Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade

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The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (from 1565 to 1815) was a ship trade going back and forth yearly between Manila (which actually landed first in Cebu) and Acapulco, Mexico. The trade has served as the fundamental income-generating business for Spanish colonists in the Philippines. In 250 years of trading, the number of ships that was crossing the Pacific between Philippines and Mexico to carry the trading goods of the Southeast Asia such as spice, cotton, indigo, porcelain, jade, ivory, lacquerware, processed silk cloth varied, and gold (swapped with the American silver mined) from one to as many as four.



Galleons are the most advanced vessels used when the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade started. They had several sails ,heavilly forified,heavilly armed,slow, high-forecastle-and-poop vessels that could run to over two-thousand-tons cargo capacity. The smallest galleons that were used, often ran in the seven-hundred to one-thousand-ton range. It has great size and typically heavily armed that showed commanding appearance. It was developed by naval architects around 1550.

The galleons formed the dreams of Christopher Columbus of sailing west to go east to bring the riches of the Indies to New Spain (now Mexico) and the rest of Europe. These galleons were often referred as the China ships (naos de China) because it carried Chinese goods. The Spanish were trading with China, Philippines and other Asian countries. The named Manila-Acapulco galleon was adapted from the cities it was sailing to.

Discovery of the Route

In 1521, the Philippines was already discovered by Ferdinand Magellan but was killed by Mactan chieftain Lapu-lapu. Attempts were made, it was through the leadership of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi that they succeeded in colonizing the Philippines. The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade initiated when Andrés de Urdaneta, sailing in convoy under Miguel López de Legazpi, discovered a return route from Cebu City to Mexico in 1565. Manila was used by the Spaniards as the connecting point of trade between Asia and America (Acapulco, Mexico) known as the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.


According to Manuel Maximo Noche Lopez Del Castillo in his essay which is based on a report conducted on Spanish Colonial Lighthouses in the Philippines, the end of the famed Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade opened to a wider network of international trade to in the Philippines. More shipping routes to and from the Philippines, as well as more connection between Manila and beyond has initiated.

Because of the trade, the Philippines and Mexico has shared goods, words and customs.


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