Published: January 11, 2011
In the History of the Philippines, there are two social classes in the Philippines during the Spanish occupation; principalia and the masses. This article will explain each one accordingly.
There were two distinct social classes in the Philippines early in the Spanish regime. These were the principalia and the masses. These principalia were the descendants of the ancient datus and maharlikas, the rich plantation owners, and the local officials or ex-officials.
The members of this class comprised the town aristocracy. They enjoyed many social and political advantages, including the right to vote in elections and the right to hold public office.
The masses on the other hand, consisted of the poor, such as the laborers and the peasants. They enjoyed few rights and no privileges. They could not vote or be elected to a public office.
The highest class in Philippine colonial society was reserved for the Spaniards. As members of the conquering race, there were the administrators and high government and church officials.
But in the nineteenth century, thanks to the opening of the Philippines to world trade and the effects of material progress, a new social class–the illustrado, an enlightened middleclass–developed in the country.
The members of this social class formed the town intelligentsia. They enjoyed economic security and a high social status. They included physicians, pharmacists, lawyers, teachers, writers, businessmen, and educated property-owners.
Among the wealthy Filipinos who belonged to this group were Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Benito Legarda, Antonio Ma. Regidor, and Jose Basa. Among the intellectuals were Jose Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Gregorio del Pilar, Juan and Antonio Luna, Jose A. Burgos, and Mariano Sevilla.
Midway through the occupation of Spaniards, the social classes became three. Most of the people from middleclass became the known heroes in the Philippines today. Philippine History also indicates that Filipinos became more intellectual when education was introduced.