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Clash of Spirits

Clash of Spirits: The History of Power and Sugar Planter Hegemony on a Visayan Island

Filomeno V. Aguilar
Copyright Date: 1998
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  • Book Info
    Clash of Spirits
    Book Description:

    "Complex and imaginative" --Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32 (2001) "This book is truly a fabulous tale in all senses of the word.... Aguilar combines innovation and sound scholarship to provide insights into another dimension of the Filipino past and substantially expands our conceptualization of 'history from below'." --American Historical Review, October 2000 "In addition to being a talented researcher, Aguilar writes with ease and grace. His book is particularly insightful, albeit a definite downer." --Journal of Asian Studies, August 2000 "This is a world-class original work in which the author, Filomeno Aguilar, combines the skills of a historian, political scientist, anthropologist, and even a bit of an economist in a fascinating inquiry on the history of the island of Negros.... A delightful book." --Pilipinas

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6191-9
    Subjects: Economics, Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In the late 1960s a steam-filled tank at the Victorias centrifugal sugar mill on the island of Negros exploded, killing about sixteen unsuspecting workers. More than two decades later, I was told the mishap occurred because of the then new management’s refusal to conduct thedagarite of “baptizing” new machinery with the ritual blood of chicken; the factory spirits were upset that they had not been propitiated. After this episode, the management was said to have relented and has since sponsored the periodic performance ofdagaand other rites of appeasement. Workers attest that no devastating mechanical failures or...

  5. PART I Colonial Enchantments, Indigenous Contests

    • 1 A Clash of Spirits: Friar Power and Masonic Capitalism
      (pp. 15-31)

      Occurring as part of an Asiatic pandemic, the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in October 1820 claimed thousands of lives in Manila and the nearby towns following a devastating typhoon that ravaged the colonial capital.¹ Because the epidemic was particularly fatal in the villages along the Pasig, the Spanish authorities decided to prohibit the use of river water. They also mounted a relief operation to which the medical personnel of the non-Spanish ships anchored at Manila Bay volunteered their services. In the midst of these extremely unsettled conditions, an invidious rumor began to circulate that theextrangerosor “foreigners” (also...

    • 2 Cockfights and Engkantos: Gambling on Submission and Resistance
      (pp. 32-62)

      By imperial design Catholic priests were at the forefront of Spanish colonialism. For the first two centuries of colonial rule, natives had virtually no contact with Spaniards other than the friars.¹ Engaged in their solemn duty of fighting heathenism, the friars distributed themselves throughout the archipelago, which, for missionary purposes, was administratively subdivided and allocated to different religious orders. Initially considered an alien enemy, the friars eventually overwhelmed and overpowered the natives. With minimal military support, the friars gradually but decisively extended the area of Spanish control.

      The friar was seen through indigenous cosmological lenses, and justifiably so, for the...

    • 3 Elusive Peasant, Weak State: Sharecropping and the Changing Meaning of Debt
      (pp. 63-94)

      As we saw in the previous chapter, the islanders of the preconquest world had configured a hierarchized social order according to the distribution of charisma and prowess and the economy of prestige as ordained by the spirits. An islander who could not claim otherworldly prowess to be reckoned asdatuentered the penumbra of one whose claim to individual supremacy was validated empirically by deeds of valor. Either as warriors or dependents, thedatus’followers were grouped in settlements, conventionally known asbarangayin Tagalog (haponorhaopin Visayan), which were of highly variable character and size, some encompassing...

  6. PART II The World of Negros Sugar after 1855

    • 4 The Formation of a Landed Hacendero Class in Negros
      (pp. 97-125)

      At the time of its opening to world trade in 1855, the Iloilo port area was the center of a thriving piece-goods trade controlled by the Chinese mestizos of Molo and Jaro. The native textile industry, which produced finely craftedsinamayandpiñafabrics woven from cotton, silk, and pineapple and abaca fibers, had exported its products to other parts of the Spanish Philippines and to overseas markets since the mid-eighteenth century (McCoy 1982a, 301–302). In the 1850s local textiles worth an estimated $400,000 (Mexican) were annually exported by mestizo traders, who embarked “in numbers from 6 to 10,...

    • 5 “Capitalists Begging for Laborers”: Hacienda Relations in Spanish Colonial Negros
      (pp. 126-155)

      Given the prevailing circumstances on Negros Island, the fledgling sugar planters resorted to a two-pronged approach to the acquisition of farm labor: they employed in thehaciendasa permanent resident work force, mostly of migrant background, and a temporary stream of migratory laborers hired during peak periods. Labor of the permanent kind was provided byagsaoracsasharecroppers (known in their Spanish variants asagsadoresor, more generally,aparceros) who were contracted on a sharetenancy basis similar to thekasamahanarrangement in the Tagalog area.

      Labor of the temporary kind, needed especially during the cane harvesting and crude-sugar claying...

    • 6 Toward Mestizo Power: Masonic Might and the Wagering of Political Destinies
      (pp. 156-188)

      As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Spain tried to meet the material and symbolic challenges posed by foreign merchant capitalists by rearticulating its sovereignty in Filipinas. Overturning the liberal reforms of 1869 and 1871, Spain reimposed a protectionist schedule of duties in 1891 (Legarda 1955, 336–349). This change propelled average annual revenues from import duties to soar from 1,664,875 pesos during the 1881–1890 decade to 3,305,281 pesos during the 1891–1895 half-decade (351). Before the final eclipse of Spanish power, the Iberian rulers thus wrested from the formidable foreign capitalists a measure of economic self-respect, leading...

    • 7 The American Colonial State: Pampering Sugar into an Agricultural Revolution
      (pp. 189-228)

      The advent of American colonialism at the turn of the century made possible the forging of a totally different kind of relationship between the sugar planters of Negros and the colonial state. Eager to pacify their new colonial subjects and subdue various sources of resistance, the neophyte American imperialists pursued this goal by relying upon indigenous elites who were provided with ample room to participate in colonial governance. Unlike the Javanesepriyayiand the Malayan sultans, the Philippine elites were incorporated by the colonial hegemon primarily as politicians—publicly elected officials and national legislators—rather than as bureaucracts. Their power...

  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. 229-230)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 231-274)
  9. References
    (pp. 275-304)
  10. Index
    (pp. 305-313)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 314-314)