The Philippines: Background information when reading Ilustrado

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A Novel

by Miguel Syjuco

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  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 320 pages
    May 2011, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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Beyond the Book:
The Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines, a tropical archipelago in Southeast Asia, is comprised of more than 7,000 islands. The major island groups include Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Negros, and Cebu. The country is believed to have been first settled by the Aetas (who the Spanish settlers named Negritos). Although the Aetas' short stature, dark skin and curly hair has caused them to be compared to African pygmies, scholars believe they migrated, not from Africa, but from the Asian mainland about 30,000 years ago (possibly across the land bridge that is thought to have existed at the time), and developed their phenotypic traits in situ. Later, around 4000 BCE, successive waves of people from South-East Asia and other Pacific Islands started to settle in the Philippines bringing with them the Malay and Hindu cultures and, later, Islam.

map of the PhilippinesNamed by the Spanish after King Phillip II (1527-1598), the islands were conquered by Spain in the 16th century. Spanish rule continued for the next ...

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