"It is evident that the Philippine Republic differs from its Asian neighbors in that it belongs not only to Asia but also to the West.  The Filipino is both Oriental and Occidental, and in this dual citizenship lie both his destiny and his conflict. To be confronted with both worlds is his peculiar burden. His greatest danger is that he might eventually belong to neither.  The Filipino may become an effective bridge between East and West, or he may become an outcast of both East and West. And since literature is the product of a culture and the expression of a cast of mind, it is by coming to terms with both horns of the dilemma that Philippine literature will become great, in what ever language it may be written." Miguel A. Bernad, S.J.


"Like Philippine culture, Philippine literature is of a heterogeneous nature. Neither can we say that it is oriental or Malayan, for it has the distinct qualities of the occidental. In fact, like our own people, Philippine literature is not easy to categorize. Whether it is in the English language, in Spanish, or in the vernaculars, it remains a conglomerate product of many centuries of varied influences of varying intensity and impact.  It is, one may say, a distillate of numerous foreign elements which our people have assimilated, and continue to assimilate, through the ages.  This very intricacy, its very indefinable nature, makes Philippine literature unique."  Alejandro R. Roces




1498 Pope "apportions" Africa to Portugal and America to Spain to promote peaceful colonization by the superpowers.

1521 Magellan "discovers" the Philippines; is killed by Lapu-Lapu on Mactan island, near Cebu.


1564 Legaspi lands with 400 men in Cebu from New Spain (Mexico)


1571 Spanish capital at Manila founded as "extension of Spanish America". (It were as if the Philippines were nearer to California than Asia—remember papal decree of 1498!)


1588 Spanish Armada defeated in English Channel; begins decline of Spain as world power.


1611 University of Santo Tomas founded in Manila.


1586 Manila Galleon trade (Manila-Acapulco) administered by the Viceroy of Mexico.


1762 British occupy Manila. The city is totally sacked of all treasures.

1770 Near loss of the Philippines to the British triggers reforms by the Spanish Crown, beginning with attack on the Friars.  Church/State separation issue hotly debated in Europe (this is Age of Enlightenment).  Spanish begins to be taught to the Filipino natives.


1776     U.S. declares its independence from Britain in a document claiming that all men are created equal.  (But do "white" people really believe it?)


1806     Napoleon occupies Spain.


1815    Mexico gains independence from Spain; end of Manila Galleon.


1835    Suppression of monasteries in Spain influences additional regular clergy to transfer to the Philippines.  Tensions arise between

Spanish and native clergy.


1843     Filipino native clergy rebel over discriminatory treatment; Spanish clergy own large estates, act like lords over both sacred and secular domains.


1860     American civil war.


1869     Spanish revolution liberalizes Spain; Suez Canal opens; reforms in Spain and the Philippines permit Filipinos to visit Spain "in great numbers", including Rizal, Juan Luna, and many ilustrados of the coming Philippine Revolution.


1872     Three native priests shot as rebels for (it is said) inciting an army mutiny; all are gifted scholars who left behind manuscripts.


1887 Jose Rizal publishes Noli Me Tangere in Berlin attacking the Spanish clergy and agitating for reform.


1890 El Filibusterismo, sequel to the Noli, published in Ghent.


1896 Serious rebellion breaks out; Rizal executed December 30.  Emilio Aguinaldo captured and exiled to Singapore, but not before the Filipinos had declared Independence in the Malolos Constitution, declaring Aguinaldo the first President of the newborn Republic.  (Read about Andres Bonifacio.)


1898 Admiral Dewey arrives from Hong Kong as action of Spanish-American war over Cuba.  He summons Aguinaldo from Singapore to organize native resistance against Spanish, assisting 8,000 American troops.  Manila falls in one month.


1898-     After victory over Spanish, Americans turn on Filipinos; many are captured and many are killed.


1900 McKinley vs. Wm. Jennings Bryant in the U.S. elections - Democrats oppose colonization of the Philippines, but McKinley wins, leading to further military action.  Doctrine of Manifest Destiny implies that the American "West" should be expanded to include Hawaii and the Philippine Islands.  (Sounds like a remake of the 1498 "apportionment" !)


1901 Aguinaldo surrenders and gives oath of allegiance to U.S.  Filipinas reduced to "Philippines Islands, US colony".  Intellectual hero, Apolinario Mabini, subject of F. Sionil Jose's novel Dusk, is sent into exile for failure to submit to the Americans.


1902 Organic Act - Filipino suffrage limited to 4% of population.

1912 Woodrow Wilson elected (Democrat). F.B. Harrison becomes liberal Governor-General of the Philippine Islands.


1916 Jones Act espouses a liberal preamble (favoring eventual self-government) but conservative text (stressing that Filipinos are not yet ready for independence). Harrison follows the preamble, offering hope to Filipinos if they will support US policy.


1920 Harding elected U.S. President (Republican); conservative Gen. Wood becomes Governor-General.  He follows the text (not the preamble) of the Jones Act, dashing hopes for self-rule anytime soon.


1929 Stock Market crashes on Wall Street - World Depression follows in train.


1934  In depths of the world depression, Tydings-McDuffie Act establishes Philippine Commonwealth, promising eventual independence.


1941 Japanese invade Lingayan Gulf, Luzon, Philippines on Dec. 8, the day after Pearl Harbor, and press south toward Bataan, Corrigedor, and Manila.  The country falls in three months. MacArthur escapes to Australia vowing "I shall return".


1944-45  Allied forces return.  Manila liberated after being totally destroyed by bombs.


1946 Philippine Independence declared on July 4th; Manuel Roxas elected first President despite his "collaboration" with the Japanese; Laurel-Langley Agreement signed, to run until 1972, guaranteeing "special privileges" to U.S. business and especially military bases (Clark Air Field and Subic Naval Base)


1954 Serious communist rebellion, led by the People's Army Against the Japanese (which had fought alongside American forces in WWII), defeated by President Ramon Magsaysay.


1965 Ferdinand Marcos defeats Dioscoro Macapagal for the Presidency.  Many predict (correctly, as it turned out) that Marcos would never give up power once he had it.


1964-1974.  U.S. fights fierce air war in Vietnam and Cambodia with planes launched from Clark Air Base.  Marcos maintains U.S. support as he plunders the wealth of the Philippines and destroys its democracy.


1971 Martial Law imposed "to stop the communists" just before  Constitutional Convention convened.  New constitution crafted to give Marcos the right to run for a third term (and a fourth, and on and on).  Marcos' enemies, including many students, arrested as "communist agitators".  Thousands are never seen again.  Opposition leaders Benigno Aquino and Raul Manglapus flee to the United States.


1972 End of Laurel-Langley Agreement; End of Bell Trade Act which had granted Americans business parity with Filipinos.


1980 Martial Law lifted.


1981  Marcos responds to US pressure for increased democracy by calling for elections to be held in three months,  This gives opposition no time to mount an effective campaign.  Opposing parties boycott election; Marcos wins nearly 100% of the votes cast.


1983 Opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. assassinated in Manila airport on August 21; street demonstrations against Marcos government seek to topple the 20-year regime


1986 "People's Revolution" (People Power) overthrows 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.  Widow of assassinated opposition leader, Corey Aquino, elected President.


1987  Cabinet minister Jaime Ferrer assassinated in his passing car by heavily armed gunmen, August 3.  August 28, army coup against Cory Aquino fails after tense several days of fighting which caused deaths of  many innocent bystanders and destruction of many army facilities at Fort Aguinaldo.


1992 After Mount Pinatubo erupts in 1991 blanketing Clark Field with volcanic ash, U.S. finally decides it is time to move the military bases out of the Philippines.


1992 Corey Aquino steps down after one six-year term, as promised. Gen. Fidel Ramos elected President.  The country remains an economic "basket case" with the lowest average per capita income ($250) in SEA.(The next lowest is Indonesia @ $500.)  In the meantime ... Criminals and vigilantes seem to be everywhere.  (In case you believe democracy was fully restored under post-Marcos presidents Aquino and Ramos, the liberal press reported over 12,000 political arrests between 1986 and 1998.  The concept of `low intensity conflict' (inspired by American military leader Gen. John Singlaub and taught to the Filipino military) implies that anybody who speaks against the government or has an abortion can be labeled a communist and murdered.  This was reported in a 1990 speech at Ohio University by former US Secretary of State Ramsey Clark, who served under the Johnson and Carter administrations.


1997 Second "People's Revolution" foils the ambitions of President Ramos, who apparently wanted to become President for Life.  He proposed a constitutional amendment allowing him to serve a second six-year term, but the effort is foiled by mass protests organized by former President Corey Aquino and Cardinal Sin.


1998    Joseph Estrada, a famous movie actor, is elected President by popular vote of the people. By this act, Filipinos prove that they are truly a free country.  (Just as in America, anybody can become President.)

1999    The Philippines joins other ASEAN nations in sending troops to East Timor to stop the atrocities perpetrated by the Indonesian military.


2001    Joseph Estrada impeached and found guilty of corruption charges; he is replaced by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, daughter of former President Dioscoro Macapagal (1961-1965) who was defeated by Marcos in 1965.


2004   President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wins the election amidst widespread reports of voter fraud.


2006.  Professor Benjamin Muego of Bolling Green University predicted, in a January 19 lecutre at Ohio University, that President Macapagal-Arroyo would be removed by a military coup before the end of the month.  The Philippine Inquirer, in a story titled 'Filipinos more worried about boxing match than coup', worried that such an event might spoil the championship fight between Filipino Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Erik Morales, scheduled for Sunday, January 22, in Manila.  (Fortunately for sports fans, the coup never materilaized.)



Language Statistics Before Martial Law and Marcos Era (fr. Leonard Casper, 1964)

1.  Circulation of English language newspapers outnumbered by 6 to 1 the combined total of Tagalog, Chinese and Spanish sales.

2.  Circulation of weeklies in which fiction appears showed Tagalog dominant over English by 4 to 1.  3,300,000 Tagalog comic books were published every two weeks in Manila.


4.  Both Tagalog and English movies were popular (English = Hollywood, etc.)

5.  Literacy figures.  1900 = 20%; 1920 = 40%; 1960 = 60%. This was high for the Orient at the time.


6.  Chinese make up 2% of the population, but control 75% of the retail trade

    Other 1960 Statistics


1.  40% of GNP was agricultural

2.  80% of the population lived on farms or in fishing villages

3.  Pampanga was 70% tenant-tilled, being owned by absentee landlords.  This is "Huklandia"--the area from which heaviest communist (Hukbalahuk) activity was launched.