Under the Church Bell: Reducción and Control in Spanish Philippines

Author(s): Jared Koller; Stephen Acabado

Year: 2018


The Spanish conquest of the Philippines redesigned the indigenous landscape to adhere to the idealized orthogonal plan outlined by King Philip II’s Ordinances of 1573, centered on the church plaza. This reconfiguration facilitated the successful political, economic, and religious control of the colonial possession. An aspect of this resettlement plan is the concept of Bajo de Campana (under the bell) that implied control through the ringing of the church bell. The plaza complex, which is exemplified by the policy of reducción, projects a Spanish ideal Catholic Society, whereby the configuration of the physical landscape was ordered. Reducción aimed to consolidate colonial control over Philippine indigenous communities by compelling prominent individuals to relocate into poblaciones within hearing distance of church-bells. Bell ringing ordered daily life by signaling times to congregate and by marking special occasions. The audibility of church-bells also marked the extent of the Crown’s territorial holdings. To understand the processes associated with this colonial accommodation, we explore the social, religious, and environmental ramifications of Spanish settlement-building programs in the Philippines by examining spatial, acoustic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological data from plaza complexes located at two Spanish-era church sites: Quipayo and St. Francis of Assisi (both established in 1578).

Cite this Record

Under the Church Bell: Reducción and Control in Spanish Philippines. Jared Koller, Stephen Acabado. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444892)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: 92.549; min lat: -11.351 ; max long: 141.328; max lat: 27.372 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21861