On February 17, 1899, the United States began colonizing the Philippines, which would later become known as the “first Vietnam.” The Philippine-American War lasted for three years and resulted in the massacre of up to 1.4 million Filipinos.
Prior to US colonization, 30,000 Filipino guerillas organized by the revolutionary society called the Katipunan had just freed themselves from Spanish colonial rule in 1896 after 300 years of colonial rule. Meanwhile, the US had been fighting against Spain, not for freedom, but to acquire Spanish colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
In an agreement called the Treaty of Paris, Spain agreed to sell its colony to the US for $20 million. However, the US government failed to secure the backing of Congress for the treaty, and as a result, declared war on the Philippines on February 4, 1899, falsely claiming that Filipinos had fired shots at US troops who were occupying Manila.
The Katipunan, who had previously fought against the Spanish, turned their attention to the US. The Filipinos launched a heroic campaign of mobile guerilla warfare, with the support of the Filipino masses. However, the US deployed 70,000 troops with instructions to use “overwhelming force” against the Filipinos.
US troops committed atrocities such as slaughtering entire villages, torturing civilians, and building concentration camps where thousands died from hunger, disease, and violence. The troops piled up thousands of Filipino bodies and made fortifications out of them. Although Congress approved the Treaty in December of 1898, the war did not end until 1902, with the US claiming “victory.” The end of the war marked the beginning of 44 years of US colonization of the Philippines.
Despite the Philippines gaining independence in 1946, it remains a semi-colony to this day. The US maintains five military bases across the archipelago, and all post-independence Filipino governments have submitted to US-dominated international financal institutions, whose policies have plunged millions of Filipinos into extreme poverty.
The US maintains 5 military bases across the archipelago and all post-independence Filipino governments have submitted to US-dominated international finance financial institutions whose prescriptions have plunged millions of Filipinos into extreme poverty. The Philippine-American War serves as a reminder of the destructive consequences of imperialist expansion and the devastating impacts that foreign occupation can have on a nation and its people.