Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wine Monopoly in Felipinas, 17th - 18th Century

The Philippines distinctive climate and culture contributes to the continued local wine production among Filipinos. Wineries in the country do not  include vineyards that are typically found in other wine-producing countries but rather produce several types of wine that use plants commonly grown in the country, mostly made from coconut or nipa (buri) palms. With the translated documents and manuscripts of the 55 Volumes of Philippine Islands, 1493 – 1898 by Emma Blair and James Alexander Robertsons, the condition of the wine monopoly in Felipinas, covering 17th to 18th century was being described in this study. Moreover, Thomas de Comyn’s State of the Philippine Islands was also utilized.
In pre-colonial era, the Filipino natives were known to their wine-making industry. Based on the records, tuba had been acclaimed as the oldest recorded native alcoholic drink in the Philippine history. In accounts, these alcoholic drinks which is part of their socialization were actually brought intoxication to the natives. Hence, Spaniards described them as heavy drinkers. Moreover, wine was being used by Filipino natives during festivals, sacrificial rites and offering for their anitos, wedding ceremony, mourning of death, blood compact and even for improving of health.
Later, the Spanish colonizers found it profitable and as a source of revenue that they imposed control on its production, consumption and distribution in the early 18th century, second to tobacco monopoly. It was officially implemented when the annual situado failed to reach Manila from Mexico for 6 times during the period of 1730s to 1746.   

Vino de Coco y Nipa, which includes only the spirituous liquors produced from the juice of toddy trees (Borassus gomutus)  and from the nipa (Cocos nypa) was officially implemented in June 20, 1720 when the Royal Highness of Spain issued a decree of circulating the previous order of last September 30, 1714, that it should be translated into the native languages of the Philippines and be proclaimed by order of the alcaldes-mayor and corregidors in their respective jurisdictions and the strict enforcement of the same.  Governor Toribio Joseph Manuel de Cosio y Campo as implementor in the country, also included the varied punishments for every offense if an Indian manufacture and caught selling brandy.

In this monopoly, the concessions were pueblo business that no Spaniards participated in the bidding and the winning bidders were pueblo elites. The latter collected the liquor from hundreds of small supplies, test it purity (with the requirement of to be easily ignited with a lighted candle) and monopolized the retail and sales. They paid fixed sums yearly of quinquennially to the regime in advance. The monopoly comprehends the whole island of Luzon except the provinces of Cagayan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Camarines and Albay.

The implementation brought deprivation and unrest which made the Ilocanos to revolt, known “Ámbaristo Revolt” in July 1807 headed by Pedro Mateo Piddig.
                In conclusion, in the recent Sin Tax Law or RA No. 10351 implies that what happened in the past, still happen in the present, which the government believed that higher taxes collected on tobacco and alcohol products, it will generate revenues of roughly Php 34 billion pesos. Two effects will be the result” it good side, Filipinos will be encouraged to be conscious in their health and abstain alcohol consumption, on the other hand, too much imposition of higher tax may also lead to the conduct of smuggling in black market. But in this sense, Filipinos were innovative that it might brought the country to become a true competitor in the global wine making industry.

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