It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea. Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons but have also endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
Politics and government
According to the 1969 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, the Philippines is the sovereign and independent country that governed under the principle of National Democracy.
The President of the Republic of the Philippines (Pangulo ng Republika) is elected by the National Assembly from among its members every four years. The President is the head of state and head of government of the Republic as well as the nominal commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President has the power to appoint the chairman, vice-chairmen and members of the Council of Ministers.
The National Assembly of the Philippines (Kapulungang Pambansa) serves as the highest state body in the Philippines. Its members are elected every four years by direct election. The election, however, is only participated in by parties that are recognized as legal under Japanese law, with the Nationalist Party (Partido Nasyonalista) as the leading party. The National Assembly elects the Legislative Council (Sanguniang Pambatasan) from among its members every two years to exercise the power to formulate the national legislation of Philippines and to act on the behalf of the National Assembly if the latter is in recess and not in its legislative session.
The Council of the Ministers of the Philippines (Sanguniang mga Ministro) serves as the country's main administrative body and is headed by the Chairman of the Council who bear the title of Prime Minister (Pangasiwa), assisted by three Vice-Chairmen of the Council, who bear the title of Vice-Prime Ministers (Pangalawang Pangasiwa), and comprised by the Ministers of State (Mga Ministro ng Bayan). The members of the Council of Ministers is appointed directly by the President of the Republic.
The National Court of the Philippines (Hukumang Pambansa) serves as the country's supreme judicature in charge of judicial matters and supervision and administration of lower courts. All judges of the Court are appointed by the National Assembly. The National Procuratorate of the Philippines (Sumbongang Pambansa) charged with both the investigation and prosecution of crime at the national level and supervised the state procuratorates in every levels below.
Spanish East Indies (1521–1916)In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain. Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. In 1571, the Spanish established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies.
Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, a university and hospitals.In the 19th century, Philippine ports were opened to world trade and shifts were occurring within Philippine society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines and those of mixed ancestry became wealthy. The influx of Spanish and Latino settlers secularized churches and opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula.
Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over. The revolution soon was put down violently by the colonial authority. Aguinaldo and several revolutionary leaders later went to self-exile first in Hong Kong and then in Tokyo.
Spanish–Japanese War (1898–1901)On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine, having been sent to Cuba because of U.S. concerns for the safety of its citizens during an ongoing Cuban rebellion, exploded and sank in Havana harbor, led to the Spanish-American War (1898–1900). At the same time, Japan alarmed with the growing influences of Spain's ally, Germany in Asia, also prepared to pre-emptively invade the Spanish East Indies, resulted in a separate Spanish-Japanese War (1898–1901). Japan then invited Aguinaldo to return to the Philippine islands, hoped he would rally more natives against the Spanish colonial government.
After an exhaustive three-year's fighting, the Spanish and the Japanese finally agreed to make peace on May 2, 1901 that resulted in the Treaty of Brussels. The treaty formally ended hostilities between two parties and returned to the status quo ante bellum without any territorial gains for Japan. Unlike many Pilipino leaders that were jailed or executed by the Spanish colonial government, Aguinaldo was able to escape from the Philippines with the help of future President of Japan, Nagayama Yoshida, who was then a Japanese military attache to Aguinaldo's army, and went into exile again in Tokyo. In his exile, Aguinaldo founded the Insular Society (Spanish: Sociedad Insular; Tagalog: Kalipunan ng Kapuluan) in 1904.
Unlike Cuba, the Philippines was never granted a right to send its representatives to the Cortes as well as had the same degree of political and cultural autonomy. Instead, it was still being ruled directly from Madrid with a Captaincy-General in Manila as the representation of the Spanish government. Similarly with the other European colonies in Southeast Asia such the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya, the Spanish East Indies was also subjected into the economic exploitation for its sugar, rubber and other agricultural products.
World War I (1914–1916)By the dawn of World War I, the Spanish East Indies was Spain's most precious colony on its empire. As the memories of Spanish-Japanese War still remained, the colonial government ordered the mobilization of the Spanish Indies Army immediately after the Spanish declaration of war on the Entente on August 5, 1914. The Spanish Civil Guard and Moro Legion were incorporated into the Spanish Indies Army. The combined forces of the colonial army with 300,000 Spanish soldiers, 2500 Moro soldiers, 2000 Indio recruits, and 104 warships, however, was still outnumbered by 500,000 Japanese naval infantry and 112 warships that had stationed on Formosa.
After a lengthy deliberation between political factions within the Imperial Diet, Japan finally declared war to the Central Powers on November 31, 1914 and invaded the Spanish East Indies on the night of December 1, 1914. The most dramatic naval battle between the Spanish Armada and the Imperial Japanese Navy occurred at the Philippine Sea on December 27, 1914, sunk 56 war vessels and killed more than 4000 servicemen from both sides. The battles between Japanese and Spanish forces in the Spanish East Indies were proved to be the most notable fighting on the Asian and Pacific Theatre in World War I. The fighting would last until 1916, following the Japanese victory at the Battle of Mindanao.
South Pacific Mandate (1916–1950)Japanese military administration in South Pacific replaced the Spanish colonial administration in the Philippine Archipelago. Japan divided the archipelago into three provinces (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao). Japan disestablished the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines as the state religion, made the teaching of Japanese language compulsory in schools, improved the state-wide health care service, and suppressed the rebellious locals.
Unlike in Korea, the situation in the South Pacific remained peaceful and daily activities in the colony were mainly undisturbed by the revolutionary waves that swept Japan between 1918 and 1921. Governor-General of the Japanese South Pacific, Katō Tomosaburō, who had been secretly sympathetic to the Republican cause, ordered the Japanese troops in the South Pacific to maintain their neutrality and not to side with either the Loyalists or the Republicans during the early years of the revolution until the winning side of the war could be clear enough to be seen.
Following the establishment of Republic of Japan in 1919, the Second Philippine National Assembly was convened at Manila on March 17, 1919 and passed the "Declaration of Purposes" which desired for the Philippine independence. The copy of those declaration was sent to Governor-General Katō. However, Katō insisted for the status quo and refused to accept the demands. However, the fifteen-membered Central Advisory Council (中央参議院 Chūō Sangiin) was formed on May 29, 1919 as a compensation. The Council consisted of prominent native politicians, such Emilio Aguinaldo, Isabelo de los Reyes, Gregorio Aglipay and Abdul Bagui Hadji Butu.When Katō died in office in 1923, the Director of Home Affairs Bureau, Shimomura Hiroshi, was appointed as his replacement. Under Shimomura, the colonial administration was reformed. Local councils were established throughout the islands. Military officers in the government were replaced by Japanese civilian bureaucrats while many veterans of Spanish-Japanese War entered the colonial civil service and became new ruling elite of the islands.
In 1924, the first Insular Reorganization Law provided the colony with a limited degree of political and cultural autonomy. The Central Advisory Council was granted limited legislative powers and its membership was enlarged from 15 to 60. Fifty members were elected every four years by provincial councils (20 from Luzon, 18 from the Visayas and 12 from Mindanao) and the remaining ten were appointed by the Governor-General. Isabelo de Los Reyes, Gregorio Aglipay, Vincente Sotto, Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Sandiko, Juan Abad, Santiago Alvarez and Amalul Kiram Awalil were seated in the State Council of Japan in 1927 as the first indigenous representatives from the South Pacific.
Limited Autonomy (1931–1941)
During the interwar years, the All-Philippines Nationalist Party (Partido Nasyonalista ngan Kapuluang Pilipinas, PNKP) was dominant political party in the colonial legislature started from 1931. Founded by Benigno Ramos in 1928, the PNKP was main vehicle for the nationalists to realize the country's independence through the building of a modern nation-state and promotion of Tagalog language as a central feature of Philippine identity. Its leaders including Pinuno Benigno Ramos, Jose P. Laurel, Wenceslao Vinzons and Diosdado Macapagal. The party mainly gained strong popular supports in Greater Manila as well as Central and South Luzon.
Other minor political parties existed during the interwar era were the Republican National Union (Unión Nacional Republicana, Unyon Nasyonal Republikano, UNR) led by Vincente Sotto, Juan Sumulong, Manuel Roxas and Pedro Abad Santos founded in 1930 was the only rival organization for the Nationalists in the legislature since 1932 and the Comintern-affiliated Communist Party of the Philippines led by Crisanto Evangelista which founded in 1930. In the southern part of the islands, the Insular Moslem Society and the Philippine Malay Association were main vehicles for Muslim Moros' political and cultural aspirations.
In 1933, the National Congress of Japan formally started decolonization of Japanese Empire by enacting the modified Organic Law of the Japanese Realm. Under the new law, Taiwan and Karafuto were gradually assimilated and integrated into the Home Islands through administrative division reform, while the Philippines were pushed more toward modern nation-building. In 1934, the second Insular Reorganization Law replaced the Central Advisory Council with the Central Legislative Council (中央衆議院 Chūō Shūgiin) and organized the Economic Development Committee to supervise the implementation of Great Economic Plan in the islands.