Philippine Independence Struggle
As spoils of the Spanish-American War of 1898, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and pacific islands of the Philippine archipelago and Guam were ceded to the United States by Spain by virtue of the Treaty of Paris.

Why was Cuba freed in 1902 and the Philippines not until 1946?

From the time the Philippines was annexed by the U.S. in 1898 until 1946, Filipinos were hopeful, even if they had lost the Independence War, that the Philippines will eventually be freed from colonial rule, for they believed that they have earned their independence !

      • P.A.W.C.I.

A cartoon from The Independent, November 20, 1915, one of the early bi-lingual (English and Spanish) Manila weekly journal during the early colonial days. The cartoon depicts three boats named Panama, Cuba and the Philippines. While the two boats (Panama and Cuba) are sailing on its own, the Philippine boat is towed by Uncle Sam with a Filipino passenger begging "Sammy, set me at liberty like Cuba and Panama." "Click" image to view a larger one.

Dewey's Victory Rekindled Manifest Destiny
[Even Before Aguinaldo's Declaration of Philippine Independence ]

Cuba Freed, Why Not the Philippines Too?

Before America Became a Superpower (Pre Spanish-American War)

After America Became a Superpower (Post Spanish-American War) The Long Road to Philippine Independence
Inclusive Date Political Event Concurrent and Signicant Event Duration of Event
August 1896-
November 1897 
Philippine Revolution, Phase I (Katipunan Revolt),  Open revolt against Spanish authorities by the Filipinos initiated by Andres Bonifacio and taken over by Emilio Aguinaldo About 15 months
December 1897-
May 1898
Biak-Na-Bato Truce between the Spaniards and the Filipinos Exile of Emilio Aguinaldo to Hong Kong About 6 months
April 21, 1898 Outbreak of Spanish-American War Teller Amendment in the intervention resolution of the U.S. Congress guaranteed Cuban independence. About four months; 1 year until exchange of treaty ratifications was completed between countries.
May 24, 1898-
February 4, 1899
Philippine Revolution, Phase II (Aguinaldo's Revolt) Declaration of Independence: June 12, 1898 About 8 months
Religious Schism: October 23, 1898- October 1902 About 4 years
February 4, 1899-
July 4, 1902
Independence War
(Philippine Independence Postponed)
Emilio Aguinaldo, President, First Philippine Republic: 1898-1901 3-1/2 years
Philippines ruled by 3 Military Commanders, namely: Gen. Wesley Merritt, Gen. Elwell Otis, and Gen. Arthur MacArthur; First Civil Governor William Howard Taft. July 1898-February 1899 (About 4 years)
1902-1935 Colonial Period Post-war Pacification: 1902-1907 Pacification Campaign: 5 years
Moro Resistance Wars:
Moro Wars: 11 years
Colonialization for the rest of the archipelago: 1904-1935;  Philippines was ruled by 10 Civil Governors aside from W.H. Taft . See Table of Military Commanders and Civil Governors below. About 33 years
1935-1941 Commonwealth Government (innaugurated on Nov 15, 1935) Commonwealth Government Presidents:
  • Manuel L. Quezon, 
  • Sergio S. Osmena, Sr.
  • Manuel A. Roxas
About 6 years
1941-1945 Japanese Occupation Jose P. Laurel, Sr.: President, Occupation Republic About 4 years
July 4, 1946 Philippine Independence Granted by the United States Manuel A. Roxas: First President, Third Philippine Republic  50 years of struggle before the Philippines became independent

Military Commanders and
Governor-Generals of the Philippines
[From American Occupation to the Commonwealth Period]
Term  Military-Governor Military Commanders
(Supervised by
Governor-General High Commissioner (Representing the U.S. President) Significant Event U.S. President
 July 26, 1898 -Aug. 29, 1898 Gen. Wesley Merritt       Commanded the U.S. land expeditionary forces to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War William W. McKinley
Aug 29, 1898 -May 5, 1900  Gen. Elwell S. Otis        War broke out under his 
May 5, 1900 - July 4, 1901  Gen. Arthur MacArthur        Escalation of guerilla warfare
July 4, 1901 -1904    Gen. Adnan Chaffee  William H. Taft   Lonoy Massacre by the Americans on March 1901; retaliatory Balangiga Massacre on September 27, 1901 by the Filipinos Theodore Roosevelt
1904-1906      Luke E. Wright    
1906      Henry C. Ide     
1906-1909      James F. Smith     
  W. Cameron Forbes   Battle of Bud Bagsak, Jolo; American troops led by Gen. John Pershing William H. Taft (1909-1913)
  Francis Burton Harrison     Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
1921-1927      Leonard Wood    Mass resignation of Filipino cabinet members led by Manuel Quezon; death of Leonard Wood in 1927. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
1928-1929      Henry L. Stimson     
1929-1932      Dwight F. Davis     Herbert C. Hoover (1929-1933)
1932-1933     Theodore Roosevelt, Jr    
1933-1935      Frank Murphy Frank Murphy Passing of the Tydings-McDuffie Act on March 24, 1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
1937       Paul V. McNutt  
        Francis B. Sayre  


1.  If the U.S. was not considered the established authority of the Philippines at the outbreak of the Philippine-American War, then there was no military-governors in the Philippines, technically.  As a consequence, Generals Merritt, Otis, and MacArthur were merely military commanders of the occupying forces.

2.  General Douglas MacArthur served in the Philippines as military adviser during the Commonwealth Government days of Manuel L. Quezon, prior to World War II.

Significant Constitutional Events Leading to Independence
Date Significant Event
November 1, 1897 Provisional Constitution of the Biak-na-bato Philippine Government
June 6, 1898 Submittal of a constitutional program to the revolutionary government by Apolinario Mabini.
August 13, 1898 Spaniards surrender to the Americans in the 'sham' Battle of Manila; occupation of Manila by U.S. forces
November 29, 1898 Approval of the Malolos Constitution
December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris signing between Spain and the U.S.
1902 Passing of Philippine Bill, or Cooper Act, or Provisional Organic Law.
1907 Philippine Assembly convened, attended by Secretary of War William Howard Taft, the first civil-governor.
February 9, 1899 Outbreak of the Philippine Independence War
August 29, 1916 Passing of Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise known as Jones Law
March 24, 1934 Passing of Tydings-McDuffie Law by U.S. Congress creating the Philippine Commonwealth Government 
July 30, 1934 Opening of the Constitutional Convention as provided for by the Tydings-McDuffie Law.
February 8, 1935 Approval and signing of the Commonwealth Government Constitution
May 14, 1935 Ratification of the Commonwealth Constitution
September 17, 1935 First elction under the Commonwealth Constitution
November 15, 1935 Inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth Government, with Manuel L. Quezon as the President
December 7, 1941 Japan attacks the U.S. naval base at Peral Harbor, World War II starts
January 1942 Establishment of the wartime Philippine Executive Commission under the auspices of the Japanese occupation forces.
September 1943 First meeting of the wartime National Assembly, and elected Jose Laurel as President of the 2nd Philippine Republic.
July 4, 1946 Independence is granted to the Philippines.

Philippine Presidents
Government Term President Remark
First Philippine Republic January 23, 1899 -March 23, 1901 Emilio Aguinaldo First President
American Colonial Administration, ruled by 3 Military Governors and 11 Civil Governors March 23, 1901 -November 15, 1935 N/A N/A
Commonwealth Government November 15, 1935 -August 1, 1944 Manuel L. Quezon First President, Philippine Commonwealth
August 1, 1944 -May 28, 1946 Sergio S. Osmena Second President, Philippine Commonwealth
May 28, 1946-July 4, 1946 Manuel A. Roxas Third (Last)  President, Philippine
Philippine Republic, Japanese Occupation
[Second Philippine Republic?]
October 14, 1943 -August 15, 1945 Jose P. Laurel, Sr. President, Occupation Government
Third Philippine Republic July 4, 1946 -April 15, 1948 Manuel A. Roxas First President, Third Philippine Republic


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Philippine-American War Centennial Initiative (PAWCI)