Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Manila Bay is a natural harbour which serves the Port of Manila (on Luzon), in the Philippines.The bay is considered to be one of the best natural harbours in Southeast Asia and one of the finest in the world.

The Port of Manila dates back to Spanish and pre-Spanish rule of the Philippine Islands. It is recorded that Manila and the Philippines had trade relations with most neighboring countries at least as far back as the 9th to 12th centuries. Major trading partners included China and Japan, with ties to India through the areas that are now Malaysia and Indonesia. The Spanish-controlled Port of Manila handled trade primarily with China and other East Asian countries, with Mexico, with Arab countries, and directly with Spain from the 16th to mid-19th century when the port was opened to all trade ships. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry visited the port between August 10th and 14th August 1927 on his voyage to the Far East aboard the Pyrrhus. Lowry arrived from Foochow before sailing onto Singapore. The stopover was one of the longest on the voyage - Yokohama (17 days), Dairen (5 days) and Singapore (5 days outward bound and 5 days inward bound).

Lowry refers to Manila in his novel Ultramarine; Barcelona I knew as well as......Manila or Surabaya." (pg. 94); "Yes we are homeward bound after Manila." (Pg. 113); "I had an experience like that on the Plato - in Manila - last voyage..." (Pg. 135) "Oor, you can buy cigars dirty cheap in Manila, boy." (Pg. 177) and "Manila, eh, reminds me of Cebu." (pg. 177). Later Lowry refers again to Manila in his filmscript for Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night; "MANILA—GOVERNOR WOOD WAS REPORTED SERIOUSLY ILL HERE." (Pg. 148).

Stan Hugill refers to the port in his book Sailortown:

Leaving Nippon behind let us now head for the Philippines. We have noted the fact that during the windjammer days Manila was an occasional port of call for whalers, the case oil traders and so on, but between the wars trade grew in leaps and bounds and Manila harbour was never empty of ships. The dock area, or Tondo, was fairly notorious for assaults on ship-returning sailors, but the town lacked the number of seamen's pubs found elsewhere int he East. There was a rather well-got-up joint called the Mariner's Club, of which the writer was once an evening member, but apart from one or two saloons like the New York bar what a sailor calls 'real dives' didn't exist, although outside the city's limits, near the village of Kulikuli, many large brothels thrived. Of course, there was a cabaret Santiana, said to be the largest in the world, but here the girls were easy on the eye and hard on sailor's pockets. (Pg. 336).

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