Santiago de Vera’s Letter

Santiago de Vera's Letter Excerpt


Did you know that in July 1589, Doctor Santiago de Vera, the sixth Spanish gobernador-general of the Philippines, had written a report to his Spanish king, Felipe II, that there was an inter-island uprising in their conquered territories; the Tagalog nobles had rallied with the Tausugs, Maguindanaons, Japanese, and the Bruneians to defeat the Castilians in Manila.

Unfortunately, this Tagalog-led uprising failed when Antonio Surabao of Calamianes betrayed them to the Spanish authorities that led to the executions of these Tagalog princes and the banishments of other nobles to Mexico. This rebellion was now referred as the Tondo Conspiracy of 1587–1588, also known as the Conspiracy of the Maharlikas or the Revolt of the Lakans.

The spirit to fight for freedom continued in the Visayas, for de Vera’s letter also included that the Cebuanos had also plotted rebellion against their Castilian overlords in Cebu. However, the Castilians were able to discover this. This led to the execution of the conspirators that included a Cebuano prince and other Visayan nobles.


Based on de Vera’s letter, we can learn that:

  1. There were regional kingdoms in the precolonial Philippines.
  2. There was a unified spirit in the fighting for freedom among the premiered kingdoms of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
  3. War alliances were practiced by the precolonial Filipinos among their neighboring nations.


  • De Vera, Santiago (1589). Letter From Santiago De Vera to Felipe II. In Emma Helen Blair & Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands 1493-1898 (Volume VII). Cleveland, Ohio: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903.
  • Sitoy, T. Valentino, JR. (1985). The Initial Encounter: A History of Christianity in the Philippines. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.
  • Artwork Information: Detail from a painting located at the National Museum of the Philippines.

This is a public service, an educational campaign drive of Datu Press®.

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