Juan de Salcedo (1549 – March 11, 1576) was a Spanish conquistador. He was born in Mexico in 1549 and he was the grandson of Miguel López de Legazpi and brother of Felipe de Salcedo. Salcedo was one of the soldiers who accompanied the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in 1565. He joined the Spanish military in 1564 for their exploration of the East Indies and the Pacific, at the age of 15. In 1567, Salcedo led an army of about 300 Spanish soldiers and 600 Visayan allies along with Martín de Goiti for their conquest of Islamic Manila (then under occupation by the Sultanate of Brunei). There they fought a number of battles against the Muslim leaders in 1570 and 1571, for control of lands and settlements.
Salcedo explored the northern regions of the Philippines with a force of about 80 soldiers in 1571, where he traveled to Batangas, Zambales and the Ilocos region and established several Spanish municipalities. In 1574, Salcedo traveled back to Manila, after a war had erupted against 3,000 Chinese sea pirates led by Limahong (The terror of Guangdong and Fuijan) who had besieged the Spanish settlements. Salcedo, and his army of 600 soldiers (300 Visayans and 300 Spanish) re-occupied the settlements and pursued the Chinese fleet to Pangasinan in 1579. There the Spaniards besieged on the pirates for three months and executed their leaders.
Salcedo traveled back to Vigan, where he died of a malignant fever in his home at the age of 27. His body is interred at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.
Romance with Princess Kandarapa
After the Spanish (from Mexico) and the Visayans liberated the Kingdom of Tondo from vassalage under the Sultanate of Brunei, Juan de Salcedo who was around 22 years old, fell in love with the 18-year-old niece of Lakan (King) Dula, Dayang-dayang (Princess) Kandarapa.
Conquistador Juan de Salcedo once met the princess in an enclosed glade near the edge of the Pasig River who as a token of her affection to him, gave the young Conquistador lotus flowers as a sign of her faithfulness to their love before the young Conquistador set sail for Vigan. This was completely against their forebears wishes since Lakan Dula wanted his niece, Dayang-dayang Kandarapa, to be married to the Rajah of Macabebe and Miguel de Legaspi desired that his grandson, Juan de Salcedo, be married to a Spanish woman. Eventually, Legaspi died.
Then, when Juan de Salcedo pacified Northern Luzon and established the town of Vigan, his heart was burning with love for Dayang-dayang (Princess) Kandarapa and it was this same love that gave him the courage to do the impossible and defeat the 3000 Chinese pirates of Warlord Limahong in the Battle of Manila (1574) with a meager force of 600 fighters: some 300 soldiers brought over from Mexico and another 300 Visayan troops with some help from a native hero called Galo, who was thereafter awarded the honorific "Don". After repulsing the Chinese Pirates' attack on Manila, they chased them to and eventually defeated them in Pangasinan. However, a false rumor was circulated that Juan de Salcedo married the daughter of the King of Laoag and then died in battle. Kandarapa, struck by not only the uncharacteristic snub from her lover but also the alleged death of her soul-mate, died of a broken-heart.
When Juan de Salcedo returned from his exploits expecting to meet his love, Kandarapa. He only met the news of her death. Salcedo, desolate and grieving, returned to Ilocos. Thereafter, during one of his expeditions, he caught malaria and ran a burning fever. Finding a stream, he drank and drenched himself with icy cold water. Hours later, he convulsed and died.
In his breast pockets were found the dried leaves of the lotus flowers Kandarapa gave him. Juan de Salcedo, conquistador, was dead at 27.
Kandarapa's and Juan's love which was responsible for doing the impossible and was the inspiration for a victories in-spite of overwhelming odds, was tragically torn apart by the Xenophobia and Racism of their own families.