8 Most Shocking “Crimes of Passion” in Philippine History

Love moves in mysterious ways but as much as you want to wear your heart on your sleeve, too much love can kill you, both literally and figuratively. It can either be a curse or a blessing depending on how the love will turn out in the end. And once it become a curse, it will haunt you deep into your bones until you have no choice but to meet death face-to-face. Yes, every affair born out of intense passion can always end up in a tragic crime of passion.

Crime of passion has been defined as any heinous crime committed to a spouse or to any other person due to extreme anger or passion. This legal term has been the centerpiece of various controversial debates regarding the immunity a perpetrator gets once the incident is proven to be a crime of passion. Human emotions are oftentimes uncontrollable and this has been the reason why suspects involved in this type of crime have mitigated punishments. Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code has this to say about crimes of passion:

“Any legally married person who having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro (a prohibition against entering a place designated by the court).  If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment.

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares filed a bill last 2010 to revoke the said law, firmly believing that “insult or passion must never be a license to kill.” But regardless if this bill will be approved or not, it will never erase the fact that love is a multifaceted phenomenon. Sadly, hapless victims from the past had to suffer the cruelty from a love developed in the wrong person, at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Here are 10 of the most shocking crimes of passion ever to occur in Philippine history:

(in chronological order)

1. Datu Sumakwel and the gory death of Guronggurong (pre-Hispanic)

The legend of the ten Bornean datus has long been criticized  by historical experts but for the people of Panay, the story about Datu Sumakwel is a relevant part of their history. When Datu Puti went to Borneo, Datu Sumakwel took over the leadership in Panay. He  had let his servant  named Guronggurong attend to his lands while away and searching for a local deity called Bulalakaw. However, Datu Sumakwel realized that it’s not only his lands that Guronggurong was taking care of; he also had an intimate love affair with the datu’s wife, Kapinangan. Upon learning about the infidelity, Datu Sumakwel pretended to be away when in fact he just hid his self in their house ceiling to confirm the extramarital affair. When he caught the two in the act, Datu Sumakwel speared Guronggurong, killing him instantly. Confused and in an extreme state of panic, Kapinangan mutilated the body of her lover for an easier disposal.

Juliana Gorricho vda. de Pardo de Tavera (seated at the center with baby Andrés Luna y Pardo de Tavera) with María de la Paz Pardo de Tavera y Gorricho de Luna (standing 2nd from the right) and José Rizal (standing 2nd from the left)

2. Juan Luna and the Paz Pardo de Tavera Massacre (September 23, 1892)

Although much has been said about Juan Luna and his artistic prowess in the internationally-acclaimed Spolarium, his dark side as a world-renowned painter also has a chilling story to tell. After a heated  argument with his wife, Maria Paz Pardo de Tavera, and his mother-in-law, Juliana, his own evils took over Juan Luna. As a spontaneous act of fury, Juan Luna killed both Maria and Juliana, leaving Felix (Juan Luna’s brother-in-law) critically wounded as well. Some says that it rooted from Luna’s plan of relocating his family to Spain, which was subsequently refused by Juliana knowing Luna’s uncontrollable temper for so many years. However, several historians have pointed out that Juan Luna’s jealousy was the main culprit in the crime. He suspected that his wife was having an extra-marital affair with a certain Monsieur Dussaq. In the end, Juan Luna was acquitted because the court dismissed his case as a crime committed during a “temporary period of insanity”.

3. The Lilian Velez Murder Case (June 26, 1948)

On the night of June 26, 1948, the charming Filipina actress Lilian Velez, along with her housemaid, was stabbed to death by Bernardo “Narding” Anzures, also an actor and Lilian’s former leading man. The real motivation for the killing was unclear although it has been said that Anzures was deeply obsessed with the actress even if she’s already happily married with Jose Climaco. He was given clemency by President Elpidio Quirino but died of tuberculosis shortly after his release.

4. The Norma Desalisa Murder Case (October 9, 1983)

Using the facts provided in the case of People of the Philippines vs. Emmanuel Desalisa, G.R. No. 95262 January 4, 1994, it is clear that this murder that took place in Sorsogon was another case of unfounded jealousy gone awry. Emmanuel Desalisa, suspecting that his wife Norma Desalisa, who was 5 months pregnant at the time of the killing, was having an illicit affair with another man and carrying a child he also suspected as not his own, committed a crime that shocked the whole nation. He hanged her battered wife using a rope in a nearby jack fruit tree, apathetic even to the unborn child in his wife’s womb. After being charged of unintentional abortion and parricide, Emmanuel was later sentenced to reclusion perpetua.

5. The Chiong Sisters Rape-Murder Case (July 16, 1997)

On July 16, 1997, Marijoy Chiong, 20, and her older sister, Jacqueline, 22, was waiting for a ride home outside the Ayala Center Cebu when a group of men abducted them. The lifeless body of Marijoy Chiong was found in a ravine while the whereabouts of Jacqueline’s remains is still unknown up to this day. Paco Larrañaga, the great grandson of former president Osmeña, was a known suitor of Marijoy Chiong and became one of the prime suspects for the heinous crime. He was only 17 at that time and was firm about his testimony that he was at a culinary school when the crime was committed. Larrañaga was later sentenced to death along with six other men but since the capital punishment was abolished, Larrañaga is now in Spain serving his sentence.

6. “Chop-chop Lady” (September 24, 1993)

Probably one of the most well-known crimes of passion adapted in a local movie, Elsa Castillo’s story was more than just an ordinary murder case. On the night of September 24, 1993, Elsa Castillo was stabbed to death by her lover, Stephen Mark Whisenhunt in a condominium at Greenhills, San Juan. The two were both married but estranged from their spouses. According to the testimony of Demetrio Ravelo, who was Whisenhunt’s driver at that time, Elsa was mutilated after being stabbed to death. Ravelo helped Whisenhunt to scatter the dismembered body parts along the road of Bagac, Bataan. Ravelo later testified against Whisenhunt, leading to the latter being sentenced by Pasig City RTC to reclusion perpetua.

7. The Michelle Rivera Murder Case (January 16, 2004)

When Dr. Jonathan Nyce married his Filipina mail-order bride in 1990, it seems that they were bound to live a very happy family life. However, when Michelle Rivera had an affair with their Guatemalan landscaper, Alexander Castaneda, the marriage went into a tumultuous stage. Castaneda started to blackmail Nyce and demanded half a million dollars in exchange for a sex video showing her wife having an intimate affair with him. On the early morning of January 16, 2004, Nyce dragged Rivera from her car and repeatedly smashed her head on the garage floor. After killing the Filipina, he put her body inside a Toyota SUV, which he manipulated and drove down a creek about a mile from their home in New Jersey. He was later sentenced to eight years imprisonment on September, 2005.

8. SM Shooting Incidents (September, 2011)

The whole nation was appalled when two separate crimes of passion tainted the reputation of SM Supermalls in providing security for the regular Filipino mall-goers. A week  after Shiela Macapugay shot and killed her husband and a security guard at SM North Edsa, a 13 year-old boy in SM Pampanga killed another guy in his early twenties before shooting himself using a .22 cal. handgun. Macapugay killed her husband after the man left her and their five year-old daughter for another woman. The two young boys, on the other hand, were allegedly involved in a homosexual relationship and the incident was later dismissed as a crime of passion due to the suicide note that police officers found in the victim saying: “Paulo, hindi mo sya mapapakinabangan. Handa na akong mamatay makasama ko lang si ‘Jonas’ (Paulo, he can’t be yours. I am now ready to die just to be with Jonas).” The identity of “Paulo” is still unknown up to this day.

Love has its own dark side so as human beings, we have the responsibility to protect our own welfare from people with a lot of misconceptions about love and relationships. The eight crimes of passion above are just clear examples of how far an extra-marital affair can do in ruining the lives of people involved in it. Love is sacred so as we celebrate the Valentine season, let us all remember that love doesn’t affect emotions alone; it’s a life-changing experience that could make or break you depending on what principles you are holding on to.

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