You’re an 18th century Taosug slave owner so you can throw away the Labor Code right? Wrong.
Two hundred years ago there was a sort of ‘labor code’, too. Slaves had rights at least in
practice if not in law. Remember, this is Filipino slavery and you really wouldn’t expect it to be like anyone else’s.
Most of our ideas about slavery are formed from images of Egyptian slave-drivers in old
Cecile B. De Mille spectaculars and stories of Afro-Americans in the cotton fields of the US southern states. It wasn’t quite like that.
starters, in the Philippines it was possible to be a part-time slave. If oneb parent was free and the other a slave you were one half slave.
With one parent half-slave and the other free you’d be a quarter slave. You’d spend a week working for your master and the rest of the month farming your own patch or prett much doing your own thing.
In the Sulu archipelago, society was broadly split into three layers, the aristocrats who
nominally owned the place, the freemen and slaves. In fact there were a lot more nuances so this is very simplified.
Some slaves were acquire through debt servitude while others were captured in raids and bought and sold throughout the area.
Of course, nobody in his or her right mind
would want to be a slave, would they?
That depends on what you were doing
before the raiders came and grabbed
Some slaves did very nicely indeed. How
nicely? One slave, or banyaga, who could
have escaped, told William Pryor, administrator for the North Borneo Chartered Company, the people who
started all the Sabah problems: “There is something to regret every where; here I am
well enough, my master treats me as one of his kindred, I am well paid, and could save money if I wished; in my own country I know I could not do better, and perhaps
should not fare as well, therefore I prefer remaining here.”
Another who had esca ped, Antonio Juan, said: “I was very well treated throughout the period of my captivity so much so that my
master tried to convince me to marry a female captive, stating that their society
had neither the tribute nor personal services (polo), nor could anyone order me about in the same manner as in the Christian villages.”
There were some downsides. If your master died you might die, too. Your master could, in theory, kill you at will, sell you, swap
you or give you away and on a really, really bad day you might have a boat launched over you, none of which enhance upward career development.
Slaves were a form of currency. You were worth three kilos of rice or the rental of one portable cannon. With three slaves one could rent a boat but one might bebetter off just buying the vessel for between six and eight slaves.