Discovering Philippines

Markets and Factories

Manila was basically a trading city, an international market living in the background of the exchange of products between Asia, America and Europe.

The importance of this trading activity was visible in the city itself, and a place was set aside for a specific market: the Parian. The Parian disappeared in the 18th century, and in the opposite side of the river was then built the "Alcaicería" of San Fernando, a very distinctive octagonal-shaped building which had never been seen before in Spanish colonial architecture.

Another parian, that of San José, was established as a delimited sector in the south-east of Intramuros; its streets and shops were organized around a central water fountain. Later on, in the 19th century, and as a result of urban growth, specific markets were established in some of the surrounding villages which were later to become districts of Manila.

The tobacco monopoly, which was directed by the public Treasury, was a source of wealth in the 19th century; it employed a team of engineers and architects who created an important infrastructure network: warehouses, factories, storehouses, etc. The tobacco and cigar factories became one of the principal local industries.

In the 19th century, growing trading activity and the emergence of industry gave rise to the construction of new buildings in the city. The "Real Estanco", the tobacco factories constructed in Meisic, in Tondo and in Arroceros; the sugar refinery in Manila, the wine administration, the public slaughterhouse in Dulumbayan, and the La Quinta and Divisoria markets, are examples of some of the industrial and trading buildings constructed.

Project for the repair and reformation of the "La Quinta" market. Félix Rojas. 1878. AHN The central market of Manila was in the suburb of Quiapo and was known as "La Quinta". This was connected with the Arroceros district, which is where the rice market was situated, by a suspension bridge which was built in 1852.

La Quinta market

The Meisic tobacco factory. Casto Olano. 1875. AHN This tobacco factory, also called "el Fortín", was converted into a barracks. New offices were built to house the captaincy general and the offices of the Staff.

The Meisic tobacco factory.

The Meisic tobacco factory. Mariano Vals. 1885. SHM Tobacco production was the stronghold of the colonial economy; this industry was brought to the Philippines from Yucatan by the Augustinian monks. In the 19th century, the Arroceros district was the home of the Manila tobacco factory and warehouses, which provided jobs for 8,000 women and 1,500 men.

The Meisic tobacco factory

Planof the Alcaicería Plan of the "Alcaicería" of San Fernando. 1756. SGE This market was situated at the river mouth and on the right bank of the Pasig, opposite Intramuros, and it was here that the Chinese sampans unloaded their produce. The octagonal ground plan of the building is unique among the buildings constructed in the Philippines.

The Royal Tobacco Factory in Manila and the Tobacco Revenue Offices. Domingo de la Cruz González. 1784-1785. AGI Even from early times, the Spanish administration was interested in all aspects of the production and trading of tobacco, and this became a state monopoly in 1780. The tobacco revenue office remained in force until 1898. The Royal Tobacco Factory

Tobacco warehouse Tobacco warehouse in the village of Lallo, Cagayan province, to the north of Manila. Juan Mendoza y Grajales. 1847. AGI The richest tobacco-growing area on the island of Luzon was the Cagayan river basin, to the north of the island which, together with the Isabela area also in the north, were the greatest producers of tobacco on the archipelago.

The Manila market, known as the Parian. Juan Francisco de Ravenet y Bunel. Collection of drawings and engravings made on the Malaspina Expedition. 1789-1794. MN This is the only known drawing of the Chinese quarter in Manila, before its demolition. Many of the people included in this drawing were painted individually by the artist himself. Manila market


Plan of the San José "Alcaicería" in Manila. Tomás Sanz. 1783. SGE A new Parian or San José "Alcaicería" was constructed between San Francisco and the monastery of cloistered monks, in order to house Chinese trading activity.

Plan of the San José "Alcaicería". Tomás Sanz. 1783. SGE The governor, José Basco y Vargas, was responsible for the construction of the new Parian, in accordance with the demands made by the town council for a new building after the demolition of the old one which was situated on the other river bank. Alcaicería

Market The market at the Tondo district boundary. Juan Mendoza y Grajales. 1851. SHM The highly populated district of Tondo was a necessary stopping point en route to Malabón, and an active trading centre which was connected to Manila by navigable river routes, and it was this factor that made it a focal point for the exchange of merchandise.

Project for a market with bazaar in the Tondo district. Juan Mendoza y Grajales. 1851. SHM The "Canal de la Reina", which runs through the middle of the Tondo district, also served as a route for communications and the transport of merchandise traded in its markets: rice from Cavite, fruit and poultry from Batangas and Laguna, and cattle from the Visayan islands, amongst others. Project for a market

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Discovering Philippines Copyright © 2004 Robert S. Gardner