Timeline of Philippine History

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1521

Ferdinand Magellan explores the islands now known as the Philippines

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1542

Spanish military party claims islands for Spain; names them "Philippines" after Prince Philip, later King Philip II of Spain; Philippines becomes part of Spanish Empire

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1886

José Rizal publishes anti-Spanish novel, Noli Me Tangere (The Lost Eden); popularizes independence sentiment

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1896

Spanish execute Rizal for instigating insurrection; public outrage spawns rebellion

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1899

Treaty of Paris ends Spanish-American War, cedes Philippines to U.S.

Filipinos declare their independence; Emilio Aguinaldo leads guerrilla war against U.S.

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1901

U.S. captures Aquinaldo; William Howard Taft arrives as first U.S. governor of Philippines

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1902

Insurrection ends; Taft improves economic conditions, settles disputes over church ownership of land, establishes pensionado program, allowing Filipinos to study in U.S., which helped modernize and westernize the country

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1916

U.S. government passes Jones Law establishing elected Filipino legislature with house and senate

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1934

U.S. approves Tydings-McDuffie Act promising Philippine independence in 1946; transition to independence begins

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1935

Filipino people approve constitution creating Commonwealth of the Philippines with Manuel Quezon y Molina as president

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1941

Japanese invade Philippines, and defeat Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Bataan and Corregidor; Quezon establishes government in exile

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1944

Quezon dies; Vice President Sergio Osmeña takes presidency; MacArthur reinvades Philippines

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1945

MacArthur liberates Manila; Osmeña establishes government

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1946

Philippines becomes independent nation; Manuel Roxas y Acuña elected first president

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1965

Ferdinand E. Marcos becomes president

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1972

Marcos establishes martial law

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1983

Opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino returns from exile, is slain on arrival at Manila Airport; Benigno's widow Corazon Aguino leads "People Power" protest movement

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1986

Marcos defeats Aquino in a presidential election amid charges of fraud; riots erupt; Marcos flees into exile; Aquino forms new government

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1992

Former Gen. Fidel Ramos wins presidential election with Aquino's support; U.S. turns Subic Bay naval base to Philippine government, ending American military presence in the country

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1996

Philippine government agrees to greater autonomy for southernmost island of Mindanao, where Islamic separatists called Moro National Liberation Front wage guerrilla war

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1997

Philippines escape Asian financial crisis despite series of currency devaluations

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1998

Former movie star Joseph Estrada elected president

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2000

Legislature impeaches Estrada on corruption charges

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2001

Public outrage over corruption allegations forces Estrada to step down. Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumes the presidency.

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Last modified: September 15, 2006