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German settlement in the Philippines began during the Colonial era when the German Empire attempted to acquire the Philippines. This article also refers to the choice of Filipino citizenship and/or settlement in the Philippines by persons of either pure or mixed German descent who continued to reside in the country for a significant number of years or decades.
The first Germans to arrive to the Philippines were colonists. Otto von Bismarck’s Germany was one of the United States' rivals in replacing Spanish rule in the archipelago. From 1890 to the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in 1898, there was a lull in Germany’s colonial campaigns. Like other colonialist nations, Germany sought to protect its overseas nationals and trade interests to the extent of safeguarding free access to markets. A German squadron arrived in Manila and engaged in maneuvers which Commodore George Dewey seeing this as obstruction of his blockade, offered war — after which the Germans backed down.
The Battle of Manila Bay took place on 1 May 1898, following the outbreak of the Spanish–American War. The German Emperor expected an American defeat, with Spain left in a sufficiently weak position for the revolutionaries to capture Manila—leaving the Philippines ripe for German picking. Following the American victory in the war, the Philippines and the Far East were brought to the attention of the world and Germany recognized the great potentialities of the islands as a major commercial market.
On 12 June, the day the Philippines declared its independence from Spain, Vice-Admiral Otto von Diederichs arrived in Manila Bay. The number of German war vessels in Philippine waters increased to three. Earlier, on 6 and 9 May, respectively, the German ships Irene and the Cormoran arrived in the bay with a separate instruction from the German government, mainly to protect German nationals in Manila. German’s interest in the Philippines was cut short with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 10 December 1898. The Philippines was finally annexed by the United States in 1899.
The Philippines was part of the United States between 1898 and 1946. During the era of the Philippine Commonwealth, 1935–1946, Jewish refugees including German Jews from Europe sought a safe haven in Manila. The migration of Jews escaping Europe between 1935 and 1941 was the last major immigration of Jews to the Philippines. The first German Jews to arrive in Manila actually came from the Jewish community in Shanghai. With the occupation of Peking by the Japanese in 1937, the four million inhabitants of Shanghai were endangered. Germany's shift of alliance from China to Japan at this time alarmed German Jews in Shanghai, fearing German pressure on Japan to adopt Nazi anti-Jewish policies. Fearing for them as well, the Jewish Community in Manila, led by the Frieder Brothers of Cincinnati, organized the Jewish Refugee Committee of Manila (JRC) with the intention of rescuing German members of the Shanghai Jewish community.
In recent years, several German businesses have set up shops in the Philippines, and a number of Germans have chosen the Philippines as their new residence. In the Philippines, since its formation in January 1906, the German Club has provided a place of respite and interaction for Germans and Filipinos alike. In the past century, it has stood witness to the country’s unfolding history and today enjoys the regular patronage of members and guests at its current location in Legaspi Village, Makati City.