Luis Perez Dasmariñas

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Luis Pérez Dasmariñas was a Spanish soldier and a knight of the Order of Alcántara who served as governor of the Philippines from December 3, 1593 to July 14, 1596. In 1596 he sent unsuccessful expeditions to conquer Cambodia and Mindanao. He was the son of Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, governor of the Philippines from 1590 to 1593.

Expedition and mutiny

In 1593, Luis Pérez Dasmariñas (with the title of captain general) was placed second in command of an expedition planned and led by his father, governor Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, to sail from Manila and capture the fort at Terrenate in the Moluccas. Luis Pérez Dasmariñas was sent on ahead with part of the fleet to the province of Pintados.

Governor Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas set sail from Cavite for Pintados in October 1593, to join the part of the fleet under his son's command. They were then to proceed to the Moluccas. However, on the second day of this first leg of the expedition, the Chinese rowers in the governor's fleet mutinied, killing most of the crew, including the governor.

The choice of a new governor

Governor Gómez Pérez had brought with him to the Philippines a royal order directing him to choose a temporary successor in the event of his death. He had shown this order to various prominent Spaniards in the colony, implying to each that he was the designated successor. In particular, both the governor's son Luis Pérez Dasmariñas and conquistador Captain Estevan Rodríguez de Figueroa expected the appointment. Rodríguez was with the governor on the expedition to the Moluccas. Both he and Luis Pérez hurried back to Manila to take command of the colony.

Meanwhile, the citizens and soldiers who had remained in Manila assembled at the house of Licentiate Pedro de Rojas and elected him governor and captain general. Rojas sent a message to Luis Pérez in Pintados, informing him of Rojas's election and ordering him to return immediately to Manila, as the city had been left nearly defenseless.

Rojas also began a search of the prior governor's papers to find the document naming his successor. The papers had been deposited in the Augustinian monastery in Manila, but the governor, not trusting Rojas, had secretly removed the document.

About 40 days after the election of Rojas, Luis Pérez and Estevan Rodríguez arrived together in the harbor, with many men. They did not disembark, and Pérez ordered another search for the missing document. This was now found, and it named Pérez as his father's successor. The city magistrates then withdrew recognition of Rojas, and turned over the government to Pérez. This was seconded by Pérez's soldiers, and by the fleet. Rojas left office, having governed for 40 days.

Expedition to Cambodia

In 1594 news was received in Manila that the king of Siam had invaded and conquered Cambodia. King Langara of Cambodia had been forced to flee to Laos. Pérez Dasmariñas was persuaded by Spanish and Portuguese who had been in Cambodia that the kingdom could be easily reconquered, and doing so would gain the Spanish a foothold on the mainland of Asia.

The governor ordered the dispatch of one vessel of moderate size and two junks, with 120 Spaniards and some Japanese and Filipinos. This expedition sailed at the beginning of 1596. However, by the time they arrived in Cambodia, the fleet had been seperated from the flagship, and the Cambodians had already driven out the Siamese. While waiting for the flagship to arrive, Spanish forces got into an altercation with Chinese traders, escalating into a confrontation with the new Cambodian king Anacaparan. The Spaniards killed him and burned much of his capital, but in the end had to sail back home empty-handed.

Expedition to Mindanao

Captain Estevan Rodríguez de Figueroa had made an agreement with Governor Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas to conquer the island of Mindanao at his own expense, for the right to rule it for two lifetimes. This agreement was confirmed in Spain and an order sent to go ahead. In February 1596, Rodríguez set out with 214 Spaniards and many Filipinos to begin his conquest. However, he was killed in battle with the Mindanao natives.

After serving as governor

Luis Pérez Dasmarinas was still awaiting word of the expeditions to Cambodia and Mindanao when he received news that the new governor, Francisco de Tello de Guzmán, was arriving. Tello de Guzmán had been sent from Spain. He took over the government on July 14, 1596.

Luis Pérez remained in the Philippines after his term as governor ended. He played a prominent role in the massacre of 20,000 Chinese after a revolt in 1603.


  1. ^ Morga, Antonio de, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, chapter 5.
  2. ^ Ibid.

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