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Monday, July 14, 2008

1967: THE LUCILA LALU CASE: THE ORIGINAL CHOP-CHOP LADY

Lucila Lalu left Barrio Mapaniqui (Candaba, Pampanga) for Manila sometime in 1961. As with many others before her, it was the old search for a good life in the city.

In Manila, she secured a police clearance to work as a waitress and was promptly hired by one of the city’s small-time night spots. Not long after, she met a patrolman, Aniano Vera, a married man with whom she, nevertheless, decided to live in common-law marriage. The relationship produced a son, and her job, some savings which eventually enabled her to buy out the owners of the Pagoda Soda Fountain on Rizal Avenue, a cocktail lounge and restaurant rolled into one. Business was kind and busy, and she earned enough to establish another concern --- a beauty parlor on Mayhaligue st., Sta. Cruz. The modest success bred, too, the indulgent side in her, and she took on a lover whom she set up in an apartment and then supported.

At 28, Lucila spent most of her time and energy on these three main concerns of her life--- business, family and love. If not with equal enthusiasm, at least with an apparent resolve not to give up any member of the triangle. And she was best of health and spirits.

Until one Sunday (May 28), or perhaps it was a Monday, late last month, when the hand of violence snuffed out her life and scattered her body in little pieces all over the city. First, her legs were found, chopped expertly into four pieces and wrapped in a newspaper dated May 14, 1967, in a garbage can on Malabon st., Sta. Cruz, about a stone’s throw from her cocktail lounge. A day later, her body, headless and legless, was found on a vacant lot along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, just beyond the bend of Guadalupe Bridge in Makati. It took time, of course, to identify her in the little pieces, but the police managed somehow to get fingerprints off the dead hands which subsequently found to match those in a police clearance file on one Lucila Lalu.



Lucila, in death, hugged page one. Police investigators --- in the hope of finding her head and, more important, her murderer --- dug deep into her recent past. The arrest of the lover, 19-year-old Florante Relos, precipitated headlines such as “MPD solves murder of dismembered girl.” Relos had an airtight alibi, however, and he appeared to have he least of reasons for killing her. “She was good to me,” he told the police and admitted having had intimate relations with the victim. Happily for him, two friends corroborated his claim that he was somewhere else at the time of the murder --- which was between late Sunday evening and Monday noon, according to the results of the autopsy.





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Relos was freed, but he refused to leave police headquarters, “for fear of his life.” Suspicion shifted to the victim’s common-law husband Patrolman Vera. And again, people began saying, “The case is solved; Vera killed her in a fit of jealousy.” Relos testified that Pat. Vera had mauled him once in the Pagoda Soda Fountain when Vera found Lucila embracing him. But the police could not find any direct evidence connecting the patrolman to the crime, beyond an apparently strong motive.



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As the case developed, the sordid side of Lucila’s life rather than her murderer surfaced. Reports poured in that Lucila had other lovers and the police responded by hunting them. The testimony of eager beavers in the case was varied and contradictory. Lucila’s neighbors claimed they saw three men dragging what looked like a body from Lucila’s residence. Vera claimed he saw Lucila hale and hearty hours after the neighbors “had seen” her body being dragged away. A friend of the victim stated that Lucila wanted to end her relationship with Relos, but Relos swears the woman was very much in love with him. And so on. And so forth.

The police, for their part, theorized on the circumstances behind the murder. From what was left of Lucila, they surmised that the murder could only have been committed by someone familiar with the use of knives and such --- say a butcher or a surgeon or at least a pre-med student. The killer must have used a private vehicle to dispose of the torso and legs, and because these were very cold to the touch when found, the remains, the police said, must have been stored in a freezer. These led to speculation that a wealthy man may have been involved in the case, in addition to the earlier and credible theory that the killer must be intelligent, methodical and some sort of professional.

After a week of investigating and prying for information, the police still had no murderer to show before the public. And the victim’s head still had to be recovered. This led not a few people to feel that local sleuths, be they Manila’s finest or our intelligence agents, are not fine enough. Given an intelligent murderer, one who is not an easy prey to passion and hence is not likely to be careless, a case can drag on unresolved, as in fact many have in the past.

Source: Weekly Graphic magazine/
June 14, 1967


June 15, 1967- Jose Luis Santiano, a 28-year old dental student surfaced and confessed to the crime. He recounted and detailed the events that led to the brutal killing. However, a few days later, he retracted and repudiated his confession and insisted on his innocence. But the authorities were firmed on their decision to pursue the case against the new suspect. New evidences uncovered pinpointed to Santiano.

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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Santiano was just the FALL GUY. My suspect is the Policeman. I have read somewhere that Santiano served sometime in the slammer and was freed. I have no idea about the policeman, is he still alive ?


Auggie

TheCoolCanadian said...

Santiano is from Bulan, Sorsogon, the same town I come from and a family friend. He was indeed freed shortly, and if my memory serves me right, Film producers courted him to appear in the movies, and maybe he even made a movie or two. I could be wrong. I was in grade 3 at 7 years old that time, but I read the newspaper everyday and was captivated by this case, and that also of Carmelita Calupitan's case where she cut the "smaller head" of an advertising agency executive (Castro). She was ordered by her jealous husband (who went scotfree and never to be seen again) while she languished in jail for at least 15 years.

Anonymous said...

JM,

Anong ad agency ba yun ? anong nangyari ki Carmelita after serving her time ? bumalik ba siya sa Ad executive na naputulan ? yung hubby niya, planned the whole thing, and I'm impressed about his exactment of revenge. Parang sine ano ? maganda siguro itong si Carmelita. Kung buhay pa magandang mainterbyu, and ditto for the ad executive na naputulan.

I think si Santiano was related to the Gillegos of Sorsogon ?

Auggie

TheCoolCanadian said...

Gillegos sounds right to me. One incident I remember in the residence of the Santianos in Bulan, was they found a bomb in the backyard, a live one which could have exploded, if triggered.

Castro became an alcoholic and literally drank himself to death. I remember reading this little new item in Philippine Sun tabloid a few years later after the incident.

Carmelita, I heard from her relative who's married to my first cousin, went back to Laguna or was in in Quezon Province? Not quite sure on this one, but my first cousin's wife is from Daet, Camarines Norte.

The husband was never seen again. But he was the mastermind of the crime.

James DR said...

I think, the family of Lucila Lalu was not interested or did not allow the filming of her life story. Wala namang pelikulang lumabas noon tungkol kay Lucila Lalu, di ba?

Video 48 said...

Lucita Soriano was supposed to do the movie, "Lucila, Ako Laban sa Lipunan," with director Artemio Marquez at the helm. I don't know if the movie pushed thru. But according to a book written by Jessie Garcia, director Marquez was able to finish the movie in a record 4 days, "dinaig pa niya ang pito-pito."

TheCoolCanadian said...

Talagang si Artemio Marquez ang HARI NG APAT-APAT, hindi PITO-PITO. Ha-ha. I remember Artemio's films quite well. Puro tripod shots lang at walang concern sa location, character build-up and logic. Natatawa talaga ako. There was this Eddie Peregrina starrer where his younger sister in the story was hit by a car. Tapos, pagdala sa ospital, FULL SHOT ng Q.I. (Quezon Institute), na noong mga panahong iyon ay alam ng mga mamamayang Pilipino ay para lamang iyon sa mga may sakit na TB! He-he. Paano gagamutin doon ang nabundol ng jeepney?

In fact, Mars Ravelo hit the roof when TRAHE DE TRAHEDYA was released and it was sooooo bad, it got pulled out of LIDER theater in Quiapo after 5 days of run only. Wala halos pumasok sa sinehan. A wonderfully written story in komiks, and got mangled in the movie version. I almost did not recognize the characters created by Mars Ravelo. Too bad because EVA LINDA was terrific in this film, maski si Ed Finlan and Zandro Zamora. Si Marilou Destreza wasn't that good, but she's pretty enough for me to root for her :)

The direction was really something else. My, my. Sana, may kopya pa nito para makita ng bagong henerayon na ang madaliang paggawa ng pelikula ay kadalasang hindi kaaya-aya ang kinahahantungan, at sa kaso nga nitong TRAHE DE TRAHEDYA, ay isang trahedya ang inabot ng pelikula sa takilya.

Anonymous said...

1st im not comfortable na si SANTIANO ang pumatay kay LUCILA LALU, wala sa itsura nya ang kriminal and second is walang matibay na basehan para madiin sya na guilty! anyway my lolo said when his alive that JOSE LUIS SANTIANO IS 3rd to 4th side of his relative, and also i am a blood line of JOSE LUIS SANTIANO and im still believe that he is innocent of this crime, i raise in manila but my province in BICOL and also my name issss.... LOUIE SANTIANO.

hubert said...

luis santiano where are you?

ryan said...

Jose Luis Santiano is the first cousin of my grandpop. they'ye from NUEVA ECIJA not from Bicol. I am Ryan Santiano

TheCoolCanadian said...

Hey Ryan:

I've just read your comment now.
Yes, Jose Luis may be your grandpa's cousin, but Jose Luis's mother is from BULAN, SORSOGON and that's where Jose Luis grew up. I should know, I'm lived in that town. My parents and Jose Luis mother were close friends.

Anonymous said...

Jose Luis Santiano was born in Batangas and grew up in Cubao, QC. His mother was from Sorsogon, Sorsogon and his father was from Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. Roman Gillego was his grandfather from Bulan, Sorsogon. Of course he is not a killer. He is not very good in chopping meat, and that I know. He now resides in the State of Washington and is still alive. Why I know all of these? I am his brother and I was only 10 yrs old when he went through that ordeal.

Anonymous said...

Tito Gil? ^_^

Anonymous said...

I just watched this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TZhSleVxDw
Steve Hodel claims that his father killed Lucila Lalu. His father is Gearge Hodel, the suspected murderer of Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia) in 1947. He wrote a book about it. His father abandoned them and moved to the Philippines, he claims that his father lived close to Lucila.

wayne moises said...

He is a notorious killer and husband of the slain woman was convicted of murder and decapitated the entire bodies he is the Philippines most wanted criminal of the late 1960's era in Philippine history. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne

wayne moises said...

He is the main suspect and murderer of his wife Lucila Lalu and he is the bluebeard of Manila of the 1960's. Thanks! From:Wayne

wayne moises said...

Luis Santiano public enemy number one and notorious criminal/murderer and Filipino bluebeard in Philippine history of detective stories in books /novels films television comics and media. Thanks! From:Wayne

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