Construction is in full swing for a dome-shaped center to surround a life-sized Galeon ship—the quintessential schooner that plied between Mexico and the Philippines from 1565 to 1815.
The corporate launch of Museo del Galeón Inc’s (MDGI) premier project The Galeón: Manila-Acapulco Galleon Museum was hosted graciously by Embajada de Mexico Ambassador Julio Camarena at his residence with major proponents MDGI Chairman Edgardo Angara and Dr. Tomas Calvillo.
The intimate affair in itself stood as a symbolic gesture to the special relationship that Philippines and Mexico have shared for 250 years of the galleon trade.
Ambassador Camarena in his welcome address was quick to note that this important connection continues through current Mexican presence in the country particularly ushered in art exhibitions, seminars, concerts, festivals and economic investments.
For his keynote speech, MDGI Chairman Angara agreed that the ties between the two countries were forged through history. Filipinos and Mexicans involved in the maritime exchange, he said, “laid the foundation for what will become a large cultural, religious, agricultural and human exchange across the Pacific.”
This bilateral partnership is evident in the museum’s grand master plan.
In attendance from across the Pacific was Architect Jose Vigil of Arquitectos, an architectural design firm based in Mexico. His video presentation gave viewers a glimpse of the museum’s aesthetics. From its exterior, the building’s prolate ellipsoidal dome confidently stood out in contrast to its neighboring shoebox buildings. Its interiors hold vertical pillars that seemingly watch over the museum’s most treasured and highlighted artifact—a full-scale galleon replica.
This concept of a functional space, he explained, will allow visitors to roam through the galleries and to also observe the actual construction of this 60-meter-long galleon reproduction. With an estimated two years to be completed, The Galeón positions itself as a game changer in the historiography of Philippine museums.
Much could be said about the curatorial narratives and the possibilities interwoven in the artistic, cultural and educational threads of the galleon trade. Marian Pastor-Roces, the lead curator of Tao Inc, shares her plans on a chronological storyline. Her presentation for the permanent exhibition showcased a general depiction of the abundance of maritime networks long before the galleons were created.
The spotlight on Friar Andres de Urdaneta’s Tornaviaje would allow visitors to realize that this discovery was a turning point for both Manila and Acapulco.
Inspired by this, the permanent exhibitions shed light on the exchange of culture, clothing, products, language, religion and plants. Equally highlighted in the exhibition would be the demise of the galleon trade.
Though the plotline of this transpacific exchange has ended, the story of The Galeón as a cultural center and a museum has just started.
Its construction is a testament to its ongoing collaboration between people who are experts in the fields of architecture, engineering, curatorial work, traditional naval shipbuilding and lighting design.
The Galeón is set to open early 2017 at the Mall of Asia grounds overlooking Manila Bay.