Marco Stefan B. Lagman


Abstract — This preliminary study seeks to provide a working knowledge of how agricultural land was acquired, owned, and utilized in the Province of Albay during the middle to latter parts of the nineteenth century. Using land ownership and notarial records from the National Archives of the Philippines, this paper argues that lands planted mainly to rice and abaca were being purchased and acquired by men and women from different racial and socioeconomic classes in Philippine society as early as the 1860s. A careful examination of these documents reveals, however, that the acquisition of such holdings became increasingly concentrated in the hands of the male elite who obtained these via direct purchases, debt defaults, and applications to the State. Simple quantitative and qualitative examinations of these land documents also show the variety of land measures used by Albayenos to determine the sizes of their properties, the high value of abaca lands near seaports, the increasing dimensions of farmlands that were farther from these facilities, and the use of land by Albayenos for both commercial (abaca) and subsistence (rice, coconut) purposes. It is hoped that this study would encourage further research in the ownership, acquisition, and utilization of land during the Spanish period in the Philippines using archival documents.

Keywords - Land use, land ownership, land acquisition, agricultural land


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