Sunday, September 24, 2006

Some Philippine history trivia

(We publish these pieces of trivia from the National Historical Institute in celebration of History Month -- Manila Times)

Bonifacio dressed like Rizal

According to Bonifacio’s friend and comrade Guillermo Masangkay, as an agent of foreign companies doing business in the Philippines, Andres Bonifacio had to dress well. He wore coat and tie, hat, trousers and shoes, which is far from his barefooted Katipunero image wearing shoes, an undershirt, loose pants and brandishing a bolo. On the very day he went to Balintawak Bonifacio was wearing his coat and tie. While presiding over a meeting with other revolutionary leaders in the house of Juan Ramos, Bonifacio had removed his coat. The Katipunan leaders debated whether or not to begin the revolution against Spain. Bonifacio realized that he was going to lose in the discussion since many of the leaders were against starting the revolution too soon. Bonifacio then went outside where five hundred to a thousand Katipuneros were waiting for their decision. After telling them that all of them could be arrested by the Spaniards, the Katipuneros then decided to revolt then they tore their cedulas as a sign of defiance to Spain.

The Davis Cup

The famous Davis Cup was actually named after one of the Governor-Generals of the Philippines.

The prestigious Davies Cup, which is awarded in tennis, was named after Dwight Davis, American governor-general of the Philippines from 1929 to 1932. Davis, an avid tennis player played tennis with other Americans in the Philippines.

Port of Manila

The original Port of Manila was actually located on the Pasig River.

Before the construction of the present Port of Manila, ships including those sailing to other countries dock at the mouth of the Pasig River at its northern bank in Binondo. Ships can sail up to what is now Jones Bridge. The old bridge that connected Binondo to Ermita on the south bank of the Pasig was the Puente de España. This bridge was later demolished to be replaced by the Jones Bridge during the American period. Other signs that the north bank were used as a port were the names of the streets along the north bank of the river like “Muelle del Rey,” which means “the King’s Wharf,” and Muelle del Banco. The north side had facilities for repairing ships including a shipyard. There was also the customs house, or Aduana, which is found on the southern bank. This building is now abandoned and might be demolished soon. During the American period the port was moved to Manila Bay to serve larger ships. The old port is still used today as a place to load or unload barges.

Filipino conqueror of Guam

The actual conqueror and explorer of the Mariana Islands was a Filipino.

According to Spanish records Juan de Santa Cruz, a noble native from Indang, Cavite, was given the duty to command soldiers in the Spanish garrison in the newly established Spanish colony in Agaña, Guam. This made him also the first military commander of the Marianas. De Santa Cruz made a survey of the Mariana Islands and identified the anchorages for the Manila Galleons. He suppressed the early rebellions by the natives until he returned to the Philippines in 1671.

Eat a Filipino

In Spain, “Filipinos” are a delicacy.

“Filipinos” is actually a brand of cookies covered in chocolate produced by a company called United Biscuits Iberia, S.L. The cookies resemble the “rosquillo” biscuits produced in Iloilo and Negros and the Spaniards added another twist by coating it with brown or white chocolate.

Manila, Manila

Manila has contributed much to world history. Many words in history and trade had “Manila” as prefix. Among them are:

The Manila Galleons—Also known as the Nao de Manila, these are name of the sailing ships which participated in the Manila-Acapulco trade. The galleons were moored not at Manila but at the Port of Cavite. Goods imported from Mexico and goods transshipped from Manila had to pass through the Camino Real, which is the road to Cavite. The galleons were not made in Manila but at different parts of the country. Some were made at the Royal Astillero, or Real Astillero de Bagatao, in Sorsogon. Others were built in Cavite, Samar, Albay and other parts of the country. Some were even made abroad in Japan and in Siam (now Thailand). The people who sailed aboard the galleons were called “Manilamen.”

“Mantel de Manila” actually originated in China. The textile is actually Chinese in origin and brought to the Philippines by Chinese junks. Filipinos also add their own taste by embroidering designs in the cloth, hence the name Mantel de Manila.

Another famous Philippine product was the “Manila Cigar.” Though Manila had several large cigar factories, cigars were also made in the Ilocos and Camarines provinces, Cagayan, Isabela Albay, Zambales and Pangasinan. The generic name for Philippine cigars is Manila cigar. The first cigar factory was the Casa de Binondo, which took over the building of a former Dominican convent in Manila. Other factories were La Germinal, La Insular Tobacco and Cigarette Factory, La Victorioso España, La Felicidad, Tabacalera and others. These were private factories allowed to operate after the tobacco monopoly was abolished in 1882. The cigarreras, or cigar wrappers, were women since it was believed that women would not pilfer or steal cigars and tobacco. A large factory like La Insular employed up to 3,000 women as cigarreras.

Another object using the “Manila” name is the Manila Hemp, which is the commercial name for abaca. The French discovered the salt-resisting qualities and strength of abaca fiber but it was the Americans who embarked on the mechanized manufacture of ropes made from abaca. English companies like Smith, Bell and Co, Kerr and Company competed with American companies like Russell Sturgis and Co., Peele and Hubbell and Co. and opened up plantations in Albay, the Camarines provinces, Samar and Leyte which became main producers of abaca.

Other things with the Manila name are Manila envelope and Manila paper, which are the names for these brown colored objects

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