In the 1600s, the normal voyage from Nagasaki, Japan to Manila was some 11 days, for which the ship was adequately provisioned with food and water supplies – plus some. The exile ship of Lord Takayama took the morbidly long time of 44 days, causing hunger, illnesses and deaths. When the ship was off the shores of Bataan, a typhoon trashed it, snapping its main mast, rendering the ship unable to sail towards Manila. It took Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ – Ukon Takayama’s father confessor and biographer – to paddle one of the ship’s skiffs to Abucay, Bataan (where he buried the body of a Jesuit who died during the voyage, at the Abucay cemetery) after which he got local fishermen to bring him to Manila to report to the Spanish authorities the ship’s desperate situation. The Governor-General’s warship was sent out to tow the ship to Manila where it reached shore on Sunday, December 21, 1614.
Instead of landing at the mouth of the Pasig River, as all commercial ships do, the exile ship landed at the Governor’s landing (behind the Governor’s Palace, which – because of security concerns — only the Governor and the Manila Archbishop used. (In 1662, the government built a gate through the walls of Intramuros now known as “Postigo Gate.”)
Get a Google Maps Street View of the Postigo Gate:
Plaza Roman, the Manila Cathedral and the Governor’s Palace
A great throng of Manilans, wearing their Sunday best, were at the plaza (now Plaza Roma) infront of both the Manila Cathedral and the Governor’s Palace to welcome the Japanese exiles. Instead of feeding them immediately, the exiles had to endure the honors of a parade-in-review of Spanish troops – in honor of a former general in Hideyoshi’s military.
Get a Google Maps Street View of the Manila Cathedral and the Palacio del Gobernador.
The Japanese then proceeded to the newly constructed Manila Cathedral – Manila Cathedral III, with three naves and seven chapels — and inaugurated 1614, only a few days before Takayama’s arrival on Dec. 21, 1614. They joined the Cathedral clergy in singing a “Te Deum” – a hymn of praise to God — for surviving the voyage.
Then they proceeded to the Jesuit residence for meals – and a bath at the Pasig River. The Takayama family were brought there by the Governor’s carriage.
By Dr. Ernie A. De Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation