“Give me ten thousand Filipino soldiers and I will conquer the world."
The Armed Forces of the Philippines can trace its beginnings to the Katipunan guerrilla forces against Spain in 1896. When they won their independence in 1898, they realized that the Yanks With Tanks
were another problem; the Americans wiped out the Filipino rebels, finishing the job in 1915 after putting down the last resistance among the Moros. The Philippine military was officially reformed in 1935 when America promised them independence, but when the Japanese
came in 1941, they had little weaponry. They had some fierce battles, but the U.S. Army decided that it was Those Wacky Nazis
that they had to deal first; eventually, they were forced to surrender and march from Bataan to Tarlac (the infamous Death March).
However, The Remnant
of the Philippine Army Took a Level in Badass
; they harried the Japanese until MacArthur landed in Leyte in 1944. The Filipinos and the Americans fought together in the last battles of the war, during which Manila was burned to the ground due to the refusal of the Japanese to surrender
The Filipinos later proved their worth in participating in the Korean War with the UN forces. There, Philippine Expeditionary Forces performed relatively well.
The Philippines is engaged in an insurgency against Islamic separatists (the MNLF, the MILF (no, not that
kind), and the Abu Sayyaf) and Dirty Communists
like the Huks (who actually also fought the Japanese) and their Maoist successors, the New People's Army.
The Philippines always gets military aid from the United States (including the F-5E Tiger II aircraft that would appear in Apocalypse Now
), but such aid has always been seen as controversial. The Philippine Senate booted out the U.S. from their Clark and Subic bases at the end of the Cold War due to incidents involving the U.S. military and general ultranationalism by Filipino politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. Even when U.S. troops returned in 2000 for military exercises and to aid Filipinos against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists, and even fight them, there are controversies surrounding U.S. soldiers. One example is the "Nicole Subic rape case", in which both the media and the Gabriela women's rights movement
fired it up, only to be proven by court that Nicole actually wanted to have sex with the US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, which didn't impress many in the opposition, either, and called this a miscarriage of justice. 
These days, though, the Philippine military has seen a decline due to obstructive bureaucrats
, corruption in the government, obsolete equipment and little money to replace them (including arms left over from World War II), and being led by Neidermeyers
for so long. Not to mention the financial crisis that gripped most of Asia. For example, when the Philippine Air Force wanted new F-16s
, they got orders to shoot terrorists until 2012, which proved to be a really
stupid idea for many of the PAF people because their existing planes are rusting. This doesn't mean that they have lost their Badass Army
status, however. Many of them are quite eager to learn new tactics and finally obtain all the cool gadgets they wish for, if only The Government
would actually listen to them. In the meantime, though, they are engaged against revolutionaries and Islamic fundamentalists. Increasing the budget is also controversial: trying to transfer to defense funds usually for health and education earn the ire of the Philippine Left, not to mention that the funds are usually tainted by corruption, anyway.
Recently, the Philippine Air Force had bought 10 Polish Sokol helicopters. And the Navy acquired the former US Coast Guard Cutter USCGS Hamilton (now renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15)
after the famous and handsome Four Star Badass
who lead the Last Stand
on Triad Pass, ironically against
Americans.) arrived in port on the last week of August. The Philippine Air Force and government meanwhile is negiotating with the South Koreans to buy twelve FA-50 Golden Eagle supersonic fighter-trainers after it bungled out on the latest US F-16 deal. The PAF apparently chose the FA-50 because, partially it was supersonic, affordable, and at least relatively new. If successful, the first planes could be delivered by 2015.
The Philippine Armed Forces consist of an Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the last mentioned being the most Badass
according to many military analysts. The other three branches would definitely beg to differ, though. (It's less on the fact that the average soldier is poorly trained or under-equipped— most of their old equipment is in perfectly good condition despite their age
— and more down to a bureaucratic system inside the military itself.)
By the way, the premier Philippine special Forces is the 1st Scout Ranger
Regiment, trained to fight in jungle combat. It earned a reputation in Asia as a pain-in-the-back for the Communist and separatist guerrillas.
The Philippine military in fiction:
- The Great Raid had Filipino guerrillas fighting alongside the US military against the Japanese.
- Filipino soldiers, with Humongous Mecha appear in Front Mission 3.
- Apparently, the Philippines is a major power sometime in the future of the Doctor Who universe. In the classic series the Fourth Doctor makes reference to being with the Filipino army when they marched on Reykjavik in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. In the new series special "The Waters of Mars", there is an offhand mention of the Philippines making a Mars rocket.
- Not exactly the Philippine military per se, but one of the handlers in Gunslinger Girl seemed to carry a Floro MK-9 submachinegun. The MK-9 is a Filipino-made SMG designed for local police and military use, but has met little success in international sales. Its appearance qualifies thus also qualifies it as a rare gun.
- Chapter 80 of The Salvation War: Pantheocide had Philippine Scout Rangers as one of the several international special forces which managed to sneak into the Eternal City in Heaven before the main invasion of the city occurred. Also included was a "Filipino time" in-joke in that the Philippine soldiers jibe the American Marines of the main invasion force for being three minutes late.
- Imperial Guard Novel Flesh and Iron by Henry Zhou, pits a Riverine Imperial Guard regiment against Chaos rebels that are clearly inspired by actual Filipino guerrillas and rebel groups throughout the 20th Century.
- The entire planet where the novel is set in (Solo Baston, the name itself being a form of one-sword/stick fighting within the eskrima fighting system) is actually tribal Philippines Recycled In Space.
- Appears in Dale Brown's Sky Masters. They are cannon fodder against the Chinese forces, at first.
- In the Bourne Series, the fighting style used by the military is used by Bourne himself to disarm some guys.
- While not quite a direct reference, Quatre's Maganac Corp in Gundam Wing are hinted as either descended from Filipinos or adopted Filipino traits. Given that the name most likely came from kamag-anak or mag-anak, which roughly translate to "close relation," it would make sense.
- Appear in the Red Alert 3 Paradox game mod to Red Alert 3 as La Résistance against the Empire of the Rising Sun. The Order of the Talon faction has riverine attack boats from the Philippine resistance.
- Appears in the sci-fi novel Caliphate by Tom Kratman as part again of the US military.