Culture & Heritage

The History of the Philippines

Written by Patrick
Travel Insurance

The Philippines has an interesting history.

Here are the highlights of the country’s history from the early settlers up to the present time.

Prehistory

Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines

Caption:  Banaue Rice Terraces Constructed by the Igorots

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
500,000 B.C.
 
Callao Man (Homo luzonensis)in Callao Cave, Cagayan
55,000 B.C.
 
Tabon Man (Homo sapiens) in Tabon Caves in Quezon, Palawan.
40,000 B.C.
 
Negritos start to settle.
4500-300 B.C.
 
Arrival of Austronesians from Taiwan in Batanes Islands and Northern Luzon.

Existence of jade culture, the time when tools and ornaments are made of jade, otherwise known as nephrite.
1000 B.C.
 
Beginning of mining in the Philippines.
500 B.C.
 
Construction of Banaue Rice Terraces by the Igorots.
300-200 B.C.
 
The beginning of the domestication and husbandry of carabaos (water buffaloes).
101 A.D.
 
Formation of barangay, smallest political unit in the country. Every barangay is headed by a Datu and answerable to Lakan and Rajah.
400 A.D.
 
The development of inter-island and international trade.
700 A.D.
 
The birth of Kawi Script, a script primarily found in Java and widely used in Maritime Southeast Asia.

Pre-Colonial

A Painting of Pre-Colonial Filipino-Chinese Trade

Caption:  A Painting of Pre-Colonial Filipino-Chinese Trade | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
900
 
Creation of Laguna copperplate inscription, the earliest known calendar-dated Philippine document.
982
 
Earliest date of Chinese contact with the Philippines. Merchants from Ma-i (thought to be either Bay, Laguna or Mait, Mindoro in modern times) brought their wares to Guangzhou and Quanzhou.
1000
 
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism become the religion of most Filipinos.

Establishment of trade zones in Sulu by people from Central Vietnam called Orang Dampuan.
1003
 
Ivatans built mountain fortress-cities called Idjangs in Batanes.
1007
 
Arrival of Malay immigrants in Palawan.
1380
 
Karim Al Makhdum, the first Arabian trader in the Philippines, introduced and established Islam.
1500
 
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The eruptions were roughly the same size as those of 1991.

Spanish Colonization

Fort Santiago, Intramuros

Caption:  Intramuros Built During the Spanish Colonization | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1521
March 16
Ferdinand Magellan landed in Homonhon in the Archipelago de San Lazaro with three small ships named the Concepcion, Trinidad, and Victoria.
1521
March 29
Blood compact between Magellan and Rajah Kulambo of Limasawa.
1521
March 31
The first Catholic mass on Philippine soil is celebrated and officiated by Father Pedro de Valderrama.
1521
April 7
Magellan landed in Cebu and met Rajah Humabon.
1521
April 14
First Catholic mass in Cebu is celebrated. Baptism into Catholic church of Rajah Humabon and his wife.
1521
April 27
Battle of Mactan. The Spaniards were defeated and Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu and his men.
1543
 
Spain’s fifth expedition headed by Ruy López de Villalobos reached the Philippines. Villalobos bestowed the name Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip Asturias, the crown prince of Spain and later became King Philip II of Spain.
1565
February 13
Arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi in Cebu.
1565
April 27
Legazpi returned to Cebu and established a settlement.
1569
 
Cebu became the first Spanish province in the Philippines with Legazpi as governor and captain general of the territory.
1571
June 24
The Spanish Colonial Government was established by Legazpi in Manila. It was proclaimed the capital of the colony.
1579
 
Establishment of the Diocese of Manila.
1586
 
Construction of San Agustin Church in Intramuros.
1595
 
Establishment of Diocese of Cebu.
1598
 
Establishment of Colegio de Santa Potenciana, the first school for girls in the Philippines.
1600
 
Beginning of Galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico.
1612
 
Formal opening of Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario (now known as University of Santo Tomas).
1620
 
Establishment of Colegio de Niños Huerfanos de San Juan de Letran (now known as Colegio de San Juan de Letran).
1637
 
Tomas Pinpin published Sucesos Felices, the first newsletter in the country.
1640
 
Establishment of Universidad de San Felipe de Austria, first public university in the Philippines.
1686
 
Construction of Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte.
1744
 
The beginning of the Dagohoy Rebellion, the longest in Philippine history.
1762
 
The so-called Rape of Manila when British forces looted and plundered many establishments in Manila.
1762
September 22
Great Britain conquered the Spanish colonies of Manila as part of the Seven Years’ War.
1762
October 5
Start of British occupation.
1763
February 10
Signing of Treaty of Paris returning Manila to Spain.
1788
April 2
Birth of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar, the greatest Tagalog poet.
1811
 
Gov. Gen. Fernandez de Folgueras established Del Superior Govierno, Philippines’ first newspaper. It lasted for six months only.
1814
February 1
Eruption of Mount Mayon. It affected Albay and caused 1,200 deaths.
1830
 
Manila is opened to the world market.
1835
September 9
The Chamber of Commerce was formed.
1837
August 27
Manila was made an open port.
1838
 
Francisco Balagtas published Florante at Laura.
1846
 
Miguel Sanchez established La Esperanza, the country’s first daily newspaper. It lasted three years.
1852
 
Eruption of Mount Hibok-Hibok.
1859
 
Establishment of Ateneo Municipal.
1860
 
Foundation of the first Masonic lodge in the country.
1861
June 19
Birth of Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero. Now a regular holiday in the Philippines.
1863
November 30
Birth of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan. Now a regular holiday in the Philippines.
1864
July 23
Birth of Apolinario Mabini, the Brains of the Revolution.
1871
 
Establishment of the first museum in the Philippines.

The Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of the University of Santo Tomas is established as the first school of Medicine and Pharmacy in the Philippines.
1887
 
Jose Rizal published his Noli Me Tangere, a novel describing the inequities of the Spanish Catholic friars and government.
1891
 
Publishing of El Filibusterismo, sequel of Noli Me Tangere.
1892
July 3
Jose Rizal forms La Liga Filipina only to be arrested 4 days later for establishing it.
1894
July 8
Andres Bonifacio forms the Katipunan, a Philippine revolutionary society.

Philippine Revolution

Jose Rizal's Execution

Caption:  Jose Rizal’s Execution | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1896
August 23
The beginning of the revolution against the Spanish government. Headed by Andres Bonifacio, the Katipuneros tore up their cedulas (community tax certificates) in defiance of their allegiance to Spain. This event is referred to as the Cry of Pugad Lawin (originally Cry of Balintawak).
1986
October 31
Emilio Aguinaldo formed a new group of Katipunan.
1896
November 11
Filipino forces headed by Emilio Aguinaldo defeat the Spaniards in a battle in Kawit, Cavite.
1896
December 30
Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan (now known as Rizal Park or Luneta Park) for the crime of rebellion. Now a regular holiday in the country.
1897
March 22
Creation of revolutionary government by the Katipuan. Aguinaldo was elected as president in the first election in the country’s electoral history.
1897
April 29
Bonifacio, along with his brothers Procopio and Ciriaco, is arrested by Katipuneros on orders of Aguinaldo for the crimes of sedition and treason.
1897
May 10
Execution of Bonifacio and brother Procopio.
1897
May 31
Establishment of a Philippine Republican government by Aguinaldo.
1897
December 14
Signing of Pact of Biak-na-Bato, a truce between Filipinos under Aguinaldo and Spaniards under Gov. Primo de Rivera to end the Philippine Revolution.

American Occupation

Late 20th Century Era Architecture in the Philippines

Caption:  Silliman University, the First American University in the Philippines | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1898
 
The civil government established the Official Gazette, public journal and main publication of the Philippine Government.
1898
April 26
The US declares war on Spain.
1898
May 24
Proclamation of a dictatorial government by Aguinaldo who issued two decrees showing trust and reliance in US protection.
1896
December 30
Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan (now known as Rizal Park or Luneta Park) for the crime of rebellion. Now a regular holiday in the country.
1898
May 28
First unfurling of the Philippine flag when Filipino revolutionaries defeat the Spanish forces in a battle in Cavite.
1898
June 12
Filipino revolutionaries headed by Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite. Now a regular holiday in the country.
1898
July 17
Arrival of US reinforcements and troops.
1898
August 14
The US took Manila when Spanish surrendered.
1898
October 11
Thomas Cowan founded The Manila Times, the oldest running newspaper in the Philippines.
1898
October 25
Establishment of Academia Militar, the country’s first military training school. It lasted for less than a year.
1898
December 10
Signing of the Treaty of Paris between Spain and the US. Article III states the cession of the Philippines to the US by Spain and payment of 20 million dollars to Spain by the US.
1898
December 23
Aguinaldo signs the Malolos Constitution, the constitution of the First Philippine Republic.
1899
January 23
Inauguration of the Malolos Republic (First Republic) at Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. The Malolos Republic is Asia’s first republic with Aguinaldo as the first President of the Philippines.
1899
December 2
Gregorio del Pilar killed in the Battle of Tirad Pass, a battle between Filipino and American forces.
1900
February 2
Carson Taylor publishes the first issue of Manila Bulletin, the country’s oldest continuously existing newspaper.
1901
June 17
Established on Colegio de San Beda (San Beda University).
1901
August 28
Establishment of Silliman University, the first American university in the Philippines.
1902
July 4
Americans proclaimed the end of war between the Philippines and America but fighting continues.
1904
 
Establishment of Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan, the oldest and largest open prison in the Philippines.
1906
May 27
Establishment of Culion Leper Colony in Palawan.
1906
December 3
Establishment of St. Scholastica’s College.
1907
June 3
Establishment of Centro Escolar de Señoritas (now Centro Escolar University).
1908
June 18
Establishment of University of the Philippines in Manila.
1911
January 27
Mount Taal erupted killing 1,334 people.
1911
June 16
Establishment of De La Salle University-Manila.
1912
 
Introduction of the first Filipino movie in the Philippines. It’s a silent movie about Jose Rizal.
1919
 
Release of the first film to be produced locally, Dalagang Bukid, a silent film by Jose Nepumoceno.
1920
August
Manuel L. Quezon established the Philippines Herald, the first pro-Filipino nationalist newspaper.
1932
June 20
George Lucas Adamson founded Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry (now Adamson University).
1934
May 7
One of the largest pearls in the world was discovered in Palawan.
1935
February 15
Signing of the Philippine Constitution.
1935
September 17
The first Philippine Presidential elections; Manuel Quezon elected as president.
1935
November 15
Inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth.
1935
December 21
Creation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
1936
October 31
Establishment of Boy Scouts of the Philippines.
1937
November 9
Tagalog became the basis of the country’s national language per recommendation of the Institute of the National Language.
1940
May 26
Establishment of Girl Scouts of the Philippines.

World War II

General MacArthur Returns to the Philippines

Caption:  General MacArthur Returns to the Philippines | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1941
March 15
Maiden flight of Philippine Airlines.
1941
December 8
Beginning of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
1942
January 2
Japanese troops reached Manila.
1942
June 14
The Philippines became a member of the United Nations.
1943
October 13
Inauguration of the puppet government with Jose P. Laurel as president.
1945
February 4
US troops entered Manila.
1945
February 24
End of the battle of Manila. The Japanese surrendered to the joint forces of the US and Philippines.
1945
July 5
Gen. MacArthur announced the liberation of the Philippines.
1945
August 15
Japan accepted defeat.

Independence

Inauguration of Manuel Roxas as President of the 3rd Republic of the Philippines

Caption:  Inauguration of Manuel Roxas as President of the 3rd Republic of the Philippines | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1946
July 4
The US recognized the independence of the Republic of the Philippines.

Manuel Roxas became the first president of the Third Republic.
1948
July
Pres. Quirino declared Quezon City as the capital of the Philippines.
1949
January
Establishment of the Central Bank of the Philippines.
1951
March 6
Declaration of Fort Santiago as a National Shrine.
1962
May 12
Pres. Diosdado Macapagal officially changed the commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day from July 4 to June 12.
1964
August 14
Gemma Cruz was crowned Miss International 1964, the first Filipino to win the title.

Ferdinand Marcos Regime

People Power Revolution

Caption:  People Power Revolution at the End of Marcos Regime | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1965
November 9
Election of Ferdinand Marcos as president of the Philippines.
1969
July 19
Gloria Diaz was crowned Miss Universe 1969, the first Filipino to win the title.
1969
September
Inauguration of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
1970
November 27
First papal visit of Pope Paul VI.
1972
September 22
President Marcos announced that he placed the country under Martial Law.
1973
March 1
Establishment of the Philippine News Agency, the official news agency of the government.
1981
January 17
Martial Law lifted.
1981
February
First papal visit of Pope John Paul II.
1983
August 21
Assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr at then Manila International Airport.
1984
December 1
Opening of the Manila LRT Line 1, the first rail line in Southeast Asia.
1986
February 22-25
EDSA I Revolution, Pres. Marcos was ousted and Corazon Aquino became president.

Present

Covid-19 Pandemic

Caption:  Filipinos During the Covid-19 Pandemic | Image Source

YEAR
DATE
EVENT
1987
October 18
Canonization of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.
1987
December 20
MV Doña Paz and MT Vector collided and sank at Tablas Strait. Considered the deadliest maritime disaster in peacetime world history, the death toll reached 4,386.
1992
 
Closure of Subic Bay Naval Base ending the US military presence in the country.
1994
March 29
The country made its first connection to the internet.
1995
January 10-15
Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines and presided over the country’s first World Youth Day in Manila.
1998
June 12
Centennial celebration of the Philippine Independence.
2001
January 16-20
EDSA II Revolution ousted Pres. Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo became president.
2004
February 27
Jemaah Islamiyah-linked Abu Sayyaf bombed SuperFerry 14, killing 116. It is considered the deadliest terrorist attack in Philippine history.
2008
November 23
Maguindanao Massacre, considered the deadliest attack against journalists in world history.
2011
November 11
Puerto Princesa Underground River was named as one of the world’s New7Wonders of Nature.
2012
October 21
Canonization of Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino saint.
2013
October 15
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol and caused 222 deaths. It is considered the country’s deadliest earthquake since 1990.
2013
November 8
Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) made landfall in Visayas causing at least 6,300 death tolls. It is considered one of the strongest tropical cyclones to hit the country and the deadliest typhoon on record.
2014
December 8
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur is chosen as one of the world’s New7Wonders Cities.
2015
January 15-19
Papal visit of Pope Francis. A special mass was held at the Tacloban Airport on the 17th.
2015
January 25
Mamasapano Clash, an encounter between police forces and the MILF to capture international terrorist Marwan. The clash resulted in 74 deaths including 44 PNP-Special Action Forces (SAF).
2016
July 12
The Permanent Court of Arbitration rules in favor of the Philippines against China over territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
2016
August 1
911 emergency number and 8888 civil service complaint hotline were launched.
2016
September 11
Janelle Frayna became the Philippines’ first female chess grandmaster during the World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
2016
November 18
The controversial burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani
2017
May 23
President Duterte declared a 60-day martial law in Mindanao following the encounters between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi City.
2017
October 17
President Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City, with more than a thousand reportedly killed in the battle.
2020
March 16
Island of Luzon placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine in response to COVID-19) pandemic.

READ MORE: An Introduction To The Philippines

What are YOUR thoughts on this topic?

About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

Leave a Comment