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 16th 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. 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 (now Mexico) and sailed to Cebu, Philippines, the new Spanish colony established by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

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 21 July 1566, a counter mutiny occurred and Martín and about 25 other crew members were marooned at Ujelang, an atoll in 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 100 years.

By Carlos Madrid

For further reading

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

Martínez de Zúñiga, Joaquín. An Historical View of the Philippine Islands. Translated by John Maver. London: Black, Parry, and Co., 1814.

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

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