At the end of the 19th century the biggest tobacco company in the Philippines, was the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas, more popularly known as Tabacalera. The history of Tabacalera played an important role in the economic history of the Philippines and in Philippine-Spanish relations.
For the very first time the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, in partnership with the Ayala Museum, held an exhibit “Tabacalera: Beyond Tobacco”.
Curated by Prof. Martin Rodrigo, historian from the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, the exhibit showcased artifacts and other memorabilia from Tabacalera.
Exhibited were memorabilia, maps, books, art, cigarette wrappers and photographs of the Compañia General de Tobacos de Filipinas during and after the Tobacco Monopoly in the 19th century. The artifacts exhibited were on loan from Filipino and Spanish institutions and private collectors.
Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas or Tabacalera was founded on November 26, 1881 by a Spaniard, Antonio Lopez Lopez, the first Marques of Comillas. Tabacalera was established with the intention of taking over the Philippine Tobacco Monopoly from the Spanish colonial government.
During its heydays, the company controlled 90% of the whole Philippine tobacco industry. It took over many tobacco plants from the colonial government but soon opened its own factory in 1895 called La Flor de la Isabela.
The "Beyond Tobacco: A Bridge Between the Philippines and Spain" Exhibit was held this year (2014) from April 21 until July 6 at the Ayala Museum. A series of lectures were held at the Ayala Museum from April to June to further deepen the public’s understanding about the tobacco industry in the Philippines.