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Philippines History

The history of the Philippines can be divided into five distinct phases: Metal Age Philippines [ 500 BC-AD 1000]; The Porcelein Period ( c.1000-1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the post-independence period (1946-present).

The Angono Petroglyphs cultural heritage site dates back to circa 3000 BC and is the most ancient Filipino, or more aptly, prehistoric Filipino work of art. Besides being the country’s oldest “work of art” it also offers us an evocative glimpse into the life of our ancestors. The site has been included in the World Inventory of Rock Art under the auspices of UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS and nominated as one of the “100 Most Endangered Sites of the World.

500 BC-AD 1000 - Metal Age Philippines

Negrito, proto-Malay, and Malay peoples were the principal peoples of the Philippine archipelago. The Negritos are believed to have migrated by land bridges some 30,000 years ago, during the last glacial period. Later migrations were by water and took place over several thousand years in repeated movements before and after the start of the Christian era.

According to popular belief, Malays subsequently came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats by sea. In contrast, modern archeological, linguistic, and genetic evidence strongly suggests that those successive waves of migrants came from Taiwan as the Austronesian sub-group, Malayo-Polynesians. From Taiwan, the Austronesians first spread southward across the Philippines, then on to Indonesia, Malaysia, and as far away as Polynesia and Madagascar. The migrants settled in scattered communities, named barangays after the large outrigger boats in which they arrived.

The social and political organization of the population in the widely scattered islands evolved into a generally common pattern. Only the permanent-field rice farmers of northern Luzon had any concept of territoriality. The basic unit of settlement was the barangay [a Malay term for boat], originally a kinship group headed by a datu (chief). Within the barangay, the broad social divisions consisted of nobles, including the datu; freemen; and a group described before the Spanish period as dependents. Dependents included several categories with differing status: landless agricultural workers; those who had lost freeman status because of indebtedness or punishment for crime; and slaves, most of whom appear to have been war captives.

1000-1521 - Porcelain Age

Mainland Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century, sometimes traveling on the ships of Arab traders, who introduced Islam in the south and extended some influence even into Luzon. Tales of early Chinese adventure devote considerable space to the Philippines, their people, and records of trade in these by-gone centuries between the two countries—long before Magellan led the Spanish Armada on their conquest of the Far East. It is to these we must refer for our earliest records of the lumber industry in th« Philippine Islands. We find that even in those days the Chinese merchants obtained logs of fancy cabinet woods and ship timbers from the Philippine forests and exported them to China for manufacturing purposes. The Malayo-Polynesians, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from the Indonesian islands. By 1500 Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the Manila area by 1565. Muslim immigrants introduced a political concept of territorial states ruled by rajas or sultans who exercised suzerainty over the datu. Neither the political state concept of the Muslim rulers nor the limited territorial concept of the sedentary rice farmers of Luzon, however, spread beyond the areas where they originated. When the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century, the majority of the estimated 500,000 people in the islands still lived in barangay settlements.

1521-1898 - Spanish Period

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, but was killed shortly after arriving when he intervened in a dispute between rival tribes. Christianity was established in the Philippines only after the arrival of the succeeding Spanish expeditionary forces (the first led by Legazpi in the early 16th century) and the Spanish Jesuits, and in the 17th and 18th centuries by the conquistadores.

Until Mexico proclaimed independence from Spain in 1810, the islands were under the administrative control of Spanish North America, and there was significant migration between North America and the Philippines. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed with a local government centered in Manila and with considerable clerical influence. Spanish influence was strongest in Luzon and the central Philippines but less so in Mindanao, save for certain coastal cities.

The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, European-educated Filipinos or ilustrados (such as the Chinese Filipino national hero Jose Rizal) began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain that began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo (another Chinese Filipino) and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

1898-1946 - American Period

Following Admiral George Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the U.S. occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the Spanish-American war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by revolutionary General Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. During this conflict fighting and disease claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), 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, and resistance gradually died out until the conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. Armed resistance continued sporadically until 1913, however, especially among the Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always 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, public infrastructure, and a sound legal system. The legacy of the “Thomasites”--American teachers who came to the Philippines starting in 1901 and created the tradition of a strong public education system--continues to resonate today.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907, and a bicameral legislature, largely under Filipino 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.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. Japan attacked the Philippines in December 1941, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos fought a running guerrilla campaign against Japanese forces.

The full-scale war to regain the Philippines began when General Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrendered in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting. In total, an estimated one million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

Due to the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Philippine Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. The 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.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) 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, and corruption and cronyism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, Jr. 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 Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos fled the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.



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Page last modified: 07-04-2017 19:38:42 ZULU