Manila Galleon SceneCirca 1750The fabulous wealth that lured the adventurous among the Spanish settlers was still a myth years after Legaspi had established the colony. The conquerors had not discovered any workable gold mine, and were not willing to turn to commercial agriculture or home industries. But Manila’s location, which made it a hub for popular goods from China, Mexico, Cambodia, and India, as well as the readiness of the countries of America to pay silver dollars for these goods, prevented the loss of Spain’s outpost in the Orient.Yearly, for two and a half centuries, galleons brought, among other things, silk, carpets, ivory, pearls, and shells to Acapulco and sailed home with twice the investment of some favored Spaniards entitled to cargo space. The trading tickets (boletas) were distributed among widows, orphans, and government pensioners who either shipped on the galleons themselves or sold their privileges to the highest bidders. Rights to ship were also obtained through the obras pias of religious and charitable institutions ready to advance trading capital or even sell insurance policies to willing clients.The Manila traders had been quick to learn to live by the trying and dangerous navigation of the galleons. Even with dozens of vessels, thousands of lives, and millions in cargoes and silver dollars claimed by the sea, or captured by pirates and privateers, the galleon trade remained the most important business concern of the settlers.