Spanish-American War

The year 1896 marked the beginning of the second cycle of resistance and assimilation and the end of Spanish rule over the Philippines. The United States aided the Filipinos in the Spanish-American War, resulting in the end of Spanish occupation and control of the islands. However, instead of leaving the Philippines in the control of the Filipinos as per the initial agreement, the United States decided to take control of the islands. They wanted to assimilate the “little brown brother” to the American way of thinking and impress upon the Filipinos the American culture.  The signing of the Treaty of Paris officially provided the United States with the legal grounds for control of the Philippine islands.

Spanish Colonialism

The Philippines have undergone two significant cycles of resistance and assimilation. The first such cycle occurred during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the year 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain. The islands were originally named the Archipelago of San Lazarus but were later renamed the Philippines after King Philip II. This began the Spanish occupation of the Philippines which lasted 378 years until the Spanish-American War of 1896. Christianity, primarily Roman Catholicism, was adopted as a result of Magellan’s colonization of the islands. King Rajah Humabon of Cebu had accepted Catholicism and imparted the religion onto his subjects. To this day, Catholicism still has a strong presence in the islands.


The Philippines / Pilipinas

A History of Resistance and Assimilation

A beach at Samboan in the Philippines.  (Obtained with rights from Creative Commons ©)

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“If by rebellion you need to hope and desire, to labor and struggle by every peaceful means for the liberties of my country, and if for that you demand the penalty of death, then gladly, willingly shall I die.”

-José Rizal (1896)-

EDSA Revolution 

The most significant consequence of U.S. occupation is the establishment of democracy in the islands. Without the introduction of democracy, the famous EDSA revolution of 1983-1986, also commonly referred to as the People’s Power, would not have come into fruition. In 1965, National party candidate Ferdinand Marcos was elected President. Despite the fact that Marcos initially had good intentions in the Philippines and sought to expel Communists and Moro rebels, he eventually became entangled in corruptive activities and established himself as a dictator. Unsatisfied with this course of events, the Filipino people rallied around Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in the 1973 presidential election. He was the leading contender in the electoral race

to oust Marcos, who had already served his maximum of two terms in office. However, Marcos established martial law, declaring himself as President and exiling Aquino from the Philippines. When Aquino returned

to once again rally the Philippine people in August of 1983, he was assassinated at the Manila International Airport by an unknown assailant.


Corazon Aquino, Benigno’s widow, took up her husband’s cause immediately after his death and the people rallied around her willingly. She began campaigning for the 1986 presidential election against Marcos. In early 1986, Marcos was declared the winner of the presidential race, but controversy swarmed over the election with several rumors surfacing about vote-buying and tampering on Marcos behalf. On February 26, 1986, the Philippine people protested Marcos’ reelection. Marcos attempted to order the militia to fire into the crowd, but the people continued to peacefully protest and the militia refused to fire. After rioting continued and amidst the charges against Marcos for vote tampering, he and his wife, Imelda Marcos, fled into exile in Hawaii. Corazon Aquino then became the first woman president of the Philippines.


Upon her induction, Aquino reestablished a democratic constitution which included the basic rights of free speech, assembly, and press. In order to prevent future dictatorships, Aquino also established a limit to the presidency that allowed presidents to serve only one six-year term in office. After Aquino’s former Secretary of Defense Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992, the United States turned the Philippine Subic Bay over to the Philippine government. This marked the end of foreign presence, though perhaps not foreign influence, in the archipelago and the beginning of economic stability.

The Philippine-American War

The Filipinos, with Emilio Aguinaldo leading the charge, resisted the U.S. military presence in the archipelago.  For three years, the Philippine-American War, although more commonly referred to as the Philippine Insurrection by the United States, was furiously fought.  However, after Aguinaldo was captured by U.S. forces in 1901, foreign rule was once again instated over the Philippines. American culture became the dominant force in islands, leading to the emergence of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola and the implementation of the American education system. As an indirect result of introducing English to the islands, a new language called Taglish (a mixture of Tagalog and English) was developed. Taglish continues to be used by today’s media and in everyday conversation.

“The sleep had lasted for centuries, but one day the thunderbolt struck, and in striking, infused life …”

- José Rizal -

Creators: Jeannine Aquino & Taylor Gould                                                                     Selected Bibliography

University of Minnesota 2005