History of the Philippines

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Prehistoric Times

Main Article: Pre-colonial History of the Philippines

Human Arrivals

Human fossil records indicate that the Philippines may have been inhabited for thousands of years. According to recent archaeological findings, the first man in the Philippines came around islands with Asia which Professor H. Otley Beyer, eminent American authority on Philippine archaeology and anthropology, dubbed the "Dawn Man". Yet the oldest human fossil found in the Philippines thus far is the 22,000-year-old skull cap of a "Stone-Age Filipino" discovered by Dr. Robert B. Fox, American anthropologist of the National Museum, inside Tabon Cave, Palawan, on May 28, 1962 and dubbed the "Tabon Man".

The Tabon caves of Palawan indicate settlement for at least 30,500 years; these hunter-gatherers used stone flake tools. (In Mindanao, the existence and importance of these prehistoric tools was noted by famed José Rizal himself, because of his acquaintance with Spanish and German scientific archaeologists in the 1880s, while in Europe.)

Jar Burial

The custom of Jar Burial, which ranges from Sri Lanka, to the Plain of Jars, in Laos, to Japan, also was practiced in the Tabon caves of Palawan. A spectacular example of a secondary burial jar is owned by the National Museum of the Philippines, a National Treasure, with a jar lid topped with two figures, one the deceased, arms crossed, hands touching the shoulders, the other a steersman, both seated in a prao, with only the mast missing from the piece. Secondary burial was practiced across all the islands of the Philippines during this period, with the bones reburied, some in the burial jars. Seventy-eight earthenware vessels were recovered from the Manunggul cave, Palawan, specifically for burial.

Migration of the Aboriginal Filipinos

About 30,000 years ago, the Negritos, who became the ancestors of today's Aetas, or Aboriginal Filipinos, descended from their northernly abodes in Central Asia passing through the Indian Subcontinent and reaching the Andamanese Islands. From thereon, the Negritos continued to venture on land bridges reaching Southeast Asia. While some of the Negritos settled in Malaysia, becoming what is now the Orang Asli people, several Negrito tribes continued on to the Philippines through Borneo. They had a Paleolithic culture, and have no community life, government and laws, arts, science and technology, and writing and literature. They live a nomadic lifestyle, romaing the forests and living in crude dwellings consisting of leaves and sticks. But they were skillfullu adept in using the bow and arrow as a primary defense weapon. They also gathered wild plants for consumption.

Sinking of the Land Bridges and the Arrival of the Nesiots

After the last Ice Age, the sea level rose an estimated 35m (110 feet), which cut the land bridges, filling the shallow seas north of Borneo. Thus the only method of migration left was the dugout prao, built by falling trees and hollowing them out with adzes.

About 3000 BCE, a loose confederation of peoples known as 'Nesiots' (also called Indonesian) came to the Philippines. They became the ancestors of the present-day Luzon and Mindanao hilltribes. They are characterized as being of mixed Mongolian and Caucasoid origin primarily because of their light complexion and tall height- they ranged from 5'6 feet to 6'2 feet. There are two waves of successive Nesiot immigration. The first wave saw a people who have light complexions, aquiline noses, thin lips, and deep-set eyes. The second wave of migration were shorter and heavier in physique, having darker complexion, thick lips, large noses, and heavy jaws. Those of the second wave of migration had epics and folk stories mixed with superstitions. From these people came the Luzon hilltribes.

The Coming of the Austronesians

Starting 200 BCE, Austronesian groups descended from Yunnan Plateau in China and settled in what is now the Philippines by traversing land bridges coming from Taiwan. Most of these Austronesians primarily used the Philippines as a stepping stone to the outlying Pacific islands or to the Indonesian archipelago further south. Those who were left became the ancestors of the present-day Filipinos. The Cagayan valley of northern Luzon contains large stone tools as evidence for the hominid hunters of the big game of the time: the elephant-like stegodon, rhinoceros, crocodile, tortoise, pig and deer. The Austronesians pushed the Negritos to the mountains, while they occupied the fertile coastal plains.

In 1380, Makhdum Karim, the first Islamic missionary to the Philippines, brought Islam to the Philippines. Subsequent visits of Arab missionaries helped strengthen the Islamic faith of the southern Filipinos. Arabs founded vast sultanates, of which the Sultanate of Sulu is the largest. Because the first sultans were usually of Arab descent, most Muslim Filipinos, especially those of royal blood, have Arab blood.

Trade Items

One museum artifact, a ceremonial jade adze, almost 7 cm. long, of extremely fine workmanship, for such a fundamental tool, may indicate source for some of the wealth from the Philippines, since, in general, it is not known just what was traded by the sea-faring traders, except perhaps, porcelain, jade and gold. Many Chinese, Indians, Arabs, and Malayans settled in the Philippines, and from the result of mixing of these people with the already established Austronesian stock came the ancestors of the present-day Filipinos.


The fragmented Philippine tribes then built numerous city-states or barangays, in which a datu was the ruler. In the southern Islamic areas, sultanates were founded by Malayan and Arab princes and missionaries. Since at least the 3rd century, the indigenous peoples were in contact with other East Asian nations. They were, to varying extents, under the Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires, Brunei, and other kingdoms of Borneo. Starting the 13th century. the independent city-sattes or barangays of the Philippines became vassals of the Ming Dynasty of China A thalassocracy, or rule from the beaches prevailed.

In the earliest times, the items which were prized by the peoples included jars, which were a symbol of wealth throughout South Asia, and later metal, salt and tobacco. In exchange, the peoples would trade feathers, rhino horn, hornbill beaks, beeswax, birds nests, resin, rattan.2

Historic Times (900-1521)

In 1989, the National Museum acquired the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, found in the Laguna de Bay of Manila, dated Monday April 21 900 (equivalent to the date Saka Era 822). The script is Javanese Kavi, which is derived from Brahmi. The Siyaka or Saka Era began on the vernal equinox of the year 78 CE, based on Indic jyotisa, or astronomy. The document is not Javanese, but the influence is, because Balitung, the king of Java at that time, is not mentioned, although the date is based on that civilization. The inscription forgives the descendants of Namwaran from a debt of 926.4 grams of gold, and is granted by the chief of Tondo (an area in Manila) and the authorities of Paila, Binwangan and Pulilan, which are all locations in Luzon. The words are a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Malay, Old Javanese and Old Tagalog.

One example of pre-Spanish Philippine script on a burial jar, derived from Brahmi survives, as most of the writing was done on perishable bamboo or leaves; an earthenware burial jar dated 1200s or 1300s with script was found in Batangas. This script is called in Tagalog Baybayin or Alibata.

Around 1405, the year that the war over succession ended in the Majapahit Empire, Sufi traders introduced Islam into the Hindu-Malayan empires and for about the next century the southern half of Luzon and the islands south of it were subject to the various Muslim sultanates of Borneo. During this period, the Japanese established a trading post at Aparri and maintained a loose sway over northern Luzon.

Spanish-Mexican Rule (1521-1762; 1764-1898)

Spanish Conquest

The Philippine Islands first came to the attention of Europeans when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first sighted the mountains of Leyte on 1521, claiming the lands for Spain, and naming them Islas de San Lazaro. The first mass in the Philippines was held on March 31, 1521, were held on the shores of Masao, believed to be the present-day Butuan. Ensuing the victories in attaining the friendship of the Filipinos, specifically those of the people living in the Visayas, he decided to make a show-off to Humabon, king of Cebu. Magellan decided to attack the island of Mactan, island-domain of Lapu-Lapu, a mortal enemy of Humabon. After several hours of valiant fighting, Magellan was defeated by Lapu-Lapu at the Battle of Mactan, where he died. However, his ships reached the Spice Islands. The navigational charts of one of the ships, the Victoria, which circumnavigated the globe, were delivered to Seville 1522. In 1529, by the treaty of Zaragosa, Spain relinquished all claims to the Spice Islands (and westward) to Portugal. This treaty did not stop subsequent colonization from New Spain.

See also: Limasawa Island See also: Spanish Expeditions to the Philippines See also: Philippine Revolts Against Spain

Subsequent expeditions were dispatched to the islands. Four expeditions have been authorized- that of Loaisa (1525), Cabot (1526), Saavedra (1527), Villalobos (1542), and Legazpi (1564). In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos named the territory Las Islas Felipinas after Philip II of Spain, during his failed expedition.

Philippines as a Colony of Spain (1565-1815)

On April 27, 1565, the Spanish attacked the defiant Tupas, son of Humabon, and the latter was made to sign an agreement, effectively placing the Philippines under Spain.

On that same day, the first permanent Spanish settlement was founded by the conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi accompanied by five Augustinian friars, and 500 armed soldiers, on Cebu, which became the town of San Miguel. In 1570 the native city of Manila was conquered and declared a Spanish city the following year. When Legazpi decided to transfer his capital to Manila, Cebu receded into the backwaters as influence and power shifted north to Luzon and its wide expanse of fertile lands. The Spanish took control of the islands, which became their outpost in the East Indies. Until 1815, the Philippines were administered as a colony of New Spain (Mexico).

Spanish colonial rule brought Catholicism. One friar, Fr. Juan de Placencia wrote a Spanish-to-Tagalog Christian Doctrine 1593 which transliterated from Roman characters to Tagalog Baybayin characters; since most of the population of Manila could read and write Baybayin at one time, this effort probably helped the conversion to Christianity 3. Most of the islands, with the exception of Mindanao, which remained primarily Muslim, were converted. Muslims resisted the attempts of the Spanish to conquer the archipelago and this resulted in a lot of tension and violence which persists to the modern era.

The Universidad de Santo Tomas, the oldest educational institution, was opened in 1611.

The colonial period also saw the Spanish dominate the economy, focusing on the tobacco, as well as the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico. To avoid hostile powers, most trade between Spain and the Philippines was via the Pacific Ocean to Mexico (Manila to Acapulco), and then across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to Spain (Veracruz to Cádiz).

Foreign invaders

During Spain’s 333 year rule of the Philippines, there were more priests and missionaries rather than soldiers or civil servants in the country. The Spanish military had to fight off the ethnic Chinese pirates (who sometimes came to lay siege to Manila), Dutch forces, Portuguese forces, and insurgent natives.

Moros from Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, in response to attacks on them from the Spanish and their native allies, raided the areas of Luzon and the Visayas that were under colonial control. They often sold their captives as slaves.

In the late 16th century, the Japanese, under Hideyoshi, claimed control of the Philippines and for a time the Spanish paid tribute to secure their trading routes and protect Jesuit missionaries in Japan.

Serious challenges to Spanish rule began in 1761, during Spain's involvement in the Seven Years' War. In 1762, colonial forces of the British East India Company captured Manila with a force of 13 ships and 6830 men, easily taking the Spanish garrison of 600, but made little effort to extend their control beyond the city. In accordance with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the Philippines was returned to Spain. Defeat at the hands of British, however, inspired resistance from Filipino rebels such as Diego Silang, who in 1762 expelled the Spanish from the coastal city of Vigan. During the revolt led by Diego Silang, for instance, natives from Pampanga were used as soldiers against the rebellion in Ilocos. The government quelled uprisings from one region with natives from another, using the Roman military strategy Divide et impera.

Challenges to Spanish Rule and the Philippines as a Province of Spain (1781-1898)

See also: Separation of church and state in the Philippines See also: Philippine Revolution

In 1781, Governor José Basco y Vargas established the Economic Society of Friends of the Country and make Philippines independent of New Spain. However, New Spain still managed to hang on to the Philippines until 1815, when the colony was put on hold due to the Mexican War of Independence. Mexico declared their independence from Spain in 1821 and the Spanish Crown took full control of the archipelago.

In 1820, John Crawfurd, a Scottish physician and colonial administrator, wrote in his History of the Indian Archipelago, contrasting to the Black Legend:

It is remarkable, that the Indian administration of one of the worst governments of Europe, and that in which the general principles of legislation and good government are least understood,- one too, which has never been skillfully executed, should, upon the whole, have proved the least injurious to the happiness and prosperity of the native inhabitants of the country. This, undoubtedly, has been the character of the Spanish connection with the Philippines, with all its vices, follies, and illiberalities; and the present condition of these islands affords an unquestionable proof of the fact. Almost every other country of the Archipelago is, at this day, in point of wealth, power, and civilization, in a worse state than when Europeans connected themselves with them three centuries back. The Philippines alone have improved in civilization, wealth, and populousness. When discovered. most of the tribes were a race of half-naked savages, inferior to all the great tribes, who were pushing, at the same time, an active commerce, and enjoying a respectable share of the necessaries and comforts of a civilized state. Upon the whole, they are at present superior in almost everything to any of the other races. This is a valuable and instructive fact

Commerce was tightly controlled by Spanish authorities until 1837 when Manila was made an open port. Some Philippine forces participated in Franco-Chinese War (1884-1885).

In 1863, Queen Isabel II of Spain had decreed the establishment of the public school system. Developments in and out of the country and the opening up of the Suez Canal in 1869, which helped cut travel time to Spain, brought new ideas to the Philippines. This prompted the rise of the illustrados, or the Filipino upper middle class. Many young Filipinos were thus able to study in Europe.

The 1872 uprising, in Cavite, was notable since it had a large effect on the country. The Spanish put this down by executing three Filipino priests: Fr. Jose Burgos, Fr. Zamora, and Fr. Gomez (see Gomburza). This execution further aggravated mass discontent and is said to indirectly have ignited the Philippine revolution and had a profound effect on Dr. Jose Rizal, the most famous of the propagandists. Historians generally agree that this execution marks the start of the Philippine Revolutionary Period.

From the illustrados came a group of students who formed the Propaganda Movement. They did not wish separation from Spain, but did demand equality and political rights. They spoke out against the injustices of the colonial government and especially the Catholic friars.

Although many Spanish friars protested abuses by the Spanish government and military, they themselves have committed many abuses and had utilized the government for their own means. Many Filipinos were enraged when friars blocked the ascent of highly trained Filipino clergy in the Catholic Church hierarchy. Vast lands were claimed as friar estates from landless farmers. There were also sexual abuses. 'Anak ni Padre Damaso'(Child of Father Damaso) has become a cliche to refer to an illegitimate child, especially that of a priest. It was in the light of these abuses also that the Philippine Independent Church was born in 1902.

Rizal used the words of Christ to further the movement: touch me not (John 20: 13-17); he was executed on December 30, 1896. Among the propagandists were Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Graciano López Jaena, too. The propaganda movement created a unified Filipino identity overcoming linguistic and cultural differences across the diversified regions.

In 1892 Andrés Bonifacio founded a revolutionary society called the Katipunan. By 1896, Filipinos were openly rebelling against the Spanish and the revolution was spreading throughout the islands. The Filipinos succeeded in taking almost all Philippine territory, except for Manila.

In his The Inhabitants of the Philippines (1900), Frederic Henry Sawyer, one of the latest witnesses to the Spanish Colonial Period, wrote:

Until an inept bureaucracy was substituted for the old paternal rule, and the revenue quadrupled by increased taxation, the Filipinos were as happy a community as could be found in any colony. The population greatly multiplied; they lived in competence, if not in affluence; cultivation was extended, and the exports steadily increased. Let us be just; what British, French, or Dutch colony, populated by natives can compare with the Philippines as they were until 1895?.

On December 31, 1898, the last Spanish garrison in the Philippines, located in Baler, Aurora, was pulled out, effectively ending nearly 400 years of Spanish hegemony in Asia.

While the Philippines was understood to be the Spanish East Indies, the current King of Spain still uses the title 'King of the Spanish East Indies'.

The U.S. Invasion, Colonial Period and Regime (1898-1943, 1945-1946)

Little was known by the United States of the existence of the Philippine archipelago, and it was not until Cuba appeared on the scene in 1895 that the islands came to the attention of the U.S. The Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam were dragged along into the conflicts of Independence, since these colonies also began to rebel at the same time. The U.S. at that time was an emerging nation and looking for ways to compete as one of the world powers. Cuba's War of Independence with Spain was the perfect solution for the North Americans. While the U.S. wanted to help these people fight for independence, they also took a serious interest in occupying and controlling these colonies and making them their own.

The U.S. Intervention, War with Spain and First Philippine Independence (1898)

In November 1897, William McKinley demanded that Cuba be granted independence, and pressured and abused Spain for its wrongdoings. On January 25 1898, U.S. forces began arriving in Cuba and on February 15 the American battleship USS Maine exploded, killing 269. The Americans blamed the Spanish for the incident, when in fact it was later discovered to have been an accidental malfunction of the gas generators inside the battleship which caused the explosion. The Americans retaliated and went to war with the Spanish in Cuba, and then moved on to the Philippines on May 1 in the same year, where they fought both the Spaniards and Filipinos.

On May 1, 1898 the United States of America went to the Pacific and fought the Spaniards in the Spanish colony of the Philippines. (see: Spanish-American War). The U.S. Navy under Admiral George Dewey attacked the Spanish Navy by sea in Manila Bay while the Filipino forces, led by General Emilio Aguinaldo allied with the U.S., who convinced the Filipinos they were there to help them fight for independence, also attacked by land, which resulted in a Spanish surrender.

Faced with inevitable defeat, Spain was forced to cede the Philippines to the United States in exchange for 20 million United States dollars at the Treaty of Paris in 1898.

The Filipinos, under General Emilio Aguinaldo, declared victory and proclaimed their independence on June 12, 1898 in Cavite. Aguinaldo was elected by the Filipino people and became the first President of the Philippines. This act was opposed by the United States who had plans to take over the country.

1898 US Political Cartoon. US President William McKinley is shown holding the Philippines, depicted as a savage child, as the world looks on. The implied options for McKinley are to keep the Philippines, or give it back to Spain, which the cartoon compares to throwing a child off a cliff.

Philippine - U.S. War (1899-1913)

Main article: Philippine-American War

Heated tensions between Filipinos and Americans began to mount rapidly when locals found that the U.S. were there to control and occupy the archipelago. On the night of February 4, 1899 a Filipino soldier was shot dead at gun point by a U.S. sniper at a U.S. military checkpoint, who was trying to cross a ceasefire line in what is now Sociego Street in Manila. Though Aguinaldo communicated for a ceasefire with the Americans, this was the incident that they were waiting for to take over the Philippines by force. Events that happened during the American colonization in the Philippines did not reach the ears of the American people because President McKinley was then running for re-election.

At a constitutional convention held against the wishes of American authorities, Aguinaldo was declared President of the Philippines Republic—and declared to be an "outlaw bandit" by the McKinley Administration.

The U.S. refused to recognize any Philippine right to self-government, and on February 4, 1899, Aguinaldo declared war against the United States for denying them independence. Some Americans accused the Filipino nationalists of Jacobinist tendencies, and US government officials repeatedly stated that few Filipinos were in favor of independence, although this conclusion was questioned by some. In the US, there was a movement to stop the war; some said that the US had no right to a land whose people wanted self-government; Andrew Carnegie, an industrialist and steel magnate, offered to buy the Philippines for 20 million United States dollars and give it to the Filipinos so that they could be free.

Although Americans have historically used the term the Philippine Insurrection, Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899–1913), and in 1999 the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States. A large American military force was needed to occupy the country, and would be regularly engaged in war, against Filipino rebels, for another decade. Estimates vary, but it is generally believed that 250,000, to up to 1,000,000 Filipinos were killed by the U.S. Forces in the attempt to put down the forces favoring independence.

U.S. Territory (1913-1935)

A civilian government was established by the Americans in 1901, with William H. Taft as the first civilian governor of the Philippines. English was declared the official language. Six hundred American teachers were imported aboard the USS Thomas. Also, the Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

Some measures of Filipino self-rule were allowed, however. An elected Filipino legislature was inaugurated in 1907.

When Woodrow Wilson became the American President, in 1913, there was a major change in official American policy concerning the Philippines. While the previous Republican administrations had envisioned the Philippines as a perpetual American colony, the Wilson administration decided to start a process that would gradually lead to Philippine independence. U.S. administration of the Philippines was declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system. The Philippines were granted free trade status, with the U.S.

In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, popularly known as the Jones Law, was passed by the U.S. Congress. The law which served as the new organic act (or constitution) for the Philippines, stated in its preamble that the eventual independence of the Philippines would be American policy, subject to the establishment of a stable government. The law maintained the Governor General of the Philippines, appointed by the President of the United States, but established a bicameral Philippine Legislature to replace the elected Philippine Assembly (lower house) and appointive Philippine Commission (upper house) previously in place. The Filipino House of Representatives would be purely elected while the new Philippine Senate would have the majority of its members elected by senatorial district with senators representing non-Christian areas appointed by the Governor-General.

The 1920s saw alternating periods of cooperation and confrontation with American governors-general, depending on how intent the incumbent was on exercising his powers vis a vis the Philippine legislature. Members to the elected legislature lost no time in lobbying for immediate and complete independence from the United States. Several independence missions were sent. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I.

In 1934, the United States Congress, having originally passed the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act as a Philippine Independence Act over President Hoover's veto, only to have the law rejected by the Philippine legislature, finally passed a new Philippine Independence Act popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act. The law provided for the granting of Philippine independence by 1946.

Commonwealth Era (1935-1946)

Main article: Commonwealth of the Philippines

The period 1935–1946 would ideally be devoted to the final adjustments required for a peaceful transition to full independence, a great latitude in autonomy being granted in the meantime.

On May 14, 1935, an election to fill the newly created office of President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines was won by Manuel L. Quezon (Nacionalista Party) and a Filipino government was formed on the basis of principles superficially similar to the US Constitution. (See: Philippine National Assembly; see Signing_of_the_Philippine_Constitution for a picture of the signing.). The Commonwealth as established in 1935 featured a very strong executive, a unicameral National Assembly, and a Supreme Court composed entirely of Filipinos for the first time since 1901. The new government embarked on an ambitious agenda of establishing the basis for national defense, greater control over the economy, reforms in education, improvement of transport, the colonization of the island of Mindanao, and the promotion of local capital and industrialization. The Commonwealth however, was also faced with agrarian unrest, an uncertain diplomatic and military situation in South East Asia, and uncertainty about the level of United States commitment to the future Republic of the Philippines.

In 1939-40, the Philippine Constitution was amended to restore a bicameral Congress, and permit the reelection of President Quezon, previously restricted to a single, six-year term.

During the Commonwealth years, Philippines sent a non-voting Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands currently do.

The Japanese Occupation and World War II (1941-1945)

A few hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese launched air raids in several cities and US military installations in the Philippines on December 8, and on December 10, the first Japanese troops landed in Northern Luzon.

General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), was forced to retreat to Bataan. Manila was occupied by the Japanese on January 2, 1942. The fall of Bataan was on April 9, 1942 with Corregidor Island, at the mouth of Manila Bay, surrendering on May 6 (an act which completely delayed the Japanese war timetable).

The Commonwealth government by then had exiled in Washington, DC upon the invitation of President Roosevelt. The Philippine Army continued to fight the Japanese in a guerilla war and were considered auxiliary units of the United States Army. Several Philippine military awards, such as the Philippine Defense Medal, Independence Medal, and Liberation Medal, were awarded to both the United States and Philippine Armed Forces.

The invasion by Japan began in December of 1941. As the Japanese forces advanced, Manila was declared an open city to prevent it from destruction, meanwhile, the government was moved to Corregidor. In March of 1942 U.S. General Douglas MacArthur and President Quezon fled the country. The cruelty of the Japanese military occupation of the Philippines is legendary. Guerilla units harassed the Japanese when they could, and on Luzon native resistance was strong enough that the Japanese never did get control of a large part of the island. Finally in October of 1944 McArthur had gathered enough additional troops and supplies to begin the retaking of the Philippines, landing with Sergio Osmena who had assumed the Presidency after Quezon's death. The battles entailed long fierce fighting; some of the Japanese continued to fight until the official surrender of the Empire of Japan on September 2, After their landing American forces undertook measures to suppress the Huk movement, which was originally founded to fight the Japanese Occupation. The American forces removed local Huk governments and imprisoned many high-ranking members of the Philippine Communist Party. While these incidents happened there was still fighting against the Japanese forces and despite the American measures against the Huk they still supported American soldiers in the fight against the Japanese.

Over a million Filipinos had been killed in the war, and many towns and cities, including Manila, were left in ruins. The final Japanese soldier to surrender was Hiroo Onoda, in 1974.

Independent Philippines and the Third Republic (1946-1972)

In April 1946 elections were held but despite the fact that the Democratic Alliance won the election they were not allowed to take their seats under the pretext that force had been used to manipulate the elections. The United States withdrew its sovereignty over the Philippines on July 4, 1946, as scheduled.

Manuel Roxas (Liberal Party), having been inaugurated as President before the granting of independence, strengthened political and economic ties with the United States in the controversial Philippine-US Trade Act, which allowed the US to partake equally in the exploitation of the country's natural resources—and rented sites for 23 military bases to the US for 99 years. These bases would later be used to launch operations in the areas of Korea, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

During the Roxas administration a general amnesty was granted for those who had collaborated with the Japanese while at the same time the Huks were declared illegal. His administration ended prematurely when he died of heart attack April 15, 1948 while at the US Air Force Base in Pampanga.

Vice President Elpidio Quirino (Liberal Party, henceforth referred to as LP) was sworn in as President after the death of Roxas. He ran for election in 1949 against Jose P. Laurel (Nacionalista Party, henceforth referred to as NP) and won.

During this time the CIA under the leadership of Lt. Col. Edward G. Lansdale was engaged in paramilitary and psychological warfare operations with the goal to suppress the Huk Movement. Among the measures which were undertaken were psyops-campaigns which exploited the superstition of many Filipinos and acts of violence by government soldiers which were disguised as Huks. By 1950 the US had provided the Philippine military with supplies and equipment worth $200 million dollars.

Ramon Magsaysay was elected President in 1953. His campaign was massively supported by the CIA, both financially and through practical help in discrediting his political enemies.

The succeeding administrations of presidents Carlos P. Garcia (NP, 1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (LP, 1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

Macapagal ran for reelection in 1965 but was defeated by former party-mate, Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who had switched to the Nacionalista Party.

As president, Ferdinand Marcos embarked on a massive spending in infrastructural development, such as roads, health centers and schools as well as intensifying tax collection which gave the Philippines a taste of economic prosperity throughout the 1970's. He built more schools than all his predecessors combined.

In 1969 Marcos sought and won an unprecedented second term against Liberal Party Senator Sergio Osmeña, Jr. However he was unable to reduce massive government corruption or to create economic growth proportional to population growth. The Communist Party of the Philippines formed the New Peoples Army while the Moro National Liberation Front fought for an independent Mindanao. These events, together with student protests and labour strikes were later used as justification for the imposition of martial law.

Congress called for a Constitutional Convention in 1970 in response to public clamour for a new constitution to replace the colonial 1935 Constitution.

An explosion during the proclamation rally of the senatorial slate of the opposition Liberal Party in Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila on August 21, 1971, prompted Marcos to suspend the writ of habeas corpus hours after the blast, which he restored on January 11, 1972 after public protests.

Martial Law and the Fourth Republic (1972-1986)

The New Society (1972-1981)

Using the rising wave of lawlessness and the threat of a Communist insurgency as justification, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081. Marcos ruling by decree, curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, closed down media establishments and Congress and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Senator Jose Diokno. Initially, the declaration of martial law was very well received, given the social turmoil the Philippines was experiencing. Crime rates plunged dramatically after a curfew was implemented. Political oppositionists were given the opportunity to go into exile. But as martial law dragged on for the next nine years, excesses by the military emerged.

Constitutionally barred from seeking another term beyond 1973 and with his political enemies in jail, Marcos reconvened and maneuvered the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention to adopt a parliamentary form of government to pave the way for him to stay in power beyond 1973. Sensing that the constitution would be rejected in a nationwide plebiscite, Marcos decreed the creation of citizens' assemblies which anomalously ratified the constitution.

Even before the Constitution could be fully implemented, several amendments were introduced to it by Marcos which including the prolonging of martial law and permitting himself to be President and concurrent Prime Minister.

The economy during the decade was robust, with budgetary and trade surpluses. The Gross National Product rose from P55 billion in 1972 to P193 billion in 1980. Tourism rose, contributing to the economy's growth. The number of tourists visiting the Philippine rose to one million by 1980 from less than 200,000 in previous years. The country earned 26 billion pesos. A big portion of the tourist group was composed of Filipino balikbayans (returnees) under the Ministry of Tourism's Balikbayan Program which was launched in 1973.

The first formal elections since 1969 for an interim Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) were held in 1978.

In order to appease the Catholic Church before the visit of Pope John Paul II, Marcos officially lifted martial law on January 17, 1981. However he retained much of the government's power for arrest and detention.

Corruption and nepotism as well as civil unrest contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos, whose health declined due to lupus.

The New Republic (1981-1986)

An opposition boycotted presidential elections then ensued in June 1981, which pitted Marcos (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan) against retired Gen. Alejo Santos (Nacionalista Party). Marcos won by a margin of over 16 million votes, which constitutionally allowed him to have another six-year term.

In 1983, opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. was assassinated at the Manila International airport upon his return to the Philippines after a long period of exile. This coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and began a succession of events, including pressure from the United States, that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The elections were held on February 7, 1986. The election was marred by widespread reports of violence and tampering with results by both sides of the political fence.

The official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), declared Marcos the winner. According to COMELEC's final tally, Marcos won with 10,807,197 votes to Aquino's 9,291,761 votes. By contrast, the final tally of NAMFREL, an accredited poll watcher, said Marcos won with 7,835,070 votes to Aquino's 7,053,068. The allegedly fraudulent result was not accepted by Corazon Aquino and her supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), denounced the official results. Gen.Fidel Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile declared that they no longer supported Marcos.

A peaceful civilian-military uprising (known as the People Power Revolution) caused Marcos to go into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Restoration of Democracy and the Fifth Republic (1986 to present)

Aquino Presidency (1986-1992)

Corazon Aquino's assumption into power marked the restoration of democracy in the country. Aquino immediately formed a government to normalize the situation, provided for a transitional constitution which restored civil liberties and dismantled the heavily Marcos-ingrained bureaucracy—abolishing the Batasang Pambansa (parliament) and relieving all public officials.

The all Aquino-appointed 1986 Constitutional Commission submitted to the people a new Constitution which was overwhelmingly ratified on February 2, 1987 and went into effect on February 11. The new constitution crippled presidential power to declare martial law, proposed the creation of autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao, and restored the presidential form of government and the bicameral Congress.

Under Aquino's presidency progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

On June 1991 Mount Pinatubo in Central Luzon erupted, after being dormant for over 600 years. It was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century and cooled global weather by 1.5°C. It left more than 700 people dead and 200,000 homeless.

On September 16, 1991, despite lobbying by President Aquino, the Senate rejected a new treaty that would have allowed a 10-year extension of the US military bases in the country. The United States turned over Clark Air Base in Pampanga to the government in November, and Subic Bay Naval Base in Zambales in December 1992, ending almost a century of military presence in the Philippines.

In the 1992 elections, Defense secretary Fidel V. Ramos (Lakas-NUCD), endorsed by Aquino, won by just 23.6% of the vote, over Miriam Defensor-Santiago (PRP), Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. (NPC), House Speaker Ramon Mitra (LDP), former First Lady Imelda Marcos (KBL), Senate President Jovito Salonga (LP) and Vice President Salvador Laurel (NP).

Ramos Presidency (1992-1998)

Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, and Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end.

A standoff with China occurred in 1995, when the Chinese military built structures on Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands claimed by the Philippines as Kalayaan Islands.

A peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Nur Misuari, a major Muslim separatist group fighting for an independent Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao, was signed in 1996, ending the 24-year old struggle. However an MNLF splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Salamat Hashim continued the armed Muslim struggle for an Islamic state.

The 1998 elections were won by former movie actor and Vice President Joseph Ejercito Estrada (PMP-LAMMP) with overwhelming mass support, with close to 11 million votes. The other ten candidates included his closest rival and administration candidate, House Speaker Jose De Venecia (Lakas-NUCD-UMDP) with 4.4 million votes, Senator Raul Roco (Aksyon Demokratiko), former Cebu governor Emilio Osmeña (PROMDI) and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim (LP).

Estrada Presidency (1998-2001)

Under the Asian financial crisis starting in 1997, Estrada's wayward governance took a heavy toll on the economy. Unemployment worsened, the budget deficit grew, the currency plunged. Eventually, the economy recovered but much slower than its Asian neighbors.

In late 1999, Estrada waged an all-out war against the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Central Mindanao, which displaced half a million people. In March 2000 the bandit group Abu Sayyaf abducted to Basilan 21 hostages, including 10 foreign tourists, from the Sipadan Island resort in neighboring Sabah, Malaysia. They were freed in batches after over $20 million ransom were reportedly paid by the Libyan government.

In October 2000, Ilocos Sur governor Luis "Chavit" Singson a close Estrada friend accused the President of receiving collections from jueteng, an illegal numbers game.

On November 13, 2000 the House of Representatives impeached Estrada on grounds of bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution. His impeachment trial in the Senate began on December 7 but broke down on January 17 2001, after 11 senators allied with Estrada successfully blocked the opening of confidential bank records that would have been used by the House Prosecutors to incriminate the President. In response, millions of people massed up at the EDSA Shrine, where in 1986 the People Power Revolution had ousted Marcos, demanding Estrada's immediate resignation. Estrada's cabinet resigned en masse and the military and police withdrew their support. On January 20, the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant and swore in Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the country's 14th President. Estrada and his family evacuated the Malacañang Palace.

Nevetheless, Estrada petitioned the Supreme Court that he did not resign but he just went on an indefinite liave. The Supreme Court ruled on this with finality on March 2, 2001 that Estrada vacated the position.

Arroyo Presidency (2001-present)

Main article: 2005 Philippine electoral crisis

Seeking to retain presidential immunity from suit, Estrada challenged the legitimacy of Arroyo's government, claiming he did had not resigned from office and Arroyo was just an Acting President, but the Supreme Court twice upheld its legitimacy.

On April 25 2001, two weeks before the mid-term senatorial elections, the Sandiganbayan—the Philippine anti-graft court—issued an arrest warrant for Estrada. Estrada's supporters staged a so-called "EDSA Tres", or third People Power Revolution at the EDSA Shrine, which on May 1 attempted to overthrow Arroyo's government.

In May 27, 2001 the Abu Sayyaf Group again abducted 20 hostages, including 3 Americans, from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan. It executed one American hostage; other hostages were released after negotiations and ransom payments. Abu Sayyaf was neutralized when its leader Abu Sabaya was killed in an encounter off the coast of Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte and Ghalib Andang (also known as Commander Robot) was captured in Sulu on December 8, 2003.

Arroyo supported the US led Invasion of Iraq and sent a contingent of troops to Iraq. The troops were withdrawn in July 2004 as a condition for the release of a Filipino worker hostaged by Iraqi militants.

Complaining of high-level corruption in the military, a group of about 300 junior military officers staged a mutiny on July 27, 2003 occupying the Oakwood Premier in Ayala Center in Makati City and rigging the vicinity with bombs. The mutiny ended 22 hours later after the surrender of the mutineers.

In the May 10, 2004 elections, retracting previous pronouncements Arroyo (Lakas-CMD) ran against popular movie actor and Estrada buddy Fernando Poe, Jr. (KNP), Senator Panfilo Lacson (independent), her former Education Secretary Raul Roco (Aksyon Demokratiko) and evangelist Eduardo Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas). After a long canvassing in Congress, Arroyo was proclaimed the winner on June 24 with over 1.1 million votes over her strongest contender Poe. Her running-mate Senator Noli De Castro won the vice-presidency, and the administration party, the Lakas-CMD secured a majority in both houses of Congress.

During 2004 and 2005, the Philippines saw sporadic murders of government officials, government dissenters, opposition members, and journalists, among them Marlene Esperat and Klein Cantoneros. The Philippines ranked 1st in the List of Most Deadly Countries for Journalists in Non-War areas.

There is also widespread concern that the Philippines' courts are prone to political manipulation. A recent high-profile case - the trial of Francisco "Paco" Larrañaga (a dual Filipino and Spanish citizen) and six other men for the kidnap, rape and murder of two girls reveals grave flaws in the country's judicial system. Larrañaga was convicted solely on the testimony of a drug addict, David Rusia, who traded immunity from prosecution in return for implicating the Filipino-Spaniard. Furthermore, witnesses who could have corroborated Larrañaga's alibi were barred by the trial judge from giving testimony. Most worrying of all, Thelma Chiong, the sister of one of the victims, was the politically influential Private Secretary to the President of the Philippines at the time. A documentary by TVC, a Spanish television station, draws attention to the promotion of the State attorneys in the case shortly after the convictions were secured. The documentary suggests that Thelma Chiong pushed the promotions through in return for a guilty verdict. The case has significantly damaged the international image of the Philippines' courts. Pat Cox, President of the European Union at the time, sent a letter to Philippines' President Arroyo protesting against the sentence and trial procedure.

Arroyo spearheads a plan for a charter change on July 2006 to transform the present presidential republic into a federal parliament. Opponents say that this is her plan to stay longer as president. In another controversy, her husband and son were accused as illegal gambling lords, implicated by a witness named Boy Mayor. She is also the focus of a 'destabilization plot' of the opposition in which a tape was found, allegedly bearing her voice, instructing election officials to increase the votes for her in Mindanao island. Her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, went on a voluntary exile to the United States.

On June and July 2005, the country saw massive protests calling for President Arroyo's resignation due to alleged election fraud. Philippine hardcore politicans, such as Senate President Franklin Drilon, Former President Corazon Aquino, and many of Arroyo's cabinet members who resigned also urged the President to resign. On July 9, the police and military alert was raised to full alert throughout the Philippines. Protests occurred throughout Metro Manila, Baguio City, Bacolod, Naga City and Cebu City. The Mindanao people also started protesting, not for Arroyo's resignation, but for the creation of an independent Mindanao Republic. Politicans from Cebu City advised Arroyo to move the seat of government from Manila to Cebu. Rallies sparked, supported by Catholic Universities and Student Councils, Communist dissenters, Muslim religious groups, Protestant churches, and the masses.

Nevertheless, Arroyo held onto the presidency and became the first president of the Philippines to do so despite calls for resignation.

See also


"Statistics: Spanish Language in the Philippines"


Note 1: William G. Solheim II, Avelina Legaspi, and Jaime S. Neri, S.J. Philippine National Museum – University of Hawaii archaeological survey in southeastern Mindanao. as cited in The People and Art of the Philippines, UCLA Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, California. Fall, 1981.

Note 2: Barbier 1988, Islands and Ancestors. Prestel, ISBN 3-7913-0899-8, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Note 3: The Spanish friars were surprised at the ease with which the Filipinos could read Baybayin writing (right to left, left to right, and even upside down) apparently because the script was linear when incised on a bamboo stick, and was well suited to the language. However, the language would change in the face of pressure from Spanish words, consonants, and vowels.

External references

es:Historia de Filipinas fr:Histoire des Philippines ko:필리핀의 역사 nl:Geschiedenis van de Filipijnen ja:フィリピンの歴史 pt:História das Filipinas