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Situated on the crossroads of Asia, on the eastern rim of the China Sea, the Philippines has hosted voyagers, migrants and traders since the dawn of history. That it was the center of Iively Asian trade route that stretched all the way to China and Japan can be seen from the relics these early visitors left behind. Among our archaeological treasures is a Neolithic spirit boat typical of early Southeast Asian culture.

The West discovered the Philippines when Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who sailed for Spain, Ianded in Cebu in 1521. However, colonization didn't actually begin until 1565, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established a Spanish base in the town of Manila.

Because Philippine society was loosely organized, without a central government, the Spanish conquest was rapid and total. Only the Muslims in the south and some inaccessible hill tribes were able to resist Spanish influence. Along with the Spanish conquerors came a new religion, Christianity, a new language, new laws and the galleon trade.

Despite several uprisings against Spain, including the Katipunan, a revolutionary movement inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal and led by Andres Bonifacio, it was America that broke the Spaniard's grip on the Philippines. Unfortunately, that began the nation's second period of colonization. Once again there was resistance, this time led by Emilio Aguinaldo, but his rag-tag army was no match for Admiral Dewey's forces. In 1901, with Aguinaldo's capture, the Americans were entrenched.

The Americans brought over their educational system, their legal system and planted the seeds of their own style of government. In 1935, the Philippines became an American commonwealth country with Manuel Luis Quezon as president. The status quo ended with the Japanese Occupation and it wasn't until 1946, after the end of the Pacific war, that the Philippines finally regained true independence as the Republic of the Philippines under the presidency of Manuel Roxas. Still one of the strongest democracies in Asia, the current president is Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Source of Information: Department of Tourism, Philippines


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