BACKGROUNDER ON PHILIPPINES-CUBA
Celebrating 75 years and more
Cuba and the Philippines are situated on two opposite sides of the globe but they have a long history of shared experiences and friendship. Both became Spanish colonies for centuries. Filipinos reached Cuba in the 16th century via the Manila-Acapulco Galleon that linked Mexico to the Orient. Spaniards brought some Filipinos to Cuba as altar boys, catechist leaders and church workers. Some went as sea farers, settled in Pinar del Rio as tobacco farmers and fishers. Afterwards, some decided to move to the Barrio Chino or Chinatown in Havana.
Both countries fought Spanish colonialism. In the 19th century, Filipinos and Cubans who were fighting against Spain exchanged correspondence and draw inspiration from each country’s struggle. Many Filipino seafarers who settled in Cuba joined the Cuban revolution as volunteers. On the other hand, Vicente Catalan, a Cuban merchant marine led a mutiny in a German ship, declared himself an admiral Philippine revolutionary government and fought in the resistance against Spain and the US. Thus, the two countries are hermanos de la lucha or brothers in the struggle.
This July 2021, Cuba and the Philippines are commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations.
These 75 years relations were not uninterrupted, though. The Philippines cut its diplomatic relations with Cuba following withdrawal of US’s diplomatic recognition of the Cuban government and closure of the US embassy in Havana on January 3, 1961. Diplomatic relations were reestablished on August 26, 1975, announced through a joint statement of President Fidel Castro and Philippines’ First Lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
The Philippines-Cuba Cultural and Friendship Association finds it fitting to celebrate Cuba-Philippines relations by featuring in this website research work, historical pieces of literature, snap-shots, essays etc., that will enrich the Filipino youth’s knowledge about Cuba-Philippines relations.
Date posted: 23 May 2021