Published in The Freeman and Philstar.com, June 2, 2013
The one thing to keep in mind if you visit Mexico is that the country is very large, with varied geography and with many different climate zones. Visiting the coast, for instance, can be a very different experience from going to the high mountains. One cannot generalize about what Mexico and Mexicans look like because the people and culture have a lot of ethnic intermingling.
Perhaps it is the feeling that I know Mexico that draws me to her, and through the years, I’ve visited various cities and towns in Mexico. All of these places have offered a common denominator, that is the Spanish influence, but there have always been differences, so one can never say that Puerto Vallarta is like San Miguel de Allende.
My husband and I have visited sea resorts along the Baja coast: Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, among others; and they are good vacation places that provide sun, sea, food, and fun. People can fish, surf, snorkel, scuba dive, or just sit on the beach to relax. They are popular tourist places, which have four-or-five-star hotels and excellent restaurants. Shopping is great in these places. One can buy Mexican dresses and blouses, sandals, silver jewelry, and many other handicrafts. They sell beautiful stained glass, tile work, statues, clay and ceramic planters and fountains, all of which are unfortunately heavy, although one can always have them shipped.
A coastal city I paid close attention to was Acapulco because of the connection with the Philippines. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade went on from 1565 to 1815, and given there were over three hundred years of contact between the two places, I hoped to find evidence of the connection in Acapulco. To my disappointment, the museum in Acapulco hardly mentioned the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. There were a few Chinese jars to depict this time period in that museum, but nothing extensive. I got the impression that overall Filipinos pay more attention to the connection between Mexico and the Philippines, than Mexicans do. The Philippines seems to be a footnote in their history; and only the educated remember the shared heritage between the two countries.
Mexico is very good at preserving her UNESCO designated World Heritage cities, which include Campeche, Guanajuato, Mexico City, and Morelia, cities which have excellent examples of Baroque architecture. These Heritage Sites along with the sea resorts draw over 22 million tourists to Mexico annually.
If you are in Mexico City, then you must visit nearby Teotihuacan, an ancient sacred site with ruins, the most famous of which are the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon. Archeologists continue their diggings in this archeological site, which is said to have been built between100 BC-250 AD.
On another occasion, we visited Guadalajara, another large city, said to be the cultural center of Mexico. In this city, mariachi music thrives, and the city hosts many international cultural events. Because Guadalajara is huge and sprawling, we confined ourselves to the historic downtown section, with many parks and squares, and with a grand Metropolitan Cathedral.
It’s also inspiring to see that these preserved colonial towns draw a lot of tourists, a lesson that the Philippines can learn from—and that is, to preserve our own colonial towns.
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House San Miguel de Allende
Visiting Colonial Mexico
tags: travel, Mexico, Philippines, Cecilia Brainard, San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Acapulco, Taxco, history, Spanish Colonial