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Critical Issues in Philippine Relations Essay

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Updated: Dec 4th, 2019


Negretos, Filipinos, who settled in Philippines approximately thirty thousand years ago, are the contemporary inhabitants of the land. Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, led the first Europeans who were in Spanish expedition to visit the Philippines in 1951(Bellwood 91).

Their visit to the Philippines opened the door for more Europeans, mainly Spanish, to go to there. The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle in the Philippines. However, the colonization of the Filipinos by the Spanish did not start until1564 when an expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived at the Philippines.

It was the settlement and colonization of the Spanish in the land of the Filipinos that led them to interact with other nations on different basis until the Filipinos attained their independence on 5 July 1945.

While awaiting trial for treason, Jose P. Laurel said, “All of us were collaborationists, none of us were traitors” (Ileto & Reynaldo 208). This statement signified the unity of the Filipinos in their fight for freedom from the Spanish, Americans, and the Japanese. This paper majors on the various occasions where the Filipinos, in unity, fought with other nations that had taken them into captivity leading to strained relationships; nevertheless, the Filipinos attained freedom courtesy of the fights.

The 1896 to 1898 revolutions in the Philippines

The Spanish established a form of centralized government in the Philippines, which was against the will of the Filipinos. According to Malcolm and Pawley, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi led the Spanish to establish Manila city that was under absolute control of the Spanish (430).

According to Joaquin, the principal cause of the revolution was the economical oppression of the Philippines’ economy by the Spanish (“The Aquinos Stark” 26). Jose Rizal established a movement to fight against the Spanish oppression of the Filipinos but it was not until the execution of Rizal in 1896 that the revolution began.

The movement that Rizal established, under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo, grew stronger making the revolution to spread throughout the major islands of the Philippines (Laubach 63). Emilio achieved considerable success leading to the establishment of a peace accord with Spain.

However, both sides did not honor the agreement in the peace accord (Worcester 42), which led to a new revolution involving the Americans in 1898 when the Spanish-American war started. The Americans fought against the Spanish at the Manila bay, which they used as the route to supply the Filipinos leader with firearms. They also urged Aguinaldo to rally the Filipinos against the Spanish leadership (Hamilton 58).

The fight of the Filipinos against the Spanish was quite successful because they were able to take the entire island of Luzon and besiege the walled city of Manilla, which was the control center of the Spanish. The Filipinos also established the first Republic of the Philippines under the first constitution in the history of Asia. However, their newly established Republic of the Philippines did not last long following the Filipinos to the United States from Spain. This transfer was according to the1898 Treaty of Paris that marked the end of the Spanish-American war.

Filipinos’ fight for independence

The Filipinos did not give up in fighting for their freedom even after the Paris Treaty transferred them to their allies, the United States, who helped them to drive Spanish rule from their land. According to the Hispanic Filipino Association of Madrid, in 1899, Emilio led the Filipinos in another revolution against the Americans (41).

According to Joaquin, given the inferiority of the Filipino’s weapons against the Americans’, the Filipinos turned to guerilla warfare (“Culture and History” 67). This war had more destructive impact than the Spanish-American war since it lead to the murder of more people and cost the parties more money.

The Filipino-American war ended in 1901 after General Federick of the US captured the Filipinos leader. Following the end of the war, the two nations established some economic ties (Sanciano 89). However, the Philippines soon depended on the Americans in every aspect of their economy and this shuttered the Filipinos dream for their independence.

The colonization of the Philippines by the Americans drew worldwide attention. Consequently, Japan and Asia came in and pressured the Americans to grant the Philippines independence (Solheim 102). Consequently, the Americans formulated two acts; one, the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act gave which provision for complete independence of the Philippines in 1945 after a decade of self-governance under the Americans supervision (Jacinto 124).

Manuel Quezon who led the dominant nationalist Party in the Philippines did not agree with the act. The main reason for his disagreement was that the bill provided that the Americans would control the naval bases in the Philippines. In the act, the Americans threatened to impose tariffs against Philippine products. Quezon’s disagreement on the act led to rejection of the bill. In 1934, the British Legislative formally confirmed the second act, the Tydings McDuffie Independence Act, which corrected the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act.

The Filipinos accepted the second bill and established the Republic of Philippines. Quezon became the first president of the Philippines in November 1935. To develop and establish strong defensive forces, the Filipinos brought McArthur into the islands in the same year and became the field marshal of the commonwealth army in the following year. It did not take a long time before the Second World War began.

In 1941, Japanese troops invaded the Philippines islands add in defense, McArthur scattered 80,000 troops in the Philippines to fight against the Japanese and prevent their entrance into the islands (Ganzon 96). Due to lack of reinforcement of the troops, the Japanese captured the islands and drove McArthur out of the Philippines.

The Japanese demanded that the Filipinos should surrender. However, several soldiers and the guerilla resistance movement declined. The Japanese sent President Quezon to exile. While in exile, Quezon set up a government and after his death in 1944, his vice-president, Sergio Osmena, succeeded him. Nevertheless, on his return to the Philippines, Quezon led the first liberation forces to fight against the Japanese.

He led in the formation of the Philippine government. Later on, the Philippine began the battle of the Leyte Gulf, which is the greatest naval engagement in History. This battle caused the destruction of the Japanese troops leaving 425,000 Japanese dead. It led to the freedom of all the Philippine islands (Legarda 92). In 1945, McArthur declared the freedom of all the Philippines. The newly formed government embarked on reviving the nation’s economy.


The Filipinos faced a lengthy period of captivity in the hands of other nations but they eventually got their freedom. Some of their allies turned out to be their enemies; for instance, the Americans helped them to fight against the Spanish and eventually colonized them.

On the other hand, the Japanese pushed the Americans to free the Filipinos; but ironically, the Japanese were the first ones to attack Philippines during the Second World War. The Americans put restrictions to the trade with the Filipinos as recorded in the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act. The engagement in fighting for their freedom strained their relationship, which affected their economic growth. These incidences outlined in this paper underscore the critical issues in Philippines relationships.

Works Cited

Bellwood, Peter. “The Austronasian Dispersal and the Origin of Languages.” Scientific American 265.1(1991): 90-99.

Hamilton, James. America’s Boy. Manila: Macmillan Press, 1998.

Hispanic Filipino Association of Madrid. “The Aspirations of the Filipinos.” La Solidaridad 1.22 (1889): 18-25.

Ileto, Payson, and Reynaldo, Clemera. “The Revolution.” Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910 23.23 (1982): 206-211.

Jacinto, Emilio. “Fear History for it Respects no Secrets.” The Roots of the Filipino Nation 11.1 (1989): 119-125.

Joaquin, Nick. The Acquinos of Tarks-1917. Philippines, Manila: Cacho Hermanos, 1983.

Joaquin, Nick. Culture and History: Occasional Notes of the Process of Philippine Becoming. Manila: Solar Publishing, 1988.

Laubach, Frank. Rizal: Man and Martyr. Manila: Community Publishers, 1936.

Legarda, Benita. “Cultural Landmarks and their Interactions with Economic Factors in The Second Millennium in the Philippines.” A journal of the Southern Philippines 23.40 (2001): 89-96.

Malcolm, Ross, and Pawley, Andrew. “Austronesian Historical Linguistics and Culture History.” Annual Review of Anthropology 22.6 (1993): 429-431.

Sanciano, Gregorio. El Progresso de Philippines: Estudios economicos, administrativosy Politicos. Michigan: Impr-de la Viuda de J.M Perez, 1981.

Solheim, Wilhem. Archeology and Culture in the South East Asia: Unraveling the Nusantao. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press, 2006.

Worcester, Dean. Slavery and Peonage in the Philippines Islands. Philippines: Manila Bureau of Printing, 1913.

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