Instituto Cervantes holds conference on the discovery of the Pacific Ocean


Instituto Cervantes Manila invites the public to a conference dedicated to the commemoration of the 5th Centennial of the European Discovery of the Pacific Ocean: In the Search for the “Other” Sea on May 14, 2013, 9:30 am at the Ortigas Foundation Library. The series of talks will be moderated by Maria Serena Diokno, chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

From a historical perspective, there will be a discussion of various aspects related to the figure of the discoverer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the consequences of the discovery of new ocean at the time, while analyzing the character of the conquests and explorations on American soil.


10:00 am
Fernando Zialcita: The Pacific: The Philippines’ Forgotten Neighborhood.

Eager to connect with “Asia”, Filipinos tend to overlook their connections with the Pacific. The Philippines’ millennial ties with the Pacific occurred in five stages. 1) Austronesian Expansion in the Pacific (ca. 1500 BC to 500 AD) diffuses Philippine-Indonesian cultural traits (seafaring techniques, culinary patterns, religious practices) to Micronesia-Polynesia via migrants. 2) The Spanish Lake (1565-1810). The Conquest of the Philippines and the Galleon Trade convert the ocean into a protected lake. An annual exchange of products, people, practices between Manila-Asia and New Spain-Americas takes place. 3) Manila Capital of Oceania Española (1571-1898). Manila serves as the capital, not only of the Philippines, but of other Spanish possessions in Micronesia as well. 4) Anglo-American Hegemony (1898-1990). The USA becomes the Power. 5) Pacific Partnerships? (1990 to the present). With the formation of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the emergence of Asian tigers, a multi-polar Pacific may be emerging. Zialcita’s talk will focus only on numbers 1), 2), 3) and their consequences for understanding Filipino culture today.

11:00 am
Javier Galván Guijo: Bastion Fortifications: The First International Style in Architecture. (Talk in Spanish with simultaneous translation. Charla en español con traducción simultánea)

During the onset of European naval explorations and colonization, bastion fortifications served as useful addition to the defense structures of the Spanish empire, from Cádiz to Manila. Bastion fortifications can therefore be considered the first “international style” in the history of architecture.

1:00 pm
Antonio García-Abásolo: Aspects of a Model for an Ecumenical Empire. (Talk in Spanish with simultaneous translation. Charla en español con traducción simultánea)

The discovery of the Pacific provided for the Spanish Empire a global reach in five decades, mostly due to the settlements in the Philippines. This talk will discuss the capacity of the empire to integrate very diverse peoples and cultures. The discussion will also take a look at the obstacles that the colonial administration had to undertake to ensure the cohesion of its territories overseas.

2:00 pm
Miguel Luque Talaván: The Politics of Felipe III for the Great Southern Sea. (Talk in Spanish with simultaneous translation. Charla en español con traducción simultánea)

The reign of Philip III marked the end of the initial phase of explorations spearheaded by the Spanish crown starting in 1492 with Christopher Columbus’first ever journey to the Americas. In 1606, another exploration, led by Pedro Fernández de Quirós, arrived to a new group of islands, then called “Austrialia of the Holy Spirit”. This lecture will discuss this exploration, as well as the Crown’s relationships with its Asian territories which were then governed from the Spanish settlements in the Philippines.

Other collaborating organizations are the Embajada de España (Islas Filipinas) and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).

The Ortigas Foundation Library is located at the 2/F Ortigas Building, Ortigas corner Meralco Avenues, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Library hours are 9 am – 6 pm, Monday to Saturday. For more information, contact Ortigas Library at (02) 631-1231 local 228 or


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