Frontline World

PHILIPPINES - Islands Under Siege, June 2003

Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "Islands Under Siege"

On the Front Lines in Mindanao

Rebellions, Wars and Insurgencies in the Philippines

Population, Government, Economy

Muslim Rebels, U.S. Presence, Politics




Links and Resources

• General Background
• Marcos, "People Power" and Current Politics
• U.S. Presence in the Philippines
• Muslim Rebels and the War on Terrorism
• Arts
• Media Resources

General Background

Republic of the Philippines
The official Web site of the Philippine government includes information about its economic, defense and foreign policies. The site encourages businesses and tourists to invest in the nation it calls "the commercial, cultural and intellectual hub of Asia from the dawn of history."

Library of Congress Country Study
This site, maintained by the Library of Congress, offers a detailed overview of Philippine history from the Spanish colonial era to the 1980s, focusing on 20th-century history.

Country Briefing: Philippines
This introduction to current Philippine news, presented by The Economist, features recent articles on the country's domestic and foreign politics. There is also a country profile with demographic statistics and economic indicators.

back to top


Marcos, "People Power" and Current Politics

"The Strongman"
AsiaWeek presents a profile of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, who is still reviled and revered more than a decade after his death. Supporters say he developed the country and strengthened Filipinos' sense of national identity. Opponents say he stole millions while suppressing dissent.

"Never Again"
This Web site seeks to "keep alive the dark memory of martial rule" under President Ferdinand Marcos, who assumed dictatorial powers during his 21-year rule. It includes information on the Marcos years and the enduring impact of its repressive policies.

"People Power Redux"
Philippine president Joseph Estrada was forced out of office in the wake of a corruption scandal in January 2001. This article, published in TIME Asia, looks at how "People Power II" and frantic backroom dealing led to his impeachment and downfall.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Gloria Arroyo is the 14th president of the Philippines, the second woman to hold the office, and the daughter of the late former president Diosdado Macapagal. The official Web site of this politician, who suddenly became president in January 2001, includes a biographical sketch, some recent speeches and a photo gallery.

back to top


U.S. Presence in the Philippines

The Early Years
The American presence in the Philippines began with the 1898 Spanish-American War. After a quick victory, the United States assumed control of Spanish colonial possessions, including the Philippines. This Library of Congress Web site presents a chronology of the early days of U.S. occupation, a chronology of the Philippine-American War and photographs of early Filipino nationalists.

"The Fight in the Philippines"
PBS's American Experience presents the story of the 1942 Japanese invasion of the Philippines, with firsthand accounts from Filipino anti-Japanese guerillas and American survivors of the Bataan Death March. This section is part of a larger Web site about General Douglas MacArthur, who commanded U.S. forces in the Philippines before and during World War II.

Balikatan 2002
This military exercise, whose name means "shoulder to shoulder," brought together 5,400 American and Philippine soldiers. According to the military, this was the 18th such exercise and a demonstration of "U.S. resolve to support the Philippines against external aggression." provides an overview of the operation.

An Interview With Gloria Arroyo
In this November 2001 interview on PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, President Arroyo talks about her government's ongoing fight against Muslim rebels and its relationship with the United States. Arroyo says that the Philippines welcomes U.S. military aid and training, but at the same time she insists that Philippine troops do not need American reinforcements. "Our armed forces are quite good in what they're doing."

back to top


Muslim Rebels and the War on Terrorism

The War in the Southern Philippines
Published in 1999 by the Institute for Popular Democracy, Rebels, Warlords and Ulama: A Reader on Muslim Separatism and the War in Southern Philippines,edited by Kristina Gaerlan and Mara Stankovitch, examines the three-decade-long Moro separatist struggle in Mindanao. Going beyond the headlines, the essays collected here look at the individuals and social dynamics that have shaped the conflict.

Guide to the Philippines Conflict
Rebel groups are nothing new in the Philippines. This BBC News Web site presents facts and history about the four major Islamic and communist groups currently operating in the southern Philippines.

Peace Talks
The Philippine government has sat down for peace talks with several rebel groups over the years, with varying degrees of success. This Web site keeps track of the status of negotiations with the left-wing New People's Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other groups.

An Interview With Salamat Hashim
In this 1998 interview conducted by an Australian Muslim magazine, Salamat Hashim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), explains his group's goals and philosophy. The MILF is fighting against the "illegal and immoral" oppression of the Bangsamoro Muslims in Mindanao, he explains. He also denies that his group has committed atrocities: "The Bangsamoro Mujahideen are strictly following the teachings of Islam."

An Interview With Professor Thomas McKenna
In this interview with AsiaSource, Professor Thomas McKenna discusses the origins and history of Abu Sayyaf, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other Muslim rebel groups. Filipino Christians and Muslims have long coexisted peacefully, he says. To understand the current conflict, we should look at its roots in the Spanish and American colonial eras as well as at the modern animosities that fuel it.

The Philippines and the War on Terrorism
After September 11, the United States announced that it would target foreign groups with alleged links to al Qaeda. One of the groups specifically mentioned was Abu Sayyaf, the Philippine Muslim rebel group. This interactive Washington Post Web site looks at the United States' new role in the Philippines and the campaign against Abu Sayyaf.

Widening the War on Terror
PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer looks at the expanded American war on terror and the new role of U.S. military in the Philippines. In an interview, Philippine ambassador to the United States Albert del Rosario urges Americans not to see the Philippines as a source of terrorism. "We are not harboring terrorism; we are fighting terrorism," he says.

back to top


The Philippines is legendary for its scope of musical offerings. features news on popular artists and recent releases in Filipino folk music, rock, pop and jazz.

Filipino Folk Dancing
This personal Web site offers an introduction to the many styles of traditional Filipino dance, with descriptions of regional variations and music samples. runs articles and reviews of independent Filipino media from the Philippines and abroad, with a focus on film and alternative music.

back to top


Media Resources

Manila Times
Founded in 1898, the Manila Times is the Philippines' oldest newspaper. Its Web site publishes national and international news as well as local sports and entertainment news.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Daily Inquirer Web site provides articles on the day's news at home and abroad. It also features opinions and political cartoons about Philippine politics.

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
"We tell it like it is. No matter who. No matter what." Thus reads the motto for this organization of investigative journalists. Its Web site includes stories on corruption, crime and the environment as well as a collection of articles about disgraced former president Joseph Estrada.

Philippine Political Update
This site provides links to news stories about the Philippines published in such international media sources as Time, The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor.

back to top