For years the Spaniards had
sailed from Mexico to the Philippines. But they had been unable to
return because the winds blew in the wrong direction. In 1559 the King
ordered the Viceroy of Mexico to organize a new expedition. Andrés de
Urdaneta, who had gained great knowledge of the winds and currents on
the Loaysa expedition of 1525-1535, was appointed as chief pilot.
The expedition sailed from La Navidad on the west
coast of Mexico on November 21, 1564. The flagship reached Cebu in the
Philippines on April 27, 1565, and was provisioned to return to
Mexico. They left on June 1, 1565 and were carried to by the southwest
monsoon to the Marianas in time to catch the summer westerlies in the
North Pacific. They sailed for almost three months without sighting
land before making a landfall at San Miguel Island at the entrance to
the Santa Barbara channel of California. On October 1, 1565 they
landed at Acapulco, having traveled approximately 11,000 miles. Two
years later a regular annual service was established between Acapulco
and Manila that lasted until 1815.
The map on the stamp is titled at the top of the stamp:
Courses of the Philippine sailing Routes: The New Route and the old
ones, from the Port of Acapulco to Manila on the Island of Luzon
is undated but must have been after 1625.
On the map
that illustrates the route of the Acapulco-Manila trade, California
appears as an island. The first map to show California in this way was
Henry Briggs’ map of 1625. This misconception of the North American
west coast lasted for over a century. The Eusebio Kino map of 1705 was
the first map to disprove the “island California” concept, although
the error was continued by Herman Moll as late as 1720.
In 1965 the Philippines
issued this stamp to commemorate four hundredth anniversary of the
Christianization of the Philippines. The stamp shows the route of the
Cross from Spain to Mexico the Cebu. The leg from Mexico to Cebu is
the route pioneered by Andrés de Urdaneta in 1565.