The Philippines has a long history of being colonized and ruled by foreign countries such as Spain, The United States of America, and Japan. Some of these rulers were more kind and benevolent than others, but all of the time under foreign rule helped develop the unique culture of the Philippines that can be seen today.
Spanish Colonization of the Philippines (1565-1898)
Spain began to colonize the Philippines starting in 1565 when they sent an expedition to set up a settlement in Cebu. This original settlement was strengthened over time and expanded over the years to include the kingdoms of Maynila and Tondo. In 1578, Christian Spaniards fought Muslim Bruneians for control of the Philippines in a conflict known as the Castille War.
During the 1600’s, Spain unified the Philippine archipelago by conquering the remaining autonomous states. They invested heavily in the education and conversion to Christianity of the natives. The Spanish remained in control of the Philippines until 1898 when the United States began capturing Filipino cities. During the more than 300 years of Spanish rule, many cultural changes were introduced, such as new foods, the addition of many Spanish words to their language, and of course Catholicism. More detailed information on these cultural changes can be found here.
United States’ Rule of the Philippines (1898-1946)
After aiding Filipino revolutionaries to kick out the Spaniards, the United States decided to annex the Philippines. President Mckinley was quoted saying that the Filipinos were “unfit for self-government.” Filipino-U.S. relations were tense until independence was declared in 1946 after the Tydie-McDuffie Act was passed. These almost 50 years of U.S. occupation lead to a lot of cultural additions in the Philippines such as American foods, words, and religion. More information on these cultural changes can be found here.
Japanese Conquest of the Philippines (1941-1945)
On December 8, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on a U.S. military base in Luzon just 8 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In April 1942, the United States/Filipino forces surrendered to the Japanese at Bataan. At this point thousands of prisoners of war were forced to undergo the infamous Bataan Death March, in which thousands of prisoners died on their way to a Japanese prison camp. The Japanese occupation of the Philippines ended in 1945 with the end of World War II.