Tumult in the Philippines

A timeline of the country’s conflicts

December 1898

The U.S. Navy defeats the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War and drafts a treaty that ensures U.S. control of the Philippines.

February 1899

Filipino leaders reject U.S. sovereignty and launch a (failed) rebellion that lasts four years, costing tens of thousands of Filipino and thousands of U.S lives.

November 1935

By U.S. decree, the Philippines becomes a self-governing commonwealth.

December 1941

Japanese occupation begins.

October 1944

Gen. Douglas "I Shall Return" MacArthur does just that.

July 1946

The independent Republic of the Philippines is founded.


Jurisdiction over U.S. military bases passes to the Philippine government.


After ruling for 20 years, strongman Ferdinand Marcos is forced into exile.


President Corazon Aquino restores democracy but fails to control rebels and the military; she's voted out in 1992.

June 1991

Mount Pinatubo erupts, leaving 100,000 people homeless and prompting the evacuation and closing of U.S.-leased Clark Air Force Base.

June 1994

President Fidel Ramos grants amnesty to indigenous rebel groups. Two years later, his government signs a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front.

January 2001

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is sworn in as president after Joseph Estrada, charged with corruption, is deposed. She is reelected for a six-year term in 2004.

May 2001

20 people, including Americans Martin and Gracia Burnham, are abducted by the Islamist group Abu Sayyaf. After 376 days, Martin is killed in a battle between the terrorists and Philippine forces; Gracia is rescued.

February 2004

A bomb on a ferry causes a fire, killing 116 people. Abu Sayyaf claims responsibility.

December 2004

A bomb, likely planted by Abu Sayyaf, kills 15 people in a Manilla market crowded with Christmas shoppers.

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