Philippine History

Spanish Colony 1565 - 1898
Ferdinand Magellan set out from Spain in 1519 on the first voyage to circumnavigate the globe with five ships and a complement of 264 crew. Three years later in 1522, only the one ship, the Victoria, returned to Spain with 18 men.

The Philippines were the death of Magellan. The expedition sighted the island of Samar on March 16, 1521. Magellan was welcomed by two Rajas, Kolambu and Siagu. He named the islands the Archipelago of San Lazaro, erected a cross and claimed the lands for Spain. The friendly Rajas took Magellan to Cebu to meet Raja Humabon. Humabon and 800 Cebuanos were baptized as Christians. Magellan agreed to help Raja Humabon put down Lapu-Lapu, a rebellious datu on the nearby island of Mactan. In a battle between Spanish soldiers and Lapu-Lapu's warriors, Magellan was killed on April 27, 1521.

Disputes over women caused relations between Raja Humabon and the remaining Spaniards to deteriorate. The Cebuanos killed 27 Spaniards in a skirmish and the Spaniards, deciding to resume their explorations, departed Cebu.

For all its losses, the voyage was a huge financial success. The Victoria's 26 ton cargo of cloves sold for 41,000 ducats. This returned the 20,000 ducats the venture had cost plus a 105 percent profit. Four more expeditions followed between 1525 and 1542. The commander of the fourth expedition, Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, named the islands after Philip, heir to the Spanish throne (r. Philip II 1556-1598).

The Philippines was not formally organized as a Spanish colony until 1565 when Philip II appointed Miguel Lopez de Legazpi the first Governor-General. Legazpi selected Manila for the capital of the colony in 1571 because of its fine natural harbour and the rich lands surrounding the city that could supply it with produce.

The Spanish did not develop the trade potential of the Philippine's agricultural or mineral resources. The colony was administered from Mexico and its...