A Brief History
The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Repúblika ng Pilipinás), is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam.
The Sulu Sea to the southwest lies between the country and the island of Borneo, and to the south the Celebes Sea separates it from other islands of Indonesia. 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 a megadiverse country.
Covering almost three hundred thousand square kilometres (over 115,000 sq mi) makes it the 73rd largest independent nation and an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila.
With a population of more than 97 million people, the Philippines is the seventh most populated Asian country and the 12th most populated country in the world. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands.
In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago’s earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples who brought with them influences from Malay, Hindu, and Islamic societies.
Thus, establishing various polities either ruled by Datus, Rajahs, Sultans or Lakans. Trade and subsequent Chinese settlement also introduced Chinese cultural elements which remain to this day.
The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of an era of Spanish interest and eventual colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain.
The Spanish Empire began to settle with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from New Spain (present day-Mexico) in 1565 who established the first Spanish settlement in the archipelago, which remained a Spanish colony for more than 300 years. During this time, Manila became the Asian hub of the Manila–Acapulco galleon fleet.
As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the Philippine Revolution, which spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic; the Spanish–American War; and the Philippine–American War.
In the aftermath, the United States emerged as the dominant power; aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands. After World War II, the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation.
Culture & Language
Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. The Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival are a couple of the most well-known.
These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature the use of clashing bamboo poles.
Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while 4 no longer have any known speakers. They are part of the Borneo–Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.
According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a standardized version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. The constitution designates regional languages such as Bicolano, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog and Waray-Waray as auxiliary official languages, and mandates that Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.
Other languages such as Aklanon, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Ivatan, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankanaey, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Masbateño, Romblomanon, Surigaonon, Tausug, Yakan and several Visayan languages are prevalent in their respective provinces. The Chavacano language, a creole language born from Spanish, is also spoken in Cavite and Zamboanga.