This Month in Philippines History looks at historic events that took place in March that moulded the Philippines in to what it is today.
A great aid to teach yourself or your children about Philippines history.
17th March 1001
King of Butuan
The King of Butuan in the Philippines sends a tributary mission to the Song dynasty of China.
16th March 1521
Magellan discovered the Philippines
History books say that Magellan discovered the Philippines on this day in 1521, however this was really just Spain's claim to the Philippines as it was discover far earlier than that.
Magellan’s travel was long and arduous, and only two ships survived it. He discovered the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of South America and became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. His remaining ships arrived at Homonhon island in Samar on March 16, 1521, named it Isla San Lazaro, erected a cross, and claimed it for Spain. The islands were later named Filipinas (Philippines) in honor of King Philip of Spain. The first Catholic mass was celebrated on Limasawa island in Leyte on March 31, 1521, by Spanish friar Fr. Pedro Valderama. Among those present were Rajah Siagu and Rajah Kolambu who forged a blood compact with Magellan. Fr. Valderama baptized the two rajahs and 400 natives on April 14, 1521, in Cebu where Magellan erected a huge cross – the famous “Magellan’s Cross” – and gifted the converts with the Sto. Niño images as peace symbol.
Magellan was killed by poisoned arrows on April 27, 1521, during the Battle of Mactan by natives of the island led by local chieftain Lapu-Lapu, who refused to recognize Spanish authority. The battle was considered the first Filipino resistance against foreign invaders, and Lapu-Lapu was hailed a hero.
10th March 1785
Royal Philippine Company established
On March 10, 1785, King Charles III of Spain confirmed the establishment of the Royal Philippine Company with a 25-year charter. The Basque-based company was granted a monopoly on the importation of Chinese and Indian goods into the Philippines, as well as the shipping of the goods directly to Spain via the Cape of Good Hope. The Dutch and British bitterly opposed them because they saw the company as a direct attack on their Asian trade. It also faced the hostility of the traders of the Galleon trade who saw it as competition. This gradually resulted into the death of both institutions: The Royal Philippine Company in 1814 and the Galleon trade in 1815.
The first vessel of the Royal Philippine Company to set sail was the "Nuestra Señora de los Placeres" commanded by the captain Juan Antonio Zabaleta
About 125 die as Philippines chases out foreigners.
20th March 1880
Rafael Rodríguez Arias appointed Governor-General
Admiral in 1872 . general commander of the squadron in the Mediterranean. He was captain general of the Philippines in 1880. He was minister of Navy between May 13 and December 31, 1874 in a cabinet Zabala; between 13 January and 13 October 1883 and from 10 October 1886 to 21 January 1890, in cabinets presided over by Sagasta . Senator. Vice President of the Supreme Council of the Navy. He has dedicated street in Bilbao.
1st March 1888
Native Filipinos and mestizos presented a petition demanding expulsion of the friar
Native Filipinos and mestizos presented a petition demanding expulsion of the friars. On March 1, 1888, some native Filipinos and mestizos marched in procession to the official residence of Jose Centeno and presented a petition demanding the immediate expulsion of the friars of the religious orders, and of the Archbishop, whom they declared unworthy to occupy the Primacy of the Islands.
5th March 1889
Filipinos attack the U.S.S. Bennington
A band of Filipinos fire on some crew members of the imperialist United States gunboat U.S.S. Bennington one month into the Philippine-American War (1899-1914); the incident is supposed to give Washington the impression that their invading forces are getting nervous and restless under the "harassment" of the patriots of the fledgling Philippine Republic; the Phil-Am War began on February 4, 1899 under the provocation of the Bald Eagle forces under the US President William McKinley's vile pre-arranged plan to precipitate a war and thereby trick their Senate to approve the December 1898 Treaty of Paris and thus secure funding for military operations to annex the Southeast Asian archipelago
17th March 1897
New flag adopted by the Katipunan
4th March 1899
First Philippine Commission arrives in Manila
On March 4, 1899, a month after the Battle of Manila, the first Philippine Commission, under Dr. Jacob G. Schurman, arrived in Manila.
The five-man team appointed by U.S. President William McKinley was composed of Elwell S. Otis, Charles H. Denby, George Dewey, Dean C. Worcester, and Jacob G. Schurman. It was tasked to investigate conditions in the Philippines and make recommendations to the American government.
17th March 1899
Plead to President Emilio Aguinaldo on the futility of further resistance
A member of a prominent Manila family visits Malolos, capital of the fledgling Philippine Republic, to try to convince President Emilio Aguinaldo on the futility of further resistance against imperialist American forces some six weeks into the bloody and protracted Filipino-American War (1899-1914); after hearing the arguments of the prominent Manileno, Aguinaldo orders his immediate execution.
9th March 1900
Capt. Pedro Cadurales and several others killed
Detachment commanders of the Filipino forces are informed by Second Zone Secretary Potenciano Luna that Capt. Pedro Cadurales and several others had been killed, including patriotic soldiers who were shot after being captured by the enemy forces of the imperialist United States; writing in a circular a year and a month into bloody and protracted Philippine-American War (1899-1914), Luna also cautions the Filipino soldiers to be wary of infiltrators
12th March 1900
Filipino'a intensify their guerrilla operations against the Americans
Filipino military leader Gen. Manuel Tinio y Bundoc instructs commanders of the flying columns under his jurisdiction to intensify their guerrilla operations against enemy American forces; the youngest general of the fledgling Philippine Republic, Tinio has proved to be one of the most efficient military leaders during the guerrilla warfare phase of the bloody and protracted Philippine-American War (1899-1914), having turned the whole Ilocos region and its population into an espionage network marked by a warning system that apprises the Filipino freedom fighters of approaching imperialist forces
2nd March 1901
The Spooner Amendment
The Spooner Amendment enacted.
The modification sponsored by Senator John C. Spooner, allowed the US president to fully administer the Philippines. Thus, the military government of the Philippines was replaced with a civil one albeit temporary pending the legislation of permanent colonial government by the United States.
5th March 1901
Lead up to the Lonoy Massacre
Valmoria received word from the headquarters of Pedro Samson that the Americans were heading towards his camp in Lonoy, Jagna. The day after, Valmoria ordered Capt. Caseñas to prepare a surprise attack for the Americans as they pass by his camp in Mt. Verde of barangay Lonoy.
It was believed that the Americans would pass through Lonoy, via a narrow path, Caseñas and his men immediately dug trenches and foxholes along both sides of the path. They covered the holes and camouflaged themselves.
There was 413 men, including Caseñas, armed only with daggers, machetes,spears and bolos.
On the 8th of March nearly every one of them was killed.
6th March 1901
United States breaks agreement to recognise Philippine independence.
Prime Minister Apolinario M. Mabini, of the fledgling Philippine Republic that was under siege from American forces, informed President Emilio F. Aguinaldo of William Taft's reply that the United States would not recognize Philippine independence, just over 2 years into the bloody Filipino-American War.
14th March 1903
The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), which supplies electric power to Metro Manila residents at present, was established.
Ever since people have been trying to work out what all the charges are for.
7th March 1906
Battle of Bud Dajo 900 men, women, and children were slaughtered
Also known as the Bud Dajo massacre was a consequence of the U.S. "Policy of Disarmament" as implemented by General John "Black Jack" Pershing. The Moro Wars taught the U.S., albeit costly, the inseparability of a Tausug and his weapon. In turn, what the Moros had to reckon with in the American soldier was the motivation that had fueled the Indian wars in America. The cry "A good Indian is a dead Indian!" became "A good Moro is a dead Moro!" Passions raged and collided, and blood flowed during that crimson period in Jolo. In the Dajo Massacre, some 900 men, women, and children were slaughtered atop an extinct volcano in the municipality of Danag on the island of Jolo. The Americans spared not a single life of the brave Tausugs who defended their mountain retreat -- not a man, woman or infant! Though the bloody campaigns against the Moros officially ended in 1915, U.S. troops continued to encounter sporadic Moro attacks for the next two decades.
6th March 1909
The University of the Philippines Los Baños was established
The University of the Philippines Los Baños (also referred to as UPLB, UP Los Baños, or Elbi) is a public university located in the towns of Los Baños and Bay in the province of Laguna, some 64 kilometers southeast of Manila. It traces its roots to the UP College of Agriculture (UPCA), which was founded in 1909 by the American colonial government to promote agricultural education and research in the Philippines. American botanist Edwin Copeland served as its first dean.
10th March 1917
Provinces and cities in the Philippines are incorporated.
Some provinces and cities in the Philippines are incorporated due to the ratification of Act No. 2711 or the Administrative Code of the Philippines.
5th march 1921
Charles Yeater appointed as acting Civil Governor of the Philippines
Charles Emmett Yeater (1861 – July 1943) of Sedalia, Missouri was acting Governor-General of the Philippines from March 5, 1921 to October 14, 1921. From 1901 to 1935, the governor-general was the chief political executive of the Philippines, when the country was governed by the United States of America.
19th March 1934
United States Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Philippine independence bill
The House of Representatives of the United States Congress passes the Tydings-McDuffie Philippine independence bill without a record vote. Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippine Senate and head of the Philippine Mission to Washington, states: “This is a real independence measure in that it provides for the withdrawal of all army reservations after independence and leaves the question of naval bases for future settlement. It is planned to invite a congressional commission to visit the Philippines after the law is signed so that it can hear the Filipinos with reference to other provisions of the law which they objected to and which we haven’t been able to remedy at present.” He endorses the suggestion of Rep. John D. Dingle that Governor-General Frank Murphy become the first High Commissioner. Resident Commissioner Pedro Guevara declares: “I am in a position to say that the bill would be accepted by the Filipino people. It is a fulfilment of a pledge, a glorious crowning of America’s humanitarian task . . . a glorious culmination of American efforts to build a new nation in the Far East”. Rep. John McDuffie states, “This represents a solemn fulfilment of our pledge to the Filipino people.” Answering a barrage of questions from the Republican side during the discussions, McDuffie assured the House that naval bases will be retained, subject to a conference between the President and the Philippine Government within two years after independence. Several Democrats said that the charge of Rep. C. J. Colden that the Filipinos were not sincere in their demands for independence is “absurd”. Isauro Gabaldon, a member of the Mission, states that the bill is the worst possible bill and predicts that the Filipinos will not accept it. Rep. R. L. Bacon, Republican, challenges the right of Congress to grant independence. Sen. W. H. King stated “It’s a damned immoral thing to hold these people under domination for the next 10 or 15 years against their wishes”. Bacon and Colden charged that the bill was backed by the American sugar and oil interests.
15th March 1941
Philippine Air Lines Founded
The Philippine Air Lines, Inc, Philippines’ flag carrier, took flight for the first time. The single Beechcraft Model 18 NPC-54 was put in service on a daily flight between Manila (from Nelson Field) and Baguio. PAL was acquired by a group of businessmen led by Andres Soriano and former Senator Ramon Fernandez.
11th March 1942
Douglas MacArthur's escape from the Philippines
The escape of Douglas MacArthur from the Philippines began on 11 March 1942, during World War II, when he left Corregidor Island in a PT boat. After travelling for two days through stormy seas patrolled by Japanese warships, he reached Mindanao. From there, MacArthur and his party flew to Australia, ultimately arriving in Melbourne on 21 March. This was the occasion of his famous speech in which he declared, "I came through and I shall return."
3rd March 1945
10th March 1945
Battle of Mindanao
The Battle of Mindanao was fought by United States forces and allied Filipino guerrillas against the Japanese from 10th March to the 15th August 1945 at Mindanao island in the Philippine Archipelago, in a series of actions officially designated as Operation VICTOR V, and part of the campaign for the liberation of the Philippines during World War II. The battle was waged to complete the recapture of the southernmost portions of the archipelago and secure them from remaining Japanese forces.
Despite the granting of Independence to the Philippines, the Parity Rights amendment to the 1935 Constitution is ratified, ridiculously giving American citizens equal rights as Filipinos to exploit the natural resources of the Philippines.
14th March 1947
The Treaty of General Relations Signed
The Treaty of General Relations was signed, allowing the US Military Bases to be installed in the Philippines for 99 years.
6th March 1951
Ex Royal Navy base Fort Santiago was declared a National Shrine
Fort Santiago was declared a National Shrine in memory of Filipinos who had been imprisoned and lost their lives there.
During the Spanish rule, Fort Santiago was used as prison and many Filipinos suspected of rebellion, including Dr. Jose Rizal were held there.
Fort Santiago was captured by the British in 1762 and served as a base of operations for the Royal Navy until April of 1764.
The fort sustained heavy damage from American bombs and shells during the Battle for Manila in 1945. It was later restored by the Intramuros Administration during the 1980s.
11th March 1966
The old Mountain Province was divided into four separate province
On March 11, 1966, the old Mountain Province was divided into four separate provinces,
8th March 1971
Philippines first known commemoration of International Women's Day
Hundreds of women from the KATIPUNAN or Katipunan ng Bagong Kababaihan staged an all-women rally against the issue of poverty. The rally was spearheaded by women of MAKIBAKA, an organization comprised mainly of women students and mothers from the urban poor communities; members of the Kabataang Makabayan-Women's Bureau and those from the SDK or Samahan rig Demokratikong Kabataan. The KATIPUNAN issued a statement printed in the March 8, 1971 edition of the Manila Times under the title "RP women join liberation front". These initial organizing efforts by women were however, nipped in the bud when then president Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972 and many of the members were forced to go underground.
18th March 1996
162 die in Ozone Disco Club fire
The Ozone Disco Club fire in Quezon City, Philippines broke out shortly before midnight at 11:35 pm Philippine Standard Time, March 18, 1996 (03:35 PM, March 17, 1996, GMT) leaving at least 162 people dead. It is officially acknowledged as the worst fire in Philippine history, and among the 10 worst nightclub fires in the world.
6th March 1998
World's largest fruit and vegetable grower implicated in child labour in the Philippines
Brussels. March 6. 1998 (ICFTU OnLine): Trade union investigations have revealed the use of child labour on banana plantations which supply Stanfilco, a Philippine subsidiary of Dole Food Company, the world's largest grower and supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF) has photographic evidence on its web site of nine and eleven-year-old children working on the Soyapa Farms banana plantation. One photographs shows a nine-year-old boy who works two hours before school and four hours afterwards, while another shows an eleven year-old girl working six hours a day for just over one dollar cutting dead leaves which have been sprayed with toxic pesticides. Both children work up to 11 hours on Saturday.
This evidence is all the more shocking as Dole promotes itself having a dedication to the safety of our workers, communities and the environment. as well as being a ‘leader in nutrition education for children, working in collaboration with many of the nation's leading health authorities to teach students the value of healthy eating habits.’ In addition it has produced a CD-ROM in which ‘Bobby Banana’ comes to life for an interactive session with the children to excite them about nutrition (according to Dole Food Company's web page).
8th March 1998
10,000 women march in the Philippines
Around 10,000 women commemorating the 88th International Women's Day marched in key cities nationwide to reveal issues crucial to Filipino women today, far from the issues sold by presidential candidates projecting themselves to be pro-women.
5th March 2002
Up to 15 people are reported to have died and over 100 were injured in an earthquake that shook the southern Philippines.
Most victims were crushed by falling buildings or buried by mudslides but four people died of heart attacks after the tremors on Wednesday, officials said.
6th March 2007
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law a package of anti-terror measures that has drawn protests as a threat to civil liberties.
6th March 2010
11 Filipino soldiers killed
Philippines guerrillas of the communist New People's Army (NPA) killed 11 government soldiers in a gun battle on Mindoro island.
6th March 2012
5.2 earthquake north of Masbate City
A 5.2 earthquake struck leaving 10 people injured. It was centered at sea just two miles (3 km) north of Masbate City on the island province of Masbate.
2nd March 2015
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
release report on the displacement of an estimated 124,000 people because of Armed conflict in Mindanao.