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History of Philippines
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Early History(pre-900)
Tabon Man
Arrival of the Negritos
Austronesian expansion
Angono Petroglyphs
Classical Epoch (900-1521)
Country of Mai
Dynasty of Tondo
Confederation of Madyaas
Kingdom of Maynila
Kingdom of Namayan
Rajahnate of Butuan
Rajahnate of Cebu
Sultanate of Maguindanao
Sultanate of Sulu
Colonial Era (1565-1946)
Spanish period (1521–1898)
British Rule
Spanish East Indies
Philippine Revolution (1896-1898)
First Philippine Republic
American period (1898–1946)
Philippine–American War
Commonwealth of the Philippines
Japanese Occupation (1942–1944)
Second Philippine Republic
Contemporary Period (1946-present)
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This article covers the history of the Philippines from the arrival of European explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, up to the end of Spanish rule in 1898.


Spanish expeditions and conquest

Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521.

Although they were not the first Europeans in the Philippines, the first well documented arrival of western Europeans in the archipelago was the Spanish expedition led by Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan, which first sighted the mountains of Samar at dawn on 16 March 1521 (Spanish calendar). Magellan had abandoned his Portuguese citizenship and became a Spanish subject prior to his contract with Spain. On Easter Sunday, 31 March 1521 (Spanish calendar), at Masao, Butuan, (now in Agusan Del Norte), he solemnly planted a cross on the summit of a hill overlooking the sea and claimed possession of the islands he had seen for Spain, naming them Archipelago of Saint Lazarus.[1]

The first Holy Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday, 31 March 1521 (Spanish calendar). The site was located by eyewitnesses at three different latitudes, Antonio Pigafetta said it was at 9° 40' North, Francisco Albo at 9° 20' North, and The Genoese Pilot at 9° North. Another eyewitness, Ginés de Mafra located the isle at 15 leguas (45 nautical miles using the Spanish scale of 1:3) south of or below Butuan. The reference point of de Mafra was the tip of today's Surigao del Norte, at either Bilaa Pt. or Madilao Pt. There are no islands the naked eye can see at the latitudes given by Pigafetta, Albo and the Genoese Pilot, whose latitude is where de Mafra locates Mazaua. But in 2001 a group of earth scientists, composed of a geomorphologist, geologists and archaeologists discovered an isle at 9° N exactly where de Mafra suggested. The isle has yet to be proven to be Mazaua through concrete, material objects that can be directly linked to Magellan and other Europeans who visited Mazaua. This can only be done through comprehensive archaeological excavations in the isle. Modern scientists are often unaware of how inaccurate latitude readings and especially longitude readings were at that time. Reliable chronometers did not exist then and longitude was very much a hit and miss affair with European sailors often hitting coasts and reefs at night because of poor longitudinal information. The readings of Magellan and his companions could not be accurate, and any attempt to rely on them as accurate is most likely to fail.

Magellan sought friendship among the natives beginning with Humabon, the chieftain of Sugbu (now Cebu), and took special pride in converting them to Catholicism. Magellan got involved with political rivalries among the Cebuano natives and took part in a battle against Lapu-Lapu, chieftain of Mactan island and a mortal enemy of Humabon. At dawn on 27 April 1521, Magellan invaded Mactan Island with 48 armed men (less than half his crew) and 1,000 Cebuano warriors, but had great difficulty landing his men on the rocky shore. Lapu-Lapu had an army of 1,500 on land. Magellan waded ashore with his soldiers and attacked the Mactan defenders, ordering Humabon and his warriors to remain aboard the ships and watch. Magellan seriously underestimated the Lapu-Lapu and his men, and grossly outnumbered, Magellan and 14 of his soldiers were killed. The rest managed to reboard the ships. (See Battle of Mactan)

The battle left the Spanish too few to man three ships so they abandoned the "Concepción". The remaining ships - "Trinidad" and "Victoria" - sailed to the Spice Islands in present-day Indonesia. From there, the expedition split into two groups. The Trinidad, commanded by Gonzalo Gómez de Espinoza tried to sail eastward across the Pacific Ocean to the Isthmus of Panama. Disease and shipwreck disrupted Espinoza's voyage and most of the crew died. Survivors of the Trinidad returned to the Spice Islands, where the Portuguese imprisoned them. The Victoria continued sailing westward, commanded by Juan Sebastián Elcano, and managed to return to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain in 1522. In 1529, Charles I of Spain relinquished all claims to the Spice Islands to Portugal in the treaty of Zaragoza. However, the treaty did not stop the colonization of the Philippine archipelago from New Spain.[2]

After Magellan's voyage, subsequent expeditions were dispatched to the islands. Four expeditions were authorized: that of Loaisa (1523), Cabot (1526), Saavedra (1527), Villalobos (1542), and Legazpi (1564).The Legazpi expedition was the most successful of all.[3]

In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos named the islands of Leyte and Samar Las Islas Filipinas after Philip II of Spain.[4] Philip II became King of Spain on January 16, 1556, when his father, Charles I of Spain, abdicated the Spanish throne. Philip was in Brussels at the time and his return to Spain was delayed until 1559 because of european politics and wars in northern Europe. Shortly after his return to Spain, Philip ordered an expedition mounted to the Spice Islands, stating that its purpose was "to discover the islands to the west". In reality its task was to conquer the Philippines for Spain.[5]

On April 27, 1565, Spanish conquistadores numbering a mere 500 attacked the defiant Tupas, who had succeeded Rajah Humabon as king of Cebu.[6] Tupas was defeated and made to sign an agreement after his defeat and effectively placing the Philippines under Spain. On that same day, the first permanent Spanish settlement of San Miguel was founded in Cebu. In 1570, Juan de Salcedo, in the service of Legaspi, conquered the Kingdom of Maynila (now Manila). Legaspi then made Maynila the capital of the Philippines and renamed it Nueva Castilla. The name didn't stick and the hispanized name of Manila (from Maynila) survived to this day. This action pleased the King of Spain and he appointed Legaspi as the colony's first governor-general. Cebu then receded into the background as power shifted north to Luzon with the fertile lands of its central plains. The archipelago was made Spain's outpost in the orient as the Spanish East Indies. The colony was administered through the Viceroyalty of New Spain (now Mexico) until 1821 when Mexican patriots seceded from the Spanish Empire. After 1821, the colony was governed directly from Spain.

Early colonial economy depended on the Galleon Trade which was inaugurated in 1565 between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico. To avoid hostile powers, most trade between Spain and the Philippines was via the Pacific Ocean to Mexico (Manila to Acapulco), and then across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to Spain (Veracruz to Cádiz). The European population steadily grew although natives remained the majority. They depended on the Galleon Trade for a living. In the later years of the 18th century, Governor-General Basco introduced economic reforms that gave the colony its first real income from the production of tobacco and other agricultural exports. In this later period, agriculture was finally opened to the European population, which before was reserved only for the natives.

During Spain’s 333 year rule in the Philippines, the colonists had to fight off the Chinese pirates (who lay siege to Manila, the most famous of which was Limahong in 1574), Dutch forces, Portuguese forces, and indigenous attacks with limited resources. Moros from western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago constantly raided the coastal Christian areas of Luzon and the Visayas and occasionally brought home loot and fair women. They often sold their captives as slaves.

On February 8, 1597, King Philip II, near the end of his 42 year reign, issued a Royal Cedula instructing to Francisco de Tello de Guzmán, then Governor-General of the Philippines in severe terms to fulfill the laws of tributes and to provide for restitution of ill-gotten taxes imposed on the natives. The Cedula also decreed an undertaking by which the natives (referred to as Indians}, "... freely render to me submission." The decree was published in Manila on August 5, 1598. King Philip died on 13 September, just forty days after the publication of the decree, but his death was not known in the Philippines until middle of 1599, by which time a referrendum by which the natives would acknowledge Spanish rule was underway. With the completion of the Philippine referendum of 1599, Spain could be said to have established legitimate sovereignty over the Philippines.[7]

In the late 16th century, the Japanese, under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, claimed control of the Philippines and for a time the Spanish paid tribute to secure their trading routes and protect Jesuit missionaries in Japan.

Spanish rule


Political System

The Spanish quickly organized their new colony according to their model. The first task was the reduction, or relocation of native inhabitants into settlements. The earliest political system used during the conquista period was the encomienda system, which resembled the political system known as Feudalism in Medieval Europe. The conquistadores, friars and native nobles were granted estates, in exchange for their services to the King, and was given the privilege to collect tribute from its inhabitants. In return, the person granted the encomienda, known as an encomendero, was tasked to provide military protection to the inhabitants, justice and governance. In times of war, the encomendero was duty bound to provide soldiers for the King, in particular, for the defense of the colony from invaders such as the Dutch, British and Chinese. The encomienda was entrusted to the encomendero by the King for only two generations. The encomienda system was abused by encomenderos and was replaced by a more advanced system of governance of the times.

The most prominent feature of Spanish cities was the plaza, a central area for town activities such as the fiesta, and where government buildings, the church, a market area and other infrastructures were located. Residential areas lay around the plaza. During the conquista, the first task of colonization was the reduction, or relocation of the indigenous population into settlements surrounding the plaza.

As in Europe, the church always had control over the state affairs of the colony. The friars controlled the sentiments of the native population and was more powerful than the governor-general himself. Among the issues that resulted to the Philippine revolution of 1898 that ended Spanish rule was the abuse of power by the religious orders.

National Government

On the national level, the King of Spain, through his Council of the Indies (Consejo de Indias), governed through his sole representative in the Philippines: the Governor-General (Gobernador y Capitán General). With the seat of power in Intramuros, Manila, the Governor-General was given several duties: he headed the Supreme Court (Real Audiencia), was Commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and was the economic planner of the country. All known executive power of the local government stemmed from him and as vice-regal patron, he had the right to supervise mission work and oversee ecclesiastical appointments. His yearly salary was P40,000. For obvious reasons, the Governor-General was usually a Peninsular (Spaniard born in Spain) to ensure loyalty of the colony to the crown.

Provincial Government

On the provincial level, heading the pacified provinces (alcaldia), was the provincial governor (alcalde mayor). The unpacified military zones (corregidor), such as Mariveles and Mindoro, were headed by the corregidores. City governments (ayuntamientos), were also headed by an alcalde mayor. Alcalde mayors and corregidores exercised multiple prerogatives as judge, inspector of encomiendas, chief of police, tribute collector, capitan-general of the province and even vice-regal patron. His annual salary ranged from P300 to P2000 before 1847 and P1500 to P1600 after it. But this can be augmented through the special privilege of "indulto de commercio" where all people were forced to do business with him. The alcalde mayor was usually an Insulares (Spaniard born in the Philippines). In the 1800s, the Peninsulares began to displace the Insulares which resulted in the political unrests of 1872, notably the execution of GOMBURZA, Novales Revolt and mutiny of the Cavite fort under La Madrid.

Municipal Government

The pueblo or town is headed by the gobernadorcillo or little governor. Among his administrative duties were the preparation of the tribute list (padron), recruitment and distribution of men for draft labor, communal public work and military conscription (quinto), postal clerk and judge in minor civil suits. He intervened in all administrative cases pertaining to his town: lands, justice, finance and the municipal police. His annual salary, however, was only P24 but he was exempted from taxation. Any native or Chinese mestizo, 25 years old, literate in oral or written Spanish and has been a cabeza de barangay of 4 years can be a gobernadorcillo. Among those prominent is Emilio Aguinaldo, a Chinese Mestizo and who was the gobernadorcillo of Cavite El Viejo (now Kawit). Early officials of the pueblo were taken from the Maharlika class or nobles of pre-colonial society. Their names are survived by prominent families in contemporary Philippine society such as Tupas, Gatmaitan, Liwanag, Pangilinan, Panganiban and Agbayani to name a few.

Barrio Government

Barrio government (village or district) rested on the barrio administrator (cabeza de barangay). He was responsible for peace and order and recruited men for communal public works. Cabezas should be literate in Spanish and have good moral character and property. Cabezas who served for 25 years were exempted from forced labor. In addition, this is where the sentiment heard as, "Mi Barrio", first came from.

The Residencia and The Visita

To check the abuse of power of royal officials, two ancient castilian institutions were brought to the Philippines. The Residencia, dating back to the fifth century and the Visita differed from the residencia in that it was conducted clandestinely by a visitador-general sent from Spain and might occur anytime within the official’s term, without any previous notice. Visitas may be specific or general.

Maura Law

The legal foundation for municipal governments in the country was laid with the promulgation of the Maura Law on May 19, 1893. Named after its author, Don Antonio Maura, the Spanish Minister of Colonies at the time, the law reorganized town governments in the Philippines with the aim of making them more effective and autonomous. This law created the municipal organization that was later adopted, revised, and further strengthened by the American and Filipino governments that succeeded Spanish rule.[8]


Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade

The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade was the main source of income for the colony during its early years. Service was inaugurated in 1565 and continued into the early 19th century. The Galleon trade brought silver from New Spain, which was used to purchase Asian goods such as silk from China, spices from the Moluccas, lacquerware from Japan and Philippine cotton textiles. These goods were then exported to New Spain and ultimately Europe by way of Manila. Thus, the Philippines earned its income through the trade of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon. The trade was very prosperous and attracted many merchants to Manila, specially Chinese. However, initially it neglected the development of the colony's local industries which affected the Indios since agriculture was their main source of income. In addition, the building and operation of galleons put too much burden on the colonists' annual polo y servicio. However, it resulted in cultural and commercial exchanges between Asia and the Americas that led to the introduction of new crops and animals to the Philippines such as corn, potato, tomato, cotton and tobacco among others, that gave the colony its first real income. The trade lasted for over two hundred years, and ceased in 1815 just before the secession of American colonies from Spain.

Royal Society of Friends of the Country

José de Basco y Vargas, following a royal order to form a society of intellectuals who can produce new, useful ideas, formally established the Real Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais. Composed of leading men in business, industry and profession, the society was tasked to explore and exploit the island's natural bounties. The society led to the creation of Plan General Economico of Basco which implemented the monopolies on the areca nut, tobacco, spirited liquors and explosives. It offered local ad foreign scholarships and training grants in agriculture and established an academy of design. It was also credited to the carabao ban of 1782, the formation of the silversmiths and gold beaters guild and the construction of the first papermill in the Philippines in 1825. It was introduced on 1780, vanished temporarily on 1787-1819, 1820-1822 and 1875-1822 and ceased to exist in the middle of the 1890s.

Royal Company of the Philippines

On March 10, 1785, Charles III created the Royal Philippine Company with a 25 year charter.[9] It was granted exclusive monopoly of bringing to Manila, Philippines; Chinese and Indian goods and shipping them directly to Spain via the Cape of Good Hope. It was stiffly objected by the Dutch and English who saw it as a direct attack on their trade of Asian goods. It was also vehemently opposed by the traders of the Galleon trade who saw it as competition. This gradually resulted into the death of both institutions: The Royal Philippine Company in 1814 and the Galleon trade in 1815.[10]


To support the colony, several forms of taxes and monopolies were imposed. The buwis (tribute), which could be paid in cash or kind (tobacco, chickens, produce, gold, blankets, cotton, rice, etc., depending on the region of the country), was initially was fixed at 8 reales (one real being 12.5 centavos) and later increased to 15 reales, apportioned as follows: ten reales buwis, one real diezmos prediales (tithes), one real to the town community chest, one real sanctorum tax, and three reales for church support.[11]

Also collected was the bandalâ (from the Tagalog word mandalâ, a round stack of rice stalks to be threshed), an annual enforced sale and requisitioning of goods such as rice. Custom duties and income tax were also collected. By 1884, the tribute was replaced by the Cedula personal, wherein colonists were required to pay for personal identification. Everyone over the age of 18 was obliged to pay.[12]

Forced Labor (Polo y servicios)

The system of forced labor otherwise known as polo y servicios evolved within the framework of the encomienda system, introduced into the South American colonies by the Conquistadores and Catholic priests who accompanied them. Polo y servicios is the forced labor for 40 days of men ranging from 16 to 60 years of age who were obligated to give personal services to community projects. One could be exempted from polo by paying the falla (corruption of the Spanish Falta, meaning "absence"), a daily fine of one and a half real. In 1884, labor was reduced to 15 days. The polo system was patterned after the Mexican repartimento, selection for forced labor.[13]


By the 1800s, the Philippines had become an important possession. The early small number of European settlers, soldiers and missionaries brought with them aspects of European life, i.e. the Spanish menu,[14] religious festivals, stone houses, manner of clothing and fashion. The colonists used the Gregorian calendar, the Latin script and used theocentric art, music, literature. Likewise, the European settlers and their descendants, known as Insulares (lit. "islanders"), also adapted to oriental culture learning to eat rice as their staple and use soy sauce, coconut vinegar, coconut oil and ginger. Today, Filipino culture is a blend of many different cultures.

British invasion

In August 1759, Charles III ascended the Spanish throne. At the time, Britain and France were at war, in what was later called the Seven Years War. France successfully negotiated a treaty with Spain known as the Family Compact which was signed on 15 August 1761. By an ancillary secret convention, Spain was committed to making preparations for war against Britain. [15 ]

On 24 September 1762 [16], a small but technically proficient 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 in India. [15 ]

The expedition, led by Brigadier General William Draper and Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish, captured Manila, "the greatest Spanish fortress in the western Pacific", and attempted to establish free trade with China.[17]

The Spanish defeat was not really surprising. The Royal Governor, Don Pedro Manuel de Arandia had died in 1759 and his replacement Brigadier Don Francisco de la Torre had not arrived because of the British attack on Havana, Cuba. Spanish policy was for the Archbishop of Manila to be Lieutenant Governor. Because the garrison was commanded by the Archbishop Don Manuel Rojo del Rio y Vieyra, instead of by a military expert, many mistakes were made by the Spanish forces.[18]

Under Spanish rule, the Philippines never paid its own way, but survived on an annual subsidy paid by the Spanish Crown. As a cost saving measure, and because the Spanish authorities never really contemplated a serious expedition against Manila by a European power, the 200 year old fortifications at Manila had not been improved much since first built by the Spanish.[19]

Early success by the British in Manila did not enable them to expand their control over all parts of the Spanish Philippines. In reality they only controlled Manila and Cavite, and parts of Ilocos and Cagayan. But Manila was the capital, and key, to the Spanish Philippines, and the British accepted the written surrender of the Spanish government in the Philippines from Archbishop Rojo and the Real Audiencia on 30 October 1762. [20 ]

The terms of surrender proposed by the Real Audencia and agreed to by the British leaders, secured private property, guaranteed the Roman Catholic religion and its episcopal government, and granted the citizens of the former Spanish colony the rights of peaceful travel and of trade 'as British subjects'. Under superior British control, the Philippines would continue to be governed by the Real Audencia, the expenses of which were to be paid by Spain.[20 ]

The Seven Years War was ended by the Peace of Paris signed on 10 February 1763. At the time of signing the treaty, the signatories were not aware that the Philippines had been taken by the British and was being administered as a British colony. Consequently no specific provision was made for the Philippines. Instead they fell under the general provision that all other lands not otherwise provided for be returned to the Spanish Crown. [21]

The British rule ended with them embarking from Manila and Cavite in the first week of April 1764, and sailing out of Manila Bay for Batavia, India and England. The conflict over payment by Spain of the outstanding part of the ransom promised by Rojo in the terms of surrender, and compensation by Britain for excesses committed by Governor Drake against residents of Manila, continued in Europe for years afterwards. [22]

Resistance against Spanish rule

The road to Philippine nationhood was difficult with continuous threats to Spanish domination brought about by invasions from the Dutch, British, Chinese, Japanese, and indigenous rebellions.

Throughout the period of Spanish rule, previously dominant and independent groups resisted Spanish overlordship, refusing to pay Spanish taxes, and rejecting Spanish excesses.

The 1800s was a period of global change under the banner of liberty, equality and brotherhood brought about by the patriotisms of the French and American Revolutions.

In 1898, Filipino patriots seceded from the Spanish Empire and formally declared independence under the First Philippine Republic.

Early resistance

Resistance against Spain did not immediately cease upon the conquest of the Austronesian cities. After Tupas of Cebu, random native nobles resisted Spanish rule. The longest recorded native rebellion was that of Francisco Dagohoy which lasted a century.[23]

During the British rule in the 1760s, Diego Silang was appointed governor of Ilocos and after his assassination by Spanish elements, his wife Gabriela continued to lead the Ilocanos. Resistance against Spanish rule was regional in character, based on ethnolinguistic groups.

Hispanization of sorts, did not spread to the mountainous center of northern Luzon, nor to the inland communities of Mindanao. The highlanders were more able to resist the Spanish invaders than the lowlanders.

The Moros, most notably the sultanates, had a more advanced political system than their counterparts in the Visayas and Luzon. Spanish cities in Mindanao were limited to the coastal areas of Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro.

The opening of the Philippines to world trade

The 1800s was a period of global change. The world had entered its first phase of globalization under the British Empire. In Europe, the Industrial Revolution had spread from Great Britain which had entered its Pax Britannica known as the Victorian Age. The rapid industrialization of Europe were seeking new markets and found them in the colonies. The colonies prospered with the production of raw materials for the mother countries. It was during this period that Governor-General Basco opened the Philippines to world trade. The economy of the Philippines rose rapidly and its local industries developed to satisfy the rising industrialization of Europe. European immigration increased with the opening of the Suez Canal which cut the travel time between Europe and the Philippines by half. New ideas, which the friars and colonial authorities found dangerous, found their way into the Philippines notably Freemasonry and ideals of the French and American Revolutions and of Spanish liberalism.

Rise of Filipino nationalism

The opening of the Philippines to world trade rapidly developed the Philippine economy. Many Filipinos prospered overnight. Everyday Filipinos also benefited from the new economy with the rapid increase in demand for labor and availability of business opportunities. Some Europeans immigrated to the Philippines to join the wealth wagon, among them Jacobo Zobel, patriarch of today's Zobel de Ayala family and prominent figure in the rise of Filipino nationalism. Their scions studied in the best universities of Europe where they learned the ideals of liberty from the French and American Revolutions. The new economy gave rise to a new middle class in the Philippines, usually not ethnic Filipinos.

In the early 1800s, the Suez Canal was opened which made the Philippines easier to reach from Spain. The small increase of Peninsulares from the Iberian Peninsula threatened the secularization of the Philippine churches. In state affairs, the Criollos, known locally as Insulares (lit. "islanders"). were displaced from government positions by the Peninsulares, whom the native Insulares regarded as foreigners. The Insulares had become increasingly Filipino and called themselves Los hijos del país (lit. "sons of the country"). Among the early proponents of Filipino nationalism were the Insulares Padre Pedro Peláez, archbishop of Manila, who fought for the secularization of Philippine churches and expulsion of the friars; Padre José Burgos whose execution influenced the national hero José Rizal; and Joaquín Pardo de Tavera who fought for retention of government positions by natives, regardless of race. In retaliation to the rise of Filipino nationalism, the friars called the Indios (possibly referring to Insulares and mestizos as well) indolent and unfit for government and church positions. In response, the Insulares came out with Indios agraviados, a manifesto defending the Filipino against discriminatory remarks. The tension between the Insulares and Peninsulares erupted into the failed revolts of Novales and the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 which resulted to the deportation of prominent Filipino nationalists to the Marianas and Europe who would continue the fight for liberty through the Propaganda Movement. The Cavite Mutiny implicated the priests Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (see Gomburza) whose executions would influence the subversive activities of the next generation of Filipino nationalists, in particular Paciano Rizal, elder brother of José Rizal, who then dedicated his novel, El filibusterismo to the these priests.

Rise of Spanish liberalism

The Liberals won the Spanish Revolution of 1869. Carlos María de la Torre was sent to the Philippines to serve as governor-general (1869-1871). He was one of the most loved governors-general in the Philippines having implemented reforms in the colony. At one time, his supporters serenaded him in front of the Malacañang Palace. Among those who serenaded were Padre Burgos and Joaquín Pardo de Tavera. When the Reactionaries regained power in Spain, de la Torre was recalled and replaced by Governor-General Izquierdo who vowed to rule with an iron fist.


Freemasonry had gained a generous following in Europe and the Americas during the 1800s and found its way to the Philippines. The Western World was quickly changing and sought less political control from the Roman Catholic Church. The Philippine Reform Movements of La solidaridad, La Liga Filipina and Katipunan were mason-inspired and applied the rituals of Freemasonry in their induction of members. Key figures of the Reform Movement and/or Philippine Revolution were members of Freemasonry such as José Rizal, Andrés Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo.


Filipino Ilustrados in Spain.

The mass deportation of nationalists to the Marianas and Europe in 1872 led to a Filipino expatriate community of reformers in Europe. The community grew with the next generation of Ilustrados taking graduate studies in European universities. They allied themselves with Spanish liberals, notably a certain Spanish senator named Morayta and formed the La Solidaridad. Among the reformers was José Rizal, who wrote his two famous novels while in Europe. Among the manuscripts of the reformers, his novels were considered the most influential causing further unrest in the islands particularly the founding of the Katipunan. A rivalry developed between himself and Marcelo del Pilar for the leadership of La solidaridad and the reform movement in Europe. Majority of the expatriates supported the leadership of Marcelo Del Pilar. Rizal then returned to the Philippines to organize La Liga Filipina and bring the reform movement to Philippine soil. He was arrested just a few days after founding the league. In 1892, Radical members of the La Liga Filipina, which included Bonifacio and Deodato Arellano, founded the Kataastaasang Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK), called simply the Katipunan, which had the bold objective of having the Philippines seceding from the Spanish Empire. From the Insular uprisings of the early 1800s of Fathers Peláez and Burgos, the Filipino discontent eventually escalated to a full-blown armed revolution in August 1896.

The Philippine Revolution

By 1896 the Katipunan had a membership by the thousands. That same year, the existence of the Katipunan was discovered by the colonial authorities. In late August Katipuneros gathered in Caloocan and declared the start of the revolution. The event is now known as the Cry of Balintawak or Cry of Pugad Lawin, due to conflicting historical traditions and official government positions.[24]

Andrés Bonifacio called for a general offensive on Manila[25] and was defeated in battle at the town of San Juan del Monte. He regrouped his forces and was able to briefly capture the towns of Marikina, San Mateo and Montalban. Spanish counterattacks drove him back and he retreated to the mountains of Balara and Morong and from there engaged in guerrilla warfare.[26] By August 30, the revolt had spread to eight provinces. On that date, Governor-General Ramon Blanco declared a state of war in these provinces and placed them under martial law. These were Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Bataan, Laguna, Batangas, and Nueva Ecija. They would later be represented in the eight rays of the sun in the Filipino flag.[27] Emilio Aguinaldo and the Katipuneros of Cavite were the most successful of the rebels[28] and they controlled most of their province by September-October. They defended their territories with trenches designed by Edilberto Evangelista.[26]

Many of the educated ilustrado class such as Antonio Luna and Apolinario Mabini did not initially favor an armed revolution. Rizal himself, whom the rebels took inspiration from and had consulted beforehand, disapproved of a premature revolution. He was arrested, tried and executed for treason, sedition and conspiracy on December 30, 1896. Before his arrest he had issued a statement disavowing the revolution, but in his swan song poem Mi último adiós he wrote that dying in battle for the sake of one's country was just as patriotic as his own impending death.[29]

While the revolution spread throughout the provinces, Aguinaldo's Katipuneros declared the existence of an insurgent government in October regardless of Bonifacio's Katipunan,[30] which he had already converted into an insurgent government with him as president in August.[31][32] Bonifacio was invited to Cavite to meditate between Aguinaldo's rebels, the Magdalo, and their rivals the Magdiwang, both chapters of the Katipunan. There he became embroiled in discussions whether to replace the Katipunan with an insurgent government of the Cavite rebels' design. To this end, the Tejeros Convention was convened, where Aguinaldo was elected president of the new insurgent government. Bonifacio refused to recognize this and he was executed for treason in May 1897.[33][34]

By December 1897, the revolution had resulted to a stalemate between the colonial government and rebels. Pedro Paterno mediated between the two sides for the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. The conditions of the armistice included the self-exile of Aguinaldo and his officers in exchange for $800,000 to be paid by the colonial government. Aguinaldo then sailed to Hong Kong, then a possession of the British Empire.

In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out. Emilio Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines with American aid, that is the blockading of Manila Bay from Spanish reinforcements. However, this aid was unnecessary as the Spanish reinforcements wouldn't have made it anyway as their Cazadores were tied down in Cuba both quelling a similar revolt and fighting the Spanish-American War there, and later the Americans turning against the Filipino patriots in the end after all. By 1898, the patriots have liberated much of the country from colonial rule. They declared independence in 1898 and established the First Philippine Republic, and then laid siege to Manila and prepared to invade the city. Aguinaldo however failed to conclude the revolution by invading Manila. The United States had promised to recognize Philippine independence and the Americans requested Aguinaldo to wait for American reinforcements so that they could enter the city together. The Americans had asked Aguinaldo to turn over vital entries to the capital city over to the Americans, which he did so in good faith to their alliance. In a sudden twist of fate, the Americans secretly entered into a pact with the Spanish governor-general in which the latter agreed to fight a mock battle before surrendering Manila to the Americans. In Paris, the Spanish reluctantly agreed to sell the Philippines to the United States for $20 million and turn over Guam and Puerto Rico (see Treaty of Paris (1898)). With this action, Spanish rule in the Philippines formally ended. With Manila taken, the Americans waited for reinforcements until hostilities opened up between them and the declared Philippine Republic.

American invasion

The Spanish-American War brought an American invasion in 1898 of the then Spanish-held Philippines, followed by the beginnings of an American occupation of the islands. In 1899, the Philippine-American War erupted resulting in the American colonization of the country.

Hostilities broke out in February 1899, when an American sentry fired and killed a Filipino soldier on patrol. Accounts suggest that it was a result of misunderstanding when the American shouted "halt" which the Filipinos took as "Halto" which in Spanish meant "welcome". Nevertheless, the American Military Governor Otis used the incident to escalate hostilities "to the grim end". By December, the Philippine Republican Army under the command of General Gregorio del Pilar had been annihilated in Pangasinan after which Aguinaldo fled to the Cordillera with less than a hundred troops. In the Battle of Tirad Pass, the Republic could only spare 60 soldiers for the defense.

From December 1899 to March 1901, the revolution was nothing more than a hide and seek masquerade between the pursuing American Army and Emilio Aguinaldo. Guerilla warfare was carried on by the Tinio Brigade, which had survived the annihilation of the main Philippine Army. This was branded as nothing more than bandit "disorders" by the Americans., however evidence is clear that those "disorders" were national in level and revolutionary in character.

In March 1901, Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans, and swore allegiance to the United States. Some history books mark this as the end of the war, but the Battle of Balangiga under General Vicente Lukban, where more than forty American soldiers were killed in a surprise guerrilla attack in the town of Balangiga on Samar island, took place in September 1901.

The Americans then turned Samar into a "howling wilderness". After the capture of Aguinaldo, Miguel Malvar had succeeded as President of the Philippine Republic. Some books call Malvar the last general to surrender to the Americans, but in 1904 Artemio Ricarte returned from exile to continue the war against the Americans. "Disorder" disrupted American rule all throughout its duration. It was only in 1914 that resistance to American rule declined. A new generation of Filipinos educated in American public schools have replaced the patriots.


  1. ^ Zaide 2006, pp. 80-81
  2. ^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 73
  3. ^ Zaide 1939, p. 113
  4. ^ William Henry Scott (1985) Cracks in the Parchment Curtain ISBN 971-10-0074-1 p51
  5. ^ Williams 2009, pp. 13-33.
  6. ^ Jovito Abellana, Aginid, Bayok sa Atong Tawarik, 1952
  7. ^ Villarroel 2009, pp. 93-133.
  8. ^ "Maura law". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2008-01-16.  
  9. ^ Solidarity, 2, Solidaridad Publishing House, p. 8  , "The charter of the Royal Philippine Company was promulgated on March 10, 1785 to last for 25 years."
  10. ^ DeBorja & Douglass 2005, pp. 71-79.
  11. ^ Agoncillo 1990, pp. 81-82
  12. ^ Agoncillo 1990, pp. 82-83
  13. ^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 83
  14. ^ Filipinas, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines to Argentina (Spanish)
  15. ^ a b Tracy 1995, p. 9
  16. ^ British naval calendar date
  17. ^ Tracy 1995
  18. ^ Tracy 1995, p. 33
  19. ^ Tracy 1995, pp. 12, 55
  20. ^ a b Tracy 1995, p. 54
  21. ^ Tracy 1995, p. 109
  22. ^ Tracy 1995, p. 106
  23. ^ Cummins 2006, pp. 132-138
  24. ^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 166
  25. ^ Salazar 1994, p. 107.
  26. ^ a b Guerrero 1998, pp. 175-176.
  27. ^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 173.
  28. ^ Constantino 1975, p. 179
  29. ^ Quibuyen 1999.
  30. ^ Constantino 1975, p. 178-181
  31. ^ Guerrero 1998, pp. 166-167.
  32. ^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 152
  33. ^ Constantino 1975, p. 191
  34. ^ Agoncillo 1990, pp. 180-181.


  • Agoncillo, Teodoro A. (1990), History of the Filipino People (Eighth ed.), University of the Philippines, ISBN 9-71-871106-6  
  • Quibuyen, Floro C. (2008) [1999], A nation aborted: Rizal, American hegemony, and Philippine nationalism (Revised ed.), Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, ISBN 9715505741  .
  • Zaide, Sonia M (2006), The Philippines: A Unique Nation, All-Nations Publishing Co Inc, Quezon City, ISBN 971-642-071-4  .

External links


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