October is the month where every year we are more “at one with the spiritual realm” and are more coerced than any other month of the year to believe that ghosts, ghouls, and everything of the sort are true. But if you live in urban Philippines, that belief in the supernatural is easily dismissed by elders with the statement “matakot ka sa buhay, wag sa patay.”

In our weekly, Pinoy October Crimetime, we unravel the true horrors of known and recorded Pinoy true crime. For the first installment, we uncover the grisly family murder in 24th Aguinaldo street–The Bacolod Massacre. 

Today, we’re taken to a town in Bacolod, a city by the sea located in the Visayan region of the Philippines where a grisly true crime happened one particular Sunday morning. The Bacolod Massacre tells the tale of woe when a reportedly vengeful houseboy runs a killing spree in the sprawling Bacolod city estate of a prominent sugar milling family, the Rivillas.

December 17, 2000

It’s a Sunday morning and like every upper class Filipino family, everyone is expected to be up early and preparing themselves for Sunday mass.

But that Sunday morning, blood ran the floors of the peaceful estate and 77 year old Carlos Revilla Jr., his wife Florenda (76), his son Benrico (41), his 3 grandsons Mark Anthony (13), Guillermo (11), John Michael (9), along with their two stay-in maids Dolores Ugatis and Richel Gonzales were all found dead.

Carlos Rivilla, the sugar mill owner, was found hacked to death in the kitchen. Florenda Rivilla, was found in the same mutilated manner in the master bedroom.

Benrico Rivilla and his sons Mark Anthony, 13, Guillermo, 11, and John Michael, 9, were all found in the main bungalow of the estate. All four, stripped naked bearing wounds from what’s believed to be a scythe for hacking sugar canes, and then shot dead with what’s identified as Benrico’s own .45 caliber gun.

It was unclear and unreported how the two maids were killed, but all reports consistently show 

Dolores Ugatis and Ritchel Gonzales were both found dead in their quarters.

It was the family’s driver who had come to drive the family to their 8:30 am mass, Rudy Alfredo, who had caught the suspect red-handed. Albeit incurring life-threatening stab wounds across his back and neck, Alfredo was able to escape and alert the staff of the Cojuanco’s who lived across the street. The lone suspect for all eight murders and the attempted murder of Alfredo, 20 year old Bemon Gallo, the houseboy of the Rivillas.

The most chilling aspect of the bloodbath of a crime scene would be the writings on the wall where Benrico and his sons laid, done with the blood from that had pooled around the victims. It was unclear the exact words that were splayed across the walls, but one report details parts of it which said “Fk you B.R.,” and “Alam niyo marami nang pinatay tong B.R. at maraming pinaglaruan na mga babae.” Another report mentions a statement that said something along the lines of “one of them is my daughter.” Bemon Gallo did not have a daughter.

December 20, 2000

Following the immediate reporting of the incident to the police, a special action Task Force Rivilla had been created to speed up investigations and concentrate on the manhunt for Gallo. The Task Force was given 72 hours from Sunday, December 17th, to arrest Gallo, headed by Bacolod City police chief Amado Marquez.

However when they had failed to catch the primary suspect, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force was ordered to assist the investigation of Task Force Rivilla.

The police visited the residence of Gallo in the nearby Silay city repeatedly where his mother and brother lived as well but to no avail. Monica Gallo, mother of Bemon Gallo, pleaded his son’s innocence stating that he could not have possibly done something so heinous especially to the 3 grandsons whom, Monica claims, Bemon had loved so much and was close to.

Bemon’s older brother, Erwin, offered a possible motive to the authorities, sharing the time not so long before when his brother had confided in his frustrations with Benrico for firing his girlfriend, Remy, who had previously been working as a maid for the Rivillas. Erwin recounts Bemon’s story stating Benrico had caught Bemon and Remy hugging and fired Remy on the spot. Gallo insisted that he too be let go, to which Benrico adamantly refused.

December 29, 2000

Primary suspect to the Rivilla family massacre had finally been caught in his aunt’s house, a small house in the remote fishpond village of Tabunan in Sagay City, 82.9 kilometers north of this city.

In the contents of the suspect’s bag were multiple receipts of dealings with pawnshops in nearby cities with jewelry, a Rolex watch, and assorted jewelry. All of which were confirmed to have been stolen from the Rivilla residence, along with a Bible, Benrico’s .45 caliber.

Bemon Gallo was publicly presented to the media at the Bacolod police headquarters by Yarcia, Superintendent Amado Marquez, head of Task Force Rivilla; and Senior Inspector Jacob Macabali, PAOCTF-Negros head.

The primary suspect admitted to killing all eight victims of the Bacolod Massacre in front of the press, using a hammer and a scythe. 

Yarcia recounted the events of the moments before and during the massacre, quoting Gallo in saying that Gallo had been drinking with Benrico Rivilla the night before the murders. Gallo had accidentally dropped his glass, to which Benrico had reacted by striking him with a beer bottle.

Benrico then had run off to grab his gun from his room, although Gallo followed him and struggled but inevitably finished him off in front of his three sons who were awakened by the commotion.

Bemon Gallo told the police that he had then lost his senses and went on to kill the three children, stripping them naked of their clothes in an attempt to clean the crime scene of blood.

However, Gallo continued his rampage and attacked Dolores Ogatis who had been preparing breakfast in the dirty kitchen, and Gonzales in the maid’s quarters. Coming into contact with Carlos in the kitchen, he had also attacked the haciendero before storming to the master bedroom to kill the last one in the residence, Florenda.

Gallo had admitted to starting the killings at 2 a.m. and proceeding with killing the estate residents one by one for three hours. After which, he had been awaiting the return of Carla Rivilla, the Benrico’s niece, from a school retreat. The teenage girl had yet to come home when Rudy Alfredo, had come to work and stumbled upon the crazed Gallo.

The writings on the wall with accusations on Benrico of murder and domestic abuse, he had done after killing all eight victims, in a futile attempt to throw investigators off his trail.

Police confirm that Bemon will be filed with charges on multiple counts of murder, illegal possession of firearms, and robbery.

May 15, 2014

It’s a Thursday morning, and like every other Thursday morning in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s male dormitory, all arrested individuals could either be preparing to be set free or to life imprisonment.

This was the morning when Bemon Gallo had received three counts of reclusion perpetua or 120 years’ worth imprisonment for the killing of the three Rivilla minors, Mark Anthony, 13, Guillermo, 11, and John Michael, 9. He was earlier charged with reclusion perpetua on five counts for the five slain adults, Carlos Rivilla Jr., Florenda, Benrico, Dolores, and Ritchel.

According Supt. Amelito Fuentes, jail warden, he has also been meted 8 to 12 years imprisonment for frustrated murder against the family driver, Rudy Alfonso, reclusion perpetua, or 40 years for qualified theft, six years for violation of Presidential Decree 1866 for illegal possession of a firearm, and one year for theft.

The final verdict for the Rivilla family massacre suspect–379 years imprisonment. 

Want to hear more Pinoy True Crime stories? Watch out for a new grisly tale of true terror and mystery every week of October only here on uDOu.

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