I love the Riviera Maya, the Yucatan & Cancun in Mexico. I really do. There is so much to enjoy and explore in that part of Mexico and so many places to discover. And the area is a relatively safe place to holiday in, too.
But as I get intimate with Mexico, the more I long to know more about her past relationship with my homeland in history (along with my interest to meet some kababayans when I’m there). I’m talking about the voyages of the Manila Galleon. I learned about this as a youth in the Philippines and it is all over our history books there.
This aspect of our history has been stirring my interest since I first stepped foot in Mexico – so I decided to switch destinations to the place in Mexico where I know it happened – in Acapulco, the home of the Manila Galleons in the Americas. (Cancun can wait for the time being).
The Manila Galleons, known more in Hispanic history as “Nao de China” or “Nao de Acapulco,” were the original beginnings of international trade between the East & West. They sailed the Pacific for about 250 years, beginning in the 1500’s and ending in the 1800’s carrying the riches of Asia in exchange for silver & gold of the Americas – further shipped to Spain (via Cuba) for the enjoyment of the affluent Europeans.
Sure, the Philippines, was already popular as a trading center in Asia, already doing regional trading with its Asian neighbors for years. But the voyages of the galleon started international exchange of produce, people, culture and agriculture within these three continents.
It made our homeland the most important colony of the Spanish kingdom, besides Mexico (and the other South American countries). The Philippines, once upon a time, was the “center of the universe,” so to speak.
Believe me when I say that when we were being taught about the history of the Manila Galleons in the Philippines, I wasn’t really aware of that fact. All I know was that Spain conquered the Philippines and used the country as a docking station for the galleons. I didn’t even have a hint that Mexico was actually running the Philippines for Spain.
My visit to Acapulco made me realize just how large the magnitude was of the Philippines’ part in that past. And I felt a tingle when the words of our guide made me imagine the route of the galleons when it was entering the Bay of Acapulco while we were gazing at the bay from atop the highest point of the city. It was a moment of pride for me.
When I first decided to make Mexico my destination, all I want was to find an alternate tropical destination other than the Philippines to snowbird in. I was readily attracted to the Carribean side of Mexico because of the beauty of the place, so although I’m eager to go back every winter, it was not as much as my eagerness now. I want to go back and stay there to explore more.
I never expected to be mesmerized by the displays available at the Galleon museum in Acapulco or be nostalgic of a Filipino connection to this port city. But it was what’s happened to me.
That is why I’m suggesting, if you’re a Filipino living in Canada or the US (or anywhere in the world) and you’re planning to visit Mexico, include Acapulco in your itinerary and visit the Galleon museum. It may not hit you hard like it did to me but at least you will be experiencing part of Philippine history that you wouldn’t expect to be existing in another country thousands of miles away from our homeland. I betcha you will feel proud, too.
(More photos of my visit to the Manila Galleon museum in Acapulco here….)