The Most Shocking and High-Profile Unsolved Crimes in the Philippines
The Philippines gets a bad rep for criminal cases, partly because they take ages to solve (if they get solved at all), and also because these "mysteries" are treated like tabloid sensations.
Media in the '90s, in particular, had a habit of turning grisly murders into melodramas (a lot of them starring Kris Aquino and Janice de Belen), adding to the noise instead of actually shedding light on the more important issues.
Here are some unsolved crimes from the past decades that continue to baffle and interest the public.
What really happened to the Chiong Sisters?
One of the grisly crimes that truly shook the nation was the abduction and alleged murder of the Chiong sisters.
The sisters, 21-year old Jacqueline and 23-year old Marijoy, disappeared on July 16, 1997. A body, suspected to be the latter's, was found at the bottom of a ravine days later. The suspect was Cebu’s resident “bad boy” Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga and several other men who were known for their misdemeanors.
Larrañaga, however, was allegedly in Manila during the time of the abduction. The body discovered was apparently not Marijoy's either. Internet conspiracy stories believe that both sisters were allegedly returned safe and sound and that the kidnapping was politically motivated.
Despite questionable evidence, Larrañaga and his cohorts were convicted and jailed. Movies and documentaries were created years later, all trying to explore what really happened. Human rights groups continue to appeal the case. The case was brought back to the spotlight in 2018 after the release of the film Jacqueline Comes Home. Currently, Larrañaga is serving his sentence in Spain, where he is also a resident.
Nida Blanca's shocking death
Dorothy Jones, more commonly known as Nida Blanca, dreamt of becoming a movie star. Early on in her life, she was able to fulfill that dream when, at 14 years old, she starred in numerous motion pictures by LVN Productions. She was paired up with the hottest male actors that time, including Nestor de Villa and Comedy King Dolphy. Blanca made over than 200 films during her lifetime, a career that extended all the way to her golden years.
On November 7, 2001, Blanca’s body was found in her car, which was at a parking lot in San Juan. Her body bore 13 stab wounds. An alleged gun-for-hire named Philip Medel came forward days after, confessing he was hired by a middleman named Mike Martinez to kill the screen icon. Medel later broke down and recanted his statement, saying that he was tortured into a false confession.
Blanca's second husband was an American actor named Rod Lauren Strunk. The pair looked happy at face value, but family and friends were shocked when Strunk was eventually implicated for his wife's murder. A popular but still unproven theory was that Blanca was a battered wife who disinherited Strunk from her will. This was contested by several friends who said they would have known if she was being domestically abused. Strunk returned to the United States to avoid facing trial. He jumped off a building in 2007.
More theories about Blanca's death surfaced. According to one, the actress was reportedly involved with a politician who entrusted her money. Another theory was that Blanca had knowledge of an illegal money-lending business at a casino.
The open-ended story of the original Chop-Chop Lady
The Philippine equivalent to Jack the Ripper was the murderer of a woman whose body was dismembered and discovered in different parts of the metro. The country was gripped by the case of “The Chop Chop Lady,” later identified as Lucila Lulu.
Unfortunately, this gruesome crime happened in the '60s where CSI were hardly a thing. Despite naming several suspects, none of them were officially convicted. Decades later, a theory surfaced that the killer of Lulu may be the same person behind the equally morbid Black Dahlia murder due to a similar MO.
Lulu’s case wasn’t the only “chop-chop” crime of its kind. Elsa Castillo in 1993 and Mitzi Joy Balunsay in 2017 suffered similar fates because of spurned lovers. Unlike Lulu’s case, however, Castillo’s and Balunsay’s murderers were caught.
To this day, Lulu’s case remains unsolved.
Alfie Anido: suicide or murder?
Popular '70s idol Alfie Anido’s death was ruled as a suicide but many continue to believe that he may have been murdered. At the time of his death, he was allegedly going out with Katrina Ponce Enrile, daughter of Juan Ponce Enrile, then the Minister of National Defense.
The matinee actor, who was known for his roles in Temptation Island and Katorse, was only 21 when he died. In Enrile's memoir, Anido was painted as a jealous drunk who hit his daughter during a birthday party in Antipolo. The book also stated that Anido was found with self-inflicted wounds encouraged by drug use.
According to other theories, it was foul play that allegedly ended the young actor’s life. The oft-mentioned Katrina finally spoke up in 2013, claiming that she was pregnant during Anido's death, and that no one she knows would kill the father of her unborn child.
Ramgen Revilla's death and an ongoing family feud
The Revillas are a big celebrity and political family, with patriarch Ramon Revilla Sr. rumored to have fathered as many as 81 children.
No matter how successful Revilla Sr. is, the problem with big families is that there will always be someone dissatisfied with their inheritance. For the Revilla clan, this was Genelyn, the mother of actor Ramgen. She was reported to be unhappy with their living accommodations and their monthly allowances.
This got worse when Revilla Sr. suffered a stroke in 2011. Genelyn publicly declared that they have been cut off though other family members denied this. Even within the family, Genelyn’s children were not getting along. Ramgen argued with his brother RJ because of a car.
When Ramgen was shot to death by gunmen on October 28, 2011, RJ was naturally implicated. On top of it, their sister Mara, said to have been kidnapped at first, was reported to be in cahoots with the hired murderers. She went into hiding in Europe, making investigators dubious of her claims of kidnapping. Another sister Gail was later named by men who came forward, claiming to be the hired gunmen.
More people, in connection to the remaining siblings, became implicated with the case one way or the other. Unfortunately, the crime remains unsolved with little to no developments.