Published: September 6, 2010
The next expedition to the Far East was fitted to the East was lifted out in Mexico by Hernando Cortes on orders from the Spanish colonizer, King Charles I. Cortes, famous as the conqueror of the Aztec Empire in Mexico, was the viceroy of that Spanish colony. He appointed a cousin of his, Alvaro de Saavedra, to command the expedition, the first to the Far East to be lifted out on Mexican soil: it consisted of three ships-the Florida, the Santiago, and the Espiritu Santo-and it had 120 men.
The Saavedra expedition had four goals: (1) to see what might have happened to the survivors of the Magellan expedition; (2) to look for Trinidad which had not been heard from; (3) to inquire about what became of the Cabot expedition; and (4) to see what happened to the Loaisa Expedition.
The expedition left port of Zihuatanejo, Mexico on November 1, 1527. Saavedra carried a letter from Cortes addressed to the King of Cebu. In his letter, Cortes solicited the friendship of the Cebuanos, asked to be allowed to trade with them, and offered pay a ransom for any Spaniard who might be a prisoner in Cebu.
A violent storm in mid-pacific sank two of the ships. With only one ship remaining, the expedition reached Guam on December 29 and took possession of Yap Island in the name of the King of Spain. Early in 1528, the ship reached Mindanao, where the men rescued two survivors of the Magellan expedition. Saavedra ransomed them $70 in Mexican gold.
From Mindanao, Saavedra steered his ship to Cebu, but unfavorable winds drove it to Tidore, in present day Indonesia, where they found the Survivors of the Loisa expedition.
Twice Saavedra tried to return to Mexico but failed. He died at sea on October 9, 1529. Before his death, he instructed his men to return to Tidore in case the weather did not permit them to sail for Mexico. The survivors of his expedition, together with Loaisa’s men, landed at Tidore but were captured there by the Portuguese. A few escaped and the others returned to Europe on board Portuguese ships.