Initiated Acapulco-Manila route

Pedro Sanchez Pericon was the captain of the Spanish galleon San Geronimo (also referred to as San Jerónimo), the ill-fated ship that began the famed Acapulco-Manila route. The treacherous voyage across the Pacific was marred by disagreements, mutiny and murder. The events that transpired aboard the San Geronimo illustrate the difficulties faced by sixteenth century mariners on their passage between Acapulco and Manila.

Little is known about Pericon’s life, other than he was born in Málaga, Spain. Pericon’s son who accompanied him on the San Geronimo, did not have a high opinion of his father and the elder Pericon was described as “miserable, melancholic, enemy of affability and friend of solitude”.

In May 1566, the San Geronimo, piloted by Lope Martín, embarked from Alcapulco, New Spain (what is now Mexico) and sailed to Cebu, Philippines, the new Spanish colony established by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi.

Pericon and Martín’s relationship deteriorated and constant fights broke out between the two. Eventually, this led to a mutiny by Martín and other crew who killed Pericon and his son. After this, on July 21, 1566, a counter mutiny occurred and Martín and about twenty-five other crew members were marooned at Ujelang, an atoll part of the Marshall Islands. The San Geronimo continued on her voyage to the Philippines by way of Rota and Guam.

The San Geronimo eventually reached the Philippines in October 1566. She was in disrepair and taken apart in Cebu. The knowledge of this passage between Acapulco and Manila, however, was achieved and followed for more than one hundred years.

By Carlos Madrid

For further reading

Carano, Paul and Pedro C. Sanchez. A Complete History of Guam. Rutland, VT and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1964.

Martínez de Zúñiga, Joaquín. An Historical View of the Philippine Islands. Translated by John Maver. London, 1814. Also available online An Historical View of the Philippine Islands as part of Google Books Library Project (book search). (accessed August 13, 2010).

Rogers, Robert F. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1995.

Spate, O. H. K. The Spanish Lake. Vol. 1, The Pacific Since Magellan. Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1979.