events in Philippine history
history is made up of thousands of events that happened from
the earliest period ever documented to the present. This list
includes only 100 major events that influenced Philippine
history from the 14th century to the end of the 20th century.
Interestingly, the events included on this list represent
major areas where the life of the nation revolves like trade
and commerce, religion, culture, literature and arts,
education, various movements, wars and revolutions, laws and
government, and military. Moreover, the events mentioned here
are crucial in understanding the present and future of the
Philippines as a nation.
1. Trading with
the Chinese. 10th century. They dominated Philippine commerce
from then on.
2. Arrival of Arab traders and missionaries. Mid-14th century.
They conducted trade and preached Islam in Sulu that later
spread to other parts of the country.
3. Arrival of Ferdinand Magellan. March 1521. It marked the
beginning of Spanish interest in the Philippines as several
Spanish expeditions followed.
4. First Mass in the Philippines. March 31, 1521. It was held
in Limasawa, an island in Southern Leyte. Symbolized the
conversion of many Filipinos to Roman Catholicism.
5. Death of Ferdinand Magellan. April 27, 1521.
6. Landing of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in Cebu. 1565. This
marked the beginning of Spanish dominion in the Philippines as
Legazpi later established the seat of Spanish colonial
government in Manila.
7. Blood Compact. March 1565. Spanish Captain General Legazpi
and Rajah Sikatuna performed the blood compact in Bohol as a
sign of peace agreement between their parties.
8. First agreement for peace in the Philippines. June 4, 1565.
Rajah Tupas and Legazpi signed this treaty of peace. Through
the treaty, Cebu would recognize the Spanish government,
which, on the other hand, would provide protection to Cebu in
times of wars.
9. Construction of the Church and Convent of Santo Niño, the
first Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, in Cebu by
Rev. Father Andres de Urdaneta. 1565. This marked the
beginning of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines as Spanish
priests from other religious orders followed. The priests
played significant roles in developing the country as a
10. Shipbuilding. Early 1600s. Ships were built on Biliran
Island and later in Cavite.
11. Longest Revolt in history. 1744-1829. Francisco Dagohoy
led this longest uprising in Bohol against the Spanish
12. British invasion of Manila. September 23, 1762. The
British invaded and occupied Manila until March 1764, when the
Seven-Year War in Europe ended with the signing of the Treaty
of Paris. The treaty compelled the British to return Manila
and its environs to Spain.
13. Tobacco Monopoly. 1781. The Spanish government established
this for business purposes. It served as a big source of
revenue for the Spanish government until it was closed in
1882. During the period, tobacco farms and cigarette plants in
the country increased and employed many Filipinos as farmers
and factory workers.
14. Surnames for Filipinos. November 21, 1849. Governor
Narciso Claveria y Zaldua issued a decree that provided for
the use of Spanish surnames by Filipinos to facilitate census,
tax collection and administration.
15. Cofradia de San Jose. 1832-41. Founded as a religious cult
which attracted many members and alarmed the government. It
was disbanded after one of its prominent leaders, Apolinario
de la Cruz or Hermano Pule, was killed by the government
forces on November 4, 1841.
16. Quarantine Station. 1850s. The Spanish government
established the Lazareto de Mariveles in Bataan as a way of
checking and sanitizing passengers and cargoes of foreign
ships from contagious diseases before they could enter Manila.
The Americans continued this practice in 1902 by establishing
quarantine services in ports of entry.
17. Sugar industry in the Philippines. 1859. Nicholas Loney
from England pioneered the sugar industry that contributed to
the economic growth of Iloilo and Panay.
18. Cavite Mutiny. January 20, 1872. Sergeant Lamadrid led
artillery regiments and some naval crews in capturing the
arsenal of Fort San Felipe in Cavite. The event was local in
scope and easily quelled, but Spanish priests used it to
implicate their enemies in the clergy, resulting in the
execution of Fathers Mariano Gomes, Jose Burgos and Jacinto
19. Execution of Burgos, Gomes and Zamora. February 17, 1872.
The three priests, known in history as Gomburza, were garroted
by the Spaniards in connection with the Cavite Mutiny.
20. Founding of La Solidaridad. 1889. The Filipino
propagandists in Spain established this as the organ of the
Propaganda Movement. Graciano Lopez Jaena and Marcelo H. del
Pilar served as editors. It published essays and articles in
Spanish expressing the Filipino demands for reforms in the
Philippines. One of the writers was Jose Rizal.
21. Telephone system. 1890. The first telephone system in the
Philippines is inaugurated. In 1906 the government put
provincial telephone systems. In 1928 PLDT was granted
franchise for the entire Philippines.
22. Establishment of Masonic Nilad Lodge or "Logia Central y
Delegada." 1891. Pedro Serrano Laktaw, Moises Salvador and
Jose Ramos established this Masonic lodge that was approved by
Grande Oriente Español on March 10, 1892. Other lodges
followed. Many Katipuneros were members of the Masonry.
23. Construction of Manila-Dagupan Railroad. 1892. It hastened
transportation from Manila to Dagupan. Used by revolutionists
and by American soldiers during the revolution. Another
railroad was constructed in Iloilo in the early 1900s.
24 Founding of the Katipunan. July 7, 1892. Andres Bonifacio,
Ladislaw Diwa and Teodoro Plata composed the first triangle of
the secret society.
25. Exile of Dr. Jose Rizal. July 17, 1892. Rizal arrived in
Dapitan to serve his exile. This agitated many Filipinos to
fight the Spanish colonial government. The hero contributed
much to the development of Dapitan during his exile.
26. Discovery of the Kati-punan. August 19, 1892. Its
discovery led to the government’s crackdown on suspected
members and Bonifacio’s immediate declaration of war against
the Spanish government.
27. Cry of Pugad Lawin. August 23, 1892. The Katipuneros
gathered in Pugad Lawin, tore their cedulas and declared war
28. Battle of Pinaglabanan. August 31, 1896. The first battle
between the Katipuneros and Spanish forces in San Juan, Rizal.
Over a hundred Katipuneros were killed.
29. Battle of Zapote Bridge. February 19, 1897. One of the
major battles of the Philippine Revolution.
30. Tejeros Convention. March 22, 1897. The Kati-puneros
belonging to the Magdaló and Magdiwang councils changed the
Kati-punan into a revolutionary government and elected its
officers. Subsequent events resulted in the execution of
Andres Boni-facio in Maragondon.
31. Acta de Tejeros. March 24, 1897. Bonifacio nullified the
results of the elections during the Tejeros Convention.
32. Naic Military Agreement. April 20, 1897. Bonifacio signed
this document declaring the results of the elections during
the Tejeros Convention null and void and established its own
army separate from the Revolutionary Army formed during the
convention. This led to his capture and later his execution in
May of the same year.
33. Pact of Biyak-na-Bato. December 14, 1897. Signed by the
Spanish government and the Filipino revolutionary leaders.
This provided for the secession of hostilities between the two
parties and the voluntary exile of revolutionary leaders in
34. Uprising of Leon Kilat in Cebu. April 2, 1898. Leon Kilat
(Pantaleon Villegas) led the uprising against the Spaniards in
Cebu, which was suppressed after a week with the arrival of
reinforcements from Iloilo and Manila. Leon Kilat continued
his cause through guerrilla campaigns.
35. Battle of Manila Bay. May 1, 1898. The American naval
fleets led by George Dewey fought against the Spanish fleet
under General Patrocinio Montojo. This signaled America’s
colonization of the Philippines.
36. Proclamation of Philippine Independence. June 12, 1898.
General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence in
Kawit, Cavite. During the event, Marcha Nacional Filipina,
which what would become the National Anthem composed by Julian
Felipe, was played by the band of San Francisco de Malabon and
the Philippine national flag was hoisted in public.
37. Bates Treaty Agreement. August 20, 1898. Signed in
Mindanao between US Representative John C. Bates and the
Filipino Muslim leaders Rajah Muda, Datu Calbi, Datu Joakanain
and the Sulu Sultan, the agreement signified noninvolvement of
the Muslims in the Filipino-American War.
38. Republic of Negros. November 5, 1898. Revolutionary forces
under General Juan Anacleto Araneta proclaimed the Republic of
39. Cry of Santa Barbara. November 17, 1898. The
revolutionists led by General Martin Delgado waved the
Filipino flag and established the revolutionary government in
40. The Treaty of Paris. December 10, 1898. This was signed
between the United States and Spain ceding Spanish colonies,
including the Philippines, to America. The Americans received
the right to colonize the Philippines after paying Spain $20
41. Benevolent assimilation of the Philippines. 1898.
President William McKinley proclaimed this as there was
nothing left to do with the Philippines after the
Spanish-American War but to take it as a colony.
42. Assassination of General Antonio Luna. June 5, 1899.
General Luna and his aide Col. Paco Roman were assassinated by
fellow revolutionists in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. This event
is considered one of the tragedies of the Revolution.
43. La Independencia newspaper published Jose Palma’s poem.
September 3, 1899. The poem became the lyrics for the Marcha
Nacional Filipina of Julian Felipe, thereby completing a
national anthem for the Philippines. On September 22, 1943,
the Commonwealth government adopted the flag and the anthem as
44. Arrival of the Presbyterian Missionaries. April 21, 1899.
They were the first group of Protestant missionaries to arrive
and established missions in the Philippines. They established
the first Protestant University in the Philippines, Silliman
University, in August 1901.
45. Battle of Tirad Pass. December 2, 1899. General Gregorio
del Pilar died in action while defending Tirad Pass from the
46. Balangiga Massacre. September 28, 1890. About 180
Filipinos attacked 72 American soldiers and killed many of
them. Soon after, the Americans retaliated by killing every
Filipino who refused to surrender and were capable of carrying
arms, including 10-year-old boys. America’s pacification
policy turned Samar into a "howling wilderness."
47. Capture of General Emilio Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela.
March 23, 1901. The American colonial government considered
this the end of the Revolution.
48. Public education system. 1901. The Philippine Commission
passed Act 74 providing for the public education system, which
includes the use of English as the medium of instruction, free
primary education and a normal school for the training of
teachers. The Thomasites arrived in the Philippines to serve
as teachers. The normal school on Taft Avenue in Manila is now
known as the Philippine Normal University.
49. Antisedition Law. October 1, 1901. The American colonial
government passed Act 292 to quell armed nationalist
sentiments during the era.
50. Founding of Union Obrero Democratica. 1902. This first
labor federation in the country was established at Teatro
Variedades in Sampaloc, Manila, with Isabelo de los Reyes as
president and Hermenigildo Cruz as secretary. The organization
celebrated Labor Day the following year.
51. Establishment of civil government. July 2, 1902. The US
Congress signed the Cooper Bill that provided for the
establishment of a civil government in the Philippines.
52. Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent
Church). August 3, 1902. The first Filipino church independent
of Rome to be established with Gregorio Aglipay as the first
bishop. It was a result of the disparagement and prejudice
felt by nationalistic priests.
53. Manila Electric Railway and Light Co. (Meralco). March 24,
1903. Granted franchise by the government to supply Manila and
its environs with electricity and the electric street-railway
54. Pensionado Law. August 27, 1903. Act 854 provided for
scholarship of Filipino students to universities in the United
States and their return to the Philippines to serve in various
fields, including government.
55. The first Labor Day rally in the Philippines. May 1, 1903.
Organized by the Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas.
Thousands of participants marched to Malacañan to publicly
demand for working conditions.
56. Philippine Constabulary School. February 19, 1905. It was
first established at the Santa Lucia Barracks in Intramuros,
transferred in 1908 in Baguio City as the Philippine Military
Academy, and developed into a premier military school.
57. Inauguration of the first Philippine Assembly. October 16,
1907. It served as the lower house of a bicameral legislature
with the Philippine Commission as the upper house.
58. Creation of the University of the Philippines. June 18,
1908. The country’s premier state university was created by
59. First court case of libel. October 30, 1908. El
Renacimiento published in its editorial "Aves de Rapina"
(Birds of Prey) about a man who preyed on his enemy the way an
eagle, vulture, owl and a vampire do. American Secretary of
the Interior Dean C. Worcester felt alluded to in the article
and sued the paper’s editor and publisher Teodoro M. Kalaw and
Martin Ocampo. Worcester won the case and the newspaper was
60. Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas.
February 28, 1909. The first indigenous evangelical church in
the Philippines founded by Nicolas Zamora as a result of the
separation of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
61. Iglesia ni Cristo. 1914. An indigenous church founded by
Felix Manalo. Its leaders are often wooed by politicians who
are aware of the church’s tendency to vote by block.
62. Founding of Congreso Obrero de Filipinas. May 1, 1913.
Organized by Hermenigildo Cruz, the organization battled for
an eight-hour working day, abolition of child labor, just
labor standards for women and liability of capitalists.
63. Flag Day. October 31, 1919. Proclaimed by the National
64. National Federation of Women’s Clubs. 1921. It was
organized primarily to advance the political rights of
Filipino women and later on developed into an organization of
women leaders for national development. Among its prominent
members were Pilar Hidalgo Lim, Josefa Llanes Escoda and
Trinidad F. Legarda.
65. Radio stations. June 1922. First serviced Manila and Pasay
before they expanded to the provinces. Most of the stations
were confiscated by the Japanese during the war.
66. Communist Party of the Philippines. August 27, 1930.
Crisanto Evangelista established the Party, which later merged
with the Socialist Party of Pedro Abad Santos and composed the
Hukbalahap during the Second World War. The government
declared it illegal.
67. Inauguration of Rizal Monument. December 29, 1930. The
monument to Jose Rizal was inaugurated at the Luneta (now
68. Sakdalista movement. 1931. Underground socialist reform
movement whose members were mostly peasants against the
antinationalist policies of the government.
69. Tydings-McDuffie Law. March 25, 1934. This law, signed by
Theodore Roosevelt, provided for the establishment of the
transition period before America would eventually recognize
70. Inauguration of Commonwealth government. November 15,
1935. Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña took the oath as
President and Vice- President.
71. Commonwealth Constitution. 1935. Used to guide the
Commonwealth government, cut off during the Japanese period
and was restored after the war until 1973, when President
Marcos ratified a new one.
72. Law on Women’s Suffrage. December 14, 1937. For the first
time, Filipino women were given the right to vote during
73. Japanese invasion. December 8, 1941. Japanese bombers
attacked Clark Air Base and other American camps in Baguio
City, Manila and Davao. This signaled the beginning of the
Japanese Occupation in the Philippines.
74. Oath-taking at Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor. December 30,
1941. Manuel Quezon took his second term of office as
President of the Commonwealth government.
75. New government under the Japanese. December 3, 1942. The
Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (Kalibapi) was
established and elected Jose P. Laurel as President of the
Philippines. This party, however, lasted only until 1945.
76. Tagalog as official language. June 7, 1940. President
Manuel L. Quezon proclaimed Tagalog as one of the official
languages in the Philippines starting July 4, 1946. Tagalog
later became known as the Filipino language.
77. Fall of Manila. 1942. The Japanese forces led by Masaharu
Homma occupied Manila.
78. Fall of Bataan. April 9, 1942. General Edward P. King
surrendered to spare the lives of battle weary and outnumbered
Filipino and American soldiers who were defending Bataan. They
ran out of ammunition, supplies and had no reinforcements.
79. Fall of Corregidor. May 6, 1942. General Jonathan
Wainwright surrendered the entire USAFFE in the Philippines to
General Masaharu Homma of the Japanese Imperial Army.
80. Leyte landing. October 20, 1944. General Douglas MacArthur
landed in Leyte Gulf with Sergio Osmeña Sr. and Carlos P.
Romulo. This signaled the retaking of the Philippines from the
Japanese soldiers. It was also a fulfillment of MacArthur’s
promise in 1942 when he said "I shall return."
81. Sergio Osmeña succeeded President Quezon as President of
the Commonwealth. August 1, 1944. President Quezon died of
Tuberculosis while he was in the United States.
82. Makabayang Kalipunan ng mga Pilipino (Makapili). December
8, 1944. The Japanese used its members, composed of Filipinos,
to inform on guerrilla sympathizers. Many of its members were
prosecuted after the war for the atrocities they committed
against the people.
83. Establishment of the Congress of Labor Organizations (CLO).
March 16. 1945. The CLO, first called Committee of Labor
Organizations, was a federation of labor organizations
organized by former leaders of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa mga
Hapon (Hukbalahap), which was forced to go underground when
the government declared it illegal.
84. Liberation of Manila. 1945. The Americans entered Manila
and liberated many Filipino and American internees at the
University of Santo Tomas. Manila was devastated after the
war. General Douglas MacArthur turned over the civilian
government to Sergio Osmeña Sr.
85. United Nations membership. September 1945. The Philippines
joined the United Nations.
86. Philippine Independence from America. July 4, 1946.
America eventually let go of the Philippines.
87. Alto Broadcasting Network and DZXL-TV Channel 9. 1953. The
first commercial television station that developed into what
is now ABS- CBN.
88. Death of President Ramon Magsaysay. March 17, 1957. The
President’s plane crashed in Manunggal, Cebu. His death
grieved the Filipino people and caused an immediate transition
of leadership in government.
89. Reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
December 27. 1968. Jose Ma. Sison reestablished the old
90. Martial law. September 21, 1972. President Ferdinand
Marcos signed Proclamation 1081 declaring martial law to "save
the Republic" from crime and violence. Marcos abolished the
Congress and created the semiparliament Batasang Pambansa. It
caused the takeover of many private businesses by the
government, exile, disappearances and imprisonment of
individuals critical of the government.
91. Assassination of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino. August
21, 1983. The senator was assassinated at the Manila
International Airport, now named in his honor.
92. COMELEC Employees’ Walk-Out. February 9, 1986. Thirty
computer technicians of the Commission on Elections walked out
of their jobs after they were ordered to cheat the election
returns in favor of President Marcos.
93. Military mutiny. February 23, 1986. Defense Minister Juan
Ponce Enrile and AFP Vice Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos
defected from the Marcos administration. People gathered at
EDSA to protect them from pro-administration soldiers. Two
days after, President Marcos went on exile to Hawaii.
94. Oath-taking of Corazon C. Aquino, the senator’s widow, and
Salvador H. Laurel as President and Vice-President of the
Philippines. February 25, 1986. They were sworn into office
after the snap elections.
95. Return of presidential government. 1987. President Aquino
appointed 48 members of the constitutional convention to draft
the Constitution that restored democracy and abolished the
96. Military coup. August 28, 1987. The Reform the AFP
Movement (RAM), led by Col. Gregorio Honasan, staged the coup,
demanding the surrender of the Aquino government. The troops
penetrated Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame but were repulsed by
government forces. There were other failed coup attempts by
the RAM (one in 1986, three attempts in 1987), Nationalist
Army of the Philippines (NAP) in 1986, and the combined forces
of RAM and NAP on December 1, 1989.
97. Inauguration of President Fidel V. Ramos and VP Joseph E.
Estrada. June 30, 1992. President Ramos and VP Estrada were
sworn in by Chief Justice Andres Narvasa at the Luneta
Grandstand. FVR is the first president who comes from the
98. Biggest case of corruption. September 24, 1993. Former
first lady Imelda Marcos was convicted for the first time of
corruption and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Few days
earlier, the remains of former President Marcos who died in
1989 in Hawaii was finally entombed at their family mausoleum
in Batac, Ilocos Sur.
99. First actor President of the Philippines. June 30, 1998.
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, best known as Erap, took
his oath as the 13th President of the Philippines in Barasoain
Church, Malolos, Bulacan.
100. End of the 20th Century and Millennium Watch. December
31, 2000. The Filipino Nation led by President Joseph Ejercito
Estrada joined the whole world in welcoming the new
millennium. The President called on Filipinos "to pray for
global peace and brotherhood and to world as one in facing the
challenges of the 21st Century."
Compiled by Christine G. Dulnuan, National Historical
Institute, Manila, Philippines
as appeared on ABS/CBS News Online (www.abs-cbnnews.com)
Part 1 - Numbers 01 to 31 appeared on Sunday, September 17,
Part 2 - Numbers 32 to 65 appeared on Tuesday, September 19,
Part 3 - Numbers 66 to 100 appeared on Thursday, September 21,