How this Mexican city celebrates its Filipino roots

COLIMA, MEXICO — Pandango sa ilaw, tinikling, and dances from award-winning dance group, Parangal, that are familiar to Filipinos and those of Filipino heritage.

But not for this audience.

Here in the municipal palace of Colima, Mexico — a cultural program like this serves as a textbook come to life.

For years, Omar Suarez Zaizar and his fellow Colimenses have heard of Filipinos and Filipino culture — and the shared history between the Philippines and Mexico.

Due greatly to the Manila galleon trade, the first global system of commerce that lasted from 1565 to 1815, this centuries’ long trade resulted in much more than an exchange of goods — but also cultural, linguistic and gastronomic similarities.

Some of the Filipinos who came to Colima on that ship that was doing the journey from the Philippines to Acapulco, they arrived here to the Colima area and they were the ones who taught us to get the sap of the coconut tree.”

This program highlighting Philippine dance and culture at Colima’s City hall may be a first, but it does not seem to be the last, with young students seeing and learning firsthand the shared story between Mexico and the Philippines.

The cultural program is part of a week-long celebration commemorating the 455th anniversary of the first round trip voyage of the Manila galleon trade to the Philippines that coincides with a special exhibit called Influencia Filipina en Colima.

It culminates with a formal program in Barra de Navidad, the exact location and anniversary of the maiden round trip voyage of the Manila Galleon Trade.

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