Happy Birthday to the Philippines!

Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. *Photo from Wikipedia

June 12 is Independence Day, celebrates the independence of the Philippines from Spain in 1898.

The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in Homonhon Island in 1521 marked the beginning of Hispanic colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain. With the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City, in 1565, the first Hispanic settlement in the archipelago was established. The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years. This resulted in Roman Catholicism becoming the dominant religion. During this time, Manila became the western hub of the trans-Pacific trade connecting Asia with Acapulco in the Americas using Manila galleons.
As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the Philippine Revolution, which spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic, followed by the bloody Philippine-American War of conquest by US military force.

Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until after World War II, when the Philippines was recognized as an independent nation. Since then, the Philippines has often had a tumultuous experience with democracy, which included the overthrow of a dictatorship by a non-violent revolution.

The majority of the people in the Philippines are of Austronesian descent. Being at the crossroads of the West and East, the Philippines is also home to migrants from places as diverse as China, Spain, Mexico, United States, India, South Korea, and Japan. Two important non-indigenous minorities are the Chinese and the Spaniards.

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