Pre-colonial era

  • The earliest known human settlement in the Philippines dates back to the Palaeolithic Period (more than 12,000 years ago).
  • Throughout the era, numerous indigenous tribes inhabit the Philippines, each with its own culture, language, and traditions. The spread of Islam and Hinduism also has a significant influence on the Philippines.
  • 9th century: Another significant influence is the arrival of Chinese traders, who introduce pottery, metalworking and textile production, and have a noticeable influence on Philippine cuisine and language.
  • Over time, various independent kingdoms and sultanates are established, including the Kingdom of Tondo (c. 900) and the Sultanate of Maguindanao (1520).

Spanish colonisation

  • 1521: Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrives in the Philippines and claims the islands for Spain.
  • 1565: Miguel López de Legazpi, a Spanish explorer and conquistador, establishes the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Philippines in Cebu.
  • 1571: The Spanish establish Manila as the capital of the Philippines, marking the beginning of a new era of colonial rule.
  • 1571–1898: The Philippines becomes a Spanish trade hub and adopts Roman Catholicism, greatly influencing society. However, Spanish rule is marked by exploitation and suppression of indigenous culture.
  • 1896: A Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule begins but is ultimately unsuccessful.

American occupation

  • 1898: The Spanish-American War breaks out, and Spain cedes the Philippines to the United States as part of the Treaty of Paris.
  • 1899: The Philippine-American War breaks out, resulting in the death of more than 200,000 Filipinos and the eventual defeat of the Philippine forces.
  • 1901: American colonial rule in the Philippines begins after Emilio Aguinaldo is captured and the Philippine Commission is established, which governs the country and initiates infrastructure development and modernisation. However, this era is also marked by widespread exploitation and cultural suppression, including of indigenous practices and traditions.
  • 1942: The Philippines is occupied by Japanese forces during World War II, leading to widespread destruction and suffering for the Filipino people. The occupation lasts until the Japanese surrender of World War II.
  • 1944: The US forces drive the Japanese out of the Philippines and resume control of the islands. 

Post-independence era

  • 1946: The Philippines gains independence from the United States after World War II.
  • 1965: Ferdinand Marcos is elected as the President of the Philippines, marking the beginning of his long, corrupt dictatorship.
  • 1972: President Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law. During this time, Marcos and his regime commits numerous human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions, torture and forced disappearances.
  • 1973: Marcos enacts a new constitution, giving himself absolute powers. 
  • 1986: The People Power Revolution, a series of non-violent protests and civil disobedience, ousts Marcos from power and installs Corazon Aquino as the new president.
  • 1989: US jets assist Philippine government forces suppress an attempted coup.
  • 1996: A peace agreement is reached with Muslim separatist group, Moro National Liberation Front. Another group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), fights on.
  • 2000: Impeachment proceedings start against President Estrada on allegations of corruption, betrayal of public trust, and violation of the constitution. Estrada is eventually sentenced to life in prison, but he is granted a pardon. 
  • 2013: Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) strikes the Philippines, causing widespread destruction and claiming the lives of over 6,000 people.
  • 2014: The MILF rebel group signs a peace deal with the government that brings an end to one of Asia's longest and deadliest conflicts.
  • 2016: President Rodrigo Duterte declares a 'war on drugs', a Draconian campaign which results in numerous human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.
  • 2017: The Marawi siege, a five-month conflict between government forces and Islamist militants in the city of Marawi, results in the deaths of hundreds of people and the displacement of tens of thousands. Martial law is also declared in Mindanao after fighting erupts between security forces and Islamic State-linked militants. 
  • 2020: The Covid-19 pandemic breaks out in the Philippines, killing more than 66,000 people and infecting over 4 million. 
  • Today: This era is marked by challenges such as political instability, poverty and conflict with rebel groups. However, the Philippines has experienced economic growth in recent decades through the expansion of its service sector and outsourcing industry. The Philippines has also been an important player in regional and global affairs as a founding member of ASEAN and a key ally of the United States.

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