The friendly, first-time banter between me and a Mexican man (call him Carlos) usually goes something like this. We exchange greetings, then he throws out the first question.
Carlos: So you are Chinese?
Me: I’m American born, but my family is from the Philippines.
Carlos: Oh! That´s the home of [world champion boxer] Manny Pacquiao. (fists raised as a boxer) Do you know him?
Me: Yes, that’s my brother. (Raising fists) So don’t mess with me.
Me and Carlos: (Laughter)
No, Manny Pacquiao is not my brother, and I’m not a boxing fan. The conversation does however reflect just one of the connections between the Philippines and Mexico.
Quick History Lesson
On November 21, 1564, an expedition of five vessels set sail from Mexico heading to the then-called Spice Islands. Under the command of Don Miguel de Legazpi and the navigation of Friar Urdaneta, the expedition introduced Roman Catholicism, established the government, and renamed the islands for their beloved king, Philip II of Spain.
Just over seven years ago, we began our own expedition to the Philippines. That year, our Hadassah was born at home in the jungles two hours south of Manila. She proudly bears the status as our “Fil-Am” (Philippine-born American). Last year, our son was born at home in Guadalajara, Mexico and holds the family title as our our MBA (Mexican-born American).
We were privileged to attend the 450th anniversary celebration of the Legazpi-Urdaneta Expedition that started in Barra de Navidad, just a half hour from where we have been living. Here, murals, monuments and this yearly fiesta commemorate the ongoing relationship between Mexico and the Philippines.
The anniversary fiesta of the Mexico-Philippine expedition was an especially exciting worldschooling moment for our oldest two. They vividly remember when, while living as expats in the Philippines, we toured one of the landing points of this expedition. This is not the first time our worldschooling adventures have pieced living history together across continents.
We were also privileged to meet First Secretary and Consul Angelo V. Amonoy from the Philippine Embassy in Mexico City.
The Chapala Orchestra provided a festive air to the proceedings, accompanying traditional Mexican dance.
That evening, a community leader from Barra de Navidad asked me to introduce our family as Travelers of the Year for National Geographic. He also asked that we share our connection that we have with both the Philippines and Mexico. Hadassah proudly joined me at the platform while I held baby Jeriah.
Spectacular fireworks, worthy of a bi-national celebration, brought the evenings festivities to a rousing close.
Watch the short video below to hear my impromptu speech and experience some of the evenings festivities.