In the Philippines, at least as early as 1699 – 20th century, a unit of land area, about 2794.9487 square meters (6.91 acres) (but see the chart). Also spelled quignon.
NOTA: We have called this Quiñon “legal” in order to distinguish it from the “Realengo.” This is not to say that the last are not and have not been as legal as the first in the time in which it was in almost exclusive use, which was until the introduction of the metric decimal system into the Philippines, at the commencement of the last third of the past century. Since upon making the official equivalents of these measures with the ancient, the “Quiñon Realengo” was omitted, and only the first was given without sufficient reason for abandoning the other which had up till then, been the most used for the space of two centuries. And even till this day the filipinos in the Tagal provinces use it in their private negotiations, whether for sale or for hiring; and this latter even in the Estates of Spaniards.
We have also called it modern (the legal) because so it is called in the country, and as it was not used previous to the year 63 of the past century (although as I give to understand above it was not unknown); but it is certain that even till then it did not come into general use, at least in the official sphere.
In order that it may be clear that what we have said is not arbitrary nor capricious, we will make note of some documents in the appendix B, which will clarify more this matter to which we give great importance in as much as several overturnings and misfortunes have occured which, for not having distinguished well these things, have happened.
Relating to the Quiñon Realengo.
In the note at the end of Table XV; is said that in order that it shall not be believed arbitrary and of mere invention (that concerning the Quinon Realengo), there would be here proved not only the continued use but also the legality of the said Quiñon. We will now fulfil our promise in the best possible manner.
D. Eduardo Sanchez Pita in his work “El Consultor del Sistema métrico decimal” in speaking of the agrarian measures of the Philippines marks the equivalents of the Quiñon we have called modern and concluding says: “We must, however, make and important explanation concerning the true superficial extension corresponding to the Quiñon of land, although it is not conformable with our former reductions which recognize as their base the common fathom of 6 lineal feet so 72 inches making 5184 sq. inches or 36 sq. feet, which are equal to 4 sq yards”.
“But this is not the sq. fathom, which serves in the Philippine archipielago to measure the superficies of any land, but that called Realengo with its corresponding yard, as is shown by a document we have before us which merits perfect confidence, as it is signed by an old time mariner, now dead, D. José Antonio Vico, who resided in that country and performed for many years the Directorship of the nautical Academy of Manila, at the same time once of his asignment”.
“So it is that in the face of the authoritative calculations of persons so competent, it is necessary to rectify ours, or at least make known the relative importance of both, so that people may know what they are doing in the acquisition and sale of lands whose superficies may vary according to the measure used in the contract, and also in order that the Government of His Majesty, in the resolutions it may adopt, may remember the convenience of expressing the superficial measure which each make use of in each case, in order to avoid to the State the prejudices which otherwise might occur as a result of the omission”.
“The document to which we refer says among other things”.
“In order to represent the extensions of the superficies of a piece of land the people of Manila take as the unit the Fathom of the City (Realenga) which is a length of eight feet, seven inches and six lines of Burgos” [la Braza de Ciudad Realenga, que es una longitud de 8 pies, 7 pulgadas, y 6 lineas de Burgos].
"in this way of measuring they call a Loan the superficies of a square having a side of 10 lineal fathoms of the City on which account the Loan consists of 100 superficial or square fathoms. They call a Quiñon the superficies of a square whose side is 10 Loanes or 100 lineal fathoms; on which account the Quiñon consists of 100 Loanes, or what is the same of 10.000 official square fathoms (de Ciudad.)
“The comparison of the lineal and superficial gives the following:
“Fathoms of the City to Burgos Fathoms, 16 : 23; that is, that 16 fathoms (de ciudad) make 23 Burgos fathoms, and hence multiplying these two numbers 16 and 23 by themselves, we will have = 256 : 529, the relation existing between the sq. fathom (de Ciudad) and the sq. fathom of Burgos”.
“Commencing with this second base we will seek the metric equivalent of the said measures”.
Here the cited author (Sanchez Pita) continues noting the equivalents of these measures to Hectares, Ares etc.
Should any reader remain in doubt concerning the legality of these said measures, although what has been said above is sufficient to prove their use more or less continued, but not their legal value in the time in which they were used, we will add on our own account other documents of undoubtable authority which will leave no doubt on the matter.
1st. Procedure of measuring the Estate of Buenavista (now Malinta) performed by the Magistrate D. Juan Ozaeta y Oro. It commences thus. Sr. Licentiate D. Miguel de Lesama Altamirano y Reinoso most ancient lawyer of the Royal Audience of these Islands, judge of these Commissions (measurement and composition of lands) in execution and fulfilment etc. etc. (here follow the formalities of rubric) and at the end “The center (total extension) of that Estate has, inclusive the corner of Ibayo, which is adjoining and without division twelve cuentos, three hundred and nine thousand and forty six fathoms [i.e., brazas] de Ciudad, which form four sites of ganádo mayor, three caballerías of lands and nineteen thousand, five hundred and sixty four fathoms.
And the ancient Tuniganes (a) have three hundred and sixty four thousand nine hundred and ten fathoms, which make thirty-six Quiñones, four kabalitas, nine loanes and ten fathoms. Having performed this procedure and fixed it according to the scale and map which was being made in the times referred to”.
(a) Tubiganes-low lands in which rice is planted.
And the said Sr. Altamirano signs it. Six signatures follow at the end: before me Jacinto Gonzalez Public and Royal Notary.
This demonstration with the said measures was approved by the Royal Audience, in April 1699 the year in which the Augustinian Fathers purchased that Estate and which pertained to them till a few years ago.
This is also the oldest date in which we find the Quiñon named; although as we have seen it was used only as an agrarian measure, and in lands already under cultivation.
2nd. In the year 1734 this Estate was once again measured by D. Baltazar de Ampuero Pilot en sueldo (that is receiving salary, and in this measuring the result was the same as before (so says the document).
The particular point in the document is that it defines determinately the extent of the Fathom de Ciudad,
It says thus: “The said Estate has in total extension......... and fathoms de Ciudad of those for measuring lands which have Three yards minus an eighth”. This leaves no doubt whatever concerning what we have said above.
3rd. About a century later, some neighboring lands having been purchased a new demarkation was asked in order to unite in one plan all the lands which pertained to the Augustinian Fathers; and this was executed by order of the Criminal Courts, D. Francisco Otin y Duaso in the year 1828.
From this measuring we have before us a plan in which after the style of an explanation, says as follows: "This plan and two more of the same tenor have been presented by the Religious Administrator of the Estate Fr. Joaquin Franhc to the Royal Audience asking that for its authorization I the Notary of the Camara sign them; and in fulfilment of the auto of the Royal Audience of the 27th of January of this present year of 1831 I place my signature. Tomas Lopez de Leon.”
There is a signature.
Well then, in this same plan in the corresponding place it says: “This Estate of Malinta and Tala being measured and enclosed it has been found to contain one thousand four hundred and ninety four Quiñones, two balitas, four Loanes, and fourteen fathoms and a half”.
And lower down it adds. “Second. Scale of 1000 fathoms, each fathom is composed of three yards less one eighth” [tres varas menos una ochava]. (3 yards minus ⅛ yd).
We might multiply the documents on the use of the Quiñon Realengo since we have before us several relating to the Provinces of Manila, Cavite and Bulacan but we believe those adduced to be sufficient, and if we have chosen only that of the Malinta Estate it has been because we know most of that, having administered it many years.
From what has been said we gather the following: First: that the Quiñon realengo with its fathoms de Ciudad have been used uninterruptedly for a space of more than two centuries.
Second: that this same Quiñon was in the beginning used merely as an agrarian measure, there being other measures in use for superficies in general, sitios, caballerías etc.
Third: that later on it was used as both superficial an[d] agrarian measure, so that the ancient measures, sitios and caballerias dropped out of use.
And finally: that in all the time of its use it has been perfectly legal as has been seen by its approbations in different epochs by the Royal Audience of the Philippines, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in the said islands.
Tablas de las pesas y medidas que se usan en Filipinas.
Manila: Philippine Publishing Co., 1901.
Pages 331, 333, 335 & 337.
Fr. Martin's book is bilingual, but the Spanish text is superior to the English. The English above has been slightly corrected with the benefit of the Spanish version. Martin adopted the deplorable custom of replacing the names of Spanish units with English ones; for example, “braza” becomes “fathom.” Where this might be confusing we have inserted the original Spanish. Note that throughout Martin's book, quiñón is spelled without the acute accent on the "o."
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Last revised: 8 March 2008.