The U.S. Occupation (1898-1946)

The first Philippine Republic was short-lived. Spain had lost a war with the United States. The Philippines was illegally ceded to the United States at the Treaty of Paris for US$20 million, together with Cuba and Puerto Rico.

A Filipino-American War broke out as the United States attempted to establish control over the islands. The war lasted for more than 10 years, resulting in the death of more than 600,000 Filipinos. The little-known war has been described by historians as the "first Vietnam", where US troops first used tactics such as strategic hamleting and scorched-earth policy to "pacify" the natives.

The United States established an economic system giving the colonizers full rights to the country's resources. The Spanish feudal system was not dismantled; in fact, through the system of land registration that favored the upper Filipino classes, tenancy became more widespread during the US occupation. A native elite, including physicians trained in the United States, was groomed to manage the economic and political system of the country. The U.S. also introduced western modells of educational and health-care systems which reinforced elitism and a colonial mentality that persists to this day, mixed with the Spanish feudal patron-client relationship.

Militant peasant and workers' groups were formed during the U.S. occupation despite the repressive situation. A movement for Philippine independence, involving diverse groups, continued throughout the occupation. A Commonwealth government was established in 1935 to allow limited self-rule but this was interrupted by the Second World War and the Japanese occupation. The guerilla movement against Japanese fascism was led mainly by socialists and communists, known by their acronym, HUKS.

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, flag independence was regained although the U.S. imposed certain conditions, including the disenfranchisement of progressive political parties, the retention of U.S. military bases and the signing of economic agreements allowing the U.S. continued control over the Philippine economy.