Friday, May 16, 2008

A 17th Century Tale of Love...and Vengeance

I am currently halfway through The Manila Galleon by William Schurz. This classic and pioneering work on the Galleon trade is indeed full of surprises because in the midst of the discussions on regional trade and the intricacies of trading during almost 3 centuries...meron pang love story na nasingit si Prof. Schurz...

The story of one of the galleon pilots would rival modern-day soap operas and romantic/tragic/action movies. So here it is...una historia de Señor Geronimo Galvez, vais a leer por favor...

Few pilots saw such a long and honorable service as Geronimo Galvez. Certainly the life of none was more dramatic. Galvez was a native of the ancient coast town of Cartagena and from his early years had followed the sea, first the Mediterranean and later on the Atlantic between Cadiz and the West Indies. There was much Moorish blood in the people of his native city and his own orthodoxy was suspect to the Inquisition. So was that of his young wife, Solina, whose father had died on the rack in the dungeons of the Holy Office, and whose mother had shortly afterwards died of grief.

To escape the vigilance of the inquisitors Galvez and his wife emigrated to New Spain [modern-day Mexico] and after a year in Vera Cruz crossed the country to Acapulco. Thence, in 1689, the pilot took the 'Santa Rosa de Lima' [a galleon ship]across the Pacific to Manila, while Doña Solina remained in Acapulco. For three years there was no threat to their happiness, though the intervals between their reunions were long. Then, in 1692, a young courtier [nobleman] from Madrid, named Sebastian de la Plana, arrived at Acapulco on his way out to the Philippines. While he awaited the sailing of the galleon he stopped at one of the inns at the port. Wandering about the town, he discovered the pilot's wife [Solina] and quickly became infatuated with her. When his advances were rebuffed, La Plana had her seized by ruffians [think typical bad guys in movies] as she was strolling along the shore of the bay and ravished her. Returned to her home she wrote a last letter to her husband, recounting La Plana's attack on her, and within a few days died, whether from grief or poison was never known. Shortly afterward La Plana boarded the west-bound galleon for Manila, and was well at sea when Galvez arrived at Acapulco on the Santa Rosa.

When he heard of the circumstances of his wife's death the pilot swore vengeance on La Plana, whom he considered her murderer. He had a monument raised to Doña Solina's memory in the cemetery at Acapulco and on it had carved the unfinished line: 'I will repay--.' In terror of Galvez' revenge, La Plana, on arriving at Manila, changed his name, grew a beard and had his face altered and scarred by a surgeon in order to conceal his identity.

The story gets interesting once Señor Galvez arrives in Manila in pursuit of La Plana...will Geronimo exact his vengeance on La Plana?

Again, this is a true account based on primary historical sources, hindi po ito scripted hehe. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow...promise...

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