Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Philippine History

The early Negrito/Malay/Polynesian inhabitants of the Philippines were little disturbed until a thousand years ago, when Arab, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian traders arrived. Islam was introduced in the 14th century, sweeping across the southern islands.

In 1521 AD the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in the service of Spain, landed on Homonhon, an uninhabited island to the south of Samar. He soon moved on to the flourishing trading port of Cebu, converting the local people to Christianity and claiming the land for Spain. Later expeditions were conducted in the name of King Philip II of Spain, who named the country Pilipinas, and permanent Spanish colonial occupation began in 1565. From 1565 until Mexican independence in 1821 the Philippines was administered by the Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico). After 1821 Spain ruled directly. Spanish hopes of finding a fortune in spices and gold were soon disappointed and they had to make many costly military operations to put down internal uprisings. The lack of development caused the Philippines to be a burden on the Mexican treasury until 1782, when the profitable tobacco crop was introduce to northern Luzon.

Up to 1815, the main Spanish economic activity was the galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco. The Spanish were harassed by the Portuguese and the Dutch, and later, the British, who took brief custody of Manila in 1762-1764, as a result of the Seven Years' War in Europe.

Throughout the Spanish occupation, small rebellions were common, but all were ruthlessly put down. However, Spain's defeat by the British in 1762 persuaded the Filipinos that their oppressors were not invincible. The first major revolt occurred in Cavite in 1872. It was soon put down, but the execution of three Filipino priests awakened a national consciousness.

In 1892, several secret societies were organized to act against the Spanish authorities. Foremost amongst these was the Philippines League, founded in 1891 by Jose Rial, and the more radical Katipunan ('Highest and Most Respectable Association of the Sons of the People'). The Spanish discovered what was happening in August 1896 and the insurrectionists began armed hostilities. Although Jose RIzal was executed in December 1896, the rebel force, under Emilio Aguinaldo, was initially successful, but reinforcements from Spain won the day and in August 1897 Aguinaldo and the Spanish Governor-General signed a pact guaranteeing Spanish reform within three years. However, domestic events were overshadowed by the Spanish-American war. In 1898 war between Spain and USA ended in victory for the latter, and the Filipinos hoped to profit by winning independence after 327 years of Spanish rule; but the USA bought the colony from Spain and ruled until 1942, when the Japanese occupied the islands. The Allies retook the islands in 1945 and the US took control once more until full independence was achieved in July 1946.

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