By Estrella Z. Gallardo
Cultural and trade ties between the Philippines and China over 1,000-year-old were celebrated on October 24, 2019 at the “Floral Whisper Along the Maritime Silk Route” dialogue, tourism and cultural event at Rizal Park Hotel, Manila.
Special guests were led by National Museum Chairperson Luli Macapagal Arroyo-Bernas, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) President Arsenio “Nic” Lizaso, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairperson Liza Diño, ACT-CIS Congresswoman Niña Taduran, Congressman Lito Atienza; other civic and business groups.
National Museum Chairperson Luli Macapagal Arroyo-Bernas represented the Philippines in the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Maritime Silk Road Heritage Protection Exchange and Cooperation Programme with the Chinese delegation.
Officials, artists, dance and puppet troupes from the world’s fourth biggest seaport and ancient city of Guangzhou represented China for this unique cultural exchange event. Professors and scholars from the Philippines’ top colleges and universities also participated in the dialogue session with the China visitors.
Project organizer is Anvil Business Club led by Chairman Wilson Lee Flores, President Patrick Cua, Chairman Emeritus George Siy, Project head Richmond Co.
Spearheading this project is Anvil Business Club, an organization of young Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs ranging in age from 20 to 50 and coming from diverse industries with co-organizers Guangdong Grand Theater Art Group and Guangzhou Municipal Cultural Heritage Administration.
The ancient seafaring and boat-building Filipino people have been trading with and have always maintained uninterrupted, good friendly relations with China centuries before the Westerners had “discovered” our archipelago in year 1521. The earliest date suggested for direct Chinese contact with the Philippines was year 982 or 1,037 years ago. Chinese records said that Filipino merchants from “Ma-i”—now believed to be either Bay in Laguna province on the shores of Laguna de Bay, or a site on the island of Mindoro—sailed and brought wares to Guangzhou City in Guangdong province and also to Quanzhou in Fujian province.
The ancient Maritime Silk Road was a glorious trade route by the sea which connected China and many countries and regions through the trading of silk and oth
er products. A highlight of this ancient Maritime Silk Road was the fabled Manila-Acapulco “Galleon Trade” from 1571 to 1814—or 243 years of the Philippines and the seas helping connect the world’s then richest civilization of China with Latin America and Europe through the exports of Chinese silk, tea, porcelain, ivory and other goods which were exchanged for silver.
The Manila Galleons—known in the Spanish language as “Galeón de Manila”—were Spanish trading ships which in the 16th century averaged in size from 1,700 to 2,000 tons. They were built of high-quality Philippine hardwoods of about 2,000 trees per galleon ship and could carry 300 to 500 passengers each. By the 18th century, these were the biggest ships in the world. The Manila Galleon ships were also known in the Spanish colonies of North and South America as “La Nao de la China” or “The China Ship” due to their voyages from the Philippines carrying mostly Chinese goods.
Today, in the 21st century, the Philippines is once again an active partner of our ancient friend China in reviving the historic Silk Roads by land and by sea through the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013. BRI seeks to promote trans-continental trade, infrastructure and culture connectivity across Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
The Maritime Silk Road, which stretched for thousands of miles and lasted for thousands of years has inspired the Silk Road spirit for mutual learning and peaceful, open, inclusive, and win-win cooperation. It has also enhanced exchanges between the East and West and promoted the progress of human civilization.
To implement General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important thoughts on the Belt and Road Initiative and the spirit of the series of speeches he has made on cultural relics-related works, Nanjing has strengthened the protection and utilization of its cultural-heritage, improved management mechanism, and enhanced planning for the perpetual development of Maritime Silk Road, a valuable legacy of human civilization. (PPCI)