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The story of Manila begins with a gifted people called the taga-ilogs or dwellers by the river, who built at the mouth of tha Pasig River a fortified settlement called MAYNILA after the plant nilad which grew abundantly on the river bank.

The taga-ilogs were Malays who had migrated north-ward from Borneo to look for land of their own. Moslem in faith, they built a settlement which would become an important Islamic outpost in Luzon.

Manila then was the central point in the archipelago to which would come trading ships from the other barangays and from China, Japan and India. Manila for the next centuries dominated the economy and politics of the Philippines.


Among the people drawn to Manila were the Spaniards who arrived in Cebu from Mexico in 1567 to colonized the island which Ferdinand Magellan claimed for Spain when he arrived in 1521.

The Spaniards under the leadership of Don Miguel Lopez de Legaspi captured Manila and on its ruins founded “The Distinguished and Ever Loyal City of Manila” on June 24, 1571.

The re-building of Manila by the Spaniards began with a fort which developed later into the walls of Intramuros. Fires, earthquake , the Chinese and Japanese uprising would imperil the city in the next 200 years but Manila survived.

Before the 16th century ended, Manila was a Spanish colonial capital, the seat of Commerce, government and the church. It had a printing press, the thriving galleon trade with Acapulco, a hospital, a university and several churches.


The conquest of Manila gave the Spaniards on excellent central base for the colonization of the whole archipelago. Within a hundred years, Spain was able to unify the barangays under one sovereign. The latter part of the period saw the rise of nationalism, as schools, transportation and language cased communication between towns.

Spanish rule remained unchallenged although the Portuguese, and later the Dutch, made a series of raids in the archipelago. The break came in 1762 when the British captured Manila during the Seven Year’s war and held it until 1764. Brief though it was, the British occupation opened the port of Manila to world commerce and broke the isolation of Manila, the liberation ideas of Europe filtered into the Philippines.


The Filipino resisted the Spaniards from time to time throughout the 333 years of Spanish rule. None of these uprisings, however, became national movements for independence.

The real national movement for independence began as a call for political and religious reforms by the Ilustradors. Filipinos of education and property, who had emerged in the 19th century as a district social class.

Manila became the center of the reform movement led first by Father Jose Burgos in Manila, and after his martyrdom, by the Propagandists in Madrid and Barcelona led by Dr. Jose P. Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar.

The movement for reforms failed, the Propagandists, however, succeeded in instilling the feeling of nationhood among the Filipinos.

A secret revolutionary society, the KATIPUNAN, founded by Andres Bonifacio, spearheaded the armed conflict against Spain. The “Cry of Balintawak” signalled the start of the Philippine Revolution of 1896.


Manila was on of the first eight provinces to join the Revolution along with Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas. Many prominent Filipinos were imprisoned in Fort Santiago but the Revolution led by Andres Bonifacio but the New Leaders in the National Movement for independence later emerged. One of them was General Emilio Aguinaldo from Cavite.

The revolutionaries under Aguinaldo won several encounters against the Spanish army but were overwhelmed by fresh reinforcements a year later. On December 14-15, 1897, Aguinaldo made peace with the Spaniards in the Pact (agreement) of Biak na Bato and went into self-exile in Hongkong. The pact was shortlived. The following of February fighting between the Filipinos and the Spaniards broke out anew in the outskirts of Manila.


American intervention in Cuba and in the Philippines renewed revolutionary hopes. Aguinaldo returned and after capturing Spanish strongholds in Luzon proclaimed Phillipine independence on June 12, 1898. A few months later, the Philippine-American war broke out ; it ended in 1901 with the capture of Aguinaldo.

The Americans introduced new expertise in public administration, education and public health. But the agitation for independence through generally peaceful means continued. New leaders like Quezon, Osmeña, Roxas, Recto and Laurel emerged. In 1934, a new Constitution was drafted and in 1935 Manuel L. Quezon was elected First President of the Commonwealth.

The promised independence came on July 4, 1946, after four years of Japanese occupation during World War II ending almost four categories of foreign rules

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