The word “teleportation” brings to mind the the ship to planetary surface mode of transport used in the “Star Trek” television shows. Believers in New Age culture think of teleportation as the transfer of a person or thing from one place to another place instantly without travelling the physical area between those places.
There have been many subjective accounts of teleportaion claimed by people throughout the recent past, but none of them have ever been verified as true. So teleportation remains as a subject for tabloid journalism and metaphysics.
One of the urban legends that contains teleportation is the odd tale of a Spanish soldier stationed in the Phillipines in the sixteenth century.
Gil Pérez was assigned to sentry duty at the Governor’s Palace in Manila on October 23, 1593. Chinese pirates had assassinated Governor Gomez Perez Dasmarinas. Gil Pérez was part of a contingent of soldiers guarding the Governor’s Palace through the next night.
Pérez claimed that he felt faint after standing for many hours at his post, so he leaned against a wall and closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened his eyes he found himself standing in an unfamiliar place. He remained standing in the strange location, unsure as to how to react and what he should do.
Pérez was approached by the authorities who started to interrogate him. In the process they told Pérez that he was at the Plaza Mayor in Mexico City. During the interrogation, Pérez told the story about the assassination in Manila. That news had still not reached the government in Mexico.
Due to Pérez still in the uniform of the Manila Palace guards, the Mexican authorities thought he might be a deserter. Other people believed he might be demon possessed. The Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition questioned Pérez, but he had nothing to say nor evidence to present other than he had mysteriously travelled from the Phillipines to Mexico “in less time than it takes a cock to crow.”
A couple of months hence, a Galleon arrived from Manila, carrying the news of the murder of Governor Dasmarinas in a mutiny by Chinese rowers. One of the passengers of the Galleon recognized Pérez and confirmed that he had seen him in the Phillipines on October 23rd.
In that his alibi was affirmed, the Mexican authorities released Pérez to return home to live an otherwise unremarkable life. Skeptics say that the sketchy story was not told until 100 years after the supposed event. Believers claim that Mexican authorities documented the account right away. In any case, the tale seems too neat and structured to be judged as true or hearsay.
Some of the elements of the story seem out of place to me. First of all, the soldier’s name Gil Pérez doesn’t look right. Gil is a contemporary Filipino name. A more likely name might be “Gilberto”. Did the Spanish use nicknames? If so, would a modern sounding name like “Gil” have been used?
What about the Inquisition angle? The Spanish Inquisitors burned people at the stake for far less astonishing reasons. I cannot picture the Mexican authorities getting the news about the assassination in the Phillipines and just saying “Oh well, your story is true, you can go home now.” It would seem that an out of place soldier who is suspected of being possessed by demons or Satan would be a prime prospect for torture and execution.
There are also some questions about the date of the Dasmarinas assassination. Official records say that the Governor was murdered on the 25th, not the 23rd.
Furthermore, no authentic official records exist that confirm whether or not Gil Pérez was actually interrogated or imprisoned. Due to the absence of accurate secondary records and sources, it seems unlikely that the Pérez teleportation incident is anything other than an urban legend.
The story of the strange teleportation of Gil Pérez is a good one to tell to friends next week on Halloween.