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September 14, 1815, the Galleon Trade Between the Philippines and Mexico Ended

On September 14, 1815, Manila galleon ((“Nao de China” or “Nao de Acapulco”), Spanish sailing vessel that made an annual round trip (one vessel per year) across the Pacific between Manila, in the Philippines, and Acapulco, in present Mexico, ended a few years before Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began when Andres de Urdaneta in convoy under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, discovered a return route from Cebu City to Mexico in 1565. The galleon trade was the sole means of communication between Spain and its Philippine colony and served as an economic lifeline for the Spaniards in Manila. The opening of the Suez Canal and the invention of steam ships, which reduced the travel time from Spain to the Philippines to 40 days, made the galleon trade more manageable.

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Manila was transformed into one of the world’s great ports during the golden age of the galleon trade. It served as the center for trade between China and Europe bringing porcelain, silk, ivory, spices, and myriad other exotic goods. The importance of the trade declined in the late 18th century as other powers began to trade directly with China.

Some of the benefits of the trade were the intercultural exchanges between the Philippines and the Americans,represented by the Mexican-made Virgin of Antipolo, chosen as the patroness of the sailors, who protected them from the untold perils across the Pacific.

The mango de Manila, tamarind and rice, the carabao (known by 1737 in Mexico), cockfighting, Chinese tea and textiles, fireworks display, tuba (coconut wine) making came to Mexico through the trans-Pacific trade.

In exchange, the return voyage brought innumerable and valuable flora and fauna into the Philippines: avocado, guava, papaya, pineapple, horses and cattle. The moro-moro, moriones festival and the image of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo, were also of Mexican origins.


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