As the Industrial Revolution spread across Britain and the rest of Europe, the demand for a wide variety of raw materials began to grow. This demand quickly spread to the Eastern parts of the world and with it came the opportunity for great investment and wealth for the Philippines. However, this wealth was not distributed evenly due to the rule of the Spanish Empire.
The growing trade network open to the Philippines was first introduced by Governor-General José Basco y Vargas, who took charge of the islands on behalf of Spain. While the country had long been considered a trading post, dealing mainly with gold and silver, Basco opened the Philippines up to trade further afield so it could take advantage of the developments taking place in Europe. This quickly led to a rapid expansion in trade opportunities and the number of raw materials available, as well as the market for manufactured goods.
As a result of this newly grown trade network, the economy across the archipelago began to flourish, with local industries harnessing the power of industrialisation while developing their businesses to ensure they could meet growing demand. Some of the most lucrative products being exported from the Philippines included sugar, hemp and tobacco.
With the growth of the trade network came an increase in immigration, and with the opening of the Suez Canal - which reduced the travel time from Europe to the Philippines by half - came a small flow of European migrants. The increase in migrants also led to the introduction of new ideologies and cultural ideals, but this was considered significantly less beneficial to the Spanish colonists. Freemasons in particular were disliked by the Spanish as they offered the locals in insight into cultures from the Americas and France, among others. This only encouraged non-compliance among the locals, who in many cases sought to develop and grow on their own terms rather than under the rigid structure enforced by the Spanish. This tension only grew further as trade and immigration flourished, and eventually led to the rise of Filipino nationalism.
"Immigration and trade in the Philippines". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.