Tondo Was Once a Kingdom
Going through the district of Tondo today, you'd hardly imagine it was once a majestic, prosperous place. In fact, back in the 10th century, it was an Indianized thalassocracy ruled by Gat Dyadewa/Jayadewa/Jayadeva. Tondo was also vital to commercial and diplomatic ties with China's Ming Dynasty, as well as Brunei's Sultan Bolkiah. Eventually, the kingdom fell to the Spaniards, lost its status as an independent polity, and was absorbed into the City of Manila.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi Once Threatened to Invade the Philippines
As you know, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was one of the Three Great Unifiers of Japan, along with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu. When Hideyoshi finally brought the Land of the Rising Sun under his control, he turned his gaze towards the west (namely Korea and China) and to the south (namely the Philippines).
In 1592, Hideyoshi sent an embassy to Manila demanding tribute — or else. Realizing he couldn't fight off an invasion at the time, then-Governor General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas sent the Dominican friar Juan Cobo to Japan as ambassador. Because Cobo brought with him impressive presents like an elephant(!), Hideyoshi decided to call off the invasion in the end.
A Christian Daimyo Fled to, and Was Buried in, the Philippines
Hideyoshi's embassy wasn't the last interaction the Philippines had with Japan prior to the mid-20th century. When Hideyoshi's successor, Tokugawa Ieyasu, decided to ban Christianity for good, a minor daimyo named Takayama Ukon — who converted to Christianity prior to the prohibition — fled to Manila.
Rechristening himself as "Dom Justo Takayama," the daimyo stayed in the Philippines until his death in 1615. Takayama was then buried in Plaza Dilao in Paco, where his statue stands in a park beside Quirino Avenue to this day.
The British Occupied Manila Between 1762-1764
Officially, three countries are known to have successfully occupied the Philippines: Spain, the United States of America and Japan. At one point, Britain almost became one of them too. Almost.
During the Seven Years' War between Britain and France, Spain became concerned that, if France were to lose the war, their interests would be threatened next. True enough, Britain declared war on Spain on January 4, 1762, and Spain returned the favor two weeks later.
Within the year, the British captured Manila and Cavite. Thanks to the strong resistance efforts by the combined Spanish and Filipino forces, however, Britain was unable to move beyond the two aforementioned territories, and eventually let them go in 1764.
One Filipino Revolt Against Spain Lasted for 85 Years
During the nearly three-and-a-half centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines, the government faced numerous, isolated revolts from all over the archipelago. One of the most notable is the Dagohoy Revolt in Bohol, which is considered the longest-lasting rebellion in Philippine history.
Like most Filipinos at the time, Dagohoy buckled under the pressures of forced labor, excessive taxes and the bandala system, where farmers were forced to sell their goods to the government at unfair prices. But when a Jesuit priest refused to give his brother a Christian burial, on the grounds that said brother died in a duel, Dagohoy decided it's the last straw.
In 1744, Dagohoy called his fellow Boholanos into arms. They kept defeating the Spanish forces, one after the other, through guerrilla tactics, resourcefulness and sheer ferocity. Finally, in 1828, an expedition led by Captain Manuel Sanz managed to crush the rebellion, and Dagohoy himself died a year later in 1829.
A Japanese Woman Saved Filipinos During World War II
To World War II Japanese, the Filipinos were either enemies or collaborators. To Masue Masuda-Almazan, Filipinos were people to be saved.
Born in 1901, Masue lived a remarkable life. She was the daughter of entrepreneurial parents, who emigrated to Australia and put up a silk and pearl business there. When World War I broke out, the Masuda family was forced to close up shop, and Masue moved back to Japan along with her sister to finish her studies. Later, the Masudas set up a retail store in Manila. Soon, Masue met a man named Vicente Almazan in Davao, and married him.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck the Masuda-Almazan family. In 1942, a Filipino guerrilla shot Vicente, on account of being the husband of a Japanese national. Instead of taking revenge on her husband's killer, however, Masue did the opposite: She became vital to the release of several Filipino POWs.
Because she was fluent in Nihongo, English and Ilocano, Masue served as interpreter for the Kempeitai (Japanese military police) when the latter interrogated prisoners. Through her knowledge of the local language — and the Kempeitai's lack thereof — she was able to secure proof of the prisoners' innocence. Even though she had plenty of chances to get into her countrymen's good side, and despite the ever-present danger of war, she chose to stay in the Philippines until her death in 1953. Now that's one remarkable lady!
Over to You
There's only so much we can talk about in one brief blog post on Philippine history. If there's anything you'd like to add, or if you have any questions or comments about our content, let us know!