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 and the Abu Sayyaf with the BIFFnote with the campaign against the MILF waning down since they've signed a peace accord with the government), Islamic extremists (the IS-linked Maute group), and Dirty Communists like the Marxist 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 Statesnote (including the F-5 Tiger 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 communist revolutionaries and Islamic fundamentalists. Increasing the budget is also controversial: trying to transfer to defense funds that are usually meant for health and educationnote typically earns the ire of Filipino Leftists, not to mention that the funds are usually tainted by corruption, anyway.
Recently, the Philippine Air Force had bought 8 Polish Sokol helicopters. And the Navy acquired the former US Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Hamilton (now renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) after the famous and handsome leader who lead the Last Stand on Tirad Pass, ironically against Americans.) arrived in port on the last week of August 2011. Two more similar ships have been acquired by the navy (BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), formerly USCGC Dallas, and the ex-USCGC Boutwell (now BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17)), which was decommissioned on March 2016). On June 1 of the same year, the Navy's largest ship, BRP Tarlac (LD-601) was commissioned along with three ex-Australian landing craft.
The Philippine Air Force and government meanwhile negotiated 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. The first two fighters were delivered in late 2015, where they showed up escorting President Benigno Aquino III.
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 Filipino special forces unit is the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, trained to fight in jungle combat. It has earned a reputation in Asia as a pain-in-the-ass for Communist and separatist guerrillas.
The Philippine military in fiction:
- 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.
- While not quite a direct reference, Quatre's Maganac Corps in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing are hinted as either descended from Filipinos (particularly overseas workers who chose to stay in the Middle East), or Middle-Easterners who have 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.
- The Great Raid had Filipino guerrillas fighting alongside the US military against the Japanese.
- The Hunt for Eagle One is set in Mindanao, where a group of US Marines are sent to rescue captured a US Marine and a Filipino Captain while stopping a group of Al-Qaeda-backed local rebels from launching biological weapons. The Philippine Army and the Philippine Marine Corps appear on film.
- 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.
- 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.
- Appears in the sci-fi novel Caliphate by Tom Kratman as part again of the US military.
- Portrayed poorly in Dragon Strike: The Milleneum War in which they surrender to Chinese forces easily. The last mission to retake a Philippine-claimed reef that was seized by China ends in failure, with the Filipinos losing majority of their troops, a gunship, and a troop carrier ship while only one Chinese soldier was killed.
- 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.
- Episode 3 of Manhunt has ex-Navy SEAL Joel Lambert put his escape and evasion skills against the well-honed jungle tracking skills of the Philippine Army Scout Rangers in their home turf. Despite his best efforts and the ASR's lack of equipment, they hound him constantly and manage to capture him.
- Episodes 16-18 of SEAL Team Season 2 have Bravo Team deployed to the Philippines training with the Naval Special Operations Group. Bravo and NAVSOG later conduct a joint operation to destroy a cell of the communist terrorist group New Resistance Force (an Expy of the real life New People's Army) after they commit a double bombing in downtown Manila.
- The Warhammer 40,000 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. Also, the planet where the novel is set (Solo Baston, the name itself being a form of one-sword/stick fighting within the eskrima fighting system) is tribal Philippines Recycled In Space.
- Filipino soldiers, with Humongous Mecha appear in Front Mission 3
- 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.
- NAVSOG troops assist the protagonist in rescuing hostages from Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Medal Of Honor: Warfighter. They're sadly not playable in Multiplayer.
- A Game Mod for Command & Conquer: Generals replaces the Yanks with Tanks with the AFP, which also replaces the Chinese and GLA factions with the Communist New People's Army rebels and Muslim seperatists, respectively.
- The Conflict Zone Mindanao mod for ARMA adds not only the Philippine Army, Philipine Marines and the Presidential Security Group, but also the Philippine National Police, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), renegade soldiers, and the Sword Bearers terrorist group (based on the Real Life terrorist group Abu Sayyaf), and the Vietnamese People's Army in some maps.