The history of the Philippines is a long and bloody one. Philippine history has been divided into eight periods highlighting the milieu of that time.


The discovery of fossilized remains of the Callao Man in Cagayan and of the Tabon Man in Palawan in the Philippine archipelago are one of the oldest evidences of human settlement in Asia-Pacific. Uranium-thorium dating found the two remains to be at least 67,000 and 47,000 years old respectively. Negritos were among the earliest inhabitants of the islands but their appearance have not been dated reliably. There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos with the three major ones being the Island Origin Theory, the Austronesian Expansion Theory, and the other theorizing that Filipinos evolved locally in the archipelago. Whatever the case, by 1000 BCE the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups: hunter-gathering tribes, warrior societies, highland plutocracies, and maritime-centered harbor principalities.

Tagalog boxer codex

A Tagalog couple of the Maginoo caste depicted in the Boxer Codex

The 1st millennium saw the rise of the harbor principalities and their growth into maritime states composed of autonomous barangays which were independent to or allied with a larger nation, nations which were either Malay thalassocracies led by Datus or Indianized kingdoms led by Rajahs. The chief among which were the Rajahnate of Butuan, which attained prominence under the rule of Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the Kingdom of Tondo ruled over by the Lakandula dynasty and the Rajahnate of Cebu which was led by Rajamuda Sri Lumay. Other nations in this era include the State of Ma-i and the Confederation of Madja-as. The Sultanate of Sulu, before its Islamization, was also an Indianized kingdom under its first ruler, Rajah Sipad the Older. The great epics: the Hinilawod, Darangan, Biag Ni Lam-Ang and etc. trace their origins to this era.

Ang Hari at ang mga alagad

A king and his servants in pre-colonial Philippines

The 1300s heralded the arrival and eventual spread of Islam in the Philippine archipelago. In 1380, Karim ul' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johor, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu by converting Sulu's Rajah and and marrying his daughter. Also, 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. The sultanate system even extended itself further and the Confederation of sultanates in Lanao was a logical extension of this. Eventually, Islam had begun to spread out from the southern Philippines into the north. Even Manila itself was nominally islamized during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521 wherein the Sultanate of Brunei subjugated Tondo by installing the Muslim, Rajah Suleiman to the throne. The rivalries between the disparate Datus, Rajahs, Sultans, and Lakans together with their respective states competing over the limited territory and people of the islands eventually simplified Spanish colonization by allowing its conquistadors to effectively employ a strategy of divide and conquer for rapid conquest.

Spanish PeriodEdit

Spanish Conquest of the Philippines

Depiction of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's colonization of the Philippines

In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain. He was killed however during the Battle of Mactan against Datu Lapu-Lapu. Over the next several decades other Spanish expeditions were dispatched to the islands including that of Ruy López de Villalobos in 1543 who gave the name Las Islas Filipinas to the islands of Samar and Leyte after Philip II of Spain. The name would then be extended to encompass the entire archipelago. Actual colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. In 1571, after dealing with the local royal families in the wake of the Tondo Conspiracy and defeating the Chinese pirate warlord Limahong, the Spanish established Manila on the lands of the Kingdom of Maynila which was burned down to ashes. Manila became the capital of the Spanish East Indies.

Spanish Provinces in the Pacific

Territories under the Spanish East Indies

Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence. The Manila galleons and its large naval fleet linking Manila to Acapulco traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th centuries and created a lucrative trade route profitable to the Spanish. Trade introduced foods such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, and pineapples from the Americas. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, universities, and hospitals. Spanish administration of the archipelago improved during the late 19th century with decrees introducing free public schooling in 1863 and the creation of the Banco Español-Filipino de Isabel II in 1851 together with the first Philippine-specific currency, the Philippine Peso. Local economic growth in the Spanish East Indies was also progressing exponentially being one of the highest economies in Asia at that time. The progress was spurred by great investments in infrastructure (among them were a railway system for Luzon, a tramcar network for Manila, and the Puente Colgante, Asia's first steel suspension bridge), local development (which increased productivity particularly in agriculture), global advancements (such as the opening of the Suez Canal), proper education (especially with the rise and enlightenment of the European-educated ilustrados), and good public governance.

Bombardment Balanguingui

Spanish galleons bombarding Muslim strongholds in Mindanao

During its rule, the Spanish fought off various indigenous revolts and resistance from still standing, but already weak, Moro states in Mindanao. Spain also had to deal with several external colonial challenges from Chinese pirates, the Dutch, and the Portuguese. In an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years' War, British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764. They found local allies like Diego and Gabriela Silang who took the opportunity to lead a revolt. Spanish rule however was eventually restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In the 19th century, with Philippine ports opening to world trade, shifts started occurring within Philippine society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines (criollos) and those of mixed ancestry (mestizos) became wealthy and ideas from abroad were now more easily accessible in the colony bringing enlightenment. The influx of Spanish and Latino settlers secularized churches and opened up government positions traditionally only held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula (peninsulares). The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the revolt in Cavite El Viejo in 1872 that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.

Propaganda MovementEdit


A picture of the Gomburza trio

Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three priests — Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza) — were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed. This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines through the use of available media such as prints and speeches. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion.

As attempts at reform were continually met with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, a society along the lines of the freemasons, which sought independence from Spain through armed revolt. Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution. Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo reached a compromise of dual leadership in the Katipunan extending to an agreement that Bonifacio would be the first Philippine president for four years and after which he would be succeeded by Aguinaldo. This deal ensured the overthrow of Spanish rule, resistance from interested foreign invaders eyeing the collapse of Spanish control in the archipelago, and the birth of the First Philippine Republic.

Philippine RevolutionEdit

Filipino Ilustrados Jose Rizal Marcelo del Pilar Mariano Ponce

Leaders of the Propaganda Movement: Jose Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, Mariano Ponce

The Philippine Revolution began as a peaceful movement by Filipinos and foreign sympathizers alike (who were collectively known as the Propaganda Movement) pushing for political and social reforms in the Spanish East Indies. The reforms that were being pushed through was to grant for more Filipino representation in the local government, a clear policy of separation of church and state, equal treatment, eliminating discrimination, removal of the polo y servicios, removal of the Spanish colonial caste system, and allowing Filipinos to attain commissioned ranks. Independence was not an objective at the start; what was being lobbied for by the movement was limited autonomy from Madrid through self-rule and recognition of the Philippines (and of the Spanish East Indies) as a province of Spain rather than as a colony. Eventually, owing to the indifference of the Spanish Empire to the requests of the Filipinos, armed rebellions occurred and the ultimate goal for reforms changed into independence.

Philippine revolution flag kkk1

Flag of the Katipunan

The Katipunan, a secret society who deviated from the Propaganda Movement, set its agenda as Philippine independence from Spain. In 1896, the number of Katipunaneros swelled and they were distributed all throughout the archipelago and also in Palau, the Carolinas and the Marianas. That same year, the Spanish colonial authorities discovered the existence of an underground organized independence movement but did not have any specific information on what it is. The Katipunan feared that they already lost the element of surprise and, under the leadership of its founder, Andres Bonifacio, declared "open war" against the Spanish Empire in the Cry of Pugad Lawin which marked the beginning of the insurgency phase of the Philippine Revolution.

The Cry of Pugad Lawin also proclaimed the revolutionary government of the Republica Filipina. The provinces of Manila, Cavite Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas were the first to answer Bonifacio's open rebellion against colonial rule. To help fight the Spaniards, a special delegation created by Bonifacio was dispatched to the Moros in the south to broker an alliance. Other special delegations reached out to the Pacific island territories of Spain to give them news of the rebellion so that they may join the Katipuneros in the mainland. Initial battles between the Katipuneros and the Spanish authorities favored the rebels who were able to gain control over much of northern Luzon, Palawan, Bicol, and Guam. The Moro states in the south, with aid from the Katipuneros, launched an offensive against Spanish-held provinces in Mindanao. Secret ties between the Katipunan and other foreign states were made and Bonifacio was able to secure much needed weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies from his channels. The only major loss for the Katipuneros was the 1896 Battle of Manila wherein Bonifacio prematurely led the Katipunan attack on to the city itself only to fail.

Internal strifeEdit

Philippine revolution flag magdalo alternate

Flag of the Magdalo

Philippine revolution flag magdiwang

Flag of the Magdiwang

Infighting however within the Katipunan embroiled between the Magdiwang faction led by Mariano Alvarez (brother-in-law of Bonifacio) and the Magdalo faction led by Emilio Aguinaldo. In 1897, both factions sought for mediation by Bonifacio and the Tejeros Convention was called. Officially, it was to settle issues between the two sides but actually, it was to pursue a change of leadership with the Magdalo proclaiming Aguinaldo as the new Supremo of the Katipunan while the Magdiwang still supported Bonifacio. A compromise was agreed between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo to both lead the Katipunan jointly until Spanish rule have been effectively expelled; in which case Bonifacio would be proclaimed as the Presidente of the Republica Filipina and he would rule for four years before giving his office to Aguinaldo who would also rule for four years before leaving it vacant for an elected successor. During this time, the Spanish government took advantage of the ongoing internal conflict in the Katipunan to reinforce their positions. The Spanish counter-attacks resulted to devastating losses for the Katipuneros.

Continuation of the RebellionEdit

With infighting remedied, the Katipunan focused again in fighting Spanish rule. Pedro Paterno, an ilustrado Katipunero, believed that the Katipunan and its Republica Filipina is already nearing its end with the Magdiwang-Magdalo conflict. He then called for a truce and mediated a peace deal between the Spanish authorities and the Katipuneros without approval from the Supremo. Unknown to him, the Tejeros Convention has already fixed the problem and the Katipunan is once again ready to resist the Spaniards. Paterno arranged for Bonifacio to meet up with Spanish Colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera in San Miguel, Bulacan to sign what he dubbed as the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. Bonifacio, with Aguinaldo, agreed to Paterno's plan but prepared the combined forces of the Magdiwang and the Magdalo to ambush Rivera and the Guardia Civil. The conclusion of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato ended with Rivera being captured along with the top officers of the Guardia Civil and leading officials of the colonial government. Paterno was also arrested and executed for treason.

News of the Governor-General's capture spread quickly which accelerated the fall of Spanish rule in certain areas of the archipelago. A Spanish envoy was sent to recover the hostages but the envoy was summarily executed for treason. The Governor-General and his fellows were then led to stand in front of the walls of the city of Manila where they were executed by firing squad. The Katipueros then strengthened their hold in provinces where Spanish rule has been expelled already. Aguinaldo wanted to attack Manila City but Bonifacio delayed the battle fearing that it might be a repeat of the first Katipunan attempt. A stalemate then ensued with the Katipunan encircling Manila and forcing it to capitulate though attrition. The Katipunan then made the Philippine Declaration of Independence in Kawit, Cavite, their de facto capital.

American interventionEdit

Battle of manila bay

American warships destroying the remaining Spanish naval presence

In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out and the US Asiatic Fleet turned its attention to the Spanish East Indies. During that time, only a few pockets of Spanish rule are left to resist the Katipuneros but these are places which had been specifically fortified by the Spanish government for a long siege, giving Bonifacio and Aguinaldo a difficult time to mount an offensive. When American forces tried to enter the capital through the waters, the ensuing Battle of Manila Bay destroyed the remaining major presence of the Spanish military that is keeping the Katipunaneros from advancing on to Manila. Bonifacio and Aguinaldo negotiated with Commodore George Dewey, the commanding officer of the American forces, for cooperation but unbeknownst to them, the 1898 Treaty of Paris was signed between the United States and Spain stipulating the latter to give up its colonial territories in Asia and the Americas and in exchange the US would pay Spain $20 million.

End of Spanish ruleEdit

The Battle of Manila Bay signified the start of American interests in colonizing the Philippines. Commodore George Dewey immediately reported the results of the engagement as well as the current state of the archipelago. He also sent back records of his talks with Andres Bonifacio and Emilion Aguinaldo to Washington. The US government responded by sending reinforcements to Dewey, most notably ground forces led by General Wesley Meritt to support American operations on land. By this time, the revolutionary government of the Republica Filipina has well established itself in the provinces of the Philippines and has effectively taken over the administration of colonial Spain except in Mindanao where the Moros have taken over. When the United States accepted the terms and conditions of the Treaty of Paris, the American government sent instructions to Dewey and Meritt to capture Manila at once. Spanish troops and authorities, learning that they have already surrendered to the Americans, coordinated with the plan of Dewey and Meritt to stage a battle that would ultimately yield control of Manila to the US.

Thus the 1898 Battle of Manila commenced with the naval bombardment of empty Spanish positions and with an amphibious invasion that had no real casualties to both sides. Dewey and Meritt left Bonifacio and Aguinaldo in the dark about the plan and asked them to maintain the status quo of their orders, leaving the Katipunan camped outside the walls of Manila. But Bonifacio, hearing the sounds of "fighting" inside the city walls, got impatient and ordered his men to advance, disrupting the flow of the staged battle. Aguinaldo also followed suit adding more chaos in the battlefield and prompting the American and Spanish forces to actually use their weaponry. At the end of the day, the Katipunan was able to capture the Spanish authorities and some Spanish soldiers as prisoners of war and the Americans held certain areas of the city under their control. The flag of the Republica Filipinas was also raised in Intramuros. Bonifacio and Aguinaldo asked Dewey and Meritt to turn over the American-held areas but they were refused. Likewise, when Dewey and Meritt asked Bonifacio and Aguinaldo to transfer the custody of the Spanish prisoners to the Americans they were refused.

With the Spanish colonial government gone, Andres Bonifacio swore as the first Presidente of the Republica Filipina as agreed from the Tejeros Convention. The revolutionary government then transitioned into a more stable republic. The Katipunan also transformed itself from a revolutionary armed wing into a formal military. Foreign actors that helped the Katipunan gain victory in the Philippine Revolution were rewarded with swaths of lands and rights to undergo whatever economic activity in their properties under a decree by Bonifacio himself which disgruntled many of his followers. A similar deal to the Treaty of Paris, the German-Spanish Treaty of 1899 enabled Imperial Germany to buy the remaining territories of Spain in the Pacific Ocean in a bid to race against its contemporaries like France for colonial possessions. Unlike the Americans though, the Germans fully supported the newly-established Filipino state which responded in kind by legitimizing German control of Palau, the Carolinas, and of the Marianas.

Philippine-American WarEdit

Malolos congress

The Malolos Congress

In 1899, a Filipino soldiered wandered into the American-occupied area of Manila and was shot by an American private. Bonifacio, as Presidente, immediately demanded for justice and the extradition of the private to the Filipino government. General Elwell S. Otis, the new commanding officer of the American forces in the Philippines, refused the demand and gave orders to ready his men for combat. This act of refusal and the order for American troops to be combat ready, infuriated Bonifacio, triggering the Philippine-American War.

The first part of the war saw bloody action mixed with several horrifying accounts of atrocities employed by both sides. The Americans were able to flush out the presence of the Republica Filipina in Manila and began scattering them to the neighboring provinces where they were pursued. Bonifacio and Aguinaldo was forced to go north after the 1899 Battle of Manila pushed the Filipino army back and Otis personally led the American forces in pursuing them up to Isabella where Aguinaldo was captured. Bonifacio, with General Antonio Luna, retreated to the Mountain Province where he regrouped his forces and ordered his other generals trapped in other provinces to initiate a guerrilla war against the occupying American forces until enough strength has been organized to mount a successful counter-attack. He then called on his foreign supporters again for help which was answered favorably given the generous rewards that Bonifacio had promised. Bonifacio also convened the Malolos Congress on September of 1899 while on the run from American forces. The congress reiterated the Philippine declaration of independence and established Republika Filipina as the official name of the country.

Philippine Independence

The American flag is lowered while the Philippine flag is raised in Manila

In 1900, General Manuel Tinio in Ilocos organized the biggest and most effective guerrilla war against the Americans. That same year, foreign aid arrived and the trapped main army in the Mountain Province was relieved by Luna's auxiliary forces. By 1901, Bonifacio was able to link up with Tinio and preparations to retake Manila and the rest of Luzon was set. In 1902, the Americans surrendered conditionally to the asymmetric strategy employed by the Filipino army who were now relatively well-equipped. Aguinaldo and hundreds of Filipino soldiers were freed through an exchange for Spanish and American soldiers. Bonifacio would supervise on the reconstruction of the country after the war. A week after the end of hostilities, American forces left the Philippines according to the conditions of their surrender although their presence would remain as investors. Most of the freed Spanish soldiers would opt to stay in the Philippines where they would be integrated into society. It was also under Bonifacio's administration, as part of their rewards in helping the Filipino nation, when the Japanese, the Belgians, and the Germans would rise as powerful landowners in the Philippines.

First RepublicEdit

The First Philippine Republic was also known as the Republika Filipina which lasted from 1902-1913. Although it was established in 1898, official recognition of the Republika only came in 1902 due to not having a formal constitution before then. Emilio Aguinaldo commissioned the formulation of a constitution for the Philippine republic after swearing as the Presidente. His predecessor, Andres Bonifacio wanted to extend his term more and was able to delay stepping down from office for three months before finally letting Aguinaldo succeed him. After four days in power, Aguinaldo had Bonifacio arrested. A trial found Bonifacio guilty of treason with the justification that:

"...Bonifacio betrayed his country by selling huge portions of the country's territory to foreign states
effectively allowing and directing the partitioning of the Republika Filipina..."

Bonifacio was then sentenced to death but it was commuted to life imprisonment. This would result to civil war between the loyal factions of Bonifacio and Aguinaldo that would last until 1913. To strengthen his effective rule, Aguinaldo decreed martial law and the Republika Filipina turned into a dictatorial state until Aguinaldo lifted martial law and called for a "reconstruction" of the constitution in 1913.

Second RepublicEdit

The Second Philippine Republic was established after Emilio Aguinaldo had the constitution changed. The new constitution was implemented on 1913 with Aguinaldo still the head of state until 1919 when he finally stepped down from power. The Second Philippine Republic was participated in both WWI and WWII. During the Great War, the Philippines sided with the Allies and, alongside Japanese forces, expelled German colonial presence in the Asia-Pacific. The Philippines took back its territories that have been ceded to Imperial Germany in 1899.

During the Pacific War, the Philippines indirectly aligned itself with the Axis powers through an alliance with Imperial Japan. After the country was occupied by American forces, the Philippines surrendered and a new constitution was drafted and adopted by 1945 creating the Third Philippine Republic. The American occupation of the Philippines lasted from 1944 when General Douglas MacArthur invaded the Philippines till 1946. Still, American military presence stayed in strategic locations through a treaty that was forced to the battered Third Republic.

Third RepublicEdit

The Third Philippine Republic had to face the repercussions of war and the problems of reconstruction. After 1945, the Philippines had nearly no effective working infrastructure and its capital, Manila, was severely reduced to rubble (it was only second to Warsaw in terms of destruction). Under the terms for surrender, the United States took control of Palau, Marianas, and the Carolinas and had them under a free association. US influence also permeated every aspect of Filipino life. The political, economic, and social landscape of the Philippines was easily swayed by American actions. The Third Republic was officially known as Republika ng Pilipinas after officially adopting the Abakada alphabet for the Filipino language.

The Third Philippine Republic was also involved in the Cold War which saw the rise of communism in the Philippines. The Communist Party of the Philippines was founded but eventually banned starting the communist rebellion - a rebellion that will be recognized as one the longest running insurgency in the world as it still persists to the present day. The Philippines joined the UN, entered SEATO, and participated in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Diosdado Macapagal, in an effort to launch himself as the next great Filipino president, supported Indonesia in the Konfrontasi and invaded North Borneo using its dormant claim on the territory inherited from the dissolved Sultanate of Sulu unfortunately it also brought unrest in Mindanao. Ferdinand Marcos' ascent to the presidency saw improvements to the economy, infrastructure, and military of the Philippines. After having his term as president however, he sought to remain in power and declared martial law on the pretext of "social unrest brought by rebel upheaval throughout the country". In 1973, he had a new constitution replace the old one.

Fourth RepublicEdit

The Fourth Philippine Republic was a short-lived republic that catered Marcos' regime. He had the new legislative ratify the new constitution he drafted in 1973. People Power Revolution however deposed him in 1986 and Marcos and his family fled to US protection in Hawaii. The Fourth Philippine Republic was continued under an interim government till 1987 when a new constitution was adopted.

Fifth RepublicEdit

The present 1987 Philippine Constitution is the basis for the Fifth Republic. It retained several features of the 1973 Marcos Constitution but with democratic safeguards.

The early years of the Fifth Philippine Republic saw the end of the Cold War. With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, there was an absence of a reason for American military forces to stay in the Philippines. The eventual expiration of the American Military Bases Treaty placed the question on whether to renew the treaty or not. The majority of the populace did not want to renew the treaty due to highly sensationalized reports of American personnel not being prosecuted after committing crimes in the Philippines. The Philippine government on the other hand was initially pro-renewal since the treaty implied economic and military advantages to the country. Ultimately, the treaty was not renewed after the United States refused to disclose information regarding activities inside the base, issues on environmental degradation, and if the base is being used to store WMDs specifically nuclear weapons. A Visiting Forces Agreement was signed instead. This marked the end of Philippine dependence on the US for defense procurement.

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