Fr. Jose Calvo, S.J.: Land Reform Proposal in Spanish Colonial Philippines

Just before the mid-eighteenth century, several proposals were made for Philippine trade expansion and diversification and economic development. . . .

The next proposal came in 1753 from the Jesuit procurator Fr. Jose Calvo.  He envisioned the formation of a company in Spain in order to exploit the agricultural and mineral possibilities of the Philippines and trade directly with the peninsula.  He attributed the country’s underdeveloped state to the existing commercial system, illustrated by the fact that in the 188 years since its conquest not a single hereditary estate had been founded.  A start would be made with gold and cinnamon, with additional items to be added by forcing tribute-paying natives to devote a part of their holdings to pepper, cloves, cocoa, and mulberry trees (for silkworm culture).  Nutmeg was also mentioned.  Silk and cotton weaving would be developed under master craftsmen brought over from China and the Malabar Coast.  Aside from the trade and development aspects, the fiscal impact would reduce the need for the situado (subsidy) from Mexico.  the route to be taken to Spain would be via Cape Horn.  Again, nothing came of this proposal.


Benito J. Legarda, Jr., After the Galleons (Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City, 1999), p. 53.