Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Last Bourbon Rulers of the Philippines


The Twilight Years of Spanish Monarchy in the Country


Queen Isabel

Queen Isabel


ABOUT 150 YEARS AGO, THE PHILIPPINES HAD A WOMAN FOR A RULER. Yes, our forefathers perhaps had also shouted "Viva la Reina!" She ruled in a turbulent and defining times not only for Spain but also for her colonies including the Philippines. Queen Isabel II was unpopular and was deposed in a revolution led by some of her generals in 1868.

When the monarchy was abolished, Spain sent a liberal Governor General named Carlos María de la Torre y Nava Cerrada to the Philippines. He then made popular reforms for the colony and was well loved by the Filipinos. Unfortunately the Spanish Cortes restored the monarchy choosing an Italian nobility named Amadeo I as new king in 1871. De la Torre was sent home, a new Governor general named Rafael de Izquierdo y Gutiérrez was installed. Perhaps the most controversial moved Izquerdo did was to abolished the tax exemption and the exemption from manual labor enjoyed by natives (Filipinos) in the Spanish armed forces (Engineering and Artillery corps). In Jan. 20 1872 The troops in Cavite mutinied. As a consequence many known liberals were arrested and exiled. The 3 priest GOMBURZA were executed. Filipino nationalism sprang. The idea of a Filipino nation began to be conceptualized.  


It all happened during the lifetime of Isabel II. She never saw Spain again. She died in France. In an ironic twist of faith, Amadeo I abandoned Spain. The Cortes was left with no choice but to put Alfonso XII, son of Isabel II, to the throne. Meanwhile a 10 year old boy in Calamba was hearing the stories about the events of 1872 from his brother....and the rest was history.  





King Alfonso XII




TWO SPANISH MONARCHS. Both reigned in the Philippines. Picture of mother and son, the deposed Queen Isabel of Spain and the Infante, who became King Alfonso XII (Duodecimo) at an early age (reigned 1874-1885). The queen fondly called his son "Alfoncinito"




 In the Philippines the memories of both Isabel and her son Alfonso XII son are well preserved in old Spanish coins. A hit to coin collectors. Actually we can even label Alfonso XII as the "ten centavo king" for his image can be seen in this low denomination coin. (in fact the lowest denomination in old Spanish coin in the Philippines). Not much happened in his reign. He ruled for a short time, dying at an early age of 26. An ugly rumor was always an issue in his times. Alfonso's biological paternity is uncertain: there is speculation that his biological father may have been Enrique Puig y Moltó (a captain of the guard), or even an American dental student. These rumours were used as political propaganda against Alfonso by the Carlists.



King Alfonso XIII


ALFONSO XIII of Spain, the last Spanish monarch who reigned in the Philippines (seen in this photo with his mother, the queen regent or "Reina Regente")


Filipinos in the last years of Spanish rule knew him as the "boy king". A one peso coin bearing his youthful image was widely circulated in the country that time. Alfonso XIII was king when the Philippine Revolution of 1896 started, also the year when Rizal was executed. Spain would then lose her colonies. Decades later the Spanish civil war broke, the king would be deposed then forced into exile in the 1930's. (No. 13-unlucky ba talaga?). El Caudillo Gen. Francisco Franco would rule the country for decades under a fascist regime. But Franco would appoint King Juan Carlos I (the present Spanish King and grandson of Alfonso XIII) as successor. King Juan Carlos successfully oversaw the transition of Spain from dictatorship to parliamentary monarchy. Now that's History before our very eyes!