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History of the Philippines

The history of the Philippines is believed to have begun with the arrival of the first humans using rafts or primitive boats, at least 67,000 years ago as the 2007 discovery of Callao Man showed.[1] The first recorded visit from the West is the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, who sighted Samar on March 16, 1521 and landed on Homonhon Island southeast of Samar the next day.[2]

Before Magellan arrived, Negrito tribes roamed the isles, but they were later supplanted by Austronesians. These groups then stratified into: hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, petty plutocracies and maritime-oriented harbor principalities which eventually grew into kingdoms, rajahnates, principalities, confederations and sultanates. States such as the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan and Cebu, the dynasty of Tondo, the august kingdoms of Maysapan and Maynila, the Confederation of Madyaas, the sinified Country of Mai, as well as the Muslim Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao. These small maritime states flourished from as early as the 1st Millenium.[citation needed] These kingdoms traded with what are now now called China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.[3] The remainder of the settlements were independent Barangays allied with one of the larger states. The “balangay” or “barangay” represented an independent community in the Archipelago ruled by a “Datu”. There were, however, instances where a Datu of a certain barangay was aided by a council of elders in running the affairs of the baranggay similar to privy councils of European monarchs. In that patriarchal society, the Datu and his family constituted the highest authority in the barangay and were therefore considered the equivalent of European monarchs. His rule was absolute. He dispensed justice and declared war against other barangays. Therefore, at the apex of pre-Spanish nobility in the Philippine Archipelago, was the Datu – the term commonly use by the Tagalogs. In Mindanao, ‘Sultan’ and ‘Rajah’ were used accordingly for the highest chief of their respective communities.

Spanish colonization and settlement began with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi's expedition on February 13, 1565 who established the first permanent settlement of San Miguel on the island of Cebu.[4] The expedition continued northward reaching the bay of Manila on the island of Luzon on June 24, 1571,[5] where they established a new town and thus began an era of Spanish colonization that lasted for more than three centuries.[6]

Spanish rule achieved the political unification of almost the whole archipelago, that previously had been composed by independent kingdoms and communities, pushing back south the advancing Islamic forces and creating the first draft of the nation that was to be known as the Philippines. Spain also introduced Christianity, the code of law, the oldest Universities and the first public education system in Asia, the western European version of printing, the Gregorian calendar and invested heavily on all kinds of modern infrastructures, such as train networks and modern bridges.

The Spanish East Indies were ruled as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and administered from Mexico City from 1565 to 1821, and administered directly from Madrid, Spain from 1821 until the end of the Spanish–American War in 1898, except for a brief period of British rule from 1762 to 1764. During the Spanish period, numerous towns were founded, infrastructures built, new crops and livestock introduced. The Chinese, British, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, and indigenous traders, complained that the Spanish reduced trade by attempting to enforce a Spanish monopoly. Spanish missionaries attempted to convert the population to Christianity and were eventually generally successful in the northern and central lowlands. They founded schools, a university, and some hospitals, principally in Manila and the largest Spanish fort settlements. Universal education was made free for all Filipino subjects in 1863 and remained so until the end of the Spanish colonial era. This measure was at the vanguard of contemporary Asian countries, and led to an important class of educated natives, like Jose Rizal. Ironically, it was during the initial years of American occupation in the early 20th century, that Spanish literature and press flourished.

The Philippine Revolution against Spain began in August 1896, but it was largely unsuccessful until it received support from the United States, culminating two years later with a proclamation of independence and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. However, the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the Spanish–American War, transferred control of the Philippines to the United States. This agreement was not recognized by the insurgent First Philippine Republic Government which, on June 2, 1899, proclaimed a Declaration of War against the United States.[7] The Philippine–American War which ensued resulted in massive casualties.[8] Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and the U.S. government declared the conflict officially over in 1902. The Filipino leaders, for the most part, accepted that the Americans had won, but hostilities continued and only began to decline in 1913, leaving a total number of casualties on the Filipino side of more than one million dead, many of them civilians.[9][10]

The U.S. had established a military government in the Philippines on August 14, 1898, following the capture of Manila.[11] Civil government was inaugurated on July 1, 1901.[12] An elected Philippine Assembly was convened in 1907 as the lower house of a bicameral legislature.[12] Commonwealth status was granted in 1935, preparatory to a planned full independence from the United States in 1946.[13] Preparation for a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II.[5][14] After the end of the war, the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation.[15]

With a promising economy in the 1950s and 1960s, the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a rise of student activism and civil unrest against President Ferdinand Marcos who declared martial law in 1972.[5][not in citation given] The peaceful and bloodless People Power Revolution of 1986, however, brought about the ousting of Marcos and a return to democracy for the country. The period since then, however, has been marked by political instability and hampered economic productivity.


The earliest archeological evidence for man in the archipelago is the 67,000-year-old Callao Man of Cagayan and the Angono Petroglyphs in Rizal, both of whom appear to suggest the presence of human settlement prior to the arrival of the Negritos and Austronesian speaking people.[16][17][18][19][20]

There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos. F. Landa Jocano theorizes that the ancestors of the Filipinos evolved locally. Wilhelm Solheim's Island Origin Theory[21] postulates that the peopling of the archipelago transpired via trade networks originating in the antediluvian Sundaland area around 48000 to 5000 BCE rather than by wide-scale migration. The Austronesian Expansion Theory states that Malayo-Polynesians coming from Taiwan began migrating to the Philippines around 4000 BCE, displacing earlier arrivals.[22][23]

The Negritos were early settlers but their appearance in the Philippines has not been reliably dated.[24] and they were followed by speakers of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, a branch of the Austronesian languages, who began to arrive in successive waves beginning about 4000 BC, displacing the earlier arrivals.[22] [25]

By 1000 BC the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago had developed into four distinct kinds of peoples: tribal groups, such as the Aetas, Hanunoo, Ilongots and the Mangyan who depended on hunter-gathering and were concentrated in forests; warrior societies, such as the Isneg and Kalingas who practiced social ranking and ritualized warfare and roamed the plains; the petty plutocracy of the Ifugao Cordillera Highlanders, who occupied the mountain ranges of Luzon; and the harbor principalities of the estuarine civilizations that grew along rivers and seashores while participating in trans-island maritime trade.[26]

Around 300–700 CE the seafaring peoples of the islands traveling in balangays began to trade with the Indianized kingdoms in the Malay Archipelago and the nearby East Asian principalities, adopting influences from both Buddhism and Hinduism.[27][28][unreliable source?]

Classical States (900 AD to 1521)

The Start of Recorded History
The end of Philippine prehistory is April 21[29] 900 AD,[30] the date inscribed in the oldest Philippine document found so far, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. From the details of the document, written in Kawi script, the bearer of a debt, Namwaran, along with his children Lady Angkatan and Bukah, are cleared of a debt by the ruler of Tondo. From the various Sanskrit terms and titles seen in the document, the culture and society of Manila Bay was that of a Hindu-Old Malay amalgamation, similar to the cultures of Java, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra at the time. There are no other significant documents from this period of pre-Hispanic Philippine society and culture until the Doctrina Christiana of the late 16th century, written at the start of the Spanish period in both native Baybayin script and Spanish. Other artifacts with Kawi script and baybayin were found, such as an Ivory seal from Butuan dated to the early 11th century[31] and the Calatagan pot with baybayin inscription, dated to the 13th century.[32]

In the years leading up to 1000 CE, there were already several maritime societies existing in the islands but there was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine archipelago. Instead, the region was dotted by numerous semi-autonomous barangays (settlements ranging in size from villages to city-states) under the sovereignty of competing thalassocracies ruled by datus, rajahs or sultans[33] or by upland agricultural societies ruled by "petty plutocrats". States such as the Kingdom of Maynila, the Kingdom of Taytay in Palawan (mentioned by Pigafetta to be where they resupllied when the remaining ships escaped Cebu after Magellan was slain), the Chieftaincy of Coron Island ruled by fierce warriors called Tagbanua as reported by Spanish missionaries mentioned by Nilo S. Ocampo,[34] Namayan, the Dynasty of Tondo, the Confederation of Madyaas, the rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu and the sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu existed alongside the highland societies of the Ifugao and Mangyan.[35][36][37][38] Some of these regions were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei.[39][40][41]

The Kingdom of Tondo
Since at least the year 900, the thalassocracy centered in Manila Bay flourished via an active trade with Chinese, Japanese, Malays, and various other peoples in East Asia. Tondo thrived as the capital and the seat of power of this ancient kingdom, which was led by kings under the title "Lakan" and ruled a large part of what is now known as Luzon from or possibly before 900 AD to 1571. During its existence, it grew to become one of the most prominent and wealthy kingdom states in pre-colonial Philippines due to heavy trade and connections with several neighboring nations such as China and Japan. In 900 AD, the lord-minister Jayadewa presented a document of debt forgiveness to Lady Angkatan and her brother Bukah, the children of Namwaran. This is described in the Philippine's oldest known document, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.[42]

The Rajahnate of Butuan
By year 1011 Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the monarch of the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan, a maritime-state famous for its goldwork[43] sent a trade envoy under ambassador Likan-shieh to the Chinese Imperial Court demanding equal diplomatic status with other states.[44] The request being approved, it opened up direct commercial links with the Rajahnate of Butuan and the Chinese Empire thereby diminishing the monopoly on Chinese trade previously enjoyed by their rivals the Dynasty of Tondo and the Champa civilization.[45] Evidence of the existence of this rajahnate is given by the Butuan Silver Paleograph.[46]

The Rajahnate of Cebu
The Rajahnate of Cebu was a classical Philippine state which used to exist on Cebu island prior to the arrival of the Spanish. It was founded by Sri Lumay otherwise known as Rajamuda Lumaya, a minor prince of the Chola dynasty which happened to occupy Sumatra. He was sent by the maharajah to establish a base for expeditionary forces to subdue the local kingdoms but he rebelled and established his own independent Rajahnate instead. This rajahnate warred against the 'magalos' (Slave traders) of Maguindanao and had an alliance with the Butuan Rajahnate before it was weakened by the insurrection of Datu (Lord) Lapulapu.[47]

The Confederation of Madyaas
During the 11th century several exiled datus of the collapsing empire of Srivijaya[48] led by Datu Puti led a mass migration to the central islands of the Philippines, fleeing from Rajah Makatunao of the island of Borneo. Upon reaching the island of Panay and purchasing the island from Negrito chieftain Marikudo, they established a confederation of polities and named it the Confederation of Madyaas centered in Aklan and they settled the surrounding islands of the Visayas. This confederation reached its peak under Datu Padojinog. During his reign the confederations' hegemony extended over most of the islands of Visayas. Its people consistently made piratical attacks against Chinese imperial shipping.[49]

The Country of Mai
Around 1225, the Country of Mai, a Sinified pre-Hispanic Philippine island-state centered in Mindoro,[50] flourished as an entrepot, attracting traders & shipping from the Kingdom of Ryukyu to the Yamato Empire of Japan.[51] Chao Jukua, a customs inspector in Fukien province, China wrote the Zhufan Zhi ("Description of the Barbarous Peoples"[52]), which described trade with this pre-colonial Philippine state.[53]

The Sultanate of Sulu
In 1380, Karim ul' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu. This sultanate eventually gained great wealth due to its manufacture of fine pearls.[54]

The Sultanate of Maguindanao
At the end of the 15th century, Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao and he subsequently married Paramisuli, an Iranun Princess from Mindanao, and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao.[55] By the 16th century, Islam had spread to other parts of the Visayas and Luzon.

The expansion of Islam
During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei decided to break the Dynasty of Tondo's monopoly in the China trade by attacking Tondo and establishing the state of Selurong (now Manila) as a Bruneian satellite-state.[56][57] A new dynasty under the Islamized Rajah Salalila[58] was also established to challenge the House of Lakandula in Tondo.[59] Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines of traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia.[60] The multiple states competing over the limited territory and people of the islands simplified Spanish colonization by allowing its conquistadors to effectively employ a strategy of divide and conquer for rapid conquest.

Spanish settlement and rule (1565–1898)

Early Spanish expeditions and conquests
Parts of the Philippine Islands were known to Europeans before the 1521 Spanish expedition around the world led by Portuguese-born Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who were not the first Europeans in the Philippines.[clarification needed] Magellan landed on the island called Homonhon, claiming the islands he saw for Spain, and naming them Islas de San Lázaro.[61] He established friendly relations with some of the local leaders especially with Rajah Humabon and converted some of them to Roman Catholicism.[61] In the Philippines, they explored many islands including the island of Mactan. However, Magellan was killed during the Battle of Mactan against the datu Lapu-Lapu.

Over the next several decades, other Spanish expeditions were dispatched to the islands. In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos led an expedition to the islands and gave the name Las Islas Filipinas (after Philip II of Spain) to the islands of Samar and Leyte.[62] The name was extended to the entire archipelago in the twentieth century.

European colonization began in earnest when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. Beginning with just five ships and five hundred men accompanied by Augustinian monks, and further strengthened in 1567 by two hundred soldiers, he was able to repel the Portuguese and create the foundations for the colonization of the Archipelago. In 1571, the Spanish occupied the kingdoms of Maynila and Tondo and established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies.[63][64]

Legazpi built a fort in Maynila and made overtures of friendship to Rajah Lakandula of Tondo, who accepted. However, Maynila's former ruler, Rajah Sulaiman, refused to submit to Legazpi, but failed to get the support of Lakandula or of the Pampangan and Pangasinan settlements to the north. When Sulaiman and a force of Tagalog warriors attacked the Spaniards in the battle of Bangcusay, he was finally defeated and killed.

In 1587, Magat Salamat, one of the children of Lakan Dula, Lakan Dula's nephew, and the lords of the neighboring areas of Tondo, Pandacan, Marikina, Candaba, Navotas and Bulacan were executed when the Tondo Conspiracy of 1587-1588 failed[65] in which a planned grand alliance with the Japanese admiral Gayo, Butuan's last rajah and Brunei's Sultan Bolkieh, would have restored the old aristocracy. Its failure resulted in the hanging of Agustín de Legazpi (great grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the initiator of the plot) and the execution of Magat Salamat (the crown-prince of Tondo).[66]

Spanish power was further consolidated after Miguel López de Legazpi's conquest of the Confederation of Madya-as, his subjugation of Rajah Tupas, the King of Cebu and Juan de Salcedo's conquest of the provinces of Zambales, La Union, Ilocos, the coast of Cagayan, and the ransacking of the Chinese warlord Limahong's pirate kingdom in Pangasinan.

The Spanish and the Moros also waged many wars over hundreds of years in the Spanish-Moro Conflict, not until the 19th century did Spain succeed in defeating the Sulu Sultanate and taking Mindanao under nominal suzerainty.

Spanish settlement during the 16th and 17th centuries
The "Memoria de las Encomiendas en las Islas" of 1591, just twenty years after the conquest of Luzon, reveals a remarkable[says who?] progress in the work of colonization and the spread of Christianity. In the city of Manila was built a cathedral with an episcopal palace, Augustinian, Dominican and Franciscan monasteries and a Jesuit house. The king maintained a hospital for the Spanish settlers and there was another hospital for the natives run by the Franciscans. The garrison was composed of roughly two hundred soldiers. In the suburb of Tondo there was a convent run by Franciscan friars and other by the Dominicans that offered Christian education to the Chinese converted to Christianity. The same report reveals that in and around Manila were collected nine thousand four hundred and ten tributes, indicating a population of about thirty thousand and six hundred forty souls who were under the instruction of thirteen missionaries (ministers of doctrine), apart from the monks in monasteries. In the former province of Pampanga the population estimate was 74,700 and twenty-eight missionaries. In Pangasinan 2,400 people with eight missionaries. In Cagayan and islands Babuyanes 96,000 souls but not missionaries. In La Laguna 48,400 souls with twenty-seven missionaries. In Bicol and Camarines Catanduanes islands 86,640 souls with fifteen missionaries. The total was 667,612 souls under the care of one hundred forty missionaries, of which seventy-nine were Augustinians, nine Dominicans and forty-two Franciscans.[67]

The fragmented nature of the islands made it easy for Spanish colonization. The Spanish then brought political unification to most of the Philippine archipelago via the conquest of the various states although they were unable to fully incorporate parts of the sultanates of Mindanao and the areas where tribes and highland plutocracy of the Ifugao of Northern Luzon were established. The Spanish introduced elements of western civilization such as the code of law, western printing and the Gregorian calendar alongside new food resources such as maize, pineapple and chocolate from Latin America.[68]

Education played a major role in the socioeconomic transformation of the archipelago. The oldest universities, colleges, and vocational schools and the first modern public education system in Asia were all created during the Spanish colonial period, and by the time Spain was replaced by the United States as the colonial power, Filipinos were among the most educated subjects in all of Asia.[69] The Jesuits founded the Colegio de Manila in 1590, which later became the Universidad de San Ignacio, a royal and pontifical university. They also founded the Colegio de San Ildefonso on August 1, 1595. After the expulsion of the Society of Jesus in 1768, the management of the Jesuit schools passed to other parties. On April 28, 1611, through the initiative of Bishop Miguel de Benavides, the Universidad de Santo Tomás was founded in Manila. The Jesuits also founded the Colegio de San José (1601) and took over the Escuela Municipal, later to be called the Ateneo de Manila University (1859). All institutions offered courses included not only religious topics but also science subjects such as physics, chemistry, natural history and mathematics. The University of Santo Tomás, for example, started by teaching theology, philosophy and humanities and during the 18th century, the Faculty of Jurisprudence and Canonical Law, together with the schools of medicine and pharmacy were opened.

Outside the tertiary institutions, the efforts of missionaries were in no way limited to religious instruction but also geared towards promoting social and economic advancement of the islands. They cultivated into the natives their innate[citation needed] taste for music and taught Spanish language to children.[70] They also introduced advances in rice agriculture, brought from America corn and cocoa and developed the farming of indigo, coffee and sugar cane. The only commercial plant introduced by a government agency was the plant of tobacco.

Church and state were inseparably linked in Spanish policy, with the state assuming responsibility for religious establishments.[71] One of Spain's objectives in colonizing the Philippines was the conversion of the local population to Roman Catholicism. The work of conversion was facilitated by the absence of other organized religions, except for Islam, which was still predominant in the southwest. The pageantry of the church had a wide appeal, reinforced by the incorporation of indigenous social customs into religious observances.[71] The eventual outcome was a new Roman Catholic majority, from which the Muslims of western Mindanao and the upland tribal peoples of Luzon remained detached and alienated (such as the Ifugaos of the Cordillera region and the Mangyans of Mindoro).[71]

At the lower levels of administration, the Spanish built on traditional village organization by co-opting local leaders. This system of indirect rule helped create an indigenous upper class, called the principalia, who had local wealth, high status, and other privileges. This perpetuated an oligarchic system of local control. Among the most significant changes under Spanish rule was that the indigenous idea of communal use and ownership of land was replaced with the concept of private ownership and the conferring of titles on members of the principalia.[71]

Around 1608 William Adams, an English navigator contacted the interim governor of the Philippines, Rodrigo de Vivero y Velasco on behalf of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who wished to establish direct trade contacts with New Spain. Friendly letters were exchanged, officially starting relations between Japan and New Spain. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from Mexico, via the Royal Audiencia of Manila, and administered directly from Spain from 1821 after the Mexican revolution,[72] until 1898.

Many of the Aztec and Mayan warriors that López de Legazpi brought with him eventually settled in Mexico, Pampanga where traces of Aztec and Mayan influence can still be found in the many chico plantations in the area (chico is a fruit indigenous only to Mexico) and also by the name of the province itself.[73]

The Manila Galleons which linked Manila to Acapulco traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th centuries. The Spanish military fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges, especially from the British, Chinese pirates, Dutch, and Portuguese. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, universities, and hospitals. In 1863 a Spanish decree introduced education, establishing public schooling in Spanish.[74]

In 1646, a series of five naval actions known as the Battles of La Naval de Manila was fought between the forces of Spain and the Dutch Republic, as part of the Eighty Years War. Although the Spanish forces consisted of just two Manila galleons and a galley with crews composed mainly of Filipino volunteers, against three separate Dutch squadrons, totaling eighteen ships, the Dutch squadrons were severely defeated in all fronts by the Spanish-Filipino forces, forcing the Dutch to abandon their plans for an invasion of the Philippines.


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