|Philippines, Republic of the|
|The first humans in
the Philippine Islands are thought to have come from China and the Malayan
Archipelago some 250,000 years ago, during the Ice Age, but few remains
from that time have been discovered. Afterward, other peoples migrated to
the islands, among them Negritos, who probably arrived about 25,000 years
ago. A Mongoloid people from Southeast Asia followed about 10,000 years
later. All are thought to have reached the islands across a land bridge
that no longer exists. Larger groups of people from the regions of present-day
China and Vietnam arrived from about 7000 BC to 2000 BC. The largest migrations
to the islands, however, probably occurred after the 3rd century BC.
The last arrivals were people from the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian
archipelago. These migrants brought with them their iron tools and a technology
that included glassmaking and tie-and-dye weaving.
By the 5th century AD a new Filipino civilization had emerged from the mixture of cultures. Traders from as far away as India became frequent visitors to the islands. Competing influences from the Middle East, India, and China brought many changes in the economy and social life. Mining, metallurgy, and lumbering developed, and gold and coins were introduced as media of exchange. By the 12th century, the powerful Sumatra-based kingdom of Sri Vijaya had also extended its considerable influence to the Philippines. Starting in the 13th century, Islam spread through the southern parts of the archipelago and became firmly established there. The Chinese Ming dynasty maintained tributary commercial and diplomatic relations with the islands throughout the 15th century.
The islands were first seen by a European in March 1521, when the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached them during his attempted circumnavigation of the earth in the service of Spain. The following month Magellan was killed on the island of Mactan, near Cebu Island, when he tried to impose Christianity and Spanish sovereignty on the local chief, Lapu-Lapu. For his successful defiance of the Spanish, Lapu-Lapu is a national folk hero.
The Spanish claim to the islands was disputed by Portugal, which was already in possession of the nearby Moluccas and could invoke the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, whereby the eastern hemisphere was reserved to Portuguese colonization. In 1542, however, a Spanish expedition reasserted the claims of Spain and named the archipelago the Islas Filipinas, or Philippine Islands, in honor of the royal heir, later King Philip II.
The first Spanish expedition to achieve lasting results was headed by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who landed in 1564. Legazpi gradually advanced Spanish power over the islands, and in 1572 established Manila as the administrative center. Portuguese threats were entirely eliminated after 1580, when King Philip also became king of Portugal.
Conversion to Christianity
Representatives of various Roman Catholic religious orders, such as the Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits, came to the islands immediately after the successful Legazpi expedition. Conversions were rapid, as coercion mixed with the ceremonial splendor of the Roman Catholic rites aroused fear and admiration in the local peoples. The work of the missionaries was of utmost importance in establishing Spanish rule and was comparably important to the Filipinos, united at last into a fairly homogeneous people by a common religion. The monastic orders eventually secured the possession of large tracts of land, and they became wealthy and politically powerful.
The Spanish Challenged
Other European nations, by the end of the 16th century, began attempts to acquire a foothold in the Philippines. English mariners, including Sir Francis Drake in 1579, harassed Spanish shipping. Later the Dutch, beginning to take an active imperialistic role in Asia, raided the islands, as well as Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese trading vessels. Dutch attacks gradually ceased after 1662, when the Netherlands occupied the rich Moluccas.
Upon the overthrow of Spanish rule in Mexico by the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the Philippines were put directly under the administrative control of Madrid. Filipino nationalism, however, was little in evidence at that time, and the islands remained relatively quiet until the late 19th century.
In 1892 several secret societies were organized to act against the Spanish authorities. The foremost of these was the Philippine League, founded by José Rizal in 1891. Rizal, a political moderate who, nevertheless, was executed in 1896 by the Spanish authorities, became the martyred symbol of his nation. Truly radical was the Katipunan, or Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (The Highest and Most Respectable Society of the Sons of the People), who desired complete independence. The existence of the Katipunan was discovered by Spanish officials on August 19, 1896, and on August 26, the insurrectionists, no longer able to hide their activity, began armed hostilities.
Under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo, chief of the rebel forces, the insurgents were initially successful. Reinforcements from Spain, however, substantially weakened the rebellion in 1897, and in December of that year Aguinaldo and the Spanish governor-general signed the Pact of Biac-na-bató, guaranteeing Spanish reforms within three years. The pact was conditional upon the withdrawal of the Filipino leaders from the islands, and Aguinaldo went to Hong Kong with his associates. Domestic events, however, were soon overshadowed by the beginning of the Spanish-American War on April 21, 1898. On May 1 the Asian squadron of the United States Navy destroyed the Spanish fleet situated in Manila Bay.
United States Rule
With U.S. help, Aguinaldo returned to the islands on May 19 and proclaimed an independent Philippine republic. By the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898), however, Spain ceded the entire archipelago to the United States in return for $20 million, and on December 21 the United States proclaimed the establishment of U.S. military rule. Aguinaldo and his associates refused to acknowledge U.S. domination. They proclaimed independence in June 1898 and a provisional Philippine government was established at Malolos, in central Luzon. Tension increased, and on February 4 hostilities began at Manila when a Filipino patrol provoked the fire of a U.S. sentry. The insurgents were driven back almost at once by U.S. troops, and in November 1899, the Filipinos resorted to guerrilla warfare. Aguinaldo was captured on March 23, 1901, and he swore an oath of allegiance to the United States in April, but sporadic warfare continued for still another year.
At the end of the insurrection in 1902, U.S. civil government replaced the military authority, and on July 4, 1902, William Howard Taft, later president of the United States, became the first civil governor. The Philippine Bill of 1902 provided for the establishment of a bicameral legislature, and five years later, on October 16, 1907, the first session of the Philippine assembly opened, with an elected lower house and the Philippine Commission, previously established, as the upper house.
Shifting American Policies
U.S. politics soon began to influence the course of events in the islands. Taft and his immediate successors were unwilling to delegate much authority to the Filipinos. With the election of Woodrow Wilson to the United States presidency in 1912, a new policy was adopted. In 1916 the Jones Act instituted an elected Philippine senate, and promised eventual independence. These moves, however, were slowed with the election of Warren G. Harding as president of the United States in 1920. Harding, in 1921, appointed a commission to investigate the political and economic situation in the islands. Shortly thereafter, General Leonard Wood, head of the commission, was appointed governor-general. In its report the commission declared that immediate independence would be "a betrayal of the Philippine people." Wood, basing his policies on those delineated by the commission, found himself bitterly opposed by the Filipino advocates of independence, among whom were Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina, president of the Philippine Senate; Sergio Osmeña, speaker of the House of Representatives before 1922; and Manuel Roxas y Acuña, the speaker after 1922.
With the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 as president of the United States, the official policy changed once again. On January 13, 1933, the Congress of the United States passed the Howes-Cutting Bill granting Philippine independence after 12 years, but reserving military and naval bases for the United States and imposing tariffs and quotas on Philippine exports. The bill was rejected by the Filipinos. Led by Quezon, the Philippine Senate advocated a new bill and won the support of President Roosevelt. The Tydings-McDuffie Bill, passed in 1934, granted absolute and complete independence by 1946, and provided for an interim commonwealth supervised by the United States, but with a Philippine president elected by national vote and with a constitution. Adopted in February 1935, the constitution was approved by President Roosevelt and ratified by a plebiscite of the Philippine people on May 14. The commonwealth was formally established on November 15, with Quezon as the first president. He was reelected in 1941.
World War II
During World War II Japanese planes attacked the Philippines on December 8, 1941, and a large-scale invasion began two weeks later. The subsequent Japanese occupation and warfare caused widespread destruction in the islands. On October 20, 1944, U.S. forces returned to the Philippines under General Douglas MacArthur, who had been military commander in the islands before the Japanese attack. The Japanese officially surrendered on September 2, 1945.
Quezon had died in 1944, and he was succeeded by Sergio Osmeña, his vice president. The government returned to Manila in 1945, and on April 23, 1946, Roxas was elected president, with Elpidio Quirino as vice president. To help in the rehabilitation of the islands, the United States established preferential trade relations and awarded the islands several hundred million dollars in war damage and rehabilitation aid.
The Republic of the Philippines was formally proclaimed on July 4, 1946. In addition to the problem of economic rehabilitation, the new state was faced with internal strife. In central Luzon the Hukbalahaps, or Huks, a Communist-led group of former guerrillas who had fought the Japanese, organized a rebel government with its own military, civil, and administrative procedures. Demanding collectivization of farmlands and the abolition of tenant farming, the Huks became a powerful force in Luzon.
Philippine cooperation with the United States became the keynote of the postwar policy. In 1947 the United States was awarded military bases on a 99-year lease, shortened in 1959 to 25 years. Vice President Quirino, who became acting president on the death, in April 1948, of President Roxas, won a term on his own in 1949. The Huk rebellion continued to gather momentum in 1949 and 1950.
The government signed a peace treaty with Japan in September 1951, but talks in early 1952 were soon suspended because of Philippine demands for $8 billion in war damages. Pending settlement of the issue, the Philippine legislature refused to ratify the peace treaty.
In 1953 the government attempted unsuccessfully to end the Huk rebellion by a peace parley with the rebel leaders. In the presidential elections, held on November 10, former Defense Minister Ramón Magsaysay won a decisive victory over the incumbent Quirino, and because of his vigorous conduct of the campaign against the Huks, the back of the rebellion was broken, although it was not entirely suppressed.
Congress approved, on August 11, 1955, legislation empowering President Magsaysay to break up large landed estates and distribute the land to tenant farmers. On September 6 the Philippines and the United States concluded a trade agreement on private U.S. investment in Philippine enterprises.
In the mid-1950s the United States and the Philippines jointly acknowledged Philippine ownership of U.S. military bases in the islands. The Philippine Senate also ratified the peace treaty with Japan and a Philippine-Japanese agreement providing for $800 million in Japanese reparations.
Magsaysay died on March 17, 1957, in an airplane crash, and Vice President Carlos P. Garcia succeeded him as president. In June a statute outlawing the Communist Party was promulgated. The statute provided a maximum sentence of death for active party membership but allowed surrender without penalty within 30 days after promulgation. Some 1400 holdouts of the Huk movement surrendered. Garcia subsequently won an elected term as president, and Diosdado Macapagal, an opposition Liberal Party candidate, was elected vice president. Macapagal was elected president in 1961, but in the elections of 1965 he lost to the Nationalist candidate, Ferdinand Marcos.
The Marcos Regime
Rapid development of the economy brought prosperity during Marcos's first term, and he was easily reelected in 1969. His second term, however, was troubled by civil unrest, caused partly by his support of U.S. policy in Vietnam. By the early 1970s two separate forces, the Communist New People's Army and the Moro National Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist movement in the south, were waging guerrilla war on the government. The unrest and criminal depredations were cited as excuses for the declaration of martial law in 1972. Congress was dissolved, opposition leaders arrested, and strict censorship imposed. Marcos thereafter ruled by decree.
A new constitution was promulgated in January 1973, but transitional provisions attached to it gave Marcos continued absolute powers, and elections were indefinitely postponed; instead, the president sought popular sanction of his acts by repeated referendums. Some relaxation was allowed in 1977 and 1978, but restiveness grew among the population, including the church hierarchy. In 1980 several opposition groups united to demand an end to martial law, and urban guerrillas carried out a series of bombings in Manila.
President Marcos ended martial law in 1981. Presidential elections were held in June, and Marcos won a new six-year term. Opposition to his rule, however, continued to grow. In 1983 opposition leader Benigno Aquino was murdered. A military conspiracy was blamed for the murder, but the defendants were acquitted when tried in 1985. Marcos called for presidential elections in February 1986; his chief opponent was Corazon Aquino, Benigno's widow. Reports that Marcos had won through fraud stirred intense opposition, which culminated in what became known as the People Power Movement, a four-day protest in Manila. Marcos fled the country and settled temporarily in Hawaii. According to widespread accusations, he took with him undetermined amounts of illegally gained wealth.
Aquino became president and, in February 1987, won the enactment of a new constitution. Although she won a vote of confidence in legislative elections that May, military unrest, coupled with popular discontent at the slow pace of economic reform, continued to threaten her government. U.S. Air Force jets assisted Philippine government forces in suppressing a coup attempt in December 1989. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had declared Benigno Aquino's murder trial a mistrial and a new investigation was initiated. In December 1990, 16 military officials were convicted of the murder, as well as the murder of Benigno's alleged assassin. Damage from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in central Luzon led the United States to evacuate nearby Clark Air Base in June 1991. In September, the Philippine government rejected a treaty that would have allowed the U.S. military to remain in the Philippines. As a result, Clark Air Base did not reopen and nearby Subic Bay Naval Station closed in 1992.
In the 1992 presidential election, Aquino, prohibited by the constitution from seeking a second presidential term, endorsed Fidel Valdez Ramos, her former defense secretary. Ramos pursued an ambitious economic reform program. In the 1995 legislative elections, voters elected a majority of Ramos-backed candidates to the legislature.
During the early and mid-1990s, the southern Philippines was the site of renewed guerrilla violence by Muslim separatist forces. In September 1996 the government reached a peace agreement with one of the largest rebel groups, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The agreement established the Special Zone for Peace and Development (SZPD), consisting of 14 Mindanao provinces. Headed by MNLF leader Nur Misuari, the SZPD is scheduled to receive economic assistance to develop the impoverished region. Other rebel groups, however, continue to oppose the Philippine government.