Parts of the Philippines had been a Spanish colony from 1571 to 1898, when the authority over the territory was transferred to the United States in the wake of the Spanish American War, which also led to US control of Cuba.
The invasion of the islands was actually carried out after the armistice with Spain. President McKinley, speaking to fellow Methodists, said "When next I realised that the Philippines had dropped into our laps I confess I did not know what to do with them....And one night it came to me ....that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all... and to uplift and civilise and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could for them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died". The pacification of the Philippines resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, and US atrocities, committed notoriously by General Otis. U.S. troops fought a Philippine insurgency for six years, and granted the Philippines independence in 1946 in the wake of World War II, after ending wartime Japanese occupation of the territory.
The U.S. closed its military base there in 1992 in the wake of a volcanic eruption and local dissatifaction with the U.S. presence.
While the nation is predominantly Roman Catholic, there has been a significant Muslim seperatist insurgency on the island of Mindanao for many years, on and off. This has led to U.S. military involvement in the country as part of the Bush Administration's War on Terror.