What was the country’s population at the time the Noli was published?

Just under 6 million, according to a census taken in 1887. (To be sure, the figure excluded non-Christians, an unfortunate head-counting practice that lasted until the end of the 19th century.)

The information comes from a charming table available on the eminently useful National Statistical Coordination Board website, which tracks the population of the Philippines from the “census years 1799 to 2007.”

How many Filipinos did Rizal die for, in 1896? At least 6.2 million. How many Filipinos lived in the country at the time the Japanese invaded in December 1941? The answer must be more than 16 million. And how many Filipinos suffered through the imposition of martial law? Perhaps just under 40 million. This allows us to cite US Sen. Mike Mansfield’s reported reaction to the declaration of martial law with greater precision. “The problem with the Philippines is that it has 40 million cowards and one SOB.”

The NSCB chart tells us that this site, and a commenter on this thread, and an Inquirer editorial too, got the population (and therefore in all likelihood the quote) wrong.

1 Comment

Filed under Readings in Rizal, Spiral Notebook

One response to “What was the country’s population at the time the Noli was published?

  1. I wonder if there’s a reference in the Noli where Manila is perceived to be overpopulated and indios should contracept, whether artificially or naturally, or they perish. I wouldn’t be surprised!

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