The Connection Between Philippines and Mexico

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Even though Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo are two different places, it is synonymous with one another. They are located on the west of Mexico by the Pacific Ocean, 250 km (4 hour drive) northwest of Acapulco. Zihuatanejo (zee-wha-tan-EH-ho) was a resort for the Mexican nobility before the colonial Spaniards arrived. Retaining most of its original Mexican atmosphere, it’s a quiet fishing village with beautiful views of the ocean. Ixtapa (eesh-tah-pa), originally spelled Iztapa, is a 10-minute drive to the south of Zihuatanejo, and is a fairly new development that was created in the 1970s with the sole purpose of attracting tourists. That said, Ixtapa’s beaches are lined with resorts that front the Pacific Ocean, and numerous shopping areas and restaurants right behind.

A Spanish Galleon trade route was established in 1527 that connected Zihuatanejo to the Philippines. The first coconut/nipa-palm trees in Mexico were planted in Zihuatanejo, which originally came from the Philippines. With the coconut/nipa-palm trees, the Filipinos also introduced their many uses to the inhabitants of Mexico.

Today, numerous “nipa” thatched roof umbrellas dot the resorts’ sandy beaches, and the “nipa” thatched roof shacks accomodate the resorts’ “watering holes” for libation purposes. The Filipinos who brought the coconut/nipa-palm trees to this area back in the 16th century named these nipa huts “palapa,” a term which the Mexicans have retained to this day. In my research, the word palapa has its roots in Javanese from the word “kelapa,” meaning coconut. Palapa, referring to nipa/coconut fronds, was the term used by the inhabitants of the Philippines during that time.

tub´a’ n. native drink, palm sap, palm wine

Tuba, an alcoholic drink made from palm flower sap, may be native to the Philippines, but it is sold everyday in the streets of Zihuatanejo (and other parts of Mexico, such as Acapulco, Colima, Manzanillo, etc…) by men called “Tuberos.” The Filipinos have passed down...
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