U.S. Colonialism in the Philippines

The history of human settlement in the Philippines extends back at least 30,000 years. Over succeeding millennia, diverse communities from Indonesia, southern China and elsewhere settled the island archipelago. Throughout their history, the diverse linguistic, ethnic and political groups of the many islands of the Philippine archipelago engaged in complex interactions with other regions of Asia. In the 16th century, portions of the archipelago came under the political control of Spain, and Philippine communities entered into sustained interactions with Europe and the New World.

Between 1567 and 1807, more than 40 revolts had been launched against Spanish rule. By the mid-17th century, the majority of inhabitants of the lowland Philippines had converted to Catholicism; upland communities ("hill tribes") continued to practice traditional religions; and Islam continued to be the major religion in Mindanao. By the late 19th century, new anti-colonial movements had developed within the Philippines and the Philippine Revolution was launched in 1896. In December 1897, Spanish Colonial Governor-General and Philippine leader Emilio Aguinaldo signed a truce to end the war; the leaders of the revolution were banished to Hong Kong, receiving 400,000 Mexican dollars from the colonial government. However, the uprising continued.

At the same time, in April 1898, war was formally declared between Spain and the United States. On May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey, commander of the U.S. Navy's Asiatic Squadron, entered Manila Bay and defeated the Spanish forces. In their conflict with Spain, the U.S. allied with the Philippine revolutionary forces, bringing Aguinaldo back from exile. By early June the combined U.S. and Philippine forces controlled most of the islands. Philippine leaders formally declared independence on June 12, 1898, culminating in the creation of the "First Philippine Republic." Their independence was short-lived. On August 12, 1898, having been defeated in both Cuba and the Philippines, Spain signed a Protocol of Peace with the United States. Unaware of this news, U.S. forces captured Manila the following day. They prevented Philippine forces from entering the city, sowing the seeds for future conflicts. Spain and the U.S. signed a formal peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898. The United States was ceded control of the Philippines, and initiated a period of colonial rule that would continue until 1946.

Historical Timeline

1521 Ferdinand Magellan lands in the Philippines, claims the islands for Spain and is killed by Cebuano chieftain Lapu-Lapu
1521 First Catholic mass said in the islands
1542 Visayan islands of Leyte and Samar named Las Islas Filipinas for King Phillip of Spain by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos
1565 First permanent Spanish settlement in the islands, in Cebu
1567 First revolt against the Spanish (Dagahi Revolt)
1570 Manila captured, made a Spanish city
1574 Manila Revolt
1595 University of San Carlos founded
1611 University of Santo Tomas founded
1621 Colegio de Manila is made into Universidad de San Ignacio by papal decree, and a royal university by King Philip IV of Spain in 1623
1567 – 1807 Over 40 local revolts against the Spanish
By 1650 Majority of the lowland Philippines converted to Catholicism; hill tribes remain unconverted, "Moros" in Mindanao remain Muslim
17th-19th centuries Manila as the critical site for the Spanish galleon trade
19th century Elite education in Spain, and wider primary education
1872 Cavite Rebellion repressed, Filipino priests involved executed
1892 Jose Rizal forms La Liga Filipina and is exiled
1892 Andres Bonifacio establishes the Katipunan
1896 Philippine Revolution; Rizal is executed; independence declared
1897 Bonifacio is executed
1898 Spanish-American War
1898 Mark Twain founds the Anti-Imperialist League
1899-1902 Philippine-American War
1902 – 1904 Katipunan continues armed rebellion
1904 Philippine exhibition at the St. Louis World's Fair
1904 onward Movement of Christian settlers to Mindanao and the establishment of plantations, particularly in the lowlands
1902 - 1913 Continued fighting between American soldiers and Moro forces in Mindanao
1914 Change in colonial policy, including moves towards Filipino self-rule
1936 Philippines becomes a commonwealth of the United States, in preparation for eventual independence. Frank Murphy, last Governor-General of the Philippines, becomes the High Commissioner
1941 – 1945 Japanese occupation, Americans driven out of Corregidor, Bataan Death March
1945 Leyte Landing
1946 Philippine Independence