The Día del Galeón Festival celebrates the unique journey of the Manila galleons and their place in maritime history – spanning the globe and linking the Philippines with Mexico and Spain. For 250 years (from 1565 – 1815) the Manila galleons were a conduit for global trade and cultural exchange between Europe, the New World and Asia.
In October 2009 UNESCO recognized the unique part the Manila galleons played in the globalization of trade and cultural exchange by declaring 8th October as the international “Día del Galeón” (day of the galleon).
The Día del Galeón festival runs from 15th September to 11th October and is expected to be an annual event that will entertain and educate Filipinos and rest of the World, and encourage a greater understanding of the impact the Philippines has had on the World of global trade. An international grand celebration is also slated for 12th October in Paris.
“The 8th October was chosen by UNESCO as the Dai del Galleon to commemorate the arrival of the first Manila galleon in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1565. The first Manila galleon, the “San Pablo”, was piloted by Father Andres de Urdaneta, using nothing but a compass and his knowledge of wind & tide for navigation. To reach Acapulco, the San Pablo sailed North from Cebu, to approximately Latitude 38, then turned East towards the New World, and Mexico. Regrettably, due to the unexpectedly long journey (129 days) and inadequate provisioning by the then 15-year old Captain Felipe de Salcedo, most of the crew died before reaching their destination.
It is uncertain exactly how may Manila Galleons were built – some authoritative sources say as few as 110 while others indicate many hundreds. The vast majority were built in the Philippines, using renowned Philippine hardwoods; at least eight are known to have been built in Acapulco, Mexico. Cavite, in Manila Bay, was the location of the largest shipyard building Manila Galleons: up to 2,000 tons and as long a 160-feet; others were built in shipyards in Marinduque, Masbate, Sorsogon and Camarines.
The number of Manila Galleons that sank en route, in weather related mishaps or by force of arms from British and Dutch privateers, is also not clear but as many as 40 Manila Galleons are known to have sunk. Of the Manila Galleons that sank, most perished during their exit from the Philippine archipelago, with a handful being wrecked along the California coast upon arrival in the New World. Few wrecks have been found, partly because: of the deep and or treacherous waters in which they sank; and, Philippine law discourages active exploration of historic wrecks.
The Philippine Postal Corporation issued the Dia Del Galeon Festival 2010 stamps and souvenir sheets on October 8, 2010.