12% percent of Filipinos live and work overseas.

The first documented migration of a Filipino was in 1417 during a Trade Mission to China.

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A Brief History of the Republic of the Philippines

  • The Philippines is an archipelago composed of 7,107 islands in Southeast Asia. The capital of the Philippines is Manila, which is located on the mainland Luzon.

  • The estimated population of the Philippines is 94,013,200 according to the mid-2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office. This figure makes the Philippines the world’s 12th most populous country.

  • The official languages of the Philippines are Filipino (Tagalog) and English.

  • The Philippines was colonized by Spain in the sixteenth century.

  • After the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War, the Philippines was ceded by Spain to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris

  • After the 1899 Battle of Manila, the Philippine-American war broke out resulting in the United States taking control over the Phlippines which was then administered as an ‘insular area.’

  • In 1942, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. During World War II, the Japanese occupied the Philippine islands.

  • In 1946, the Philippine attained its independence.

  • The Philippine Government is Unitary Presidential Constitutional Republic.

  • The current President of the Philippines is Benigno Aquino III.


A Timeline of Important Dates in Philippine History


A Brief History of Philippine Emigration

The long history of Philippine emigration can be divided and discussed in different waves:

The Prehistoric Period

Historians believe the first inhabitants of the Philippines descended from various ethnic groups from across Southeast Asia, the nearby islands and the mainland, in waves of migration starting over 300,000 years ago. No historical documentation exists of these early migrations. However, scientists have found distinct similarities between the fossilized remains of the Philippines and that of their neighboring countries.

The earliest found human remains in the Philippines is that of a metatarsal of Callao Man, which was dates to be around 67 thousand years old using uranium series ablation. Henry Otley Beyer, a noted social scientist, believed:

“The first migrants were the “Dawnmen” (or “cavemen” because they lived in caves.). The Dawnmen resembled Java ManPeking Man, and other Asian Home sapiens who existed about 250,000 years ago. They did not have any knowledge of agriculture, and lived by hunting and fishing. It was precisely in search of food that they came to the Philippines by way of the land bridges that connected the Philippines and Indonesia. Owing perhaps to their migratory nature, they eventually left the Philippines for destinations unknown.”

The Spanish Period

The Philippines was a colony of Spain for 333 years. During the Hispanic rule, Filipinos frequently migrated along the Spanish trade and exploration routes – to Guam, Indonesia, other nearby islands and Mexico. Filipino seafarers were recorded to have ridden trading ships going down the Manila-Acapulco galleon route. But seafarers were not the only ones who immigrated. The migrant wave of 1565-1815 included slaves, prisoners, soldiers, adventurers as well as refugees. The few privileged individuals migrated to Spain – mostly to get an education. The national hero, Jose Rizal, is the epitome of such an individual.  

The American Period

The first Filipinos came to North America as sailors on the Spanish-Filipino-Mexico Galleon trade of the 14th century. The Filipino sailors landed in what is now California and Louisiana, where they jumped ship and established colonies by the water in as early as 1565. In 1903, the first documented group of Filipinos arrived. The second major migrant wave to America began after the Spanish-American War in 1899, when the Philippines officially became a colony of the United States. They were mostly farm workers and students (Pensionados). In 1940, over 98,000 Filipinos were documented to have lived in the United States.

After attaining it’s independence on July 4, 1946, Filipinos continued to immigrate to the United States. The United States had become the ‘golden land’ for most aspiring immigrants. From 1946 up until 1965, Filipinos immigrants were able to become naturalized U.S. citizens. This marked the arrival of various Filipino professionals. The 1970 US Census documented the population of Filipinos to be at “336, 731.”

Two other events that caused waves of immigration were the elimination of national origin quotas in 1965 and the Immigration act of 1990. Between 1980 and 2006, the number of Filipino immigrants tripled.

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