Plaza Mexico: A Little Forgotten Spot in Intramuros

The 400 Years of Maritime Expedition Monument of Mexico and Philippines

While most of the people focused on the landing of Galeón Andalucia in Manila last week, my friend Gibb and I stumbled on this area that seemed to have been forgotten by time (and perhaps some maintenance too) itself. Called as Plaza Mexico, this place-the banks of Pasig River in Intramuros Manila-has been the original port of call of the fabled galleons of the past. Indeed, the 270 years of galleon trade that became one of the Spanish Empire’s economic machinery and an event that triggered globalization into a whole new level.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Fray Andres de Urdaneta started their expedition towards the Philippines on November 21,1564-more than 20 years after Magellan was killed in Cebú, and eventually started the Spanish Colonial Era in the Philippines that lasted for more than three centuries. And it was Fray Andres de Urdaneta that discovered the tornaviaje-the route back to Nueva España or México which would eventually start the galleon trade.

The Marker at Barra de Navidad in Mexico -- Looks like its well maintained unlike its Manila counterpart. Tsk! (Photo from Ezequiel Candelario of

More than 45 years ago, your lola’s father, former President Diosdado Macapagal of the Philippines, and former President Adolfo Lopez Mateos of Mexico, installed the Philippine-Mexican Friendship monument here in Manila, as a celebration of 400 years of maritime expedition of the Philippines. This marker may have been celebrating/commemorating the initiation of maritime expedition of the Philippines from Mexico (and eventually conquer the islands and became its colony in the Orient) and the diplomatic and cultural “friendship ties” between the two countries. Without it, the galleon trade wouldn’t have commenced after all. I think there is also a same marker in Mexico, in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco-where Legazpi and Urdaneta left for the Philippines. I wish Cebú also has one too.

I just wished that Galeón Andalucia docked here along the banks of Pasig…however, given its towering masts, low bridge level of Del Pan Bridge and the deplorable situation of the area, the ship couldn’t dock here. I just hope a replica should do the trick-that brings a lot of tourists (local or foreign) to the Maestranza area no?

The place now either has vagrants and was left to rundown just besides the old Aduana/Intendencia. Sometimes it smells piss and quite dirty on some days. Geez, its just beside the Bureau of Immigration and the new Pasig River Ferry Terminal. I just hope that like how we emphasized more on our history-especially on our very own centro historico-Intramuros, we should take care of our heritage. Like cleaning it up or at least make the monument a bit decent-the state of the marker here looks pretty embarassing when compared to its counterpart at Barra de Navidad in Mexico. I also hoped that the next Día del Galeón, the organizers put this historic place-along with Maestranza and Fuerza Real de Santiago, into the consciousness of the people. I have high hopes though, with the on-going revitalization of Maestranza, Plaza Mexico too shall benefit from it, and so is our perspective in our own history.

Me and the Mexican Seal - I found Tenochtitlan in Maynilad

View Plaza Mexico, Intramuros in a larger map

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October 2010
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