The Philippine History

The Philippine History

The Philippine History is rich with information and details. Ever wondered why it’s called “Philippines”? Or who were the first people who inhabited these islands? Read it here.

The Philippine History

The Philippine History more interesting than you think it is. Continue reading and find out more.

Precolonial Era

Two theories argue on where the inhabitants (first Filipinos) came from namely: Beyer’s “Migration Theory” and Jocano’s “Evolution Theory”.

Migration Theory

The first migrants were what Beyer spoke about was the “Dawnmen” (or “cavemen” because they lived in caves.). The Dawnmen look like Java Man, Peking Man, and other Asian Home sapiens who have been around about 250,000 years ago. They did not have any understanding of farming, and lived by hunting and fishing. It was precisely in search of food that they came to the Philippines by manner of the land bridges that linked the Philippines and Indonesia.

Social scientist Henry Otley Beyer believes that Filipinos descended from different groups that came from Southeast Asia in successive waves of migration. Each group had a distinct culture, with its own customs and traditions. While Jocano believes that Asians, including Filipinos are the result of a lengthy process of evolution and migration.

The Philippines before it was called by that name, were first inhabited by people who came to these islands by travelling what they called “land-bridges”. Yes, folks. You read that right. Before the global warming occurred which melted the ice in the poles which contributed to increased amount of sea level, there were once Land-Bridges which connected continent to other continents. And so, the first people who happen to find these beautiful islands by travelling by land were the ethnic tribe called “Negritos”.


The Negritos were the first people who settled in these islands. They are considered as one of the primitive civilization who lived in these islands. They were sometimes referred to as “pygmy” meaning “little people” for they stand small compared to the height of normal people. They are also dark in complexion and have very curly hairs. They lived and thrived through hunting, fishing, and bartering goods found in the forest. They are often fond of living in the forest where hunting is productive for them. As the time goes by, they are now what we call “Aeta” or “Ati” which we can see as one of the ethnic tribes found in the country today.


The group of “Indones” people arrived next. There were two groups of Indones who arrived after the Negritos. The first group of Indones came from the South-East Asian part of the Continent and they are fair in complexion, well-built in body size, deep-shaped eyes, and pointed nose. They are a bit more civilized compared to the Negritos for they know how to build foundations of their homes, or up in the trees. They know how to make weapons such as bows and arrows. They also know how to fish and make charcoals that they use to cook their food.


The second group of Indones people who arrived were different from the first group. They have darker complexions, round body-built, thick lips, round shape eyes and crooked nose. They are more productive, creative, and prospered more compared to the first group for they have lived near the coast and later transferred to the mountains.

The third and last group who lived in the country before the Spaniards came were the Malays. The Malays came to the islands in their “Balangays” referred to their big boats. They are the most civilized among the three groups who came to the country. The Malays have their own language, the form of government and society classification. Their Chief often referred to as “Datu” is the leader of the Balangay or the entire one tribe. They have the “maharlika” or the noble class, “timawa” or the free people and “alipin” or the slave classes of society.

During these times, Arab traders from Malay and Borneo introduced Islam into the southern islands and extended their influence as far north as Luzon. Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and preachers from the Indonesian islands. By the 16th century, Islam was recognized in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao and it had reached the Manila area by 1565.

Jocano’s Theory

Felipe Landa Jocano
Felipe Landa Jocano

Well-known Filipino anthropologist named Felipe Landa Jocano arguments Beyer’s conviction that Filipinos descended from Negritos and Malays who wandered to the Philippines thousands of centuries ago. Agreeing to Jocano, it is difficult to prove that Negritos were the first occupants of this country. The only entity that can positively determine from fossil evidence, he says is that the first men who originated to the Philippines also departed to New Guinea, Java, Borneo, and Australia.

A skullcap and a part of a jaw supposed to be a human foundation were found in 1962 in the Tabon Caves of Palawan by Robert Fox and Manuel Santiago, who are both archaeologist  that worked for the National Museum. Carbon dating located their age at 21,000 to 22,000 years. This verifies Jocano argues that man came previously to the Philippines than to the Malay Peninsula; therefore, the first occupants of our islands could not have come from the region. The “Tabon Man” is said to look like Java Man and Peking Man. He collected fruits, leaves and plants for his food. He hunted with weapons created of stone. Although additional research is still being prepared on his life and culture, evidence indications that he was already skilled of using his brain in order to endure and keep him safe.

In its place of the Migration Theory, Jocano progresses the Evolution Theory, as a better clarification of how our country was first occupied by human beings, Jocano believes that the first individuals of Southeast Asia were yields of a long process of evolution and migration. His research shows that they shared more or less the same culture, beliefs, practices even related tools and outfits. These individuals eventually went their separate ways; some migrated to the Philippines, the others to New Guinea, Java and Borneo. Evidence, Jocano says, can be establish in the fossils discovered in different parts of Southeast Asia, as well as the documented migrations of other inhabits from the Asian mainland when history began to develop.

The Spanish Colonization

Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was the foremost European documented to have arrived in the Philippines. He was a Portuguese explorer who was attending the Spanish crown. He landed in Samar Island on his journey to circumvent the globe. He discovered the islands and named it Archipelago of San Lazaro. Magellan was slain during a revolt commanded by a Datu named Lapu-Lapu in Mactan Island. Spain sustained to send journeys to the island for economic gain and on the fourth voyage, Commander Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, named the islands: Philippines referred after to Prince Philip which later called King Philip II, successor to the Spanish rule.

Commander Ruy Lopez de Villalobos
Commander Ruy Lopez de Villalobos

Spain governed the Philippines for 356 years. The first long-lasting settlement was established in Cebu in 1565. After conquering a local Muslim leader, the Spanish set up their capital at Manila in 157. In doing so, the Spanish wanted to obtain a share in the profitable spice trade, advance better contacts with China and Japan, and increase converts to Christianity. As with extra Spanish colonies, church and state befitted inseparably connected in carrying out Spanish purposes. Numerous Roman Catholic spiritual orders were allocated the obligation of Christianizing the native population. The public administration constructed upon the traditional village society and used traditional local leaders to decree indirectly for Spain. Through these labours, a new cultural municipal was developed, but Muslims (known as Moros by the Spanish) and highland tribal populates continued apart and alienated.

Young Moros Men

One of the primary nationalist leaders was José Rizal, a physician, scientist, scholar, and writer. His works as a member of the Propaganda Movement – an intellectually active, upper-class Filipino reformers, had a significant effect on the arousal of the Filipino national awareness. His books were forbidden, and he survived in self-imposed banishment. Rizal resumed from abroad in 1892 to establish the Liga Filipina, a Philippine League which is a national, peaceful political association, but he was detained and banished and the league disbanded. One outcome was the separation of the nationalist association between the reform-minded illustrados and an additional innovative and independence-minded popular community. Many of the latter united.

The Katipuneros. Members of the Katipunan Organization.

The Katipunan, a secret society established by Andres Bonifacio in 1892 and devoted to engaging national independence. By 1896, the year the Katipunan arise in revolt against Spain, it had 30,000 supporters. Although Rizal, who had again resumed to the Philippines, was not an affiliate of the Katipunan, was detained and executed on December 30, 1896, for his so-called role in the revolution.

 Emilio Aguinaldo
Emilio Aguinaldo

Katipuneros in Cavite Province led by Emilio Aguinaldo conquered the Guardia Civil in Cavite. Aguinaldo’s triumphs lead him to be voted as Chief of the Katipunan. The groups of Bonifacio & Aguinaldo battled and lead to the trial and killing of Bonifacio on Aguinaldo’s commands. Aguinaldo later enlisted a constitution and recognized the Republic of Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan region. In 1897, a stand-off between the Spanish administration and Aguinaldo arose. After discussions between the two sides, Aguinaldo acknowledged an amnesty from the Spaniards and US$ 800,000.00 in return for his banishment to Hong Kong with his administration.

The American Occupation

U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey
U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey

The Spanish-American war which took place in Cuba altered the history of the Philippines. On May 1, 1898, the Americans commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey, in an involvement of Emilio Aguinaldo, confronted the Spanish Navy in Manila Bay. Defeated, the Philippines were abandoned to the United States by Spain in 1898 after a fee of US$ 20 million to Spain in agreement with the “Treaty of Paris” ending the Spanish-American War. On June 12, 1898, Filipinos headed by Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence. This announcement was opposed by the U.S. who had campaigns of taking over the colony. And this steered to a guerrilla battle against the Americans. In 1901, Aguinaldo was caught and acknowledged commitment to the United States.

 William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft

On the same year, William Howard Taft was selected as the first U.S. governor of the Philippines. The U.S. approved the Jones Law in 1916 instituting an elected Filipino legislature with a House of representatives & Senate. In 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Act was approved by the U.S. Congress, recognized the Commonwealth of the Philippines and assured Philippine independence by 1946. The law also delivered for the spot of President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. On the May 14, 1935 selections, Manuel L. Quezon obtained the position of President of the Philippine Commonwealth.

In agreement with the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, The Philippines was set independence on July 4, 1946 and the Republic of the Philippines was created.

The Japanese Occupation

Japanese attacks Manila

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese attacks the Philippines hours after bombarding the Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. While the soldiers of General Douglas MacArthur retreated to Bataan, the Commonwealth administration of President Quezon relocated to Corregidor Island. Manila was acknowledged an open city to avoid further damage. After the collapse of Bataan on April 9, 1942, and Corregidor surrendered in March 1942, Gen. MacArthur & President Quezon escaped the country. And by the request of President Roosevelt, the Commonwealth government left into banishment to Washington D.C. American and Filipino militaries submitted on May 6, 1942. Soon, guerrilla warfare against the Japanese was fought by the Philippine & American soldiers while Filipinos were enduring the brutality of the Japanese military against civilians.

Dr. Jose P. Laurel
Dr. Jose P. Laurel

Proceeding to Quezon’s exile, he advised Dr. Jose P. Laurel to head and collaborates with the Japanese civilian government in the hopefulness that the association will lead to a less cruelty of the Japanese towards the Filipinos. Rightly or wrongly, President Laurel and his battle time government were largely disliked by the Filipinos.

Gen. Douglas McArthur
Gen. Douglas McArthur (center) arrives in Leyte.

In October 1944, Gen. MacArthur together with President Sergio Osmeña (who presumed the position after Quezon died on August 1, 1944, in exile in Saranac Lake, New York) resumed and freed the Philippines from the Japanese.



Agoncillo, T. & Alfonso, O.:History of the Filipino People,Quezon City, Malaya Books, [1969, ©1967]

Philippine History,






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