Fray Andrés de Urdaneta

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     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.

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     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.

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         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.


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