It was in the 15th century when the European nations competes each other for wealth and power. These competitions lead to the colonization of the European nations to the many places on the East including the present day Philippines.
The Philippine Islands was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan planned to go to Molluca, the Spice Island in the Far East, but instead of using the usual route to the East he wanted to navigate in the west, aiming to discover a new and easy way going to the East.
Magellan tried to convince the king of Portugal King Emmanuel I about this plan but the king refused. Desperate with Portugal’s response, Magellan went to Spain and laid down his plan to the king of Spain King Carlos I. The king was convinced with what Magellan had planned and funded his expedition.
On March 17, 1521, Magellan together with his men landed in the Island of Homonhon in the Gulf of Leyte Philippine Island. He went to Limasawa and celebrated a mass. He was able to make friends with the local chieftain Rajah Kulambo and Rajah Siago.
He informally conquers the Philippine Island and named it archipelago of San Lazaro. On April 8, 1521, he landed in the island of Cebu where he meet and make friend with the local chieftain Rajah Humabon. Magellan with his priest held a mass in the Island. He convinced the natives to be baptized in the name of Christianity. Magellan was able to baptize about 800 natives as well as their chieftain Rajah Humabon who was given the name Carlos with his wife who was given the name Juana.
Unfortunately, not all chieftains wanted to make friend with Magellan. Lapu-Lapu, the chieftain of the nearby Island, Mactan doesn’t want to be under the authority of the Spanish.
Heard about this Magellan wanted to confront Lapu-Lapu. Together with about 60 armed Spaniards with the three ships they sailed towards Mactan with 1,000 local fighters. First, they send a messenger to Lapu-Lapu ordering him to take under the authority of Spain as well as to pay tax. These orders were denied by Lapu-Lapu and he prepared for war.
Rajah Humabon wanted to help Magellan and offers his help. Magellan refused the offer instead, he told Humabon to stay in their boats and watch how they fight. Magellan and the Spanish soldiers attacked Lapu-Lapu and the battle begins. The event was described as a war of bolos and spears versus guns and cannons. The natives used simple weapons against the more advanced weapons used by the Spaniards. Despite of this, the natives outnumbered the Spanish resulting to their defeat. Eventually, Magellan was killed on this battle.
The positive result of the Magellan expedition made the king of Spain King Carlos I to fund more expedition to the East after three years. Unfortunately, all of these expeditions did not succeeded because of some circumstances. This time, the expeditions were temporarily stopped.
When King Philip II became the next king of Spain, he continued to send expeditions to the East. The successful expedition was lead by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. This expedition was composed of 4 ships and 380 men including Fr. Andres de Urdaneta and other 5 Agustinian priests.
The expedition reaches the island of Cebu in the year 1565 but because of the negative experiences of the natives with the foreigners (Magellan and his men) they were prevented to come ashore. Because of this, they were forced to sail to the other Island Leyte and Samar; there they were received by prince Kamutahon. They reached Bohol and make friend with Sikatuna. After one month Legazpi and his men invaded Cebu. The natives were forced to flee to the mountains. Before that, the natives burned their houses so that the invaders cannot use them.
After Legazpi won against the natives, he orders to construct new houses. He urged the natives to go back to their respective places where they lived and made promise that he will forgive them. He further explained that he has a good intention in invading the Philippines.
It was the month of June when King Tupas and Legazpi signed an agreement. Legazpi founded a Spanish settlement in Cebu. This settlement was named San Miguel but he changed it to City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. It is considered as the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.
The Spanish colonization in the country had been started. The Spanish missionaries started to spread Christianity (particularly Catholicism) in the country. As part of this, Legazpi also sends soldiers in the nearby Islands such as in Panay, Negros and Samar.
In May 8, 1770, Legazpi sends an expedition to Manila lead by Martin de Goiti with 120 Spanish soldiers and 600 natives (Visaya). When the expedition arrived, they send a message to the chieftain Rajah Sulayman to pay tribute or taxes as well as to recognize the authority of Spain, but the rajah refused. The Spanish invaded Manila, the chieftain Rajah Sulayman fought but the Spanish forced where more superior which caused the defeat of the natives. They retreated through the Pasig River.
In the next year after, the Spanish invaded Manila for the second time. This time the Spaniards were lead by Legazpi himself. The strong forced of Legazpi was seen by Lakandula (also a local chieftain); he welcomed the arriving strangers and make friends with them. Lakandula convinced Sulayman to accept the authority of the invaders. Because of the Spanish superior force, the natives were forced to accept them.
Legazpi then organize another Spanish settlement. He constructed houses, church, convents and several facilities. Legazpi founded and organize a Spanish government called as “Ayuntamiento” or city government. Within the next years following Legazpi’s invasion, the Spanish government sends more government officials, troops and friars that were responsible in organizing Spain’s political control over the country as well as in spreading Christianity.