I am taking a break from writing about politics this week to focus on a very important event that will take place in a few months—the Día del Galeón or “Day of the Galeon.”
This festival will commemorate the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that took place between 1565 and 1815. One of the most important trade routes in world history,
the Galleon Trade connected Asia with Europe, the Americas, and Africa and was a vessel for the transmission of goods, people, culture and ideas. The different communities on this long and scattered network of ports and coastal towns and cities surely profited from the trade of exotic products and crafts. But more important was the explosion of ideas across continents. Early Filipino patriots were surely influenced by western liberalism through the books, newspapers, periodicals, and people that made the long and arduous passage across the Pacific. In this sense, the Galleon Trade was among the great precursors of modern globalization, much like the Silk and Amber Routes.
However, while the Silk and Amber Routes have been widely written about and celebrated, many have overlooked the importance of the historical linkages between the Philippines, Mexico, and Spain and the impact this important lifeline had on the world we live in today. In an attempt to increase awareness and appreciation of the Galleon Trade, the Philippines will take the lead in commemorating this major trade route in a monumental international festival.
The Día del Galeón is a celebration of shared histories and heritages and the cultural, political, and socio-economic connectivity between peoples across vast seas and oceans, spanning several centuries. It is important to reflect on these poignant themes as we move further into the 21st century. Far from dead, the spirit of the Galleon Trade is alive and kicking, as if the great ships that once carried early mariners to the edge of the known world are about to set sail on the high seas once again.
In accordance with the celebration of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures in 2010, the Philippine proposal for the commemoration of the Galleon Trade between the Philippines and Mexico through the proclamation of “Día del Galeón” was unanimously passed last year, during the conference of Unesco through the endorsement of the Culture Commission meeting in Paris.
The Día del Galeón will be observed every October 8 starting this year, in honor of the day the San Pedro Galleon, directed by master navigator Fray Urdaneta, reached Acapulco in 1565. This established the Manila–Acapulco route that linked the people of Asia, America, Europe and Africa and was later on called the “Tornaviaje.” The resolution was presented by Philippine Ambassador Rora Navarro-Tolentino with the co-sponsorship of Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay. Thailand and Laos led the Asean region’s support, while Sweden spoke for Europe.
The theme of this year’s festival is “History, Heritage, and Habitat: Commencing Globalization.” Activities will include a slew of conferences, workshops, and commemorative events that pay tribute to the historical and contemporary significance of the Galleon Trade. Participants will come from the Philippines and other countries impacted by the Galleon Trade experience like Mexico, Spain, Asean, and a handful of Latin American countries.
The highlights of the festival include a three-week interactive workshop that will focus on the comparative studies of Hispanic heritage-linked countries and the value of indigenous culture affected by trade; a three-day international conference of scholars, artists, cultural workers, and government leaders on the impact of the Galleon Trade on contemporary civilizations; a series of contests, exhibits and performances; and finally the “Viaje del Galeon”—a six-day educational trip that will take students and other participants to various Philippine ports of call (Samar, Leyte, Cebu, and Butuan), with on-board workshops, seminars, and interactive shows. Also in the works is a regatta being organized by the Manila Yacht Club. For more info, please contact Charisse Aquino-Tugade, Día del Galeón Festival 2010, Tel. 527-2192 loc. 616.
The Dia Del Galeon would not have been made possible without the cooperation of Sen. Edgardo Angara, Festival Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, and DepEd Usec Vilma Labrador. Angara, the honorary chairperson of the Baler 400 Steering Committee and Philippine Representative to Union Latina, has vigorously supported the festival from the start, providing funding for the endeavor. Guidote-Alvarez, with her boundless energy, enthusiasm, and never-say-die attitude, is the heart and soul of Día del Galeón.
Completing the dynamic triumvirate is Labrador, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. I must commend Labrador for her excellent stewardship of the agency. The NCCA has improved with her at the helm and has greatly benefited from her leadership, guidance, and vision. Together—Angara, Alvarez, and Labrador—are turning the dream of Día del Galeón into reality.