Philippines Timeline, Telecommunications, and Spanish American War of 1898


Insurrections against Spain in Cuba and the Philippines had been going on for many years.

1867 Three members of the Telegraph Corps of Spain received the Royal Order instructing them to proceed to the Philippine Islands, the Spanish colony in the Pacific, establish a telegraph training school there and install nationwide telegraph systems to interlink the colony’s towns and cities.

1878 Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc (ETPI) was founded as the Eastern Extension Australasia and China Telegraph Company, a subsidiary of Britain's Cable and Wireless.
Authorized by the Spanish government to provide its first telegraph services, to construct and operate the first submarine cable linking the Philippines and Hong Kong.

1890 US foreign policy influenced by US Naval officer and historian, Alfred Mahan, which advocated the taking of the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and the Philippine Islands for bases to protect US commerce, the building of a canal to enable fleet movement from ocean to ocean and the building of the Great White fleet of steam-driven armor plated battleships.

1896 On February 16 Spain implemented a reconcentration policy in Cuba, which required the population to move to central locations under Spanish military jurisdiction. The entire island was placed under martial law.

On December 7 retiring US President Grover Cleveland declared that the US may take action in Cuba if Spain failed to resolve the Cuban crisis.

Main Body


On February 8 Spain's ambassador to the US, Enrique Dupuy de Lome, resigned. The following day, the New York Journal published a confidential letter by him critical of President McKinley. The revelation of the letter pushed Spain and the United States toward war.

On February 15 at 9.40pm the United States battleship Maine, riding quietly at anchor in Havana harbour in Cuba, was suddenly blown up, apparently by a mine, in an explosion which tore her bottom out and sank her, killing 260 officers and men on board.

On March 3 Governor-General of the Philippine Islands Fernando Primo de Rivera informed Spanish minister for the colonies Segismundo Moret y Prendergast that Commodore George Dewey, based in Hong Kong, had received orders to move on Manila. He had been recently supplied with guns and ammunition and other supplies in preparation for a war with Spain.

On March 28 US Naval Court of Inquiry published its findings that the battleship U.S.S. Maine was destroyed by mine. Spain's investigation came to the opposite conclusion: the explosion originated within the ship. Other investigations in later years came to various contradictory conclusions, but had no bearing on the coming of the war.

On March 29 the United States Government issued an ultimatum to the Spanish Government to terminate its presence in Cuba. Spain did not accept the ultimatum in its reply of April 1, 1898.

On April 4 the New York Journal issued a million copy press run dedicated to the war in Cuba. The newspaper called for the immediate US entry into war with Spain.

On April 11 the US President William McKinley requested authorization from the US Congress to intervene in Cuba, with the object of putting an end to the war between Cuban revolutionaries and Spain. On April 13 the US Congress agreed to President McKinley's request for intervention in Cuba, but without recognition of the Cuban Government.
The Spanish government declared that the sovereignity of Spain was jeopardized by US policy and prepared a special budget for war expenses.

On April 19 the US Congress by vote of 311 to 6 in the House and 42 to 35 in the Senate adopted the Joint Resolution for war with Spain. Included in the Resolution was the Teller Amendment, named after Senator Henry Moore Teller (Colorado) which disclaimed any intention by the US to exercise jurisdiction or control over Cuba except in a pacification role and promised to leave the island as soon as the war was over.

On April 20 US President William McKinley signed the Joint Resolution for war with Spain and the ultimatum was forwarded to Spain. Spanish Minister to the United States Luis Polo de Bernabe demanded his passport, and along with the personnel of the Legation left Washington for Canada.

On April 21 the Spanish Government considered the US Joint Resolution of April 20 a declaration of war. US Minister in Madrid General Steward L. Woodford received his passport before presenting the ultimatum by the United States.
A state of war existed between Spain and the United States and all diplomatic relations were suspended. US President William McKinley ordered a blockade of Cuba. On April 23 President McKinley called for 125,000 volunteers.

On April 25 War was formally declared between Spain and the United States. On April 29 the Portuguese government declared itself neutral.

US Possession of The Philippines

May 1
Opening with the famous quote "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley" US Commodore George Dewey in six hours defeated the Spanish squadron, under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasaron, in Manila Bay, the Philippine Islands. Dewey led the Asiatic Squadron of the US Navy in the attack. With the cruisers U.S.S. Olympia, Raleigh, Boston, and Baltimore, the gunboats Concord and Petrel and the revenue cutter McCulloch, and reinforcements from cruiser U.S.S. Charleston and the monitors U.S.S. Monadnock and Monterey, the Squadron forced the capitulation of Manila. In the battle the entire Spanish squadron was sunk, including the cruisers Maria Cristina and Castilla, gunboats Don Antonio de Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba, Velasco, and Argos.

May 11
President William McKinley and his cabinet approve a State Department memorandum calling for Spanish cession (surrendering) of a suitable "coaling station" (fuelling station) that was presumably Manila, however the Philippine Islands were to remain Spanish possessions.

May 18
Prime Minister Sagasta in Spain formed a new cabinet. US President McKinley ordered a military expedition, headed by Major General Wesley Merritt, to complete the elimination of Spanish forces in the Philippines, to occupy the islands, and to provide security and order to the inhabitants.

May 19
Revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo returned to Manila from exile in Hong Kong. The United States had invited him back from exile, hoping that Aguinaldo would rally the Filipinos against the Spanish colonial government.

May 24
Emilio Aguinaldo established a dictatorial government (under himself) replacing the revolutionary government due to chaotic conditions he found in the Philippines upon his return.

May 25
First US troops were sent from San Francisco to the Philippines.

US business and government circles united around a policy of retaining all or part of the Philippines.

US War in Cuba

June 6
US Naval forces attack Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

June 10
US Marines land at Santiago in Cuba with naval support.

Back to the Philippines (and looking at Hawaii and Guam)

June 11
McKinley administration reactivated debate in Congress on Hawaiian annexation, using the argument that "we must have Hawaii to help us get our share of China."

June 12
Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine Island independence from Spain. German squadron under Admiral Dieterichs arrived at Manila.

June 14
McKinley administration decided not to return the Philippine Islands to Spain.

June 15
Congress passed the Hawaii annexation resolution, 209-91. On July 6, the US Senate affirmed the measure.

American Anti-imperialist League was organized in opposition to the annexation of the Philippine Islands. Among its members were Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, David Starr Jordan, and Samuel Gompers. George S. Boutwell, former secretary of the treasury and Massachusetts senator, served as president of the League.

June 20
Spanish authorities surrendered Guam to Captain Henry Glass and his forces on the cruiser U.S.S. Charleston.


August 12
Peace protocol that ended all hostilities between Spain and the United States in the war fronts of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines was signed in Washington, D.C.

August 13
The United States troops "took" Manila, a day after the Armistice was signed in Washington, D.C. In upholding Spain's honor, Governor-General Fermin Jaudenes y Alvarez, realizing that the Spanish forces were no match for the invading Americans, negotiated a secret agreement with Americans General Merritt and Admiral Dewey, with Belgian consul Edouard Andre mediating. The secret agreement, unknown to the Filipinos at the time, involved the staging of a mock battle between Spanish and American forces intentionally to keep Filipino insurgents out of the picture. Once the pre-agreed attack began, the Spaniards, on cue, hoisted a white flag of capitulation and American troops filed into the city orderly and quietly with very little bloodshed. The Spaniards were only too eager to hand over the Philippines to the Americans. Admiral Dewey, for his part, never intended to hand the Philipines over to the "undisciplined insurgents". Thus, the Philippines became a possession of the United States and the seeds of Philippine insurrection were sown.

August 14
Capitulation was signed at Manila and US General Wesley Merritt established a military government in the city, with himself serving as first military governor.

October 1
The Spanish and United States Commissioners convened their first meeting in Paris to reach a final Treaty of Peace.

December 10
Representatitves of Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Peace in Paris. Spain renounced all rights to Cuba and allowed an independent Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and the island of Guam to the United States, gave up its possessions in the West Indies, and sold the Philippine Islands, receiving in exchange $20,000,000.

December 21
President McKinley issued his Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation, ceding the Philippines to the United States, and instructing the American occupying army to use force, as necessary, to impose American sovereignity over the Philippines even before he obtained Senate ratification of the peace treaty with Spain.


January 1
Emilio Aguinaldo was declared President of the new Philippine Republic following the meeting of a constitutional convention, with United States authorities refusing to recognize this new government.

February 4
The Philippine Insurrection began as the Philippine Republic declared war on the United States forces in the Philippine Islands, following the killing of three Filipino soldiers by US forces in a suburb of Manila.

November 12
With mounting American military successes on the battlefields, Emilio Aguinaldo dissolved his regular revolutionary army and ordered the establishment of decentralized guerrilla commands in several military zones in the Philippine Islands.

December 2
Filipino General Gregorio del Pilar was killed in the battle of Tirad Pass by Americans pursuing the fleeing Aguinaldo.


March 23
Led by General Frederick Funston, US forces captured Emilio Aguinaldo on Palanan, Isabela Province. On April 19 he took an oath of allegiance to the United States.


July 1
The first organic act, known as the Philippine Bill of 1902, was passed by the US Congress. It called for the management of Philippine affairs, upon restoration of peace and general amnesty, by establishing the first elective Philippine Assembly and the Taft Commission comprising the lower and upper house, respectively, of the Philippine Legislature. The passage of the Act may be attributed in part to Jose Rizal and his stirring last farewell to his beloved country immortalized in his poem, Mi Ultimo Adios, that he wrote in his cell at Fort Santiago on the eve of his execution by the Spaniards on December 30, 1896.

At first, there was strong opposition to the passage of the bill from members of the House, some of whom referred to the Filipinos as "barbarians" incapable of self government. Thereupon, Congressman Henry A. Cooper of Wisconsin took the floor and recited Rizal's last farewell. Silence soon pervaded the floor as Cooper, eyes moist with tears and voice deep with emotion, recited the poem stanza by stanza. Soon after his recitation, Cooper thunderously asked his colleagues might there be a future for such a barbaric, uncivilized people who had given the world a noble man as Rizal. The vote was taken on the bill, and passed the House.

July 4
War ended with a unilateral proclamation of general amnesty, with more than 4,200 US soldiers, 20,000 Filipino soldiers, and 200,000 Filipino civilians dead.


Click here for submarine cable history

The first trans-Pacific cables providing telegraph service were completed in 1902 and 1903, linking the US mainland to Hawaii in 1902, then 6000 kms west to Guam and 2500 kms west to Philippines in 1903.

In 1905 US-owned Philippine Islands Telephone and Telegraph Company starts operations in Metro Manila.

In 1927, the Radio Corporation of the Philippines opens the first radio-telegraph service between Manila and San Francisco (USA). On December 8 1928, the Robert Dollar Company was granted a franchise to provide an international telegram service. In 1930, MacKay Radio and Telegraph Company established its Manila office. In 1933, the first radio-telephone service between the Philippines and the United States was established by RCA Communications in joint operation with the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT).

In December 1941 the Philippines was invaded by Japan, then freed by US troops in 1944-1945. In 1946 granted independence.

In 1955, telex services commence over telephone lines.

In 1964, the first trans-Pacific telephone cable was laid from Hawaii to Japan via Guam, with an extension from Guam to The Philippines.

In 1992, PLDT introduces fibre optic technology (now with a thousand times more bandwidth than copper), and six years later inaugurated the country’s first cellular mobile telephone network.

Why is Philippine internet so expensive?
According to due to thousands of islands, the requirement for laying a fibre optic cable requires a huge amount of investment.

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** End of Report