The Pre-Historic Era
The Philippine archipelago was formed some 50 million years ago through volcanic eruptions. It saw its first inhabitants around 30,000 years ago, and by the tenth century A.D, the land was occupied by Chinese settlers and Muslim traders from Borneo. Islam was dominant at the time, and the basic structure of society was a three-tier civilization. There is little information about this era, except the Laguna Copperplate Inscription- the Philippines' oldest known written records.
Colonial Rule in the Philippines
In 1521, the islands were claimed in Spain by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer. This is how the name of the nation (Las Felipinas at the time) was originated as it was named after King Philip II of Spain. They ruled the Philippines for over three centuries, after which the natives started their journey of independence.
There were three initial faces of the movement- Marcelo H. de Pilar, Jose Rizal, and Mariano Ponce. The movement gained momentum after Jose Rizal was executed on charges of rebellion. This led to the formation of a secret society by the name of Katipunan, steered by Emilio Aguinaldo.
The Philippine Revolution was started in 1896, and after negotiations, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was formed in 1897. This pact prompted the exile of the rebels to Hong Kong. The flag of the Philippines, as known today, was designed by Aguinaldo and his rebel companions during this time.
Alongside the Philippine quest for independence, the Spanish-American war was at large in 1898 for Cuba's liberation. A Treaty settled the war in December 1898, where Spain ceded their rule of the Philippines (along with Guam and Puerto Rico) to America. After a series of negotiations and confusions, then-US President William McKinley appointed the First Philippine Republic in January 1899.
However, the US's subsequent actions were not received well by the Filipinos, and the Philippine-American war broke out in February 1899. The war lasted for two years and ended in defeat for the Filipinos. The American rule was established on the archipelago, and all the rebellions were squashed for the next thirty years. In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established by the US government with distinct plans for independence.
However, the Second World War broke in 1941, and the Japanese military invaded the Philippines, rendering the US (in the Philippines) feckless for two to three years. During this time, the Filipinos rebelled against Japanese rule through underground guerilla activity. The US returned in October of 1944 and defeated the Japanese with the help of Filipino troops.
After the war, the Philippines was restored to Commonwealth status in 1945, and by 1946, the US officially recognized the Philippines as an independent nation through the Treaty of Manila. Through a series of corruption and political unrest, democracy was returned to the Philippines. It had good periods of economic growth under various presidencies. As of January 2021, the government of the Philippines is headed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Republic of the Philippines is a beautiful country to visit. The history of the nation simply enhances the culture of the country and adds to its beauty. This country should be on your travel list for a quick and budgeted trip!