Philippines history is as interesting as the history of any other country, and it goes back a long time. In 1962, an American anthropologist uncovered fossilized bone fragments from a human skull that are around 47,000 years old. The collective tag of "Tabon Man" has been applied to these fragments, which were found on the island of Palawan. The same cave that was home to the Tabon Man bone fragments also turned up some other fascinating relics that offer insight into the early history of the Philippines.
Interesting facts about the Philippines abound, especially when it comes to the country's history, and it's fascinating to consider how this country went from a land of loose settlements to the mostly Christian-oriented nation that it is today. The earliest known inhabitants of the Philippines islands belonged to many different cultural groups, as is true today, and there wasn't much of a cohesive identity between them. It is hard to trace the history of the Philippines before the arrival of the Austronesian peoples, who brought farming tools and techniques with them. This occurred around 6,000 years ago, and it caused wide displacement of the earlier settlers.
Some of the earlier cultural groups in the Philippines managed to maintain a significant presence after the Austronesian peoples arrived, and they included the Ifugao, who were responsible for creating the astonishing Banaue Rice Terraces. Even though these 2,000-year-old terraces have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, locals still plant rice and a variety of vegetables on them. A group known as the Malays also enjoyed a significant presence in the Philippines before the arrival of the Spanish. The Malays were known for their potting, weaving, and sailing skills, and they were one of the many seafaring groups in the area that initiated trade.
Over time, the early settlers in the Philippines started founding permanent settlements, and traders from China, Japan, and a range of other countries started visiting with increased regularity. In the early 1500s, the basic culture of the Philippines, which was largely undefined as it was, started to take on a new identity. This is when the Spanish explorers began to arrive, and it didn't take them long to initiate their familiar campaign of trying to establish Christianity throughout the land. Ferdinand Magellan, who was originally from Portugal, was one of the first Spanish explorers to set foot in the Philippines. He arrived in 1521 and claimed the islands for Spain. Magellan and his men were well on the way to converting some tribes to Catholicism when things went horribly wrong. On Mactan Island, Magellan's arrival was not exactly a warm one, and it would result in one of the most interesting moments in Philippines history. Magellan was killed by a militia, and the surviving members of his crew fled back to Spain.
While the Lapu-Lapu tribe succeeded in turning the Spanish away in the early half of the 1500s, their violent efforts would partly fuel the campaign for a return. In 1565, a Spanish explorer by the name of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived by way of Mexico, and he helped to establish what would be the first European settlements in the islands. The Philippines became a Spanish colony in and around 1565, and it would remain as such until 1902. This is when the United States finally managed to wrestle the islands from the Spanish, which would again change the culture of the Philippines significantly. As a side note, the Spanish left behind many interesting buildings and other relics that figure among the top attractions in the Philippines. The district of Intramuros, which can be found in Manila, is a particularly interesting place to gain insight into the Spanish history of the Philippines.
1935 is one of the most important years in Philippines history. This is when the islands became the Commonwealth of the Philippines. A constitution modeled after that of the US was adopted, and the first national election was quickly initiated. It was in this same year that Manuel L. Quezon was elected as the commonwealth's first president. Quezon might have cooperated with the Americans, though the push towards independence was always brewing. World War II put a stop to the independence movement, at least for a while. This war caused significant destruction throughout the Philippines, and many historical buildings were wiped out in the process. Some of the cathedrals and other historical structures that have survived are often featured on various Philippines sightseeing tours. These tours give fantastic insight into Philippines history, as do trips to some of the country's history museums.
The US influence on the culture of the Philippines has had lasting effects, and these effects are either positive or negative depending on who you ask. The school systems were revolutionized, which is one of the positives, and the country's overall infrastructure also benefited. The Philippines wanted its own identity, however, and after enduring a tough Japanese military regime for a few years during WWII, the Republic of the Philippines was finally established. This happened in 1946, and the country has remained an independent nation ever since. Political upheavals are relatively common to this day in the Philippines, and while poverty still riddles many, the Filipino people are known for being friendly and welcoming. The country is a fascinating place to visit, and this has a lot to do with its people and its history. It also has a lot to do with its spectacular beaches, its beautiful mountains, and its world-class scuba diving.