Status: Presidential Republic
Area: 115,831 square miles
Currency: 100 centavos / sentimos = 1 Peso / Piso
(1 ₱ = about 2¢ U.S.)
Magellan discovered this 7,600-island archipelago in1521. This major milestone linked the Spanish explorers approaching Asia from the Americas with the Portuguese from the Indian Ocean. In 1543, the Spanish named the islands after King Philip II and in 1565 they established their first successful settlement.
From 1565 until 1821, the Philippines were governed by the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico). Throughout this period, its major connection with the outside world were the galleons — in their heyday the largest wooden sailing ships ever constructed — which sailed each summer under armed escort from Manila to Acapulco laden with silks and valuables. The galleon also was the exclusive official carrier of the mails until 1766 when the king authorized ships traveling eastward from Manila also to transport mail. The galleon declined in importance after that and in 1821 was discontinued altogether.
An 1888 2½-centavo surcharge on a Spanish newspaper stamp, Scott 109.
The Philippines had an internal mail service as early as 1783 using messengers. In 1847, the colonial governor general proposed the use of postage stamps based on the British model and even provided Madrid with proposed designs. Spain had no postage stamps at that time and the proposal was not approved. Spain issued stamps in 1850 and an 1853 decree authorized Manila to follow suit. Crude, locally produced stamps were issued on February 1, 1854.
The 19th century saw the rise of Philippine nationalism. By the time the Spanish-American War broke out, the nationalists were in rebellion. In 1898 Emilio Aguinaldo, a nationalist leader, proclaimed Philippine independence and issued stamps for areas he controlled.
Philippine leader Manuel L. Quezon was pictured on this 1c stamp from 1953, Scott 589.
The war gave the United States control of the Philippines effective April 11, 1899. Then-current U.S. definitives were overprinted “Philippines” and placed on sale in Manila on June 30. Actually, the U.S. occupation forces had established postal facilities in the Philippines and U.S. stamps had been in use interchangeably with Spanish stamps since early March.
In 1899, this 5¢ stamp was overprinted for use by occupation forces in the Philippines, Scott 216.
Although the U.S. fought the Philippine revolutionary government, America — barely a century after its own fight for independence — was uncomfortable with its role as a colonial power and moved quickly toward Philippine self-government. By 1906, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced 14 values for the Philippines watermarked Philippine Islands Postal Service.
The 1935 Philippine Commonwealth was noted with the 1940 overprint on an earlier stamp, Scott 438.
In 1935, the islands became a commonwealth on their path to independence. World War II brought Japanese occupation. The occupiers initially used overprinted stamps from the 1935 Commonwealth issue. By the end of the war they had produced nearly 60 different stamps for use in the Philippines.
Japanese and Philippine volcanoes are shown side by side on this 1943-44 occupation stamp, Scott N15.
In November and December 1944, small quantities of stamps from the pre-war period were handstamped “Victory.” These were replaced in January and May 1945 with machine overprints. The U.S. granted the Philippines its independence on July 4, 1946. Since then, the Philippines has issued its own stamps. In 1962 under President Diosdado P. Macapagal, the Philippines began to use the Tagalog name “Pilipinas” on its stamps, a practice that continues today.
In 1972, this 10-sentimo on 6s stamp from 1963 was overprinted for a Scout event, Scott 1162.