrete buildings of prewar construction, the Japanese brought in heavy-caliber guns from damaged and sunken ships in the harbor. But during the Philippine liberation, the US employed every available artillery piece against the enemy inside the Intramuros walls from Feb. 17 to Feb. 23. The shelling finally breached the thick walls in several places in the northeast corner of the walled city.
Once a jumble of broken buildings, portions of the old city have been restored, including the Ayuntamiento (Municipal Hall), once the grandest structure here.
Fort Santiago, within the walled city, was built on the original site of Rajah Sulayman’s settlement and was used to control traffic along the Pasig River. The fort served as headquarters to several occupying armies. The Spaniards used it as headquarters of the Spanish ministry, which was ousted by British troops in 1762 and later housed Filipino Tayabas soldiers in 1843. Yet, Intramuros withstood attacks by the Dutch and the Portuguese, as well as Sulu pirates.
Entrance to Fort Santiago Entrance to Fort Santiago

Intramuros-Jail Jail at Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is kept in spotless condition today and is open to visitors. At one end is a museum housing the relics and personal effects of Jose Rizal, national hero of the Philippines. On another end is Jose Rizal’s cell where he was incarcerated for two months on charges of rebellion and sedition prior to his execution by the Spaniards in 1896 and where he wrote his last legacy of poetry , “Mi Ultimo Adios” to the Filipino people. It was smuggled out in the base of an oil lamp.
United States troops ran the fort after 1898, and it was an operational base for General Douglas MacArthur from 1936 to 1941. MacArthur resided in a penthouse atop the Manila Hotel, off the southwest corner of Intramuros from 1935 to 1941.
With its interrogation chambers, rat-infested holdalls and infamous dungeons that were below the high tide level, this was a place of terror and death throughout the centuries. It was the dreaded prison used by the Spaniards and later by the Japanese. Many atrocities have been committed here. Prisoners were left to drown as the tide rose and filled the lower dungeons. When the Japanese left, 600 bodies were found in the powder magazine chamber.
Rumors had persisted that the Japanese General Yamashita may have hidden his legendary – or as some say, mythical - gold here. In 1988, with President Aquino’s permission, American treasure hunters painstakingly searched and partially excavated Fort Santiago looking for clues, but nothing was uncovered.
Intramuros 2 Manila Cathedral

A few blocks from Fort Santiago, is the Manila Cathedral, an imposing Romanesque structure constructed of adobe. A plaque on its façade reveals a relentless history, beginning in 1571, of reconstruction after the repeated ravages of fire, typhoon, earthquake and war. Statues by Italian artists, of the saints to whom Manileños owe special devotion, grace the façade. Among them are St. Andrew the Apostle, on whose feast day in 1574 the Spanish repulsed Chinese invaders, and Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Greater), patron saint of Spain and the Philippines. The Dutch organ in the Cathedral, with its 4500 pipes, is one of the largest in Asia.
San Agustin Church Altar by Flickr San Agustin Church Altar - Photo credit: Flickr

Intramurous Ground of San Agustin Church
San Agustin Church, the church within the walled city of Intramuros, is the oldest stone church in the Philippines. First built of nipa palm and bamboo, in 1571, it was destroyed by the Chinese pirate Limahong during a raid in 1574. A second building, of wood, replaced it in 1583. Later in 1599, the present building was begun. This has adobe walls, with beautifully carved ceilings and columns, and imported European chandeliers. It was completed in 1601. The pulpit, a work of art, and the wooden seats in the choir loft are intricately hand-carved. In the vestry, with its long hall and high roof, the Spaniards officially handed over the Philippines to America. This building seems to be the only earthquake-proof structure in the islands. In the passageways at the side of the church hang old paintings, some still bearing the marks of bullets.
Inside the church stands the tomb of the founder of Manila, Legaspi. The remains of the other Spanish conquistadors, Martin de Goti and Juan de Salcedo were also interred here. The church was bombed, machine-gunned and shelled during WWII, but withstood the damage, though the convent beside the church was destroyed.
The Philippines by John Cockcroft
Inside Guide Philippines by Discovery Channel
The Philippines Guide – Jill & Rebecca Gale de Villa
Traveler's Philippine Companion by Kristen Ellis

On Writings - Quote 1