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    Philippine Presidents, History of the Philippines

    The Philippines, a group of over 7,000 islands with combined land area encompassing 300,000 square kilometres, grew into a nation under more than three centuries of Spanish conquest and 42 years of American rule. It is the first country outside the New World that closely witnessed the United States’ rise to power following the 1898 Spanish-American War.

    Situated 800 kilometres southeast of mainland Asia, the archipelago, named after King Philip II of Spain, was discovered in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, the same explorer who had discovered the Pacific Ocean in search of the so-called “Spice Islands” and is now widely considered the first navigator to have cruised around the planet.

    Ironically, the Filipinos, after having been subdued for centuries by foreign colonizers as a result of Magellan’s voyage, would emerge as the best seafarers in the world, manning a third of all international vessels today. Some 7.8 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and Filipino migrants would help rebuild cities in many countries and bring back over US$10 billion in annual remittances to their families in the Philippines.

    The country’s geographical location and long exposure to foreign influences has placed the Philippines on a unique cultural base in Asia. It is now the only predominantly Catholic country in the region, with 70 million out of its total population of 85 million (as of 2005) confessing to be Catholic. There are also large numbers of Protestants and Born-Again Christians in the country while the Muslim population is concentrated in southern Mindanao.

    Early Trade

    The first inhabitants of the Philippines were the Negritos who traveled from mainland Asia over a land bridge that is now underwater. Migrants from other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia later followed and established a Malayan culture that flourished before the Spaniards came. Chinese and Arab merchants helped establish markets at the community level.

    A sultanate system, first established in the southern island of Sulu in the 14th century, is believed to have reached the islands of Luzon and Visayas, giving way to the rise of the Islamic faith. The Spaniards would later drive the Muslims to the south and establish Catholicism as the main religion in the north and central parts of the country.

    Local villages, known as barangay, traded agricultural and fishery products with each other. The Igorot tribe in Northern Luzon carved the marvellous Banaue Rice Terraces from the mountains, a proof of their advanced agriculture technology. Communities near the shore exchanged goods with Chinese and Arab merchants, who came aboard large ships. These communities traded slaves, gold, beeswax, betel nuts, pearls, and shells for porcelain, silk, iron, tin and semi-precious stones.

    The Philippine islands were a part of an extensive trade route used by Chinese merchants as early as the 10th century. By the time Magellan arrived in the islands, regular trade and cultural contact between Chinese traders and local chieftains were firmly instituted. Many Chinese merchants settled in the country and shared their crafts with the natives. Some historians claim that an Italian Franciscan priest, named Father Odorico, was actually the first European to have reached the Philippines in 1324 when his ship bound for China took refuge from a storm in Bolinao Island in northern part of Luzon.

    Aside from the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Cordillera Mountains, early settlers did not leave any giant monument, and this is what makes conservative historians doubt the existence of the rich kingdoms in the country hundreds of years ago. However, it cannot be denied that early Filipinos were learned individuals who expressed their beliefs and sentiments in rich languages. According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), there are actually 78 language groupings and over 500 dialects in the Philippines.

    Feudal Society

    Magellan, who claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, died in a battle with a group of local warriors led by Lapu Lapu at Mactan Island. It was Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, in the fourth Spanish expedition, who named the territory as Filipinas after the heir to the Spanish throne in 1543. In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi led an expedition to colonize the islands and by 1571, most parts of the archipelago came under Spanish rule.

    The Spaniards established the colonial government first in Cebu in 1565 and then in Manila in 1571. Historians claim that University of San Carlos in Cebu and University of Sto. Tomas in Manila are the oldest universities teaching European type of education in Asia. Jesuit and Dominican priests established the two institutions.

    Under Spanish rule, Catholicism became the dominant religion. Catholic friars not only lorded over the congregations; they enjoyed vast political and economic influence, which they eventually used to repress Filipino peasants’ uprisings in the largely feudal Philippine society at that time. The Spaniards also quelled a number of rebellions instigated by the Chinese migrants. The friars distributed lands to Spanish families, who later comprised the landowning class. To perpetuate their economic interests, this class would also rise to become the political elite that would remain in power to this day.

    This gave way to the hacienda system in the Philippines, where cacique or landowners managed large tracts of lands tilled by peasant workers. Under the system, farmers were supposed to receive half of the harvest, but they usually ended up with much less because they had to pay for large interests on debt incurred from the cacique. This would be later corrected with a system of land reform, which, however, remains to be fully implemented to this day.

    Galleon Trade

    The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade became the major trading system between Asia and the Americas for nearly two centuries. Manila became a transhipment point of American silver to China. It was through this trade that the first Chinese silk and porcelain reached the shores of the New World. There were unverified claims that Filipinos helped build the city of Los Angeles in America. The Chinese and Filipinos would later become the two largest Asian migrant groups in the United States.

    Coconut became the country’s top agricultural product, because of Spain’s huge need for charcoaled coconut shells used for the caulking of the galleons. In 1642, the colonial government issued an edict requiring each Filipino to plant 200 coconut trees all over the country. By 1910, coconut exports would account for a fifth of total Philippine exports and to this day, coconut oil remains the country’s top agricultural shipment.

    The Galleon Trade lasted for about 200 years until 1815. It is during this period that rice and tropical fruits from the Philippines such as mango and banana made their way to Latin America. Beginning 1750, Spanish priests encouraged the development of plantations to grow abaca (hemp), tobacco, coffee and sugar. Sugar barons from the Visayas would later emerge as among the richest clans in the country.

    From 1762 to 1764, the British briefly captured Manila during the Seven Years War. The treaty of Paris ended the British occupation and returned the colony to the hands of their original colonial masters.

    Plantation Crops

    In 1781, the Spanish governor established the tobacco monopoly in the Philippines, which would become a major source of revenue for the colonial government. From 1820 to 1870, the Philippines would be transformed to an agricultural export economy. Located on the oceanic trading routes connecting Asia to other parts of the world, the Philippines became a transhipment point of merchandise goods from all over Southeast Asia on their way to Europe.

    The Philippines exported plantation crops such as sugar, abaca, other fibres, tobacco, coffee, and coconut products to China, Spain, United States, United Kingdom and British East Indies. In return, it imported textiles and rice.

    Historians claim that Spain administered the Philippine affairs through Mexico. Spanish administrators in the country were actually reporting to the Viceroyalty of Mexico. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Madrid directly governed its only Asian colony and even allowed rich Filipinos to study in Europe. The Spanish rule gave way to the rise of a small but highly powerful elite class, which to this day, controls most of the Philippine economy. The elite families, which own large plantations, were able to send their children to Europe for education.

    Foreign Investors

    Investors from Spain, Germany, Britain and other European countries laid the groundwork for utility companies in steam navigation, cable, telegraphy, railroads and electricity in the country. They also invested heavily in rice and sugar milling, textile and banking. The local elite developed the brewing industry, which would become one of the most profitable sectors in the economy.

    Although the educated Filipinos who studied in Europe shunned the use of force to topple the colonial government, their writings provoked nationalist sentiments among young men, who eventually formed a revolutionary movement against Spain. In 1896, the war between Spanish and Filipino soldiers escalated following the death of novelist Jose Rizal and rebel leader Andres Bonifacio. Emilio Aguinaldo, the new leader of the revolutionary forces, forged a pact with US Commodore George Dewey in Hong Kong to defeat the Spanish army.

    American Colony

    The Americans entered the scene because of its conflict with Spain over Cuba. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American war in the Pacific, the Philippines had to be taken by the US, lest other European countries such as Britain, France and Germany would fight for their next Southeast Asian colony. On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo, first backed by American forces, declared the independence of Kawit, Cavite, the seat of the revolutionary Filipino government at that time, from Spanish rule. The Americans took possession of Manila on August 13, 1898.

    While armed clashes with Spanish forces continued in other parts of the country, the Americans and the Spaniards were negotiating for the purchase of the Philippines for US$20 million. In the Treaty of Paris in 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the US.

    Filipinos felt insulted at the fact that their country has been passed from one colonial master to another for only US$20 million. When the US, which had not conquered any country before, made known its intention to succeed Spain as the next colonizer of the Philippines, Aguinaldo and his men waged a revolutionary resistance that ended with his capture in March 1901. The American soldiers easily subdued the remaining factions of rebellion with the help of their powerful weapons and their divide-and-conquer tactic.

    As an archipelago of 7,000 islands, the Philippines is home to different ethnic groups which do not speak the same language. The national government’s attempt to declare Tagalog (spoken in Central and Southern Luzon including Metro Manila) as the national language would not easily win the support of other regions.

    The Philippine-American war took the lives of 4,234 American and 16,000 Filipino soldiers. The death toll was much higher on the civilian population, with as high as 200,000 casualties. Although local resistance persisted until 1903, the US ended its military rule on July 4, 1901.

    American Way

    Under American civilian rule, the Philippines was introduced to US-type of education, Protestant religion, and later to the concept of democracy. Placed under US control were most parts of the country, except in the southern portion of Mindanao where Muslim rebels held strong resistance.

    William Howard Taft, the 27th US president, was the first American Civil Governor in the Philippines. Taft was praised for establishing a civil service system, creating a national legislature, suppressing prices, upgrading health standards, and sponsoring land reform and road building in the country.

    In 1907, the First Philippine Assembly composed of educated and rich Filipinos with vast landholdings. Manuel L. Quezon, who represented the Philippines in the US Congress, lobbied for the passage of the Jones Law, which in 1916 abolished the Philippine Assembly to give way for a bicameral legislature made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

    With the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934, Filipinos had their first taste of self-rule through the Philippine Commonwealth, a transitional government designed to prepare the Filipinos over a ten-year period for independence. By 1935, the Commonwealth was in place with Quezon as its first president. The Philippines also approved a new constitution in the same year.

    The United States is credited for helping establish the Republic of the Philippines, the first democratic government in Asia. Economically, the Philippines was ahead of its Asian neighbours, who were still subjects of European colonial powers before the war.

    Japanese Invasion

    In December 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines and drove the Commonwealth Government from Manila. While Quezon continued to head the government-in-exile until his death in New York in August 1944, the Japanese forces handpicked Jose P. Laurel, a graduate of Yale University and Tokyo International University, to head a new government under their control.

    The Philippines was dragged into the war because of Japan’s military ambition to become the dominant force in Asia and the Pacific. Japan wanted to be the leader of an economic zone in East Asia, which would be the source of its raw materials. The US presence in the Philippines, known for its strategic location in Southeast Asia, was the largest threat to the Japanese forces, following the destruction of the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

    While the American forces were regrouping in the United States, Filipino soldiers formed a guerrilla organization called Hukbalahap (People’s Anti-Japanese Army). Some 30,000 guerrillas at that time engaged the Japanese army in intermittent clashes. The Hukbalahap would later adopt the communist ideology and rule in the countryside.

    Meanwhile, Sergio Osmeña replaced Quezon as the head of the government-in-exile and joined General Douglas MacArthur in the liberation of Manila. General MacArthur returned to the Philippines via the island province of Leyte, along with 174,000 army and navy servicemen on October 20, 1944.

    The liberation of Manila took almost 20 days from February 3 to 23, 1945 and the fierce battle destroyed much of the city, with its ruins now often compared to the ruins of Warsaw, Poland in Europe. The Japanese army, however, continued to fight in the provinces, until September 2, 1945 when General Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya who was believed to have hidden vast amount of treasures during the war, surrendered in Baguio City.

    It is estimated that the battle of Manila cost the lives of 1 million Filipinos, 300,000 Japanese and 60,000 Americans. The intensity of the US-Japan war would force the former to drop an atomic bomb in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and in Nagasaki three days later.

    US Bases

    By February 1945, Osmeña restored the Commonwealth in the Philippines but it was only on July 4, 1946 that the US granted the Philippines its independence, coinciding with the celebration of the Independence Day in America.

    However, US military bases would remain in the country for the next 45 years. On March 14, 1947, Manila and Washington signed the Treaty of General Relation, which provided the US to construct military bases for a lease period of 99 years. In 1959, the agreement was amended to shorten the lease period until 1991, after which both sides were to renegotiate the contract.

    When the US sought a ten-year extension of the lease period in 1991, the Philippine Senate, led by Senate President Jovito Salonga, rejected the proposal in a historic casting of vote on September 16, ending US military bases in the country.

    With newfound freedom in 1946, Filipinos elected Manuel A. Roxas, leader of the Liberal Party and one of the seven members of the Constitutional Convention who drafted the 1935 Constitution, as the first president of the independent republic in April 1946. His presidency was focused on rebuilding the cities and municipalities torn by the war, redistributing lands as wealthy landowners returned to reclaim their estates, and confronting the Hukbalahap, which by this time was tagged as a socialist-communist organization. The economy grew at a rapid pace, immediately after the war.

    Special Treatment

    Close economic ties between Manila and Washington continued after the war on the back of agreements providing for preferential tariffs for American exports and special treatment for US investors in the Philippines. In the 1946 Philippine Trade Act, the Americans were granted duty-free access to the Philippine market and special rights to exploit the country’s natural resources. Because of the Trade Act, the Philippines suffered a huge trade deficit with the influx of American imports. In 1949, the Philippine government was forced to impose import controls, after getting the consent of Washington.

    Roxas’ two-year presidency ended with his death, following a heart attack while delivering a speech at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga province in April 1948. Vice president Elpidio Quirino succeeded Roxas as president and defeated Jose P. Laurel to keep his post in the 1949 presidential race. It was during Quirino’s term that the Minimum Wage Law was enacted and the Central Bank was established to stabilize the peso and consumer prices. The country’s gross national product grew by an average of 7.7 percent annually in the early 1960s, on the back of the double-digit increase in the manufacturing sector.

    In the 1953 presidential election, Ramon Magsaysay, who had served as defense secretary under the Quirino administration, won by a landslide. The charismatic Magsaysay initiated peace talks with the Hukbalahap, which would later evolve into a communist organization. He became popular for opening the gates of Malacanang Palace to ordinary people. He died in a plane crash on Mount Manunggal in Cebu in March 1957, which to this day remains a mystery to many Filipinos.

    While the standard of living in the Philippines was below that of the Western World, the country was often cited as the second richest economy in Asia, after Japan in the 1960s. However, ill-advised economic policies, poor governance and rapid population growth in the country would allow other Asian economies such as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand and China not only to catch up with but to leave the Philippines behind in the race towards industrialization.

    Filipino First

    Vice President Carlos P. Garcia assumed the country’s top government post following the death of Magsaysay. Garcia was known for his First Filipino Policy and Austerity Program, which put the interests of Filipinos ahead those of foreigners. Under his austerity measures, he encouraged temperate spending, which resulted in less imports and more exports. His nationalist policies, however, perpetuated the business interests of the ruling elite in the country and did not encourage local businesses to be competitive. Garcia lost to his vice-president in the 1961 presidential poll. Protectionist policies allowed local manufacturers to control the economy from 1949 to 1962, discouraging them from becoming competitive.

    Diosdado Macapagal, father of incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was the president from 1961 to 1965. Before he became president, he authored the land reform program as a legislator and was vice-president to Garcia. As president, Macapagal began a five-year socio-economic program by removing imports control and liberalizing foreign exchange. It was Macapagal who declared June 12 as the national Independence Day. In 1962, the Macapagal administration began devaluing the peso by half to around 3.90 to the US dollar.

    Macapagal initiated a shift in investments from the light industries to chemicals, steel and industrial equipment. He was also one of the proponents of the MAPHILINDO, a trade bloc of three South East Asian countries – the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia. This bloc later expanded to what is now the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). By 1965, foreign capital was present in nearly a third of the country’s capital stock.

    Martial Law

    Ferdinand Marcos, the Senate president, defeated Macapagal in the presidential election to become the country’s tenth president in November 1965. A close ally of the United States, Marcos launched military campaigns against the insurgents including the communist Hukbalahap and Moro rebels in Mindanao. In August 1967, Manila hosted a summit that led to the creation of the ASEAN.

    With his reelection in 1969, Marcos had to contend with worsening civil strife. An ideologist named Jose Ma. Sison founded the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968. It was during the same year that University of the Philippines Nur Misuari founded the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the armed wing of Islamic resistance movement.

    In June 1971, the government convened the Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution. Ironically, Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972, following a series of bombings in Metro Manila, He abolished Congress, curtailed freedom of the press, imposed curfews, ordered the arrest of his political enemies, prohibited labour unions, and controlled the economy with the help of his cronies. Although his wife Imelda was credited for building some of the country’s finest monuments, she was criticized for personal extravagance, a form of which was maintaining a collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes.

    Green Revolution

    The so-called green revolution in the early 1970s, which introduced new farming technologies, enabled the Philippines to export rice to its neighbours. The International Rice Research Institute was established in Los Banos town, Laguna province where Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian researchers trained to develop their own rice production. Thailand would later become the world’s largest rice exporter and the Philippines one of the largest rice importers.

    With the introduction of new farming technologies, the Philippines became heavily dependent on importer fertilizers, which are mostly fuel-based. The increase in world crude oil prices also pushed prices of fertilizers, to the detriment of Filipino farmers trying to adopt the modern technologies.

    Chinese Tycoons

    On June 9, 1975, the Marcos administration signed a joint communiqué with Communist China to restore official diplomatic relations. The Communiqué recognized that “there is but one China, of which Taiwan is an integral part. In return, China vowed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Philippines and refrained from providing any substantial support to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the largest insurgent group in the country.

    The largest success story in the Philippines actually involved Chinese merchants who left China in pursuit of business opportunities abroad. Unlike rich American investors, Chinese migrants came to the Philippines with little money but large determination that the country’s democratic society would help them become rich. True enough, they found goldmine in the Philippines. Today, the richest individuals in the Philippines have Chinese names, including billionaires such as Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, John Gokongwei, and George Ty. Together, they are the largest group of investors in the Philippines and control most of the largest companies in the country.

    Overseas Workers

    Under Martial Law, one man other than Marcos would singularly define labour relations in the Philippines and the role of the Filipino workers in the world. Labour Minister Blas Ople, a former journalist, authored the Labor Code on November 1, 1974 and launched the overseas employment program in 1976, which would send young and talented Filipinos who could not find work at home to other countries for dollar-earning jobs.

    Ople obtained the permission of Marcos to deploy thousands of Filipino workers overseas to meet the growing need of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates for skilled workers and the rising demand for Filipino seamen in flag-of-convenience vessels. Hesitant at first, Marcos later conceded to the proposal, if only to tame the growing militancy building among the hearts of the young and intelligent Filipinos who could not find job opportunities in their own land.

    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) were established to intensify recruitment of Filipino workers. This would make the Philippines the third largest destination of dollar remittances in the world, next to the more populous countries of India and Mexico.

    The Marcos administration also tried to court foreign investors, by committing guarantees against nationalization and imposing restrictions on trade-union activity. However, the blatant record of human rights abuses by the military under his administration was a big turnoff among foreigners. Under Martial law, the military and the police killed, abused, or arrested at least 10,000 Filipinos, including some of the brightest students and intellectuals. Many had disappeared without a trace.

    While Marcos lifted martial law on January 17, 1981 in time for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Manila in February, he maintained most of his powers as a dictator. Benigno Aquino, an opposition senator living in asylum in the US, decided to return to Manila in 1983. His death, from assassins’ bullets at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, sparked adverse sentiments against the Marcos administration.


    As the economy stagnated under the Marcos administration because of a mix of bad economic policies, corruption and uncontrolled population growth, the government had to resort to foreign borrowing to finance the fiscal deficit. In October 1983, the Central Bank notified its creditors about its plan to default payment on debt amounting to US$24.6 billion. With the growing loss of confidence by the business community, the peso depreciated by as much as 21 percent in 1983. The gross domestic product shrank by 6.8 percent in 1984 and by 3.8 percent in 1985.

    Emboldened by Marcos’ dipping popularity, the opposition gathered around Aquino’s widow, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, who would later challenge Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential election. When Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) declared Marcos the winner amid allegations of widespread electoral fraud, protesters, buoyed by Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, trooped to the streets.

    Following the defection of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces vice chief Fidel Ramos from Marcos, protesters began converging along EDSA near Ortigas Avenue, which would culminate in the ouster of Marcos from Malacanang Palace on February 25, 1986. The media called the bloodless uprising as the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution – something that political groups would later thought could be replicated time and again.

    Democratic Rule

    After Marcos, his family and his cronies fled from the Philippines, Aquino became president, organized a new government, freed the political prisoners and tried to restore democratic rule in the country. In February 1987, her government approved a new Constitution, which would later be subjected to heated debates over its restrictive provisions on foreign participation in the economy.

    The 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives and an independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court chief justice. To avoid a replication of Marcos’ excesses, the Constitution limited the president’s stay in office to one six-year term. It also created the autonomous regions of Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera and put agrarian reform as the cornerstone of the government’s plan for social transformation.

    A renegade faction in the Philippine military launched a series of coup attempts against the Aquino presidency. Perception of political instability dampened economic activities and refrained the economy from matching the large strides taken by its Asian neighbors in the 1980s and 1990s. By this time, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have overtaken the Philippines in the race towards industrialization.

    The Arroyo administration, while taking pride of having restored democracy, failed to bring the economy on track towards industrialization, and one of the factors singled out was the president’s political inexperience and lack of consistency in pushing for economic reforms. In the 1992 presidential election, Aquino endorsed the candidacy of her chosen successor – Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos.

    In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo’s powerful eruption sent tons of ashes around the planet’s atmosphere. Subsequent lava/lahar flow buried several towns in Central Luzon and jolted the economy. The natural tragedy also forced American soldiers at Clark Field and Subic Bay to withdraw from their bases earlier than stipulated. The US turned over to the Philippine government the two bases with total assets amounting to US$1.3 billion. The Philippine government later transformed the two bases into special economic zones.


    In 1992, Fidel Ramos was elected President. He began his term amid an energy crisis, which plunged the country literally into darkness. This he was able to resolve by inviting foreign investors to take part in the so-called build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme, where they would serve as independent power producers (IPPs) enjoying a lot of incentives and guaranteed market. While it brought light to Filipino households, the scheme would later translate to high electricity rates.

    In 1995, the Ramos administration also had to contend with a rice shortage, as a result of low agricultural production and poorly managed importation program. Since then, the government has authorised the National Food Authority (NFA) to import rice at will in order to prepare for any shortage in domestic stock.

    The Ramos presidency was also responsible for economic reforms such as privatisation of government assets, trade and banking liberalisation and deregulation, which would push annual trade growth at double-digit levels and draw in large-ticket foreign investments. By 1996, the Philippines was described as a newly industrialising economy along with the likes of Thailand and Malaysia.

    It was also under the Ramos presidency that communism was legalised, and some leftist organisations would later join Congress as partylist groups. The government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by Nur Misuari would sign a peace agreement that would establish a peace zone in southern Philippines. However, other militant rebel groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf would continue waging a war against the government for a Islamic state in the south.

    What Ramos failed to accomplish is the amendment to the 1987 Constitution to remove the restriction on foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40 percent. The opposition party accused him of trying to tinker with the charter to remove the six-year term limit of the president and in the process perpetuate his stay in power. In the end, he had to give up such attempt under the weight of public opinion.

    Financial Crisis

    With the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis, the Philippine economy contracted by 0.6 percent in 1998, the same year Joseph Estrada, a popular politician with links to the movie industry, became president. The economy actually grew although at a slower pace at 3.4 percent in 1999 and at 4 percent in 2000 even as the inflation and interest rates began to decline. In comparison, growth reached 5.2 percent under the Ramos presidency in 1997.

    While Estrada got the backing of Filipino-Chinese businessmen by reducing the problem of kidnapping, he did not get the same support from other “elite” businessmen. Despite appointing top economists, Estrada, a former college dropout, could not convince the “high society” that he could resolve the country’s economic woes.

    Ironically, what brought down the Estrada administration was not his economic policies, seen by many as not substantially different from those of Ramos, but the perception of wide corruption in his administration. In October 2000, a former ally implicated Estrada in illegal gambling payoffs and kickbacks. Reports that he has many wives housed in different mansions also got Estrada indifferent treatment from the Church, which was a force behind the 1986 People’s Power Revolution.

    EDSA 2

    In December 2000, the House of Representatives impeached Estrada. The subsequent impeachment trial at the Senate was aborted when senators from the opposition party walked out of the courtroom, triggering street demonstrations reminiscent of the 1986 revolt. Within hours after the walkout, the crowd at EDSA grew into millions of anti-Estrada protesters. When political and military leaders withdrew their support from Estrada, Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide swore Vice President Gloria Mapacagal Arroyo as the next president on January 20, 2001.

    Arroyo, a daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal, came to Malacanang with a promise to clean the government of corrupt officials and bring down the number of poor Filipinos, which represents a third of the total population. In her first year in office, she faced numerous challenges starting with the May 1 rebellion, instigated by the Estrada camp to regain the presidency. The rebellion proved futile, as the highly politicised military and the police remained loyal to Arroyo.

    She also had to contend with Muslim extremists, who began to target cities in their attacks. Following the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, the Philippines was one of the first countries to express support for a US-led international campaign against terrorism.

    On the economic front, Congress passed the liberalisation of the retail trade sector and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, which aims to privatise the state-owned National Power Corporation. The Arroyo administration also promoted business process outsourcing (BPO), information technology, tourism, and mining as key investment areas for foreign companies. Trade with other Asian countries was also given importance in view of the declining trade volume with the United States.


    One particular industry, which has led economic growth since 2000 is telecommunications, although this proved to be a bane for other industries as Filipinos cut their expenditures on other items to buy mobile phones and pay for monthly network services. By 2005, it is estimated that half of the 85 million Filipinos would have mobile phones, a high penetration rate for a developing market.

    Because of the global economic slump following the September 11 attacks, the GDP grew by merely 1.8 percent in 2001. Growth reached 4.3 percent in 2002 and 4.7 percent in 2003 even as the Arroyo administration confronted communist and Islamic insurgency problems and a shocking military coup in July 2003.

    After surviving the coup, Arroyo won the May 2004 presidential election over Estrada’s close friend and popular actor Fernando Poe Jr. Economic growth reached 6.1 percent in 2004, the highest in 15 years, although this was negated by high inflation and uncontrolled unemployment rates which were more felt by the poor.

    Fiscal Deficit

    Pressed by economists to narrow the burgeoning fiscal deficit, President Arroyo urged Congress to pass a package of tax reform measures aimed at achieving a balanced budget by the end of her term in 2010. Because of a long history of budget deficits, the public debt hit more than 130 percent of the GDP in 2003 and has been rising since then. Different sectors, however, criticised the administration for passing a heavier burden of taxation on the people at a time crude oil prices were hovering at historic high levels and pushing prices of goods and services beyond the capacity of ordinary consumers.

    By the second half of 2005, there were signs that the fiscal deficit was narrowing, even with the delay in the implementation of the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) law, which raised by 2 percentage points the tax rate on consumer products and services to 12 percent and by 3 percentage points the corporate income tax to 35 percent. The new EVAT law, which was expanded to cover fuel and electricity, took effect on November 1, 2005.

    New Constitution

    As the popularity of President Arroyo dipped to the lowest level amid allegations that she bought her way to the presidency in the 2004 presidential elections, she was given an option to correct the loopholes in the political system by amending the 1987 Constitution. She formed a Consultative Commission to recommend charter amendments focusing on lifting all restrictions to foreign investments and paving the way for a shift in the form of government from a presidential, central system into a parliamentary, federal system.

    Posted by Text Mates at 4:16 PM 0 comments

    Labels: Economy, History, National, Social

    Filipino Inventions

    Solar powered Balut maker

    The College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos has invented a solar “balut” maker. Engineer Fernando Paras Jr. said the machine, which covers an area of five square meters, is actually an incubator that can process duck eggs into embryonated eggs or balut for 15 to 17 days.

    Traditionally, balut makers in Pateros have been using electricity for incubation. The new invention is a two-way solar-powered system, with the solar water heater serving as the primary heat source while the photovoltaic cells serve as the auxiliary heat source regulating the temperature inside the incubator. The machine can process up to 4,000 eggs at the same time. This can double the income of farmers.

    SMS reader for the Blind

    A group of four engineering students from the De La Salle University invented the SMS reader, a device that allows the blind to read and send text messages. The prototype is composed of a black box with a Braille display that mimics the interface of a mobile phone. A data cable is connected to a slot in the black box.


    Narciso Mosuela of La Union province invented the “superkalan”, a novelty stove that can be fired with anything that burns—wood, paper, dried dung and leaves, corn cobs, and coco shells. The body of this stove is made of aluminum alloy, with a cast iron heat intensifier. For his invention, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) bestowed on Mosuela the “best design award” for Third World country category in 1987.

    Aside from the superkalan, Mr. Mosuela invented a functional rice thresher and other kitchen gadgets.

    Anti-cancer cream

    In November 2005, Filipino inventor Rolando dela Cruz won the gold medal for his “DeBCC” anti-cancer cream at the prestigious International Inventor’s Forum in Nuremberg, Germany. The “DeBCC” cream, developed from cashew nuts and other local herbs, was chosen over 1,500 entries as the “most significant invention” of the year.

    According to Mr. dela Cruz, the cream was a simple answer to basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common type of skin cancer worldwide. BCC affects around 800,000 Americans every year, according to the Skin Care Foundation. BCC also affects 500,000 Europeans and 190,000 Australians every year.

    Mole Remover

    In 2000, Rolando dela Cruz developed an ingenuous formula that could easily remove deeply grown moles or warts from the skin without leaving marks or hurting the patient. His formula was extracted from cashew nut (Annacardium occidentale), which is common in the Philippines. The formula won for dela Cruz a gold medal in International Invention, Innovation, Industrial Design and Technology Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in September 2000. In March 1997, dela Cruz established RCC Amazing Touch International Inc., which runs clinics engaged “in a non-surgical removal of warts, moles and other skin growths, giving the skin renewed energy and vitality without painful and costly surgery.”

    Modular Housing System

    Edgardo Vazquez won a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) gold medal in 1995 for developing a modular housing system. Such a system called Vazbuilt is reportedly capable of building within weeks a house with prefabricated materials that can withstand typhoons and earthquakes. Ironically, Vasquez is not getting enough support from the Philippine government to propagate his technology, which could help provide shelter to some five million Filipino families without their own homes. Vazquez is the national president of the Filipino Inventors Society.

    Super Bunker Formula-L

    In 1996, Rudy Lantano Sr., a scientist from the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST), won the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) gold medal for developing Super Bunker Formula-L, a revolutionary fuel half-composed of water. The mix burns faster and emits pollutants, 95 percent less than those released to the air by traditional fuel products. The inventor said his invention is a result of blending new ingredients and additives with ordinary oil products through agitation and mixing, which is a very safe process. The initial plan was to commercially produce two million liters of Alco-Diesel, two million liters of Lan-Gas and an unlimited quantity of Super Bunker Formula-L each day for customers in Luzon.

    Natural Gas Vehicle

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a vehicle that runs on natural gas, whose rich deposits remain untapped under the Philippine seabed. The project’s main objective is to look into the potential of natural gas as an alternative fuel to conventional petrol and diesel for the transport sector. The natural gas vehicle (NVG) has been road-tested in Isabela where an existing natural gas supply from the PNOC Gas Plant is located. Test runs have also been made in Cagayan, Ifugao and Mountain Province. The test vehicle used was the Isuzu Hi-Lander 4JA-1, direct injected diesel engine. The use of natural gas as a fuel is cheaper. On a gallon-equivalent basis, natural gas costs an average of 15 to 40 percent less than gasoline and diesel. There are over one million NVGs in the world today, according to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.

    Lamp Fixing Invention

    A Filipino inventor has developed a technology, which could revive a busted lamp (pundido) and give it more years of functional life than those of new ones. Acclaimed by the Filipino Inventors Society as timely and revolutionary, the Nutec system can prolong the life of fluorescent lamps up to seven years. Nutec was developed by New World Technology, headed by president Eric Ngo and chosen as the “Product of the Year” at the Worldbex 2000 Building and Construction Exposition held at the Manila Hotel. Engineer Benjamin S. Santos, national president of the Inventors Society, called Nutec a timely invention.

    “Tubig Talino”

    The Department of Science and Technology claimed that it has developed “Tubig Talino”, an iodine-rich drinking water that treats micronutrient deficiencies responsible for goiter, mental and physical retardation, and birth defects. “Tubig Talino” is actually a mixture of 20 liters of water and 15 ml of “Water Plus + I2”. Consumption of five glasses a day of this iodine fortification in drinking water is expected to provide 120 micrograms of iodine, which meets 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of a male adult.

    Feminine Hygiene Product Inventor

    Dr. Virgilio Malang won a gold medal for his invention “Psidium Guajava Effervescing Gynecological Insert”, a silver medal for his “Patient Side-Turning Hospital Bed”, and three bonze medals for his inventions “external vaginal cleanser”, “light refracting earpick”, and “broom’s way of hanging” at the Seoul International Fair in held South Korea in December 2002. There were 385 inventions from 30 countries that joined the competitions.


    Contrary to popular belief, there was no fish sauce or Patis yet during the Spanish occupation. Patis began to become a part of most Filipinos’ diet only after the Japanese occupation. Here is an account of how an enterprising lady discovered the fermentation of Patis. Immediately after the war, the family of Ruperta David or Aling Tentay started a dried fish business. One day, Aling Tentay stored in jars some salted fish that turned into fragments even before they dried. While in jars, the fish fragments turned into a liquid substance that tasted like our Patis today. Thus the beginning of the thriving Patis business of Aling Tentay, which was officially registered in 1949 and is known today as Tentay Food and Sauces Inc. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

    A Showcase of Ingenuity

    Nothing perhaps has been associated with Filipino technology as much as the country’s pride – jeepney. The word “jeep” evolved from the military designation, general-purpose or G.P., of a light vehicle first used by the Americans in World War II. Developed by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, this vehicle was powered by a four-cylinder engine and was classified as a quarter-ton truck in carrying capacity. It had served as a command vehicle, reconnaissance car, and ammunition carrier.

    The American soldiers brought these vehicles to the Philippines in the 1940s. After the war, these vehicles were left by the Americans and converted by the Filipinos into public utility vehicles. Employing artistic and indigenous designs, the Filipinos came up with a longer, well-decorated, techni-colored and sleeker vehicle, which they later called jeepney. From the standard military jeep, the body was extended to accommodate between 20 to 30 passengers. Modern jeepneys now sport very colorful and intricate paintings, fancy adornments, and metallic decors reflective of Filipino sentiments, values, and culture. The town of Las Pinas has been recognized as the jeepney-producing center in the country. Today, public utility jeepneys or PUJs serve as the primary means of transportation in most provinces. For this, the Philippines came to be known as the “land of the jeepneys”.

    Filipino Actors in Hollywood

    Alex Tizon – Pulitzer Prize winning journalist

    Amapola Cabase – singer, actor

    Angela Perez Baraquio – Miss America, 2001

    Anna Bayle – international Model

    Anthony Begonia – producer

    Anthony Ruivivar – actor

    Billy Joe Crawford – singer, actor

    Bobby Chouinard – baseball player

    Camille Velasco – Final 12, American Idol Season 3

    Charo Ronquillo – 2nd runner up, 2005 Ford Supermodel of the World

    Cheryl Burke – grand champion, Dancing with the Stars, 2006

    Christian Bonoan – Hip Hop Artist

    Christian Mendoza – 2003 Denmark Idol

    Christine Mendoza – model

    Dave Dynamix – DJ, producer

    David Bautista – wrestler

    Dean Devlin – writer, producer of Independence Day and Godzilla

    Death Angel – vocalist, Thrash Metal band

    Derek Basco – producer

    Donita Rose – MTV VJ

    Elizabeth Punsalan – US ice dance champion

    Emy Coligado – actress

    Emm Gryner — singer-songwriter

    Enrique Iglesias – singer

    Ernabel Demillo, news reporter, Fox 5’s

    Ernie Reyes Jr. – actor, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    Fe de los Reyes – actress, singer

    Francine Dee, model

    Freddie Aguilar – singer, composer, Anak

    Gene Cajayon – director

    Giovanie Pico – Actress, ER

    Glen Madeiros – singer

    Hervé Villechaize – actor

    Honey Labrador, host of Queer Eye For The Straight Girl

    Jamisen Tiangco, Fame contestant

    Jasmine Trias – 3rd place American Idol Season 3

    Jebson – rap star

    Jeff Francisco – actor

    Jerome Fontamillas – guitarist

    Jocelyn Enriquez – singer, Do You Miss Me?

    Joe Bataan – Latin Soul legend

    Jordan Segundo – American Idol semi-finalist

    Jose Garcia Villa – one of the world’s finest poets

    Jose Marie Chan – singer, composer, Christmas in our Hearts

    Josephine “Banig” Roberto – singer

    Jose “Sway” Penala – American Idol contestant

    Josie Natorie – fashion designer

    Josh Du – director

    Kate Earl – singer-songwriter

    Kat Gutierrez – model

    KC Montero – MTV-Asia VJ

    Kirk Hammett – lead guitarist for Metallica

    Lalaine – actress

    Lea Salonga – theater actress

    Leeann Tweeden – model, TV personality

    Lexa Doig — actress

    Lisa Foronda – news anchor

    Lou Diamond Phillips – actor, Bats

    Madison Michele – actress and television host

    Malia Jones – Surfing model

    Maniya Barredo – Atlanta-based Prima Ballerina

    Maricel Pagulayan – visual effects production supervisor, Superman Returns, X-Men

    Mark Dacascos – actor, martial artist, TV host

    Meiling Melançon – actress

    Michael Copon – actor

    Mig Ayesa – Rockstar INXS, 3rd Runner-up

    Mutya Buena — singer

    Neal McCoy – country music singer

    Nia Peeples – actress

    Nicole Scherzinger – lead singer of Pussycat Dolls

    Paolo Montalban – actor, Mortal Kombat TV series

    Phoebe Cates – actress

    Pia Clemente – film maker, Oscar nominee

    Rachael Lampa — Gospel singer

    Rex Navarrete – comedian

    Rob Schneider – comedian

    Roman Gabriel – former NFL quarterback

    Ronnie del Carmen – story supervisor, Finding Nemo

    Samanta Marie Becker – US-based actress

    Shannyn Sossamon – actress

    Sharon Leal – actress

    Sumi Sevilla Haru – actress

    Tai Babilonia – Olympic figure skater

    Tamlyn Tomita – actress

    Tia Carrere – actress, True Lies

    Vanessa Anne Hudgens – actress

    Vanessa Minnillo – Miss Teen USA 1998

    Van Partible – writer, director

    Veronica Pedrosa – CNN News Anchor

    Vicky Manalo Draves – US diving champion

    Victoria Principal – actress

    Wil Castillo – actor

    First in the Philippines

    First Circumnavigator of the Globe

    Although many historians considered him as the first circumnavigator
    of the globe, Ferdinand Magellan never completed his voyage around the
    planet. Magellan, a sea captain, commanded a fleet of five wooden Spanish
    ships with 241 men on board and embarked on what is now considered as
    “the greatest of all epics of human discovery”. Christopher Columbus,
    the Italian explorer who discovered America for Spain, traveled 8,000
    miles aboard a Spanish ship across the Atlantic Ocean. But Magellan’s
    men embarked on an expedition that brought them 42,000 miles around
    the planet.

    The voyage began on September 20, 1519. Magellan and
    his three remaining ships reached the Philippines on March 17, 1521.
    On April 27, he was killed by the men of Lapulapu, chieftain of Mactan
    Island in the Philippines. Only one ship, the Trinidad, with 18 European
    crewmen led by Sebastian del Cano and four Malay crewmen (maybe Filipinos)
    completed the trip around the world and arrived in Seville, Spain in

    First Landing

    On March 16, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in service
    of Spain landed at Samar.

    First Mass

    On March 31, 1521 (Easter Sunday) Spanish friar Pedro Valderama conducted
    the first Catholic mass in Limasawa, Leyte. Rajah Kolambu, who forged
    a blood compact of friendship with Magellan two days earlier, attended
    along with Rajah Siagu.

    First Filipino Christians

    On April 14, 1521, Rajah Humabon, Rajah Kolambu, and 400 other Filipino
    natives were baptized into Christianity during a ceremony administered
    by friar Pedro Valderamma.

    First Filipino Priest

    In 1590, Martin Lakandula was ordained as an Augustinian priest, becoming
    the first native Filipino to serve as a friar. In 1906, Jorge Barlin
    became the first Filipino bishop under the Roman Catholic Church. The
    first Filipino archbishop was Viviano Gorordo while the first Filipino
    cardinal was Rufino Cardinal Santos.

    First Chair

    It was said that Filipinos first used a chair in April 1521 when Ferdinand
    Magellan gave Rajah Humabon of Cebu a red velvet Spanish chair. According
    to Halupi, a book of essays on Philippine history, early Filipinos used
    to sit on the floor. 

    First Spanish Monument

    Also on April 14, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan planted a huge cross in Cebu.
    It was here where friar Valderama baptized Rajah Humabon, Rajah Kolambu
    and 400 other Filipinos into Christianity.

    First Battle

    On April 14, 1521, the first battle between Filipinos and the European
    conquerors took place in Mactan, Cebu. Filipino chieftain Lapu-lapu
    defeated Magellan and his men. After Magellan was killed, Sebastian
    del Cano led his men back to Spain, completing their voyage around the

    First Religious Order

    The Franciscans were the first Catholic religious order to establish
    their presence in the Philippines. The Franciscans came here in 1577;
    Jesuits, 1581; Dominicans, 1587; Recollects, 1606; Paulists, 1862; Sisters
    of Charity, 1862; Capuchins, 1886; and Benedictines, 1895.

    First Spanish-Filipino Marriage

    In 1585, Spanish soldier Pablo Alvarez married Nicolasa de Alvarez,
    a native of Lubao, Pampanga.

    First Muslims

    Makdum, Rajah Baguinda and Abu Bakar propagated Islam in the Philippines
    in the 15th Century.

    First Spanish Governor General

    Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who founded the first European settlement in
    Cebu City in 1565, is considered the first Spanish governor general
    in the Philippines. He founded the city of Manila and declared it the
    capital of the archipelago on June 3, 1571. The last Spanish governor
    general in the Philippines was Riego delos Rios in 1898.

    First Archbishop

    Domingo Salazar was the first archbishop of the Philippines, which was
    regarded as a single diocese in the 1580s.

    First Filipina Directress

    According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, Sor Candida Ocampo was
    the first and only Filipino who became a directress of an Spanish institution
    in the Philippines. In 1594, Ocampo, who was born in Camarines Sur,
    was appointed as the directress of Colegio de Santa Isabel.

    First Cannon Maker

    Even before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, Filipino natives
    had already learned the trick of making cannons, perhaps from Chinese
    traders. Historians claimed that Panday Pira who lived between 1483
    and 1576 had devised the cannons which Muslim leader Rajah Sulayman
    used to protect Manila against the invading Spanish troops. Panday Pira
    was from Tarlac.

    First Chinese Kingdom

    After attacking Manila, Chinese conqueror Limahong established a kingdom
    near the mouth of Agno River in Pangasinan province on December 3, 1574.
    Agno was the seat of the old civilization. Historians have mentioned
    one Princess Urduja who ruled Pangasinan before the Spaniards came.
    In 1660, Filipino leader Malong attempted to establish another kingdom
    in Pangasinan.

    First Revolt

    The first attempt to rise against Spanish colonial rule was carried
    out by chieftains of Bulacan led by Esteban Taes in 1587. On October
    26, 1588, Spanish authorities discovered a plot by Magat Salamat of
    Hagonoy who tried to enlist the support of his relatives in Borneo.

    First Filipino in Exile

    Felipe Salonga of Polo, Bulacan (now Valenzuela City) became the first
    Filipino who was put in exile by Spanish authorities for starting a
    revolt in Bulacan in 1587. He was exiled to Mexico.

    First Mention of King of Tagalogs

    New historical writings have mentioned the name of one Raha Matanda
    or Rajah Ache (Lakandula) who ruled over Tondo, a kingdom encompassing
    an area that now includes Bulacan, Metro Manila, Rizal and Quezon in
    the 16th Century. Rajah Matanda was the heir to his father’s throne
    and was a grandson of Sultan Siripada I (Bolkeiah I) of Borneo. In 1643,
    Don Pedro Ladia of Borneo who claimed to be a descendant of Rajah Matanda
    started a revolt and called himself the king of the Tagalog. He was
    executed in Manila. Historians said that when the troops of Miguel Lopez
    de Legazpi attacked Manila in 1571, the men of Rajah Soliman – the king
    of Manila – rose up in resistance.

    In 1847, Apolinario dela Cruz of Tayabas was considered
    king of the Tagalogs. Bernardo Carpio, a mythical giant character, was
    also regarded as a king of the Tagalogs. In the 1900s, the revolutionary
    government proclaimed Macario Sakay as the president of the Tagalog

    First Chinese Revolt

    On October 3, 1603, the Chinese rose in revolt in Manila and was driven
    away to San Pablo, Laguna where they made their last stand.

    First Juan dela Cruz

    A certain Pantaleon Perez led the Pangasinan revolt on November 3, 1762.
    Perez assumed the name Juan dela Cruz Palaris. It was mentioned that
    on November 11, 1849, most illiterate Filipinos during the administration
    of Spanish governor general Narciso Claveria y Zaldua were given the
    Christian surname dela Cruz. Our great ancestors, who could not read
    and write, drew a cross as their signature on documents and so were
    known for their dela Cruz surnames. In contrast, Filipino descendants
    of rajahs and noble men were given the option to keep their names. Among
    the clans, who were also exempted from forced labor and paying taxes
    under the Spanish rule, were the Lakandulas, Solimans, Gatmaitans, Gatbontons,
    Salongas, Layas, Lapiras, Macapagals, Salamats, Manuguits, Balinguits,
    Banals, Kalaws, among others.

    First Filipino

    The first man who used Filipino as a title of citizenship was Luis Rodriguez
    Varela, a Spaniard who was born in Manila. He preferred to be called
    El Conde Pilipino in 1795. (Source: Halupi)

    First Map

    The first Philippine map was drawn in 1734 by Nicolas dela Cruz and
    Francisco Suarez under the instruction of Jesuit historian Pedro Murillo
    Velarde. The original map was 27 inches wide and 42 inches long.

    First Dutch Presence

    On June 10, 1647, a Dutch fleet arrived in Manila Bay and later attacked
    Cavite province.

    First British Presence

    On October 4, 1762, British forces invaded Manila. They took possession
    of Intramuros until May 31, 1764.

    First Filipino Printer

    The Spaniards introduced the art of printing in the Philippines, almost
    half a century before the Americans learned how to use it. It is believed
    that the first book in the country was Doctrina Christiana en letra
    y lengua China, which was printed in 1593 by Juan de Vera, a Filipino-Chinese.
    In 1948, Fray Jose Gonzales of the Dominican Order discovered this book
    in the Vatican Library. Tomas Pinpin is regarded as the first Filipino
    printer. He was born in Abucay, Bataan but records about his birth were
    lost after the Dutch invaders destroyed the town of Abucay in 1646.
    Pinpin learned the art of printing from the Chinese artisans when he
    worked in the shop of Filipino-Chinese printer, Luis Beltran. 

    Among his works were Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala
    (1610) and the Librong Pag-aaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila
    (1610) printed in Bataan. From 1609 to 1639, Pinpin printed more than
    a dozen titles. Other literary pieces, which appeared during this period
    were the poems of Pedro Bukaneg (1590-1626), Fernando Bagongbanta (1605),
    and Pedro Ossorio (1625). The art of modern printing was discovered
    by German scholar Johannes Gutenberg (1394-1468). The Chinese, however,
    are credited for having developed their own system of printing, hundreds
    of years before Gutenberg was born.

    First Newspaper

    In 1637, Tomas Pinpin published Successos Felices (Fortunate Events),
    a 14-page newsletter in Spanish that is now widely regarded as the first
    Philippine newsletter. On December 1, 1846, La Esperanza, the first
    daily newspaper, was published in the country. Other early newspapers
    were La Estrella (1847), Diario de Manila (1848) and Boletin Oficial
    de Filipinas (1852). The first provincial newspaper was El Eco de Vigan
    (1884), which was issued in Ilocos.

    First Magazine and Journal

    Seminario Filipino, the first religious magazine in the country, was
    first issued in 1843. Meanwhile, El Faro Juridico became the first professional
    journal in the country when it saw print in 1882.

    First Guide Book

    According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first guidebook in
    the Philippines (Guia de Forasteros) was printed in 1834.

    First Novel

    According to literary expert Bievenido Lumbera, the first Filipino novel
    was Ninay, written by Pedro Paterno and published in 1880. Jose Rizal’s
    Noli Me Tangere was published in 1887 while El Filibusterismo came out
    of the press in 1891. The first English novel written in English by
    a Filipino was Zoilo Galang’s A Child of Sorrow.

    First Woman Writer and Poet

    According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first Filipino poetess
    was Leona Florentino of Ilocos while the first Filipino woman writer
    was Rosario de Leon of Pampanga. The first Filipino woman novelist,
    Galang added, was Magalena Jalandoni from Visayas while the first Filipino
    woman who wrote an English novel was Felicidad Ocampo.

    First Non-Catholic Marriage

    The first non-Catholic marriage in Manila under the Spanish control
    took place in the early 19th Century when American Henry Sturgis, who
    arrived in the country in 1827, married Josephina Borras of Manila.
    They were wed aboard a British warship at the Manila harbor. 

    First Bakery

    In 1631, the Spanish government established and operated the first bakery
    in Manila.

    First Drugstore

    Botica Boie is considered the first drugstore in the country, having
    been established by Dr. Lorenzo Negrao in 1830.

    First Lighthouse

    In 1846, the Farola was built at the mouth of Pasig River, becoming
    the first lighthouse in the country.

    First Electric Lamp

    The first electric lamp in the country is said to be the one designed
    by Ateneo students in 1878, 12 years before Thomas Houston Electric
    Co. installed Manila’s first electric street lights.

    First Botanical Garden

    In 1858, Governor General Fernando Norzagaray ordered the establishment
    of the Botanical Garden. It can now be found beside the Manila City

    First Waterworks

    Manila had its first centralized water system in July 1882 following
    the completion of the Carriedo waterworks, whose reservoir was in Marikina. 

    First Railroad

    In 1892, a railway connecting Manila and Dagupan was completed. It was
    operated by the Manila Railroad Company.

    First Telephone System

    The first telegraph line was opened in 1873 while the country’s first
    telephone system was established in Manila in 1890. Electric lines were
    first installed in 1895.

    First Mining Firm

    In the early 19th Century, Johann Andreas Zobel founded the first iron
    and copper mining firm in Bulacan and Baguio. The first Zobel in the
    country was Jacobo Zobel Hinsch, a German who went to Manila in 1849.
    One of the Zobels – Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz latter married Trinidad Ayala
    de Roxas, an heir of the rich Ayala and Roxas families.

    First Calendar

    The first calendar with a Philippine almanac was first released in 1897.
    The first issue of the calendar was titled “La Sonrisa”.

    First Filipino Chemist

    Johann Andreas Zobel also founded the first chemical laboratory in the
    country. Meanwhile, Anacleto del Rosario is considered as the first
    Filipino chemist.

    First Philanthropist

    Dona Margarita Roxas de Ayala, a daughter of Domingo Roxas, is considered
    as the first philanthropist in the country. She assumed the control
    of the family’s Casa Roxas in 1843 and was one of the founders of La
    Concordia College.

    First Social Club

    The first social club was established in Manila in 1898. It was the
    Filipino Independiente, a circle of educated and rich Filipino nationalists.
    It succeeded Jose Rizal’s La Liga Filipina, which was more of a movement.

    World’s First Steel Church

    The steel church of San Sebastian, now Basilica Minore, is considered
    as the world’s first-ever all-steel basilica. Designed by Don Genaro
    Palacios in 1883, this small, jewel box church was prefabricated in
    Belgium. The steel plates, weighing about 50,000 tons were brought to
    the Philippines in six ships.  The walls were filled with mixed
    gravel, sand and cement to fortify the structure. Stained glass windows
    from France were later installed. The church, an earthquake-proof structure,
    was completed in 1891. There were arguments that French architect Gustavo
    Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower of Paris and Statue of Liberty
    in New York, was also the one who designed the San Sebastian Church.

    First Hotel 

    It is believed that Hotel del Oriente in Binondo, Manila was the first
    hotel built in the Philippines. The hotel was a two-story building with
    83 rooms fronting the Plaza de Carlos III. It was a first-class hotel
    constructed in the 1850s just beside the famous landmark, La Insular
    Cigarette and Cigar Factory. The national hero – Jose Rizal – reportedly
    stayed at Room 22 of that hotel, facing the Binondo Church. Hotel del
    Oriente was among the crown jewels of the old Binondo (or Minondoc as
    it was earlier known) which was named after binundok. It was part of
    the Provincia de Tondo (now Manila) and was declared one of its districts
    in 1859.

    Both Hotel del Oriente and La Insular were burned down
    during the Japanese Occupation. The Metrobank building now occupies
    the former site of the two buildings. The oldest surviving hotel in
    the country is the Manila Hotel, which was built in 1912. The world’s
    first hotel was the Tremont, which opened in Boston in 1829. It had
    a dining room for 200 people, 12 public rooms and 120 bedrooms.

    First Republic

    Early Philippine republics were Kakarong de Sili republic in Pandi,
    Bulacan; Tejeros Convention in Malabon; and Biak na Bato republic in
    San Miguel, Bulacan. Historians, however, wrote that the first real
    Philippine republic was established in Malolos, Bulacan on January 21,
    1899. Two days later, the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated
    while General Emilio Aguinaldo was declared its first president.

    First President of Katipunan

    It was Deodato Arellano who became the first president of the Katipunan,
    a revolutionary movement against Spanish rule in the Philippines.

    First Vice President

    Mariano Trias is considered as the first Filipino vice-president who
    assumed the post in 1897.

    First Army Chief

    General Artemio Ricarte served as the first captain general of the Philippine
    Army which was established by the Tejeros Convention on March 22, 1897.
    Ricarte was replaced by General Antonio Luna on January 22, 1899.

    First Calendar

    The first calendar with a Philippine almanac was first released in 1897.
    The first issue of the calendar was titled “La Sonrisa”.

    First Protestant Mission

    The first Presbyterian mission arrived in the country in April 1899.
    American couple Dr. and Mrs. James Rodgers led the mission. 

    First Filipino Protestant Minister

    Nicolas Zamora, a former Catholic priest, later became the first ordained
    protestant minister in the Philippines.

    First Election

    The first municipal election in the Philippines was held in Baliuag,
    Bulacan under the supervision of American military governor general
    Arthur MacArthur on May 6, 1899.

    First Ice Cream Parlor

    In December 1899, Clarke’s Ice Cream Parlor became the first ice cream
    parlor in the Philippines when it opened its store at Plaza Moraga in
    Binondo, Manila. Metcalf Clarke owned it.

    First Autonomous Region

    Before the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Cordillera
    Autonomous Region (CAR) were formed in the 1980s, Panay Island used
    to have “Cantonal Republic of Negros”. The Americans, however,
    abolished the republic and turned Negros into a regular province on
    April 30, 1901.

    First American Civil Governor

    The first American civil governor in the Philippines became the 27th
    president of the United States. William Howard Taft, who served in the
    Philippines from 1901 to 1903, was also the only man who became a US
    president (1909-1912) and then a Supreme Court chief justice (1921-1930).
    Known for his weight of over 300 pounds, Taft became a very notable
    person in the US and the Philippines. One of the largest road networks
    in Metro Manila, the Taft Avenue, was named after him. President McKinley
    sent him to head the Philippine Commission in 1900. His task was to
    form a civil government in a country disrupted by the Spanish-American
    War and the rebellion led by General Emilio Aguinaldo, whom local historians
    called the country’s first president.

    First Superintendent of Manila Schools

    Dr. David Prescott Barrows, one of the passengers of American ship USAT
    Thomas, was appointed the first superintendent of schools for Manila
    and later the first director of the Bureau of Education. USAT Thomas
    was named after General George Henry Thomas, a hero of the Battle of
    Chickamauga during the American Civil War. American journalist Frederic
    Marquardt coined the term Thomasites to refer to American teachers who
    came to the Philippines aboard USAT Thomas in 1901. (Source: Panorama

    First Filipino Superintendent

    Camilo Osias was the first Filipino division superintendent of schools.
    Osias later became a senator.

    First American College

    The Philippine Normal School (PNS) was the first college established
    in the country under the American government. PNS opened its campus
    to Filipino students in Manila on September 1, 1901. It became the Philippine
    Normal University on January 11, 1992.

    First Concrete Building

    According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the Kneedler Building
    was the first concrete office building in the Philippines.

    First Filipino Chief Justice

    In 1901, Cayetano Arrelano became the first Filipino chief justice of
    the court.

    First Registered Professionals

    A friend of Jose Rizal, Dr. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, holds the distinction
    of being the first doctor to sign in the Book I of Registered Professionals
    on January 25, 1902. Pardo de Tavera, a scientist, was a part of the
    first Civil Government in the 1900s. Among the members of the Pharmacy
    profession, it was Dr. Leon Ma. Guerrero who appeared as the first registrant
    on the second earliest compiled Book I. The date was May 22, 1903. Guerrero
    is known in history books as the first among many Filipinos to put the
    Philippines on the scientific map of the world. In Book I of Dentistry,
    it was Dr. Wallace G. Skidmore who first registered on September 21,
    1903. The Board of Dentistry was the first board of professionals created
    in 1899. The idea of organizing the boards of professionals came from
    the Americans who occupied the Philippines in 1899. (Source: Philippine
    Daily Inquirer)

    First Inventor

    In 1853, the Spanish colonial government awarded a gold medal to Candido
    Lopez Diaz, a Filipino who invented a machine for Manila hemp or abaka.

    First Filipino Chemist

    Johann Andreas Zobel also founded the first chemical laboratory in the
    country. Meanwhile, Anacleto del Rosario is considered as the first
    Filipino chemist.

    First Dentist

    Bonifacio Arevalo is widely considered as the first Filipino dentist.
    In 1908, he was the founding president of Sociedad Dental de Filipinas,
    the first dental organization in the country. In 1912, Colegio Dental
    del Liceo de Manila became the first dental school. The first woman
    dentist was Catalina Arevalo.

    First Economist

    According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first Filipino economist
    was Gregorio Sanciangco.

    First Pilot

    Leoncio Malinas is considered as the first Filipino pilot. He first
    flew his plane on April 20, 1920.

    First Accountants

    Vicente Fabella is considered as the first Filipino certified public
    accountant (CPA) and Belen Enrile Gutierrez, the first woman CPA in
    the country.

    First Cardiologist

    The first Filipino cardiologist was Dr. Mariano Alimurung, who became
    an honorary member of the Mexican Society of Cardiology.

    First West Point Graduate

    Vicente Lim was the first Filipino who graduated from the prestigious
    West Point Academy, a military school in the United States.

    First Female Professionals

    Among Filipino women, it was Maria Francisco de Villacerna who became
    the first lawyer; Honoria Acosta-Sison, first physician; Catalina Arevalo,
    first dentist; Encarnacion Alzona, first historian; Celia Castillo,
    first sociologist; Filomena Francisco, first pharmacist; Belen Enrile
    Gutierrez, first CPA; Socorro Simuangco, first dermatologist; Carmen
    Concha, first film director and producer; Criselda J. Garcia-Bausa,
    first paleontologist; Felipe Landa Jocano, first anthropologist; and
    Ali Macawaris, first oceanographer.

    A visitor of this website said that Elena Ruiz Causin of Cebu could be among the first female lawyers in the country.

    First Railroad

    The Manila-Dagupan Railroad was completed in 1901, becoming the country’s
    first railway system.

    First Automobile

    In 1900, La Estrella del Norte shipped from France to the Philippines
    a “George Richard”, the first ever automobile to have landed on the
    native soil. Its owner was one Dr. Miciano, a rich doctor. The first
    shipment of automobiles for sale in the country was in 1907, with Bachrach
    Motors, an affiliate of American firm Ford Motor Co. as the importer.

    First Labor Union

    Isabelo delos Reyes, a writer, established the Union Obrera Democratica,
    the first organized labor union in the country on February 2, 1902.

    First Political Party

    On November 6, 1902, Pedro Paterno, a writer, scholar and former prime
    minister of President Emilio Aguinaldo, founded the Liberal political

    First Opera

    In 1905, Magdapio, the first Filipino opera, was staged at Zorilla Theater.
    Pedro Paterno wrote the opera, which was set to the music of Bonus.

    First Convention of Governors

    For the first time on October 2, 1906, the governors of Philippine provinces
    met in a convention in Manila. Sergio Osmena presided the convention.

    First General Elections

    The country’s first general elections were held on July 30, 1907 under
    the American government. The people elected the members of the First
    Philippine Assembly. 

    First Speaker

    The first speaker of the Philippine Assembly, whose members were elected
    in 1907, was Sergio Osmena.

    First Actor in Politics

    Before Lito Lapid became governor of Pampanga and Bong Revilla assumed
    the governorship of Cavite, Jose Padilla Sr., a movie actor in the 1930s,
    had served as the provincial governor of Bulacan. The first actor who
    invaded the senate was Rogelio dela Rosa.

    First Diplomats

    Benito Legarda and Pablo Ocampo were the first Filipino resident commissioners
    to the Unites States.

    First Labor Day

    The first Labor Day in the Philippines was celebrated on May 1, 1913
    during the first National Labor Congress in Manila. 

    First Film

    The first Filipino-produced film, “La Vida de Rizal” was released in
    1912. Jose Nepomuceno produced the first Filipino full-length film “Dalagang
    Bukid” in 1919.

    First Actor in Politics

    Before Lito Lapid became governor of Pampanga and Bong Revilla assumed
    the governorship of Cavite, Jose Padilla Sr., a movie actor in the 1930s,
    had served as the provincial governor of Bulacan. The first actor who
    invaded the senate was Rogelio dela Rosa.

    First Movie Theater

    Salon de Pertierra, the country’s first movie theater, was built in
    Escolta, Manila in 1897. A short French film was first shown in the

    First Comic Stip

    “Kenkoy” is considered as the first comic strip in the Philippines.
    Cartoonist Tony Velasquez first published the comic strip in 1929.

    First TV Station

    Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) Channel 3, the first television station
    in the country, went on the air in 1953.

    First Woman Cabinet Officials

    Sofira Reyes de Veyra served as “social secretary” under the Quezon
    and Roxas administrations. In 1941, former President Elpidio Quirino
    named Asuncion Arriola Perez as the secretary of the Bureau of Public

    First Woman Senator

    Geronima Pecson was elected to senate in 1947, opening the doors for
    Filipino women who wanted to join national politics.

    First Olympian

    David Nepomuceno, a Filipino serving in the US Navy, was the first Filipino
    Olympian. A sprinter, Nepomuceno was the country’s sole representative
    to the 1924 Olympics, which was held in Paris.

    First Balagtasan

    The first balagtasan, a local term for poetic debate in honor of Francisco
    Balagtas, took place in Manila on April 6, 1924. The first participants
    were Jose Corazon de Jesus and Florentino Collantes.

    First International Opera Singer

    Before Lea Salonga became famous in London, New York and Paris for her
    portrayal of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, a Filipino woman had long
    gained international recognition in the world of theater. Jovita Fuentes
    became famous in Europe for her opera lead roles in Madama Butterfly,
    Turandot, La Boheme, Iris, Salome and Li Tae Pe in the 1930s. 

    First Grand Opera

    Noli Me Tangere, an adaptation of Jose Rizal’s first novel became the
    first Filipino full-length or grand opera in 1957.

    First Woman Barber

    In June 1927 issue of Philippine Free Press, Martina Lunud from Olongapo
    City was featured as “Manila’s Lady Barber” who could also be the first
    professional woman barber. She had to find her niche in the male-dominated
    profession and worked for La Marina barbershop and People’s barbershop
    in Sta. Cruz, Manila later. “This is not a girl’s work, I think, but
    I have done my best to a certain extent, and my customers like my work,”
    the Free Press quoted Lunud as saying. (Source: Ambeth Ocampo, Philippine
    Daily Inquirer)

    Asia’s First Airline 

    The Philippine Airlines (PAL), which was established in 1941, takes
    pride in being Asia’s oldest commercial airline. However, huge financial
    losses forced its owner Lucio Tan to close the airline in September
    2000. It resumed operations a few months later. The first commercial
    flight in the country was recorded on March 15, 1941 when a twin-engine
    Beech Model 18 owned by PAL carried five passengers from Manila to Baguio
    City in 45 minutes.

    First Senate President

    The country’s first senate president was Manuel Quezon (1917-1935) under
    the US government. The senate has produced a number of presidents and
    political luminaries such as Manuel Roxas, Sergio Osmena, Claro M. Recto,
    Jose Laurel, Camilo Osias, Eulogio Rodriguez, Juan Sumulong, Quintin
    Paredes, Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno, Benigno Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos,
    Arturo Tolentino, Gil Puyat, Jovito Salonga, Joseph Estrada and Gloria

    First Female Justice

    Cecilia Munoz Palma became the first woman to top the bar exam with
    a score of 92.6 percent in 1935. Palma also became the first female
    prosecutor in 1947, the first woman judge at the Court of First Instance
    in the 1950s, first female justice of the Supreme Court in 1973 and
    first female president of a constitutional commission in 1986.

    First House Speaker Under Republic

    Eugenio Perez of San Carlos, Pangasinan became the first speaker of
    the House of Representatives under the Republic in 1946. Among the laws
    passed during his tenure were the Magna Carta for Labor, the Minimum
    Wage Law, the Rural Bank Law and the Central Bank charter.

    First Woman Cabinet Officials

    Sofira Reyes de Veyra served as “social secretary” under the Quezon
    and Roxas administrations. In 1941, former President Elpidio Quirino
    named Asuncion Arriola Perez as the secretary of the Bureau of Public

    First Woman Senator

    Geronima Pecson was elected to senate in 1947, opening the doors for
    Filipino women who wanted to join national politics.

    First Woman Battalion Commander

    Lt. Col. Ramona Palabrica-Go became the first woman battalion commander
    in the history of the male-dominated Philippine Army in January 2003.
    She was appointed as commander of the elite Aviation Battalion under
    the Light Armor Brigade based at Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija
    province. She was 45 years old and had three children at the time of

    First National Celebration of June 12

    The first national celebration of June 12 as Independence Day took place
    in 1962 under the Macapagal administration. Former President Diosdado
    Macapagal signed the law moving the celebration of the holiday from
    July 4 to June 12 on May 12, 1962. Quezon Representative Manuel Enverga
    was the one who proposed the law.

    First US President To Visit Manila

    US President Dwight Eisenhower became the first incumbent American president
    to have visited the Philippines when he arrived in Manila on June 14,

    First National Artist

    Fernando Amorsolo, a painter, was the first national artist declared
    by the Philippine government. The award was conferred on Amorsolo in
    April 1972, several days after his death.

    First American Multinational Firm

    Computer chips manufacturer Intel Philippines Mfg. Inc. claimed that
    it was the first American multinational company that established a branch
    in the Philippines in 1974. Today, the Philippine branch of Intel is
    one of the top exporters of semiconductor components in the country
    and contributes significantly to the cash flow of its mother company
    in the US, which is said to be the world’s largest corporation in terms
    of gross income.

    First Aeta Lawyer

    At 26, Wayda Cosme became the first Aeta to become a lawyer when she
    passed the bar exam in 2001. Cosme, a law graduate from Harvadian Colleges
    in San Fernando City, Pampanga, works for the Clark Development Corp.
    (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

    First Woman President

    In February 1986, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, widow of the late Senator
    Benigno Aquino, became the country’s first woman president and the country’s
    11th president. In January 2001, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a daughter
    of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, became the 14th president
    of the Philippines and the second woman to assume the government’s highest

    First President in Prison

    Deposed President Joseph Estrada, who lost the presidency to a military-backed
    people’s revolt, was arrested on charges of plunder and corruption in
    April 2001. His arrest fomented the now infamous May 1 mob revolt that
    was suppressed by government forces. As this was being written, the
    trial of Estrada was still ongoing at the Sandiganbayan or the anti-graft

    First Muslim Justice Secretary

    In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Simeon
    Datumanong, a Muslim, as the secretary of the Department of Justice,
    replacing Hernando Perez, who resigned on corruption charges.

    First Award of Ancestral Domain

    In what the Arroyo government described as a historic event and the
    first in the world, it awarded on July 20, 2002 a certificate of ancestral
    domain title (CADT) for the town of Bakun in Benguet province where
    some 17,000 Kankanaey and Bago people live. The title covers some 29,444
    hectares of ancestral land.

    Another Filipino wins Pulitzer

    Another Filipino won the much-coveted “Pulitzer Prize” for journalists in the United States, joining the elite group of famous Filipino journalists such as Carlos P. Romulo.

    Antonio Vargas, a 27-year-old political reporter of the Washington Post, was a part of a group of reporters who won the prize for best breaking news reporting category for the Post’s April 2007 coverage of Virginia Tech Massacre, where Korean student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people before turning to himself. Vargas wrote two stories on the shooting incident.

    Vargas, who was born in Antipolo, Rizal and grew up in Pasig, migrated to the United States when he was only 12 years old. He went studied in Mountain View High School in California and attended college on scholarship at San Francisco State University.

    Vargas joined an elite group of Filipino Pulitzer Prize winners, including Carlos P. Romulo, who won the award for international journalism in 1941; Byron Acohido, who won it best beat reporting; Alex Tizon for best investigative reporting; and Cheryl Diaz Meyer for news photography category in 2004 for her work in Iraq.

    Filipino Scientists

    Jose Rodriguez discovered methods of controlling Hansen’s Disease commonly known as leprosy. In 1974, he received the Damien Dutton Award.

    Josefino Comiso was the first to have discovered a recurring polynya (semipermanent area of open water in sea ice) in the

    Cosmonaut Sea, south of the Indian Ocean.

    Fe del Mundo is the first Asian to have entered the prestigious Harvard University’s School of Medicine. She is credited for her studies that led to the invention of incubator and jaundice relieving device. Since 1941, she has contributed more than 100 articles to medical journals in the U.S., Philippines and India. In 1966, she received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, for her “outstanding service to mankind”. In 1977, she was bestowed the Ramon Magsaysay Award for outstanding public service.

    Abelardo Aguilar discovered erythromycin in 1949, although he dies in 1993 without being officially recognized for his significant contribution to medicine.

    Dr. Lourdes Cruz has made scientific contributions to the biochemistry field of conotoxins.

    Filipino Physicists

    Gregorio Zara of Lipa City and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed the Zara Effect or Electrical Kinetic Resistance.

    Diosdado Banatao, a native of Iguig, Cagayan and an electrical engineering graduate from Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila is credited for eight major contributions to the Information Technology. Banatao is most known for introducing the first single-chip graphical user interface accelerator that made computers work a lot faster and for helping develop the Ethernet controller chip that made Internet possible. In 1989, he pioneered the local bus concept for personal computers and in the following year developed the First Windows accelerator chip. Intel is now using the chips and technologies developed by Banatao. He now runs his own semiconductor company, Mostron and Chips & Technology, which is based in California’s Silicon Valley.

    Filipino Inventors and Scientists

    Ampalaya solution against HIV – Maria Carlita Rex Doran

    Artificial bone replacement systems – Ramon Gustilo

    Artifical coral reefs – Angel Alcala

    Banana catsup – Maria Ylagan Orosa

    Carbonless paper – Johnson Fong

    Charcoal furnace – Antonio Madrid

    Coconut oil-fueled power generator – Felix Maramba

    Cultured Cement – Adriano Alfonso

    Digital fever detector – Jose Navato

    Dragon Fire Stove – Ramon Agpoon

    Dormitron – Laurelio Anasco

    Early warning device for vehicles – Samuel Ignacio

    Emergency water heater – Rolando Cruz

    Endotracheal tube cardiac monitor – Ned Teves

    Fiber-processing machine – Jaime Escolano

    Filipino Canon – Panday Pira

    First Advanced Computer Chip – Felipe Odulio

    First Single Chip Graphical User Interface – Diosdado Banatao

    Floating Power Tiller – Maggie Villacruz

    Fluorescent Lamp – Agapit Flores

    Food processing machine – Benjamin Almeda

    Fountain pen – Juan Urbano

    Green charcoal – Gonzalo Catan Jr.

    Hydrosil – Pelagio Bautista for hydrosil

    Incubator – Fe del Mundo

    Jaundice relieving device – Fe del Mundo

    Jeep Roller – Lopez

    Magic street sweeper – Armen Dator

    Maharlika water heater – Guillermo Barredo

    Moon Buggy – Eduardo San Juan

    Multipurpose portable survival kit – Roberto Celis

    Multipurpose routing machine – Pepito Fajicular

    Multi-shock bullet – Rudy Arambulo

    Nata de coco – Teodula Afrika

    One-chip video camera – Marc Loinaz

    Philippine-made airplane – Arturo Baluyot

    Pineapple vinegar – Maria Ylagan Orosa

    Pressure Fuild Machine – Cornelio Seno

    Quink pen ink – Francisco Quisumbing

    Rocking dental chair – Jacinto Ledesma

    Rotary dryer – Felipe Santillan

    Safety switch box – Cipriano Lim

    Salt evaporator – Leonardo Gasendo

    Shake-and-serve nurser – Ernesto Darang

    Siloscope – Manuel Silos

    Sing Along System (Karaoke) – Roberto del Rosario

    Stand-alone amplifier called Voca CDX 1001 Superamp – Carlos Casas

    Telephone electronic – Camilo Tabalba

    Teleophthalmology – George Camara

    Trebel Voice Color Code (VCC) – Roberto del Rosario

    Tribotech – Juanito Simon

    Universalurinary stone solvent – Dr. E. V. Macalalag Jr.

    Vehicle Signal Light – Marcel Buncio

    Videophone – Gregorio Zara

    Water-Powered Car – Daniel Dingel

    Yoyo – Pedro Flores

    Zero oil waste recycling – Ben Santos

    Filipino Astronomers

    In March 2006, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States acknowledged Christoper Go, a Cebu-based astronomer, for making new astronomical discovery – a red spot on the planet Jupiter. Go discovered the red spot on the planet using an 11-inch telescope and a CCD camera on February 28, 2006. NASA later called the new red spot “Oval BA,” or the Red Spot Jr.

    On June 25, 2002, the provincial government of Cavite awarded Edward Caro a plaque of recognition for his 42 years of service at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States where he helped launch the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission or the Explorer. Caro, a native of Cavite retired from NASA in 2001. In return, NASA during the same year conferred Caro the Distinguished Science medal, reportedly the highest honor it gives to its employees.

    Rommel Bacabac of the Society of Divine Word crafted US National Aeronautics and Space Administration experiments for zero-gravity effects on bones lofted into space by Soyuz. These have spin-off for osteoporosis and other bone diseases.

    Dr. Josefino Comiso, a Filipino physicist working for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, has studied extensively the polar regions. He is credited for having first discovered a recurring polynya (semipermanent area of open water in sea ice) in the Cosmonaut Sea, south of the Indian Ocean.

    Outstanding Awards by Filipinos

    Filipino Magsaysay Awardees

    Since 1958, 26 Filipinos and seven Philippine-based institutions have
    received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is widely acknowledged as
    Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize. The Filipino awardees included Hilario
    Davide Jr., Jose Vasquez Aguilar, Arturo Pineda Alcaraz, Francisca Aquino,
    Alfredo Bengzon, Jesse Robredo, and Miriam Santiago for government service;
    Rosario Encarnacion, Silvino Encarnacion, Eva Fidela Maamo, and Pablo
    Torres Tapia for communist leadership; 

    Angel Alcala, Fe del Mundo, Antonio Fortich, Benjamin
    Gaston, Cecil Guidote-Alvarez, Gilopez Kabayao, Pedro Tamesis Orata
    and Rosa Rosal for public service; Lino Brocka, Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil
    Jose, Raul Locsin, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Zacarias Sarian for journalism,
    literature and creative communication; and Corazon Aquino for peace
    and international understanding. 

    Radio Veritas was awarded for journalism while the
    Asian Institute of Management, Bayanihan Folk Arts Center, College of
    Agriculture of University of the Philippines-Los Banos, International
    Rice Research Institute, Operation Brotherhood+ and Press Foundation
    of Asia were recognized for peace and international understanding.

    Architect of Brunei’s Palace

    Architect Leandro Locsin designed Istana Nurul Iman, the palace of the
    sultan of Brunei, which has a floor area of 2.2 million square feet.

    Most Decorated Filipino

    Carlos P. Romulo was perhaps the only Filipino who received 82 honorary
    degrees from different universities and international institutions and
    74 decorations from foreign countries, including the U.N. Peace Medal,
    the World Peace Award, the Four Freedoms Peace Award and the US Presidential
    Medal for Freedom. In 1945, the African former colonies nominated Carlos
    P. Romulo for the Nobel prize for peace for espousing “independence”
    for the former colonies of Asia and Africa.

    Youngest National Artist

    The youngest Filipino to become a national artist was Napoleon Abueva.
    The famous sculptor received the award in 1976 at the age of 46.

    Nobel Prize Awardee

    Dr. Frankie Arcellana, a son of national artist Francisco Arcellana,
    was a member of the governing board of the International Physicians
    for the Prevention Nuclear War, which won the Nobel peace’s prize in

    Woman of the Year in 1986

    In 1986, former President Corazon Aquino received various international
    awards such as the Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year, the Eleanor Roosevelt
    Human Rights Award, the United Nations Silver Medal and the Canadian
    International Prize for Freedom. She was cited for setting the example
    of nonviolent movement for democracy, which later was also tested in
    Burma, South Africa, Poland and Chile. 

    Gold at European Art Contest

    In 1880, Juan Luna joined the Madrid Exposition where his painting,
    “The Death of Cleopatra” won the second prize. This masterpiece is now
    on exhibit at the Museo Nacional de Pinturas in Madrid. In 1884, Luna’s
    huge painting, “Spolarium”, won the first Gold Medal at the Exposicion
    Nacional de Bellas Artes, also in Spain. Coincidentally, another Filipino,
    Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo won the second prize in the same event for
    his painting, “Antigone”.

    Luna’s Spolarium depicts fallen gladiators being dragged
    to an unseen pile of corpses in a chamber beneath the Roman arena. Considered
    as the largest painting in the country, it has a height of 4.6 meters
    and a length of 7.72 meters. It is now on display at the National Museum
    in Manila.

    Other Filipinas Played Kim

    With her petite figure and powerful voice, many think that Cezarah Campos
    Bonner is the perfect version of Kim, the young heroine in the internationally
    acclaimed musicale, “Miss Saigon”. The 27-year-old Cez, who has previously
    played Kim in the London and Sydney productions of Miss Saigon, shared
    the role of Kim with Lea Salonga in the Manila staging of the musicale,
    which run from October 2000 to March 2001. While she admires Lea for
    her many achievements, Cez says she has developed her own style and
    would like to be known for it. Her producer, Cameron Mackintosh, believes
    that Cez is one of the best performers to have played Kim. Since 1989,
    there are a total of 42 actresses who have assumed the lead role, and
    among them are Filipinos, Americans, Australians, Japanese, Dutch, and
    English. Aside from Lea and Cez, the other well-known Filipino “Kims”
    include Monique Wilson, Jamie Rivera, and Jenine Desiderio. 

    Filipino Woman in Motocross

    It is hard to believe that Christina del Rosario or simply “Wacky”,
    a 23-year-old beauty, has engaged actively in what can be considered
    as extreme sports originally meant for men. Her sports list includes
    motocross, jetskiing, trail riding, boxing, kickboxing, cross-country
    running, and weight training. And she is all set to dabble in skydiving
    soon. Wacky, as her friends call her, views life as an adventure. Known
    on the racetrack as “Pocket Rocket”, she has done enough to carve her
    niche in the male-dominated territory. Among her exploits with her brother
    was becoming the first Filipino finalist in the 2000 Skat Trak World
    Jet Ski Finals in Laka Havasu, Arizona. She was ranked 1st and 4th in
    the two categories she joined at the 1200 Women’s Limited in the World
    Jet Sports in the U.S. Apart from sports, Wacky also has her exploits
    in business. She manages four companies. She is the general manager
    of the family-owned Irma Ice Plant group in Navotas; the vice-president
    of Irma Fishing and Trading Inc.; and the owner of R6 Construction Supplies
    and Del Rocket Racing.

    Unesco’s Peace Prize

    In 1997, former President Fidel Ramos and ex-Moro National Liberation
    Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari received the UNESCO Felix Houphouet-Boigny
    Peace Prize for ending the MNLF armed struggle in September 1996. Ironically,
    Misuari broke the peace pact with the government in September 2001 and
    led another armed rebellion. As this was being written, Misuari was
    held in a police prison camp in Laguna province.

    Sarimanok Won Two Golds

    ABS-CBN’s Sarimanok computer-animated station ID has won two gold awards
    for excellence at the New York TV and Film Festival. It was developed
    by Mr. Casino.

    Filipino Film at Cannes

    Raymond Red’s “Anino”, a 13-minute film, bested 715 other entries to
    bag the Palme d’Or for short film at the Cannes Film Festival in the
    year 2000.

    Filipino Film at Berlin

    In 1977, Kidlat Tahimik (Eric de Guia) brought home the International
    Critics Prize from the Berlin Film Festival for his film “Ang Mababangong

    Saksi Gets Gold from New York

    Saksi, the Filipino news program of GMA 7, won the Gold WorldMedal at
    the New York TV and Film Festival on January 17, 2003. GMA 7 said the
    medal was its 17th medal from the festival since 1990. Before this,
    Saksi won as Asia’s Best Newscast in the 2000 Asian TV Awards.

    Peabody Award Winner

    Jessica Soho, a broadcast journalist at GMA 7, won the prestigious George
    Foster Peabody Award for her documentaries on the underground “Kidney-for-Sale”
    business and death sport “Kamao” in the year 2000. Before this, Soho
    had won a medal from the New York Film and Television Festival for coverage
    of a breaking story.

    Filipino Song Had Foreign Versions

    Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak” sold millions of copies around the world and
    had versions in Japanese, English, French, and German. It is reportedly
    the most recorded Filipino song worldwide.

    Filipino Compositions Won Awards

    Ryan Cayabyab’s composition “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika” won the grand
    prize at the Seoul International Song Festival in 1978 while his “Mama”
    won the grand prize at the Kajistan Song of Asia Festival in 1991. His
    composition “Paraiso” won the top prize at the Tokyo Pop Music Festival
    in 1992.

    Award Winning Pianist

    One of the recordings by Filipino pianist Cecile Licad was awarded as
    the “Records of the Month” by Time Magazine’s Critics Choice in July

    Choir of the World

    In 1995, the UST Singers won the “Choir of the World” grand prize and
    four other first prizes at the 4th Llangallen International Eisteddfod
    in Wales, UK. The competition was reportedly the world’s oldest international
    choral competition. In 2001, the UST Singers was voted “Best Choir”
    at World Choral Festival in Puebla, Mexico.

    Best Choir in Italy

    The UP Singing Ambassadors won the Gran Premio ‘Citta d’ Arezzo in Italy
    in August 2001. The Italian competition was said to be the Olympics
    of choral singing.

    Best Dance Troupe

    The Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company (IU ’65) has bested 21 other
    dance troupes from around the world to win the Gold Temple Award and
    the Absolute Gold Award in the 47th International Folk Festival in Sicily
    “for being the overall best in dance, music and costume.” 

    Best Selling Author

    Veltisezar B. Bautista, a writer and publisher who was born in General
    Tinio town in Nueva Ecija province, is perhaps the most read Filipino
    author in the United States. His six non-fiction books won for him two
    Benjamin Franklin awards and other prestigious awards in the US. Among
    the titles he wrote and published are “The Book of U.S. Postal Exams:
    How to Score 95-100% and Get a Job”, “How to Build a Successful One-Person
    Business: A Common-Sense Guide to Starting & Growing a Company”,
    “Improve Your Grades: A Practical Guide to Academic Excellence”, and
    “How to Teach Your Child: Things to Know from Kindergarten through Grade
    6.” Before he migrated to the US in 1976, Bautista had served as a proofreader,
    reporter and deskman of the now defunct Manila Chronicle. He also contributed
    articles to the Free Press.

    Award Winning Furniture Designers

    In May 2001, a group of Filipino furniture designers known as Movement
    8 bested over 600 participants from all over the world to win the Editors’
    Award in the prestigious 2001 International Contemporary Furniture Fair
    (ICCF) in New York. Before this, the group had collected awards from
    other fairs in Paris, Milan, Germany and Spain. 

    International Teacher

    In 1958, Concepcion Aguilar was recognized as “International Teacher
    of the Year”.

    Champion Organist

    In 1974, Filipino organist Socorro de Castro became a champion in the
    International Electrone Grand Prix, which was held in Tokyo, Japan.

    Children’s Choir

    The Mandaluyong Children’s Chorus, composed of 30 students aged 6 to
    16 years old, from public schools in the city won a silver medal and
    a bronze medal in the 2nd World Choir Olympics held in Busan, South
    Korea where 300 singing groups from 100 nations participated from October
    19 to 27, 2002.

    Children’s Art Champion

    In 1988, Cristina Fabian was acknowledged as the supreme gold winner
    in the International Children’s Art competition, which was held in Tokyo,

    Math Champions

    Who said that Filipino students have poor Mathematical skills? In the
    World Youth Mathematics Intercity Competition held in Lucknow, India
    in May 2002, a team of 16 Filipino students brought home 2 gold medals,
    10 silver medals and 3 bronze medals. The event drew 61 teams from 12
    countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Finland, China and India.

    Filipino winners include gold medallists Alvin Edward
    S. Gillo (Pasay City Chong Hua High School) and Michael Joseph N. Tan
    of (Zamboanga Chong Hua High School); silver medallists Jed Ericson
    C. Lee and Johnson Gamboa (Grace Christian High School), Charles Erick
    T. Co (St. Peter the Apostle School), David Joseph N. Tan, Jimson G.
    Ngeo, Kendrick C. Saavedra and Elvis T. Chua (Zamboanga Chong Hua High
    School), David T. So (Saint Stephen High School), Raymond A. Salvador
    (Jesus is Lord High School), and David Wan (Philippine Cultural High
    School); and bronze medallists Richmond C. Saavedra (Zamboanga), Jan
    Henri Ma (Trinity Christian School) and Roland Joseph Robles (Philippine
    Cultural). The other contestant, Lloyd Neilsen Chiong won a merit award. 

    Youngest Accountant

    Jose Gangan became a certified public accountant (CPA) at the age of

    Award Winning Actor

    In 1955, Filipino actor Efren Reyes was adjudged as “Asia’s Best Actor”
    in the Asian Film Festival for his appearance in the film “Ifugao”.
    In 1967, Charito Solis was acknowledged as “Asia’s Best Actress” for
    his portrayal in “Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak”.

    Nightingale Awardee

    In May 1961, the Geneva-based International Committee of Red Cross bestowed
    the Florence Nightingale Medal and Diploma to Julita Sotejo, a Filipino

    Filipino in Holywood

    Rudy Robles appeared in 50 American movies, and was in the lead cast
    of at least three of these films.

    California PIO

    Former Filipino sportswriter Percy Della later became the Public Information
    Officer (PIO) of the California State government.

    Award Winning Furniture Designers

    In May 2001, a group of Filipino furniture designers known as Movement
    8 bested over 600 participants from all over the world to win the Editors’
    Award in the prestigious 2001 International Contemporary Furniture Fair
    (ICCF) in New York. Before this, the group had collected awards from
    other international fairs in Paris, Milan, Germany and Spain.

    International Clothing Brands

    Filipino clothing brands Bench, Sari-Sari, Ba-yo, Penshoppe, Plains
    and Prints have already opened stores in other countries.

    Trivia, Information, Records About the Philippines

    The Bible Also Mentions the Philippines

    It can be easily understood that no verse in the Bible carried the term
    Philippines, since the Bible was written two thousand years ago or centuries
    before the Spaniards came here. However, there are verses in the Bible
    that prophesy about the Philippine archipelago and other islands in
    the Pacific. In the chapter 24 of the Book of Isaiah, verses 15 to 16
    read “Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; exalt the name of
    the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends
    of the earth we hear singing: ‘Glory to the Righteous One.'” The Philippines
    is the only Christian archipelago in the Pacific covering East Asia.

    Arroyo and Sukarnoputri Share Similarities

    Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines and Megawati Sukarnoputri
    of Indonesia have remarkable similarities. Both are 54-year-old women
    who had been vice-presidents before becoming presidents in place of
    their predecessors who were ousted in the year 2001. Both of them were
    daughters of former presidents of the world’s two largest archipelagos
    who lost the presidency in 1965 to dictators. Both women have three
    children and their husbands were being pursued by controversy. Both
    visited Washington in their first year as presidents and met US President
    George W. Bush, another offspring of a former president who also assumed
    power in 2001.  Arroyo and Sukarnoputri are not entirely similar
    though. The former is a Catholic Christian from the world’s fifth largest
    Christian country while the latter is a Muslim from the country with
    the world’s largest Muslim population.

    Bulacan Produced Queens

    Marcelo del Pilar, the father of Philippine journalism; Francisco Balagtas,
    the father of Philippine literature; Jose Corazon de Jesus, father of
    balagtasan; Nicanor Abelardo, father of kundiman; Francisca Reyes-Aquino,
    mother of Philippine dances; Gerry de Leon, a father of Philippine movies;
    Guillermo Tolentino, one of the fathers of Philippine arts; Jose Reyes,
    a father of Philippine medicine; and Dely Magpayo, a mother of Philippine
    broadcasting, were all born in Bulacan province. Atang dela Rama, the
    mother of Philippine theater, lived in Bulacan. Aside from national
    fathers and mothers, Bulacan also produced queens, namely: Lydia de
    Vega, Asia’s former sprint queen; Regine Velasquez, Asia’s song bird;
    and Michelle Aldana, Miss Asia-Pacific beauty queen.

    Babe Ruth Scored Homeruns in RP 

    Babe Ruth, the American baseball legend who had over 200 homeruns in
    his professional career, once played in the baseball field of the Rizal
    Memorial Sports Complex. In 1934, Ruth and another baseball great, Lou
    Gehrig, selected an All-Star team that toured Asia where they played
    18 games. The All-Star selection stopped in the Philippines and played
    at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex from December 2 to December 9.
    Gehrig beat Ruth when he scored the first recorded homerun at the Rizal
    complex on December 2. Ruth scored the 2nd homerun on the same day and
    4th homerun on December 9. The other players of the same selection who
    also scored homeruns at the Rizal complex were Earl Averill and C. Gehringer. 

    7 Cabinet Officials Were from Harvard

    In a speech before an American delegation early in 2002, President Gloria
    Macapagal-Arroyo has claimed that her Cabinet officials include seven
    Harvard graduates and three Wharton alumni. The 54-year-old president
    added that four of her economic managers had been top executives on
    Wall Street prior to joining government service in the Philippines.
    President Arroyo, herself, has a Ph. D. in Economics, which she earned
    from the University of the Philippines (UP). Before this, she had studied
    for two years at the Georgetown University where she had former US President
    Bill Clinton as a classmate.

    Manila Played Host To Big Events

    Manila served as a host to some of the world’s biggest events in the
    past several decades. On November 22, 1995, the country hosted 21 world
    leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton, during the 4th
    Economic Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In
    1974, Former First Lady Imelda Marcos ordered the construction of the
    Folk Arts Theater to be the site of the 23rd annual Miss Universe beauty
    pageant on July 19. The prestigious beauty contest was held again in
    the country in 1994. On October 1, 1975, the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon
    City was the venue of the infamous “Thrilla in Manila”, the thrilling
    boxing match between Heavyweight champions, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
    Manila also hosted other international sports events such as the Asian
    Games in 1954 and the Southeast Asian Games in 1981 and 1991. In 1980,
    the Marcos administration ordered the construction of the grand Coconut
    Palace to host John Paul II during his Manila visit. The head of the
    Vatican state visited Manila again in January 1995.

    Sabah Once Belonged to Sultan of Sulu

    Sabah, an oil-rich region forming the northern part the great Borneo
    Island, used to be a property of the Sultan of Sulu. Its 73,620-square-kilometer
    land area is about twice the size of Switzerland and teems with incomparable
    natural resources. The territory is still being claimed by the Sultan
    of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III. The Sulu sultanate was founded by Rajah
    Baginda in 1430. According to the present sultan, his claim goes as
    far back as 1704 when the Sultan of Brunei ceded part of then North
    Borneo which now comprises Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu in the southern
    Philippines for his help in suppressing a rebellion. There are about
    500,000 Filipinos, most of them Muslims, living in Sabah. They fled
    to the territory in the 1970s during heavy fighting between Muslim rebels
    and the government troops. Sabah is only four hours by boat from the
    southernmost island-province of Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines.

    Coconut Workers Own San Miguel Corp.

    There are 3 million hectares planted to coconut trees, the second largest
    agricultural area after rice fields (4 million hectares). The coconut
    industry employs about 3.4 million Filipinos. Some 18 to 20 million
    more Filipinos depend on the industry for their livelihood, according
    to the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP). About
    90 percent of those employed in the coconut industry are small farmers,
    who earn P10,000 a year or P25 a day. 

    Coconut farmers are among the most exploited segments
    of Philippine society. Driven to squalor by Marcos cronies who thrived
    on the so-called coconut levies, the coconut farmers represent the oldest
    sector of the domestic economy. In 1642, the Spanish colonial government
    forced each Filipino to plant 200 coconut trees, because Spanish shipbuilders
    had a large need for charcoaled coconut shells and coconut husks. Coconut
    products have gradually become the country’s top export, accounting
    for 35 percent of all exports in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s,
    coconut products were the country’s leading exports of raw materials.
    New economic policies initiated under the Aquino administration led
    to a slow-phased shift to industries, which eventually put the coconut
    industry at the tailend of government priorities. In 2001, coconut exports
    represented only 1.6 percent of the country’s total exports.

    In 1971, the dictatorial government of the late President
    Ferdinand Marcos established the Coconut Investment Fund (Cocofund)
    by imposing a levy of P15 per 100 kilograms of copra for nine years
    between 1973 and 1982. Supposedly, the fund should serve as subsidy
    to coconut products for domestic consumption. However, the cocofund,
    which amounted to a total of P9.695 billion by August 1982, was turned
    into a private fund used to finance three financial institutions, including
    the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). The cocofund was also used
    to acquire the majority shares of San Miguel Corporation, the country’s
    largest food and beverage conglomerate. A known Marcos crony, Danding
    Cojuangco, still retains the chairmanship of both UCPB and San Miguel
    until today. The fund, which is estimated at over P100 billion today,
    has yet to be transferred to the accounts of the coconut farmers. (Source:

    A Mayor Held Office for 5 Decades

    No other local official had the distinction of serving an elective post
    for almost half a century. Pablo Cuneta, the late mayor of Pasay City
    and father of popular actress, Sharon Cuneta, died at 90 on September
    27, 2000 after serving the government for 50 years. In 1947, then President
    Elpidio Quirino appointed him vice mayor of Pasay City. In 1955, he
    was elected mayor, a post which he held until 1967 when he lost to Jovito
    Claudio in the mayoralty election. He emerged victorious in the 1972
    elections and served his constituents in Pasay City until 1986 when
    he was ordered ousted by the Aquino administration. Cuneta won in the
    1988 mayoralty election and served his post uninterrupted until 1997
    when his health began to fail. He was awarded a golden trophy for his
    50th year in public service in the same year. 

    A Priest Took Up Arms Against Americans

    From 1900 to 1902, Catholic priest Gregorio Labayan Aglipay took up
    arms against American soldiers in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Aglipay founded
    the Liwanag branch of the Katipunan in Victoria, Tarlac, attended the
    Malolos Congress and became the ecclesiastical governor of Nueva Segovia
    (Ilocos) in 1899.  In his religious role, Aglipay is considered
    as the Martin Luther of the Philippines for founding the Iglesia Filipina
    Independiente or the Philippine Independent Church, which celebrated
    its centenary on August 3, 2002. A century earlier, the Union Obrera
    Democratica, a confederation of 10 labor organizations headed by Isabelo
    de los Reyes, broke ties with the Vatican and designated Aglipay as
    the Obispo Maximo (supreme bishop) of their new religion. The Catholic
    Church then excommunicated Aglipay. An American general called Aglipay
    a better soldier than a bishop. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

    The Osmena Clan Is the Oldest Political Dynasty

    The Osmena clan is perhaps the oldest and the most dominant political
    dynasty in the country. This political dynasty began when Sergio Osmena
    Sr. replaced Manuel Quezon as president of the Commonwealth government
    during the war. His son, Osmena Jr. became a senator and his grandson,
    Osmena III is now an incumbent senator. John Osmena, a former mayor
    of Cebu City, is also a senator today. Lito Osmena, a long-time governor
    of the province of Cebu, vied for the presidency in the 1998 presidential
    election. Tomas Osmena was a mayor of Davao City.

    Six Vice-Presidents Became Presidents

    Six former vice-president became presidents, namely: Sergio Osmena,
    Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Joseph Estrada and
    Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Three Senate Presidents Became Presidents

    Three former senate presidents became presidents, namely Manuel Quezon,
    Manuel Roxas, and Ferdinand Marcos.

    Two Speakers Became Presidents

    Two former House speakers became presidents, namely: Sergio Osmena Sr.
    and Manuel Roxas.

    Three Presidents Died in Office

    Three Philippine presidents were not able to finish their terms of office.
    They were Manuel Quezon who died in New York City on August 1, 1944;
    Manuel Roxas who died of a heart attack on April 15, 1948; and Ramon
    Magsaysay who died in an air accident on March 17, 1957.

    First 3 Beauty Queens Married Pinoys

    The first Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela of Finland won the crown in 1952
    and married Virgilio Hilario of Tarlac the following year. The first
    Miss International (1961), Maria Stella Marquez Zawadsky of Colombia,
    married Filipino millionaire, Jorge Araneta. The first Miss Asia (1965),
    Angela Filmer of Malaysia, married Jose Faustino, also a Filipino.

    A Filipino Spread Love Bug Virus

    In May 2000, the so-called “love bug” computer virus spread worldwide
    and infected millions of computer files. The virus, quickly infiltrated
    government and corporate computer systems around the world. Described
    as the worst computer virus ever created, the “love bug” wrought damages
    amounting to US$10 billion. It could not have been big news in the Philippines,
    if not for the fact that the suspected creator of the virus is a Filipino.
    He was identified as Onel de Guzman, a student of AMA Computer College
    in Quezon City.

    Caloocan City Has Two Separate Parts

    Caloocan City is the only city in the Philippines with two areas set
    apart from each other by other towns and cities. Its first area, known
    as the urban portion, covers Monumento and is bounded on the south by
    Manila, on the west by Navotas and Malabon and on the north by Valenzuela
    City. Its second area, known as Caloocan II, is a hilly portion between
    Bulacan province and Quezon City.

    Orchids Breeds Were from RP

    Waling-waling or Vanda sanderiana, is described as the “Queen of Philippine
    Orchids”. One of the largest species in the world, waling-waling was
    discovered by German Taxonomist Heinrich Gustav Reicheinback in Mindanao
    in 1882. Since then, it has become the most sought-after flower in Mindanao
    and helped in the flourishing of the world’s multibillion-dollar orchid
    and cutflower industry. The massive deforestation in Mindanao threatens
    the region’s wildlife, including waling-waling which used to abound
    in the tropical forest of Mount Apo and its surrounding areas. Today,
    it is believed that Waling-Waling has more species abroad, particularly
    in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Hawaii.  Of the 9,000 flowering
    plants in the world, about 3,500 are endemic to the Philippines. Human
    activities, however, pose a great threat to their existence. 

    Romulo Coined “I Shall Return”

    It was Carlos P. Romulo, who coined the famous phrase “I shall return”
    by General Douglas MacArthur. Romulo was MacArthur’s press officer at
    that time.

    Romulo Put RP in UN Map

    According to Beth Day Romulo, Carlos P. Romulo literally put the Philippines
    on the world map. “When the UN official seal which depicts the world
    was being selected, Romulo asked ‘Where is the Philippines?’ 

    The answer came, ‘It’s too small to include. If we
    put the Philippines, it would be no more than a dot.’ 

    ‘I want that dot,’ Romulo insisted.” The UN seal now
    has a tiny dot for the Philippines.

    MacArthur Was Field Marshall of Philippine Army

    Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon appointed American
    four-star Maj. Gen. Douglas MacArthur as Field Marshall of the Philippine
    Army in 1935. Attached with the appointment was MacArthur’s extra monthly
    pay of US$3,980 that made him the highest paid military officer in the
    world, according to American historian Carlos D’Este in his book “Eisenhower,
    A Soldier’s Life”.

    Eisenhower Wrote Quezon’s Speeches

    In the book “Eisenhower, A Soldier’s Life”, American historian Carlos
    D’Este claimed that Dwight Eisenhower became an adviser and speechwriter
    of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon in the Philippines. When
    Quezon sought an exile in the US, he met Eisenhower in Washington D.C.
    and offered him “a lavish stipend of some one hundred thousand dollars
    for services rendered the Philippines during his four years there, which
    Eisenhower courteously rejected.” This was before Eisenhower was appointed
    as the supreme commander of all allied forces and planned the now infamous
    Normandy Invasion in Europe during World War II. Eisenhower later became
    a US president.

    Filipinos Had Headed International Organizations

    Carlos P. Romulo became president of the United Nations 4th General
    Assembly; Cesar Bengzon, president of the World Court Justice; Blas
    Ople, president of International Labor Organization; Jose Aspiras, president
    of World Tourism Organization; Jesus Tamesis, president of World Medical
    Association; Arturo Tanco, president of World Food Council; Florencio
    Campomanes, president of International Chess Federation; Justiniano
    Montano, president of World Boxing Council; Gonzalo Puyat II, president
    of International Amateur Basketball Federation; Ramos del Rosario, president
    of World Jaycee International; 

    Jolly Bugarin, president of International Criminal
    Police Organization; Mercedes Concepcion, president of the International
    Union for the Scientific Study of Population; Lolita Delgado-Fransler,
    president of Association of International College of Women; Modesto
    Farolan, president of International Union of Official Tourist Organizations;
    Florencio Moreno, president of World Highway Engineers Association;
    Quintin Gomez, president of the 8th World Congress of Anaesthesiologists;
    Cielito del Mundo, president of World Family Institute Inc.; 

    Fe del Mundo, president of International Women’s Medical
    Association; Amelito Mutuc, president of World Association of Lawyers;
    John Choa, president of Y’s Men International; Roman Cruz, president
    of Orient Airlines Association; Manuel Nieto, president of Oriental
    Boxing Federation; Rufus Rodriguez, president of World Association of
    Law Students; Edward dela Rosa, president of World Association of Pharmaceutical
    Distributors; Esther Vibal, president of International Inner wheel; 

    Antonio Delgado, chairman of Boy Scouts World Conference;
    Marcelo Fernan, secretary general of the Academy of American and International
    Law Alumni; Norman Certeza Sr., governor of Kiwanis International; Eduardo
    Chuidian, general manager of Association of International Shipping Lines;
    Rafael Salas, executive director of the United Nations Fund for Population
    Activities; and Dioscoro Umali, assistant director general of the Food
    and Agriculture Organization.

    Tolentino and Amorsolo Were Classmates

    Guillermo Tolentino and Fernando Amorsolo, both national artists in
    arts, were classmates at the UP School of Fine Arts. Guillermo Tolentino
    was the one who carved the UP Oblation while Amorsolo was known for
    his paintings about barrio life and women.

    15 National Artists Were from Manila

    Aside from Manila, there is no other city or province, which owns the
    distinction of having produced 15 national artists. Three of these national
    artists – Levi Celerio, Cesar Legaspi and Rolando Tinio – were born
    in Tondo, the same district that produced Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto
    and yes, Juan Flavier. Other national artists who were born in Manila
    include Fernando Amorsolo, Francisco Arcellana, Ishmael Bernal, Gerardo
    de Leon, Nick Joaquin, Arturo Luz, Jose Maceda, Antonio Molina, Juan
    Nakpil, Andrea Veneracion, Jose Garcia Villa and Honorata “Atang” dela
    Rama. Coming far behind Manila in having produced a great number of
    national artists is Bulacan province, the birthplace of six national

    Bulacan Produced Great Musicians

    Aside from producing heroes and poets, Bulacan is known as the birthplace
    of great Filipino composers, singers and dancers. Nicanor Abelardo,
    who is widely regarded as the father of kundiman, was born in San Miguel,
    Bulacan while Francisco Santiago, another pioneer of kundiman, grew
    up in Sta. Maria town. Noted composer Antonino Buenaventura was born
    in Baliuag town while contemporary composer Ernani Cuenco was born in
    the capital town of Malolos. Honorata “Atang” dela Rama, the great theater
    actress before the war, made Bulacan her home and married poet and national
    artist Amado Hernandez of San Miguel. 

    The father of Levi Celerio, the poet of Philippine
    music, was from Baliuag. Francisca Reyes Aquino, the mother of Philippine
    dances, was born in the town of Bocaue. Composer and singer Rey Valera
    was born in Meycauayan town. At present, three divas from Bulacan –
    Regine Velasquez, Jaimie Rivera and Claire dela Fuente own the finest
    voices that this country has ever heard.

    A Filipino Supervised a Russian Orchestra

    Redentor Romero had served as the conductor of the 100-member Moscow
    State Symphony Orchestra, which received worldwide acclaim.

    Pasyon Was a Poem

    The long poem read and chanted by Catholic devotees during the Lent
    first appeared in 1704. Entitled Ang Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong
    Panginoon Nation, the poem was written in octosyllabic verse by Gaspar
    Aquino de Belen.

    Balagtas Had Other Works

    Francisco dela Cruz Balagtas, the 19th Century poet from Bulacan, wrote
    more than 100 plays, comedies, awits and koridos. Most of these works,
    however, were burned in a fire that gutted his house in Udyong, Bataan
    in 1892. Fortunately, copies of three of his works were found elsewhere.
    Aside from the well-known awit Florante at Laura, other existing works
    of Balagtas were a short farce entitled La India Elegante y e! Negrito
    Amante and a full-length komedya entitled Orosman at Zafira.

    A Filipino was Declared Emperor

    In 1926, Florencio Intrencherado was proclaimed emperor of Negros Occidental
    province. In the 1900s, the people of Negros declared a republic in
    Panay, which was later abolished by the US government.

    A Filipino Refereed Muhammad Ali

    In October 1975, Carlos Padilla Jr. served as the referee in the world-boxing
    match between Ali and Frazier in what was dubbed as thrilla in Manila.

    A Brazilian Became Filipinos’ Darling in 2000

    Leila Barros, a fine-looking volleyball player from Brazil, became the
    Filipino crowd’s darling in the staging of World Women’s Volleyball
    Grand Prix in Manila in 1999 and 2000. Leila, a five-foot-eight player,
    led her team to the first runner-up finish in the 1999 event, which
    was won by Russia. Brazil won the crown in 1994, 1996 and 1998. The
    Filipino audience used to ignore the game of volleyball until they saw
    Leila spike the ball with the elegance and style no one else could show.

    Inside the court, the 28-year-old Brazilian beauty
    was noted for her intensity and leaping ability, which enabled her to
    penetrate the stonewall defense of her six foot rivals. Behind the pretty
    face was her seriousness and sheer determination to win each game. She
    moves with the agility of Martina Hingis and the form of Anna Kournikova.
    Not a few Filipino men fell in love with her flash images on television.
    Some of those who were lucky to see her personally waved placards proposing
    marriage, not knowing that the young, otherwise innocent looking star
    player has been married for four years. How sad! Just the same, Leila
    moves and jumps with the charm of any 16-year-old girl “oozing with
    sensuality”, as one sports columnist put it. At a time the Philippines
    was troubled by many problems, all it needed was a little inspiration
    from someone like Leila, who reminded the Filipino men of the beauty
    of life.

    Intel Chips Were Manufactured in RP

    Intel Corp., the world’s largest corporation, has been operating in
    the Philippines for almost 30 years. Calling itself as the first multinational
    company that established a branch in the country, Intel manufactures
    processors and chips in its Philippine plant, which is expected to be
    Intel’s biggest assembly and testing operations worldwide soon. Other
    foreign electronic and IT firms in the country are Texas Instruments,
    Toshiba, Trend Micro, Fujitsu, and America Online (AOL).

    Marcos Was Last Lawyer President

    Eight Filipino presidents were laywers. All former presidents from Manuel
    Quezon in 1935 to Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, except Ramos Magsaysay,
    had practiced law. Starting 1986, the next four presidents were non-lawyers,
    namely: Corazon Aquino, a housewife; Fidel Ramos, a military general;
    Joseph Estrada, an actor; and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an economist.

    A Filipino Ruled an Island

    In 1956, Tomas Cloma, a Filipino explorer, discovered an island in the
    South China Sea. Cloma named the island as “Freedomland” which he tried
    to rule by establishing his own government.

    A Planetoid was Named After a Filipino

    The minor planet Biyo, which has a diameter of four to nine kilometers
    and was formerly called planet 13241, was named after Dr. Josette Biyo,
    a teacher at the Philippine Science High School in Iloilo City who won
    the International Excellence in Teaching Award during the Intel International
    Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) held in Louisville, Kentucky
    in 2002. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory
    in the United States game the name.

    Scientists Endorse Four Medicinal Plants

    The country’s Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAR) has included four medicinal
    plants – lagundi, sambong, yerba Buena and tsaang gubat – in its list
    of drugs. Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) also endorses the
    use of the four plants and six others to cure particular ailments or
    diseases. The use of lagundi is encouraged to cure cough; sambong, urinary
    tract stones; yerba Buena, muscle pains; tsaang gubat, intestinal colic;
    niyog niyugan, intestinal worms; bayabas, for wound wash; akapulko,
    skin infection; ulasimang bato, uric acid; garlic, high blood cholesterol;
    and ampalaya, high blood sugar.

    There Were Mummies in the Philippines

    A tribe in Kabayan town, Benguet province used to mummify the bodies
    of their dead. Until now, the mummified bodies of their ancestors are
    hung at the burial rocks in the area. 

    Someone Made Magsaysay Famous

    The person responsible for making the late President Ramon Magsaysay
    famous as the champion of the masses was Jose V. Cruz, a journalist.
    At 30 years old, Cruz first served as the press secretary of Magsaysay.

    Filipino Doctors Apply as Nurses in the US

    So enamored are Filipinos about working in other countries for higher
    income that 2,000 doctors are now taking up nursing examination for
    the possibility of working in the US. The Philippine Nurses Association
    disclosed that in June 2002 alone, at least 100 doctors took the nursing
    board examinations. A doctor applying for a nurse in the US said that
    he would earn in a month as a nurse in the US what he is earning in
    a year as a doctor in the Philippines. Some Filipino nurses earn up
    to US$5,000 monthly in New York and California. Reports said the US
    would need additional 600,000 nurses until 2010 while Japan would require
    1.2 million nurses during the same period. Filipino nurses are also
    trooping to Europe, particularly United Kingdom. Ironically, the Philippines
    has one of the lowest ratios of doctors and nurses against the population.

    Salaried Workers Carry Burden of Taxes

    Citing data from the National Tax Research Center (NTRC), Finance Secretary
    Isidro Camacho said that in the year 2001, there were 2,605,505 individual
    taxpayers who filed their income tax returns and paid a total of P80.42

    About 2,079,745 salaried workers, or 80 percent of the income tax payers,
    paid a total of P66.3 billion in income taxes, accounting for 82 percent
    of the total collection. Professionals or self-employed individuals
    contributed only P10.75 billion or only 13 percent of the income taxes
    while capital gains tax paid by individuals reached P3.18 billion.

    In particular, self-employed individuals or single-proprietors paid
    P10.13 billion while professionals paid only P620 million. Based on
    these figures in 2001, professionals paid only P20,447 in income tax
    while salaried workers paid P31,879.

    According to the DOF, this should not be the case since professionals
    are actually earning much higher than salaried workers. Citing a 1997
    government survey, the DOF said that salaried workers earned only P582.7
    billion while professionals received P1.159 billion during that year.
    Measured per capita, salaried workers earned an average of P223,642
    while professionals earned P2.204 million in 1997.

    In the year 2002, for example, only 2.8 million Filipinos of the total
    30 million workers, businessmen and professionals paid their income
    taxes. As of October 2002, there were over 30 million Filipinos in the
    labor force, about 15 million of whom were salaried workers, 11 million
    were self-employed and 4 million were unpaid family workers.

    One government study showed that over the past 11 years (1991 to 2001),
    leakage from the individual income tax amounted to P608 billion. This
    was on top of the P610 billion that were lost to leakage in the value
    added tax (VAT) scheme.

    Americans Are 25 Times Richer

    Equitable distribution of wealth would hardly resolve the poverty problem
    in the country. In reality, the country’s per capita income or the imaginary
    figure referring to every Filipino’s equal share in the country’s total
    wealth, is below US$1,000. In comparison, countries like the United
    States, Germany, Japan and even Singapore have a per capita income of
    over US$25,000. This means that an ordinary American is 25 times richer
    than an ordinary Filipino. What would be needed to relieve poverty is
    to enlarge the economic pie by drawing more capital and resources into
    the country, so every Filipino would get a larger share.

    Among Questionable Claims Are:

    1. The Philippines is the world’s second largest English-speaking
    nation. In reality, most Filipinos do not speak English on the street
    while the Department of Education is bothered by Filipino students’
    low English proficiency level. In comparison, English is the main language
    in the streets of United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and
    other British territories.

    2. The Philippines has the largest Christian population
    in Asia. China actually has over 80 million Christians and is therefore
    the country with largest Christian population in Asia.

    3. The Philippines was second to Japan in economic
    prosperity in Asia in the 1950s. Coming out of World War II, most East
    Asian countries, including the Philippines, were in still in recovery
    in the 1950s. Some of them had just won their freedom while economic
    prosperity was a strange phrase during that period. Even our parents
    would agree that life was harder in the 1950s. The Philippines never
    became rich and its golden age has yet to set in. Economic situation,
    however, was less burdening in 1996 and 1997 under the Ramos administration.

    4. The Philippines is an agricultural economy. The
    Philippines is no longer an agricultural country. It cannot even produce
    enough rice, sugar or wheat to feed its entire population and has to
    import food from Thailand, Vietnam and the United States. The country’s
    agricultural exports comprised less than 5 percent of its total outbound
    shipments in 2001. While the agriculture sector employed 37 percent
    of the workforce in 2001, it contributed only 21 percent to the gross
    domestic product (GDP). The industrial and services sectors contributed
    the remaining 79 percent to the domestic economy.

    5. Filipinos are the happiest people in the world.
    The World Values Survey conducted by University of Michigan in 1998
    ranked Iceland 1st and the Philippines 12th among 54 countries in happiness
    index. The Philippines was ranked first among Asian countries though.
    The truth is happiness cannot be measured.

    6. Early Filipinos had a perfect socio-economic and
    justice system before the Spaniards came. There was never a perfect
    society in the world and tales about gold abounding in the Philippines
    five centuries ago remain to be proven. The fact is slavery, war, witchcraft,
    beheading and human sacrifice were already present in the country before
    the Spaniards came.

    7. The Philippines is a favorite destination of foreign
    tourists. It could have the finest beach resorts in the world, but the
    Philippines gets only about 2 million foreign tourists annually. In
    comparison, smaller Asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong receive
    over 8 million foreign guests every year.

    8. The Philippines is one of the safest and most peaceful
    places on earth. That is what the Department of Tourism claims but according
    to the International Red Cross, the Philippines registered the world’s
    fourth highest number of casualties and injuries as a result of natural
    disasters and man-made calamities from 1992 to 2001 – 5.8 million cases
    in all. It was behind China, India and Iran. China and India were expected
    in the accident list because they have the largest populations in the

    9. Equitable distribution of wealth would resolve the
    poverty problem in the country. In reality, the country’s per capita
    income or the imaginary figure referring to every Filipino’s equal share
    in the country’s total wealth, is below US$1,000. In comparison, countries
    like the United States, Germany, Japan and even Singapore have a per
    capita income of over US$25,000. This means that an ordinary American
    is 25 times richer than an ordinary Filipino. What would be needed to
    relieve poverty is to enlarge the economic pie by drawing more capital
    and resources into the country, so every Filipino would get a larger

    10. Basketball is the dominant sports in the Philippines.
    Not any more. Because of the growing youth population and the lack of
    basketball courts, most Filipino children are now trooping to computer
    game shops and billiard halls.

    11. Filipinos invented the fluorescent lamp that illuminated
    the world and the Lunar Rover used by American astronauts on the moon.
    The National Academy of Science and Technology disagrees.

    Most Profitable Businesses Today Include:

    1. Gambling in the form of online lottery or text games

    2. Power generation and distribution, thanks to purchased power cost

    3. Mobile phone networks, as long as the country is hooked to texting

    4. Beer and wine production as always

    5. Drug manufacturing and retail, because medicines here are twice as

    6. Computer training centers which promise instant jobs after graduation

    7. Kindergarten schools with exorbitant tuition fees

    8. Caregiver training centers for people wanting to go to Canada and

    9. Immigration consultancy which offers expensive seminars

    10. Job placement agencies 

    11. Pyramid selling

    12. Laundry services for American troops

    13. Importing ukay-ukay

    14. Selling pirated VCDs and software

    15. Kidney buy and sell

    16. Smut publishing, as in yellow journalism

    17. Billiard tables for rent

    18. Computer game shops

    19. Money exchange in Basilan

    20. Bikini car wash as the one in Iloilo City

    The lists of questionable claims and most profitable businesses today only reflect the author’s opinion. The author does not in any way encourage anybody to engage in the most profitable businesses listed above. Both lists were made for satirical purposes.


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