The Philippines, formally the People's Republic of the Philippines (Republikang Popular ng Pilipinas) is a Southeast Asian country in the western Pacific ocean. It is an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands with a population of over 65 million. The Philippines is one of only two Communist states in Asia, the other being the Arabic Union. Despite the country being ruled by a Communist party, it has close ties with non-Communist states and has regular democratic elections on choosing the Communist party Politburo and leadership. European Communists have accused the Philippines of merely paying lip service to Communism.
Before the 1st millennium, the Philippines consisted of a number of Hindu kingdoms. Buddhist influences came from both Majapahit and China through the trade routes. In 1374, the Raja of Luzon was the first to convert to Buddhism, and by the 16th century, most had converted to an indigenous form of Mahayana Buddhism.
In 1855, Commodore Perry, who led an American flotilla to open up Japan, landed in the Philippines and by 1859, the Philippines became an American colony.
In 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines in its conquest of Southeast Asia. Many Filipinos took up arms against the Japanese, including a wide array of ethnic nationalists, communists (Hukbalahaps), pan-Philippine nationalists and American-aligned forces. The Americans, aided by the local resistance, reconquered the Philippines through a series of costly and bloody battles. The Philippines became independent in 1946, during the Second World War (1939-1948). After independence, the Philippines immediately declared itself forever neutral, owing to the lingering war.
In 1948, the Hukbalahaps (PKP) went underground and revolted against the state. By 1956, the communists were in control of most of the Filipino countryside. The violent siege and fall of Maynila in 1957, and the shooting down of the plane evacuating Ramon Magsaysay saw the Philippines become a Communist state, the one of only two Communist states in Asia (the other being the Arabic Union).
From 1957 till 1965, the Philippines was ruled by Party Secretary Luis Taruc. Despite fighting a violent civil war for a communist state, the country under Taruc adopted a non-aligned foreign policy and a mixed economy. Unlike other Communist states, the party leadership was elected democratically by the populace. It developed deeper relations with many non-Communist nations, including South China, Japan, Majapahit and Myanmar. Practice of religion was tolerated and the Buddhists (who in 1962 formed 75% of the population) were given benefits. These 'irregularities' drew ire from the European Communists, who had desired to used the Philippines to spread Communism into Asia.
In 1965, Party deputy secretary Ferdinand Marcos, with backing from the European Communists, arrested Taruc on charges against both the state and the party. A show trial resulted in many of the PKP Politburo's progressive leaders being exiled to isolated penal islands across the Philippines. Marcos implemented isolationism and also cut off ties with non-Communist states. Religion was outlawed and the country's religious institutions saw a heavy handed crackdown. He continued the unique tradition of democratic elections to vote for PKP leadership, but was widely accused of vote rigging. The economy was completely nationalized and the Philippines soon became one of the poorest nations in Asia. In 1972, another round of purges saw a crackdown on a new generation of reformist PKP Politburo members, including Benigno Aquino, Jr, who fled to Majapahit.
In 1983, he returned to the Philippines after his exile order expired. However, he was immediately arrested upon his arrival and a week later, the Marcos government announced that he had been killed while trying to escape. This led to a series of events which by 1986, Marcos lost support of the Politburo. Wide spread protests termed the People Power Revolution overthrew Marcos and the Politburo quickly appointed the People Power Protest leader Corazon Aquino (wife of Benigno Aquino Jr) as Party Secretary. Under Corazon, the Philippines opened up its economy and underwent several political and economic reforms. Religion was no longer illegal and the Philippines soon restored closer ties with non-Communist states. The European Communists accused Corazon and the PKP of merely paying lip service to Communism and began funding Maoists in the south of the Philippines, amongst the Moros.
The 1990s and 2000s saw greater opening up of the economy, loosening of more Communist rules and the democratisation of the PKP. Significant investments from Myanmar, Japan and Korea have revitalized the economy.