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|History of the Philippines|
|Classical Period (900–1521)|
|Spanish Period (1521–1898)|
|American Period (1898–1946)|
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. The first recorded visit from the West is the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, who sighted the island of Samar Island on March 16, 1521 and landed on Homonhon Island (now part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar province) the next day. Homonhon Island is southeast of Samar Island.
Before Magellan arrived, Negrito tribes inhabited the isles, who were subsequently joined and largely supplanted by migrating groups of Austronesians. This population had stratified into hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, petty plutocracies and maritime-oriented harbor principalities which eventually grew into kingdoms, rajahnates, principalities, confederations and sultanates. The Philippine islands were greatly influenced by Hindu religions, literature and philosophy from India in the early centuries of the Christian era. States included 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 the 1st millennium. These kingdoms traded with what are now called China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The remainder of the settlements were independent Barangays allied with one of the larger states.
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. The expedition continued northward reaching the bay of Manila on the island of Luzon on June 24, 1571, where they established a new town and thus began an era of Spanish colonization that lasted for more than three centuries.
Spanish rule achieved the political unification of almost the whole archipelago, that previously had been composed by independent kingdoms, 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 and the oldest modern Universities in Asia.
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. 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 José 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, culminating 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. The Philippine–American War which ensued resulted in massive casualties. Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and the U.S. government declared the conflict officially over in 1902.
The U.S. had established a military government in the Philippines on August 14, 1898, following the capture of Manila. Civil government was inaugurated on July 1, 1901. An elected Philippine Assembly was convened in 1907 as the lower house of a bicameral legislature. Commonwealth status was granted in 1935, preparatory to a planned full independence from the United States in 1946. Preparation for a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II. After the end of the war, the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation.
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. 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 was marked by political instability and hampered economic productivity. However, economic growth has gained pace in recent years to become one of the highest in Asia; as such the Philippines has been labeled one of the Next Eleven countries due to promising future growth.
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.
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 postulates that the peopling of the archipelago transpired via trade networks originating in the Sundaland area around 48,000 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.
The Negritos were early settlers, but their appearance in the Philippines has not been reliably dated. 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. Before the expansion out of Taiwan, recent archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence has linked Austronesian speakers in Insular Southeast Asia to cultures such as the Hemudu and Dapenkeng in Neolithic China.
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 Kalinga 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.
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.[unreliable source?]
During the period of the south Indian Pallava dynasty and the north Indian Gupta Empire Indian culture spread to Southeast Asia and the Philippines which led to the establishment of Indianized kingdoms. The end of Philippine prehistory is 900 CE, 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 and the Calatagan pot with baybayin inscription, dated to the 13th century.
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 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 resupplied 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, 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. Some of these regions were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei.
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.
By year 1011 Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the monarch of the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan, a maritime-state famous for its goldwork sent a trade envoy under ambassador Likan-shieh to the Chinese Imperial Court demanding equal diplomatic status with other states. 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. Evidence of the existence of this rajahnate is given by the Butuan Silver Paleograph.
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.
During the 11th century several exiled datus of the collapsing empire of Srivijaya 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 Madja-as 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.
Around 1225, the Country of Mai, a Sinified pre-Hispanic Philippine island-state centered in Mindoro, flourished as an entrepot, attracting traders & shipping from the Kingdom of Ryukyu to the Yamato Empire of Japan. Chao Jukua, a customs inspector in Fukien province, China wrote the Zhufan Zhi ("Description of the Barbarous Peoples"), which described trade with this pre-colonial Philippine state.
The Sultanates of Lanao in Mindanao, Philippines were founded in the 16th century through the influence of Shariff Kabungsuan, who was enthroned as first Sultan of Maguindanao in 1520. The Maranaos of Lanao were acquainted with the sultanate system when Islam was introduced to the area by Muslim missionaries and traders from the Middle East, Indian and Malay regions who propagated Islam to Sulu and Maguindanao. Unlike in Sulu and Maguindanao, the Sultanate system in Lanao was uniquely decentralized. The area was divided into Four Principalities of Lanao or the Pat a Pangampong a Ranao which are composed of a number of royal houses (Sapolo ago Nem a Panoroganan or The Sixteen (16) Royal Houses) with specific territorial jurisdictions within mainland Mindanao. This decentralized structure of royal power in Lanao was adopted by the founders, and maintained up to the present day, in recognition of the shared power and prestige of the ruling clans in the area, emphasizing the values of unity of the nation (kaiisaisa o bangsa), patronage (kaseselai) and fraternity (kapapagaria)
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.
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. By the 16th century, Islam had spread to other parts of the Visayas and Luzon.
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. A new dynasty under the Islamized Rajah Salalila was also established to challenge the House of Lakandula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines of traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia. 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.
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. He established friendly relations with some of the local leaders especially with Rajah Humabon and converted some of them to Roman Catholicism. 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. 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.
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 Filipino 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 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).
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.
The "Memoria de las Encomiendas en las Islas" of 1591, just twenty years after the conquest of Luzon, reveals a remarkable[according to whom?] progress in the work of colonization and the spread of Christianity. A cathedral was built in the city of Manila 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 another by the Dominicans that offered Christian education to the Chinese converted to Christianity. The same report reveals that in and around Manila were collected 9,410 tributes, indicating a population of about 30,640 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 28 missionaries. In Pangasinan 2,400 people with eight missionaries. In Cagayan and islands Babuyanes 96,000 people but no missionaries. In La Laguna 48,400 people with 27 missionaries. In Bicol and Camarines Catanduanes islands 86,640 people with fifteen missionaries. The total was 667,612 people under the care of 140 missionaries, of which 79 were Augustinians, nine Dominicans and 42 Franciscans.
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.
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. 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 University of Santo Tomas 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 taste for music and taught Spanish language to children. 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. 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. 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).
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 principalía, 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
Colonial income derived mainly from entrepôt trade: The Manila Galleons sailing from the Fort of Manila to the Fort of Acapulco on the west coast of Mexico brought shipments of silver bullion, and minted coin that were exchanged for return cargoes of Asian, and Pacific products. A total of 110 Manila galleons set sail in the 250 years of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade (1565 to 1815). There was no direct trade with Spain until 1766.
The Philippines was never profitable as a colony during Spanish rule, and the long war against the Dutch in the 17th century together with the intermittent conflict with the Muslims in the South nearly bankrupted the colonial treasury. The Royal Fiscal of Manila wrote a letter to King Charles III of Spain, in which he advises to abandon the colony.
The Philippines survived on an annual subsidy paid by the Spanish Crown, and the 200-year-old fortifications at Manila had not been improved much since first built by the early Spanish colonizers. This was one of the circumstances that made possible the brief British occupation of Manila between 1762 and 1764.
Britain declared war against Spain on January 4, 1762 and on September 24, 1762 a force of British Army regulars and British East India Company soldiers, supported by the ships and men of the East Indies Squadron of the British Royal Navy, sailed into Manila Bay from Madras, India. Manila fell to the British on October 4, 1762.
The British forces were confined to Manila and the nearby port of Cavite by the resistance organised by the provisional Spanish colonial government. Suffering a breakdown of command and troop desertions as a result of their failure to secure control of the Philippines, the British ended their occupation of Manila by sailing away in April 1764 as agreed to in the peace negotiations in Europe. The Spaniards then persecuted the Binondo Chinese community for its role in aiding the British.
In 1766 was established direct communication with Spain and trade with Europe through a national ship based on Spain. Those expeditions were administered since 1785 by the Real Compañía Filipina, which was granted a monopoly of trade between Spain and the islands that lasted until 1834, when the company was terminated by the Spanish crown due to poor management and financial losses.
In 1781, Governor-General José Basco y Vargas established the Economic Society of the Friends of the Country. The Philippines was administered from the Viceroyalty of New Spain until the grant of independence to Mexico in 1821 necessitated the direct rule from Spain of the Philippines from that year.
During the 19th century Spain invested heavily in education and infrastructure. Through the Education Decree of December 20, 1863, Queen Isabella II of Spain decreed the establishment of a free public school system that used Spanish as the language of instruction, leading to increasing numbers of educated Filipinos. Additionally, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cut travel time to Spain, which facilitated the rise of the ilustrados, an enlightened class of Filipinos that had been able to expand their studies in Spain and Europe.
A great deal of infrastructure projects were undertaken during the 19th century that put the Philippine economy and standard of living ahead of most of its Asian neighbors and even many European countries at that time. Among them were a railway system for Luzon, a tramcar network for Manila, and the Puente Colgante (now known as the Quezon Bridge), Asia's first steel suspension bridge. On August 1, 1851 the Banco Español-Filipino de Isabel II was established to attend the needs of the rapid economic boom, that had greatly increased its pace since 1840 as a result of a new economy based on a rational exploitation of the agricultural resources of the islands. The increase in textile fiber crops such as abacá, oil products derived from the coconut, indigo, that was growing in demand, etc., generated an increase in money supply that led to the creation of the bank. Banco Español-Filipino was also granted the power to print a Philippine-specific currency (the Philippine peso) for the first time (before 1851, many currencies were used, mostly the pieces of eight).
Spanish Manila was seen in the 19th century as a model of colonial governance that effectively put the interests of the original inhabitants of the islands before those of the colonial power. As John Crawfurd put it in its History of the Indian Archipelago, in all of Asia the "Philippines alone did improve in civilization, wealth, and populousness under the colonial rule" of a foreign power. John Bowring, Governor General of British Hong Kong from 1856 to 1860, wrote after his trip to Manila:
Credit is certainly due to Spain for having bettered the condition of a people who, though comparatively highly civilized, yet being continually distracted by petty wars, had sunk into a disordered and uncultivated state.
The inhabitants of these beautiful Islands upon the whole, may well be considered to have lived as comfortably during the last hundred years, protected form all external enemies and governed by mild laws vis-a-vis those from any other tropical country under native or European sway, owing in some measure, to the frequently discussed peculiar (Spanish) circumstances which protect the interests of the natives.
In The inhabitants of the Philippines, Frederick Henry Sawyer 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?."
The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1878. The colony's population as of December 31, 1877, was recorded at 5,567,685 persons. This was followed by the 1887 census that yielded a count of 6,984,727, while that of 1898 yielded 7,832,719 inhabitants .
The estimated GDP per capita for the Philippines in 1900, the year Spain left, was of $1,033.00. That made it the second richest place in all of Asia, just a little behind Japan ($1,135.00), and far ahead of China ($652.00) or India ($625.00).
Revolutionary sentiments arose in 1872 after three Filipino priests, Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, known as Gomburza, were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed. This would inspire the Propaganda Movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, Graciano López Jaena, and Mariano Ponce, that clamored for adequate representation to the Spanish Cortes and later for independence. José Rizal, the most celebrated intellectual and radical ilustrado of the era, wrote the novels "Noli Me Tángere", and "El filibusterismo", which greatly inspired the movement for independence. The Katipunan, a secret society whose primary purpose was that of overthrowing Spanish rule in the Philippines, was founded by Andrés Bonifacio who became its Supremo (leader).
The Philippine Revolution began in 1896. Rizal was wrongly implicated in the outbreak of the revolution and executed for treason in 1896. The Katipunan in Cavite split into two groups, Magdiwang, led by Mariano Álvarez (a relative of Bonifacio's by marriage), and Magdalo, led by Emilio Aguinaldo. Leadership conflicts between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo culminated in the execution or assassination of the former by the latter's soldiers. Aguinaldo agreed to a truce with the Pact of Biak-na-Bato and Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries were exiled to Hong Kong. Not all the revolutionary generals complied with the agreement. One, General Francisco Makabulos, established a Central Executive Committee to serve as the interim government until a more suitable one was created. Armed conflicts resumed, this time coming from almost every province in Spanish-governed Philippines.
In 1898, as conflicts continued in the Philippines, the USS Maine, having been sent to Cuba because of U.S. concerns for the safety of its citizens during an ongoing Cuban revolution, exploded and sank in Havana harbor. This event precipitated the Spanish–American War. After Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish squadron at Manila, a German squadron arrived in Manila and engaged in maneuvers which Dewey, seeing this as obstruction of his blockade, offered war—after which the Germans backed down. The German Emperor expected an American defeat, with Spain left in a sufficiently weak position for the revolutionaries to capture Manila—leaving the Philippines ripe for German picking.
The U.S. invited Aguinaldo to return to the Philippines in the hope he would rally Filipinos against the Spanish colonial government. Aguinaldo arrived on May 19, 1898, via transport provided by Dewey. By the time U.S. land forces had arrived, the Filipinos had taken control of the entire island of Luzon, except for the walled city of Intramuros. On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines in Kawit, Cavite, establishing the First Philippine Republic under Asia's first democratic constitution.
In the Battle of Manila, the United States captured the city from the Spanish. This battle marked an end of Filipino-American collaboration, as Filipino forces were prevented from entering the captured city of Manila, an action deeply resented by the Filipinos. Spain and the United States sent commissioners to Paris to draw up the terms of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish–American War. The Filipino representative, Felipe Agoncillo, was excluded from sessions as the revolutionary government was not recognized by the family of nations. Although there was substantial domestic opposition, the United States decided to annex the Philippines. In addition to Guam and Puerto Rico, Spain was forced in the negotiations to hand over the Philippines to the U.S. in exchange for US$20,000,000.00. U.S. President McKinley justified the annexation of the Philippines by saying that it was "a gift from the gods" and that since "they were unfit for self-government, ... there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them", in spite of the Philippines having been already Christianized by the Spanish over the course of several centuries. It is also in spite of the Spanish having created the first public education system in Asia (public education decree of 1863) and the first universities in the continent: University of Santo Tomas in 1611, and University of San Carlos (Cebu) in 1595. It was also clearly a misrepresentation to state that the Philippines needed to be "civilized". The archipelago saw rapid growth and development during Spanish rule thanks to the introduction of many elements of Western civilization, including irrigation, the plow and the wheel, new construction and engineering methods, factories, modern hospitals, the telephone and the telegraph, railroads and public lighting. By 1898 the Philippines was one of the most advanced countries in Asia, producing great statesmen, writers and scientists such as national hero José Rizal.
The first Philippine Republic resisted the U.S. occupation, resulting in the Philippine–American War (1899–1913).
Filipinos initially saw their relationship with the United States as that of two nations joined in a common struggle against Spain. However, the United States later distanced itself from the interests of the Filipino insurgents. Emilio Aguinaldo was unhappy that the United States would not commit to paper a statement of support for Philippine independence. Relations deteriorated and tensions heightened as it became clear that the Americans were in the islands to stay.
Hostilities broke out on February 4, 1899, after two American privates on patrol killed three Filipino soldiers in San Juan, a Manila suburb. This incident sparked the Philippine–American War, which would cost far more money and took far more lives than the Spanish–American War. Some 126,000 American soldiers would be committed to the conflict; 4,234 Americans died, as did 12,000–20,000 Philippine Republican Army soldiers who were part of a nationwide guerrilla movement of indeterminate numbers.
The general population, caught between Americans and rebels, suffered significantly. At least 200,000 Filipino civilians lost their lives as an indirect result of the war mostly as a result of the cholera epidemic at the war's end that took between 150,000 and 200,000 lives. Atrocities were committed by both sides.
The poorly equipped Filipino troops were easily overpowered by American troops in open combat, but they were formidable opponents in guerrilla warfare. Malolos, the revolutionary capital, was captured on March 31, 1899. Aguinaldo and his government escaped, however, establishing a new capital at San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. On June 5, 1899, Antonio Luna, Aguinaldo's most capable military commander, was killed by Aguinaldo's guards in an apparent assassination while visiting Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to meet with Aguinaldo. With his best commander dead and his troops suffering continued defeats as American forces pushed into northern Luzon, Aguinaldo dissolved the regular army on November 13 and ordered the establishment of decentralized guerrilla commands in each of several military zones. Another key general, Gregorio del Pilar, was killed on December 2, 1899 in the Battle of Tirad Pass—a rear guard action to delay the Americans while Aguinaldo made good his escape through the mountains.
Aguinaldo was captured at Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901 and was brought to Manila. Convinced of the futility of further resistance, he swore allegiance to the United States and issued a proclamation calling on his compatriots to lay down their arms, officially bringing an end to the war. However, sporadic insurgent resistance continued in various parts of the Philippines, especially in the Muslim south, until 1913.
In 1900, President McKinley sent the Taft Commission, to the Philippines, with a mandate to legislate laws and re-engineer the political system. On July 1, 1901, William Howard Taft, the head of the commission, was inaugurated as Civil Governor, with limited executive powers. The authority of the Military Governor was continued in those areas where the insurrection persisted. The Taft Commission passed laws to set up the fundamentals of the new government, including a judicial system, civil service, and local government. A Philippine Constabulary was organized to deal with the remnants of the insurgent movement and gradually assume the responsibilities of the United States Army.
During the First Philippine Republic, three other insurgent republics were briefly formed: the Tagalog Republic in Luzon, under Macario Sakay, the Negros Republic in the Visayas under Aniceto Lacson, and the Republic of Zamboanga in Mindanao under Mariano Arquiza. Despite resistance from these three republics ignored by Aguinaldo who included them in his gift to the USA, all three were eventually dissolved and the Philippines was ruled as a singular insular territory.
The Philippine Organic Act was the basic law for the Insular Government, so called because civil administration was under the authority of the U.S. Bureau of Insular Affairs. This government saw its mission as one of tutelage, preparing the Philippines for eventual independence. On July 4, 1902 the office of military governor was abolished and full executive power passed from Adna Chaffee, the last military governor, to Taft, who became the first U.S. governor-general of the Philippines.
United States policies towards the Philippines shifted with changing administrations. During the early years of territorial administration, the Americans were reluctant to delegate authority to the Filipinos, but an elected Philippine Assembly was inaugurated in 1907, as the lower house of a bicameral legislature, with the appointive Philippine Commission becoming the upper house. When Woodrow Wilson became U.S. president in 1913, a new policy was adopted to put into motion a process that would gradually lead to Philippine independence. The Jones Law, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1916 to serve as a new basic law, promised eventual independence. It provide for the election of both houses of the legislature.
In socio-economic terms, the Philippines made solid progress in this period. Foreign trade had amounted to 62 million pesos in 1895, 13% of which was with the United States. By 1920, it had increased to 601 million pesos, 66% of which was with the United States. A health care system was established which, by 1930, reduced the mortality rate from all causes, including various tropical diseases, to a level similar to that of the United States itself. The practices of slavery, piracy and headhunting were suppressed but not entirely extinguished.
A new educational system was established with English as the medium of instruction, eventually becoming a lingua franca of the Islands. 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-à-vis the Philippine legislature. Members to the elected legislature lobbied for immediate and complete independence from the United States. Several independence missions were sent to Washington, D.C. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by 1918.
Philippine politics during the American territorial era was dominated by the Nacionalista Party, which was founded in 1907. Although the party's platform called for "immediate independence", their policy toward the Americans was highly accommodating. Within the political establishment, the call for independence was spearheaded by Manuel L. Quezon, who served continuously as Senate president from 1916 until 1935.
World War I gave the Philippines the opportunity to pledge assistance to the US war effort. This took the form of an offer to supply a division of troops, as well as providing funding for the construction of two warships. A locally recruited national guard was created and significant numbers of Filipinos volunteered for service in the US Navy and army.
Frank Murphy was the last Governor-General of the Philippines (1933–35), and the first U.S. High Commissioner of the Philippines (1935–36). The change in form was more than symbolic: it was intended as a manifestation of the transition to independence.
The Great Depression in the early thirties hastened the progress of the Philippines towards independence. In the United States it was mainly the sugar industry and labor unions that had a stake in loosening the U.S. ties to the Philippines since they could not compete with the Philippine cheap sugar (and other commodities) which could freely enter the U.S. market. Therefore, they agitated in favor of granting independence to the Philippines so that its cheap products and labor could be shut out of the United States. In 1933, the United States Congress passed the Hare–Hawes–Cutting Act as a Philippine Independence Act over President Herbert Hoover's veto. Though the bill had been drafted with the aid of a commission from the Philippines, it was opposed by Philippine Senate President Manuel L. Quezon, partially because of provisions leaving the United States in control of naval bases. Under his influence, the Philippine legislature rejected the bill. The following year, a revised act known as the Tydings–McDuffie Act was finally passed. The act provided for the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines with a ten-year period of peaceful transitions to full independence. The commonwealth would have its own constitution and be self-governing, though foreign policy would be the responsibility of the United States, and certain legislation required approval of the United States president. The Act stipulated that the date of independence would be on the July 4 following the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth.
A Constitutional Convention was convened in Manila on July 30, 1934. On February 8, 1935, the 1935 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines was approved by the convention by a vote of 177 to 1. The constitution was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 23, 1935 and ratified by popular vote on May 14, 1935.
On September 17, 1935, presidential elections were held. Candidates included former president Emilio Aguinaldo, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente leader Gregorio Aglipay, and others. Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña of the Nacionalista Party were proclaimed the winners, winning the seats of president and vice-president, respectively.
The Commonwealth Government was inaugurated on the morning of November 15, 1935, in ceremonies held on the steps of the Legislative Building in Manila. The event was attended by a crowd of around 300,000 people. Under the Tydings–McDuffie Act this meant that the date of full independence for the Philippines was set for July 4, 1946, a timetable which was followed after the passage of almost eleven very eventful years.
Japan launched a surprise attack on the Clark Air Base in Pampanga on the morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Aerial bombardment was followed by landings of ground troops on Luzon. The defending Philippine and United States troops were under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Under the pressure of superior numbers, the defending forces withdrew to the Bataan Peninsula and to the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay.
On January 2, 1942, General MacArthur declared the capital city, Manila, an open city to prevent its destruction. The Philippine defense continued until the final surrender of United States-Philippine forces on the Bataan Peninsula in April 1942 and on Corregidor in May of the same year. Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war captured by the Japanese at Bataan were forced to undertake the infamous Bataan Death March to a prison camp 105 kilometers to the north. About 10,000 Filipinos and 1,200 Americans died before reaching their destination.
President Quezon and Osmeña had accompanied the troops to Corregidor and later left for the United States, where they set up a government in exile. MacArthur was ordered to Australia, where he started to plan for a return to the Philippines.
The Japanese military authorities immediately began organizing a new government structure in the Philippines and established the Philippine Executive Commission. They initially organized a Council of State, through which they directed civil affairs until October 1943, when they declared the Philippines an independent republic. The Japanese-sponsored republic headed by President José P. Laurel proved to be unpopular.
Japanese occupation of the Philippines was opposed by large-scale underground and guerrilla activity. The Philippine Army, as well as remnants of the U.S. Army Forces Far East, continued to fight the Japanese in a guerrilla war and was considered an auxiliary unit of the United States Army. Their effectiveness was such that by the end of the war, Japan controlled only twelve of the forty-eight provinces. One element of resistance in the Central Luzon area was furnished by the Hukbalahap, which armed some 30,000 people and extended their control over much of Luzon.
The occupation of the Philippines by Japan ended at the war's conclusion. The American army had been fighting the Philippines Campaign since October 1944, when MacArthur's Sixth United States Army landed on Leyte. Landings in other parts of the country had followed, and the Allies, with the Philippine Commonwealth troops, pushed toward Manila. However, fighting continued until Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945. The Philippines suffered great loss of life and tremendous physical destruction, specially during the Battle of Manila. An estimated 1 million Filipinos had been killed, a large portion during the final months of the war, and Manila had been extensively damaged.
As in most occupied countries, crime, looting, corruption, and black markets were endemic. Japan in 1943 proposed independence on new terms, and some collaborators went along with the plan, but Japan was clearly losing the war and nothing became of it.
With a view of building up the economic base of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Japanese Army envisioned using the islands as a source of agricultural products needed by its industry. For example Japan had a surplus of sugar from Taiwan, and a severe shortage of cotton, so they try to grow cotton in on sugar lands with disastrous results. They lacked the seeds, pesticides, and technical skills to grow cotton. Jobless farm workers flock to the cities, where there was minimal relief and few jobs. The Japanese Army also tried using cane sugar for fuel, castor beans and copra for oil, derris for quinine, cotton for uniforms, and abaca (hemp) for rope. The plans were very difficult to implement in the face of limited skills, collapsed international markets, bad weather, and transportation shortages. The program was a failure that gave very little help to Japanese industry, and diverted resources needed for food production. As Karnow reports, Filipinos "rapidly learned as well that 'co-prosperity' meant servitude to Japan's economic requirements." 
Living conditions were bad throughout the Philippines during the war. Transportation between the islands was difficult because of lack of fuel. Food was in very short supply, with sporadic famines and epidemic diseases.
Elections were held in April 1946, with Manuel Roxas becoming the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines. The United States ceded its sovereignty over the Philippines on July 4, 1946, as scheduled. However, the Philippine economy remained highly dependent on United States markets– more dependent, according to United States high commissioner Paul McNutt, than any single U.S. state was dependent on the rest of the country. The Philippine Trade Act, passed as a precondition for receiving war rehabilitation grants from the United States, exacerbated the dependency with provisions further tying the economies of the two countries. A military assistance pact was signed in 1947 granting the United States a 99-year lease on designated military bases in the country.
The Roxas administration granted general amnesty to those who had collaborated with the Japanese in World War II, except for those who had committed violent crimes. Roxas died suddenly of a heart attack in April 1948, and the vice president, Elpidio Quirino, was elevated to the presidency. He ran for president in his own right in 1949, defeating José P. Laurel and winning a four-year term.
World War II had left the Philippines demoralized and severely damaged. The task of reconstruction was complicated by the activities of the Communist-supported Hukbalahap guerrillas (known as "Huks"), who had evolved into a violent resistance force against the new Philippine government. Government policy towards the Huks alternated between gestures of negotiation and harsh suppression. Secretary of Defense Ramon Magsaysay initiated a campaign to defeat the insurgents militarily and at the same time win popular support for the government. The Huk movement had waned in the early 1950s, finally ending with the unconditional surrender of Huk leader Luis Taruc in May 1954.
Supported by the United States, Magsaysay was elected president in 1953 on a populist platform. He promised sweeping economic reform, and made progress in land reform by promoting the resettlement of poor people in the Catholic north into traditionally Muslim areas. Though this relieved population pressure in the north, it heightened religious hostilities. Nevertheless, he was extremely popular with the common people, and his death in an airplane crash in March 1957 dealt a serious blow to national morale.
Carlos P. Garcia succeeded to the presidency after Magsaysay's death, and was elected to a four-year term in the election of November that same year. His administration emphasized the nationalist theme of "Filipino first", arguing that the Filipino people should be given the chances to improve the country's economy. Garcia successfully negotiated for the United States' relinquishment of large military land reservations. However, his administration lost popularity on issues of government corruption as his term advanced.
In the presidential elections held on November 14, 1961, Vice President Diosdado Macapagal defeated re-electionist President Carlos P. Garcia and Emmanuel Pelaez as a Vice President. President Macapagal was the President of the Philippines that changed the independence day of the Philippines from July 4 to June 12.
The code declared that it was State policy
and, in pursuance of those policies, established the following
Maphilindo was a proposed nonpolitical confederation of Malaya, the Philippines, and Indonesia. It was based on concepts developed during the Commonwealth government in the Philippines by Wenceslao Vinzons and by Eduardo L. Martelino in his 1959 book Someday, Malaysia".
In July 1963, President Diosdado Macapagal of the Philippines convened a summit meeting in Manila. Maphilindo was proposed as a realization of José Rizal's dream of bringing together the Malay peoples. However, this was perceived as a tactic on the parts of Jakarta and Manila to delay or prevent the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. The plan failed when Indonesian President Sukarno adopted his plan of Konfrontasi with Malaysia.
Macapagal ran for re-election in 1965, but was defeated by his former party-mate, Senate President Ferdinand Marcos, who had switched to the Nacionalista Party. Early in his presidency, Marcos initiated ambitious public works projects and intensified tax collection which brought the country economic prosperity throughout the 1970s. His administration built more roads (including a substantial portion of the Pan-Philippine Highway) than all his predecessors combined, and more schools than any previous administration. Marcos was re-elected president in 1969, becoming the first president of the independent Philippines to achieve a second term.
The Philippine Legislature was corrupt and impotent. Opponents of Marcos blocked the necessary legislation to implement his ambitious plans. Because of this, optimism faded early in his second term and economic growth slowed. Crime and civil disobedience increased. The Communist Party of the Philippines formed the New People's Army. The Moro National Liberation Front continued to fight for an independent Muslim nation in Mindanao. An explosion during the proclamation rally of the senatorial slate of the Liberal Party on August 21, 1971 prompted Marcos to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which he restored on January 11, 1972 after public protests.
Amidst the rising wave of lawlessness and the threat of a Communist insurgency, 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 Congress and media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics senators Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jovito Salonga and Jose Diokno. The declaration of martial law was initially well received, given the social turmoil the Philippines was experiencing. Crime rates plunged dramatically after a curfew was implemented. Many political opponents were forced to go into exile.
A constitutional convention, which had been called for in 1970 to replace the colonial 1935 Constitution, continued the work of framing a new constitution after the declaration of martial law. The new constitution went into effect in early 1973, changing the form of government from presidential to parliamentary and allowing Marcos to stay in power beyond 1973.
Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating a "New Society" based on new social and political values. The economy during the 1970s 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. However, Marcos, his cronies, and his wife, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, willfully engaged in rampant corruption.
Appeasing the Roman Catholic Church, 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 political opposition boycotted the 1981 presidential elections, which pitted Marcos against retired general Alejo Santos. Marcos won by a margin of over 16 million votes, which constitutionally allowed him to have another six-year term. Finance Minister Cesar Virata was appointed as Prime Minister by Marcos.
In 1983, opposition leader Benigno 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.
The official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), declared Marcos the winner of the election. However, there was a large discrepancy between the Comelec results and that of Namfrel, an accredited poll watcher. The allegedly fraudulent result was rejected by Corazon Aquino and her supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation, denounced the official results. General Fidel Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile withdrew their support for Marcos. A peaceful civilian-military uprising, now popularly called the People Power Revolution, forced Marcos into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.
Corazon Aquino immediately formed a revolutionary government to normalize the situation, and provided for a transitional "Freedom Constitution". A new permanent constitution was ratified and enacted in February 1987. The 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. Progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties, but Aquino's administration was also viewed 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.
Economic growth was additionally hampered by a series of natural disasters, including the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo that left 700 dead and 200,000 homeless. During the Aquino presidency, Manila witnessed six unsuccessful coup attempts, the most serious occurring in December 1989.
In 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty that would have allowed a 10-year extension of the U.S. 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 U.S. military presence in the Philippines..
In the 1992 elections, Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos, endorsed by Aquino, won the presidency with just 23.6% of the vote in a field of seven candidates. Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority and worked at building a coalition to overcome the divisiveness of the Aquino years. He legalized the Communist Party and laid the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels, attempting to convince them to cease their armed activities against the government. 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 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a major separatist group fighting for an independent homeland in Mindanao, was signed in 1996, ending the 24-year old struggle. However, an MNLF splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front continued the armed struggle for an Islamic state. Efforts by Ramos supporters to gain passage of an amendment that would allow him to run for a second term were met with large-scale protests, leading Ramos to declare he would not seek re-election.
Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor who had served as Ramos' vice president, was elected president by a landslide victory in 1998. His election campaign pledged to help the poor and develop the country's agricultural sector. He enjoyed widespread popularity, particularly among the poor. Estrada assumed office amid the Asian Financial Crisis. The economy did, however, recover from a low −0.6% growth in 1998 to a moderate growth of 3.4% by 1999. Like his predecessor there was a similar attempt to change the 1987 constitution. The process is termed as CONCORD or Constitutional Correction for Development. Unlike Charter change under Ramos and Arroyo the CONCORD proposal, according to its proponents, would only amend the 'restrictive' economic provisions of the constitution that is considered as impeding the entry of more foreign investments in the Philippines. However it was not successful in amending the constitution.
On March 21, 2000 President Estrada declared an "all-out-war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the worsening secessionist movement in Midanao The government later captured 46 MILF camps including the MILF's headquarters', Camp Abubakar. In October 2000, however, Estrada was accused of having accepted millions of pesos in payoffs from illegal gambling businesses. He was impeached by the House of Representatives, but his impeachment trial in the Senate broke down when the senate voted to block examination of the president's bank records. In response, massive street protests erupted demanding Estrada's resignation. Faced with street protests, cabinet resignations, and a withdrawal of support from the armed forces, Estrada was forced from office on January 20, 2001.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (the daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal) was sworn in as Estrada's successor on the day of his departure. Her accession to power was further legitimized by the mid-term congressional and local elections held four months later, when her coalition won an overwhelming victory. Arroyo's initial term in office was marked by fractious coalition politics as well as a military mutiny in Manila in July 2003 that led her to declare a month-long nationwide state of rebellion.
Arroyo had declared in December 2002 that she would not run in the May 2004 presidential election, but she reversed herself in October 2003 and decided to join the race. She was re-elected and sworn in for her own six-year term as president on June 30, 2004. In 2005, a tape of a wiretapped conversation surfaced bearing the voice of Arroyo apparently asking an election official if her margin of victory could be maintained. The tape sparked protests calling for Arroyo's resignation. Arroyo admitted to inappropriately speaking to an election official, but denied allegations of fraud and refused to step down. Attempts to impeach the president failed later that year.
Arroyo unsuccessfully attempted a controversial plan for an overhaul of the constitution to transform the present presidential-bicameral republic into a federal parliamentary-unicameral form of government.
The Maguindanao massacre took place in the dawn of her administration, where 58 where killed, many were journalists.
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Benigno Aquino III began his presidency on June 30, 2010, the fifteenth President of the Philippines. He is a bachelor and the son of former Philippines president Corazon C. Aquino. His administrations focused on major reforms that would bring greater transparency, reduced poverty, reduced corruption, and a booming market which will give birth to a newly industrialized nation. Tensions regarding Sabah due to the Sultanate of Sulu's claim, and tensions with China due to the South China Sea rose in his administration. Standoffs in Sabah between The Sultanate of Sulu's Royal Army and the Malaysian forces struck in 2012. The Philippines also clashed with China on a standoff in Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which the Philippines call the West Philippine Sea. This resulted in the proceedings of the Philippines to file a sovereignty case against China in an internation arbitration tribunal.
The Sultanate of Panay, born in 2011, was recognized by the Lanao Advisory Council in 2012. The country became one of the fastest growing economies in his administration, which is expected to be the biggest economy in ASEAN by 2050. The Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BFF) was assembled which aims to create an independent Moro nation from the Philippines through armed struggle. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the Central Philippines in 2013 which created massive help from the international community.
In 2014, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was finally signed after 17 years of negotiation with the MILF, a move that is expected to bring peace in Mindanao and the Sulus. Communist insurgency started to wane due to the government's improving security. His government then filed a memorial to the Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague which challenged Beijing's claim in the South China Sea after Chinese ships harassed a small Philippine vessel carrying goods for stationed military personnel in the South Thomas Shoal where an old Philippine ship has been stationed for years.