Slavery in the Philippines

Labor is one of the vital resources known to men. We need men to do different jobs to keep the economy from budding and these are what we consider the labor force. Nowadays, labor is not free but in some places remote and even anonymous to many, slavery is present. I want to talk about slavery in the Philippines today. This may seem isolated to this blog but somehow, I feel that it influenced Philippine culture.

Let me organize it in chronological order. That will make the Pre-Hispanic Philippine slavery our first. In Tagalog, alipin means slave and it is uripon in Visayas. There are two castes of slaves in Tagalog. First, one tier higher that the other is aliping namamahay. The word ‘namamahay’ means “the one who lives in a (house or elsewhere?)” and it is derived from ‘bahay’ which means house. The slaves under this class have the rights to have their own house. The second one is called aliping sagigilid. Sagigilid is derived from ‘gilid’ which means side. They do not have the right to own a house and they only live within their master’s estate near the outhouse.

Slavery as the natives know it continued Buy Barong Tagalog during the early years of the Spanish in the Philippines. Of course, there was another sort that surfaced during that time. This is what they called “polo y servicio” which serves the encomiendas.

Polo y servicio is the forced labor for 40 days of men ranging from 16 to 60 years of age who were obligated to give personal services to community projects. One could be exempted from polo by paying the falla (corruption of the Spanish Falta, meaning “absence”), a daily fine of one and a half real.
It was debarred during the 17th century. However, there are still people who secretly acquire slaves.
Still in this period, in the south where some areas were still not pacified by the authorities, slavery still leaves on and they even raided the neighboring Christianized towns manifold. They were selling their victims in the near by Southeast Asian countries where slave market is flourishing.

During the American period, there is an absence of slavery in much of the country other than the ‘alila’ which is a servant (with burdens, a little less than that of a slave and which is somehow compensated) and the slaves in secluded areas of Mindanao. Other than that, there is none.

Let us continue to the slavery in secluded parts of Mindanao. This still continues today despite the law forbidding this. In this case, the victims are kidnapped then sold to a family. The ancient slaves were a lot luckier then these victims. At least the ancient slaves can buy their freedom but these victims can’t since it could be a threat to their master’s family if the authorities will know.



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