Important Events in Philippine History

The Spanish Regime

March 17, 1521. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator accidentally landed in the island of Samar.

March 31, 1521. The first Catholic mass was held in Limasawa, an island in the south of Leyte.

April 27, 1521. Magellan died in the hands of a chieftain, Lapu-lapu, from his strong will to invade the island of Mactan.

February 13 1565. Another group of explorers headed by General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, arrived in Cebu and insisted their claim for the island.

June 3, 1571. After defeating Raja Sulayman in a battle in Bangkusay, Martin de Goiti claimed autonomy of Manila.

June 24, 1571. Legazpi established Manila as the capital city with himself as Governor-General.

April 14, 1617. The Spanish fleet headed by Juan Ronquillo prevented the British attempt to invade Manila in the battle of Playa-Homda.

October 3, 1646. For the second time, the Spanish fleet defeated the British warship in Manila Bay. This event is commemorated in a yearly feast called ” La Naval de Manila”.

October 5, 1762. The British fleet defeated the Spanish warship allowing the British rule the country for two years.

March 17, 1764. The British surrendered the country to Spain after losing a battle during the seven-year war between them.

October 31, 1829. Francisco Dagohoy, a cabeza de barangay of Bohol and the leader of the longest uprising (8 years), surrendered to the Spaniards.

September 6, 1834. Manila was opened to international trade leading to a remarkable transformation of its economy.

February 15, 1889. The establishment of La Solidaridad, the newspaper founded by Graciano Lopez Jaena to voice out the Filipinos cry for reforms.

September 18, 1891. Jose Rizal finished his novel El Filibusterismo following the first, Noli Me Tangere. Both portrayed the struggling life of the Filipinos under the Spanish rule.

July 3, 1892. Jose Rizal established La Liga Filipina, a civic movement aimed at reuniting Filipinos to act together for reforms and autonomy from the unjust administration of the Spaniards.

July 7, 1892. Jose Rizal was captured and exiled to Dapitan in Mindanao. There he served as a doctor, a scientist and a teacher to the locals.

July 7, 1892. At the same day of Rizal’s capture, Andres Bonifacio, Teodoro Plata and Valentin Diaz established the “Katipunan”, a revolutionary movement aimed to fight for freedom against Spain.

August 19, 1896. The Spaniards learned the Katipunan movement that resulted to a massive capture of many Filipinos.

August 23, 1896. Bonifacio and his fellow Katipuneros tore their cedulas or residence certificates while shouting “Long live the Philippines”, during their preparation for battle. This was marked as the historic Cry of Balintawak.

August 25, 1896. The Katipuneros headed by Bonifacio had their first encounter with the Spanish civil guards and infantrymen. Due to strong forces and large presence of the Filipino troops, both camps of the Spaniards retreated. But in the end, Filipinos lost the battle when the latter came back with large number of fighters and stronger ammunition.

Setember 12, 1896. A group of revolutionaries from Cavite were executed. They are now known as teh “Trece Martires de Cavite” or the thirteen martyrs of Cavite.

December 30, 1896. Jose Rizal was executed by firing squad in Bagumbayan (now called Rizal Park) after being held captive at fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila.

March 22, 1897. The Katipuneros elected a new set of officers to replace the Katipunan. This was held in Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon and was called the Tejeros Convention. Bonifacio diisolved the convention after Daniel Tirona, an associate of Emilio Aguinaldo, questioned his professional credibility as the director of the interior without a Lawyer’s diploma. Aguinaldo’s group won and considered Bonifacio and his men enemies of the revolution.

May 10, 1897. Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were excuted in Mt. Tala, Cavite after an unjust trial headed by General. Mariano Noriel, an associate of Emilio Aguinaldo.

April 23, 1897. A new Spanish Governor named Fernando Primo de Rivera arrived in Manila for the purpose of minimizing the thriving rebellion of the Filipinos. He issued a decree to grant pardon to those who would surrender to the Spanish government.

December 15, 1897. Primo de Rivera and Pedro Paterno signed the Truce of Biak-na-Bato allowing a temporary ceasefire between the Spanish and the Filipinos.

December 27, 1897. Aguinaldo and his associates voluntarily moved to Hongkong for the amount of P800,000.

January 20, 1898. Periodic battles between the Filipinos and the Spaniards erupted due to mutual suspicion. General Francisco Makabulos of Tarlac established a provisional goverment. The arrest and imprisonment of suspected rebels continued and despite the Truce, the revolution persisted.

American Occupation

February 14, 1898. The Spaniards bombed the American fleet “Maine” in Havana, Cuba killing 246 people.

April 25, 1898. The United States declared war against Spain ordering Commodore George Dewy to attack the spanish fleet in the Philippines.

May 1, 1898. Manila Bay turned into a massive battle field between United States and Spain. The Americans defeated the Spanish fleet led by Admiral Patricio Montojo.

June 12, 1898. General Emilio Aguinaldo, who had returned from Hongkong, proclaimed Philippine independence at his mansion in Kawit, Cavite.

August 13, 1898. A mock battle between the Spanish and the Americans occured forbidding the participation of Filipino soldiers. Later, Manila was surrendered by Spain to the United States.

December 10, 1898. Without the knowledge of the Filipinos, Spain surrendered the Philippines (along with Puerto Rico and Guam) to the United States in exchange of $20 million under the Treaty of Paris.

January 23, 1899. General Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn into office as the president of the Philippine Republic and at the same time promulgated The Malolos Constitution.

June 5, 1899. General Antonio Luna was killed by soldiers from the Kawit Company in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.

December 2, 1900. The young general, Gregorio del Pilar died while fighting against the Americans in the Battle of Pasong Tirad (Tirad Pass).

March 23, 1901. Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans headed by Col. Frederick Funston with the help of some Filipinos in Palanan, Isabela.

October 16, 1907. The first Philippine Assembly was inaugurated at Manila Grand Opera House. Sergio Osmena was elected as speaker and Manuel L. quezon as Majority Floor Leader.

Occtober 13, 1913. The Underwood-Simons Law took effect, allowing an open trade between the United States and the Philippines.

August 29,1916. The Jones Law was signed allowing the existence of the Philippine Legislature and promising the Philippine independence from the United States.

August 26, 1930. Crisanto Evangelista established the Communist Party of the Philippines or CPP as a peasant’s rebel movement and was later joined by farmers and even professionals.

December 7, 1933. Frank Murphy, the last American Governor, granted Philippine women the right to vote.

March 24, 1934. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Tydings McDuffie Act as to allow the drafting of the Philippine Constitution and to establish the Philippine Commonwealth, an agreement to liberate the Philippines in ten years.

March 23, 1935. Pres. Roosevelt approved the plebiscite on the constitution for the new Republic. Claro M. Recto presided the Philippine Constitution, which was mainly patterned after the American Constitution, over the Constitutional Convention.

September 18, 1935. Manuel L. Quezon was elected President of the Commonwealth and Sergio Osmena as the Vice President.

World War II and the Japanese Occupation

December 7, 1941. The Japanese bombed the Pearl Harbor, a US military base in Hawaii. The Philippines wa attacked ten hours after the bombing.

December 25 1941. General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila as an “open city” but the Japanese ignored and still continued its attack.

March 29, 1942. Luis Taruc established the anti-Japanese guerilla movement HUKBALAHAP ( Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon).

April 9, 1942. On this day, the “Fall of Bataan” and the infamous “Death March” took place. Around 76,000 starving Americans and Filipino soldiers surrendered to the Japanese in Bataan. The Japanese led their captives on a cruel hike from Mariveles, Bataan to Camp O’donnell in Capas, Tarlac. Around 7,000 to 10,000 men perished from starvation during the ten-day march while some were luckily pulled out secretly by watching civilians.

May 6, 1942. Corregidor, the last U.S. Defense Base of Filipino-American troops under Jonathan Wainwright, fell under Commander Homma of the Japanese Imperial Forces.

October 24, 1944. This day the prominent battle of Leyte Gulf took place, where the island of Leyte was filled massively with an amphibious force of 700 vessels and 174,000 army and navy servicemen. By December 1944, the islands of Leyte and Mindoro had been cleared of the Japanese.

September 2, 1945. Right after the war in the Pacific, Japan surrendered to the Americans. The Philippines later was granted its independence but with over a million Filipino casualties. More than 60,000 Americans died and 300,000 Japanese lost their lives.

The Philippine Republic

April 30, 1946. The Tydings Rehabilitation Act was signed, giving the Americans equal freedom and previlige to use the natural resources of the Philippines.

July 4, 1946. Manuel Roxas became the first President of the Philippine Republic.

March 14, 1947. The Treaty of General Relations was signed, allowing the US Military Bases to be installed in the Philippines for 99 years.

April 17, 1948. Elpidio Quirino suceeded Manuel Roxas as the president when the latter died of heart attack. Alarmed by the growing armed members of
Hukbalahap Movement, Quirino tried to negotiate with its leader Luis Taruc.

November 10, 1953. Ramon Magsaysay was elected the new President and Carlos P. Garcia as Vice President. Known to be the leader of the poor, Magsaysay, initiated many local infrastracture projects and established special courts to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.

May 17, 1954. Hukbalahap leader Luis Taruc surrendered to the government, signalling the decline of the movements threat.

March 17, 1957. President Ramon Magsaysay died in an airplane crash in Manunggal, Cebu.

November 11, 1961. Diosdado Macapagal won the presidential election and replaced President Carlos P. Garcia.

May 12, 1962. Soon after taking office, President Macapagal proclaimed June 12 as a national holiday in commemoration of Philipine Independence instead of July 4. General Emilio Aguinaldo, who first proclaimed Philippine independence in 1898, was the Guest of Honor at the first celebration of of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1962.

August 8, 1963. President Macapagal signed the Agricultural Land Reform Code.

November 9, 1965. Ferdinand Marcos was elected the 6th president of the Philippine Republic. He made extravagant spendings on public works, building roads, bridges, health centers, hospitals, schools and putting up urban beautification projects.

August 8, 1967. The Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) was organized after a meeting in Manila.

December 26, 1968. Jose Maria Sison reestablished the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as a Stalinist-Maoist Political Party.

November 11, 1969. Marcos was re-elected as president.

June 1, 1971. a bomb exploded at Plaza Miranda during a political rally of the Liberal Party. There were around 100 casualties and 10 deaths. Starting that time, the popularity of Benigno Aquino and his Liberal Party grew rapidly. Marcos blamed the communists for suspicious bombing.

September 21, 1972. Marcos declared martial law under the proclamation No. 1801. Many opposition leaders including Benigno Aquino, journalists and activists were detained in Fort Bonifacio under martial law.

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The American Occupation

With the assurance of the Americans’ promise to free the country, General Aguinaldo, a municipal mayor and the commander of the Philippine forces, declared the Philippine independence on June 12, 1898. He confirmed the establishment of Philippine Republic on January 23, 1899 with himself as president.

The Spanish rule in the islands ended when Spain and the United States signed the treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. It was an agreement between the two countries to pass the possession of the Philippines to the United States in exchange of $20 million. Not being able to consult the Filipinos, this arrogant settlement resulted to a new resistance and battle for freedom.

By the time the treaty of Paris was ratified, conflict between Filipino forces and Americans had broken out due to strong resistance of the Filipinos against the US sovereignty over the islands and the uncertain grant of independence. Aguinaldo led the revolutionary movement and fought the Americans for two years. His capture in March 1901 ended the resistance and gave the US a clear course on setting out their colonial establishment in the country. William Howard Taft was the one chosen to handle the position of presidency and at the same time as chief justice.

The invasion of the Americans moved the Filipinos to a more unfamiliar authority. English was chosen to be the official language of instruction in businesses and schools, the economy flourished and the country’s economy begun relying on the US. Under the supremacy of Governor Taft, systems were regulated in most districts. New government organizations were established along with the general establishments of schools and other related institutions. Construction of roads, highways, and ports were prioritized to consolidate more business all over the country.

Despite the growth of industrialization, the Filipinos never gave up their desire for independence. In early 1900’s Filipinos were given the opportunity to participate in politics. This gave them the chance to hold positions in the government and express themselves more liberally. It was during the proclamation of Manuel L. Quezon in 1935 as the president of the Philippine Commonwealth under the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934 that assured the Filipinos of freedom and self reliance. This act however, didn’t fully grant the country of complete autonomy. The US, under what they called the transition period, retained power on national defense and foreign affairs before granting the Philippines its absolute independence. This transition period took ten years more.

The Heroic Filipinos

Political and economic growth surpassed the life of the Filipinos under the Spanish rule. The growth of commercial agriculture resulted in the birth of a new class. Chinese- filipino mestizos gained recognition in politics and economics. Public education was implemented in early 19th century and most of wealthy childern were sent to Europe for higher education.

Nationalism blossomed in this liberal atmosphere. Out of these overseas students was Jose Rizal. He was able to practice his education through writing that strongly brought out nationalism among suppressed Filipinos. The massive distribution of his works opened the nation’s awareness but sadly caused his arrest from the fearful Spaniards. He was exiled in a remote island in the South.

Shocked by the arrest of Rizal, Filipino activists formed an organization named Katipunan under the leadership of Andres Bonifacio- a self-educated ordinary man.

Despite his exile and insufficient access to his fellowmen, Rizal then continued to write and silently expressed his anguish about his country. Frightened of bigger revolutions, the Spanish finally decided to execute him.

The execution of the silent hero, Rizal, resulted long years of battle for Independence.

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Pre-Spanish Period

The Filipinos before the arrival of the Spaniards were basically hunters, fishers, and cultivators. These tribes were groups of highlanders who barely had access of seawater. And because of the presence of rice terraces, only the central mountains of Luzon had well structured livelihood that resulted to a more fixed territory.

The lowlanders lived in a kinship headed by a Datu or a chief within a community called Barangay; the most stable economic and political unit of no more than a few hundred individuals. Within that unit, there were three broad classes: the datu and his family and the nobles, the freeholders and the dependents. Under dependents, there were sharecroppers, debt peons and war captives- which the last two levels were considered slaves by the Spanish.

There was no consistent religious heirarchy that time, however animism constituted beliefs and ritual practices. The arrival of Islam in Mindanao infuenced the lowlanders and thus changed this pattern. It even reached the far north Datu of Manila. If, however, Spanish arrived strictly for commercial reasons and had stepped in a century later, chances of Islamism would had covered the entire country until today.