Historian wants to borrow galleon artifacts

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, right, listens while Spanish historian Dr. Carlos Madrid, Ph.D., second left, discusses the possibility of loaning some of the CNMI’s artifacts from the Spanish galleon Concepcion for an exhibit in Manila. Also in photo are Philippine Consul General Marciano R. De Borja, second right, and Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI Eli Arago. (Jon Perez)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, right, listens while Spanish historian Dr. Carlos Madrid, Ph.D., second left, discusses the possibility of loaning some of the CNMI’s artifacts from the Spanish galleon Concepcion for an exhibit in Manila. Also in photo are Philippine Consul General Marciano R. De Borja, second right, and Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI Eli Arago. (Jon Perez)

Spanish historian Carlos Madrid, Ph.D., has asked to borrow the Commonwealth’s collection of artifacts from the 120-ton Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de la Concepción for an exhibit in the Museo de Galleon in Manila this year.

The Concepción, which was part Spain’s fleet plying the lucrative Manila-Marianas-Acapulco galleon trade route, hit the coast of Saipan near Agingan Point on Sept. 20, 1638. The ship was carrying ceramics, gems, gold, silk, silver, and other valuable products, many of which are displayed in Saipan’s Museum of History and Culture.

Madrid said the request to borrow the artifacts is part of a private initiative among the Philippines, Mexico, and Spain.

“We want to highlight the importance of the galleon trade that connected different countries. The Marianas also played a meaningful role in the history of the galleon trade,” he said.

Madrid, who is the director of the Instituto Cervantes in Manila, used to work at the museum here on Saipan more than 10 years ago and is a frequent visitor to the islands; he gives lectures on the CNMI’s Spanish era history.

He said the Saipan museum has a magnificent collection of artifacts and he hopes to borrow some for display at the $8-million Museo de Galleon at the Mall of Asia complex. A galleon’s exact replica would also be displayed as an added attraction.

Madrid, along with Philippine Consul General Marciano R. De Borja, met with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres yesterday to formally ask the CNMI government if he could borrow some artifacts, including the hundreds-year-old anchor of the Concepción, which is displayed outside the Historic Preservation Office.

“The anchor does not fit anywhere and one of the possibilities we could do is we can take care of restoring it. Send it back here so it could be exhibited on Saipan. This could open a collaboration between our two countries,” said Madrid.

“Governor, if you’re interested and if you could consider lending us part of the Concepción to this museum, it could also showcase the CNMI museum and attract tourism here as well since it would be an international exhibit.”

The Museo de Galleon will have a soft opening on Aug. 8, coinciding with the celebration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ 50th anniversary. The exhibit is expected to attract 25,000 visitors a month.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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