The Philippine-American War: The U.S. Imperialism and the Genocide of the Philippines.


“…I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone to conquer, not to redeem… And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the [American] eagle put its talons on any other land.”

— Mark Twain
October 15, 1900
The New York Herald

“Our little brown brothers” would need “fifty or one hundred years” of close supervision “to develop anything resembling Anglo-Saxon political principles and skills.” “Filipinos are moved by similar considerations to those which move other men.” William Howard Taft to President McKinley

Between the years 1899 and 1913 the United States of America wrote the darkest pages of its history. The invasion of the Philippines for no other reason than acquiring imperial possessions, prompted a fierce reaction of the Filipino people. 126,000 American soldiers were brought in to quell the resistance. As a result, 400,000 Filipino “insurrectos” died under the American fire and one million Filipino civilians died because of the hardship, mass killings and scorched earth tactics carried out by the Americans.

In total the American war against a peaceful people who fairly ignored the existence of the Americans until their arrival wiped out 1/6 of the population of the country. One hundred years have passed. Isn’t it high time that the USA army, Congress and Government apologized for the horrendous crimes and monstrous sufferings that inflicted upon the peoples of Filipinas?

“Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.”

Filipino villagers were forced into concentration camps called reconcentrados which were surrounded by free-fire zones, or in other words “dead zones.” Furthermore, these camps were overcrowded and filled with disease, causing the death rate to be extremely high. Conditions in these “reconcentrados” were inhumane. Between January and April 1902, 8,350 prisoners of approximately 298,000 died. Some camps incurred death rates as high as 20 percent. “One camp was two miles by one mile (3.2 by 1.6 km) in area and ‘home’ to some 8,000 Filipinos. Men were rounded up for questioning, tortured, and summarily executed.

In the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) America crushed Philippine independence, leaving between 200,000 and a million dead. Theodore Roosevelt called it “a war to extend Anglo-American progress and decency”. America ruled the Philippines till the 1940s.

In 1898 America went to war with Spain. It mainly wanted Cuba. But Spain also ruled the Philippines. There America destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. President McKinley said it was to protect Oregon and California.

America backed the Philippine Revolution, which overthrew Spanish rule in the countryside. America took Manila.

McKinley said he did not want the Philippines. But then one night in the White House, when he was down on his knees praying to God, it came to him:

  1. That we could not give them back to Spain – that would be cowardly and dishonorable;
  2. that we could not turn them over to France and Germany – our commercial rivals in the Orient – that would be bad business and discreditable;
  3. that we could not leave them to themselves – they were unfit for self-government – and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and
  4. that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.

In 1899 America made war on the Philippines to prevent the anarchy and misrule of self-government. To “uplift and civilize and Christianize the Christians of the Philippines”:

  • In Samar, American soldiers were ordered to make it a “howling wilderness” and kill “everyone over ten”.
  • In Batangas province a third of the people, 100,000, died.
  • In Caloocan all 17,000 people were killed, wounded or driven off, men, women and children, their houses set on fire. A common practice of the Americans.
  • Thousands of ordinary Filipinos died in American “protection zones” (prison, concentration camps).
  • One reporter saw Filipinos put up their hands up to surrender only to be taken to a bridge and shot down one by one, their bodies falling into the river.

Secretary of War Elihu Root:

The war in the Philippines has been conducted by the American army with scrupulous regard for the rules of civilized warfare, with self-restraint, and with humanity never surpassed.

African-Americans, wanting to fight for their country, got there only to hear White American soldiers call the Filipinos “n*ggers” day after day. Many white officers called the war “n*gger killing business”.  One white soldier said:

Our fighting blood was up, and we wanted to kill n*ggers. This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all to pieces.

Some black soldiers, like David Fagen of the 24th Infantry, deserted and fought for the Filipinos.

The Filipinos were outgunned, but they could keep going through guerrilla warfare so long as they had good generals. The last of these, Miguel Malvar, surrendered in 1902. Some fighting continued till 1913 but the war was over.

A New York-born soldier – “The town of Titatia [sic] was surrendered to us a few days ago, and two companies occupy the same. Last night one of our boys was found shot and his stomach cut open. Immediately orders were received from General Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight; which was done to a finish. About 1,000 men, women and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger (Benevolent Assimilation, pg. 88). Corporal Sam Gillis – “We make everyone get into his house by seven p.m., and we only tell a man once. If he refuses we shoot him. We killed over 300 natives the first night. They tried to set the town on fire. If they fire a shot from the house we burn the house down and every house near it, and shoot the natives, so they are pretty quiet in town now.”

Until this very day in U.S. American history books and historians still wrongly call this period the “Philippine Insurrection”, which in itself an insult and no such thing as the U.S. were foreigners invading and colonizing, in which the Filipino people were only fighting against the atrocities the U.S. did as an excuse for their “white savior complex of their ‘little brown brothers’”.

Sources: [x], [x], [x]

About The Author

Executive Editor & Founder

Ligaya is the Executive Editor & Writer at She lives in NYC with her two dogs and spends her time reading, writing, collecting and buying books online and in safe haven, Strand Bookstore, watching her guilty tv show pleasure Vikings, and overdosing herself in coffee as a certified caffeine addict. Her book, Diwatahan: A Look Into the Precolonial Beliefs, Practices, Myths, & Folklore of the Philippines, is currently in progress and is scheduled to be published in Summer of 2017.

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