REVIVING PHILIPPINE-MEXICAN PARTNERSHIP
By Sen. Edgardo J. Angara
Museo del Galeón, Inc.
The Philippines-Mexico partnership began in the second half of the 16th century. Spain’s colonial rule over the Philippines covered 300 years, but 250 years of that was directly through Mexico. The historic Manila-Acapulco Galleon voyages established that close link between the two countries. The galleons carried silk, silver, gold, religious icons and culture across the Pacific Ocean and linked four continents of the known world at the time. That Galleon exchange was the precursor of globalization.
Today, the Philippines and Mexico have started to rebuild that partnership. Both countries are projected to become among the biggest economies in the coming decades. In recent years, as a result of some geopolitical shifts, the Pacific Ocean has been slowly reclaiming its role as the pre-eminent maritime highway of global trade and commerce.
The Philippines and Mexico now have the unique opportunity to repeat to work together and help spur the emergence of a second “Galleon Trade.”
In October 2009, UNESCO adopted a resolution which I and Cecil Guidote Alvarez drafted declaring October 8 as Dia del Galeon in commemoration of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. October 8 was the day the tornaviaje—the return route from Manila to Acapulco—was discovered by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta. A year after, both Houses of Congress approved a joint resolution I authored recognizing as well October 8 as Dia del Galeon. At that time, I had already envisioned and planned the establishment of a Galleon Museum in Manila, symbolizing the Galleon Trade’s historic role and serving as a research center on world maritime affairs. The country’s cultural agencies—the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Museum, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the National Archives and the National Library—all endorsed the project.
Despite considerable time, effort and personal funds invested, we faced a blank wall at that point. Ambassador Tomas Calvillo and I described our dilemma to Hans Sy, President of SM Holdings. Without hesitation, Mr. Sy offered to build the Museum as his family’s gift, donating a location in the Mall of Asia complex for the Galleon Museum.
Now the construction of the Galleon Museum is ongoing. It took quite a while to make the vision into reality, thanks to the philanthropy of Mr. Henry Sy Sr.’s family.
When completed, the Museum would be a magnificent tribute to the immense contribution the Galleon Trade had made to humanity’s material and cultural progress. It would be a fitting monument to the shared history and heritage of the Philippines and Mexico, as well as a projection of the bright future the two countries could build together.