Manila Hemp Industry in the Colonial Philippines

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Other Title
  • 植民統治下のブィリピンにおけるマニラ麻産業
  • 植民統治下のフィリピンにおけるマニラ麻産業
  • ショクミン トウチカ ノ フィリピン ニ オケル マニラアサ サンギョウ

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Abstract

Abaca (Manila Hemp) became the most important cordage fiber in the mid-nineteenth century. The United States and the United Kingdom together took 70 to 90 percent of the total exports raw abaca, comprising 20 to 30 percent or more of the total value of exports from the Philippines until 1880. The Philippines came to enjoy a natural monopoly of abaca production. In the nineteenth century the Bikol region of southern Luzon was the main abaca producing center. However, the Bikol abaca planters did not succeed in becoming efficient enough to meet the demand of the modern world economy. The abaca producers in the Bikol region were, on the whole, too small-scale and too poor to become politically powerful, and gradually declined.<br>Shortly after the United States assumed control of the Philippines in 1898, Americans became involved in the abaca industry and chose the Davao Gulf region of southeastern Mindanao as a prime producing center because of its ideal geographical and climatic conditions. However, American and European investment in the enterprise peaked in 1910 and then declined as a result of chronic shortage of labor and capital. On the other hand, the Japanese abaca planters in Davao were to prove the most efficient growers, succeeding where Europeans had failed. They were able to enjoy the benefits of favorable colonial legislation designed to protect the interests of the American cordage industry which was concerned to ensure a steady supply of cheap, high quality hemp from the Philippines.<br>The abaca industry brought a measure of prosperity to Filipino abaca cultivators, strippers, and landowners. However, the abaca industry was controlled by the foreigners as planters, traders, and cordage manufacturers, who left no room for Filipinos to join them. Filipinos were dependent on the foreigners in their own lands. After the abaca industry faltered and virtually collapsed in the years between World War I and World War II in the Bikol region, and after World War II in the Davao Gulf region, the Filipinos were left on a level of poverty from which they have not recovered.

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