The Road to a New Era

Discover how the multicultural roots of Filipino cuisine were cemented in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

By Archivos Estatales

Archivo General de Indias

18th-century Valencian Tiles (1780)Original Source: Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

Asians, Europeans, and Americans all made their home in the Philippines, leading to the creation of a new society. These groups were all part of the globalization of trade, resulting in the fusion of tastes and flavors from East and West.

Course of round trip from Spain to Manila (1777) by Alejo Berlinguero de la MarcaOriginal Source: Archivo General de Indias

The late 18th century saw the decline of the Manila Galleon, but this did not bring an end to the Spanish presence in the Philippines. Technological advances in navigation and a new, liberal spirit led to the opening of new routes.

The Royal Company of the Philippines was established to strengthen trade, finding a viable alternative to the long journey across the Atlantic and the Pacific in the Cape Route, which took them past the Cape of Good Hope. This was not the only route: the ports of Manila, El Callao, Montevideo, and Cadiz were also connected.

View of Manila from the bay (1847) by José H. LozanoOriginal Source: Biblioteca Nacional de España

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Philippines, along with Cuba, was one of Spain's overseas strongholds, with the port of Manila the hinge on which Spanish trade with Asia turned.

On-board menu and provisions of the ship Santa Ana (1833-04-12)Original Source: Archivo General de Indias

The frigate "Santa Ana" set sail from Cadiz to Cavite City in 1833. The journey took around five months, crossing the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and stopping off in the Cape of Good Hope and the Sunda Strait. The Company of the Philippines stipulated the weekly menu for the main tables.

The two daily meals reflected the quality of the food carried on board: a far cry from the privations and monotony of earlier centuries. Of particular note are the potatoes and tomatoes, chorizo with paprika, and even Valencian-style rice (a precursor to the paella that we know today).

List of provisions embarked on the ship Santa Ana. (1831-09-27)Original Source: Archivo General de Indias

The passengers and crew of the Royal Company of the Philippines enjoyed a wide variety of provisions, ranging from live animals to dried vegetables, cured meats, and preserves.

Food preservation was still essential, as can be seen in these listings of tuna in brine and oil, pickled dentex and sole, and other canned fish.

Spread of European wines in Southeast AsiaOriginal Source: Archivo General de Indias

Wine was an indispensable accompaniment and an essential part of their diet. If in the 16th century wine was provided for survival, in the 18th century its enjoyment by the colonial elites began to take root.

Notes on the Bordeaux wine tradeArchivos Estatales

European traders sent the finest wines to Manila, as evidenced by this ship's record showing that the ship set sail from Mauritius loaded with wine from Champagne and Bordeaux. Certain wines, such as sherry, aged on the journey, improving their quality.

Carindería or street food stall (1847) by José H. LozanoOriginal Source: Biblioteca Nacional de España

Meanwhile, traditional Filipino cuisine became increasingly multicultural. Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian influences fused with flavors brought by the Spanish, with additions from the Americas, and became part of native customs and practices.

Postcard of Calle EscoltaArchivos Estatales

Toward the Present

The Philippine Declaration of Independence in 1898 did not sever the links between Spain and the Philippines.

Advertisement of the departure of the Luzon Island packet (1882)Original Source: Biblioteca Nacional de España

Steam ships replaced sailing ships and, following the opening of the Suez Canal, the journey was shortened to 30 days, as seen on this poster announcing the departure of the "Isla de Luzón" from Cadiz to Barcelona.

Cover of the book La cocina filipina (Filipino Cuisine) (1913)Original Source: Archivo General de Indias

Filipino and Spanish cuisines evolved and were influenced by French "nouvelle cuisine" and other passing fashions, greater availability of products, and technical innovations. It was in this context that La Cocina Filipina (Filipino Cuisine) was published.

La cocina filipina (Filipino Cuisine) book (1913)Original Source: Archivo General de Indias

This book is a collection of traditional recipes from the past. Many of them are Spanish, with the addition of international dishes that were popular at the time. However, it is also notable for its inclusion of traditional Filipino recipes.

Credits: Story

Curator: Antonio Sánchez de Mora, General Archive of the Indies.

Digital adaptation of the "Flavors that Sailed Across the Seas" exhibition, organized by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, via the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport, via the Sub-directorate General of Spanish State Archives.

This exhibition is part of the First Voyage Around the World project.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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