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The Opening of the Philippines

to World Commerce
The Spanish King allowed the Laissez-faire or “let alone
policy” in commercial trading ventures which gave full
freedom to private individuals and firms to engage in
economic activities without much interferences from
government. This let the entry of foreign firms into the
Between 1834 to 1873 several ports were opened in the
1834 – port of Manila
1855 – ports of Iloilo, Zamboanga and Sual (in Pangasinan)
1860 – port of Cebu
1873 – ports of Tacloban and Legazpi
During 1842, Manila has two American, one French, one
Danish and eight British commercial firms. By 1859,
the number of foreign firms increased to fifteen.

These events stimulated the economic activity in the

country, which brought some prosperity to some
Filipinos, mostly the Spanish and Chinese mestizos.
Rise of the Filipino Middle Class

As a result, there emerged a new class: The Filipino Middle Class

• Group of people below the aristocratic Spanish officials, families
and religious orders but higher or above the masses (poor,
uneducated Indios)
• Filipinos who participated in the economic activities when the
Philippines was opened to world trade
• They improved also their social influence and stature
• They were able to send their children to schools not only in the
Philippines but also to abroad
• Educated children of middle class (Rizal, del Pilar, Jaena, Luna
• They clamored for social and political equality with their
colonial masters
• They are the initial propagators of reform movement
• They were called Illustrados,
After the Philippines opened to world trade, liberal ideas of Europe and American dropped into the country.

Influx of Liberal Ideas

• Ideas were brought by men of liberal orientation who came to the Philippines
• By the Illustrados who imbibed them during their stint abroad
• Books and magazines contains the ideas of French and American Revolution
• Political thoughts of Liberal thinkers
(Jean Jacques Rousseau – Social Contract)
(John Locke – Two treatises of Government)
(Thomas Paine – Common Sense)
• Filipinos learned the democratic practices in Europe, such as freedom of the press, freedom of
speech, and free exchange of ideas among people
• Introduction of modern technology such as the mail (1854), telegraph (1873), telephone and the
Manila-Dagupan railway (1890) hastened the spread of these ideas

Opening of Suez Canal in 1869

• It shortens the travel between Europe and Asia. More people came to the country, from 14,000
in 1810 to 15,000 people in 1870.
• Spaniards and European liberals came to the Philippines via Suez Canal, among them were exile
creoles from Mexico like Verela and Novales whose subversive ideas and activities advocated
freedom and liberties, they helped in the dissemination of these liberal ideas.