The original naming of Texas was “Nueva Filipinas,” the New Spain in America in 1718
Teyshas, Teyas, Tejas, to Texas
In the 1540s, Spanish explorers mistook “teyshas” for a tribal name, recording it as Teyas or Tejas (The great kingdom of Tejas). Over time, this term referred to the region we know now as Texas.
Spanish conquistadors almost ruled a third of the planet, with the Philippines as its model colony. With the hope of repeating the same success, Spain saw Tejas’ as the “New Spain” after asserting ownership in 1519. [Davidson]
In 1815 certain letters (spelling) were officially changed by Spanish orthographers. For example, the letter “j” to “x,” thus changing words like “Tejas” into “Texas.” Still, the intended pronunciation would remain “j,” which was not the case for Americans. [SSUSA; TSHA]
Progenitor of “Nuevas Filipinas”
Antonio Margil de Jesus
Padre Margil de Jesus was a Spanish missionary who first referred to Texas as the “Nuevas Filipinas” (New Philippines). On July 20, 1716, he wrote to King Philip V (Felipe el Prudente) of Spain, requesting support to evangelize the region.
The Franciscans affirmed de Jesus, who expressed in a letter great hopes that Tejas would become the “New Filipinas.” Filipinas, or the Philippines, was King Philip’s namesake. [TSHA]
The same year, Governor Martin de Alarcon established the “Spanish Texas,” with San Antonio as its base capital.
The Caroline Islands in the western Pacific Ocean were also called “Nuevas Filipinas.” They were once part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from Manila. [W.H. Rosser]
Filipinas or the Philippines was King Philip’s namesake.
Renaming Tejas to Nuevas Filipinas
In 1718, Fray Isidro Félix de Espinosa, who was part of the expeditionary missions to Tejas, asked (Gobernador) Alarcón to reinforce the name “Nuevas Filipinas Nueva Extremadura” (New Philippines, New Land of Extremes).
Since friars held more power than government officials, Governor Alarcón had to oblige the renaming of Tejas to Nueva Filipinas. [Bonilla Compendium]
Extremadura is a landlocked region within the Iberian peninsula (Western Spain). It was the name used in about 1086, after the Christian conquest of the peninsula. Texas was dubbed as the new Filipinas (Spanish colony) and Extremadura (historical region of Spain).
Settling for the name Texas
Towards the end of the 18th century, the name “Nuevas Filipinas” became outdated and out of sight. Legal documents eventually preferred to use only the word Tejas or Texas.
The Lone Star: From Spain to Mexico to the Republic of Texas
Texas, known as the “Lone Star State,” was previously an independent nation. It was part of Mexico, which gained independence from Spain in 1821.
The region welcomed American settlers to establish themselves in Texas but over time, the Americans surpassed the local Mexican populations, leading to a call for independence from Mexico.
After winning the Alamo and San Jacinto battles, Tejas declared itself the Republic of Texas in 1836.
Texas becomes part of the United States
In 1845, the US Congress accepted Texas’ application to be the 28th state of the United States which included absorbing the country’s debts due to annexation; the move was justified as part of America’s “manifest destiny.”
Early Filipino settlers in Texas
Filipinos arrived in upper California in 1587
In 1763, the first known Filipinos in Louisiana established themselves in the Bayou of Saint Malo. However, some estimates date it as early as the 1600s. These migrants were technically the first undocumented Filipinos in the USA.
Filipinos settled in Texas in 1822
The first documented Pinoy to settle in Texas was from Cebu. Francisco Flores settled at Port Isabel in 1822. He was a cabin boy in a merchant ship where he likely jumped off or escaped to make his way to the Southwest by way of Texas.
He later raised a family in Rockport, where he died in 1917 at 108 years old.
Pobladores (Spanish colonists or settlers) were also sent to El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles in California in 1781. Filipino Antonio Rodriguez is considered Los Angeles’ 12th founder father.
“Bonilla’s Brief Compendium of the History of Texas, 1772 (An Annotated Translation).” The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, vol. 8, no. 1, 1904, pp. 3–78. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30242842.