Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thinking of Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a time of celebration both in the United States and in Mexico.  Although  often mistaken as Mexico's Independence Day, which is really in September, Cinco de Mayo honors the victory of the Mexican army over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. 

Over where I am in Hawaii, Cinco de Mayo means Mexican restaurants crowded with people waiting to be served  tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, rellenos and other popular favorites. The food is made more appetizing by a Tequila or Margarita cocktail and washed down with popular Mexican beer like Corona or Dos Equis.

I choose to honor the special day thinking of the  Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade

The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, having lasted for 250 years , is considered the longest trans-Atlantic shipping line ever.  Huge vessels at that tine called galleons carried cargo from Manila in the Philippines to Acapulco in Mexico and from there to the port of Cadiz in Spain. Such arrangement  was only made possible because both Mexico and the Philippines were colonies of Spain.

From the East the galleons carried silk, spices, hard wood, porcelain, gold, iron and other raw materials to Europe.

The effects of the trade on the Philippines, where I was born and raised, were deep and pervasive.  An obvious evidence of the close ties between Mexico and the Philippines is the use of the peso, as the monetary denomination of both countries. The Mexican and the Philippine peso are still used to this day.

Some traditional Filipino melodies and dances were Mexican influenced as was Philippine cuisine. One finds Adobo and Menudo not just in the Philippines but also in Mexico.

There are words in the Filipino language that have Aztec origins.  Guava is guwaba in Filipino and guayava in Mexican/Aztec language. Sweet potato is kamote in Filipino and camotli in Mexican/Aztec. Cocoa is cocoa in Filipino and cacahuatl in Mexican/Aztec.

Avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, pineapples, corn, cacao and tobacco were introduced to the Philippines via Mexico.

And of course, there were inter-marriages between the Asians and the Mexicans and Spaniards. To this day, Many Filipinos have Spanish last names.

As I celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I am grateful for the inter-mingling of cultures that the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade made possible. As a Filipino writer, Nick Joaquin, once said, the "Manila  Galleon Trade was the first medium to reduce the world to a global village."

I raise my shot of Tequila and say Ole as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Ole to Mexican victory over attempted French domination!

Ole to the seeds planted centuries ago towards a global village!

Ole to anything that will  foster a better understanding  of our different cultures and acceptance of and love for other races.

Ole to Earth's rich diversity.

 We are one!

A Spanish galleon typically used in the Manila-Acapulco Trade

Posted with Aloha!


  1. Super interesting and informative! Loved this one!

    1. I thought that linking Mexico's historical close ties with the Philippines was a more meaningful way for me to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than just sipplng Margarita, downing a shot of Tequila and eating Fajita -- all of which I did. I appreciate your taking time to read my blog, comment on it and complimenting me on it. Thank you Mitch!

  2. Agreed, interesting and informative. Leave it to you Ariel to see the positive in the Spanish involvement in the "new world." I thank you for that. My thoughts usually dwell on the other side of the coin. Cinco de Mayo is a great day to celebrate all that is good about Mexico. Sharing that celebration with friends is always a joy.