TEXAS was once known as “NEW PHILIPPINES”
NEW PHILIPPINES, Nuevas Filipinas and Nuevo Reino de Filipinas were secondary names given to the area of Texas above the Medina River at the time of Domingo Ramón’s expedition of 1716. Although less popular than the name Texas, Nuevas Filipinas remained part of the province’s official name throughout the colonial period. Antonio Margil de Jesús evidently first used the name Nuevas Filipinas in a letter to the viceroy dated July 20, 1716.
In it he voiced the hope that with the king’s patronage it might be possible to secure “for the greater glory of God and the name of our catholic Monarch another new Philippines” among the Hasinai. Two days later the missionaries sent a representation to the viceroy in which they expressed their “great hopes that this province shall be a New Philippines.” The Franciscan’s intention was to equate their work in Texas under Philip V with that of their brethren in the Philippine Islands under his predecessor, Philip II, thus engendering royal support.
The name did not find immediate acceptance. Neither Domingo Ramón, the missionaries, nor officials used Nuevas Filipinas in the period 1716–17. Martín de Alarcón’s title as governor of Texas, issued by the viceroy in December 1716, refers only to the Province of the Texas. Nuevas Filipinas surfaces again in the address of a letter written by Fr. Isidro Félix de Espinosa from East Texas at the end of February 1718. The instructions issued on March 11, 1718, for Alarcón’s expedition to reinforce Texas does, for the first time in an official document, refer to Texas as “Nuevas Filipinas, Nueva Extremadura. ” In his journal of the expedition Alarcón calls himself “Governor and Lieutenant Captain General of the Provinces of Coahuila, New Kingdom of the Philippines Province of the Texas.”
A modification of this title appears in his memorial of services to the crown, in which he refers to himself as governor and lieutenant captain general of the Province of the Texas and New Philippines. Although Nuevas Filipinas appeared regularly on documents during the next forty years or so, if fell out of use toward the end of the eighteenth century. By the early 1800s the term could be found only in a few of the province’s legal documents, particularly land grants. Census reports, orders, and other governmental correspondence general referred to the province strictly as Texas.
Boletín del Archivo General de la Nación 6, 29 (July-August 1935, January-March, April-June, July-September 1958). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). “Diario de la conquista y entrada a los Thejas,” Universidad de México 5 (November, December 1932).