Rizal’s Morga and insights into pre-Hispanic institutions and trade

Tina S. Clemente


This essay demonstrates how Rizal’s annotations of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas can be used even today to derive insights useful for investigating pre-Hispanic economic and political institutions. This is done through a close reading of three broad topics treated by Rizal: first, the notion of a “confederation” of chiefs and the complexity of polities; second, the character of precolonial law and enforcement; and third, the engagement of pre-Hispanic polities in international trade. Finally the role of indigenously produced goods in the dynamics of chiefly rulership and foreign trade is discussed. The essay provides an analysis of the potential of pre-Hispanic research and possible directions for future efforts.

Classification-JEL: N01, N45, N75, Z10


Rizal; Morga; pre-Hispanic; chiefly polities

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