On this day, May 31

may 31 british occupation of manila ended
Image Source: Project Saysay | @ProjectSaysay

On this day, May 31, in 1764, the British occupation of Manila (Intramuros) that lasted for almost 2 yrs ended, with Simón de Anda, Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines entering and retaking the city, in accordance with the cessation of hostilities between the United Kingdom and Spain.

The 20-month British occupation of the capital was a watershed—it proved that the Spanish hold over its farthest colony could be challenged. This inspired Diego Silang to ally with the United Kingdom at the time and rally Ilocanos to revolt. Diego was assassinated, but his wife continued the fight.

Gabriela Silang, as “generala,” continued the Ilocano revolt vs. Spain. Although ending in defeat in 1763, she and the Ilocano people’s revolt was just one sign of the growing discontent that triggered the Philippine Revolution of 1896. (Kristoffer Pasion | @indiohistorian)

On May 31, 1764, at the patio of Santa Cruz Church, Manila, the British invaders transferred the authority over the Philippines to Simon de Anda, a Spaniard who championed the Filipino cause, signaling the end of the British invasion of the archipelago.

Most of the Filipinos renounced their adherence to the Spanish officials who surrendered Manila and the Spanish government to the British in October 1762. Anda, who was the remaining highest Spanish official uncaptured by the enemies, was sent outside Manila before the surrender.

He was at Bulakan, Bulacan when he received the news of the surrender of acting Spanish Governor-General Manuel Antonio Rojo (also the Archbishop of Manila) and his fellow officials in Intramuros. Moved by patriotic zeal, he proclaimed himself the new governor-general.

His governorship was objected to by the officials in Manila but he won the support of the influential Spanish friars and gained the confidence of the Filipino people. He immediately transferred to Bacolor, Pampanga because of the proximity of Bulakan to Manila.

Months after, Bulakan was captured by the British, killing hundreds of people including, the Provincial Governor of Bulacan.

Anda was declared bandit by both Rojo and Dawsonne Drake, the latter the British Governor-General of the Philippines, with a bounty on his head, dead or alive. The British also lured the Filipinos with freedom of religion, a concept not yet popular among the majority.

The Chinese in the Philippines – long been oppressed by the Spaniards – sided with the British and plotted to massacre the Spaniards and innocent Filipinos during the Misa de Gallo of 1762.

In the north, the British connived with Diego Silang in toppling down Anda, resulting in Silang Revolt in Ilocos.

The Spanish-British rift ended through the Treaty of Paris of 1763, thus, the British had to leave the Philippines. This British episode in Philippine history was part of the worldwide Seven Years’ War from 1756-to 1763.

But in the Philippines, the Seven Years’ War was prolonged because the official dispatched by the British to Manila was delayed.

In March 1764, Anda immediately relinquished his control of the Philippines to then newly arrived Spanish Governor-General Franciso Dela Torre (who was actually on his way to Manila when the British attacked Cuba.)

He sneaked to travel to Manila and was fetched by Anda’s army in Marinduque then brought to Bacolor.)

On May 30, 1764, Anda left Bacolor and entered Manila the following day with thousands of Kapampangan and Tagalog troops.

Days later, the British left Manila except for a number of their allies like the Sepoy soldiers from India. They were abandoned due to a lack of ships, and in Cainta and various Tagalog, towns intermarried with the locals.

Anda was tried in Madrid for insubordination but the Spanish government hailed him instead as a hero.

He officially became Governor-General in 1770 and ran after corrupt officials and implemented the secularization (i.e., transferring of parishes to diocesan priests, who were mostly Filipinos, from the Spanish friars).

He even ordered to drag the Spanish friars out of the churches of Pampanga. Intrigued brought by the friars caused Anda’s fall. He died while in office in 1776.

Later on, future generations honored Anda by way of two monuments built outside Intramuros and the other one in his capital, Bacolor.

During the Reform Movement, he was commemorated by the Filipino heroes as a just Spaniard for protecting the interest of the Filipino people up until the end. (Project Saysay | @ProjectSaysay)

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