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THE whole world was connected to each other by commerce in the days of Humabon. In Asia – from India to East and South-East Asia – it was mainly through a sea-oriented trade network. In archipelagic South-East Asia, maritime trade s ‘articulated around a series of interconnected warehouses supplying the needs of global, regional and domestic trade.

As historian Geoff Wade argues, some policies implemented by the Song and Yuan dynasties in China centuries before Humabon had enormous repercussions that were seen – and generally taken for granted – in the 16th century. For example, the Chinese pushed Southeast Asia into a sophisticated trading system that used metal-based currencies and international trade (with fluctuating value) that hypnotized Pigafetta in Cebu.

The supply of and demand for metallic currency between China, Japan, and Southeast Asia largely justified the institutionalization of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade in the early years of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines. The Galion Trade, for its part, served as an indirect peaceful solution to the deterioration of relations between China and Japan, due to a trade imbalance between the two countries which prompted the former to impose restrictions on exports and forced the Japanese to resort to piracy (wako).

International maritime trade in Southeast Asia, according to historian Kenneth Hall, was primarily responsible for the massive and massive changes in the region, as evidenced by the many warehouses in the Philippines, including the port cities of Cebu and Manila as well as the Islamized. Mindanao and Sulu region.

Influential warehouses have emerged in Malacca and southern China to handle global, regional and even domestic trade; they were often interconnected with each other. Warehouses in southern China were vitally important to the development of small warehouses in Borneo, Sulu and Cebu, according to research by Roderich Ptak. The Chinese decided to bypass the increasingly intransigent Java Sea link, and established direct links with Borneo, Sulu and Cebu.

Borneo, in particular, benefited from the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese in 1511 as much of Chinese trade was diverted there as a result, enough to warrant the existence of an embassy. The links of Borneo-Brunei politics with the warehouse of Sulu and Tondo-Manila are well documented. Knowledge of maritime trade in Southeast Asia will illuminate and explain the scope of the Tondo Conspiracy of 1587-1588 (against Spain).

The connection of the Borneo-Sulu region with the Java Sea link should not be ignored either. Later researchers discovered some flaws in Cesar Majul’s magnum opus, Muslims in the Philippines, but his claim that the Philippines was part of what he called “Malaysia” – what our friends at the Philippine Historical Association call the “Malay world” – remains true. until now. It is also universally accepted that the way of Islam in the Philippines is the same for maritime trade in this part of archipelagic Southeast Asia.

Historian Vicente Villan speaks passionately about Panay’s strategic location before and especially after the entrenchment of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines. However, increasingly after the onset of Spanish colonialism, the focus shifted from maritime trade to the military conflict between Panay as the pivot – according to Villan – of the Spanish colonial power vis-à-vis Tondo-Manila. (before it succumbed to the Spaniards and even after it became the seat of colonial power), and even more so with the booming Islamic South.

Certainly, conflict and trade went hand in hand in the relations between warehouses, even before the arrival and establishment of the Spanish colonial power. This should help (in part) explain the animosity between Humabon and Lapulapu in 1521. Warehouses were, after all, business rivals and partners at the same time.

In some ways, Spanish colonialism changed the landscape of international maritime trade in Southeast Asia with the promotion of Manila as arguably the region’s premier warehouse. According to Ubaldo Iaccarino, “in just a few short years, Manila has become a thriving warehouse and a crossroads between the Americas, China and Japan, primarily for the exchange of Japanese and Mexican money with Chinese silks and porcelain.”

Manila was already a warehouse before the 1570s, but the galleon trade made it the envy of Southeast Asia. However, the transformation of Manila with its massive importance to Chinese and Japanese trade which was virtually cut off from other important warehouses spawned hostility towards the Philippines not only from other colonial powers like Portugal and the Netherlands, but mostly from the commercially displaced Muslim south.

I don’t see the fiftieth as an opportunity to glorify an individual or an event. This is an opportunity to reflect on the events that changed the landscape and their implications for the world we live in today.

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Birthday greetings to future academic heavyweight Maui Hernandez (March 18).


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