A Negrito with spear

Negritos start to settle

30000 BCE Jan 1
, Philippines

By about 30,000 BC, the Negritos, who became the ancestors of today's aboriginal Filipinos (such as the Aeta), probably lived in the archipelago. No evidence has survived which would indicate details of ancient Filipino life such as their crops, culture, and architecture. Historian William Henry Scott noted any theory which describes such details for the period must be pure hypothesis, and thus be honestly presented as such.

Tabon Cave in Palawan

Tabon Man

24000 BCE Jan 1
, Tabon Caves

Tabon Man refers to remains discovered in the Tabon Caves in Lipuun Point in Quezon, Palawan in the Philippines. They were discovered by Robert B. Fox, an American anthropologist of the National Museum of the Philippines, on May 28, 1962. These remains, the fossilized fragments of a skull of a female and the jawbones of three individuals dating back to 16,500 years ago, were the earliest known human remains in the Philippines, until a metatarsal from the Callao Man discovered in 2007 was dated in 2010 by uranium-series dating as being 67,000 years old. However, some scientists think additional evidence is necessary to confirm those fossils as a new species, rather than a locally adapted population of other Homo populations, such as H. erectus or Denisovan.


Austronesian Migrations from Taiwan

5000 BCE Jan 1 - 300 BCE
, Taiwan

The Austronesian peoples, sometimes referred to as Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of peoples in Taiwan, Maritime Southeast Asia, Micronesia, coastal New Guinea, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar that speak Austronesian languages. They also include indigenous ethnic minorities in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Hainan, the Comoros, and the Torres Strait Islands.

Based on the current scientific consensus, they originated from a prehistoric seaborne migration, known as the Austronesian expansion, from pre-Han Taiwan, at around 1500 to 1000 BCE. Austronesians reached the northernmost Philippines, specifically the Batanes Islands, by around 2200 BCE. Austronesians used sails some time before 2000 BCE. In conjunction with their other maritime technologies (notably catamarans, outrigger boats, lashed-lug boat building, and the crab claw sail), this enabled their dispersal into the islands of the Indo-Pacific.

Aside from language, Austronesian peoples widely share cultural characteristics, including such traditions and technologies as tattooing, stilt houses, jade carving, wetland agriculture, and various rock art motifs. They also share domesticated plants and animals that were carried along with the migrations, including rice, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, Dioscorea yams, taro, paper mulberry, chickens, pigs, and dogs.

Lingling-o designs from the Philippines.

Philippine jade culture

2000 BCE Jan 1 - 500
, Philippines

The Maritime Jade Road was initially established by the animist indigenous peoples between the Philippines and Taiwan, and later expanded to cover Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and other countries. Artifacts made from white and green nephrite have been discovered at a number of archeological excavations in the Philippines since the 1930s. The artifacts have been both tools like adzes and chisels, and ornaments such as lingling-o earrings, bracelets and beads. Tens of thousands were found in a single site in Batangas. The jade is said to have originated nearby in Taiwan and is also found in many other areas in insular and mainland Southeast Asia. These artifacts are said to be evidence of long range communication between prehistoric Southeast Asian societies. Throughout history, the Maritime Jade Road has been known as one of the most extensive sea-based trade networks of a single geological material in the prehistoric world, existing for 3,000 years from 2000 BCE to 1000 CE. The operations of the Maritime Jade Road coincided with an era of near absolute peace which lasted for 1,500 years, from 500 BCE to 1000 CE. During this peaceful pre-colonial period, not a single burial site studied by scholars yielded any osteological proof for violent death. No instances of mass burials were recorded as well, signifying the peaceful situation of the islands. Burials with violent proof were only found from burials beginning in the 15th century, likely due to the newer cultures of expansionism imported from India and China. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they recorded some warlike groups, whose cultures have already been influenced by the imported Indian and Chinese expansionist cultures of the 15th century.

Pottery vase

Trade with the Sa Huynh culture

1000 BCE Jan 1 - 200
, Vietnam

The Sa Huynh culture in what is now central and southern Vietnam had extensive trade with the Philippine archipelago during its height between 1000 BC and 200 AD.

Sa Huynh beads were made from glass, carnelian, agate, olivine, zircon, gold and garnet; most of these materials were not local to the region, and were most likely imported. Han Dynasty-style bronze mirrors were also found in Sa Huynh sites. Conversely, Sa Huynh produced ear ornaments have been found in archaeological sites in Central Thailand, Taiwan (Orchid Island), and in the Philippines, in the Palawan Tabon Caves. in The Kalanay Cave is a small cave located on the island of Masbate in central Philippines. The cave is located specifically at the northwest coast of the island within the municipality of Aroroy. The artifacts recovered from the site were similar to those found in Southeast Asia and South Vietnam. The site is one of the "Sa Huynh-Kalanay" pottery complex which is shares similarities with Vietnam. The type of pottery found in the site were dated 400BC-1500 AD.

An artist's illustration of Aetas in 1885.

Late Neolithic period

1000 BCE Jan 1
, Philippines

By 1000 BC, the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago had developed into four distinct kinds of peoples: tribal groups, such as the Aetas, Hanunoo, Ilongots and the Mangyan who depended on hunter-gathering and were concentrated in forests; warrior societies, such as the Isneg and Kalinga who practiced social ranking and ritualized warfare and roamed the plains; the petty plutocracy of the Ifugao Cordillera Highlanders, who occupied the mountain ranges of Luzon; and the harbor principalities of the estuarine civilizations that grew along rivers and seashores while participating in trans-island maritime trade. It was also during the first millennium BC that early metallurgy was said to have reached the archipelagos of maritime Southeast Asia via trade with India.

Mining in the Philippines began around 1000 BCE. The early Filipinos worked various mines of gold, silver, copper and iron. Jewels, gold ingots, chains, calombigas and earrings were handed down from antiquity and inherited from their ancestors. Gold dagger handles, gold dishes, tooth plating, and huge gold ornaments were also used.

Portrait of Rajaraja I and his guru Karuvurar at Brihadeeswarar Temple.

Trade with Tamil Nadu

900 BCE Jan 1
, Tamil Nadu

Iron Age finds in Philippines also point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu and the Philippine Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries B.C.

Early Metal Age

Early Metal Age

500 BCE Jan 1 - 1
, Philippines

Although there is some evidence early Austronesian migrants having bronze or brass tools, the earliest metal tools in the Philippines are generally said to have first been used somewhere around 500 BC, and this new technology coincided with considerable changes in the lifestyle of early Filipinos. The new tools brought about a more stable way of life, and created more opportunities for communities to grow, both in terms of size and cultural development.

Where communities once consisted of small bands of kinsmen living in campsites, larger villages came about- usually based near water, which made traveling and trading easier. The resulting ease of contact between communities meant that they began to share similar cultural traits, something which had not previously been possible when the communities consisted only of small kinship groups.

Jocano refers to the period between 500 BC and 1 AD as the incipient phase, which for the first time in the artifact record, sees the presence of artifacts that are similar in design from site to site throughout the archipelago. Along with the use of metal tools, this era also saw significant improvement in pottery technology.

Carabao domestication

Carabao domestication

500 BCE Jan 1
, Philippines

The oldest evidence of water buffalo discovered in the Philippines is multiple fragmentary skeletal remains recovered from the upper layers of the Neolithic Nagsabaran site, part of the Lal-lo and Gattaran Shell Middens (~2200 BCE to 400 CE) of northern Luzon. Most of the remains consisted of skull fragments, almost all of which have cut marks indicating they were butchered. The remains are associated with red slipped pottery, spindle whorls, stone adzes, and jade bracelets; which have strong affinities to similar artifacts from Neolithic Austronesian archeological sites in Taiwan. Based on the radiocarbon date of the layer in which the oldest fragments were found, water buffalo were first introduced to the Philippines by at least 500 BCE.

Carabaos are widely distributed in all the larger islands of the Philippines. Carabao hide was once used extensively to create a variety of products, including the armor of precolonial Philippine warriors.

Kawi script

Kawi script

700 Jan 1
, Southeast Asia

The Kawi or Old Javanese script is a Brahmic script found primarily in Java and used across much of Maritime Southeast Asia between the 8th century and the 16th century. The script is an abugida meaning that characters are read with an inherent vowel. Diacritics are used, either to suppress the vowel and represent a pure consonant, or to represent other vowels.

The Kawi script is related to the Nagari or old-Devanagari script in India. Kawi is the ancestor of traditional Indonesian scripts, such as Javanese and Balinese, as well as traditional Philippine scripts such as Luzon Kavi the ancient scripts of Laguna Copperplate Inscriptions 900 A.D.

A portrayal of the Ginu class. From the Boxer Codex, c. 1595.

Tondo (historical polity)

900 Jan 2
, Luzon

Tondo Polity is categorized as a "Bayan" (a "city-state", "country" or "polity", lit. '"settlement"'). Travellers from monarchical cultures who had contacts with Tondo (including the Chinese, Portuguese and the Spanish) often initially observed it as the "Kingdom of Tondo".

Politically, Tondo was made up of several social groupings, traditionally referred to by historians as Barangays, which were led by Datus. These Datus in turn recognised the leadership of the most senior among them as a sort of "Paramount datu" called a Lakan over the Bayan. In the middle to late 16th century, its Lakan was held in high regard within the alliance group which was formed by the various Manila Bay area polities, which included Tondo, Maynila, and various polities in Bulacan and Pampanga.

Culturally, the Tagalog people of Tondo had a rich Austronesian (specifically Malayo-Polynesian) culture, with its own expressions of language and writing, religion, art, and music dating back to the earliest peoples of the archipelago. This culture was later influenced by its trading relations with the rest of Maritime Southeast Asia. Particularly significant were its relations with Ming dynasty, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Majapahit empire, which served as the main conduit for significant Indian cultural influence, despite the Philippine archipelago's geographical location outside the Indian cultural zone.

Ma-i or Maidh


971 Jan 1 - 1339
, Mindoro

Ma-i or Maidh was an ancient sovereign state located in what is now the Philippines. Its existence was first documented in 971 in the Song dynasty documents known as the History of Song, and it was also mentioned in the 10th century records of the Bruneian Empire. Based on these and other mentions until the early 14th century, contemporary scholars believe Ma-i was located either in Bay, Laguna or on the island of Mindoro.

Research by Fay Cooper Cole for the Field Museum in Chicago in 1912 showed that the ancient name of Mindoro was Mait. Mindoro's indigenous groups are called Mangyans and to this day, the Mangyans call the lowlands of Bulalacao in Oriental Mindoro, Mait. For most of the 20th century, historians generally accepted the idea that Mindoro was the political center of the ancient Philippine polity.: 119 But a 2005 study by Filipino-Chinese historian Go Bon Juan suggested that the historical descriptions better match Bay, Laguna (pronounced Ba-i), which is written similarly to Ma-i in Chinese orthography.

Earliest documented Chinese contact

Earliest documented Chinese contact

982 Jan 1
, Guangzhou

The earliest date suggested for direct Chinese contact with the Philippines was 982. At the time, merchants from "Ma-i" (now thought to be either Bay, Laguna on the shores of Laguna de Bay, or a site called "Mait" in Mindoro) brought their wares to Guangzhou and Quanzhou. This was mentioned in the History of Song and Wenxian Tongkao by Ma Duanlin which were authored during the Yuan Dynasty.

Butuan (historical polity)

Butuan (historical polity)

989 Jan 1 - 1521
, Butuan City

Butuan also called the Kingdom of Butuan was a precolonial Philippine polity centered on the northern Mindanao island in the modern city of Butuan in what is now the southern Philippines. It was known for its mining of gold, its gold products and its extensive trade network across the Nusantara area. The kingdom had trading relationships with the ancient civilizations of Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Persia, Cambodia and areas now comprised in Thailand.

The balangay (large outrigger boats) that have been found along the east and west banks of the Libertad river (old Agusan River) have revealed much about Butuan's history. As a result, Butuan is considered to have been a major trading port in the Caraga region during the pre-colonial era.



1011 Jan 1
, Zamboanga City

The polity of Sanmalan is a precolonial Philippine state centered on what is now Zamboanga. Labeled in Chinese annals as "Sanmalan" 三麻蘭. The Chinese recorded a year 1011 tribute from its Rajah or King, Chulan, who was represented at the imperial court by his emissary Ali Bakti. Rajah Chulan who may be like their Hindu neighbors, the Rajahnates of Cebu and Butuan, be Hindu kingdoms ruled by Rajahs from India. Sanmalan specifically being ruled by a Tamil from the Chola Dynasty, as Chulan is the local Malay pronunciation of the Chola surname. The Chulan ruler of Sanmalan, may be associated with the Cholan conquest of Srivijaya. This theory is corroborated by linguistics and genetics as Zamboanga is, according to anthropologist Alfred Kemp Pallasen the linguistic homeland of the Sama-Bajau people, and genetic studies also show that they have Indian admixture, specifically the tribe of the Sama-Dilaut.

When the Spanish arrived, they gave protectorate status to the ancient Rajahnate of Sanmalan which was before them, conquered by the Sultanate of Sulu. Under Spanish rule, the location of Sanmalan received Mexican and Peruvian military immigrants. After a rebellion against Spanish rule, the state that replaced Spain and had subsisted on what was once Sanmalan's location, was the short-lived Republic of Zamboanga.



1175 Jan 1 - 1571
, Pasig River

Namayan was an independent indigenous: 193 polity on the banks of the Pasig River in the Philippines. It is believed to have achieved its peak in 1175, and to have gone into decline some time in the 13th century, although it continued to be inhabited until the arrival of European colonizers in the 1570s.

Formed by a confederation of barangays, it was one of several polities on the Pasig River just prior to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, alongside Tondo, Maynila, and Cainta.Archeological findings in Santa Ana, Namayan's former seat of power, have produced the oldest evidence of continuous habitation among the Pasig river polities, pre-dating artifacts found within the historical sites of Maynila and Tondo.

Pre-colonial Philippine Costume

Battle of Manila

1365 Jan 1
, Manila

Forces of the Kingdoms of Luzon battled the Empire of Majapahit from Java in what is now Manila. In the mid 14th century, the Majapahit empire mentioned in its manuscript Nagarakretagama Canto 14, written by Prapanca in 1365, that the area of Solot (Sulu) was part of the empire. Nagarakretagama was composed as a eulogy for their emperor Hayam Wuruk. However, Chinese sources then report that in 1369, the Sulus regained independence and in vengeance, assaulted Majapahit and its province, Po-ni (Brunei), looting it of treasure and gold. A fleet from the Majapahit capital succeeded in driving away the Sulus, but Po-ni was left weaker after the attack. The Majapahit Empire, attempted to reconquer the kingdoms of Sulu and Manila but they were permanently repulsed.

Islam arrives

Islam arrives

1380 Jan 1
, Simunul Island

Makhdum Karim or Karim ul-Makhdum was an Arab Sufi Muslim missionary from Arabia who came from Malacca. Makhdum Karim was born in Makdonia,him and the Wali sanga were affiliated with the Kubrawi Hamadani missionaries in the late 14th century. He was a Sufi who brought Islam to the Philippines in 1380, 141 years before Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the country. He established a mosque in Simunul Island, Tawi Tawi, Philippines, known as Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque which is the oldest mosque in the country.

Cebu Rajahnate

Cebu (Sugbu)

1400 Jan 1 - 1565
, Cebu

Cebu, or simply Sugbu, was an Hindu Raja (monarchical) Mandala (polity) on the island of Cebu in the Philippines prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. It is known in ancient Chinese records as the nation of Sokbu. According to Visayan "Oral Legend", it was founded by Sri Lumay or Rajamuda Lumaya, a minor prince of the Chola dynasty of India which occupied Sumatra. He was sent by the Maharajah from India to establish a base for expeditionary forces, but he rebelled and established his own independent polity. The capital of the nation was Singhapala (சிங்கப்பூர்) which is Tamil-Sanskrit for "Lion City", the same rootwords with the modern city-state of Singapore.

19th century illustration of a lanong, the main warships used by the Iranun and Banguingui people of the navies of the sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao for piracy and slave raids

Sultanate of Sulu

1405 Jan 1 - 1915
, Palawan

The Sultanate of Sulu was a Muslim state that ruled the Sulu Archipelago, parts of Mindanao and certain portions of Palawan in today's Philippines, alongside parts of present-day Sabah, North and East Kalimantan in north-eastern Borneo.

The sultanate was founded on 17 November 1405 by Johore-born explorer and religious scholar Sharif ul-Hashim. Paduka Mahasari Maulana al Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim became his full regnal name, Sharif-ul Hashim is his abbreviated name. He settled in Buansa, Sulu. After the marriage of Abu Bakr and a local dayang-dayang (princess) Paramisuli, he founded the sultanate. The Sultanate gained its independence from the Bruneian Empire in 1578.

At its peak, it stretched over the islands that bordered the western peninsula of Zamboanga in Mindanao in the east to Palawan in the north. It also covered areas in the northeast of Borneo, stretching from Marudu Bay, to Tepian Durian (in present-day Kalimantan, Indonesia). Another source stated the area included stretched from Kimanis Bay, which also overlaps with the boundaries of the Bruneian Sultanate. Following the arrival of western powers such as the Spanish, the British, the Dutch, French, Germans, the Sultan thalassocracy and sovereign political powers were relinquished by 1915 through an agreement that was signed with the United States. In the second half of the 20th century, Filipino government extended official recognition of the head of the royal house of the Sultanate, before the ongoing succession dispute.

Possible inhabitants of Caboloan with Kampilan sword, depicted in the Boxer Codex (1590) surmised to come from Taimei Anchorage, Lingayen Gulf, Luzon


1406 Jan 1 - 1576
, San Carlos

Caboloan, referred to Chinese records as Feng-chia-hsi-lan, was a sovereign pre-colonial Philippine polity located in the fertile Agno River basin and delta, with Binalatongan as the capital. Places in Pangasinan like Lingayen Gulf were mentioned as early as 1225, when Lingayen as known as Li-ying-tung had been listed in Chao Ju-kua's Chu Fan Chih (An account of the various barbarians) as one of the trading places along with Mai (Mindoro or Manila). The polity of Pangasinan sent emissaries to China in 1406–1411. The emissaries reported 3 successive paramount leaders of Fengaschilan to the Chinese: Kamayin on 23 September 1406, Taymey ("Tortoise Shell") and Liyli in 1408 and 1409 and on 11 December 1411 the Emperor tendered the Pangasinan party a state banquet.

In the 16th century, the port settlement of Agoo in Pangasinan was called the "Port of Japan" by the Spanish. The locals wore apparel typical of other maritime Southeast Asian ethnic groups in addition to Japanese and Chinese silks. Even common people were clad in Chinese and Japanese cotton garments. They also blackened their teeth and were disgusted by the white teeth of foreigners, which were likened to that of animals. They used porcelain jars typical of Japanese and Chinese households. Japanese-style gunpowder weapons were also encountered in naval battles in the area. In exchange for these goods, traders from all over Asia would come to trade primarily for gold and slaves, but also for deerskins, civet and other local products. Other than a notably more extensive trade network with Japan and China, they were culturally similar to other Luzon groups to the south, especially the Kapampangans.

A Maginoo (noble class) couple, both wearing blue-coloured clothing articles (blue being the distinctive colour of their class), c. 16th century.


1500 Jan 1 - 1571
, Maynila

In early Philippine history, the Tagalog Bayan of Maynila was a major Tagalog city-state on the southern part of the Pasig River delta, where the district of Intramuros currently stands.

Historical accounts indicate that the city-state was led by sovereign rulers who were referred to with the title of raja ("king"). Other accounts also refer to it as the "Kingdom of Luzon", although some historians suggest that this might rather refer to the Manila Bay region as a whole.

The earliest oral traditions suggest that Maynila was founded as a Muslim principality in as early as the 1250s, supposedly supplanting an even older pre-Islamic settlement. However, the earliest archeological findings for organized human settlements in the area dates to around 1500s. By the 16th century, it was already an important trading center, with extensive political ties with the Sultanate of Brunei and extensive trade relations with traders from the Ming dynasty. With Tondo, the polity on the northern part of the Pasig River delta, it established a duopoly on the intraarchipelagic trade of Chinese goods. Maynila and Luzon are sometimes associated with the Bruneian legends which describe a settlement called "Seludong", but Southeast Asian scholars believe this refers to a settlement Mount Selurong in Indonesia. For political reasons, the historical rulers of Maynila maintained close cognatic ties through intermarriage with the ruling houses of the Sultanate of Brunei, but Brunei's political influence over Maynila is not considered to have extended to military or political rule. Intermarriage was a common strategy for large thassalocratic states such as Brunei to extend their influence, and for local rulers such as those of Maynila to help strengthen their family claims to nobility. Actual political and military rule over the large distances characteristic of Maritime Southeast Asia was not possible until relatively modern times.

Sultanate of Maguindanao

Sultanate of Maguindanao

1520 Jan 1 - 1902
, Cotabato City

Before the founding of the Sultanate of Maguindanao, according to the Yuan Dynaty annals, Nanhai Zhi (At year 1304), a polity known as Wenduling 文杜陵 was its predecessor-state. This Wenduling was invaded by then Hindu Brunei, called Pon-i (present-day Sultanate of Brunei), until it rebelled against Pon-i after the Majapahit Empire's invasion of Pon-i. Islamization then happened afterwards. Firstly, two brothers named Mamalu and Tabunaway lived peacefully in the Cotabato Valley on Mindanao and then Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor in what is now modern day Malaysia, preached Islam in the area in the 16th century, Tabunaway converted, while Mamalu decided to hold fast to their ancestral animist beliefs. The brothers parted ways, with Tabunaway heading to the lowlands and Mamalu to the mountains, but they vowed to honor their kinship, and thus an unwritten pact of peace between Muslims and the indigenous peoples was forged through the two brothers.

As Shariff Kabungsuwan introduced Islam in the area, which was earlier Hindu-influenced from Srivijaya times, at the end of the 16th century and established himself as Sultan seated in Malabang-Lanao. The Maguindanao Sultanate also had a close alliance with the Ternate Sultanate, a sultanate in the Moluccas region of Indonesia. Ternate regularly sent military reinforcements to Maguindanao during the Spanish-Moro Wars.

During the Spanish colonial period, the Sultanate of Maguindanao was able to defend its territory, preventing the Spaniards from colonising the entire Mindanao and ceding the island of Palawan to the Spanish government in 1705. The island priory ceded to him by Sulu Sultan Sahabuddin. This was to have help dissuaded Spanish encroachments into the island of Maguindanao and Sulu itself. Chinese gongs, yellow as a color of royalty, and idioms of Chinese origin entered Mindanao culture. Royalty was connected to yellow. The color yellow was used by the Sultan in Mindanao. Chinese tableware and gongs were exported to the Moros.

Spanish galleon

Galleon trade

1565 Jan 1 - 1815
, Mexico

The Manila galleons were Spanish trading ships which for two and a half centuries linked the Spanish Crown’s Viceroyalty of New Spain, based in Mexico City, with her Asian territories, collectively known as the Spanish East Indies, across the Pacific Ocean. The ships made one or two round-trip voyages per year between the ports of Acapulco and Manila. The name of the galleon changed to reflect the city that the ship sailed from. The term Manila galleon can also refer to the trade route itself between Acapulco and Manila, which lasted from 1565 to 1815.

The Manila galleons sailed the Pacific for 250 years, bringing to the Americas cargoes of luxury goods such as spices and porcelain in exchange for New World silver. The route also fostered cultural exchanges that shaped the identities and culture of the countries involved. The Manila galleons were also (somewhat confusingly) known in New Spain as La Nao de la China ("The China Ship") on their voyages from the Philippines because they carried mostly Chinese goods, shipped from Manila.

The Spanish inaugurated the Manila galleon trade route in 1565 after the Augustinian friar and navigator Andrés de Urdaneta pioneered the tornaviaje or return route from the Philippines to Mexico. Urdaneta and Alonso de Arellano made the first successful round trips that year. The trade using "Urdaneta's route" lasted until 1815, when the Mexican War of Independence broke out.

Spanish era Manila canal

Spanish colonial period

1565 Jan 1 - 1898
, Philippines

The history of the Philippines from 1565 to 1898 is known as the Spanish colonial period, during which the Philippine Islands were ruled as the Captaincy General of the Philippines within the Spanish East Indies, initially under the Kingdom of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, based in Mexico City, until the independence of the Mexican empire from Spain in 1821. This resulted in direct Spanish control during a period of governmental instability there.

The first documented European contact with the Philippines was made in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan in his circumnavigation expedition, during which he was killed in the Battle of Mactan. Forty-four years later, a Spanish expedition led by Miguel López de Legazpi left modern Mexico and began the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Legazpi's expedition arrived in the Philippines in 1565, during the reign of Philip II of Spain, whose name has remained attached to the country.

The Spanish colonial period ended with the defeat of Spain by the United States in the Spanish American War, which marked the beginning of the American colonial era of Philippine history.

Castilian War

Castilian War

1570 Mar 1 - 1578 Jun
, Borneo

The Castilian War, also called the Spanish Expedition to Borneo, was a conflict between the Spanish Empire and several Muslim states in Southeast Asia, including the Sultanates of Brunei, Sulu, and Maguindanao, and supported by the Ottoman Caliphate.

Gregorio del Pilar and his troops in 1898

American Rule

1898 Jan 1 - 1946
, Philippines

With the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. The interim U.S. military government of the Philippine Islands experienced a period of great political turbulence, characterized by the Philippine–American War.

Beginning in 1901, the military government was replaced by a civilian government—the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands—with William Howard Taft serving as its first governor-general. A series of insurgent governments that lacked significant international and diplomatic recognition also existed between 1898 and 1904.

Following the passage of the Philippine Independence Act in 1934, a Philippine presidential election was held in 1935. Manuel L. Quezon was elected and inaugurated as the second president of the Philippines on November 15, 1935. The Insular Government was dissolved and the Commonwealth of the Philippines, intended to be a transitional government in preparation for the country's full achievement of independence in 1946, was brought into existence.

After the World War II Japanese invasion in 1941 and subsequent occupation of the Philippines, the United States and Philippine Commonwealth military completed the recapture of the Philippines after Japan's surrender and spent nearly a year dealing with Japanese troops who were not aware of Japan's August 15, 1945 surrender, leading up to U.S. recognition of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.

Philippine Declaration of Independence

Philippine Declaration of Independence

1898 Jun 12
, Philippines

The Philippine Declaration of Independence (Filipino: Pagpapahayag ng Kasarinlan ng Pilipinas; Spanish: Declaración de Independencia de Filipinas) was proclaimed by Filipino revolutionary forces general Emilio Aguinaldo on 12 June 1898 in Cavite el Viejo (present-day Kawit, Cavite), Philippines. It asserted the sovereignty and independence of the Philippine Islands from the colonial rule of Spain.

A late 19th century photograph of Filipino Katipuneros

Philippine–American War

1899 Feb 4 - 1902 Jul 2
, Philippines

The Philippine–American War, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States that lasted from February 4, 1899, to July 2, 1902. The conflict arose in 1898 when the United States, rather than acknowledging the Philippines' declaration of independence, annexed the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris it concluded with Spain to end the Spanish–American War. The war can be seen as a continuation of the modern Philippine struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution against Spain and ended in 1946 with the United States ceding sovereignty.

Fighting erupted between forces of the United States and those of the Philippine Republic on February 4, 1899, in what became known as the 1899 Battle of Manila. On June 2, 1899, the First Philippine Republic officially declared war against the United States. The Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo was captured on March 23, 1901, and the war was officially declared ended by the American government on July 2, 1902, with a victory for the United States. However, some Philippine groups—some led by veterans of the Katipunan, a Philippine revolutionary society that had launched the revolution against Spain—continued to battle the American forces for several more years. Among those leaders was Macario Sakay, a veteran Katipunan member who established (or re-established) the Tagalog Republic in 1902 along Katipunan lines in contrast to Aguinaldo's Republic, with himself as president. Other groups, including the Muslim Moro peoples of the southern Philippines and quasi-Catholic Pulahan religious movements, continued hostilities in remote areas. The resistance in the Moro-dominated provinces in the south, called the Moro Rebellion by the Americans, ended with their final defeat at the Battle of Bud Bagsak on June 15, 1913.

The war resulted in at least 200,000 Filipino civilian deaths, mostly due to famine and disease. Some estimates for total civilian dead reach up to a million. Some estimates for total civilian dead reach up to a million. Atrocities and war crimes were committed during the conflict, including torture, mutilation, and executions. In retaliation for Filipino guerrilla warfare tactics, the U.S. carried out reprisals and scorched earth campaigns, and forcibly relocated many civilians to concentration camps, where thousands died. The war and subsequent occupation by the U.S. changed the culture of the islands, leading to the rise of Protestantism and disestablishment of the Catholic Church and the introduction of English to the islands as the primary language of government, education, business, and industry.

William Howard Taft was the first civil governor of the Philippine Islands

Insular Government of the Philippine Islands

1901 Jan 1 - 1935
, Philippines

The Insular Government of the Philippine Islands (Spanish: Gobierno Insular de las Islas Filipinas) was an unincorporated territory of the United States that was established in 1902 and was reorganized in 1935 in preparation for later independence. The Insular Government was preceded by the United States Military Government of the Philippine Islands and was followed by the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

The Philippines were acquired from Spain by the United States in 1898 following the Spanish–American War. Resistance led to the Philippine–American War, in which the United States suppressed the nascent First Philippine Republic. In 1902, the United States Congress passed the Philippine Organic Act, which organized the government and served as its basic law. This act provided for a governor-general appointed by the president of the United States, as well as a bicameral Philippine Legislature with the appointed Philippine Commission as the upper house and a fully elected, fully Filipino elected lower house, the Philippine Assembly. The Internal Revenue Law of 1904 provided for general internal revenue taxes, documentary taxes and transfer of livestock. A wide variety of Revenue stamps were issued in denominations ranging from one centavo to 20,000 pesos.

The term "insular" refers to the fact that the government operated under the authority of the U.S. Bureau of Insular Affairs. Puerto Rico and Guam also had insular governments at this time. From 1901 to 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with the constitutional status of these governments in the Insular Cases. In Dorr v. United States (1904), the court ruled that Filipinos did not have a constitutional right to trial by jury. In the Philippines itself, the term "insular" had limited usage. On banknotes, postage stamps, and the coat of arms, the government referred to itself simply as the "Philippine Islands".

The 1902 Philippine Organic Act was replaced in 1916 by the Jones Law, which ended the Philippine Commission and provided for both houses of the Philippine Legislature to be elected. In 1935, the Insular Government was replaced by the Commonwealth. Commonwealth status was intended to last ten years, during which the country would be prepared for independence.

President Manuel Luis Quezon of the Philippines

Commonwealth of the Philippines

1935 Jan 1 - 1942
, Philippines

The Commonwealth of the Philippines was the administrative body that governed the Philippines from 1935 to 1946, aside from a period of exile in the Second World War from 1942 to 1945 when Japan occupied the country. It was established following the Tydings–McDuffie Act to replace the Insular Government, a United States territorial government. The Commonwealth was designed as a transitional administration in preparation for the country's full achievement of independence. Its foreign affairs remained managed by the United States.

During its more than a decade of existence, the Commonwealth had a strong executive and a Supreme Court. Its legislature, dominated by the Nacionalista Party, was at first unicameral, but later bicameral. In 1937, the government selected Tagalog – the language of Manila and its surrounding provinces – as the basis of the national language, although it would be many years before its usage became general. Women's suffrage was adopted and the economy recovered to its pre-Depression level before the Japanese occupation in 1942. In 1946, the Commonwealth ended and the Philippines claimed full sovereignty as provided for in Article XVIII of the 1935 Constitution.

General Tomoyuki Yamashita surrenders to the Filipino soldiers and guerrillas in the presence of Generals Jonathan Wainwright and Arthur Percival.

Japanese occupation of the Philippines

1942 Jan 1 - 1944
, Philippines

The Japanese occupation of the Philippines occurred between 1942 and 1945, when Imperial Japan occupied the Commonwealth of the Philippines during World War II.

The invasion of the Philippines started on 8 December 1941, ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As at Pearl Harbor, American aircraft were severely damaged in the initial Japanese attack. Lacking air cover, the American Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines withdrew to Java on 12 December 1941. General Douglas MacArthur was ordered out, leaving his men at Corregidor on the night of 11 March 1942 for Australia, 4,000 km away. The 76,000 starving and sick American and Filipino defenders in Bataan surrendered on 9 April 1942, and were forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March on which 7,000–10,000 died or were murdered. The 13,000 survivors on Corregidor surrendered on 6 May.

Japan occupied the Philippines for over three years, until the surrender of Japan. A highly effective guerrilla campaign by Philippine resistance forces controlled sixty percent of the islands, mostly forested and mountainous areas. The Filipino population remained generally loyal to the United States, partly because of the American guarantee of independence, because of the Japanese mistreatment of Filipinos after the surrender, and because the Japanese had pressed large numbers of Filipinos into work details and put young Filipino women into brothels.

Japanese soldiers posting instructive posters on the Japanese language

Second Philippine Republic

1943 Jan 1 - 1945
, Philippines

The Second Philippine Republic, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines was a Japanese puppet state established on October 14, 1943 during the Japanese occupation of the islands.

Jose P. Laurel was the third President of the Philippines, and the only President of the Second Republic.

Postcolonial Philippines and the Third Republic

1946 Jan 1 - 1965
, Philippines

Third Republic covers from the recognition of independence in 1946 to the end of the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal which ended on January 17, 1973, with the ratification of the 1973 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

  • Administration of Manuel Roxas (1946–1948)
  • Administration of Elpidio Quirino (1948–1953)
  • Administration of Ramon Magsaysay (1953–1957)
  • Administration of Carlos P. Garcia (1957–1961)
  • Administration of Diosdado Macapagal (1961–1965)
Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos with Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson during a visit to the United States.

Marcos era

1965 Jan 1 - 1986
, Philippines

The Marcos era includes the final years of the Third Republic (1965–1972), the Philippines under martial law (1972–1981), and the majority of the Fourth Republic (1981–1986). By the end of the Marcos dictatorial era, the country was experiencing a debt crisis, extreme poverty, and severe underemployment.

People Power Revolution

People Power Revolution

1986 Feb 22 - Feb 25
, Philippines

The People Power Revolution, also known as the EDSA Revolution or the February Revolution, was a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines, mostly in Metro Manila, from February 22 to 25, 1986. There was a sustained campaign of civil resistance against regime violence and electoral fraud. The nonviolent revolution led to the departure of Ferdinand Marcos, the end of his 20-year dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

It is also referred to as the Yellow Revolution due to the presence of yellow ribbons during demonstrations (in reference to the Tony Orlando and Dawn song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree") as a symbol of protest following the assassination of Filipino senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. in August 1983 upon his return to the Philippines from exile. It was widely seen as a victory of the people against two decades of presidential rule by President Marcos, and made news headlines as "the revolution that surprised the world".

The majority of the demonstrations took place on a long stretch of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, more commonly known by its acronym EDSA, in Metro Manila from February 22 to 25, 1986. They involved over two million Filipino civilians, as well as several political and military groups, and religious groups led by Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, along with Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines President Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the Archbishop of Cebu. The protests, fueled by the resistance and opposition from years of governance by President Marcos and his cronies, culminated with the ruler and his family fleeing Malacañang Palace to be forced exiled with the help of the US by flying the family away from the Philippines and to Hawaii. Ninoy Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, was immediately installed as the eleventh president as a result of the revolution.

Corazon Aquino swears in as President of the Philippines at Club Filipino, San Juan on February 25, 1986

Fifth Republic

1986 Mar 1 - 2022
, Philippines

The return of democracy and government reforms beginning in 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, disasters, a persistent communist insurgency, and a military conflict with Moro separatists. During Corazon Aquino's administration, U.S. forces withdrew from the Philippines, due to the rejection of the U.S. Bases Extension Treaty, and leading to the official transfer of Clark Air Base in November 1991 and Subic Bay to the government in December 1992. The administration also faced a series of natural disasters, including the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991.. Aquino was succeeded by Fidel V. Ramos. During this period the country's economic performance remained modest, with a 3.6% percent GDP growth rate. Political stability and economic improvements, such as the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996, were overshadowed by the onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Ramos' successor, Joseph Estrada assumed office in June 1998 and under his presidency the economy recovered from −0.6% growth to 3.4% by 1999. The government announced a war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March 2000 and attacked various insurgent camps, including their headquarters. In the middle of ongoing conflict with the Abu Sayyaf, accusations of alleged corruption, and a stalled impeachment process, Estrada was overthrown by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and he was succeeded by his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on January 20, 2001.

In Arroyo's 9-year administration, the economy grew at a rate of 4-7%, averaging 5.33% from 2002 to 2007,tation needed and did not enter recession during the Great Recession. Her rule was tainted by graft and political scandals like the Hello Garci scandal pertaining to the alleged manipulation of votes in the 2004 presidential elections. On November 23, 2009, 34 journalists and several civilians were massacred in Maguindanao.

Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 national elections and served as the 15th president of the Philippines. The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed on October 15, 2012, as the first step of the creation of an autonomous political entity named Bangsamoro. However, a clash that took place in Mamasapano, Maguindanao killed 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and put the efforts to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law into law in an impasse. Tensions regarding territorial disputes in eastern Sabah and the South China Sea escalated. In 2013, two more years were added to the country's ten-year schooling system for primary and secondary education. In 2014 the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, was signed, paving the way for the return of United States Armed Forces bases into the country.

Former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte won the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first president from Mindanao. On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China's claims in the South China Sea. After winning the Presidency, Duterte launched an intensified anti-drug campaign to fulfill a campaign promise of wiping out criminality in six months. As of February 2019, the death toll for the Philippine Drug War is 5,176. The implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law led to the creation of the autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won the 2022 presidential election, 36 years after the People Power Revolution which led to his family's exile in Hawaii. He was inaugurated on June 30, 2022.


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