Beyond tobacco

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The Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas is perhaps the most important company in the Philippines from the 19th to mid-20th century. Certainly the main tobacco company in its time too, what has been known as Tabacalera is now a stranger to Filipinos nowadays.

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Having existed for more than a century, the history of Tabacalera plays a significant role in the Philippines’ economy and relation with Spain.

For the very first time, the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, in partnership with the Ayala Museum, and with the sponsorship of S & R presents Beyond Tobacco. Tabacalera: A bridge between the Philippines and Spain.

An exhibit opening on April 21, it gives a glimpse to the past through the history of Spain´s very first multinational company based in the Philippines in 1882.

Curated by Prof. Martín Rodrigo, historian from the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, the exhibit runs until July 6 at the Ayala Museum in Makati City.

Beyond Tobacco. Tabacalera retraces the history of the company through a selection of images, maps, books, art objects and antiques that have been loaned by Spanish and Philippine institutions as well as private collectors.

It showcases the luxury of its offices in Manila and Barcelona, the life in its haciendas in Ilocos, Tarlac and Negros; the variety of its businesses (tobacco, sugar, alcohol, maritime transport, etc.) and its cultural legacy; over a hundred years of history of a company that was able to survive deep historical, political and social changes both in the Philippines and Spain.

Researchers from Spain and the Philippines unite
The history of Tabacalera, as large and complex as the society in which it progressed, has attracted historians and researchers from Spain and the Philippines. The tobacco monopoly and the foundation of the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas, the company’s ability to adapt its business to the new political situation, its legendary cigar brand “La Flor de la Isabela” and its cultural legacy have, among others, been the subject of numerous studies.

Given the historical and public interest in Tabacalera, the exhibit prepares a catalogue that includes essays written by Filipino and Spanish historians, researchers and authors. Dr. Benito Legarda Jr., John Silva, María Dolores Elizalde, Josep María Delgado, Saul Hofileña, Prof. Arcadio Malbarrosa, Gloria Cano and journalist Ramón Vilaró have, among others, contributed to this catalogue that aims to bring closer the history of the company to a wider public with the analytical and conceptual rigor that we would expect from such renowned authors.

Also, a series of talks and round table discussions will be held at the Ayala Museum to complete the whole picture of the company’s history and impact not only on the Philippines but also on the rest of the world.

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