Asia Europe Journal

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 541–549 | Cite as

Colonial and indigenous influences on local power structure in the Philippines

  • Sol Iglesias


This article explains how colonial and indigenous influences have shaped local power structure in the Philippines by looking at features of colonial and governing systems that have developed over time. The following periodisation is referred to: Spanish Colonisation (1521–1896); the Revolutionary Government (1896–1902) including the Filipino-American War (1898–1902); American Colonisation (1902–1935); Philippine Commonwealth (1935–1945) including Japanese occupation during World War II (1941–1945); the Independent Republic (1946–1972); Dictatorship (1972–1981); and Redemocratisation (1986–1991). Throughout the history of the Philippines, power structure inequality has characterised the political process, preserving the interests of the elite. Patterns of inquality, traditionally based on ownership and accumulation of land, can be traced to Spanish colonial rule when control over farmlands was concentrated within the principalia. Moreover, elite domination of electoral office had historically been assured through limiting suffrage to the educated and landowners. With monetisation of the economy in urban centers, patronage systems have been eroded but elites now use other tools, including coercion, to secure their place. Even in contemporary times, patterns of elite domination persist through democratisation efforts, effecting the rule of what could be considered an “elite” democracy in the country today.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

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  • Sol Iglesias

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