Historians believe the Philippines dates back to the Paleolithic age. Based on the archaeological artifacts recovered, Filipino society and culture were fairly developed prior to contacts with other countries.
Filipinos had commercial relations early on with China, Indo-China, Malaysia, India and Arab countries. Chinese silk, porcelain, jars, gold ivory, and beads were traded for wax, bird's nest, teakwood, rattan, pearls, precious stones and other marine and forest products.
Spanish Colonial Period
Ferdinand Magellan came to the Philippines on March 16, 1521 and claimed the country for the Spanish crown. A colonial government was established in Manila in 1571. Spain introduced changes in the political, social and cultural life of the people. One of these is Christianity.
In 1896, the Filipinos staged the first nationalistic revolution in Asia against the Spaniards. The 1896 Revolution was the culmination of revolts against Spanish oppression. The death by musketry of Dr. Jose Rizal who led the reform movement fueled the fires of revolution.
On June 12, 1898, leaders of the revolution declared the country a sovereign state and proclaimed the first Republic of the Philippines. Meanwhile, Spain declared war against the United States over Cuba and was defeated. As an offshoot, the Philippines were ceded to America by Spain through the Treaty of Paris.
The American Era
Under the Americans, agriculture, commerce and trade rapidly developed. Among the changes they introduced were: the modernization of transportation and communication, the improvement of banking and currency, the American system of education, literature, language, arts and sciences.
During the outbreak of the Second World War, Japan occupied the country. In 1945, the Americans liberated the country and granted it Independence on July 4, 1946.
In 1972, Martial Law was declared by then President Ferdinand Marcos. Political repression and economic deterioration during the Martial Law years resulted in the historic "People Power" Revolution on February 25, 1986. This led to the proclamation of Corazon C. Aquino as President of the Philippines. Still one of the strongest democracies in Asia, the current president is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.