El Mantón de Manila – An Heirloom from the Philippines


Here I bring the story of one of the most recognizable pieces in Hispanic America that many of our women wear. I am talking about El Mantón de Manila that came from the Philippines at the end of the XVI century to Europe and specifically Spain.

It all started when the big comercial goods from Manila started to arrive in Sevilla through the Mexican port of Acapulco. They made their way by land from Veracruz where the mantones reached the Atlantic coast to end up in Seville.

It wasn’t until the XVIII century that through El Cabo de La Buena Esperanza, Seville and Manila start their direct commerce. Interestingly enough El Mantón de Manila also arrived in the U.S., at the time reaching cities like Boston, Philadelphia and entering the state of California.

Initially, El Mantón had colorful designs depicting flowers and birds typical of the Philippines, and as the time passed it started to undergo a transformation in design that incorporated forms, sizes and imagery more typical of Spain like the red flowers and objects related to bull fights.

The most famous and important families started using the Manila shawl and by the XIX century it soon became an accessory for almost every woman without regard to their economic condition. A perfect example were the Sevillanas who sold cigarrets and the ladies who labored at the tobacco companies.

The shawl has always been a big hit in Seville and the Andalucia region in general because the Andalusians adore colorful and organic designs like roses and carnations so popular in the area.

The shawls came from the Philippines but were made in China even though they derived their name from the city of Manila.

Visiting the Málaga Fair I was able to shoot the video that explains what El Mantón de Manila is. María, the woman who was wearing it was not the only one on the streets adorning herself with such an exquisite piece. Seeing so many women wearing it, I had to stop one of them and ask the history behind it.

I don’t know if my mom had a Mantón de Manila however, I know she had three shawls that resembled the Manila shawls and the only difference was in the designs which were more subtle and less colorful. I am sure many of us Latinas may remember our moms or grandmas wearing mantillas similar to the Mantón de Manila.

Let me know below if you grew up with a Mantón de Manila at home and if you knew its origins.

Celebrate Hispanic Month at Home
3 Easy Ideas To Do It

Enjoy a "Tipico" from the Antioquia region.  Bean with rice, plantains and avocado.


If you’ve ever been to a party at a Hispanic person’s home, you know that Hispanic parties never start on time. So is that why Hispanic month doesn’t start on the first of the month?

Actually, we start to celebrate Hispanic month on September 15 because five Latin American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) celebrate their independence on this day. Three more countries (Mexico, Chile, and Belize) will also celebrate their freedom before Hispanic month ends on October 15.

From the earliest history of the US, Hispanic people have put their mark on our culture with important contributions in every area from art to literature to science, politics, and business.

Before you even start planning your adventures for hispanic month think about the meaning of being Hispanic, what does it mean for you?  If you want to know more check my article on What Is Hispanic?. Dare to comment…

Sometimes we need a bit of a reminder to stop and look at our history through a Hispanic lens. That’s why we have National Hispanic Heritage Month. With Hispanic culture so prevalent in America today, it’s easier than you might think to celebrate Hispanic month at home. Check out these 3 ideas.

Explore Hispanic Cuisine

Enjoy a "Tipico" from the Antioquia region.  Bean with rice, plantains and avocado.

Enjoy a “Típico” from the Antioquia region. Beans with rice, plantains, arepa and avocado.

As in many cultures, food plays a very important role in Hispanic culture. It forms the centerpiece for all kinds of important family gatherings and celebrations.

This year, why not explore all the variations of Hispanic cuisine by preparing one special meal or dish each week, inspired by a different Latin American country? For example you might prepare Peruvian ceviche one week followed by Cuban pork roast or Mexican wedding cookies. Dare to go beyond tacos and enchiladas during this mes de La Hispanidad!

Take a Hispanic Media Challenge

With a whole month to celebrate, you should have time to explore a great deal of Hispanic contributions to art, literature, music, movies, etc.

Here is my challenge: Read one book by a notable Hispanic author like Gabriel Garcia Márquez or Isabelle Allende, listen to a different Hispanic musician’s work each day, or learn about Hispanic art through the ages with an online course.  Choose one and run with it.

Tour Hispanic Heritage Sites

You can find countless Hispanic heritage sites here in the US as well as throughout the world.

Visiting these sites—in person or from your computer—makes an excellent way to immerse yourself in Hispanic culture and discover more about a particular aspect of our culture. Just remember, a Hispanic heritage site doesn’t have to be famous or commemorate some huge event.

The everyday business of living also makes an important part of Hispanic culture and heritage. Look around you in your own local community. You might be surprised to discover fascinating Hispanic markets, shops, churches, and more right in your own backyard.

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