Teen-agers in bloody strife daily loom, larger than life, on the screen of Manila’s Cine Odeon, which is currently showing West Side Story, the prize-winning movie on the teen-age gang wars in New York between Puerto Rican immigrants and “native” Americans. The film ends in a gush of gore and incongruous song, with three teen-agers dead, two in a knife duel, one in a shooting, the pinnacles of New York vainly striving, in default of stylish blank verse, to endow the morbidity with Elizabethan grandeur.It became a front page news in 1962---
People who went to the Odeon on the night of June 10 emerged at around midnight to find the movie they had just seen being re-enacted, for real, on the sidewalk right in front of the movie house. Two teen-agers were being held at bay by five other young men. There were snarls and a flash of knives. One of the teen-agers fled toward the restaurant next door and was pursued by a young man brandishing a pistol. The terrified bystanders heard a shout: “Don’t run, Tommy--- I’ll shoot you!” The fleeing teen-ager was already halfway up the stairs of the restaurant when his pursuer fired. At the sound of the shot, the other boys dispersed. The gun wielder streaked across Azcarraga toward Rizal Avenue. The victim, bent over, arms folded over his belly, managed to stagger down the stairs before dropping to the pavement. A young man, apparently his companion, picked him up and carried him to the curb, where there was some argument with a taxicab driver who wouldn’t let the two boys board. A policeman had to bid him take the wounded boy to the North General Hospital.
The taxi sped away with its tragic fare and the folk who had just come out of the Odeon began to jest that they had seen two West Side stories for the price of one: the American original inside, a local version outside. The cultural time lag between Hollywood and Manila seems to have narrowed to a matter of days.
The shot boy died in the taxi as it entered the gate of the North General. He was Dead On Arrival, to use hospital and police parlance. His companion said that the victim’s name was Tomas Aguilar. The name rang no bells, but the boy, it turned out, had a famous kin. He was the son of movie star Alicia Vergel, the stepson of movie star Cesar Ramirez, and he himself was a star in his own world, the teen-age underworld of Manila, where he was known as Boy Vergel.
June 11, 1962---A nineteen-year old son of a local movie actress was shot dead by a University of the East student at the stairs of the Alex Soda Fountain adjoining the Odeon theater at the corner of Claro Recto Avenue and Rizal Avenue shortly before midnight last night. The victim, Tomas Aguilar, of ROTC Hunters street, Quezon City, suffered a gunshot wound at his back just below the left shoulder. He died on arrival at the North General Hospital. Aguilar is the son of Alicia Vergel.
Police identified the assailant as Adriano Meneses y Manuel, 21, a UE student and residing at Nacar street, San Andres Subdivision. He and two of his companions were nabbed by MPD operatives shortly after the shooting. They were brought to the police headquarters at Isaac Peral for investigation. One of Meneses’ companions, Roberto Pilpa, 20, of 14 Illinois Street, Quezon City, told police probers that he, the assailant and four other companions were going up the stairs of the Alex Soda Fountain when they met the victim. Pilpa said that Meneses accosted the victim and the two had an argument. Later, the victim reportedly whipped out a knife and Meneses pulled out his .38 caliber pistol. Seeing the gun in Meneses’ hand, the victim fled and tried to enter again the Alex Soda Fountain. But Meneses cut short his escape by shooting him at the back. Meneses admitted to police investigators during an intensive grilling at the police headquarters that he shot to death the victim.
Pilpa also told police investigators that the shooting was caused by a quarrel between Meneses and the victim over a certain Marivic Tanseco of Fargas Compound, Mandaluyong, Rizal. He said that Marivic was a sweetheart of Meneses. But last month Aguilar started courting the girl who showed signs of liking the victim. This angered Meneses. And he started looking for Aguilar. It was only last night that the two met. Police found the fatal gun at 1112 Kusang Loob street, Sta. Cruz. It was seen by Sixto Legarda who told the police that he saw it being thrown by some teenagers. Pilpa was nabbed while he was about to board a taxicab by Pat. Jesus Marzan, while Meneses was arrested by Det. Silverio Ramirez in a Rizal Avenue coffee shop. Quiray was nabbed atop the Arellano High School at Teodora Alonzo by Det. Cpl. Jerry Upina.
Police also disclosed that Meneses was also involved in a near-fatal shooting last week when he shot Bartolome Chaves, a relative of Fiscal E. K. Chaves of Manila. MPD operatives are readying corresponding charges against Meneses and his companions who are now detained at the MPD headquarters. (Source: The Manila Chronicle)