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 1948 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, the Philippines is the sovereign and independent country that governed under the principle of National Democracy.The National Congress of the Philippines (Kapulungang Pambansa) serves as the highest state body in the Philippines. Its members are elected every four years by indirect elections. The election, however, is only participated in by parties that are recognized as legal under Philippine law, with the Philippine Nationalist Party (Partido Nasyonalista ng Pilipinas) as the leading party. The National Congress 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 Congress if the latter is in recess and not in its legislative session.
The President of the Republic of the Philippines (Pangulo ng Republika) is elected by the National Congress 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 Council of Ministers.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 are appointed directly by the President of the Republic with the approval of Congress.
The State Council of the Philippines (Sangunian ng Estado) acts as an advisory body for the National Congress and all elements of the National Government. Its members are elected by the prefectural councils and by the corporate and special interest groups every six years. Modeled after the State Council of Japan, the Philippine State Council serves to fulfill the role for checking the power of National Congress and to represent the political parties and mass organizations that allied with or loyal to the Philippine Nationalist Party.
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 Congress. 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 Catholicism 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 (1916–1948)
Japanese military occupation (1916–1922)In 1917, the Japanese military administration in South Pacific replaced the Spanish colonial rule in the Philippine Archipelago. Japan divided the archipelago into three provinces (道 dō): Luzon, Visayas and 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 event then known as the "March 17th Movement" (Kilusang Ikalabimpito ng Marso). 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.
Limited Autonomy (1922–1934)In 1922, the islands formally became the League of Nations mandate administering by the Japanese. The islands then were reorganized into 45 prefectures (州 shu) under the Local Government Law. As a part of de-Hispanization, many prefectural names were “localized”, such as “Kalayan” (Cagayan), "Pinagpanaan" (Nueva Ecija), “Pulilan” (Laguna) and "Malindig" (Marinduque). The law also provided a directly-elected local council (州議會 shugikai) and an appointed governor (知事 chiji) for each prefecture.
De-Hispanization campaign also gave a way for Protestant missionaries from Japan to proselytize their belief in the islands. In 1924, the Church of Holiness (聖教會 Seikyōkai; Simbahan ng Kabanalan) was established by evangelists Uchimura Kanzo and Nakada Juji. The church's teaching of social justice attracted poor Pilipinos as well as aboriginal tribes which rapidly converted in great numbers. In 1929, the South Pacific Christian Council was founded with Nitobe Inazo as its first president. The council later became the National Christian Council of the Philippines after the independence. Today, about 43% of the country's population are Protestants.When Katō died in office in 1923, the Director of Home Affairs Bureau, Shimomura Hiroshi, was appointed as his replacement. Under his administration, military officers in the government were replaced by the Japanese civilians while many veterans of Spanish-Japanese War entered the civil service and became new ruling elite of the islands. By 1920s, the Insular Society controlled almost all elected and appointive offices in the mandate by patron-client relations under the bureaucratic patronage of Emilio Aguinaldo.
In 1927, Benigno Ramos, a writer, orator and councilor from Bulacan, formed the leftist wing of Insular Society, the Sociedad Insular Nacionalista. Compared with the mainstream SI organization, the Nacionalista had strong nationalist and leftist platforms and promoted the Tagalog language as the central feature of Philippine identity. On September 1, 1930, after an inter-party strife, the Nacionalista members broke up from the SI and founded the Philippine Nationalist Party (Partido Nasyonalista ng Pilipinas). Ramos was elected the party’s President (Pinuno, Tagalog for "leader"). Jose P. Laurel became the party’s First Secretary.
Compared with the SI, the PNP supported faster process toward independence as reflected on its formal salute, "Ganap!" (means "complete [independence]"). Throughout 1930s, Ramos and other PNP leaders toured the country to spread the party platforms. Thanks to its vigorous campaigns, the party successfully won many seats in the local councils in Luzon and the Visayas and developed strong political bases in the Tagalog-speaking areas in Central Luzon. In 1931, the party had its first deputies elected to the Advisory Council: Ramos for Bulacan, Laurel for Batangas, Benigno Aquino, Sr. for Tarlac, Claro M. Recto for Tayabas, Lope K. Santos for Manila and Celerino Tiongco for Pulilan.
Home Rule (1934–1948)
On July 3, 1933, the Central Advisory Council passed a motion demanded the independence from Japan within a ten-year transitional period. On July 29, 1933, the Nagata Committee, named after its chairperson Nagata Hidejiro, was created to draft the new autonomy bill. Following several revisions and widespread protests regarding its content, the Central Advisory Council voted in approval of the bill, including by the Nationalist deputies, on September 19, 1933. The law called the South Pacific Self-Government Law granted the islands with greater autonomy on executive, legislative and financial matters while trade, foreign relations and defense were still reserved to Japan.
By January 1, 1934, the Self-Government Law was put into effect. Thirteen members of PNP were elected to the newly-inaugurated Central Legislative Council (中央衆議院 Chūō Shūgiin). Through the parliamentary struggle, the PNP implemented its agendas, mostly the economic and cultural ones. The most controversial among them was the Language Education Bill of 1936 that proposed the compulsory teaching of Tagalog language in the native schools. In response, the councilors from Mindanao formed the Autonomy Club (自主倶樂部 Jishu Kurabu) to oppose the Tagalog cultural domination and increase Mindanao's autonomy within the colony.
In 1937, the self-determination movement in Mindanao strengthened. Several Muslim leaders demanded a Moro self-government within the mandate. The Mindanao Autonomy Law was passed on 1938 and informally separated the administration of Mindanao Province from the rest of mandate. This action led to the protests by the Pilipino nationalists who sought to incorporate Mindanao into their future state. As a counter-attempt, the Pilipino nationalists in the parliament proposed the colonization of Mindanao Province by the migrants from Luzon and the Visayas. The bill, however, was vetoed by the Governor-General.
During World War II, both the Pilipino and Moro nationalists openly supported the Japanese war efforts against China. In 1941, the Japanese conscripted the Pilipinos and the Moros into the war on their side, resulted to the creation of Nan'yo Legion (南洋軍團 Nan'yō Gundan). The legion participated along with the Japanese Army in some battles in Korea, Manchuria and Indochina, including the Liberation of Korea. Later, this legion became core for the establishment of both future armed forces of the Philippines and Moroland. Throughout the war, the Japanese South Pacific was bombed from air by the Chinese, inflicting several civilian casualties.
After delayed by the war, the independence talk was formally continued in 1946. The Nationalist Party emerged as the strongest political party after won elections in 28 prefectures. On July 1, 1947, Jose P. Laurel was appointed by the government to chair a parliamentary commission that would determine the boundaries between the future Pilipino and Moro states. On September 9, 1947, the South Pacific partition plan was finalized. The provinces of Luzon and the Visayas were reserved for the Pilipino state, while the province of Mindanao for the Moro state, except for Palawan and Bukidnon in which their status were determined through referendum that would be held on April 13, 1948.
On October 29, 1947, the Preparatory Committee for Philippine Independence (比律賓獨立準備委員會 Firippin Dokuritsu Junbi Iinkai) was formed to draft the national constitution. Its members included Benigno Ramos as its chairman, Lope K. Santos as its vice-chair, Jose P. Laurel, Vicente Sotto, Benigno Aquino, Sr., Patricio Dionisio, Jaime C. de Veyra, Wenceslao Vinzons, Claro M. Recto, Jose Avelino, Ramon Avancena, Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal and Arturo Tolentino. After Aquino's death in December, Carmen Planas was appointed to the committee, making her the only female among the constitutional framers.