The Philippines extend 1,152 mi (1,855 km) from north to south, between Taiwan and Borneo, and 688 mi (1,108 km) from east to west, and are bounded by the Philippine Sea on the east, the Celebes Sea on the south, and the South China Sea on the west. They comprise three natural divisions—the northern, which includes Luzon and attendant islands; the central, occupied by the Visayan Islands and Palawan and Mindoro; and the southern, encompassing Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. In addition to Manila, other important centers are Quezon City, also on Luzon; Cebu, on Cebu Island; Iloilo, on Panay; Davao and Zamboanga, on Mindanao; and Jolo, on Jolo Island in the Sulu Archipelago.
The Philippines are chiefly of volcanic origin. Most of the larger islands are traversed by mountain ranges, with Mt. Apo (9,690 ft/2,954 m), on Mindanao, the highest peak. Narrow coastal plains, wide valleys, volcanoes, dense forests, and mineral and hot springs further characterize the larger islands. Earthquakes are common. Of the navigable rivers, Cagayan, on Luzon, is the largest; there are also large lakes on Luzon and Mindanao.
The Philippines are entirely within the tropical zone. Manila, with a mean daily temperature of 79.5°F; (26. 4°C;), is typical of the climate of the lowland areas—hot and humid. The highlands, however, have a bracing climate; e.g., Baguio, the summer capital, on Luzon, has a mean annual temperature of 64°F; (17.8°C;). The islands are subject to typhoons, whose torrential rains can cause devastating floods; 5,000 people died on Leyte in 1991 from such flooding, and several storms in 2004 and 2006 caused deadly flooding and great destruction.
The great majority of the people of the Philippines belong to the Malay group and are known as Filipinos. Other groups include the Negritos (negroid pygmies) and the Dumagats (similar to the Papuans of New Guinea), and there is a small Chinese minority. The Filipinos live mostly in the lowlands and constitute one of the largest Christian groups in Asia. Roman Catholicism is professed by over 80% of the population; 5% are Muslims (concentrated on Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago; see Moros); about 2% are Aglipayans, members of the Philippine Independent Church, a nationalistic offshoot of Catholicism (see Aglipay, Gregorio); and there are Protestant and Evangelical groups. The official languages are Pilipino, based on Tagalog, and English; however, some 70 native languages are also spoken.
With their tropical climate, heavy rainfall, and naturally fertile volcanic soil, the Philippines have a strong agricultural sector, which employs over a third of the population. Sugarcane, coconuts, rice, corn, bananas, cassava, pineapples, and mangoes are the most important crops, and tobacco and coffee are also grown. Carabao (water buffalo), pigs, chickens, goats, and ducks are widely raised, and there is dairy farming. Fishing is a common occupation; the Sulu Archipelago is noted for its pearls and mother-of-pearl.
The islands have one of the world's greatest stands of commercial timber. There are also mineral resources such as petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, copper, zinc, chromite, and iron ore. Nonmetallic minerals include rock asphalt, gypsum, asbestos, sulfur, and coal. Limestone, adobe, and marble are quarried.
Manufacturing is concentrated in metropolitan Manila, near the nation's prime port, but there has been considerable industrial growth on Cebu, Negros, and Mindanao. Garments, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and wood products are manufactured, and the assembly of electronics and automobiles is important. Other industries include food processing and petroleum refining. The former U.S. military base at Subic Bay was redeveloped in the 1990s as a free-trade zone.
The economy has nonetheless remained weak, and many Filipinos have sought employment overseas; remittances from an estimated 8 million Filipinos abroad are economically important. Chief exports are semiconductors, electronics, transportation equipment, clothing, copper, petroleum products, coconut oil, fruits, lumber and plywood, machinery, and sugar. The main imports are electronic products, mineral fuels, machinery, transportation equipment, iron and steel, textiles, grains, chemicals, and plastic. The chief trading partners are the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
The Philippines is governed under the constitution of 1987. The president, who is both head of state and head of the government, is elected by popular vote for a single six-year term. There is a bicameral legislature, the Congress. Members of the 24-seat Senate are popularly elected for six-year terms. The House of Representatives consists of not more than 250 members, who are popularly elected for three-year terms. There is an independent judiciary headed by a supreme court. Administratively, the republic is divided into 79 provinces and 117 chartered cities.
The Negritos are believed to have migrated to the Philippines some 30,000 years ago from Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaya. The Malayans followed in successive waves. These people belonged to a primitive epoch of Malayan culture, which has apparently survived to this day among certain groups such as the Igorots. The Malayan tribes that came later had more highly developed material cultures.
In the 14th cent. Arab traders from Malay and Borneo introduced Islam into the southern islands and extended their influence as far north as Luzon. The first Europeans to visit (1521) the Philippines were those in the Spanish expedition around the world led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Other Spanish expeditions followed, including one from New Spain (Mexico) under López de Villalobos, who in 1542 named the islands for the infante Philip, later Philip II.Spanish Control
The conquest of the Filipinos by Spain did not begin in earnest until 1564, when another expedition from New Spain, commanded by Miguel López de Legaspi, arrived. Spanish leadership was soon established over many small independent communities that previously had known no central rule. By 1571, when López de Legaspi established the Spanish city of Manila on the site of a Moro town he had conquered the year before, the Spanish foothold in the Philippines was secure, despite the opposition of the Portuguese, who were eager to maintain their monopoly on the trade of East Asia.
Manila repulsed the attack of the Chinese pirate Limahong in 1574. For centuries before the Spanish arrived the Chinese had traded with the Filipinos, but evidently none had settled permanently in the islands until after the conquest. Chinese trade and labor were of great importance in the early development of the Spanish colony, but the Chinese came to be feared and hated because of their increasing numbers, and in 1603 the Spanish murdered thousands of them (later, there were lesser massacres of the Chinese).
The Spanish governor, made a viceroy in 1589, ruled with the advice of the powerful royal audiencia. There were frequent uprisings by the Filipinos, who resented the encomienda system. By the end of the 16th cent. Manila had become a leading commercial center of East Asia, carrying on a flourishing trade with China, India, and the East Indies. The Philippines supplied some wealth (including gold) to Spain, and the richly laden galleons plying between the islands and New Spain were often attacked by English freebooters. There was also trouble from other quarters, and the period from 1600 to 1663 was marked by continual wars with the Dutch, who were laying the foundations of their rich empire in the East Indies, and with Moro pirates. One of the most difficult problems the Spanish faced was the subjugation of the Moros. Intermittent campaigns were conducted against them but without conclusive results until the middle of the 19th cent. As the power of the Spanish Empire waned, the Jesuit orders became more influential in the Philippines and acquired great amounts of property.Revolution, War, and U.S. Control
It was the opposition to the power of the clergy that in large measure brought about the rising sentiment for independence. Spanish injustices, bigotry, and economic oppressions fed the movement, which was greatly inspired by the brilliant writings of José Rizal. In 1896 revolution began in the province of Cavite, and after the execution of Rizal that December, it spread throughout the major islands. The Filipino leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, achieved considerable success before a peace was patched up with Spain. The peace was short-lived, however, for neither side honored its agreements, and a new revolution was brewing when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898.
After the U.S. naval victory in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey supplied Aguinaldo with arms and urged him to rally the Filipinos against the Spanish. By the time U.S. land forces had arrived, the Filipinos had taken the entire island of Luzon, except for the old walled city of Manila, which they were besieging. The Filipinos had also declared their independence and established a republic under the first democratic constitution ever known in Asia. Their dreams of independence were crushed when the Philippines were transferred from Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1898), which closed the Spanish-American War.
In Feb., 1899, Aguinaldo led a new revolt, this time against U.S. rule. Defeated on the battlefield, the Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare, and their subjugation became a mammoth project for the United States—one that cost far more money and took far more lives than the Spanish-American War. The insurrection was effectively ended with the capture (1901) of Aguinaldo by Gen. Frederick Funston, but the question of Philippine independence remained a burning issue in the politics of both the United States and the islands. The matter was complicated by the growing economic ties between the two countries. Although comparatively little American capital was invested in island industries, U.S. trade bulked larger and larger until the Philippines became almost entirely dependent upon the American market. Free trade, established by an act of 1909, was expanded in 1913.
When the Democrats came into power in 1913, measures were taken to effect a smooth transition to self-rule. The Philippine assembly already had a popularly elected lower house, and the Jones Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1916, provided for a popularly elected upper house as well, with power to approve all appointments made by the governor-general. It also gave the islands their first definite pledge of independence, although no specific date was set.
When the Republicans regained power in 1921, the trend toward bringing Filipinos into the government was reversed. Gen. Leonard Wood, who was appointed governor-general, largely supplanted Filipino activities with a semimilitary rule. However, the advent of the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s and the first aggressive moves by Japan in Asia (1931) shifted U.S. sentiment sharply toward the granting of immediate independence to the Philippines.The Commonwealth
The Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, passed by Congress in 1932, provided for complete independence of the islands in 1945 after 10 years of self-government under U.S. supervision. The bill had been drawn up with the aid of a commission from the Philippines, but Manuel L. Quezon, the leader of the dominant Nationalist party, opposed it, partially because of its threat of American tariffs against Philippine products but principally because of the provisions leaving naval bases in U.S. hands. Under his influence, the Philippine legislature rejected the bill. The Tydings-McDuffie Independence Act (1934) closely resembled the Hare-Howes-Cutting-Act, but struck the provisions for American bases and carried a promise of further study to correct "imperfections or inequalities."
The Philippine legislature ratified the bill; a constitution, approved by President Roosevelt (Mar., 1935) was accepted by the Philippine people in a plebiscite (May); and Quezon was elected the first president (Sept.). When Quezon was inaugurated on Nov. 15, 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was formally established. Quezon was reelected in Nov., 1941. To develop defensive forces against possible aggression, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was brought to the islands as military adviser in 1935, and the following year he became field marshal of the Commonwealth army.World War II
War came suddenly to the Philippines on Dec. 8 (Dec. 7, U.S. time), 1941, when Japan attacked without warning. Japanese troops invaded the islands in many places and launched a pincer drive on Manila. MacArthur's scattered defending forces (about 80,000 troops, four fifths of them Filipinos) were forced to withdraw to Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island, where they entrenched and tried to hold until the arrival of reinforcements, meanwhile guarding the entrance to Manila Bay and denying that important harbor to the Japanese. But no reinforcements were forthcoming. The Japanese occupied Manila on Jan. 2, 1942. MacArthur was ordered out by President Roosevelt and left for Australia on Mar. 11; Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright assumed command.
The besieged U.S.-Filipino army on Bataan finally crumbled on Apr. 9, 1942. Wainwright fought on from Corregidor with a garrison of about 11,000 men; he was overwhelmed on May 6, 1942. After his capitulation, the Japanese forced the surrender of all remaining defending units in the islands by threatening to use the captured Bataan and Corregidor troops as hostages. Many individual soldiers refused to surrender, however, and guerrilla resistance, organized and coordinated by U.S. and Philippine army officers, continued throughout the Japanese occupation.
Japan's efforts to win Filipino loyalty found expression in the establishment (Oct. 14, 1943) of a "Philippine Republic," with José P. Laurel, former supreme court justice, as president. But the people suffered greatly from Japanese brutality, and the puppet government gained little support. Meanwhile, President Quezon, who had escaped with other high officials before the country fell, set up a government-in-exile in Washington. When he died (Aug., 1944), Vice President Sergio Osmeña became president. Osmeña returned to the Philippines with the first liberation forces, which surprised the Japanese by landing (Oct. 20, 1944) at Leyte, in the heart of the islands, after months of U.S. air strikes against Mindanao. The Philippine government was established at Tacloban, Leyte, on Oct. 23.
The landing was followed (Oct. 23-26) by the greatest naval engagement in history, called variously the battle of Leyte Gulf and the second battle of the Philippine Sea. A great U.S. victory, it effectively destroyed the Japanese fleet and opened the way for the recovery of all the islands. Luzon was invaded (Jan., 1945), and Manila was taken in February. On July 5, 1945, MacArthur announced "All the Philippines are now liberated." The Japanese had suffered over 425,000 dead in the Philippines.
The Philippine congress met on June 9, 1945, for the first time since its election in 1941. It faced enormous problems. The land was devastated by war, the economy destroyed, the country torn by political warfare and guerrilla violence. Osmeña's leadership was challenged (Jan., 1946) when one wing (now the Liberal party) of the Nationalist party nominated for president Manuel Roxas, who defeated Osmeña in April.The Republic of the Philippines
Manuel Roxas became the first president of the Republic of the Philippines when independence was granted, as scheduled, on July 4, 1946. In Mar., 1947, the Philippines and the United States signed a military assistance pact (since renewed) and the Philippines gave the United States a 99-year lease on designated military, naval, and air bases (a later agreement reduced the period to 25 years beginning 1967). The sudden death of President Roxas in Apr., 1948, elevated the vice president, Elpidio Quirino, to the presidency, and in a bitterly contested election in Nov., 1949, Quirino defeated José Laurel to win a four-year term of his own.
The enormous task of reconstructing the war-torn country was complicated by the activities in central Luzon of the Communist-dominated Hukbalahap guerrillas (Huks), who resorted to terror and violence in their efforts to achieve land reform and gain political power. They were largely brought under control (1954) after a vigorous attack launched by the minister of national defense, Ramón Magsaysay. The Huks continued to function, however, until 1970, and other Communist guerrilla groups have persisted in their opposition to the Philippine government. Magsaysay defeated Quirino in Nov., 1953, to win the presidency. He had promised sweeping economic changes, and he did make progress in land reform, opening new settlements outside crowded Luzon island. His death in an airplane crash in Mar., 1957, was a serious blow to national morale. Vice President Carlos P. García succeeded him and won a full term as president in the elections of Nov., 1957.
In foreign affairs, the Philippines maintained a firm anti-Communist policy and joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954. There were difficulties with the United States over American military installations in the islands, and, despite formal recognition (1956) of full Philippine sovereignty over these bases, tensions increased until some of the bases were dismantled (1959) and the 99-year lease period was reduced. The United States rejected Philippine financial claims and proposed trade revisions.
Philippine opposition to García on issues of government corruption and anti-Americanism led, in June, 1959, to the union of the Liberal and Progressive parties, led by Vice President Diosdad Macapagal, the Liberal party leader, who succeeded García as president in the 1961 elections. Macapagal's administration was marked by efforts to combat the mounting inflation that had plagued the republic since its birth; by attempted alliances with neighboring countries; and by a territorial dispute with Britain over North Borneo (later Sabah), which Macapagal claimed had been leased and not sold to the British North Borneo Company in 1878.Marcos and After
Ferdinand E. Marcos, who succeeded to the presidency after defeating Macapagal in the 1965 elections, inherited the territorial dispute over Sabah; in 1968 he approved a congressional bill annexing Sabah to the Philippines. Malaysia suspended diplomatic relations (Sabah had joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963), and the matter was referred to the United Nations. (The Philippines dropped its claim to Sabah in 1978.) The Philippines became one of the founding countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. The continuing need for land reform fostered a new Huk uprising in central Luzon, accompanied by mounting assassinations and acts of terror, and in 1969, Marcos began a major military campaign to subdue them. Civil war also threatened on Mindanao, where groups of Moros opposed Christian settlement. In Nov., 1969, Marcos won an unprecedented reelection, easily defeating Sergio Osmeña, Jr., but the election was accompanied by violence and charges of fraud, and Marcos's second term began with increasing civil disorder.
In Jan., 1970, some 2,000 demonstrators tried to storm Malcañang Palace, the presidential residence; riots erupted against the U.S. embassy. When Pope Paul VI visited Manila in Nov., 1970, an attempt was made on his life. In 1971, at a Liberal party rally, hand grenades were thrown at the speakers' platform, and several people were killed. President Marcos declared martial law in Sept., 1972, charging that a Communist rebellion threatened, and opposition to Marcos's government did swell the ranks of Communist guerrilla groups, which continued to grow into the mid-1980s and continued on a smaller scale into the 21st cent. The 1935 constitution was replaced (1973) by a new one that provided the president with direct powers. A plebiscite (July, 1973) gave Marcos the right to remain in office beyond the expiration (Dec., 1973) of his term. Meanwhile the fighting on Mindanao had spread to the Sulu Archipelago. By 1973 some 3,000 people had been killed and hundreds of villages burned. Throughout the 1970s poverty and governmental corruption increased, and Imelda Marcos, Ferdinand's wife, became more influential.
Martial law remained in force until 1981, when Marcos was reelected, amid accusations of electoral fraud. On Aug. 21, 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated at Manila airport, which incited a new, more powerful wave of anti-Marcos dissent. After the Feb., 1986, presidential election, both Marcos and his opponent, Corazon Aquino (the widow of Benigno), declared themselves the winner, and charges of massive fraud and violence were leveled against the Marcos faction. Marcos's domestic and international support eroded, and he fled the country on Feb. 25, 1986, eventually obtaining asylum in the United States.
Aquino's government faced mounting problems, including coup attempts, significant economic difficulties, and pressure to rid the Philippines of the U.S. military presence (the last U.S. bases were evacuated in 1992). In 1990, in response to the demands of the Moros, a partially autonomous Muslim region was created in the far south. In 1992, Aquino declined to run for reelection and was succeeded by her former army chief of staff Fidel Ramos. He immediately launched an economic revitalization plan premised on three policies: government deregulation, increased private investment, and political solutions to the continuing insurgencies within the country. His political program was somethat successful, opening dialogues with the Communist and Muslim guerillas. Although Muslim unrest and violence continued into the 21st cent, the government signed a peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996, which led to an expansion of the autonomous region in 2001.
Several natural disasters, including the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on Luzon and a succession of severe typhoons, slowed the country's economic progress in the 1990s. The Philippines, however, escaped much of the economic turmoil seen in other East Asian nations in 1997 and 1998, in part by following a slower pace of development imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Joseph Marcelo Estrada, a former movie actor, was elected president in 1998, pledging to help the poor and develop the country's agricultural sector. In 1999 he announced plans to amend the constitution in order to remove protectionist provisions and attract more foreign investment.
Late in 2000, Estrada's presidency was buffetted by charges that he accepted millions of dollars in payoffs from illegal gambling operations. Although his support among the poor Filipino majority remained strong, many political, business, and church leaders called for him to resign. In Nov., 2000, Estrada was impeached by the house of representatives on charges of graft, but the senate, controlled by Estrada's allies, provoked a crisis (Jan., 2001) when it rejected examining the president's bank records. As demonstrations against Estrada mounted and members of his cabinet resigned, the supreme court stripped him of the presidency, and Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as Estrada's successor. Estrada was indicted on charges of corruption in April, and his supporters attempted to storm the presidential palace in May. In Sept., 2007, he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment, but Estrada, who had been under house arrest since 2001, was pardoned the following month by President Macapagal-Arroyo.
A second Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), agreed to a cease-fire in June, 2001, but fighting with fundamentalist Islamic guerrillas continued, and there was a MNLF uprising on Jolo in November. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the U.S. government provided (2002) training and assistance to Philippine troops fighting the guerrillas. In 2003 fighting with the MILF again escalated, despite pledges by both sides that they would negotiate and exercise restraint; however, a truce was declared in July. In the same month several hundred soldiers were involved in a mutiny in Manila that the government claimed was part of a coup attempt.
Macapagal-Arroyo was elected president in her own right in May, 2004, but the balloting was marred by violence and irregularities as well as a tedious vote-counting process that was completed six weeks after the election. A series of four devastating storms during November and December killed as many as 1,000 in the country's north and east, particularly on Luzon. In early 2005 heavy fighting broke out on Mindanao between government forces and a splinter group of MILF rebels, and there was also fighting with a MNLF splinter group in Jolo.
In June, 2005, the president was beset by a vote-rigging charge based on a tape of a conversation she had with an election official. She denied the allegation while acknowledging that she had been recorded and apologizing for what she called a lapse in judgment, but the controversy combined with other scandals (including allegations that her husband and other family members had engaged in influence peddling and received bribes) to create a national crisis. Promising government reform, she asked (July) her cabinet to resign, and several cabinet members subsequently called on Macapagal-Arroyo to resign (as did Corazon Aquino). At the same time the supreme court suspended sales tax increases that had been enacted in May as part of a tax reform package designed to reduce the government's debt. In August and September the president survived an opposition move to impeach her when her opponents failed to muster the votes needed to force a trial in the senate.
In Feb., 2006, the government engaged in talks, regarded as a prelude to formal peace negotiations, with the MILF, and dicussions between the two sides continued in subsequent months. Late in the month, President Macapagal-Arroyo declared a weeklong state of emergency when a coup plot against her was discovered. Intended to coincide with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the 1986 demonstrations that brought down Ferdinand Marcos, the coup was said to have involved several army generals and left-wing legislators. The state of emergency was challenged in court and upheld after the fact, but the supreme court declared aspects of the emergency's enforcement unconstitutional.
In October the supreme court declared a move to revise the constitution through a "people's initiative," replacing the presidential system of government with a parliamentary one, unconstitutional, but the government only abandoned its attempt to revise the constitution in December after the Roman Catholic church attacked an attempt by the house of representatives to call a constituent assembly and by the opposition-dominated senate. In 2006 there was fierce fighting on Jolo between government forces and Islamic militants; it continued into 2007, and there were also clashes in Basilan and Mindanao.
In Jan., 2007, a government commission blamed many of the more than 800 deaths of activists during Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency on the military. The president promised action in response to the report, but the chief of the armed forces denounced the report as unfair and strained. Congressional elections in May, 2007, were marred by fraud allegations and by violence during the campaign; the voting left the opposition in control of the senate and Macapagal-Arroyo's allies in control of the house. In November there was a brief occupation of a Manila hotel by soldiers, many of whom had been involved in the 2003 mutiny. In Oct., 2007, the president's husband was implicated in a kickback scandal involving a Chinese company; the investigation continued into 2008, and prompted demonstrations by her opponents and calls for her to resign.
A peace agreement that would have expanded the area of Mindanao that was part of the Muslim autonomous region was reached in principle with the MILF in Nov., 2007. Attempts to finalize the agreement, however, collapsed in July, 2008, when Muslims accused the government of reopening settled issues; the agreement was also challenged in court by Filipinos opposed to it. In August significant fighting broke out between government forces and rebels that the MILF said were renegades; two months later the supreme court declared the agreement unconstitutional. Fighting in the region continued into 2009.
Luzon was battered by several typhoons in Sept.-Oct, 2009; the Manila area and the mountainous north were most severely affected, and more than 900 persons died. In Nov., 2009, the country was stunned by the murder of the wife of an opposition candidate for the governorship of Maguindanao prov. and a convoy of 56 people who joined her as she went to register his candidacy; the governor, Andal Ampatuan, and his son were charged with rebellion and murder respectively in relation to the slaughter and events after it.
See E. H. Blair and J. A. Robertson, ed., The Philippine Islands, 1493-1888 (55 vol., 1903-9; Vol. LIII, Bibliography); L. Morton, The Fall of the Philippines (1953); T. Friend, Between Two Empires: The Ordeal of the Philippines, 1929-1946 (1965); E. G. Maring and J. M. Maring, Historical and Cultural Dictionary of the Philippines (1973); B. D. Romulo, Inside the Palace: The Rise and Fall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (1987); S. Burton, Impossible Dream: The Marcoses, the Aquinos, and the Unfinished Revolution (1988); D. J. Steinberg, The Philippines (1988); D. Wurfel, Filipino Politics (1988); S. Karnow, In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines (1989); B. M. Linn, The U.S. Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 1899-1902 (1989).
The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Republika ng Pilipinas; RP), is an archipelagic country located in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, sharing maritime borders with Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Vietnam. The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country with a population approaching 90 million people. Its national economy is the 46th largest in the world with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$154.073 billion. There are more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. It is a multi-ethnic country. Ecologically, The Philippines is considered to be among 17 of the most megadiverse countries in the world.
Prior to the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan on March 16, 1521, the Philippines was already settled by Austronesian peoples, who traded with other Asian civilizations such as those from China, India, Japan, and the Malay Archipelago. The Philippines became a Spanish colony in the 16th century, and a territory of the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1896, Katipunan led the Philippine Revolution that won independence from Spain. American occupation of the Philippines during the Spanish-American War led to the outbreak of the Philippine-American War. A Commonwealth-style government was established in 1935, which allowed self-governance as well as the first national elections. The country gained its independence from the United States on July 4, 1946 after the Pacific Theatre of the Second World War. Martial law was declared in 1972 by Ferdinand Marcos, which led to the insurgencies of the New People's Army and the Moro National Liberation Front. Ninoy Aquino's assassination would soon inspire his widow, Corazon Aquino, as well as the country's then-spiritual leader Jaime Cardinal Sin to lead the People Power Revolution of 1986, which would bring the country back to democracy. Political upheavals and corruption scandals alternated with the peaceful transition of power during the period that followed the restoration of democracy.
Modern Philippines has many affinities with the Western world, derived mainly from the cultures of Spain, Latin America, and the United States. Catholicism is the country's predominant religion, although pre-Hispanic indigenous religious practices still exist; there are also followers of Islam. Spanish was an official language of the Philippines until 1973. Since then, the two official languages are Filipino and English.
Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia. The Islamization of the Philippines is due to the strength of then-Muslim India. By the 13th century, Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the Manila area by 1565. Muslim converts established Islamic communities and states ruled by rajas or sultans. However, no Islamic state exercised sovereignty over much of the archipelago, and the indigenous maritime and agricultural societies ruled by datus or apos remained autonomous. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, the majority of the estimated 500,000 people in the islands lived in independent settlements called 'barangay' or networks of settlements.
In the service of Spain, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew started their voyage on September 20, 1519. Magellan sighted Samar on March 17, 1521, on the next day, they reached Homonhon. They reached the island of Mazaua on March 28, 1521 where the first mass in the Philippines was celebrated on March 31, 1521. Magellan arrived at Cebu on April 7, 1521, befriending Rajah Humabon and converting his family and 700 other Cebuanos to Christianity. However, Magellan would later be killed in the Battle of Mactan by indigenous warriors led by Lapu-Lapu, a fierce rival of Humabon.
The beginnings of colonization started to take form when Philip II of Spain ordered successive expeditions. Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Spanish settlements in Cebu. In 1571 he established Manila as the capital of the new Spanish colony.
Spanish rule brought political unification to the archipelago of previously independent islands and communities, and introduced elements of western civilization such as the code of law, printing and the Gregorian calendar. The Philippines was ruled as a territory of New Spain from 1565 to 1821, but after Mexican independence it was administered directly from Madrid. During that time numerous towns were founded, infrastructures built, new crops and livestock introduced, and trade flourished. The Manila Galleon which linked Manila to Acapulco once or twice a year beginning in the late 16th century, carried silk, spices, ivory and porcelain to America and silver on the return trip to the Philippines. The Spanish military fought off various indigenous revolts and several external threats, especially from the British, Chinese pirates, Dutch, and Portuguese. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants to Christianity, and founded numerous schools, universities and hospitals. In 1863 a Spanish decree introduced public education, creating free public schooling in Spanish.
The Propaganda Movement, which included Philippine nationalist José Rizal, then a student studying in Spain, soon developed on the Spanish mainland. This was done in order to inform the government of the injustices of the administration in the Philippines as well as the abuses of the friars. In the 1880s and the 1890s, the propagandists clamored for political and social reforms, which included demands for greater representation in Spain. Unable to gain the reforms, Rizal returned to the country, and pushed for the reforms locally. Rizal was subsequently arrested, tried, and executed for treason on December 30, 1896. Earlier that year, the Katipunan, led by Andrés Bonifacio, had already started a revolution, which was eventually continued by Emilio Aguinaldo, who established a revolutionary government, although the Spanish governor general Fernando Primo de Rivera proclaimed the revolution over in May 17, 1897.
|Patriotic Song||Pilipinas Kong Mahal, Bayan Ko|
|Gem||Philippine South Sea Pearl|
|Flower||Arabian Jasmine (Sampaguita)|
|Leaf||Fan palm (Anahaw)|
|House||Nipa hut (Bahay kubo)|
|Costume||Barong Tagalog and Baro't saya|
Since 1946, the newly independent Philippine state has faced political instability. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw economic development that was second in Asia, next to Japan. Ferdinand Marcos was, then, the elected president. Barred from seeking a third term, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, under the guise of increased political instability and resurgent Communist and Muslim insurgencies, and ruled the country by decree.
Upon returning from exile in the United States, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. or "Ninoy", was assassinated on August 21, 1983. In January 1986, Marcos allowed for a snap election, after large protests. The election was believed to be fraudulent, and resulted in a standoff between military mutineers and the military loyalists. Protesters supported the mutineers, and were accompanied by resignations of prominent cabinet officials. Corazon Aquino, the widow of Ninoy, was the recognized winner of the snap election. She took over the government, and called for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution, after the People Power Revolution. Marcos, his family and some of his allies fled to Hawaii.
The return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986 were hampered by massive national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a communist insurgency, and a Muslim separatist movement. The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992. However, the economic improvements were negated at the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997. The 2001 EDSA Revolution led to the downfall of the following president, Joseph Estrada. The current administration of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been hounded by allegations of corruption and election rigging.
The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (116,000 sq mi). It generally lies between 116° 40' and 126° 34' E. longitude, and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude, and borders the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, and the Celebes Sea on the south. The island of Borneo lies a few hundred kilometers southwest and Taiwan directly north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are to the south/southwest, and Palau is to the east beyond the Philippine Sea.
The islands are commonly divided into three island groups: Luzon (Regions I to V, NCR and CAR), Visayas (VI to VIII), and Mindanao (IX to XIII and ARMM). The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the national capital and second largest city after its suburb Quezon City.
The local climate is hot, humid, and tropical. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5 °C (79.7 °F). There are three recognized seasons: Tag-init or Tag-araw (the hot season or summer from March to May), Tag-ulan (the rainy season from June to November), and Taglamig (the cold season from December to February). The southwest monsoon (May-October) is known as the "habagat" and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (November-April) as the "amihan".
Most of the mountainous islands used to be covered in tropical rainforest and are volcanic in origin. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 metres (9,692 ft). There are many active volcanos such as Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The country also lies within the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and approximately 19 typhoons strike per year.
Lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Some 20 earthquakes are registered daily in the Philippines, though most are too weak to be felt. The last great earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.
The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon. Manila Bay is connected to Laguna de Bay by means of the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf and the Moro Gulf are some of the important bays. Transversing the San Juanico Strait is the San Juanico Bridge (considered a point of vital national infrastructure and capacity), that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte.
The Philippines is a newly industrialized country with an economy anchored on agriculture but with substantial contributions from manufacturing, mining, remittances from overseas Filipinos and service industries such as tourism and, increasingly, business process outsourcing. The Philippines is listed in the roster of the "Next Eleven" economies.
Historically, the Philippine economy has largely been anchored on the Manila galleon during the Spanish era, and bilateral trade with the United States during the American era. Pro-Filipino economic policies were first implemented during the tenure of Carlos P. Garcia with the "Filipino First" policy. By the 1960s, the Philippine economy was regarded as the second-largest in Asia, next only to Japan. However, the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos would prove disastrous to the Philippine economy, sliding the country into severe economic recession, only to recover starting in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization and the breaking of Marcos-era monopolies and the system of cronyism under Fidel V. Ramos.
The Asian Financial Crisis affected the Philippine economy to an extent, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the Philippine peso and falls in the stock market, although the extent to which it was affected was not as severe as that of its Asian neighbors. This is largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the Philippine government partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund, in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth. By 2004, the Philippine economy experienced six-percent growth in gross domestic product and 7.3% in 2007, in line with the "7, 8, 9" project of the government to accelerate GDP growth by 2009.
In a bid to further strengthen the Philippine economy, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pledged to make the Philippines a developed country by 2020. As part of this goal, she instituted five economic "super regions" to concentrate on the economic strengths of various regions of the Philippines, as well as the implementation of tax reforms, continued privatization of state assets, and the building-up of infrastructure in various areas of the Philippines.
Despite the growing economy, the Philippines will have to address several chronic problems in the future. Strategies for streamlining the economy include improvements of infrastructure, more efficient tax systems to bolster government revenues, furthering deregulation and privatization of the economy, and increasing trade integration within the region and across the world. The Philippine economy is also heavily reliant on remittances as a source of foreign currency, surpassing even foreign direct investment. China and India have emerged as major economic competitors, siphoning away investors who would otherwise have invested in the Philippines, particularly telecommunications companies. Regional development is also somewhat uneven, with Luzon and Metro Manila in particular gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the Philippines.
The Philippines is a founding member of the Asian Development Bank, playing home to its headquarters. It is also a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Colombo Plan, and the G-77, among others.
The Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification; there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government, and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.
The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house whose members are elected nationally to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives serving as the lower house whose members are elected to a three-year term and are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.
The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.
The Philippines is a founding and active member of the United Nations since its inception on October 24, 1945 and is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Philippines is also a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), an active player in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, and a member of the Group of 24. The country is a major non-NATO ally of the U.S. but also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 81 provinces, 136 cities, 1,494 municipalities and 41,995 barangays. In addition, the Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty over Sabah, North Borneo.
|Ilocos Region||Region I||San Fernando City, La Union|
|Cagayan Valley||Region II||Tuguegarao City, Cagayan|
|Central Luzon||Region III||City of San Fernando, Pampanga|
|CALABARZON¹ ²||Region IV-A||Calamba City, Laguna|
|MIMAROPA¹ ² ³||Region IV-B||Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro|
|Bicol Region||Region V||Naga City, Camarines Sur|
|Western Visayas||Region VI||Iloilo City|
|Central Visayas||Region VII||Cebu City|
|Eastern Visayas||Region VIII||Tacloban City, Leyte|
|Zamboanga Peninsula||Region IX||Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur|
|Northern Mindanao||Region X||Cagayan de Oro City|
|Davao Region||Region XI||Davao City|
|SOCCSKSARGEN¹||Region XII||Koronadal City, South Cotabato|
|Caraga||Region XIII||Butuan City|
|Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao||ARMM||Cotabato City|
|Cordillera Administrative Region||CAR||Baguio City|
|National Capital Region||NCR||Manila|
The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country, with a population of over 90 million as of 2008. As of 2007, 8% of Filipinos are living abroad as migrant laborers. Roughly half of the country's population resides on the island of Luzon. Manila, the capital, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world. The literacy rate was 92.6% in 2003, and about equal for males and females. Life expectancy is 71.23 years, with 73.6 years for females and 69.8 years for males. Population growth rate in 1995-2000 is 3.21% but then dramatically fell to 1.59% for 2005-2010.
Majority of Philippine nationals are descended from the various Austronesian-speaking migrants who arrived in successive waves over a thousand years ago from Taiwan, genetically most closely related to the Ami tribe. The Malayo-Polynesian-speaking peoples, a branch of Austronesian, migrated to the Philippines and brought their knowledge of rice agriculture and ocean-sailing technology. Filipinos to this day are composed of various Malayo-Polynesian-speaking ethnic groups, including but not limited to the Visayans, the Tagalog, the Ilocano, the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Bicolano, the Pangasinense, the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Ibanag, the Badjao, the Ivatan, and the Palawan tribes. The Negritos, including the Aetas and the Ati, are considered as the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines though they are estimated to be fewer than 30,000 people (0.03%).
Filipinos of Chinese descent currently form the largest non-Austronesian ethnic group, claiming about 1.5% of the population followed by Filipinos of Spanish descent. Other significant minorities include British Filipinos, Americans, Japanese, Asian Indians, Koreans, Arabs and Indonesians. Chinese mestizos are those in the Philippines of mixed Chinese and either indigenous Filipino or Spanish (or both) ancestry. They make up between 10-20% of the country's total population.
Throughout the country's history, various ethnic groups as well as immigrants and colonizers have intermarried, producing Filipino mestizos. These mestizos, apart from being of mixed indigenous Austronesian and European ancestry, can be descended from any ethnic foreign forebears. The percentage of Filipinos with foreign ancestry is unknown since there are no credible sources for the percentage of Philippine mestizos residing in the Philippines. The number of Filipino mestizos that reside outside the Philippines is also unknown. However, due to major historical factors, such as the Spanish colonization, the American occupation, and Chinese immigration after World War II; many Filipino mestizos that reside in the Philippines are now of Spanish, American and Chinese descent.
Tagalog and English are the official languages of the Philippines, but more than 180 languages and dialects are spoken in the archipelago, almost all of them belonging to the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian language branch of the Austronesian language family.
Tagalog is the de facto standardized version of Tagalog spoken in Metro Manila and urban centers and one of the official languages in the country. English, the other official language, is widely used as a lingua franca throughout the country.
Twelve major regional languages are the auxiliary official languages of their respective regions, each with over one million speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Bikol, Pangasinan. Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug.
English was imposed by Americans during the U.S. intervention and colonization of the archipelago. English is used in education, churches, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business, though the number of people who use it as a second language far outnumber those who speak it as a first language. Still, English is the preferred medium for textbooks and instruction for secondary and tertiary levels. Movies and TV programs in English are not subtitled but many films and TV programs are produced in Filipino. English is the sole language of the law courts.
Spanish was the first official language of the country for more than three centuries, and became the lingua franca of the Philippines in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Spanish was the language of the Philippine Revolution, and the 1899 Malolos Constitution proclaimed it as the official language. However, Spanish was spoken by a total of 60% of the population in the early 1900s as a first, second or third language. Following the American occupation of the Philippines, its use declined after 1940. Currently, only a few Mestizos of Spanish or Hispanic origin speak it as their first language, although more use it together with Filipino and English.
Both Spanish and Arabic are recognized as auxiliary languages in the Filipino Constitution, to be "promoted on a voluntary and optional basis". The use of Arabic is prevalent among Filipino Muslims and taught in madrasah (Muslim) schools.
The Philippines is one of two countries in Asia with Roman Catholic majorities; the other being East Timor. The Philippines is separated into dioceses of which the Archdiocese of Manila enjoys primacy. About 90% of Filipinos identify themselves as Christians, with 81% belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. 2% are composed of Protestant denominations and 11% either to the Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan), Iglesia ni Cristo and others. While Christianity is a major force in the culture of the Filipinos, indigenous traditions and rituals still influence religious practice.
The Philippines is also well-known for its Baroque-style churches. They are a part of the long list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These churches are: San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila; Paoay Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte; Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion (Santa Maria) Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur; and the Santo Tomas de Villanueva (Miag-ao) Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo.
Approximately 5% of Filipinos are Muslims, and are locally known as "Moros", having been dubbed this by the Spanish due to their sharing Islam with the Moors of North Africa. They primarily settle in parts of Mindanao, Palawan and the Sulu archipelago, but are now found in most urban areas of the country. Most lowland Muslim Filipinos practice normative Islam, although the practices of some Mindanao's hill tribe Muslims reflect a fusion with animism. There are also small populations of Buddhists, Baha'i, Hindus, Sikhs, and animists, which, along with other non-Christians, non-Muslims and those with no religion, collectively comprise 2.5% of the population.
Filipino culture is a fusion of pre-Hispanic indigenous Austronesian civilizations of the Philippines mixed with Hispanic and American. It has also been influenced by Chinese, Arab, and Indianized cultures.
The Hispanic influences in Filipino culture are largely derived from the culture of Spain as a result of over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. These Hispanic influences are most evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art and religion, such as Roman Catholic Church religious festivals. Interestingly, there was relatively little Mexican influence in the Philippines, despite the ties to a Mexican-based administration and the galleon trade. Noticeably, the Spanish colonialists preferred Iberian dishes, such as arroz valenciana, to those of the Mexican Indians (adobo preparation is the only exception as the tomato, corn, avocado, and potato in adobo were all introduced from Mexico).
Filipinos hold major festivities known as barrio fiestas to commemorate their patron saints. One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish surnames among Filipinos. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the inhabitants of the Philippines. A Spanish name and surname among the majority of Filipinos does not always denote Spanish ancestry.
Names of countless streets, towns and provinces are in Spanish. Spanish architecture also made a major imprint in the Philippines. This can be seen especially in the country's churches, government buildings and universities. Many Hispanic style houses and buildings are being preserved, like the Spanish colonial town in Vigan City, for protection and conservation. The kalesa is a horse-driven carriage introduced by the Spaniards and was a major mode of transportation during the colonial times. It is still being used today. Filipino cuisine is also heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine.
The use of English language in the Philippines is contemporaneous and is America's visible legacy. The most commonly played sports in the Philippines are basketball and billiards. There is also a wide influence of American Pop cultural trends, such as the love of fast-food and movies; many street corners boast fast-food outlets. Aside from the American commercial giants such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC, and Shakey's Pizza, local fast-food chains have also sprung up, including Goldilocks, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza (acquired by Jollibee in 1994), and Chowking (acquired by Jollibee in 2000). Modern day Filipinos also listen to contemporary American music and watch American movies. However, Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and Philippine movies are also widely appreciated.
Filipinos honor national heroes whose works and deeds contributed to the shaping of the Filipino nation. José Rizal is the most celebrated ilustrado, a Spanish-speaking reformist visionary whose writings contributed greatly in nurturing a sense of national identity and awareness. His novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo originally written in Spanish, are required readings for Filipino students, and provide vignettes of colonial life during the period of Spanish rule.
As with many cultures, music (which includes traditional music) and leisure activities are an important aspect of the Filipino society. Various sports are also enjoyed, including boxing, basketball, badminton, billiards, football (soccer) and ten-pin bowling being popular games in the country.