THE Manila Galleon Trade lasted for 250 years and ended in 1815 with Mexico’s war of independence. In terms of longevity alone, plus the trade that it engendered between Asia, Spanish America and onward to Europe and Africa, it brought in its wake events and movement of people among the various continents that are still apparent and in place today.
It made Mexico a world city. The Philippines, ostensibly a Spanish colony, was governed from Mexico which gave it an Asian extension. Population flows between Asia and Spanish America via Acapulco were, in terms of the times, huge.
About 40,000 to 60,000, maybe 100,000, mostly Chinese and in particular Filipinos, made up that flow. There is an existing Filipino presence in Louisiana and definitely in Mexico from those times. Some of the founders of California seem to be of Filipino descent. Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican revolutionary, was said to have Filipino ancestry.
The migrants came as servants, slaves, sailors, barbers, vendors, harp players, dancers, scribes, tailors, cobblers, silversmiths and coachmen. Mexico’s Plaza Mayor, known as the Zocalo, became a place of stalls and shops selling the Asian imports where the city’s myriad populations mixed in buying and selling.
They called it the Parian after the Chinese district of Manila known as such. Manila’s Chinatown is considered the oldest in the world. In Mexico, the Parian began in the late 16th century and by the 18th century was a permanent edifice.
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