The Galeón Andalucía, a 51 meter replica of a 17th century galleon ship, docked at Pier 1 in Cebu City last October 13. It was then moved at the vicinity of the aduana a day after, a location which beautifully overlooks the South Road Properties, Fort San Pedro and the Malacañang sa Sugbo. The ship is still open for public viewing from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM and 4:00-7:00 PM until tomorrow. There are no entrance fees and cameras are also allowed. It would then proceed to other ports of call in the province afterwards. After
today October 24, it would set sail for Bohol.
But you have to be at the venue at the earliest time possible. I am not kidding when I say that the queue last Saturday morning stretched up to the main highway. Although there were just a handful of people present when my friend and I arrived at around 9:00 AM, that number quickly quelled in just a matter of minutes. The scenario is akin to people lining up for a shot at fame or good fortune at an already defunct local noontime show. But the biggest difference is that there were no celebrities to ogle or freebies to beg for. It is then an encouragement to see that these people endured standing for hours under an unpredictable weather just to see the Andalucía. That in itself is an indication of their curiosity or genuine interest in the galleon.
We also woke up early that day to improve our chances in getting aboard the Andalucía. Two days earlier, we failed in our first attempt due to a wrong taxi turn and the frequent afternoon downpour. I told my good friend that for all our small troubles, the galleon better be good.
Although the Andalucía has 28 men and 2 women crew, there was no one available to orient us on board. The few crew members present that morning have their hands full in manning the crowd and securing the ship. The six main decks however, were well-cordoned for anyone to have an intuitive tour around. We were lucky because someone in our batch seemed to know a good deal about the galleon. He was able to identify the various areas and cite key technical details as well. We would find out at the end of our tour that he is actually not a retired seaman or with the marines. He is just someone who likes to read a lot and who is very interested in history.
I appreciated the galleon for at least two reasons: the volumes of research done in recreating this faithful replica and the intricate craftsmanship involved afterwards. Aside from the 3 masts with 7 seven sails that primarily propel the ship to its next destination, it has also two reliable 350 hp engines on standby. One could wonder how the ancient seafarers were able to construct a larger version without the modern tools and equipment at our present disposal, let alone navigate around unfamiliar waters without GPS-enabled gadgets and fancy electronic maps.
The galleon serves as ‘a cultural, touristic, gastronomic and business promotion platform for Andalusia, showing the world the best of this autonomous community and its resources.’ The said province in Spain was its birthplace before it finally sailed from Seville six months ago, and then to the rest of the world.
The Galeón Andalucía represents an era that is long bygone but is very important nonetheless. Thomas Friedman would call that period as ‘Globalization 1.0’ which is mostly participated by a few Western countries. At that time, a country’s power is said to be measured in brawns which includes unsinkable ships that are sent into their respective colonies and even uncharted territories. Ferdinand Magellan’s historic expedition and the Manila-Acapulco trade were all enduring results of that endeavor. What those two events would mean differently for others, but for the most part, these underscore a significant period in Philippine history.