Philippines: Timeline

For the past two centuries, the Philippines has been ruled by three foreign powers and a homegrown dictator. But it also has fought for the right of self-rule, seen "people power" conquer tyranny, and at times was a model of democracy in Asia. Officials may seek to build on the bright spots in the island nation's history as they face a restive Muslim minority seeking self-rule, terror from kidnapping bandits and the trial of a former president.

1521 Ferdinand Magellan claims the Philippines for Spain.

1565 Spain formally organizes the Philippines as a Spanish colony.

1898 With the United States winning the Spanish-American War, Philippines rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo declares the Philippines independent on June 12, which will be recognized in the future as the Philippines' Independence Day. However, amid uncertainty, several imperial powers begin vying for influence in the Philippines. And following its defeat, Spain cedes the Philippines to the United States.

1899-1901 The United States subdues a battle for independence led by Emilio Aguinaldo.

December 1941 Japan drives U.S. forces from the Philippines after its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and occupies the Philippines for most of the remainder of World War II.

1945 U.S. forces retake the Philippines.

July 4, 1946 The United States grants independence to the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country with a minority of several million Muslims concentrated on smaller southern islands. Some of the Muslims, known locally as Moros, had expressed a desire for autonomy.

1965 Ferdinand Marcos is elected president.

1972 The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) begins a separatist rebellion in the Philippines' Muslim-dominated southern islands. After actions by newly organized separatist and communist forces, and the allegedly staged assassination attempt of a government official, President Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law on Sept. 21.

1973 President Ferdinand Marcos adopts a new constitution and consolidates his hold on power.

1983 Opposition leader Benigno Aquino is shot in the head and killed as he arrives in Manila after three years in exile and a previous stint of imprisonment under Marcos.

1986 Amid public outrage over a rigged election, the so-called "people power" revolution topples the long-entrenched, authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who flees the Philippines for the United States on Feb. 25, 1986. Corazon Aquino, widow of Benigno Aquino and Marcos' election opponent, becomes the Philippines first female president. … The MNLF, the Muslim separatist group, enters into peace negotiations with the Philippines government.

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