History of The Philippines

History of The Philippines

History of The Philippines

The history of what is today The Philippines started with the arrival of its first humans. It is believed they used rafts or boats around 60,000 years ago, with groups of diverse people settling in the archipelago. Some of these groups started to develop and expand into bigger settlements and in the next thousands of years, they evolved in what some scholars believe to be considered early states. Austronesians and, afterward, speakers of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, began to arrive in successive waves beginning about 4000 BC. According to the existing evidence, a jade culture existed on these lands, starting with the Neolithic era. By 1000 BC, it is believed that the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four distinct kinds of peoples: tribal groups, warrior societies, the petty plutocracy, and the harbor civilizations. Also important to note is the fact that metallurgy reached the archipelago due to trade with India.

Around 300–700 AD, the seafaring peoples of the islands began to trade with the Indianized kingdoms in the Malay Archipelago and the nearby East Asian principalities, adopting influences from both Buddhism and Hinduism. Some cultures of present-day Vietnam showed evidence of an extensive trade network. Artifacts and goods were traded such as glass, agate, or gold. There were also other items present in the region which were most likely imported, including ear ornaments that have been found in archaeological sites in the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan. The Indian culture influenced The South East Asian region starting with 1 st Century AD. During the period of the south Indian Pallava dynasty and the north Indian Gupta Empire, Indian culture spread to Southeast Asia… and it reached the Philippines, which led to the establishment of new kingdoms largely influenced by the Indian culture and traditions.

The date inscribed in the oldest Philippine document found so far, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, is 900 AD. From the details of the document, written in Kawi script, the bearer of a debt, Namwaran, along with his children, is cleared of a debt by the ruler of Tondo. It is the earliest document that shows the use of mathematics in pre-colonial Philippine societies. A standard system of weights and measures is also demonstrated by the use of precise measurement for gold and other items, as well as in astronomy. From the various Sanskrit terms and titles seen in the document, the culture and society of Manila Bay were that of a Hindu–Old Malay amalgamation, similar to the cultures of Java, Peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra at the time. In the years leading up to 1000, there were already several maritime societies existing in the islands but there was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine archipelago. Instead, the region was divided into numerous semi-autonomous city-states under the rule of the plutocracy while a number of states existed alongside the highland societies.

These small structures alternated between being part of or being influenced by larger Asian empires, like Maja Pahit, the Ming Dynasty of China, and Brunei. Around 1225, the nation of Ma-i, a Buddhist pre-Hispanic Philippine island-state centered in Mindoro, flourished, attracting traders and shipping from the Kingdom of Ryukyu to the Empire of Japan. Chao Jukua, a customs inspector in Fukien province, China wrote the “Description of the Barbarous Peoples”, describing trade with this pre-colonial state. Its people were noted for their honesty in trade. Much of what is now Indonesia was ruled by the Hindu Maja Pahit empire. During the 1300s, this empire ruled over Luzon island and the Sulu archipelago. As more and more influence was on these islands, skirmishes and battles also existed. Some local tribes were waging incessant guerrilla warfare against them. Eventually, the kingdoms of Luzon regained independence from Maja Pahit after the Battle of Manila (1365) and Sulu also reestablished independence, and in vengeance, assaulted the Maja Pahit province of Brunei before a fleet from the capital drove them out.

The start of the Islamic era in Indonesia set the collapse of the Maja Pahits as its provinces eventually seceded and became independent sultanates. In 1380, Makhdum Karim, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and brought Islam to the Philippines. Additionally, Sharif ul-Hashim, an Arab Muslim explorer, established the Sultanate of Sulu by converting its previous ruler, the Hindu king, Rajah Baguinda, to Islam and then marrying his daughter. The Sultanate of Maguindanao rose to prominence at the end of the 15th century, meanwhile, Shariff Mohammed of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao. The religion was introduced to the area by Muslim missionaries and traders from the Middle East, Indian and Malay regions who propagated Islam to Sulu and Maguindanao. As before, when Buddhist and Hindu cultures influenced the archipelago, the same case happened with the Muslim culture.

Upon the secession of Brunei from the Maja Pahit Empire, they imported the Arab Emir from Mecca, Sharif Ali, and became an independent Sultanate. The new religion started to grow roots in the Philippines through conquest and conversion of local leaders in the next decades. Moreover, Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines of traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1521, the Spanish reached the archipelago through the expedition around the world led by Portuguese-born Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan landed on the island called Homon Hon, claiming the islands he saw for The Spanish Empire. He established friendly relations with some of the local leaders, especially with Rajah Humabon, and converted some of them to Roman Catholicism. Because the Philippines are a large archipelago, the Spaniards started to explore many islands.

However, the explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, was killed during the Battle of Mactan against the local ruler, Lapu-Lapu. Over the next several decades, other Spanish expeditions were dispatched to the islands. In 1543, an expedition was led to the islands naming them: Philippines: in honor of Philip of Austria, who became Philip II of Spain on January 16, 1556. The name was then extended to the entire archipelago later on in the Spanish era. European colonization began in earnest when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. Through diplomatic and military annexation of some lands, incorporating local states, including the kingdom of Tondo, the Spaniards established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies.

In 1578, the Castilian War erupted between the Christian Spaniards and Muslim Bruneians over control of the Philippine archipelago. The Christian troops were so diverse due to generally being made up of people under the Spanish Rule including Native Americans, namely, Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans, who were gathered and sent from Mexico and South America to be led by Spanish officers that had worked together with native Filipinos in military campaigns across Southeast Asia. The Muslim side was also very diverse though. They were supported by the Ottoman Empire with their troops consisting of Malay warriors and expeditionary forces sent by the Ottomans; which included mainly Turks, Egyptians, Swahilis, Somalis, Indians, and others.

The conflict ended with a STATUS QUO ANTEBELLUM. Just twenty years after the conquest of Luzon, remarkable progress existed in the work of colonization of the islands and the spread of Christianity. A cathedral was built in the city of Manila with an episcopal palace. Other monasteries and churches were built across islands, and more and more people started to convert to Christianity. Furthermore, Spanish and Mexican families settled in the new lands, creating stronger communities. Much of the archipelago came under Spanish rule, creating the first unified political structure known as the Philippines. Spanish colonial rule saw the introduction of Christianity, the code of law, and the oldest modern university in Asia. The Philippines was ruled by the Mexico-based Viceroyalty of New Spain, and after, the colony was directly governed by Spain.

Many of the local people revolted in the next centuries due to some abuses made by the Spanish authorities. Their rule ended after the American – Spanish War at the end of the 19th century, in 1898. The Philippines became a territory of the United States. The United States then established the Insular Government to rule the Philippines. In 1907, the elected Assembly was set up with popular elections. The U.S. promised independence in the Jones Act to the country and The Philippine Commonwealth was established in 1935, as a 10-year interim step prior to full independence. But before gaining total freedom, in 1942 during World War II, the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese Forces. By 1945, the US liberated The Philippines and The Treaty of Manila in 1946 established an independent Philippine Republic. The period of their independence was marked by internal skirmishes, a smaller period of dictatorship, but also huge progress and development, with Manuel Roxas becoming the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines.

The United States ceded its sovereignty over the Philippines on July 4, 1946, as scheduled. However, the Philippine economy remained highly dependent on United States markets. Roxas died suddenly of a heart attack in April 1948, and the vice president, Elpidio Quirino ruled the country until 1953. Some communist partisans existed in the islands but were defeated in the ’50s. Additionally, an important event happened in the middle of the 1960s. Ferdinand Marcos took the power in 1965 and ruled until 1986. This era includes the final years of the Third Republic (1965–1972) and the Philippines under martial law (1972–1981). His reign was marked by dictatorship and instability. In 1986, Ferdinand Marcos was removed from power and replaced by Maria Corazon Aquino. Up to the current day, 5 other presidents ruled The Philippines.

History of The Philippines

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