In 1762, at the height of the Seven Years’ War, Britain’s Royal Navy and East India Company mobilised a motley army of Europeans, South Asians, and Africans and invaded Manila, the capital of Spain’s Asian Empire. The Black Legend blinded the British to the complexities of the real balance of power in the Philippines. The Spanish colonial government quickly raised militias of Spaniards, Mexicans, Chinese mestizos, and indigenous Filipinos who ultimately defeated the British. The loyalties of the soldiers of many nations who converged in Manila could not be taken for granted. This article examines the ongoing bargaining that took place between imperial officials and soldiers, revealing the crucial role that negotiation played in eighteenth-century empire building beyond the Atlantic. War transformed fighting men of many nations into important historical actors who determined the outcome of the Seven Years’ War in the Indo-Pacific world.