chapter  7
41 Pages

Changing Chinese Enterprise in the Philippines and Java 1830-1940

The total population of the Philippines by the midnineteenth century was something in excess of 4 million with the mestizo population estimated by one source to be 240,000 or some 5-6 per cent of the tota1.3 But their geographic distribution was changing, as they pushed further into Luzon. Their landholding interests burgeoned and in some towns they owned industrial facilities, such as sugar mills, the evolution of

which is the main theme of this section.4 But their cultural situation places a question mark over their existence as a separate group, and indeed Wickberg speaks of this period as representing 'The Disappearance of the Mestizo Community'.5 Unlike the peranakan in Java, the mestizos were not a special kind of Chinese but, Wickberg says, a special kind of Filipino. They had evolved a social style based on wealth, ostentation, sumptuous feasts and the disbursement of huge sums of money at fiesta time. Great prestige came to be attached to wealth in particular. These tendencies were crystallized by the Spanish government's abolition of the legal distinction between indio and mestizo in the 1880s; there was now officially speaking no separate mestizo culture and mestizos' only choice was to adopt fully the Filipino culture which they had played such a large part in creating.6