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Archive for the 'History' Category

A Legacy of Heroes The Story of Bataan and Corregidor

Posted by Gregov on 13th June 2008

In the beginning of the Second World War the Japanese Empire invaded the Philippines. In this video documentary of the invasion of the Philippines and the fall of Bataan and then of Corregidor the documentary historians tell a tale of bravery and sacrifice and of patriotism.

There are six segments of this series. I invite you to watch and think of those times and of those people who are depicted in this documentary. I am honored to watch and pay tribute to these brave men and women who lived through this time in our nations history.

I invite you to comment on this article and series of videos. I also invite you to suggest other topics of interest for future coverage.



One of Six


Two of Six


Three of Six


Four of Six


Five of Six


Six of Six


May these heroes be blessed.

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Posted in World War II In The Philippines | No Comments »

Manila Before the Second World War

Posted by Gregov on 7th June 2008


Here is a series of scenes from our beautiful country from long ago. This is the first time we are imbedding video and would be interested in hearing from our readers about the video, the subject, and if you would like us to use more video in our publication.

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RP introduced tobacco to China

Posted by Mai on 21st May 2008

The Manila Times Internet Edition
RP introduced tobacco to China

(Editor’s note: The Sixth Dr. Jose P. Rizal Awards for Excellence awarding ceremony will be held at 7 p.m., June 14, at the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center on Anda and Cabildo streets, Intramuros, Manila.)

By Go Bon Juan

Believe it or not, one jin (equivalent to 0.5 kilo) of tobacco once cost as much as one horse in China. That was during the late Ming dynasty or more than 300 years ago in the 17th century.

Read rest of this story here:
The Manila Times Internet Edition

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Batangas: Missing syllable mystery

Posted by Mai on 15th May 2008

The Manila Times Internet Edition
Batangas: Missing syllable mystery

(Editor’s note: The Sixth Dr. Jose P. Rizal Awards for Excellence awarding ceremony will be held on June 14, 2008, 7 p.m., at the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center on Anda and Cabildo streets, Intramuros, Manila.)

By Go Bon Juan

I’ve always wondered why the local Chinese media call “Batangas” Ba-tang-an. The Chinese translate names of places by choosing Chinese characters that sound like the local name. So if the local name has two syllables, two Chinese characters are used.

Read rest of this story here:
The Manila Times Internet Edition

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One View Of Spanish History In The Philippines

Posted by Gregov on 10th February 2008

Early Colonization

A general overview of the early colonization of the Philippines.

History is determined by fate. A self evident fact. Why places and people become what they are is generally influenced by the nation which was dominant at the time.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The Romans in their day influenced Europe, Egypt, Mediterranean and North Africa.
Great Britain influenced one third of the Globe at the height of her power.
Well, in the sixteenth century there was another major player, and for good or ill, right down to the name, the destiny of the Philippines was to be sealed by the Spanish.


History and the fickle hand of fate……….

The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, under service to Spain, landed on Homonhon Island, Eastern Samar on March 16th, 1521.

Magellan (pictured) was killed the following month on April 27th by Lapu Lapu chief of Mactan – an Island off the east coast of Cebu, in the central archipelago. The Battle of Mactan as it was later to be known, is commemorated as the first Philippines conflict to repel alien invaders, and Lapu Lapu lauded as the first Filipino to fight and win over foreign imperialist forces.

He is commemorated with a statue in Mactan, and Lapu-Lapu City is named in his honour.

Of course, it’s worth noting that at that time Lapu Lapu was not a Filipino because the Islands had not been named as such then. A technicality perhaps, but decidedly in his favor was that he was a local chieftain who was not going to kowtow to Spanish superior forces as had his neighboring tribal leaders with such surprising submission.

The first king of Spain

Magellan claimed his new found land for Charles I (often referred to as Carlos V), who only five years earlier had become sovereign of a unified Spain. His only surviving son, born in 1527, succeeded him as Philip II in 1556 to rule over an ever expanding empire.
It is often a misconception that Magellan named the Islands the Philippines. It was not until 22 years later, in 1543 that Ruy López de Villalobos led an expedition to the islands and gave the name Las Islas Felipinas – after the aforementioned Philip, who then was still only the heir apparent – to the islands that Magellan had first laid claim, Samar and Leyte. The name would eventually be given to the entire archipelago… but not just yet.

More About Magellan

When Magellan arrived at Homonhon in that year of 1521 he had been on his voyage for almost one and a half years. He had already lost two of the five ships which first set out, as well as one third of his crew. Obviously being welcomed so well by the Rajah Kolambu of Limasawa, a local chieftain would have come as utmost relief.

Kolambu in turn introduced him to Rajah Humabon of Cebu, who – impressed with Magellan’s armoury and ships – happily converted to Christianity.

Humabon later managed to convince Magellan to embark on a mission to kill his rival Lapu Lapu of Mactan.

Magellan Ends His Life In Cebu

In what appears to have been a reckless ill thought endeavor, it led to his death. Perhaps Magellan’s drive to convert the indigenous tribes to the Catholic faith, had impaired his judgement.

Whatever conversation took place between Humabon and himself through his translator Enrique of Malacca, we shall never know, but perhaps some misunderstanding took place.

Its also possible that Magellan was so deluded that God was on his side, he believed himself invincible. (The image shows the site of Magellan’s death).

Consider the facts: he did not take his most experienced soldiers with him, and he failed to reconnoiter Mactan’s coastline. Consequently he was unable to land his cannon, and marched knee deep through the water with forty of his men, to be overpowered by 1500 natives (or so the story goes – the numbers were possibly slightly exaggerated).
And the rest, as they say…is history!

And on that subject, the tale was finally conveyed to the Spanish king by the captain of the sole surviving ship able to limp home, and in so doing manage to complete Magellan’s circumnavigation.

So began (albeit not overnight) the Spanish conquest and colonization of the Philippines.


This is not a history of Magellan or his circumnavigation. What happened to the remaining ships, and the one which finally made it home – the Victoria, already have their place in history.

This history of the Philippines is concerned only that her captain Juan Sebastian Elcano (pictured) was able to relate the tale when he finally returned to Spain in September 1522. (Perhaps this is how the inflated number of Magellan’s opposing forces on Mactan occurred – after all, it’s always best to be defeated by overwhelming odds!).

There was to be no great substantial account of the voyage for a further three years.

It was not to be three years when the Philippines continued in isolation, nor three years of relative piece before the storm – there was to be a handful of small forays to the islands prior to the Villalobos expedition, but it was to be Villalobos who really started the ball rolling, although not very far. And yet, it was to be another 22 years after him, before Philip finally took a much more serious interest in finally securing the islands named in his honor! 

It was February 13, 1565 when López de Legazpi and his troops landed on the shores of Cebu and established the first Spanish settlement. It was a Friday!

The First Governor And The First Capital

Miguel López de Legazpi was born in 1502. He was 19 years old when Magellan first landed in the Philippines.

In early 1564 Philip II ordered an expedition to follow the Magellan and Villalobos ventures, and Legazpi, who at the time was the governor of Mexico City, was commissioned to undertake the task by the viceroy of Mexico, Luis de Velasco.

In November of the same year Legazpi set sail with five ships and 500 soldiers. He was then 62 years old. He arrived in the Philippines on February 13th 1565.

The next 6 years would be a period of establishing small settlements, negotiations and skirmishes with local chieftains, attempts at introducing the Catholic faith, and welcoming reinforcements from Spain and Mexico of additional troops and laborers.

Slowly but surely, bit by bit, over this period, the Spanish planted their roots.

It was June 24th 1571 when Legazpi established Manila as the capital of Spain’s new colony. Astounded by the size and excellence of this natural harbor – he built the walled city known as Intramuros.

With the help of Augustinian and Franciscan friars he became the first Spanish governor of the Philippines and worked to convert the indigenous population to the Catholic religion. He died of heart failure a year later in 1572. He was 70 years old.

The Philippines, after considerable conflict, finally managed to declare independence on June 12th 1898. Spain had ruled them for 327 years – but what a story to tell in the meantime…..!

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Posted in Historical Odds and Ends | No Comments »

Philippines Crossroads of Southeast Asia

Posted by Delbert on 26th July 2007

Philippines Crossroads of Southeast Asia

In 1274, Khublai Khan, grandson of the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, having conquered most of China, decided to attack Japan and expand the Mongol Empire beyond the shores of China.  The invading armada consisted of 900 ships and 23,000 troops.  But bad weather stopped the Mongols and the invasion was aborted.  In 1281 the Mongols tried again, this time with an armada of 4,000 ships.  However, a strong hurricane wiped out the invading Mongols.  The Japanese believed that it was a divine wind — kamikaze — that saved Japan from the Mongol invasion.

Had the Mongols succeeded in colonizing Japan, they probably would have continued their aggressive advance southward to Southeast Asia; thus, expanding their empire from Syria and Eastern Europe all the way to Southeast Asia including the Philippine archipelago.
Khublai Khan died in 1294 and his dream of expansion died with him.

It is interesting to note that our ancestors known as Malayo-Polynesians — a sub-family of the Austronesians — migrated from south China 5,000 years ago by way of Taiwan.  Today, the Malayo-Polynesians who set foot on the shores of northern Luzon, have populated a vast area of the world that covers a distance of 11,000 miles from Madagascar to Hawaii, almost half the circumference of the world.

The earliest known arrival of other cultures was in the 9th century when Muslim traders from Malacca, Borneo, Sumatra and the Middle East started coming to Sulu and Mindanao.  However, there were accounts that traders from the Mediterranean may have traveled to southern Philippines as early as 600 BC.  Southern Philippines close proximity to the routes of the Spice Trade — which goes back to the time of King Solomon — gives credence to this account.

During the 11th century, Chinese traders started coming to the Philippine archipelago.  They traded mostly in Luzon; however, they went as far as Butuan and Sulu.  In 1405, Emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty in China claimed the island of Luzon — the Chinese called it Lusong and placed it under his empire.  The biggest settlement of Chinese was in Lingayen — derived from the Chinese word “Li-King-Tung” meaning CÅ“to look backward and forward which is now the capital of Pangasinan. Lingayen also became the seat of the Chinese colonial government in Luzon.  When Yung Lo died in 1424, the Chinese colonial government was dissolved.  However, the Chinese settlers, known as Sangleys in Lingayen remained and prospered.  Most of them hispanized their names during the Spanish era.

Ninety seven years after Emperor Yung Lo died, in 1521, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines and claimed it for the Spanish Crown.  He named it Islas de San Lazaro.  Another discovery made in 1521 was Mexico.  Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztec empire and wasted no time colonizing it.  The colony was named Nueva Espana (New Spain).  Thousands of Spaniards were encouraged to settle in Mexico with promises of land and wealth.

In 1542 the Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos led an expedition to the Philippine archipelago and named it Las Islas Filipinas after Philip II, the future king of Spain.  However, Villalobos wasn’t too enthused in colonizing the far-flung archipelago. He did not stay too long and left.

In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish-born Mexican functionary, led an expedition to Filipinas with the intent of colonizing it.  At first, he established his capital in Cebu.  In 1569, using Cebu natives — called Pintados for the tattoos on their bodies — Legazpi ordered one of his lieutenants, Martin de Goiti, to attack Maynilad in Luzon, a thriving settlement frequented by Chinese and Arab traders.  Goiti pretended to have come in peace and the native chief, Rajah Soliman, gave him and his men a sumptuous feast. During the feast, Goiti and Rajah Soliman entered into a blood compact. The following day, Goiti attacked and captured the settlement.   In 1571, Legazpi arrived “triumphantly” in Manila.

Thus, the Spanish colonization of the Philippines started.  For 250 years — from 1565 to 1815 — Filipinas was ruled by the Viceroy of Nueva Espana nder the authority of the Spanish Crown.

The 250 years under direct Mexican administration had created a strong cultural link between the two colonies of Spain.  The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade thrived.  It was the only trade route linking the Philippines and the other colonies of Spain.  Each year, two galleons crossed the vast Pacific Ocean from Manila to Acapulco.  It took one year for each galleon to complete a round trip.

When war broke out between Spain and the British Empire in 1762, Britain attacked the Spanish forces in the Philippines.  Spain surrendered the Philippines and Britain immediately established a military government in Manila.  However, the British presence in the Philippines only lasted until 1763 when the Treaty of Paris ended the war.  Britain gave the Philippines back to Spain.  It’s interesting to note that when the British withdrew, many of the Sepoys — mercenaries from India — mutinied and refused to leave.  Many of the them took Filipina brides and settled in what is now Cainta, Rizal.

In 1815, during the Mexican Revolution, Spain took direct control of the Philippines and it also ended the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.  The period under direct Spanish rule was also the turbulent years in the Philippines.  Revolutionary ideas began to flourish among a new class of Filipinos — the ilustrados — which eventually ignited the Revolution of 1896.

The American presence started in 1898 when Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States for $20 million.  Thus began the Americanization of the Philippines, a period of time that ended when the Philippine gained its independence in 1946.

For the last two millenia, the 5,000-year-old Malayo-Polynesian culture of the Philippines has been enriched with the introduction of Asian, Arabic, Middle Eastern, Indian, European, Mexican, and American cultures.  Strategically located at the crossroads of southeast Asia, the Philippines has become a melting pot of the world’s cultures.

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