A Taste Of Mexico In Manila
The history of the Philippines is unique as many countries have conquered the Philippines at one time or another. Chinese, Spanish, American and Japanese influences are all noticeable in the halo-halo culture of the Philippines. The country’s relationship which often goes unnoticed in the Philippines however, is Mexico. Last month I had the opportunity to have a number of encounters with Mexican culture and see the intertwining relationship the two countries have.
The history between Mexico and the Philippines starts all the way back in 1565 which was the birth of the Manila Galleons. This route and these ships carry many names such as Galeón de Manila, Kalakalang Galyon ng Maynila at Acapulco and Manila Acapulco Galleons. The ships were Spanish trading ships that followed the unique route of sailing north from Mexico to the 38th parallel north, off the east coast of Japan, before catching the eastward-blowing winds carrying goods from the East (mostly Chinese) to the Americas and on their return trip carried silver among other items. The route also carried a relationship between the two places in the form of a cultural exchange that shaped the identities and culture of the countries involved. This trade route lasted for about 250 years until 1815 because of the break out of the Mexican Independence War.
I recently stumbled upon the San Augustin Museum and had a lovely visit admiring the dioramas and history of the Manila Galleons. The museum also tells a story of Catholicism in the Philippines, which is a remarkable feat. You will find art and antiquities not only from the Philippines but also Spain, Mexico, Singapore, and China. I highly recommend a visit if you are interested in history and beautiful architecture.
Beyond the museums and history I have also been able to enjoy delicious Mexican food in Manila- FINALLY. Manila does so many things exceptionally well but in my opinion, Mexican food has not generally been one of them. This California girl does not want ‘fusion’, I want good ole unadulterated Mexican food. The less fancy, the better.
Hacienda has been a favorite over the last year and they recently had a visiting menu tasting that I was able to be a part of. (Manila, you are so good to me!) The dedicated owners of Hacienda brought Top Chef Canada winner, Chef Elia Herrera, to create a masterpiece for us Manileños. It was a highlight of 2019!
You know a restaurant is good when the priest from Mexico is sitting across from you.
I was fortunate enough to sit next to two lovely individuals from Mexico City during the lunch. I have had a fascination with Mexico City the last few years and went full fledge obsessed after recently finishing This Is Mexico City. It was such luck to sit next to my new friends (they had no choice in the matter, ha!) because I was able to dine with them again during the Mexican Embassy’s Cinco De Mayo celebration at Raffles Makati. The Embassy of Mexico brought Chef Jose Carlos Redon to Manila to prepare special menus for the festivity’s events. You should read up on Chef JC Redon as he is a true culinary hero. He is passionate about farming, food trucks and sustaining the indigenous pre-Spanish colonial Mexican cuisine. Chapuline, native Mexican crickets, are his focus at the moment and I was able to eat a chapuline + guacamole taco during the lunch, I surprised even myself.
Manila, you are city with deep roots and a vast culture that blankets far more than just one. Thank you for being so good to us and we promise to learn more about you so we can appreciate you (especially your food.)
For delicious food and updates on new menus and specials follow Hacienda on FB.
For cultural events and involvement with the Embassy of Mexico Manila follow them on FB. They have many cultural events throughout the year that you do not want to miss out on.
Another group to follow is the Damas Latinas, the Latin women’s group of Manila. Their food activities and dances are impressive I have heard.