In 1564 the Spaniards set out to conquer the Philippines, in 1665 they were successful. The Spaniards did not gain a foothold in the Philippines until 1565, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi led an expedition, who then built a fort in Cebu. With this new piece of land Spain had just achieved they would colonize. The Philippines was named after King Phillip II of Spain. The Spaniards also created a Feudal system. Spaniards owned vast estates worked by Filipinos. Along with conquistadors went friars who converted the Filipinos to Catholicism. The friars also built schools and universities.
The Spanish colony in the Philippines brought prosperity (for the upper class anyway). Each year the Chinese exported goods such as silk, porcelain and lacquer to the Philippines. From there they were re-exported to Mexico.
In 1872 there was a rebellion in Cavite but it was quickly crushed. But, nationalist feeling continued to grow helped by a writer named Jose Rizal (1861-1896). He wrote two novels Noli Me Tangere (Touch me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Filibusterer) which stoked the fires of nationalism.
In 1892 Jose Rizal founded a movement called Liga Filipina, which called for reform rather than revolution. As a result, Rizal was arrested and exiled.
Meanwhile Andres Bonifacio formed a more extreme organization called the Katipunan. In August 1896 they began a revolution. Jose Rizal was accused of supporting the revolution, although he did not, he was executed on 30 December 1896. Yet his execution merely inflamed Filipino opinion and the revolution grew.
Then in 1898 came war between the USA and Spain. On 30 April 1898 the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. However, Filipino revolutionaries had surrounded Manila. Their leader, Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines independent on 12 June. However, as part of the peace treaty Spain ceded the Philippines to the USA. The Americans planned to take over.
War between American forces in Manila and the Filipinos began on 4 February 1899. The Filipino-American War lasted until 1902 when Aguinaldo was captured.
American rule in the Philippines was paternalistic. They called their policy ‘Benevolent Assimilation’. They wanted to ‘Americanize’ the Filipinos but they never quite succeeded. However, they did do some good. Many American teachers were sent to the Philippines in a ship named the “Thomas.” Americans being there also increased literacy among the Filipinos.
In 1935, the Philippines were made a commonwealth and were semi-independent. Manuel Quezon became president. The USA promised that the Philippines would become completely independent in 1945.
Despite becoming free, in December 1941, Japan attacked the US fleet at Pearl Harbor. On 10 December 1941, Japanese troops invaded the Philippines. They captured Manila on 2 January 1941. By 6 May 1942, all of the Philippines were in Japanese hands.
American troops then returned to the Philippines in October 1944. They recaptured Manila in February 1945.
The Philippines became independent on 4 July 1946, which is now a Filipino holiday known as “Republic Day,” representing the friendship between the United States and the Philippines. Manuel Roxas was the first president of the newly independent nation.