A Day at the Museum | The National Museum of Anthropology – Part 1

Treasures of the San Diego

You’d be glad that our museums are free of charge, would you not? At least those under the auspices of the National Museum, that is. One could kill time away and explore new knowledge for practically nothing, at no cost.

The story of the San Diego should interest every Filipino because not only does it shed light into the kind of world our forebears lived in, but because it’s teaching us some important life lessons too, if we are only to look closer and really listen.

I know nothing much about the San Diego myself, so I’m sharing this so we could learn together. I’m kind of curious too if this has already been part of school text books. It should be. Children, especially, with their impressible minds, should visit the gallery because nothing beats seeing the artifacts with one’s own eyes. I was kind of happy seeing groups of school children touring the museum. There is this one group in the lobby being briefed by the guide before the tour started. Although most seemed excited, you can see in some of the children’s faces that they are getting bored, what with their short attention span – some looking spaced-out, others forcing a somewhat interested/engaged look, perfunctorily nodding to every thing the guide says, but that you know their mind is wandering some place else. Sorry kids, you need to learn these stuff 🙂

Just a disclaimer, though. The article you will be seeing below were taken purely from museum references and informational guides. It does not reflect the author’s words or opinions.

The San Diego – a 16th Century Galleon

20180512_112723_wm b
A model of the San Diego

The San Diego was a 3-masted trading ship built in 1590 in Cebu by Basque, Chinese and Filipino shipbuilders. It used different kinds of Asian woods and was about 35-40 meters long, about 12 meters wide and 8 meters high. It had at least 4 decks and could hold about 700 tons of cargo.

The discovery of the San Diego has significantly expanded knowledge of Renaissance shipbuilding techniques. On the basis of the finds and the positioning of the wreck, the construction of the ship had been studied.

Detailed investigations were only conducted on selected planks because of conservation problems. A large part of the wood remains were left under-water and covered with sand for future researches.

The Sinking of the San Diego

800px-Sea_Battle_San_Diego_Eendracht_1600
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

On December 14, 1600, about 50 kilometers southwest of Manila, the Spanish battleship San Diego under the command of Morga clashed with the Dutch ship Mauritius. All odds were in favor of the Spanish. The San Diego was four times larger than the Mauritius. It had a crew of 450 rested men and massive fire power with 14 cannons taken from the fortress in Manila.

It sank “like a stone”

Unfortunately, this was also the weakness of the San Diego. Morga had the ship full of people, weapons and munitions but too little ballast to weigh the ship down for easier maneuverability.  While the gun ports had been widened for more firing range, not one cannon could be fired because water entered through the enlarged holes.

IMG_20180512_190201_931_wm

The San Diego sprung a leak beneath the water line either from the first cannonball fired by the Mauritius or from the impact of ramming the Dutch at full speed. Because of inexperience, Morga failed to issue orders to save the San Diego. It sank “like a stone” when he ordered his men to cast off from the burning Mauritius.

The events were recorded in Morga’s book, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. The book portrayed Morga as a hero of the battle. Olivier van Noort also wrote about the battle.

220px-Sucesos_de_las_Islas_Filipinas
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Antonio de Morga (1559 – 1636)

800px-Antonio_de_Morga_efigie
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Morga came from a family of bankers in Seville but decided to have an administrative career. He was appointed as Advisor and Lieutenant General to the Governor of the Philippines in 1593 by the Spanish King. This did not make him happy being posted “at the ends of the earth”. He saw his chance to change his fortune when he heard the news of a Dutch pirate ship entering Philippine waters.

Through political maneuvering, he was promoted to admiral and later commissioned the San Diego, a merchant vessel anchored in Manila, to be a battleship. Morga thought that a swift victory over the exhausted intruders would put him in a favorable stead with the King.

Morga’s ignorance as a captain was proven during the sea battle with the Dutch. He gave wrong commands that led to the sinking of the San Diego, but as one of the few survivors, he successfully depicted himself as a hero of the battle and even got promoted. He was sent to Mexico in 1603 and to Peru in 1615.

Olivier van Noort (1558/59 – 1627)

Olivier_van_Noort
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Olivier van Noort was a tavern owner in Rotterdam. He was described as a humorous, courageous, stubborn, but enterprising man. In 1598, he was entrusted to command a small fleet financed by some merchants and the Dutch stockholder, Maurice of Nassau. His mission was to ascertain the trade route to the Spice Islands and, along the way, plunder any vessel he could find.

In the latter part of 1600, van Noort, reached the Philippines with two ships. On December 14, the battle between his flagship Mauritius and Morga’s San Diego took place in front of Manila Bay. Although far outnumbered, 59 to 450, his men fought bravely. Van Noort tricked the Spanish into fleeing by setting fire to his own sails. Through his nautical skills and tactical cunning, he was able to escape the Spaniards.

One year later, van Noort returned to Rotterdam broke. The expedition was a failure. But his knowledge of the trade route, allowed Dutch participation in the spice trade in the Moluccas. Belatedly acknowledged, he finally took a post as garrison commander until 1626 when he retired.

The Wreck of the San Diego

20180512_113447_wm
The hold of the San Diego contained food and water supplies. Stoneware jars doubling as containers and ballast were placed in the hold. About 800 of these were found in the wreck. These jars came mostly from Burma and dated from the 16th century.

Antonio de Morga sailed into battle with the Mauritius, commanded by Olivier van Noort. Early in the morning, Morga neglected to inform his Vice Admiral Juan de Alcega. Morga at first seemed to gain the upper hand, and his soldiers even captured the standard of the Mauritius. The Spanish galleon was under full sail when it violently rammed the Dutch ship. The seasick Spanish admiral, however, failed to follow up on his advantage despite pleas from his officers and crew and soon lost control of the situation.

20180512_110906_wm

IMG_20180512_191338_490_wm a

20180512_112405_wm b

20180512_112326_wm b

IMG_20180512_191830_wm
The Admiral’s table

A major leak was discovered in the hold, obviously a result of the violent impact. Morga gave the fatal order to cast off the lines holding the ships together. The astonished Dutch could not believe their eyes. When the lines had finally been cut, the San Diego sailed 330-660 feet (100-200m), nosed over and went straight to the bottom. The time was approximately 3:00 pm, on Thursday, December 14, 1600. Three hundred people are thought to have drowned. Another hundred apparently survived by swimming to nearby Fortune Island. Morga himself was rescued by his secretary.

Advertisements

My 7,107 | Camotes and Cebu City

It’s my second time visiting Camotes Island in Cebu. The last time was just about a year ago. I never really had the time to explore Cebu city itself back then, so I made sure to stay in the city and have myself familiarized with it before heading to Camotes, this time around. There are still lots of places to go to but in the limited time I had, at least I was able to go to the more popular destinations such as the malls (SM and Ayala Center) and the area near and around Fuente Osmeña Circle, where I had my room booked in one of its pension houses.

IMG_20140517_155832
At the Fuente Osmeña Circle

I had a taste of what it feels like backpacking. I even went to the Tabo-an market on my own where I thought I could find the type of galletas that my boss wanted. Alas, I didn’t find it there. Tabo-an, according to one reference I read, is one of the best places, if not the best, to buy danggit and other seafood as, I believe it is the first drop-off point of the catch from all over the province to the city. It is quite off-the-beaten-track though. One thing I was not able to do was to ride the jeepney because I don’t really know how the routes work, plus the language barrier. I was afraid I might get lost and not be understood where to go or find my way back 😛

20140511_173801_wm
View to the east from The Terraces, Ayala Center, Cebu
20140511_161123_wm
View to the west from The Terraces, Ayala Center, Cebu
20140511_160725_wm
Water fountain at the Ayala Center, Cebu

Cebu is like Manila in so many ways, minus the pollution and rude cab drivers. Despite being a major economic hub in the Visayas, with the proliferation of malls and other modern amenities you will find in any developed city, you still get a small-town vibe, which makes easy for anyone to warm up to. The people are friendly and the food is great.

Now to my main destination – Camotes.

20140513_144422_wm
My RORO (Roll-On, Roll-Off) ride to Camotes
20140515_172341_wm
Camotes beachfront during low tide (as seen from the San Isidro side)
Saint Joseph Parish fronting the San Francisco (SanFran) municipal hall
Saint Joseph Parish fronting the San Francisco (SanFran) municipal hall

I was here primarily to attend the fiesta in the town of San Isidro where my relatives are. To be honest though, I didn’t have any itinerary planned out, so it’s a “go-with-the-flow” kind of stuff. I leave it all to my “ig-agaw’s” or “agaw’s” (cousins) to decide where to go in the island. They decide that we should go to the Busay Falls in the municipality of Tudela on Poro Island, and some of the sights in Poro itself such as the beachfront.

20140515_091218_wm
Busay Falls in Tudela, Poro Island, Camotes
20140515_101909_wm
The Port of Poro

It was my first time attending a true, blue barrio fiesta. The things I hear about guests being welcomed inside different homes and offered lots of food still hold true. And since this is Cebu, the star of every buffet is the lechon (roasted pig on spits). I never had a lechon this good for a long time actually. I conclude, nothing beats a lechon that’s been traditionally cooked and prepared – not even CnT or Ayer’s (some of the famous lechon sold commercially in the city that I have tried) come close. In the barrio during fiesta, it’s lechon all day long, fulfilling every person’s porcine fantasy with its savory, melt-in-your-mouth meat (and fat), and crispy, golden brown skin. I’ve been living my dream well until dinner and on into the following day, where leftovers become “lechon paksiw”. Hmm, just thinking of it makes me drool.

20140515_115930_wm
The famous Cebu lechon

20140515_120604_wm

It’s been part of the tradition to hold dance parties, or what is still commonly called here as “diskuhan” (disco/discotheque) every night, programs, games, bazaar, etc. In the town plaza before dusk, my cousin and I visited the church to pay respects to San Isidro Labrador – the town’s patron saint, the patron saint of farmers, and to check out the bazaar. In the town plaza we found a hundred-year old tree still standing. It is quite amazing if you think of it actually.

20140515_171356_wm
San Isidro’s hundred-year-old tree
Moonlight over the San Isidro beachfront

It was a fun-filled week, indeed. An ideal R&R. I certainly would be coming back next year. In fact, this might be habit forming, a yearly affair. I thank my family and friends for their hospitality. This wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I just want to share how in this journey I was treated with the sight of these lovely creatures both going and coming back from the island. Dolphins! It’s a childhood dream. I hope I could see them up close and maybe even touch them.

10314664_10152916031518228_8409456299202915280_n

This, plus a spectacular sunset over Danao port gives this vacation a nice ending.

IMG_20140518_114956_wm