Trans-Pacific Exchanges between Hawai’i, Spain and Latin America
Around the same time in 1907, the HSPA also began to recruit Spanish workers mainly from Málaga. These Spanish workers were mainly recruited to replace the local Portuguese, who were increasingly leaving the plantations for other employment opportunities. This importation of Spanish workers continued for ten years but by 1930, over 95% of these Spanish workers either left for the continental US or went back to Spain as they found plantation conditions unbearable.
1. Nathaniel Portlock, A Voyage Round the World . . . in 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788 (1789; New York: Da Capo Press, 1968)
2. John Meares, Voyages Made in the Tears 1788 and 1789 from China to the North West Coast of America . . . (1790; New York: Da Capo Press, 1967)
3. Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, vol. 1, 1778-1854 Foundation and Transformation (Honolulu: U P of Hawai’i, 1938) 429-30.
4. Samuel M. Kamakau, Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii (Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1961) 5. David Samwell, “Journal,” The Journals of Captain Cook . . ., by John C. Beaglehole (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1967).
5. George Dixon, A Voyage Round the World . . . (1789; New York: Da Capo Press, 1968)
Honoring Filipino Ancestors: Building Balangay
Balangay was used by our ancestors to sail across the the oceans. I’ve seen it personally and I can say that this kind of boat is amazing and built faithfully. It is huge, and looks invulnerable to ocean waves.
The main objective of The Voyage of Balangay is Boat Building. The authentic Balangay will be crafted by master boat builders from the Island of Sibutu and Sitangkay in Tawi-Tawi, whose skills had been handed down through generations.
This will not only showcase the capability of the Filipino boat builders but would also be our way of instilling and propagating the idea among the present Filipinos, particularly the youth, that the Filipinos have been world-class boat builders even before the coming of the Western colonizers.
These are the sailing route of Balangay based on the projected timetable.
2009 The Philippines
2010 Southeast Asia
2011 Micronesia and Madagascar
2012 Sail across the Pacific onward to the Atlantic, all the way around the world
2013 Back home to the Philippines
The Philippine Mt Everest Team. Left to Right: Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Dr. Voltaire Velasco, Art Valdez, Leo Oracion, Pastour E
The Balangay Building will be headed by the Philippine Mount Everest Expedition. Their team leader Art Valdez has an organizational expertise and rich experience that can serve as the guiding light in the accomplishment of this project, his new “Everest.”
The Balangay will become the catalyst to stir up historical consciousness among Filipinos today. Without that keen knowledge of history, our people will continue to suffer as our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, aptly described, “Ang taong hindi lumilingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa patutunguhan.”
Kaya ng Pinoy!
The Gold of Our Ancestors
One of the major assumptions even Filipinos make is that the Philippines has had no major artistic traditions before the Spanish colonial period and its a favorite subject of Filipino students (particularly Filipino-Americans students) to ask “What is Filipino culture?” It is true the Philippines does not have a Borobudur or Angkor Watt. It has no Great Pyramid of Giza or Great Wall. But then again, these monuments were often built by toiling masses of people who were told to build them for the pleasure and vanity of their rulers. Perhaps that is something that Filipinos can be proud of–having been a free people with no oppressive central government up until colonial rule. But the other thing that Filipinos can be proud of is that yes the Philippines has had a very long artistic tradition, particularly in pottery and gold going back to at least 6,000 years.
As far as gold is concerned (I will touch upon pottery in another article), the Philippines was and is a gold producing country. The early Spanish such as Fr. Pedro Chirino recounted how “even slaves wore gold” and Filipinos generally only admired gold for decoration. They placed more value on other things such as pottery, silks and jade. In the 1900s, a gold statue of the Bodhisattva, Tara, was unearthed in Butuan, northern Mindanao in the southern region of the Philippines (see red insert from the picture above). This statue was dated to the 10th century AD and due to the decorative elements, it seems to have been locally produced meaning made by Filipino artisans. This confirmed that Filipinos were influenced by the Hindu-Buddhist empires in what is now Indonesia and that that religions were making in-roads with Filipinos. In 1981, another major discovery was made in Surigao, not that far from Butuan, and was nearly melted but was saved by archeologists and today is part of the “Gold of Our Ancestors” Collection at the Ayala Museum–a bit ironic considering that Ayalas are Philippine-born Spaniards and that the ticket price is cost prohibitive for ordinary Filipinos to actually see the gold of their ancestors but its probably safer there than at a government owned museum but that’s another story–in Metropolitan Manila. It consisted of several golden objects including the wardrobe of a high ranking noble, possibly a king, and dated in the 10 to 11th century AD. The decorative elements included the naga (snake), the garuda (a half man half bird that the Hindu God Vishnu rides upon, see picture below), and geometric designs that can still be seen in textiles in Mindanao. Again, this points to the strong Hindu-Buddhist influence in the southern part of the Philippines and again points to the artistry of Filipino goldsmiths. Experts today say that even with our modern technology, it would be difficult to duplicate these pieces because of the intricate details.
One of the more unusual objects found were golden sashes. Sashes made of gold so far are only found in the Philippines and these particular sashes are the same type worn by Hindu deities in artistic depictions. This is quite unusual because no where else so far in South East Asia have these types of pieces of sacred wardrobe were actually physically created.
Normally, one simply sees them in drawings or in temple reliefs. So to have these pieces created from these images shows not a great deal of creative skill but also a great admiration to the power and semiotics of the ideas being presented in these philosophies. Due to the sheer weight of these objects, it probably that they were only worn during important state and religious ceremonies and/or were placed on a religious statue as part of veneration.
What is important about these objects outside of their form and their historical function is their function today. They are a testament to the creativity, industry, and pride of the ancestors. These objects refute what many Filipinos were brought up with–that Filipinos have no history prior to Magellan and that the Filipino has no achievements prior to the Spanish. It signifies the influence of Hindu-Buddhism in the Philippines and the deep connection to those ideas that Filipinos of that era felt–so much so they took the time to give form to these religious beliefs. It answers the questions “What is Filipino culture” by saying–in gold no less–“Look at us, remember us, you are from us”.