The Philippine Fight For Independence

Published by

The Filipino-Canadian Writers and Journalists Network

Click on the interactive timeline below to learn about the Philippine fight for independence.

Spanish colonialism - 1521-1898

Spain rules the Philippines for (over three centuries) 333 years. Through the sword and cross, Spanish invaders ensure that Filipinos would be submissive, even as friar abuses enrage the peasant masses and drive them to over 200 revolts.

Recommended reading:

"The Philippines: A Past Revisited" by Renato Constantino [Download PDF]

On Philippine history from the Spanish Colonization to the Second World War

Propaganda Movement - 1889 February

Filipino exiles launch the Propaganda Movement’s La Solidaridad, a newspaper espousing liberal reforms, seeking the assimilation of the Philippines as a province of Spain and representation in the Spanish legislature (the Cortes).

Recommended reading:

"Revolt of the Masses" by Teodoro Agoncillo [Download PDF]

On the story of Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan

La Liga Filipina - 1892 July 2

Jose Rizal organizes La Liga Filipina, which seeks to involve the broader mass of the population in the reform movement.

Recommended film:

José Rizal (1998, GMA Films)

Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya

On Rizal’s role and the impact of his writings on the revolution against Spain

Katipunan - 1892 July 7

Andres Bonifacio organizes the Katipunan to wage armed struggle agains the Spanish colonialists with a clearly separatist goal.

Recommended film:

Supremo (2012, Alternative Vision Cinema)

Directed by Richard Somes

On Andres Bonifacio’s heroic role as the leader of the Katipunan in the struggle against Spanish colonialism

Cry of Pugadlawin - 1896 August 23

At Pugadlawin, Bonifacio and Katipuneros shout "Long live the Philippines" as they tear their cedulas (residence/tax certificates) — a symbol of breaking all ties with Spain and fighting to end its colonial domination.

Recommended film:

Heneral Luna (2015, Artikulo Uno Productions)

Directed by Jerrold Tarog

On the role of Juan Luna in the Philippine revolution

Betrayal of the Revolution - 1897 November 1

Emilio Aguinaldo and the Cavitenos (Magdalo faction) establish a revolutionary government (Biak na Bato Republic), discarding the Katipunan and replacing the original leadership under Bonifacio.

Aguinaldo then concludes an agreement with the Spanish colonizers (Pact of Biak na Bato), declaring his "sincere desire to aid the Spanish government in the pacification of the Philippine Islands" and branding as tulisanes or bandits those who disobey his order to disarm.

Recommended reading:

"Dissent and Counterconsciousness" by Renato Constantino [Download PDF]

On 'veneration without understanding' or worshipping heroes without critically understanding their roles in history

Aguinaldo allies with U.S. against Spain - 1898 May 1

The United States defeats the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay. Aguinaldo returns to the Philippines with U.S. support to resume war against Spain and recognize his revolutionary government.

Independence declared, U.S. military presence - 1898 June 12

Aguinaldo proclaims the independence of the Philippines, even as the country is declared a U.S. protectorate. Around this time, Filipino revolutionaries substantially win their war of liberation against Spanish rule, gaining actual control of the entire archipelago, except Manila.

The U.S. and Spanish forces then staged a mock battle for Manila that ended August 13, 1898 with the surrender of Manila to U.S. troops, provided that no Filipino troops would enter the surrendered city.

Recommended reading:

"History of the Filipino People" by Teodoro Agoncillo [Learn more]

The first book on the history of the Filipino people that was written with a nationalist point of view

Spain cedes Philippine to U.S. for $20 million - 1898 December 10

Treaty of Paris ends Spanish empire and marks the rise of U.S. imperial rule in the Philippines. Spain cedes the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million.

Philippine-American War - 1899 February 4

Filipino-American War erupts. Filipino revolutionaries wage guerilla warfare and are branded as thieves and bandits. Filipino Muslims in the South wage their own armed resistance.

Pacification, Filipino casualties - 1899-1903/1904

U.S. pacification and counter-insurgency campaign begins. Estimates on the number of Filipinos killed range from 200,000 to 1.4 million.

Americanized education, history, self-government - 1900s to 1935

U.S. public educational system is introduced using English as medium of instruction and promoting the U.S. version of Philippine history. Filipinization of the government bureaucracy was presented as a policy to pursue the "Americans' desire to train Filipinos in the art of self-government".

Recommended reading:

"The Miseducation of the Filipino" by Renato Constantino [Download PDF]

On the need for a nationalist education to replace the colonial education instituted by the American educational system in the Philippines

Commonwealth government - 1935-1941

U.S. establishes Commonwealth government under Manuel L. Quezon, not out of any American sense of altruism but more so to mollify critics in the anti-imperialist movement in the U.S.

Anti-Japanese resistance - 1941-1945

Japanese forces occupy the Philippines and U.S forces surrender; Japan establishes puppet government headed by Jose P. Laurel. People's resistance is led by the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (HUKBALAHAP).

U.S.-granted Independence, unequal treaties - 1946 July 4

Philippine independence from the U.S. is proclaimed, but includes promulgation of subsequent unequal treaties and economic arrangements, among them the Military Bases Agreement (1947), Parity Rights (1947) which allowed American citizens to exploit the country's natural resources, and Laurel-Langley Agreement (1955) which allowed Americans to engage in any business in the Philippines. Throughout the decades, these were later replaced by agreements and arrangements that similarly undermine Philippine independence and sovereignty.

The struggle continues...