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The Spanish Regime Of Polo Slave Labor In The Philippines

  • In the Philippines the Spanish Regime introduced a system of forced unpaid labor, often referred to as '' corvee labor '' in other parts of the world ( slave labor ). The Spaniards used the system first in Latin America following the invasions of the Conquistadors and Catholic priests. It was called '' polo y servicios '' and required men between 16 to 60 years of age to provide personal labor for community projects for 40 days each year. The community projects included Church, fortress, public buildings and shipyard construction, road and bridge construction.
  • Generally privileged members of the community, the '' principalia '' were exempt from polo labor and others could pay for exemption or absence with a fee '' the falla '' for each exempt day. Local officials and school teachers were officially exempt. Ultimately it was the poor Filipinos who were forced to be this form of slave. Virtually all the fortifications and Churches a tourist sees today in the Philippines were made with this slave labor.
  • Officially there were conditions attaching to the use of polo labor but these were ignored. These were, that forced labor only be used for necessary public works intended to improve the communities, that the local Mayor should consider exempting weak or handicapped men, that the polo laborers not be sent to distant locations to work, that polo laborers be given relevant free time to go or collect food in planting and harvest seasons. The Polo laborers were also supposed to be paid but rarely were.
  • Polo laborers were poorly treated and the rules were ignored. they were overworked and thousands died on work sites.