Opium, the Ethnic Chinese, and the Philippine Revolution: Disruption and Adaptation in the Midst of Regime Change,   1896–1901

Ferdinand Philip F. Victoria

Mentari Intercultural School Jakarta


Vol. 17 (2023): 140–183 | Download PDF


This study examines the effects of the 1896 Revolution on opium revenue farming business in the Philippines—a concession granted by the Spanish regime for the restricted sale and consumption of opium to the ethnic Chinese. Using the Anfión files from the National Archives of the Philippines and the Philippine Revolutionary Records, it argues that the damage inflicted in several conflict areas in 1896 led to a reconfiguration of the opium business’ power structure, as this provided opportunities for other Chinese individuals to wrest control of the business previously held by more prominent contractors. The resumption of hostilities and the American intervention further complicated the situation as rival regimes vied for control of the opium traffic within the colony. Finally, the nascent Philippine Republic also embarked on an attempt to profit from the traffic amid a war of independence against the United States. This article explores the dynamics of the opium business during this chaotic period and how the ethnic Chinese contested, negotiated, and adapted to the challenges that confronted them.


Opium, Philippine Revolution, Emilio Aguinaldo, Carlos Palanca Chen Qianshan