Manilamen and seafaring: engaging the maritime world beyond the Spanish realm

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Although the Philippines is hardly known for sending out migrants prior to the twentieth century, and even among seafarers only the galleon age is remembered, this article provides evidence of transcontinental maritime movements from the late eighteenth century until the early twentieth century. These migrants were known in the English-speaking world as Manilamen. Most were seafarers, but some became involved in pearl-shell fishing, while others engaged in mercenary activities. They settled in key ports around the world, their numbers in any one location fluctuating in response to changing circumstances. Despite relocation to distant places, the difficulties of communication, and the impetus toward naturalization, Manilamen seem to have retained some form of identification with the Philippines as homeland, no matter how inchoately imagined.