This Month in Philippines History – April

This Month in Philippines History looks at all the major historic events that took place in April in the Philippines.

Learn more about the country you have chosen to live in with this guide to Philippines history.


1st April 1901

President Emilio Aguinaldo volunteered to swear his allegiance to the United States

President Emilio Aguinaldo

On April 1, 1901, President Emilio Aguinaldo volunteered to swear his allegiance to the United States, formally ending the First Republic and recognising the sovereignty of the US over the Philippines. He had been captured by the Americans at his headquarters in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901 and was being held prisoner.

Reference: Philippine News Agency archives

1st April 1955

Earthquake Rocks Philippines 16 Dead, Many Homeless

MANILA, April 1, 1955

A sever earthquake struck the southern Philippines sending thousands fleeing from their homes in the predawn darkness and killing at least 16 people. The quake triggered a series aftershocks that lasted several hours.

Hundreds of people were reported injured by falling debris at least a thousand were left homeless.

Mindanao. Negros and Panay islands were the hardest hit.

The Philippines Cross said 16 people were killed near Lake Lanao.

Island coastal cities were devastated by rolling shocks. Churches crumbled, houses collapsed and electric power failed, the water system was disrupted and its port was blocked.

A Red Cross message from the Lanao district said “Tremors lasted from 2:15 to 9 a. m.”

1st April 1989

American  War Hero Col. James Rowe, 51 Is Killed in an Ambush in Manila

Col. James Rowe

Col. James N. Rowe, a United States Army officer who spent five years as a prisoner in Vietnam before escaping in 1968, was shot to death yesterday by gunmen near Manila, where he was a military adviser to the Philippine armed forces. He was 51 years old. Colonel Rowe was being driven to work at the Joint United States Military Advisory Group headquarters in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, shortly after 7 A.M. when at least two hooded gunmen in a stolen car fired more than 20 bullets into his vehicle.

His driver, Joaquin Vinua, was wounded but was reported out of danger. Colonel Rowe was pronounced dead at a nearby military hospital. Communist Rebels Suspected


6th April 1828

Ferdinand VII King of Spain establishes the first bank in the Philippines

On 6th April 1828, King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, issued a decree to establish the first public bank in the Philippines to meet the requirements of increased trade in the Philippines.

The bank is now the Bank of the Philippine Islands, its original name was El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel 2 named after the daughter of King Ferdinand VII, Queen Isabela II.

Not only was it the first bank in the Philippines it was also the first bank in South-east Asia.

The royal decree also gave the bank the power to print Philippine currency.

The first Philippine pesos printed were originally called pesos fuertes or strong pesos.

First printed on May 1, 1852, they were redeemable at face value for gold or silver Mexican coins. Before 1852, a multitude of currencies were used, most notably the Mexican peso.

8th April 1975

The Bagac Friendship Bell Tower in Bataan was officially opened

Bagac Friendship Bell Tower

 The Bagac Friendship Bell Tower, was built to symbolize the renewed friendship between the Philippines and Japan. It was built by Risshō Kōsei Kai a Buddhist organization in Japan. The tower is located about 217 yards from the point where the Bataan Death March started on the 9th April 1942. The 89 ft tower is composed of three pillars which is interconnected by multi-layer rings. You can find the tower at the junction of the Gov. Linao National Road and the road to the Bagac town proper.

The tower is a testament of reconciliation between Japan and the Philippines and the friendship they have formed since WWII

9th April 1942

General Edward King surrendered to the Japanese

General Edward King

By 9 April 1942 American and Filipino forces had become so weak from hunger they could no longer carry on defending Bataan.

Bataan was seen as an ideal defensive position and as far back as 1926 Plan Orange which assumed a Japanese surprise attack on Luzon said the American forces should withdraw from Manila to Bataan because it was an ideal defensive position.

MacArthur failed to listen to the advice of the United States War College and planned to defend the beaches against the advice of the War College. Because of this when American and Filipino troops did withdraw to defend Bataan they lacked enough suppliers to feed the 70,000 U.S. and Philippine troops.

By April the troops had been on half rations for 3 months and were at the point of starvation. Ammunition was also running low leaving Major General Edward P. King no choice but surrender.


12th April 1895

Inside a cave in Montalban Andres Bonifacio declared independence

Andres Bonifacio

Bonifacio declared Philippine independence for the first time in a cave called Pamitinan in now Rodriguez town in Rizal which at the time was called Montalban.

Earlier Bonifacio and a few others that included Pedro Zabala, Restituto Javier, Restituto Javier, Aurelio Tolentino, Aurelio Tolentino and Faustino Manalak went to find somewhere to hide in Rizal province which at that time was called Morong. This was in case the Spanish discovered the Katipunan.

They discovered the cave of Pamitinan in Montalban and also the cave of Makarok in Makarok and decided they were safe places to take refuge from the Spanish authorities. In these caves they held initiation rites for new members of the Katipunan.

Bonifacio used a piece of charcoal to write on the wall "Long live Philippine independence!"

14th April 1521

Magellan erected a wooden cross on the shores of Cebu

Magellan Cross

Ferdinand Magellan a Portuguese explorer serving the Spanish royalty erected a wooden cross on the shores of Cebu.

Magellan persuaded the chieftain of Cebu, Rajah Humabon, and his wife Queen Juana to form an alliance with Spain

This was probably the biggest mistake in Philippines history as it was the start of 368 years of Spanish rule.

Magellan also converted them to Catholicism which was the start of making the Philippines the most Catholic country in the world.

Rajah Humabon name was changed to Carlos in honour of King Carlos I of Spain.

The wooden cross erected that day marks the start of Christianity in the Philippines.

Today the same cross can be seen a small chapel that is like a gazebo and made of adobe and red tiles, on Magallanes street Cebu.


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