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Clash of Spirits

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

Filomeno V. Aguilar

Publication Year: 1998

"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

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

With the deepening rapprochement between history and the social sciences, the past is no longer what it used to be. The past has ceased to be viewed as merely another country: the past lives on as an arena of debate and a flourishing field of interpretations. In the particular case of societies that were under the sway of imperial colonial powers, local scholars often write history with the clear intent of meeting the emotional...

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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 the daga rite of “baptizing” new machinery with the ritual blood of chicken;...

Part I. Colonial Enchantments, Indigenous Contests

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1. A Clash of Spirits: Friar Power and Masonic Capitalism

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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...

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2. Cockfights and Engkantos: Gambling on Submission and Resistance

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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...

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3. Elusive Peasant, Weak State: Sharecropping and the Changing Meaning of Debt

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pp. 63-93

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 as datu entered the penumbra of one whose...

Part II. The World of Negros Sugar after 1855

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4. The Formation of a Landed Hacendero Class in Negros

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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 crafted sinamay and pi

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5. “Capitalists Begging for Laborers”: Hacienda Relations in Spanish Colonial Negros

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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 the haciendas a 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...

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6. Toward Mestizo Power: Masonic Might and the Wagering of Political Destinies

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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...

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7. The American Colonial State: Pampering Sugar into an Agricultural Revolution

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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...


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p. 229


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pp. 231-273


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pp. 275-303


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pp. 305-313

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861919
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824819927

Publication Year: 1998

OCLC Number: 45728651
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Clash of Spirits

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Plantations -- Philippines -- Negros Island.
  • Negros Island (Philippines) -- Civilization.
  • Sugar trade -- Philippines -- Negros Island.
  • Negros Island (Philippines) -- Social conditions.
  • Negros Island (Philippines) -- Economic conditions.
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