Turning Points in Philippine History

The current theme for submissions over at Crossed Genres is Alternative History–and writers take note, they are not only especially interested in Alternate History stories involving non-Western cultures and civilizations but they are also seeing a drop in submissions for this theme–so it got me thinking: the primordial element in the construction of an alternate history story seems to me to be the isolation of a focal point in the timeline of a people or nation, and speculating how a particular addition or omission might radically alter the course of history. While weighing the possibility of submitting to Crossed Genres, I’ve come up with a list of “what ifs” grounded in turning points in our history, and I thought I’d list them here for purposes of discussion/critique, or in the event that they can aid anyone planning to write an alternate history set in the Philippines; not all are major events in and of themselves, but some of the best stories I’ve read have dealt with the chain reactions caused by a shift in a minor detail.

Note that while I have been trying to brush up on Philippine history, I’m by no means an expert and as such I’m open to suggestions if I missed or mistakenly added anything. Also, I’m limiting these to possibilities that had an actual chance of occurring (rather than any number of way-out alternatives such as “What if the Rice Terraces became sentient during World War II?”) — although of course for purposes of a Spec Fic tale, the reason why events took a different turn may be as fantastical as the writer desires.

  • 1400s – What if Muslim missionaries had spread across more of the Philippines, entrenching Islam before the arrival of the Spanish?
  • 1500s – What if Portugal had discovered the Philippines?
  • 1762 – What if the British had conquered the Philippines?
  • 1767 – What if the Jesuits had not been expelled?
  • 1887 – What if Noli Me Tangere had been written in Tagalog?
  • 1897 – What if Bonifacio had executed Aguinaldo?
  • 1898 – What if Aguinaldo had not accepted United States aid?
  • 1899 – What if Willy Grayson had not taken that shot?
  • 1902 – What if the Philippines had won the Philippine-American War?
  • 1941 – What if MacArthur had repulsed the Japanese attack against Clark?
  • 1942 – What if Corregidor had never fallen?
  • 1945 – What if the Philippines had remained under Japanese occupation?
  • 1945 – What if the Philippines had become a state of the United States of America?
  • 1946 – What if MacArthur had implemented Japanese-style reforms in the Philippines?
  • 1946 – What if Taruc and the other five Democratic Alliance candidates had not been denied their seats in Congress?
  • 1950 – What if the Huk had overthrown the national government?
  • 1957 – What if Magsaysay’s plane had not crashed?
  • 1972 – What if Marcos had never declared Martial Law?
  • 1983 – What if Ninoy lived?

[More after the jump/cut]

  • 1986 – What if the EDSA Revolution had devolved into a massacre?
  • 1990’s – What if the power crisis never abated?
  • 1990 – What if Mindanao had seceded?
  • 1990 – What if the Baguio earthquake had reached 9.5 on the Richter Scale?
  • 1991 – What if  Mount Pinatubo had erupted with twice the force?
  • 1994 – What if massive oil reserves were found beneath the Spratlys?
  • 1995 – What if China had invaded and occupied the Philippines, in response to the Spratly stand-off?
  • 1995 – What if Pope John Paul II had been assassinated during World Youth Day?
  • 2001 – What if the second envelope had been opened during Estrada’s impeachment?
  • 2001 – What if the Estrada loyalists had successfully stormed the palace during Edsa III?
  • 2005 – What if Meningococcal meningitis had become a pandemic?

That’s about all I can think of off-hand.


7 responses to “Turning Points in Philippine History

  1. Sir,

    I am glad that the Alternate history genre reached Filipino readers.

    Please enter this forum. You may discuss this in detail.


    The downside is that I am the only Filipino in the site.

    However, it would be interesting if you contribute there. There many American forum members interested in Asian history.


    Kim Tiu

  2. Gentlemen:

    My name is Winalyn A. Labides. I am Filipina, born and raised in Digos City, Davao del Sur. I am a Radiologic Technology student. One of my classmates is married to an American, who is retired. His hobby is writing, and it’s happen that I enjoy reading. And I asked him if I could read his works. He promptly said that the book based on Philippines local story. He let me read the book, and then the book is a science fiction story. And I believe you may be interested in, it shocked me upon reading it. And it will do the same for you.
    Can I e-mail a few pages? Please send e-mail address whether you want a few pages or the complete work.

    please e-mail me: owner_curmudgeon@yahoo.com
    Thank you.

  3. Pingback: What Ifs in History « Randomness.At.Its.Finest.

  4. hi!

    i read your article and it caught my attention because i’ve been reading this book called “looking back” by ambeth r. ocampo and it’s full of stories that you never hear in your history class.

    one big what if there is that what if japan successfully bought the philippines? the author claims to have come across the memoirs of fransisco reynoso, one of the members of the spanish delegation in the treaty of paris in 1898, when spain gave up the philippines to the US for 20 million dollars.

    according to ambeth, reynoso remarks at the treaty saying:

    “it would have been better for spain to have accepted the offer of marshal yamagata, the japanese victor of the chinese war, made tentatively in moscow during the coronation of czar nicholas II in 1894, to sell the philippines to japan for forty million pounds.”

    another big event that raises the question what if is that during the spanish-american war in 1898, kaiser wilhelm II sent the imperial german navy to manila to “protect German interests and her citizens”. this fleet, larger and stronger than the american fleet, threatened the americans. what if the americans decided to leave the bay? secret documents were produced by the spanish foreign ministry that claimed there was a german group based in hong kong funding the revolution. if that’s true, then that would mean that germany has long had an interest in the revolution. we could’ve been a german colony. that would’ve changed our position during the second world war!

    lastly, we could’ve been bought by the king of belgium. in 1865, leopold II tried to expand his country’s influence in the east and wanted to start with the philippines. unfortunately, his government was not interested in the idea of colonization because it was costly and they also had a policy of neutrality. he then later settled for africa and established the belgian congo, but he still remained interested in the philippines, being quoted to have said, “The project i am promoting is impossible today, but may be feasible at a later time.”

    all of this was taken from ambeth r. ocampo’s “looking back”, a collection of historical facts and opinions i highly recommend. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Open Journal - Page 21 - DotA Forums

  6. this site is very helpful to those people who have the eagerness to know the Philippine history……this is our topic in my history 1 class… .

  7. I’ve heard you can make money off of advertisers. Is it really a significant enough amount to make it worth it? Or does the real benefit in blogging come from the exposure you get? I’m a bellydancer and I dance at private parties and events. How could I use a blog to get more business? I’ve heard about people who have products to sell using blogs, but I don’t have a “product”, just me!.

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