Monday, August 27, 2012

An Account of Cacao History in the Philippines

I read somewhere and now I can't find the link that a plantation of cacao was first established in Batangas. I am looking for that information or any lead of more exhaustive cacao's history here in the Philippines.

From the c-spot here is their version of cacao's history in the Philippines, from this link -

Asia became the 1st recipient of cacáo outside its American homelands. Accounts vary but starting in the latter half of the 17th century, a Spanish galleon transported pure Mesoamerican Criollo across the Pacific to the Philippines. Many place the date at 1663; others 1666. The oldest documented record, however, is 1670: a single plant leaving from the port of Acapulco, Mexico. Once safely harbored in The Philippines, cacáo began its global journey, moving farther westward & onward.

(Note - Perhaps the importation of cacao or its entry to the Philippines was 1663 and since it takes about 3-5 years for it to bear fruits or fully mature so it was recorded around 1670).

As if conquering the New World weren’t enough, Spain fed its appetite for expansion by colonizing the many island puzzle-pieces that join The Philippines, an entrepôt for the exchange of a global emporium of goods so that the rich can sip cocoa from the Americas or tea of India poured from a Mexican silver pot into a Chinese porcelain cup, accented by spices from Southeast Asia while wearing silks from there too, paid for in part by gold out of East Africa… & slave labor. 
Unlike Asia as a whole, Filipinos were early converts to both chocolate & Catholicism, which went hand-in-hand with Spanish merchants & Jesuit missionaries conquering these islands in 1543, the same year Copernicus radically altered the planet-count.
The first migration of cacáo outside its American homeland appears to be pure Criollo leaving the port of Acapulco (probably uprooted from valleys cultivated to the southeast in around the then-called town of Tecuanapa) on Manila galleons. Crews carried chocolate onboard for drinking on ship. It would comfort them during sailing nightmares plagued with bad food, outbursts of some epidemic or other, & the occasional storm… arriving in The Philippines in 1666, although botanist Francisco Manuel Blanco records the date at 1670 in his comprehensive Flora de Filipinas. He goes on to report that this plant was the source of most cacáo still growing in the country at the time of his book’s publication in 1837, by & large confirming an earlier account from world voyager Gemelli Careri’s travelogue – Giro Intorno al Mondo – printed in 1699 of his 2-month visit there during which his hosts suspected the eccentric Italian for a spy of the pope & so opened every closed door for him: “They have brought from New Spain [re: current day Mexico] to The Philippines the cacao plant, which has multiplied so well, although it has degenerated a bit…”
In addition to uncertain dates, claims arise that the Pamplemousses Garden on Mauritius, rather than The Philippines, was first on the receiving end. It had cacáo at least as early as the late 1600s. Then there’s Celebes (Sulawesi) where locals insist that cacáo arrived in 1560, a full century beforehand.
Whatever the circumstances of the date & place, descendents of this Criollo transported on the Manila galleon formed the foundation for the first plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia & beyond, once cacáo spread farther in its second stage of dispersal around Oceania.
Eventually hybrids & the introduction of Amelonado in the second half of the 20th century came to comprise the bulk of The Philippines harvests.
Here is a link of the publication made in 1837 by Fr. Manuel Blanco documenting the presence of cacao in the country. 

Pages of this book with reference to cacao are:
pp323, 354, 434-35, 354, 600-05, and 876
I hope someone could help translate these pages for me.

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