text | Carla Ocampo
photography | Lester Valle
How could a silk shawl worn by flamenco bailaoras be known as manton de Manila, yet trace its origins— in design and material— back to China? There was a moment in history when one eclipsed the renown of the other, and the only explanation to this (and more) is that Manila once enjoyed unprecedented fame and presence on the world stage… in the glory days of the Galleon Trade.
During this era, when chronicles were largely Euro-centric, Manila was the port from which the best products of the “Far East” were shipped to the Americas via Acapulco, and then to parts of Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. To paraphrase Nick Joaquin, during the height of this intercontinental exchange, Manila practically became a Pentecostal Jerusalem of sorts, where people spoke in tongues. At that time, the Philippine capital was an economic hub where traders and curious minds from across the globe converged. Read the rest of this entry »