Part 1

The Philippine Population in 1810


In the Philippine Islands, the census of the natives for the assessment of taxes, according to the regulations set by New Spain, is not observed. Implementing it would not be easy because of the following problems:

  • The wide, scattered extent of the Philippines’ 27 provinces are almost insurmountable obstacles.
    • There is a great distance between Mindanao in the South, and the almost desert islands of Batanes and Babuyanes in the North.
    • Reaching these areas requires waiting for the favorable monsoon to set in for travel
  • The encumbered state of the grounds in many parts
  • The irregular and scattered situations of the settlements and dwellings
  • The variety among the natives and their dialects
  • The imperfect knowledge hitherto obtained of the respective limits and extent of many districts
  • The general lack of reliable guides and auxiliaries,
  • Above all, the extreme repugnance the natives against tax payments
    • This induces them to resort to all kinds of stratagems, in order to elude the vigilance of the collectors, and conceal their real numbers.


The quinquennial census, as regularly enjoined, is thus impracticable.

no other means are left than to deduce from the annual lists, transmitted by the district magistrates to the superintendent’s office, and those formed by the parish curates, a prudent estimate of the total number of inhabitants subject to our laws and religion; yet these data, although the only ones, and also the most accurate it is possible to obtain, for this reason, inspire so little confidence, that it is necessary to use them with great caution.

All the district magistrates and curates do not possess the same degree of care and minuteness in a research so important, and the omission or connivance of their respective delegates, more or less general, renders it probable that the number of tributes, not included in the annual returns, is very considerable.

If to this we add the leged exemptions from tribute, justly granted to various [358]individuals for a certain number of years, or during the performance of special service, we shall easily be convinced of the imperfection of results, derived from such insecure principles.

I have carefully formed my estimates corresponding to the year 1810, and by confronting them with such data as I possess relating to the population of 1791, I have deduced the consoling assurance that, under a parity of circumstances, the population of these Islands, far from having diminished, has, in the interval, greatly increased.

Ratio to tributes

From the collective returns recently made out by the district magistrates, the total number of tributes amounts to 386,654.

Multiplied by 6.5 produces the sum of 2,515,406, at which I estimate the total population, including old men, women and children.

I chose 6.5 between the 5 persons estimated in Spain and 8 in the Indies, as constituting each family, or entire tribute.

Although the prodigious fecundity of the women in the latter hemisphere, and the facility of maintaining their numerous offspring, both the effects of the benignity of the climate and their sober way of living, sufficiently warrant the conclusion, that a greater number of persons enter into the composition of each family, I have, in this case, been induced to pay deference to the observations of religious persons, intrusted with the care of souls, who have assured me that, whether it be owing to the great mortality prevailing among children, or the influence of other local causes, in many districts each family, or entire tribute, does not exceed four and one-half persons.

Foreigners and wild tribes

To the above amount it is necessary to add 7,000 Sangleys (Chinese), who have been enumerated and subjected to tribute, for, although in the returns preserved in the public offices, they are not rated at more than 4,700.

Many Chinese are wandering about, or hidden in the provinces, have eluded the general census.

The European Spaniards, and Spanish creoles and mestizos, do not exceed 4,000 persons, of both sexes and all ages.

The distinct castes or modifications known in America under the name of mulattos, quadroons, etc., although found in the Philippine Islands, are generally confounded in the three classes of pure natives, Chinese mestizos, and Chinese. Besides the above distinctions, various infidel and independent nations or tribes exist, more or less savage and ferocious, who have their dwellings in the woods and glens, and are distinguished by the respective names of Aetas, Ingolots, Negrillos, Igorots, Tinguianes, etc., nor is there scarcely a province in Luzon, that does not give shelter to [359]some of those isolated tribes, who inhabit and possess many of the mountainous ranges, which ramificate and divide the wide and extended plains of that beautiful island.

Origin of race

The original race of the Philippines is beyond doubt Malayan.

  • It is the same with Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the other islands of this immense archipelago.

The Philippine Islanders are very different from the Malabars, whose features possess great regularity, sweetness, and even beauty.

  • The Philippine Islanders only resemble the Malabars in color, although they excel them in stature, and the good proportion of their limbs.

The local population of the capital, in consequence of its continual communication with the Chinese and other Asiatics, with the mariners of various nations, with the soldiery and Mexican convicts, who are generally mulattos, and in considerable numbers sent to the Islands yearly in the way of transportation, has become a mixture of all kinds of nations and features, or rather a degeneration from the primitive races.

Manila’s population

Manila is the capital of the Philippine Islands.

At present [in 1810], it has 140,000-150,000 people of all classes.

; but it ought, however, to be understood, that in this computation are included the populous suburbs of Santa Cruz, San Fernando, Binondo, Tondo, Quiapo, San Sebastian, San Anton, and Sampaloc;

for although each is considered as a distinct town, having a separate curate, and civil magistrate of its own, the subsequent union that has taken place rather makes them appear as a prolongation of the city, divided into so many wards and parishes, in the center of which their respective churches are built.

Among the chief provincial towns, several are found to contain a population of from twenty to thirty thousand souls, and many not less than ten to twelve thousand.

Besides the Moros and independent tribes, the total population of the Philippine Islands, subject to the authority of the king, is 3 million.


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