Sangley: Wikis


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Sangley (Sangleye, Sangley Mestizo, Mestisong Sangley, Mestizo de Sangley or Chinese mestizo; plural: Sangleys or Sangleyes), is an archaic term used in the Philippines to describe and classify a person of pure Chinese ancestry, while mestizo de sangley was used to refer to a person of mixed Chinese and Malayo-Polynesian ancestry. (The latter were referred to as Indio during the Spanish Colonial Period.) Sangley mestizo was a term widely used in the 16th to 19th-century Spanish Philippines to differentiate ethnic Chinese from other types of island mestizos (such as those of mixed Indio and Spanish ancestry, who were much fewer in number.) The Chinese mestizos were granted the legal status of colonial subjects of Spain, with certain rights and privileges denied both the pure-blooded Chinese immigrants (sangleys) and indigenous persons (indios).

Today, Tsinito (literally, "little Chinese man", in Spanish, Chinito) is widely used to describe a Sangley, but it is also commonly applied to Filipinos of other East Asian ancestries (Japanese, Korean, etc.) who possess similar physical features. Tsinoy or Chinese Filipino, on the other hand, is used to refer to Filipinos specifically of Chinese descent. Among Chinese-Filipino mestizos, many use and prefer the generic term mestizo.

Mestiza de Sangley, c. 1875, Francisco Van Camp, fotografía



Sangley comes from the Hokkien Chinese word seng-di (traditional Chinese:生意; POJ: seng-lí), meaning "business". Although mestizo de sangley literally means "mixed-race (person) of business", its implicit meaning is "mixed-race (person) of Chinese descent", because many early Chinese immigrants were traders. The closest etymological relation is the Spanish term: mestizo de sangre, which literally means "of mixed blood". By default, mestizo without the qualifying de sangley means a "mixed-race (person) of Spanish/European and indio ancestry. But, due to the relatively few español mestizos in the Philippines, as commonly used mestizo refers to mestizo de sangley. W. E. Retana stated this definition before the United States Philippine Commission (1899-1900) and in his Diccionario de filipinismos (1921). The term chino mestizo was also used interchangeably with mestizo de sangley.


Mestizo de sangley is a term that arose during Spanish colonization of the Philippines because of different circumstances there compared to settlement in the Americas. During the Spanish colonization of the Americas, numerous male Spaniards: conquistadors, explorers and soldiers, settled there. For years there were no Spanish women in the colonies, so the men made liaisons and intermarried with indigenous and later enslaved African women.

With the rise of mixed-race descendants, the Spanish authorities developed and established a highly complex caste system based on a racial hierarchy related to Spanish descent, which later became associated with whiteness. The racial doctrine called limpieza de sangre (literally, cleanliness or purity of blood) was fundamental to the caste system. It described and classified a person based on purity of Spanish "blood" or genealogical ancestry. Some of the castes defined were as follows:

Term Definition
Criollo 100% Spanish, native-born (in the Americas)
Castizo 75% Spanish and 25% Indio
Mestizo 50% Spanish and 50% Indio
Cholo 25% Spanish and 75% Indio
Indio pure-blooded indigenous person

Mixed-race persons of Spanish ancestry with less than one-eighth indio blood and born in the Americas could be legally classified as criollo or white.

In the Philippines, by contrast, the number of Spanish male settlers was small. The much greater number of multi-cultural people were descendants of Chinese workers (and later merchants) and indio women. In the Philippines, the Spanish developed a different caste system, that included the classification of the numerous Chinese immigrants and their descendants, as follows:

Term Definition
Indio indigenous person
Sangley pure-blooded Chinese immigrant or descendants
Mestizo de sangley mixed-race person of sangley and indio ancestry; also called chino mestizo
Blancos whites (español mestizos, tornatrás, insulares or español filipinos, and peninsulares)
Insulares pure-blooded Spaniards born in the Philippines (literally "from the islands"); also called español filipinos
Peninsulares pure-blooded Spaniards born in Spain (literally "from the peninsula"); also called Spanish conquistadores

The Spanish legal system in the Philippines of racial classification was based on patrilineal descent; it had no parallel in the Spanish-ruled colonies in the Americas. In general, a son born of a sangley male and an indio or mestizo de sangley female was classified as mestizo de sangley; all subsequent male descendants were mestizo de sangley, regardless of whether they married indio or mestizo de sangley, or women of any other ethnic group. A chino mestizo male descendant of a paternal sangley ancestor could never lose his legal status as a mestizo de sangley, no matter how little percentage of sangley blood he had or how many generations had passed since his first sangley ancestor. He was considered a mestizo de sangley in perpetuity.

A girl born of a mixed-race union, however, acquired the legal classification of her husband when she married, i.e., she became an indio if she married an indio, but remained mestizo de sangley if she married another mestizo de sangley, or a sangley.

In the Philippines, the Spanish authorities classified peninsulares, insulares, tornatrás and español mestizos as blanco or white. The insulares were also called español filipinos. This distinguished them from criollos born in the Spanish-ruled colonies in the Americas, who were called español americanos.

The español mestizos were legally classified as blanco or white, as distinct and separate from the chino mestizos, who were legally classified as mestizo de sangley. A sangley could marry a blanco, in which case the offspring would be classified as tornatrás ( literally "to turn back" from). Also, a person could alter one's legal classification through an administrative procedure called gracias al sacar or dispensa de ley (dispensation of law).

An example of classifications follows: Juan Mercado, the grandfather of late 19th century author and activist José Rizal, was the alcalde of Biñan, Laguna (in 1808, 1813 and 1823). The tribute list was changed so that he and his descendants were reclassified as indios, instead of mestizos de sangley. (To try to free his descendants from the anti-Chinese policies of the Spanish authorities, Mercado's paternal ancestor Domingo Lam-co had adopted the Spanish surname "Mercado" (meaning market, and related to his immigration as a trader.)

Juan Mercado's son Francisco added the surname "Ricial" (meaning 'green fields') to Mercado in 1849, when the government required all Filipinos to adopt Spanish surnames from an approved list. By then the family were wealthy farmers. Later the surname was modified to "Rizal".

In the late 19th century, Francisco Ricial/Rizal's son José Rizal became a physician, poet and novelist, and political activist. He was associated with people who advocated violent rebellion against the Spanish colonial authorities and charged with them for the crime of rebellion. During his trial in 1896, the government reclassified Jose Rizal as mestizo de sangley despite his claim to indio based on his grandfather Juan Mercado's status. At the time of his execution, Jose Rizal was classified as a mestizo de sangley.

Jose Rizal, mestizo de sangley


The Kingdom of Spain was created by the marriage of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabela of Castile in 1469. To consolidate their power, the Catholic monarchs initiated the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 to purge their newly united Kingdom of secret heretics and suppress political dissent. Their main target were Jewish conversos who had earlier converted to Catholicism in response to violent pogroms. In 1492, the Crown expelled all unconverted Jews from Spain upon recommendation of the Grand Inquisitor, Tomás de Torquemada (a descendant of Jewish conversos.) That same year, the last Muslim Emirate of Granada fell to Isabel and Ferdinand's armies, capping more than seven centuries of the Spanish Reconquista. Meanwhile, Christopher Columbus landed in what he named Hispañola and claimed the New World on behalf of Catholic Spain. This led to the large-scale settlement of Iberian conquistadors in the Americas.

Spanish explorers and conquistadors also landed in Las Islas de Filipinas, which they named in honor of Philip II of Spain. The Spanish colonization of the Philippines required more laborers; they recruited Chinese immigrants to the islands. Almost immediately, mutual suspicion and animosity arose between the Spanish authorities and immmigrants, separated by language and culture. Dependent upon the Chinese for their economic role as traders and artisans but fearful of sangley revolts, the Spanish authorities enacted policies designed to restrict Chinese occupations, areas of residence and movement within the colony. Ultimately they confined the Chinese to a place called the Parían near Intramuros.

The Spanish encouraged the Chinese to convert to Catholicism. Out of necessity, many of the men married indio women, and over time the multi-cultural mestizo de sangley caste developed. The Spanish encouraged them to adopt Spanish surnames and customs. In many cases, individual's Chinese names were Hispanicized by concatenation, for example: Lacson, Biazon, Tuazon, Ongpin, Yuchengco, Quebengco, Cojuangco, Cukingnan, Cuyegkeng, Yaptinchay, Yupangco, Tanbengco, Tanjuatco, Locsin, Tetangco, etc. Some Chinese adopted Spanish or indo surnames, examples: Lopez, Palanca, Paterno, Rizal, Laurel, Osmeña, etc.

In 1574, a few years after the Spaniards established Manila as the colonial capital of the Philippines, the Chinese pirate Limahong (traditional Chinese: 林風) attacked Manila and burned it to the ground. He failed to expel the Spanish. When several Chinese mandarins accompanied by a large fleet of ships arrived, the Spanish feared an imminent invasion by their forces. Led by Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, who wanted to avenge the death of his father (Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas was the highest ranking Spanish official killed by sangleys), the Spanish committed the First Great Massacre of 1603 in Manila, and killed up to 24,000 sangleys. Fearing a reprisal from China, the Spanish tried to explain their actions to the Chinese Ming rulers. They were surprised to learn that the Chinese rulers viewed the sangleys as "wicked people" for having abandoned their ancestral homeland. The Chinese rulers at the time had banned the emigration of their subjects and considered those who had left their ancestral homeland to settle in foreign lands as traitors who "ceased to be Chinese."

Besieged by the Dutch in the first half of the 17th century, the Spanish realized their vulnerable position in the Far Eastern colony. After the Dutch founded a colony in southern Taiwan (then known as Isla Formosa) in 1624, the Spaniards established a base in 1626 in northern Taiwan. They lost it to Dutch forces in 1642.

Following a revolt by sangleys in the Parían, the Spaniards retaliated in the Second Great Massacre of 1639-40, which took at least 22,000 lives of ethnic Chinese. In 1662, the Overseas Chinese warlord Zheng Chenggong (traditional Chinese: 鄭成功) succeeded in waging the First Asian War of National Liberation against the Dutch in Taiwan. He demanded submission from Manila.

Fearing invasion, the Spanish panicked and erupted in a massacre against the sangleys in the Parían; they also expelled an additional 30,000 sangleys. Following the 1683 annexation of Taiwan by Chinese forces under the Manchu Qing rulers, the Spanish conducted another massacre and expulsion of sangleys in the Philippines. After more than a century of warfare, the Spanish finally succeeded in completing the Spanish conquest of Luzon and Visayas but not Mindanao. The latter remained predominantly Muslim until after occupation by United States forces some four hundred years later.


The Spanish used the legal classification of the different races to administer and tax populations in the islands. Each person's legal status was based on ethnic origin and was printed on the cedula or tax certificate. The blancos (Spaniards and Spanish mestizos) paid no tax; the indios paid a base tax; the mestizos de sangley paid twice the indio rate; and the sangleys paid four times as much. In addition to paying higher taxes, the sangleys were confined to the Parían, within sight of the cannons installed in the walled city of Intramuros, where those of Spanish descent lived. The Spaniards also restricted their movement and occupation, and prohibited them from owning land or engaging in agriculture.

As a result, most of the sangleys worked as skilled artisans or petty traders, serving the Spaniards living in Intramuros. Aside from shopkeeping, the sangleys earned their livelihood as carpenters, tailors, cobblers, locksmiths, masons, metalsmiths, weavers, bakers, carvers and other skilled craftsmen. As metalsmiths, they helped to build the Spanish galleons in shipyards located in Cavite. As masons, they built Intramuros and its numerous structures. Poor indios were conscripted as laborers to build the churches and galleons, working alongside sangley artisans.

The Spanish gave the mestizos de sangley special rights and privileges as colonial subjects of the Spanish Crown and as baptized converts to the Catholic Church. The Spanish authorities distrusted the unconverted sangleys, preferring mestizos de sangley to handle the domestic trade of the islands. In addition, mestizos de sangley were given the privilege of leasing land from the friar estates through the inquilino system. As inquilinos or lessees, they sublet those lands to indio tenant farmers.

Later, the mestizos de sangley acquired indio lands, chiefly through a legal instrument called pacto de retro or contract of retrocession. In this scheme, the mestizo de sangley moneylender extended loans to indio farmers. In exchange for cash, the indio farmer pawned his land with the option of buying it back. In the event of default, the moneylender recovered the loan by foreclosing the land from the farmer. Unable to pay back the loan due to excessive litigation initiated by the money lender, many indio farmers lost their lands to mestizos de sangley in this manner.

Unlike the practice of large estates and virtual fiefdoms in the Americas, in the Philippines, there were fewer Spanish colonists to become landowners. In addition, the authorities discouraged their overseeing indios. Instead, most of the Spanish settlers secluded themselves in the walled city of Intramuros; some friars and soldiers lived in the countryside. With neither mines nor plantations, the Spanish colonists lived off the foreign trade of the islands. The Spanish Galleon Trade [1565-1815], tied China to Europe via Mexico. Acting as a transshipment port, Manila attracted Chinese traders from Xiamen (Amoy) who arrived in armed ships, called Chinese junks, to trade with the Spanish. Chinese luxury goods, such as silk, porcelain and finely crafted furniture, were exchanged for silver from Mexican and Peruvian mines. Twice a year the galleons traded with Acapulco, Mexico from Manila, and thence to Spain via Veracruz, Mexico.

As the Spanish galleons carried mostly Chinese luxury goods destined for Europe, Mexicans called them náos de China (Chinese ships). The Spanish Galleon Trade was mainly a business affair involving Spanish officials in Manila, Mexico and Spain, and Chinese traders from Xiamen. Neither products originating from the Philippine islands nor resident domestic traders were part of the highly lucrative galleon trade. It was so profitable that Mexican silver became the unofficial currency of Southern China; an estimated one-third of silver mined from the Americas flowed into China during that period. The Spanish Galleons also transported indio slaves from the Philippines to the Americas; many escaped and settled in Louisiana and Mexico. They were called Manilamen by the Americans and los indios Chinos by the Mexicans.

Apart from the Portuguese-led Macao-Manila trade in the 17th century and the British-controlled Madras-Manila trade in the 18th century, it was mainly the Spanish-ruled Manila-Acapulco trade that sustained the colony for much of the colonial period. When the trade ended with the last ship's sailing in 1815, the Spaniards needed new sources of revenue. With the penetration of the British Empire into the Far East and the successful revolts of the criollos in the Spanish Americas, Catholic Spain quickly lost its position amongst the Western powers.

After Mexico became independent in 1821, Spain took over direct control of the Philippines. It had been governed by the Virreinato de Nueva España or Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico). Coinciding with the advent of steamships and the consequent expansion of the global economy, the Spaniards decided to open up the Philippines to foreign trade. As the subsistence economy shifted to an export crop economy, in 1834 the Spanish allowed both non-Spanish Westerners and Chinese immigrants to settle anywhere in the islands. The mestizos de sangley largely abandoned wholesale and retail trading altogether. They converted their capital into larger landholdings, and cultivated sugar plantations for a commodity crop for the new export market, particularly in Central Luzon, Cebu, Iloilo and Negros. The mestizos de sangley took advantage of the rapid changes as the colonial economy was integrated into the markets of the Western world.

Many prominent mestizo de sangley families belonging to the landlord class acquired vast landholdings during this period. Their holdings were second only to those of the Catholic religious orders, who owned the most land in the Philippines. As landholders, the mestizo sangleys acquired more power than they has in their economic role as colonial merchants of the Spanish Colonial Period. The middleman role became filled chiefly by new Chinese immigrant traders. In the years to come, mestizo sangleys in the countryside became a kind of feudal power. After the Spanish-American War, the mestizo elites exploited their landed status to integrate themselves into the colonial structure when the United States occupied the Philippines. They rose to take over much of the political control of the Philippine in the years under American rule.

With the opening of the colony to foreign trade in 1834, Western (chiefly British and Anglo-American) merchants established import/export and financial companies in Binondo. They allied with Chinese wholesale/retail traders throughout the islands. The mestizos de sangley shifted to the export crop economy by enlarging their plantations devoted to agricultural commodities.

The penetration of British and Anglo-American commercial interests in Manila coincided with the British founding of a network of treaty port-cities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. They also expanded the Nanyang trade, previously limited to Xiamen, Quanzhou and Macao. In 1868, the United States and China signed the Treaty of Burlingame, legalizing and liberalizing Chinese emigration, which had been illegal since the Ming Dynasty. This led to a rapid increase in the population of Overseas Chinese traders in the Philippines. Towards the end of the 19th century, the dominance of the British/Anglo-American capitalists and their Overseas Chinese trading partners turned the Philippines into an "Anglo-Chinese Colony under the Spanish Flag".


The Spanish authorities had initially depended upon the unconverted sangleys to both supply the labor and manage the colonial economy of the islands. But after nearly losing their newly founded colonial capital to the pirate attacks of Limahong, the Spanish colonists viewed the sangleys differently, fearing them as enemy aliens who posed a security threat. To protect their precarious position, the Spaniards enacted policies designed to control the residents of the islands by means of racial segregation and cultural assimilation.

The residents of the islands were racially classified and segregated for years as follows:

Place Residents
Intramuros blancos or whites
Parían sangleys
Binondo Catholic sangleys, mestizos de sangley
Islands indios

Spanish colonists planned the walled city of Intramuros in 1573 and completing it in 1606 as the seat of power in Manila for the Spanish Empire in the Far East. For security, only people of European descent (commonly called blancos) were allowed to reside in the heavily fortified city of Intramuros. They lived in relative isolation from the rest of the population, especially the indios. They allowed sangleys entry to the walled city during the day to work, but the latter were expected to return to the Parían by night. Moreover, the sangleys were restricted from leaving the confines of certain areas of Manila and were not allowed into the countryside.

The Spanish founded the Parían in 1581 in what became Manila as the official marketplace and designated residence for the unconverted sangleys. Circumventing a royal decree outlawing the sangleys, as governor-general of the Philippines, Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas created Binondo in 1594 for the Catholic sangleys and their indio wives and their mestizos de sangley children and descendants. He gave the sangleys and mestizo de sangleys a land grant in perpetuity. They were allowed to establish a self-governing organization, called Gremio de Mestizos de Binondo (Guild of Mestizos of Binondo).

The father of San Lorenzo Ruiz and immigrant paternal Chinese ancestor of Jose Rizal were such Catholic sangleys. As noted, Spanish racial determinism extended to all male-line descendants after intermarriage with indios: they continued to be classified as mestizo de sangley despite other marriages over generations with ethnic mestizo, ethnic Japanese immigrants, and others (in the case of Rizal). In contrast, the español mestizos were legally classified as blanco or white (probably because they were few in number, as well as being related directly to the Spanish colonists), together with the español filipinos; both groups lived in the European-descent only Intramuros.

Aside from racial segregation, the Spanish colonists attempted to assimilate the sangleys into the Hispanic culture and converted many to Catholicism. The mixed-race descendants of the converted sangleys and indios spanned two cultures and began to serve as the middleman between the Spaniards and the indios. From fear of mainland China, the Spanish colonists decided to limit the number of resident sangleys to around 6,000. Confined to the Parían, the sangleys acted primarily as court servants to the whites living in Intramuros.

Spanish authorities decreased what they perceived as the Chinese threat in their Christian colony by making the essential distinction between Catholic and non-Catholic sangleys. They allowed Catholic sangleys to intermarry with indio women, but did not recognize marriages of the unconverted sangleys (although of course the colonists could not control all interpersonal activity.) Also, the colonist authorities allowed Catholic sangleys to reside in Binondo and anywhere in the islands, unlike the unconverted sangleys, who were confined to the Parían. Lastly, when the Spanish colonists conducted fear-driven expulsions and massacres of Chinese, they generally attacked the unconverted sangleys and spared the converted sangleys.

Beginning in 1600, the first generation of mestizos de sangley formed a small community of several hundred in Binondo. This is where San Lorenzo Ruiz grew up. He later was beatified by the Catholic Church as the first Filipino saint. During the 17th century, the Spaniards carried out four Great Massacres and Expulsions against the unconverted sangleys in response to real or imagined fears of an imminent invasion from China, then the richest and most powerful nation in the world. In the aftermath, many sangleys converted at least nominally to Catholicism, adopted Hispanized names, and intermarried with indio women.

Contemporary historians note the changes in how mestizo de sangley fared in Philippine society. In the late 18th century, the mestizo de sangley markedly improved their position. After the violence and turmoil of the Spanish expulsion of Chinese for having sided with the British in their 1762 invasion of Manila,

"mestizo economic power increased in conjunction with its social and political clout. The formation of auxiliary units called Real Princípe in Tondo mirrored these trends. Spanish military commanders publicly expressed a preference for mestizo regiments over native militias, enraging Filipino indio elites and requiring a deft negotiation of the political realities in Manila."[1]

The founding of Chinese mestizo regiments in the Philippines was part of New Spain's military modernization during the reformist Bourbon era. At the same time, New Spain created a colonial militia in Latin America, consisting of mestizos there. While the colonies developed in distinct ways, there were similarities between the rise of the mestizo classes; when colonial authorities armed them, it was in recognition of their rising social position and integration into the colonial economies.[2]

After the Spanish colonists abolished the Parían in 1790, they allowed the sangleys to settle in Binondo. In the 19th century, the population of mestizos de sangley grew rapidly over the years as more Chinese male immigrants arrived, converted to Catholicism, settled in Binondo and intermarried with indio or mestizo de sangley women. With no legal restrictions on their movement, mestizos de sangley migrated to other areas in the course of work and business, such as Tondo, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Cavite, Cebu, Iloilo, Samar, Capiz, etc. The number of unconverted sangleys dropped from a high of 25,000 prior to the First Great Massacre of 1603 to below 10,000 by 1850. From 1810-1894, the population figures for the Philippine islands were as follows:

Race Population (1810) Population (1850) Population (1894)
indio 2,395,677 4,725,000 6,768,000
mestizo de sangley 120,621 240,000 500,000
sangley 7,000 10,000 100,000
blanco or white 4,000 25,000 35,000
Total 2,527,298 5,000,000 7,403,000

From the 18th century until the latter half of the 19th century, Spanish authorities came to depend upon the mestizos de sangley as the bourgeoisie of the colonial economy. From their concentration in Binondo, Manila, the mestizos de sangley migrated to Central Luzon, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros and Cavite to handle the domestic trade of the islands. From trading, they branched out into landleasing, moneylending and later landholding. With wealth, they gained the ability to give their children elite education at the best schools in the islands and later in Europe.

By the early 1820s, Spain had lost almost all its colonies in the Americas after criollo-led revolutions in Mexico, Central and South America. Many of the peninsulares from the newly independent colonies fled to Puerto Rico. It was granted the status of a Spanish Province with representation in the Spanish Cortes following the promulgation of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812.

Along the same lines, the Ilustrados increasingly campaigned for the Philippines to be designated a Spanish Province with representation in the Spanish Cortes. As colonial subjects, they also sought Spanish citizenship for Philippine-born Filipinos, and thus legal equality with Spanish-born Spaniards in the Philippines. Toward the end of Spanish rule in the 19th century, the mestizos de sangley called themselves Filipinos, showing their identification with their islands.

Also calling themselves the "True Sons of Spain", the mestizos de sangley tended to side with the white Spanish colonists during the numerous indio revolts against Spanish rule. In the late 19th century, Jose Rizal, a fifth-generation mestizo de sangley, arose as an intellectual from the relatively wealthy, middle-class, Spanish-educated Filipinos known as Ilustrados. He was among those who called for reforms in the administration of the colony, integration as a province of Spain, and political representation for the Philippines in the Spanish Cortes.

Rizal studied in Europe and established himself there as a writer, with novels set in the Philippines. After his return to the Philippines and involvement in new political movements for reform, the government exiled Rizal to Dapitan. He then enlisted in the Spanish Army as a medical doctor in Cuba. Rizal disowned the violence of the Katipunan Revolution in the Philippines, which was led by indios calling themselves Anak ng Bayan ("Sons of the Nation"). Loyal to the Spanish Crown, Rizal wrote to his friend Ferdinand Blumentritt in his last letter: "I am innocent of the crime of rebellion..." He was executed by government firing squad. After independence, Rizal was declared the National Hero of the Philippines. While he did not support armed rebellion, his writings and life inspired countless others in making the revolution that ultimately led to the islands' independence.


From the onset of colonial rule, the Spanish Conquistadores wanted to implant their Christian religion. Massive stone-and-brick churches were built throughout the islands in the Spanish or Mexican Baroque style. Located inside the walled-city of Intramuros, the San Agustin Church was the first stone church built in the colony and the spiritual center of the Spanish Conquistadores. Here the remains of Miguel López de Legazpi, Juan de Salcedo and Martín de Goiti (who was killed during Limahong's siege) were interred. During the short-lived British invasion (1762-64) , Intramuros was pillaged and the San Agustin Church desecrated.

Within the walled-city, the Palacio del Gobernador served as the residence of the Spanish Captain-General (later Governor-General after Mexican Independence). The Spanish Conquistadores and their descendants, the español filipinos, lived in splendid stone-and-brick houses built in the colonial Spanish style. Spanish-language schools and colleges run by Catholic Orders could be found there, including the Ateneo de Municipal and Universidad de Santo Tomás. In 1863, the Spanish authorities finally allowed the privileged scions of wealthy chino filipino (traditional Chinese: 華菲; pinyin: Huáfēi) families to attend these exclusive schools which were previously limited to español filipinos. Jose Rizal attended both institutions, where he excelled.

As the historic birthplace of the mestizos de sangley, Binondo served as the traditional center of community life for the Catholic sangleys and their descendants, the mestizos de sangley. The Gremio de Mestizos de Binondo was the official guild chartered to administer the community affairs of Binondo. Born in Binondo, San Lorenzo Ruiz was a mestizo de sangley who served as an altar boy and convent scribe in the Binondo Church which is now named after him. Established by the Spanish Dominicans for Catholic sangleys, the Binondo Church, now known as the Minor Basilica de San Lorenzo Ruiz, became the site for religious rites such as baptisms, marriages, funerals and processions for the community. As devout followers of Spanish Catholicism, the mestizos de sangley displayed their religious devotion with processions marking important occasions, such as the Feast of La Naval de Manila, commemorating the naval victory of the Spanish Conquistadores over the Dutch off Manila Bay in 1646.

Towards the late 19th century, cosmopolitan mercantilism emerged in Binondo, even as Western and Chinese merchants established themselves in the island's economy, which was being integrated into the global trading system. At the same time, the Spaniards distanced themselves from the modern dynamism of the urban milieu by secluding themselves in Intramuros, where the medieval culture of Hispanic Catholicism permeated the increasingly fossilized walled-city. The rapid urbanization brought about by the twin forces of globalisation and mercantilism quickly transformed the ethnic enclave of Binondo into a thriving commercial district within an expanding urban core. The Overseas Chinese (traditional Chinese: 華僑; pinyin: Huáqiáo) merchants essentially displaced the mestizos de sangley from their role as the domestic traders of the islands. Although officially still under Spanish rule, cosmopolitan Binondo quickly became the semi-official capital of an "Anglo-Chinese Colony" in late 19th-century Philippines.

In fashion, Chinese-Filipino merchants dominated the textile industry in Molo and Jaro. Iloilo produced sinamay, a hand-woven cloth made from very fine abaca threads, which was used for the casual camisa de chino; jusi (Chinese term for raw silk), a translucent fabric woven from silk yarn for the formal barong tagalog; and piña, a handwoven fabric made of pineapple fiber for heirloom garments. During the late 19th century, the mestizos de sangley wore exquisitely embroidered barong tagalog while indios wore multicolored camisa de chino. The indios were not allowed to wear European-style clothing and were expected to bow their heads before the white Spaniards in muted deference.

In food, Chinese-Filipinos adapted Hokkien food from Fujian. They used indigenous ingredients and Spanish names to improvise what became part of Filipino cuisine. During the 19th century, noodle shops called panciterias serving comida China (Chinese food) dotted the islands. The ubiquitous pancit (meaning "noodle" from the Hokkien word pian-e-sit) became pancit luglog and lomi (flavored with sauce); mami (served with broth); pancit molo (cooked as pasta) and pancit Malabon (mixed with seafood). The rice staple (and wet-rice agriculture) common to East Asia originated in China, as did the rice porridge called arroz caldo. Other well-known Filipino dishes such as lumpia (egg-roll), maki (soup dish), kiampong (fried rice) and ma-chang (sticky rice,) among others, trace their origins to the culinary arts of the Hokkien migrants settling in the islands over the centuries.

In the historic district of Vigan, Ilocos Sur known as kasanglayan (meaning where sangleys live), prosperous Chinese-Filipino merchants built stone-and-wood houses called bahay na bato which followed the structure of Malay village houses-on-stilts called bahay kubo. Instead of bamboo and thatch, wooden pillars from molave forests framed the two-story house which was then encased in brick walls coated with plaster. Sliding window panels akin to Japanese shoji screens but made of translucent capiz shells in latticework patterns enclose the large horizontal windows. Outside, sliding wooden shutters similar to the Japanese amado form another layer. In contrast to stone-and-brick Spanish colonial houses in Latin America, this style of design and architecture was better suited to the tropical environment of the islands both in form and in function. Unlike the Spanish colonial houses serving aristocratic white Spanish hacienderos, the stone-and-wood house served the utilitarian needs of its owner-occupant, wealthy Chinese-Filipino merchants. Similar to colonial shophouses of Chinese merchants in Southeast Asia, the stone-and-wood house has the upper floor as the living room and the lower floor as the office or storage space. Located in a tropical archipelago, the stone-and-wood house could better withstand frequent earthquakes and shield the inhabitants from seasonal monsoons. During summer seasons of hot weather, the sliding windows perform an excellent function of allowing the circulation of wind and the entry of light into the house enabling respite from the summer heat. Illuminated at night, the house resembles a giant Chinese lantern with the window panes lighted from within. This tropical style of Asian architecture can be seen in sliding windows which offers selective entry of light and wind, steep roofs with overhanging eaves which provides effective shelter against rain and storms, and the sense of openness and space which connects the interior to the exterior of the house. As the stone-and-wood house became widespread throughout the islands, this prototypical Chinese-Filipino merchant's house came to be known as the colonial Filipino style.

Known for their cultural creativity, the mestizos de sangley synthesized a hybrid culture incorporating Hispanic and European influences with both indigenous and Asian elements. Nowhere was this more evident than in fashion, cuisine, design and architecture where a distinctive style emerged especially among the wealthier segment. As they prospered from trading, they built the first and in many cases the only stone-and-wood houses in the countryside. Lavish ostentation along with conspicuous consumption signify their craving for status and quest for respect. Given to gambling and womanizing and known for their craftiness and vanity, the mestizos de sangley would hold sumptuous feasts to commemorate baptisms, weddings, funerals and processions. Nevertheless, despite their wealth and privileges, the mestizos de sangley had remained a restless and discontented class, prone to abuse the indios and eager to please their white masters. As the 19th century drew to a close, the medieval Spanish Empire crumbled before the industrial might of a new Anglo-Saxon Empire, the United States of America. After the Spanish-American War, the United States took possession of the Philippines and turned the mestizos de sangley into Little Brown Americans.


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See also

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
Miscegenation in Spanish Philippines
Tornatrás Criollo Mestizo Mestizo de Sangley

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