TIMELINE OF PHILIPPINE HISTORY
● 1380 - Muslim Arabs arrived at the Sulu Archipelago.
● 1521 - Ferdinand Magellan "discovers" the islands and names them: Archipelago of San Lazaro.
● 1542 - Spanish expedition commandeered by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos claims the islands for
Spain; names them "Philippines" after Prince Philip, later King Philip II of Spain; the Philippines
becomes part of Spanish Empire.
● 1872 - Gomburza (Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jocinto Zamora) were executed by
● 1892 - Jose Rizal founded the civic organization La Liga Filipina.
● 1896 - Katipuneros tear their cedulas & shout in contempt of the Spaniards in what is called
the Cry of Pugadlawin.
● 1897 - General Emilio Aguinaldo establishes the a new republic at Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan.
● 1886 - José Rizal publishes anti-Spanish novel, Noli Me Tangere (The Lost Eden); and seers up
● 1896 - Spanish execute Rizal for instigating insurrection; public outrage spawns rebellion.
● 1898 - American warship Maine was blown up in Havana harbour, triggers the the SpanishAmerican war, the battle of Manila Bay ensues.
● 1898 - Emilio Aguinaldo assembled the Malolos Congress in Bulacan, then declares independence
in Kawit, Cavite
● 1899 - Treaty of Paris ends Spanish-American War, cedes Philippines to U.S. after payment to
Spain by U.S. of $ 20 million. Emilio Aguinaldo declares independence then leads a guerrilla war
● 1901 - U.S. captures Aguinaldo; William Howard Taft arrives as first U.S. governor of Philippines.
● 1902 - Insurrection ends; Taft improves economic conditions, settles disputes over church
ownership of land, establishes "Pensionado" program, allowing Filipinos to study in U.S., which
helped modernize and westernize the country.
● 1916 - U.S. congress passes the Jones Law establishing elected Filipino legislature with house and
● 1934 - U.S. congress approves the Tydings-McDuffie Law promising Philippine independence by
1946; transition to independence begins.
● 1935 - Filipino people approve constitution creating the Philippine Commonwealth with Manuel
Quezon y Molina as president.
● 1941 - Japanese invades the Philippines, and defeats Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Bataan and
Corregidor; Quezon establishes government in exile in the U.S.
● 1944 - Quezon dies in exile; Vice President Sergio Osmeña assumes the presidency; MacArthur
returns to the Philippines and lands in Leyte with little resistance.
● 1945 - Gen. MacArthur liberates Manila and President Osmeña establishes government.
● 1946 - The U.S. gave the Philippines independence and Manuel Roxas y Acuña is elected as the
first president of the new republic.
● 1965 - Ferdinand E. Marcos is elected by a big majority as president.
● 1972 - Martial Law was declared by President Marcos.
● 1981 - Marcos lifts Martial Law.
● 1983 - Opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino returns from exile and is assassinated on arrival
at Manila International Airport; Aquino's widow Corazon leads the "People Power" protest
● 1986 - Marcos was declared winner in a presidential election beating Corazon Aquino amid
charges of fraud; demonstrations erupt; Marcos flees to Hawaii; Aquino is declared president and
forms a new government.
● 1992 - Endorsed by Aquino, her Secretary of Defense Gen. Fidel Ramos wins presidential election.
U.S. Philippine congress rejects a new treaty with the U.S. and Subic Bay naval base and Clark Air
Field returns to Philippine government, ending American military presence in the Philippines.
● 1996 - The government of Ramos agrees to greater autonomy for southern island of Mindanao.
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ends the guerrilla war with the government.
● 1997 - Asian financial crisis grips Asia and the Philippines escapes the crisis despite series of
● 1998 - Former movie actor Joseph Estrada is elected president.
● 2000 - On charges of corruption, the lower house impeach Estrada.
● 2001 - Estrada was forced to step down due to public outrage over corruption allegations. Vice
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumes the presidency.
● 2004 - Presidential election takes place. Arroyo's closest rival (a dear friend of Ex-President
Estrada) is film actor Fernando Poe, Jr. Arroyo narrowly defeats Poe, taking 39.5% of the vote to
● 2005 - A taped conversation between President Arroyo & an election official surfaced during the
2004 elections implying she influenced the official election results. Calls for her resignation and
demonstrations followed soon after. In September 2005, Congress voted down the filing of an
impeachment against Arroyo.
● 2007 - Former President Joseph Estrada is convicted of plunder, the first ever in the history of the
● 2010 - First automated national elections in the Philippines.
● 2010 - Benigno "Noynoy" Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III wins the Presidential elections and sworn
in at Manila's Rizal Park on June 30, 2010.
The Galleon Trade
When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, our ancestors were already
trading with China, Japan, Siam, India, Cambodia, Borneo and the Moluccas.
The Spanish government continued trade relations with these countries, and
the Manila became the center of commerce in the East. The Spaniards closed
the ports of Manila to all countries except Mexico. Thus, the Manila–
Acapulco Trade, better known as the "Galleon Trade" was born. The Galleon
Trade was a government monopoly. Only two galleons were used: One sailed
from Acapulco to Manila with some 500,000 pesos worth of goods, spending
120 days at sea; the other sailed from Manila to Acapulco with some 250,000
pesos worth of goods spending 90 days at sea.
It also allowed modern, liberal ideas to enter the country, eventually inspiring
the movement for independence from Spain. And because the Spaniards were
so engrossed in making profits from the Galleon Trade, they hardly had any
time to further exploit our natural resources.
Filipino farmers and traders finally had a taste of prosperity when Governor General Jose Basco y Vargas
instituted reforms intended to free the economy from its dependence on Chinese and Mexican trade.
Basco implemented a “general economic plan” aimed at making the Philippines self sufficient. He
established the “Economic Society of Friends of the Country”, which gave incentives to farmers for
planting cotton, spices, and sugarcane; encouraged miners to extract gold, silver, tin, and copper; and
rewarded investors for scientific discoveries they made.
The tobacco industry was placed under government control during the administration of Governor
General Basco. In 1781, a tobacco monopoly was implemented in the Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Norte,
Ilocos Sur, La Union, Isabela, Abra, Nueva Ecija, and Marinduque. Each of these provinces planted
nothing but tobacco and sold their harvest only to the government at a pre-designated price, leaving little
for the farmers. No other province was allowed to plant tobacco. The government exported the tobacco to
other countries and also part of it to the cigarette factories in Manila.
The tobacco monopoly successfully raised revenues for the colonial government and made Philippine
tobacco famous all over Asia.
Philippine Independence from the Americans
Freedom is among the rights that Filipinos did not enjoy during the Spanish rule. It was a struggle for the
Philippine revolutionary leaders to achieve independence from foreign power. The Filipinos fought
countless battles, resulting to bloody revolutions since the 19th century under the Spanish government.
The Filipino forces were persistent to achieve independence for the country. In 1896, the Philippine
Revolution started, which incriminated Jose Rizal resulting to his execution on allegations of treason and
rouse the Katipunan in Cavite to organize in two groups creating conflict. At the break of the SpanishAmerican war, the Filipino leaders saw the war between Spain and America as an opportunity to free the
Philippines from the claws of the Spanish colony; hence, supported the United States with military forces
including indispensable intelligence. America summoned Aguinaldo to return to the
Philippines from exile and with confidence towards the pleasant US relations,
Aguinaldo anticipated independence from Spain with the help of America. Returning to
the Philippines and leading the Filipino troops to hold the fort of Luzon with success
except for Intramuros, Aguinaldo declared the Philippine Independence from the
Spanish colonial government on June 12, 1898 under the First Philippine Republic.
The Philippine National flag was held up, and swayed proudly before the joyous cries of
the Filipinos by 4:20 in the afternoon at General Aguinaldo’s balcony of his mansion in
Kawit, Cavite. Albeit, the fact that Spain lost the battle to the Filipino troops, Admiral George Dewey
schemed to convince the Spaniards to surrender to America. It was an act of betrayal by America that no
sooner short-lived the celebration of Philippine independence when America annexed the Spanish
colonies to include the Philippines. The Filipino forces were determined to continue their efforts against
imperialist power leading to a bloody fight against the American Army in February 1899 when America
refused to grant Philippines the long-sought Independence.
The Philippine-American War erupted in February 4, 1899 in the
struggle of the Filipinos for freedom conflicting with the interests of
America to become a world power by establishing overseas empire
to include the Philippines under the US imperial
rule. The Filipino forces applied conventional, then
guerrilla tactics in fighting against the US army as
they become fully aware, under the leadership
ofGeneral Emilio Aguinaldo, of the strength of the
US military heavily equipped with superior firearms. Although, General Aguinaldo was
captured in 1901, the insurgencies, particularly by the Muslim Moros in the Southern
part of the Philippines continued. Nonetheless, America was preparing Philippines for
independence that started with the creation of civil government. The US President
Woodrow Wilson promised Philippine Independence and started to entrust authority over Filipino leaders
with the establishment of the Philippine Senate by a democratic election. The Philippine
Commonwealth, with elected President Manuel L. Quezon, was instituted in 1935 under
the Tydings-McDuffie Act that granted Philippines its self-government, although the
legislative power was not absolute, which still required approval from the US President.
At that time, it was a good start towards the eventual Philippine Independence.
When the events were gearing towards Philippine independence as promised by the
United States of America, the Japanese invasion and occupationbolstered in a surprise.
Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese but President Quezon along with Osmeña fled to
America. World War II broke out that created immense damage to Filipinos with
roughly about one million casualties. After the war, Manuel Roxas was elected President in April 1946
for the independent Second Republic of the Philippines. In a formal declaration, the American flag was
lowered in Luneta, Manila and raised the Filipino National flag in tri-color of red, white, and blue looked
up by proud Filipinos. Finally, independence was granted to the Republic of the Philippines dated July 4,
1946. The National anthem of the Philippines was played next to America’s. It was indeed a moment of
liberating glory, for all Filipinos after pools of blood were shed in many revolutions.
July 4, however, holds less inspiration for the Filipinos according to the elected
President of the Republic of the Philippines in 1961,Diosdado Macapagal. Macapagal
believes that the June 12, 1896 declaration of the Philippine independence by General
Emilio Aguinaldo brings to memory the heroes of the revolution and therefore,
Philippine independence is best commemorated in honor of the Filipino revolutionary
heroes. Hence, President Macapagal changed the date of celebration of the Philippine
independence from July 4 to June 12, which the Filipinos celebrate each year up to this
The Philippines During Martial Law
Proclamation of Martial Law: On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos placed the
Philippines under Martial Law. The declaration issued under Proclamation 1081 suspended the civil
rights and imposed military authority in the country. Marcos defended the declaration stressing the need
for extra powers to quell the rising wave of violence allegedly caused by communists. The emergency
rule was also intended to eradicate the roots of rebellion and promote a rapid trend for national
development. The autocrat assured the country of the legality of Martial Law emphasizing the need for
control over civil disobedience that displays lawlessness. Marcos explained citing the provisions from
the Philippine Constitution that Martial Law is a strategic approach to legally defend the Constitution and
protect the welfare of the Filipino people from the dangerous threats posed by Muslim rebel groups and
Christian vigilantes that places national security at risk during the time. Marcos explained that martial law
was not a military takeover but was then the only option to resolve the country’s dilemma on rebellion
that stages national chaos threatening the peace and order of the country. The emergency rule, according
to Marcos’s plan, was to lead the country into what he calls a “New Society”.
Marcos used several events to justify martial law. Threat to the country’s security was intensifying
following the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968. Supporters of
CPP’s military arm, the New People’s Army, also grew in numbers in Tarlac and other parts of the
country. The alleged attempt to the life of then Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile gave Marcos a
window to declare Martial Law. Marcos announced the emergency rule the day after the shooting
incident. Marcos also declared insurgency in the south caused by the clash between Muslims and
Christians, which Marcos considered as a threat to national security. The Muslims were defending their
ancestral land against the control of Christians who migrated in the area. The minority group organized
the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Malaysia and pushed for the autonomy of Mindanao from
the national government.
The move was initially supported by most Filipinos and was viewed by some critics as a change that
solved the massive corruption in the country. Martial law ceased the clash between the executive and
legislative branches of the government and a bureaucracy characterized by special interest. Marcos started
to implement reforms on social and political values that hindered effective modernization. To match the
accomplishments of its Asian neighbors, Marcos imposed the need for self-sacrifice for the attainment of
national welfare. His reforms targeted his rivals within the elite depriving them of their power and
patronage but did not affect their supporters (US Library of Congress, Martial Law and the Aftermath).
Thirty-thousand opposition figures including Senator Benigno Aquino, journalists, student and labor
activists were detained at military compounds under the President’s command (Proclamation 1081 and
Martial Law). The army and the Philippine Constabulary seized weapons and disbanded private armies
controlled by prominent politicians and other influential figures (Proclamation 1081 and Martial Law).
Marcos took control of the legislature and closed the Philippine Congress (Proclamation 1081 and Martial
Law). Numerous media outfits were either closed down or operated under tight control (Proclamation
1081 and Martial Law). Marcos also allegedly funnelled millions of the country’s money by placing some
of his trusted supporters in strategic economic positions to channel resources to him. Experts call this the
The deterioration of the political and economic condition in the Philippines triggered the decline of
support on Marcos’ plans. More and more Filipinos took arms to dislodge the regime. Urban poor
communities in the country’s capital were organized by the Philippine Ecumenical Council for
Community and were soon conducting protest masses and prayer rallies. These efforts including the
exposure of numerous human rights violations pushed Marcos to hold an election in 1978 and 1981 in an
aim to stabilize the country’s chaotic condition. Marcos, in both events, won the election; however, his
extended term as President of the Republic of the Philippines elicited an extensive opposition against his
regime. Social unrest reached its height after former Senator Benigno Aquino was murdered. The incident
sent thousands of Filipinos to the streets calling for Marcos’ removal from post. Turning again to his
electoral strategy, Marcos held a snap election in 1986 but what he hoped will satisfy the masses only
increased their determination to end his rule that seated Corazon Aquino, widow of Benigno Aquino,
as President of the Philippines ousting Marcos from Malacañang Palace and ending the twenty-one years
of tyrant rule.