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A Brief History of the Philippines

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  1. A Brief History of the Philippines

    How has power been distributed, shared and limited in the Philippines?
  2. Ancient times At least 30,000 years ago, settlers started arriving from what is now Indonesia and Malaysia. They were followed by waves of Chinese traders from the north, some of whom also settled. A tribal social hierarchy developed: Datu (chief) Nobles Freemen Poor Farmers Slaves Fun Fact: The word barangay comes from the Malay word for “boat”.
  3. Islamic influence Muslim traders introduced Islam to the southern islands in the late-1200s and early-1300s. Many Filipinos converted from their tribal religions to Islam. Islam also influenced architecture, law and government. By 1500s, Islam had spread north to Manila, but by then, a new group was ready to take power…
  4. The Spaniards arrive In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived near what is now Cebu and claimed the Philippines for Spain. He was promptly killed by a local chief (named Lapu-Lapu) interrupting the first “round-the-world” journey (later completed by his shipmates). The Spanish kept coming and established the first permanent settlement in Cebu in 1565. In 1571, they overthrew the Muslim ruler and set up their capital in Manila. Fun Fact: The Philippines is named after King Philip II of Spain.
  5. Spanish influence… Catholicism with a capital “C” Language, architecture and other aspects of culture Using the traditional hierarchy, Spaniards got local leaders to rule for them. Muslims and indigenous people (e.g., Aetas, Mangyan) marginalized Fun Fact: The Spanish term for Muslim was Moro
  6. Brief British occupation During the Seven Years War (1756-63), the British East India Company captured Manila. The British occupation gave resistance groups the opportunity to organize. Examples: The Chinese community, upset with the way they were treated by the Spaniards, became allied with the British Moros from the south pushed north while the Spanish were busy fighting the Brits. After the war, Spain got the Philippines back, but they instituted some reforms and reduced exploitation.
  7. Rise of nationalism In the late 1800s, a new class of educated Filipinos began to call for independence. Some key figures: Jose Rizal: a poet, physician, scientist, and writer. He led a nonviolent movement for independence. His books were banned and he was eventually tried and executed for his role in the unrest. Andres Bonifacio founded Katipunan, a more military-minded group of revolutionaries. He led a revolt in 1896. Emilio Aguinaldo was “president” of the rebel group. After the Spanish defeated the rebels, he was exiled to Hong Kong, but don’t worry, he returns to the story later…
  8. American rule In 1898, the Spanish-American war broke out. The war was initially over Cuba, but the US attacked Manila. Aguinaldo returned from his vaca in HK and helped the Americans take Spain having been promised independence by the US. However, even as the war was ending, Filipinos and Americans began struggling for control. Aguinaldo was declared president by the Filipino revolutionaries, but the Treaty of Paris (which ended the Span-Am War) gave control to the US. Aguinaldo was eventually jailed and the US ruled until World War II.
  9. WWII and Japanese occupation Although the US had forcefully gained control of the Philippines, they began working with Filipinos on a transition to independence. In 1934 they became a Commonwealth (a territory with some independence) and Manual Quezon was elected the first president. In late 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines and took Manila from the Americans. Famously, MacArthur returned in 1945 to retake the Philippines.
  10. Independence A year later (1946), the Philippines was granted full sovereigntyand Manuel Roxas was elected the first president. That’s when the real fun began. To be continued…