The Galleon trade was launched during the time of Renaissance at around 1600s. It was also the beginning of the Philippines’ exposure to the Western culture and christianity.
The Basque, Chinese and Filipino builders were able to construct a galleon ship at Cebu that could carry around 700 tons of cargo. A four deck, three-masted galleon ship. Careful historical investigation had been carried out despite the conservation problems, when the shipwreck of San Diego was found.
It was said that the relic and other major wooden parts of the ship was left under water, covered for future studies by explorers and archaeologists.
The treasures of San Diego as recovered were mainly porcelain China, Dragon jars, Siamese jars, Martaban jars and Spanish jars all used for storage of wine and olive oils as such.
These artifacts suggests that the art of pottery was prominent in ancient Philippines and its trade.
Manuggul jar from Manuggul cave dated 890-71 Palawan, Philippines
Jars were also used during the ancient times as storage for the remains of the dead. A boat on the lid of the jar carrying two person atop signifies the voyage of the souls of the dead to the underworld.
Some artifacts found also proved that San Diego during it’s voyages hired ”Bushi” or japanese mercenaries to secure the ship and its cargo for any threat to security such as piracy, smuggling, and stow aways.
The recovery of San Diego, tagged as it’s home coming gave an insight of how shipbuilding and its operations happened during the renaissance period.
Ships of yesterday and today are still major movers
The Museum of Anthropology houses artifacts from Philippines’ very own San Diego, which in itself is the country’s treasure. My visit to the Museum was another informative learning experience and I suggest you go for a tour on your free time too, there is just so much to learn from PH’s history.
Fast forward today…
Modern ships aren’t ran by wind through its masts anymore but by marine diesel engines. No more bushis to guard the ship but trained crew for security operations in case of piracy.
Products aren’t exclusive to jars, spices and porcelain plates but varies from cars, petrols, bulk cargoes, and even people on passenger ships.
But no matter how different today and the yesteryears are, the noble job of bringing goods from point A to point B never changed.
Ships of yesterday and today are still major movers of the economy and a vital factor in survival of industries and humans most especially.
And with that consider this as my salute, (a fellow sailor) to the sailors of yesterday, today and tomorrow!