SAYING the Philippines has come full circle in being recognized as a hub for maritime trade reaching most of the world, former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara on Monday night gave Philippine, Asean and European officials a sneak preview of an awesome project now in the works focusing on the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that lasted 250 years and covered four continents.
The Galeón: The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Museum, a first-of-its-kind museum at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) grounds that will feature a life-size galleon ship, will house artifacts from the galleon trade era. It is touted by the Museo Del Galeon Inc. (MDGI), the main proponent, to transport people “from past to the present to the future, in one of the most exciting and pivotal moments in the maritime history of the Philippines and the whole world.”
Both Angara, the MDGI chairman, and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, who led guests coming from the ongoing Asean meetings nearby, repeatedly referred to the Philippines’s past as being at the heart of some of the most lucrative trade routes in the world. They said it is no accident of history that the Philippines and Asean these days are striving, with their neighbors from both East and West, to keep the trade routes safe for all and settle their differences through rules-based systems.
Angara singled out for praise as well Hans Sy, SM Prime Holdings Inc. chairman, for the generous donation of the site at SM MOA and making it possible to build the museum. He noted how Chinese artisans had worked alongside Filipino shipbuilders, many from Cavite, in building the galleons during the Spanish era in the Philippines. He quipped that the Filipino-Chinese businessman had a “very Spanish name” (Sy), because in Spanish, “Si” means “Yes”.
When the project is completed, the center of the museum will feature a life-size replica of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, an 18th-century galleon built at the Cavite naval shipyard.
The museum itself will serve as a workshop for the renewal of traditional shipbuilding skills, and audiences can “witness the galleon rising from the museum’s main floor over a span of two years”.
The MDGI said the top portion of the life-size ship is seen to fit right inside the curved shell of the museum. The galleon to be built “will pattern the authentic building manner of the early Caviteños, who fashioned the vessel purely out of wooden panels and pegs.”
The museum will also host budding historians, as it dedicates an area for research center.
Culminating the Monday night rites, the foreign ministers who were guests, along with the ambassadors of Spain and Mexico, joined Cayetano and Angara in releasing an array of currencies from their respective countries into an ancient wooden chest that, Angara said, had been crafted by Maranao artisans and taken by Augustinian priests to Spain. An MDGI briefing material said the act of releasing currencies symbolized the notion that, “if it weren’t for the age of trade, the countries may not have developed the unshakeable union they carry today.” The Monday night sneak preview was hosted by the Angara-led MDGI with the Department of Foreign Affairs.