A Time-Tempered Tapestry: The Colorful History of the Philippines
The Philippines, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, has been a major player in the history of the region. The colorful history of the Philippines is reflected in the interesting blend of Western and Eastern culture in the country. Before the 1500’s, the Philippines has been already actively interacting with its neighbors and forming an interesting social and political structure. However, an adventurer named Ferdinand Magellan discovered one of the many Philippine islands and forever altered the history of the Pearl of the Orient.
Ferdinand Magellan is a Portuguese adventurer sailing under Spanish banners. In the 1500’s, en route to discovering more territories for the Spanish Crown, he discovered the Philippines and named it after his royal benefactor, Philip II. For more than 300 years, the Philippines was an important colony of Spain, only next to Mexico in terms of importance in trade. The Spanish brought with them Catholicism, the Castilian dialect, and European aesthetics, which are still steeped deeply in the modern Philippine culture.
The Hollywood Decades
After the Spanish-American War, the Philippines, formerly one of the jewels of the Spanish Empire, fell into the hands of the Americans. The Americans were very different from the Spanish colonizers who wanted to keep the locals ignorant (yet intensely religious)—they began introducing changes to their first Southeast Asian colony. The Filipinos were provided with public school education (in English, contrary to the Spanish education that the Filipino elite used to receive) and further education through entertainment. Local historians like to say that the Philippines spent 300 years in the convent and 50 years in Hollywood. Although the Philippines was a Spanish colony for centuries, many people still recognize the Americanization of the country as one of the most important facets of Philippine History.
The Pacific Theatre
Although the Philippines is hundreds of miles away from Europe (the origin of the Second World War), it is the Asian colony of the United States with the most strategic location. A day after the devastating Japanese attack on the American base Pearl Harbor, a bomb was dropped on Philippine territory. Thus, the Philippines was heavily embroiled in the Second World War’s Pacific Theatre. The country, albeit for a short time, fell into the hands of the Japanese, who was eventually driven away by the Americans. Most of the important landmarks in the Philippines—including the breathtaking walled city of Intramuros in Manila—was razed to the ground.
Modernity and Beyond
The sacking and burning of the most important city in the country during the Second World War never hindered the Filipinos in getting back to their feet and starting over. Despite numerous setbacks even after the war, the Philippines is, at present, one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The cultural diversity of its people is also one of the country’s greatest strengths, allowing Filipinos to work in various industries and capacities around the world. Coupled with their colorful historical background, strong work ethic, and inherent cheerfulness, the Filipino is sure to rise in the global arena of commerce, art, and politics.