|Artist's depiction of Manila from 1665,|
The strange tale of Gil Perez has baffled humanity for over four centuries and lacks a logical explanation to this day. It is the tale of a soldier who miraculously disappeared one minute, and reappeared-- more than 9,000 miles away-- the next.
On the morning of October 25, 1593, a dazed man appeared from out of nowhere in the central plaza in Mexico City. He was a soldier apparently, although the uniform he wore was that of a guard in the service of the governor of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.
The confused man was acting strangely, standing at full attention as if he was on duty as a sentinel. He was apprehended by local authorities and, under questioning, he revealed that his name was Gil Perez. He told his captors a most unusual story; only a moment earlier he had been guarding the governor's palace in Manila, but he admitted that he had no idea where he was or what had happened to him.
A different set of officers questioned Perez, attempting to catch him in a lie, but the foreign soldier clung to his story. No matter how many times the situation was repeated, Perez could not be tripped up. Finally, the Mexican officers called in a religious expert to record his amazing testimony, a Franciscan friar by the name of Gasper de San Augustin.
According to the chronicle of de San Augustin, the soldier from Manila told this tale:
"My name is Gil Perez. As to standing sentry here I am doing as nearly as possible what I was ordered to do. I was ordered this morning to mount guard at the doors of the governor's palace in Manila. I know very well that this is not the governor's palace and evidently I am not in Manila. Why or how that may be, I know not. But here I am, and this is a palace of some kind so I am doing my duty as nearly as possible. Last night the governor of the Phillipines, His Excellency Don Gomez Perez Dasmarinas, had his head cracked with an axe, and is dead of it."
Convinced that the devil, or some other evil force, was responsible for the soldier's arrival in Mexico City, the friar turned Perez over to the Holy Inquisition. Perez was jailed, but he adhered to his story no matter how much pain his confessors inflicted.
Two months later a cargo ship arrived from the Philippines, and the sailors brought word that the governor of Manila had been murdered, his death the result of an axe wound. The sailors were taken to the jail, on the unlikely chance that one of the Filipino sailors might recognize Gil Perez. As fate would have it, one of them did.
According to the sailor, Perez was indeed a soldier of the palace guard, and hadn't been seen in Manila since the day he disappeared-- October 25, 1593.
The Holy Inquisition, regarding their prisoner as an innocent victim of something inexplicable, released Perez (although some sources indicate that he was deported) and allowed him to return to Manila, where he lived out the remainder of his life in quiet obscurity, leaving behind of the most baffling mysteries in history.
Perhaps Gil Perez, whose job it had been to guard the unfortunate governor, was whisked away to a faraway land as a form of punishment handed down by a supernatural judge and jury. Or perhaps the devil himself, as the friar Gasper de San Augustin believed, was simply playing a cruel joke on the soldier from Manila.
The explanation behind the strange teleportation of Gil Perez has been sought for centuries, and will probably continue to be sought for centuries more.
El Paso (TX) Herald, August 27, 1921.
The Port Arthur (TX) News, April 16, 1977.