Colonial Appetites: The effect of food demand on the American Colonial policy against animal disease in the Philippines, 1902-1910



palatability, cattle-related disease, rinderpest, beef


The Americans played a huge role in addressing various health-related issues in the Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century. This includes the improvement of public health and sanitation, as well as in combating the effects of various animal-related diseases, particularly cattle-related disease that threatened not only the livestock, but also agricultural production in the country which was also dependent on beasts-of-burden. Given the role of the Americans in health, there is a tendency for researchers to interpret this aspect of the American colonial period in the Philippines in a positive light, particularly focusing on the improvements especially on the establishment of health institutions. 

Building on earlier studies about public health and disease in the Philippines, this study contextualized American imposed measures and policies, specifically in addressing the problem of animal disease in the Philippines, to American imperialism during the early 20th century with the assumption that such measures were largely influenced by the United States’ objective of creating an environment conducive for American personnel and administrators stationed in their new colonial territory.

As such, this study investigated how the process of securing the food supply of the military influenced the prioritization and urgency of implementing policies against animal disease in the Philippines. The result showed that aside from mitigating the negative effects of cattle-related disease in domestic agricultural production, the Army’s demand for beef was also a big consideration on how the Insular government prioritized policies. The urgency of keeping the military healthy and well fed also caused the re-appropriation of funds from other agricultural programs that might have benefited Filipino farmers in general especially programs that aimed to address problems on agricultural pests. Filipino farmers were also in the receiving end of the unwanted effects of stringent measures imposed in the islands.

Author Biography

Reidan Pawilen, Department of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines-Los Baños

Reidan M. Pawilen is an Assistant Professor of History of the Department of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines-Los Baños. He was able to finish his  BA Social Sciences degree (Major in History, minor in Political Science) at the University of the Philippines-Baguio in 2013. He accomplished his MS Geography degree (specializing on Human and Cultural Geography) at the University of the Philippines- Diliman where he is also currently taking his PhD in History. He is primarily interested in cultural and sports history, sports and legal geographies, and Indigenous Peoples studies.  




How to Cite

Pawilen, R. “Colonial Appetites: The Effect of Food Demand on the American Colonial Policy Against Animal Disease in the Philippines, 1902-1910”. TALA: An Online Journal of History, vol. 5, no. 1, June 2022,