Friday, March 10, 2006

History of Philippines

History of Philippines. This is a short but good overview to the history of the Philippines. The emphasis is on 20th century political history.

Wikipedia notes, "The Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), or the Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas), is a country in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital. It lies 1,210 kilometres (750 mi) away from mainland Asia and consists of 7,107 islands called the Philippine Archipelago. It is also part of the Malay Archipelago."

From the site:

The history of the Philippines may be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the years since independence (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, people of Malay stock came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats called barangays. The Malays settled in scattered communities, also called barangays, which were ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century A.D. In the 14th century, Arabs arrived, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippines for Spain in 1521, and for the next 377 years, the islands were under Spanish rule. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed, complete with a strong centralized government and considerable clerical influence. The Filipinos were restive under the Spanish, and this long period was marked by numerous uprisings. The most important of these began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ancient warning for modern Italian city

Ancient warning for modern Italian city. For those who may get confused and believe that the past is not very important, this news story is for you!

About 3780 years ago, Mount Vesuvius erupted in a huge display. This blast was far larger than the blast that buried Pompeii in AD 79. The blast left evidence that researchers are finding today.

This has an immediate impact on the city of Naples. Much of the city would be vulnerable to destruction if a similar eruption to the one of 3780 years ago hit today. The area is far more populated and the evidence clearly shows that volcanic damage reached many parts of the modern city of Naples.

The article notes, "Sheridan said a future eruption should provide considerable warning from earthquakes that would precede it, and urged that this danger be included in hazard planning for Naples. Current planning is based on a smaller eruption from 1631 that affected only areas near the base of the mountain, he said. But the new findings from the ancient eruption show the hazard from ash, hot gases and other dangers could affect much of modern Naples, he said. A similar eruption today would bring "extreme devastation extending into the densely urbanized Neapolitan area" that was untouched by the A.D. 79 event, they warned. Indicating there must have been warnings of the ancient disaster, the researchers found thousands of footprints from a rapid evacuation of the area, including the present Neapolitan district."

Another Mt. Vesuvius eruption of the magnitude of the one from 3780 years ago probably will happen someday. When it does, Naples is in trouble. However, by studying the past, much can be learned to prepare the city for the disaster when it does occur.

It is stories like this which make it easier to show the importance of history to skeptical students!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. I just finished reading this book by Charles C. Mann yesterday. I must say that it was both enjoyable and informative and it really made me think about my perceptions of what pre-1492 America was like.

Clearly, some of the content is speculative. However, there is also some good use of evidence to indicate some of what Mann is writing about is based on a plausible and realistic groundwork. Maybe we can not ever discover what early America was like but it appeared to be more advanced and more densely populated than theorists have been claiming until recently. It also appears as though the Americas have been populated far longer than people have thought.

From an Amazon Review:

1491 is not so much the story of a year, as of what that year stands for: the long-debated (and often-dismissed) question of what human civilization in the Americas was like before the Europeans crashed the party. The history books most Americans were (and still are) raised on describe the continents before Columbus as a vast, underused territory, sparsely populated by primitives whose cultures would inevitably bow before the advanced technologies of the Europeans. For decades, though, among the archaeologists, anthropologists, paleolinguists, and others whose discoveries Charles C. Mann brings together in 1491, different stories have been emerging. Among the revelations: the first Americans may not have come over the Bering land bridge around 12,000 B.C. but by boat along the Pacific coast 10 or even 20 thousand years earlier; the Americas were a far more urban, more populated, and more technologically advanced region than generally assumed; and the Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the continents, to the point that even "timeless" natural features like the Amazon rainforest can be seen as products of human intervention.

Mann is well aware that much of the history he relates is necessarily speculative, the product of pot-shard interpretation and precise scientific measurements that often end up being radically revised in later decades. But the most compelling of his eye-opening revisionist stories are among the best-founded: the stories of early American-European contact. To many of those who were there, the earliest encounters felt more like a meeting of equals than one of natural domination. And those who came later and found an emptied landscape that seemed ripe for the taking, Mann argues convincingly, encountered not the natural and unchanging state of the native American, but the evidence of a sudden calamity: the ravages of what was likely the greatest epidemic in human history, the smallpox and other diseases introduced inadvertently by Europeans to a population without immunity, which swept through the Americas faster than the explorers who brought it, and left behind for their discovery a land that held only a shadow of the thriving cultures that it had sustained for centuries before. --Tom Nissley

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

History of the Hawaiian Hula Dance

I found this fun short article at As the site allows for the reproduction of articles by blogs and other websites, I am going to go ahead and reprint it here. The author of the article is Bill McKenzie.

I would like to visit Hawaii at some point. My wife and I settled on an Alaskan cruise for this June but a Hawaiian cruise was our second choice. I am hoping to post a series on Alaskan history this summer to coincide with port stops by the ship if internet access is available. Maybe next year on the Hawaiian cruise...


History of the Hawaiian Hula Dance By Bill McKenzie

The Hula dance is associated with Hawaii and luaus and while everyone knows what the hula is very few people are actually knowledgeable of its origin, not even the Hawaiians. According to Hawaiian history there is no information available as to who performed the first hula dance or why, however it is a common agreement that the original hula dance was performed by a god or goddess, making the dance sacred to Hawaiians. And this dance is sacred to men and women in Hawaii because the hula was danced by both sexes despite some information stating only men danced the hula. This information is incorrect and actually men and women both were involved in the sacred hula dance.

There are many types of Polynesian dances; however the hula is one of a kind and completely different than other dances in this area of the world. The origination of the hula was used for rituals and ceremonies, however this changed over time and eventually the hula was a dance used strictly for entertainment.

When dancing the hula individuals truly must become one with the dance and the actions, objects, or images they are imitating in their hula dance. The hula is a very meaningful dance and every movement of the body represents something. In addition to this, the hands are very important in the hula dance as well. When the individual is dancing the hula they may be imitating a palm tree, war, plants, and even animals. Because of this when the individual is dancing they are transforming themselves mentally into the object they are portraying through dance. Basically, the hula dancer is telling a story through the movements of the body and hands and as a result it is very important to watch. Chants also accompany the hula dance and while they used to be the most important part of the dance to portray what was happening they are no longer so and the movements are most important. You will notice the difference if you see a portrayal of old style hula dancing compared to new style hula dancing. While both are still hula dancing and fun to watch, the first is more ritualistic and the second more entertaining.

The hula dancers wear a costume in order to perform the hula dance. This consists of leis made of flowers around the neck or even the shoulders. A grass skirt is also used and is made of tapa and known as a pau. The dancers also wear anklets made of whale bone or even dog teeth. The whole ensemble makes up the vision of the hula dancer the whole world is aware of.

In the past, when hula was danced as a religious ritual rather than simply for entertainment the rules regarding the hula dance were very strict and individuals involved in hula dancing school were required to follow them while they were learning how to dance. Generally, students were required to follow all rules and behave properly while obeying their hula teacher in all requests. Some of the rules stated that hula students could not cut their fingernails or even their hair. Other rules stated hula students could not engage in sex nor could they eat certain foods that were forbidden. As a result, the life of the hula dancer in hula school was very strict, yet all of the rules were for a purpose that believed the students would learn to dance the hula better if they did not engage in the forbidden activities.

Today there are two types of hula, hula kahiko and hula auana. Hula hahiko is the old style that was described above and generally includes percussion, chanting, and the traditional costumes. Hula kahiko is traditional and ritualistic and the chanting tells the story more than the dance moves. However, for the more entertaining hula auna there is music, guitars, entertaining costumes to enhance the dance, ukuleles and even songs. This type of hula uses body movements and the hands to really tell the story because it is easier for tourists to understand.

While the hula dance has been around for thousands of years and always been popular it almost disappeared in the 1800s when missionaries arrived in Hawaii. The missionaries believed that hula dancing was devilish and against God and tried to convince the dancers of their wrongdoing by dancing the hula. However, King Kalakaua did not want the traditional dance of the islands to disappear simply because the missionaries did not understand what the hula was all about in the first place so he took action.

As a result, King Kalakaua developed his own group of hula dancers and encouraged them to learn the hula dance, the old style hula, and fortunately the hula did not disappear and still remains a very important dance of the islands and even today there are hundreds of hula schools on all the Hawaiian islands that teach the hula dance, old style, to the students. Even today many of the hula schools have strict rules like the old hula schools implemented.There are even hula schools and groups that teach old style hula dancing to people on the mainland so while hula remains an important part of Hawaiian culture the culture is spreading and many people show an interest in learning how to hula dance.

When you visit Hawaii, no matter what island you visit, you will certainly see plenty of hula dancing from old style to the newer and more entertaining hula and regardless which one you like the most you should definitely attend festivals or dances that exhibit both styles so you can see the performing arts of the island and learn about the culture, history and the people of Hawaii. You never know, you may learn a few hula moves yourself.

Bill McKenzie is reservation manager for Wailua Bay View, oceanfront Kauai Vacation Rentals. He has personally researched and experienced many of the Hawaiian activities and destinations as described above.

Article Source:

Monday, March 06, 2006

Daily Life in Ancient China

Daily Life in Ancient China - This site geared towards children which describes itself as, "Learn about Taoism with Winnie-the-Pooh. Explore daily life in 4 Chinese Dynasties. Read things written in BC times. Take a quick look at 11,000 years of ancient Chinese history."

The page is a bit crowded and hard to follow at times. However, the content is nice and it gives a good summary of ancient China.

From the site:

The ancient Chinese invented paper, gunpowder, matches, the compass, a seismograph to measure earthquakes, the umbrella, and more! They created incredible philosophies, gorgeous art, and great legends. Even their money was neat. Coins had a hole in their center. There were not any banks, so people stored and kept their coins by running a string through the center. A thousand coins strung together was called a string of money. Ancient China is a fascinating mix of extreme extravagance and extreme poverty.

A great example of the extravagance some emperors enjoyed can easily be shown by the outrageous lifestyle of Hu the Tiger. This emperor lived during the "Age of Division". He reminds me Jaba the Hut in Star Wars! Hu the Tiger was so fat that it took 20 men to carry his litter to the royal hunt. He had a revolving couch built, so men could spin it around, to allow him to shoot in any direction. Hu the Tiger had an all girl orchestra with 500 members. He had battalions of female soldiers who wore sable furs and gold rings and carried bows and arrows painted yellow. He had a bathhouse, air-conditioned with a creative system of running water. He was a riot!

Ancient China covers 11,000 years of history! Fortunately, it's divided into big blocks of time. Still, it can be frustrating sometimes because different people refer to the same blocks of time by different names. That's not very helpful. For example, someone might say "in Shang times" or "in Han times", or they might say "in the Bronze Age" or "in the Age of Division". They might say in the Chou Dynasty (when the Chou family ruled) or in the Zhou Dynasty (when the Zhou family ruled). But, the Chou and Zhou Dynasties were the same dynasty, only spelled differently. You can see why this might be confusing!

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Templars. Probably one of the most intriguing mysteries of history are those that pertain to the Knights Templar. There is a lot that is not known about this secretive and powerful group from medieval times.

Yet, that is also the problem. Any study of the Templars quickly gets bogged down in conspiracy theories, occult lore, and speculation. Throw in the Da Vinci Code, and all hope is lost...

The blogged article of the day is a good example of this. It has some good historical facts included. You can learn a lot about the Templars from it. However, there is also occult specualtion and the Templars are linked to Masons.

From the site:

Whether stars of the Disney film National Treasure or pawns of modern day political and commercial propaganda, the Knights Templar have taken root as one of the world's leading mystery groups. But what is the truth? Did they really have a great secret? Did they really hide treasure? Were they really guardians of the Holy Bloodline? Let's take a look.

Originally supposedly a group of nine knights (debatable), taken from the ruling nobility in the region of France known as Champagne who collected themselves together in Jerusalem around 1118 AD and formed the now infamous Knights Templar. All of this cannot be totally proven from the texts – however it is repeated so often that it becomes true. In all likelihood they had been formed in France years before.

They were pledged, it is said, to commit their lives and work to a strict code of rules and on the face of it were simply ordained to ensure the safe passage of pilgrims to the Holy Land. The knights request this task of the first King Baldwin of Jerusalem, who refuses. He then dies supposedly under mysterious circumstances only to be replaced by Baldwin II who then almost immediately grants them this privilege. For the next nine (there's that number again) years the knights excavate beneath the Temple of Solomon (which didn't ever exist) in complete secrecy and the Grand Master returns to Europe, supposedly with secrets that have been hidden for hundreds of years. Very quickly the knights achieve a special dispensation from the Pope to allow them to charge interest on loans - indicating their swift path to wealth. Soon the great Cathedral building period arrives across Europe with the new found architectural “secrets” discovered by the crusaders. This new found knowledge may very well have come from some of the discoveries made by the Templars, especially when we consider that the man responsible for energizing the building program was none other than St. Bernard - the same Bernard who gave the Order of the Knights Templar their rules and who was related by blood to various members. The same St. Bernard indicated in the propaganda of the Arthurian and Grail literature.