Cuba Once Had A New Philippines

Cavernous caves, rolling valleys and traditional techniques in the cultivation of tobacco is what made Pinar del Rio in Cuba a UNESCO world heritage site. Due to its natural beauty, it has become a popular tourist destination where the casual tourist often overlooks the region's history and people.

What we call today as the province of Pinar del Rio in western Cuba was originally founded by Spain as Nueva Filipinas (New Philippines). This is due to the huge migration of Filipinos who arrived from the galleons that sailed from Manila to Acapulco, then from Havana to Seville, during the height of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.


Most Filipinos who arrived in Cuba brought with them Filipino trademarks such as the camisa de chinos, arroz caldo and some alcoholic drinks. However, most of them won't be going back home and will be spread out across the Americas and Europe. The harsh conditions of being a sailor, during those times, are often cited as the reason why most Filipinos decided to settle in Cuba, and since most Filipinos were Catholics, spoke Spanish and looked like the native Cubans it was quite easy for them to assimilate to the local culture. On the contrary, there were also a number of those who decided to leave Cuba and went to southeast Louisiana where they founded a fishing village known as St. Malo in 1763; This is to become the first Filipino settlement in today's the United States of America. Furthermore, some of those who decided to leave Cuba either went to Mexico or Spain while the rest returned to the Philippines bringing with them a piece of what was then Nueva Espana.

At present, it is common for Cubans to have Filipino sounding names like Tampico, Magalan, and Batunbacal all of this thanks to the Filipinos who decided to settle in Cuba during the Galleon trade. This centuries long exchange is also the reason why Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines find commonalities in many things such as the guayabara, barong, and of course the good-ol tobacco.

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