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History of Philippines: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

Named after King Philip II of Spain, the Philippines was settled over 30,000 years ago. The Spanish lost control of the Philippines to the US at the end of the Spanish American War. The US then helped the Philippines become an independent country.

An Odd Name

Would you think it was weird if your house was named after a man you never met, halfway around the world? In 1521, the Spanish arrived at a large collection of islands, naming them the Philippines in honor of King Phillip II, who never visited the islands, ignoring thousands of years of culture and history of the inhabitants. Since this time the Philippines has struggled to form an identity for itself.

Early Settlers

30,000 years ago, the first settlers began to arrive on the archipelago known today as the Philippines. An archipelago is a large collection of islands that are close together. Many early migrants came from Indonesia over 100 years, bringing Islamic tradition.

Spanish Influence

The first European to arrive in the Philippines was Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, during his attempt to sail around the world. Magellan was killed by a local chief after claiming the territory for Spain. More Spanish expeditions followed, spreading Christianity.

The Seven Years' War

From 1756 to 1763 England fought the Spanish for control of the Philippines. Despite Spain's victory, the British influence would lead to many changes in the Philippines.

Spanish Control Ends

The Spanish American War resulted in the Spanish giving control of the Philippines to the United States in 1898. The United States planned to control the Philippines until 1935, at which point it would become a free and independent country. The outbreak of World War II complicated this plan. In 1941, Japanese forces invaded and took control of the Philippines until 1944, when US military forces pushed them out.

Republic of the Philippines

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines became the independent Republic of the Philippines. Manuel Roxas was the country's first elected president. Despite being independent, the Republic of the Philippines remains closely tied with the United States. The United States keeps 23 military bases in the Philippines while training and providing aid to the Philippines' military and government.

Internal Fighting Begins

When Ramón Magsaysay was elected president in 1953, distrust and hostility between the mostly Christian north and the mostly Muslim south became intense. These tensions remained for decades to come. Magsaysay's policies were seen by many as protecting interests of the United States above those who live in the Philippines. In 1961, when Diosdado Macapagal was elected, the focus of the government moved to the people of the Philippines.

Flag of the Republic of the Philippines
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