The metatarsal of Callao Man is reported to have been reliably dated by uranium-series dating to 67,000 years ago thereby replacing the Tabon Man of Palawan, carbon-dated to around 24,000 years ago, as the oldest human remains found in the archipelago. Negritos were among the archipelago’s earliest inhabitants, but their appearance in the Philippines has not been reliably dated. There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos. The most widely accepted based on linguistic and archeological evidence, is the “Out-of-Taiwan” model, which hypothesizes that Austronesians from Taiwan began migrating to the Philippines around 4000 BCE, displacing earlier arrivals.
Other hypotheses include Wilhelm Solheim’s Island Origin Theory which postulates that the peopling of the archipelago transpired via trade networks originating in the Ice Age Sundaland area around 48000 to 5000 BCE rather than by wide-scale migration; and F. Landa Jocano’s Local Origins Theory which postulates that the ancestors of the Filipinos evolved locally. Whatever the case, by 1000 BCE the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups: hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, highland plutocracies, and maritime harbor principalities.
While some societies in the scattered islands remained isolated, many evolved into states that developed substantial trade and contacts with other peoples of Eastern and Southern Asia, including those from India, China, Japan and other Austronesian islands. The 1st millennium saw the rise of the harbor principalities and their growth into Maritime states composed of autonomous barangays independent of, or allied with, larger nations which were either Malay thalassocracies led by Datus, Chinese tributary states ruled by Huangs or Indianized Kingdoms governed by Rajahs. Examples of the former include Datu Puti who ruled over the Confederation of Madja-as after he purchased his realms from the Negrito Chieftain, Marikudo. Of the latter, the Rajahnate of Butuan, which attained prominence under the rule of Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the Kingdom of Tondo, ruled over by the Lakandula dynasty and the Rajahnate of Cebu which was led by Rajamuda Sri Lumay. Other nations in this era include the Sinified kingdom of Ma-i, represented by Huang Gat Sa Li-han and Sulu which, before its Islamization, was also an Indianized Rajahnate under its first ruler, Rajah Sipad the Older. The great epics; the Hinilawod, Darangan and the Biag Ni Lam-Ang trace their origins to this era.
The 1300s heralded the arrival and eventual spread of the Islamic religion in the Philippine archipelago. In 1380, Karim ul’ Makdum and Shari’ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu by converting Sulu’s rajah and marrying his daughter. At the end of the 15th century, Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao. He subsequently married Paramisuli, an Iranun princess, and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. Sultanates extended further into Lanao.Eventually, Islam spread out of Mindanao in the south into Luzon in the north. Even Manila itself was Islamized through the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, wherein, the Sultanate of Brunei subjugated the Kingdom of Tondo by converting Rajah Salalila to Islam. However, states like the Animist Igorot, Malay Madja-as, Sinified Ma-i, Hebraic Lequios and Indianized Butuan still maintained their cultures. In some kingdoms, anti-Islamic fervor was present. As a result, the rivalries between the datus, rajahs, huangs, sultans, and lakans and their respective nations eventually eased Spanish colonization. These states became incorporated into the Spanish Empire and were Hispanicized and Christianized.
In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain. Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. The Spanish established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies in 1571 after putting down native resistance and defeating the Chinese pirate warlord Limahong.
Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the fragmented states of the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence. The Manila galleons and its large naval fleet linking Manila to Acapulco traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th centuries. Trade introduced foods such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, and pineapples from the Americas. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, a university, and hospitals. While a Spanish decree introduced free public schooling in 1863, efforts in mass public education mainly came to fruition during the American period.
José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Mariano Ponce, leaders of the Propaganda Movement.
During its rule, the Spanish fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from Chinese pirates, the Dutch, and the Portuguese. In an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years’ War, British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764. Spanish rule was eventually restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Philippine society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines (criollos) and those of mixed ancestry (mestizos) became wealthy, and an influx of Latino settlers opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula (peninsulares). The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.
Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three priests — Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza) — were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed. This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion. As attempts at reform met with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, who sought independence from Spain through armed revolt. Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio’s position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over. In 1898, the Spanish-American War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Philippine Republic was established in the Barasoain Church the following year.