The Arrival of Juan de Salcedo and the Spanish Colonization of Pangasinan

In the year 1572, Juan de Salcedo, a Spanish explorer, was given the task by his grandfather, Governor General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, to explore and pacify the northern region of Luzon in the Philippines. His journey led him to Pangasinan, a province located in the western part of Luzon. This marked the beginning of the Spanish colonization of Pangasinan and the Philippines as a whole.

At the time of Salcedo’s arrival, Pangasinan was inhabited by various indigenous communities, who were known for their agricultural practices and maritime trade. Salcedo and his crew were welcomed by the locals, who were curious about the foreigners and their intentions. Salcedo, being fluent in the local language, was able to communicate with the people and establish friendly relations with them.

Salcedo’s mission was not just to explore the region but also to establish Spanish rule and convert the natives to Christianity. To achieve this, he brought with him Spanish priests who were tasked with evangelizing the people. One such priest was Fray Juan Ferrando, who described Salcedo as the “first discoverer” of Pangasinan in his chronicles.

Salcedo and his men were successful in their mission, and by April 5 of the same year, Pangasinan was placed under Spanish jurisdiction as an encomienda. The encomienda system was a colonial practice in which the Spanish crown granted land and people to individual encomenderos, who were responsible for collecting tributes and ensuring the conversion of the natives to Christianity. This system gave the encomenderos almost complete control over the lives of the natives.

The Spanish colonization of Pangasinan brought about significant changes in the province’s social, economic, and political landscape. The Spanish introduced new technologies and crops, which helped improve the locals’ agricultural practices. They also established schools and universities, which provided education to the natives, and introduced the concept of the centralized government, which replaced the traditional chieftain system.

However, the Spanish colonization also had negative impacts on the province. The forced labor system, which required the natives to work on Spanish plantations and mines, resulted in the exploitation and abuse of the natives. The imposition of the Spanish language and culture led to the erosion of the natives’ cultural identity, and the introduction of new diseases, such as smallpox, which devastated the local population.