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History of the Philippines

History of the Philippines

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Ancient History

Various austronesian groups settled in what is now the Philippine islands by traversing land bridges coming from Taiwan and Borneo by 50,000 BC. Around 3000 BC, Malays[?], from what is now Indonesia and Malaysia, also entered the area.

Early History

Since, at least, the 3rd century, Pilipinos were in contact with other east asian nations. They were, to varying extents, under the Hindu-Malayan empires[?] of Sumatra, Indochina, and Borneo and then, beginning with the Ming Dynasty, under the Chinese sphere of influence.

Around 1405, Islam was introduced and for around 100 years the islands south of Luzon, and the southern half of Luzon, were subject to the Mohammedans of Borneo. During this period, the Japanese established a trading post at Aparri and maintained a loose sway over northern Luzon.

As competing invader groups colonized the islands, the natives were pushed back into the mountains and Malays became the dominant ethnic group. Modern Pilipinos live in a culture that is a blend of Asian, Islamic, and Amer-European cultures.

The Spanish Colonial Period

The Philippines first came to the attention of Europeans when Ferdinand Magellan landed there in 1521, claiming the lands for Spain, he was defeated at the Battle of Mactan. In 1543 Ruy Lopez de Villalobos named the territory Filipinas after King Philip II of Spain. On April 27, 1565 the first permanent Spanish settlement was founded by Miguel López de Legaspi 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. The Spanish gradually took control of the islands, which became their outpost in Asia.

Spanish colonial rule brought Catholicism. 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 colonial period also saw the Spanish dominate the economy, focusing on the tobacco, as well as the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico. Commerce was tightly controlled by Spanish authorities until 1837 when Manila was made an open port.

To avoid hostile powers, most trade between Spain and the Philippines was via the Pacific Ocean to Mexico, and then across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to Spain. The Spanish military had to fight off Chinese pirates (who sometimes came to lay siege to Manila), Dutch forces, Portugeuse forces, and insurgent natives.

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

In 1762, the British seized Manila, but made little effort to extend their control beyond the port city. By 1764 the Treaty of Paris (1763) had returned Manila to Spain.

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 Revolution

In the late 19th century there was increasing insurgency against Spain, as natives demanded independence. 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 done of the colonial government and especially the Catholic friars. Among the propagandists are José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar[?], and Graciano López Jaena[?]. Rizal, the most famous of the propagandists, was executed on December 30, 1896.

The injustices of the Spanish had led to uprisings since the 1600s. 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—Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora (see Gomburza[?])—. Historians generally agree that this execution marks the start of the Philippine Revolutionary Period.

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

In 1898 Spain and the United States of America went to war (see: Spanish-American War). The US Navy under George Dewey attacked the Spanish in Manila Bay by sea as the Filipino forces lead by Emilio Aguinaldo attacked by land, resulting in Spanish surrender.

Faced with inevitable defeat, Spain sued for peace-- but instead of surrendering the Philippines to the Filipinos, the Spanish sold the country to the United States, at the end of the Spanish-American War.

The Filipinos, under Emilio Aguinaldo, declared victory and proclaimed their independence on June 12, 1898. Aguinaldo became the first Philippine President and a congress drafted and approved a constitution. This act was opposed by the United States.

The American Period

At the end of the war, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1898), Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. When it became clear to the natives that American forces intended to occupy and control the country, revolts broke out. 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 Adminstration.

The Americans refused to recognize any Philippine right to self government, and on February 4, 1899 Aguinaldo declared war against the United States so long as they opposed independence. 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. The Americans gradually succeeded in taking control of urban and costal areas by the end of 1903. A large American military force was needed to occupy the country, and would be regularly engaged in war, against Filipino rebels, for another decade. An estimated 250,000 Filipinos were killed by the U.S. Forces in the attempt to put down the forces favoring independence.

Some measures of Filipino self rule were allowed, however. The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907. A bicameral legislature[?], largely under Philippine control, was established. 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. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

The Commonwealth Era

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 US. In 1916, a Pilipino House of Representatives was permitted and this body gradually began to take control of the internal government.

In 1934, the American Tydings-McDuffie Act granted Philippine independence by 1944. 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 and a Filipino government was formed on the basis of the US Constitution. (See: Philippine National Assembly[?]; see Signing_of_the_Philippine_Constitution for a picture of the signing.)

Tagalog became the official language in 1937, although twice as many people spoke Visayan.

The Japanese Conquest and World War II

The invasion by Japan began in December of 1941. As the Japanese forced advanced, Manila was declared an open city to prevent it from destruction, meanwhile, the government was moved to Corregidor. In March of 1942 USA 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, 1945. Over a million Filipinos had been killed in the war, and many towns and cities, including Manila, were left in ruins.

Independent Republic of the Philippines

The Philippines attained independence in 1946, with the Liberal Party's Manuel Roxas[?] becoming the first president of an internationally recognized independent Phillipine nation. In 1948 he was succeeded by Elpidio Quirino[?]. The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. A communist-inspired Huk Rebellion[?] (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay[?]. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia[?] (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal[?] (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

Ferdinand Marcos was first elected President on the Nacionalista Party in 1965. In 1972 he declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a 6-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers. Corruption and favoritism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino[?] upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, after a long period of exile, coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events 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 election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986. A new Philippine constitution went into effect on February 11, 1987.

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.

Fidel Ramos[?] was elected president in 1992. 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, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as 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 peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group was signed in 1996.

Joseph Ejercito Estrada[?]'s election as President in May 1998, marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Estrada's Vice President, assumed the Presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The Philippine Supreme Court[?] subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power.

In 1992, the US closed down its last military bases on the islands. A quarter-century-old guerrilla war with Muslim separatists on the island of Mindanao, which had claimed 120,000 lives, ended with a treaty in 1996.

However, there still remains some pocket rebellions with fragmented rebel groups, particularly some communist groups operating in the mountains of Luzon and the Visayas, and a smattering of Muslim fighters who do not recognize the 1996 peace treaty. Likewise, there has been a rise in the terroristic activities of Islamic-fundamentalist groups collectively fighting under the Abu Sayyaf banner. In 2003 U.S. troops began to participate in combat against Abu Sayyaf along with Filipino troops (though Filipinio authorities denied this), violating the Filipino Constition.

See also : Philippines, Communications History of the Philippines, Demographic History of the Philippines, Military History of the Philippines, Transportation History of the Philippines

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