Setting: late Spanish empire, Manila/Philippines 19thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Wickberg 2000 p38-39
"In the pre-1850 period there may have been organizations based on kinship or common place of origin in China; but nothing is known about this. Up to 1800, the Manila community -- and, for that matter, the Philippine Chinese community as a whole -- seems to have possessed a considerable homogeneity. Immigration was dependent upon the junk trade, and the junk trade route was a direct line from Ch'üan-chou or Amoy to the Philippines. It is likely that almost all the immigrants were Hokkiens from the Amoy-Ch'üan-chou area. The Cantonese, or macanistas, introduced after 1800, probably did not disturb the stability of the Manila community. Their numbers were few, and they maintained a certain aloofness from the rest of the Chinese.
"The loci of community leadership and power are difficult to determine. There is no information available at present on how the cabecillas de oficios and the cabecilla principal were chosen. We do have some fragmentary information about one of the ways in which power was exercised. By the nineteenth century there were two rival secret societies in Manila, whose membership and control were vested in the wealthy elements in Chinese society. Each of the societies had its military auxiliary, the 'sam-sings.' These 'sam-sings' spent part of their time fighting each other, and the rest in violence against individual Chinese or in plunder. Penniless newcomers were particularly subject to the demands the secret societies made -- and the benefits they conferred. The origins of the two secret societies are unknown. There may be a connection between them and two 'musical associations,' the Lang Chun Hui and the Chang Ho Hui, which were formed in 1824. Whatever the case, one may infer on the basis of the known role of secret societies in other Chinese communities that the secret societies were at once both the major agencies of political control and the most important instruments of social aid to the newcomer."