SOCO: The invisible cult
Alberto “Bong” Solomon is a native of Nueva Ecija. He was 15 years old when when he relocated to Quiapo, Manila. There, he met his wife and later on fathered four children.
Bong worked hard to be a good provider. But in 2006, his wife left him for another man. Bong sent his children to his mother, Lydia, in Nueva Ecija. Then everything changed.
It was his sister, Rizalina, who witnessed his transformation.
“Mabait po siya, pero nung nagkaroon sila ng problema, nagbago ‘yung isip niya,” she said. “Kakaiba na po ‘yung ugali niya. Naglalasing, nagwawala.”
Bong also became a religious fanatic, clinging to a new faith.
“Ang sabi ng pinsan ko, may sinasambahan daw siya sa likod ng simbahan ng Quiapo, tapos bigla na lang daw sumusulpot,” Rizalina said. “Tapos nakikita ng pinsan ko na mayroon siyang nakaano sa ulo niya na kulay itim, parang Muslim, tapos naka-apron na pula. Sinasabi niya na 'May misyon kami pero ako lang ang nakakakita sa kanila.'”
|Reenactment. Photo by JV Noriega
Whenever Bong traveled to Nueva Ecija to visit his children, he would bring with him strange paraphernalia--eccentric necklaces, bracelets, and belts.
“Ayaw niyang pinapagalaw ‘yung bag na dala niya,” Rizalina said. “May timba po siyang dala tuwing umuuwi. Nagtataka ako sa bag niya at may mga laman na kandila.”
Bong also became temperamental. The Bong who used to be a loving father began hitting his children, said his daughter Amelita (not her real name).
“Nagtataka po ako na nag-iba na po ‘yung papa ko,” Amelita said. “Mabait po siya pero ngayon medyo masungit na po. Sinasakal niya po ako kasi po akala niya siguro ako nanguha ng pera niya, hindi naman po ako.”
If before, his family welcomed his presence, they came to fear it.
“Lagi po akong kinakabahan ‘pag nagpupunta siya sa amin,” Rizalina said. “Naisip ko po na parang nababaliw na kasi ‘yung itsura niya at kilos niya.”
Everyday, Bong’s behavior became worse. But his family didn’t expect what would happen next.
Death in the family
Around 11 a.m. of November 11, 2011, the Solomons woke up to a gruesome scene inside their home--Lydia, lying dead on her bed.
“Nakahiga po siya tapos may mga kandila siya sa ulo at katawan niya,” Rizalina said. “Dun sa pinag-anuhan niya, malinis na talaga, ‘yung sa likod na lang po ang dugo.”
But what added to Rizalina's shock was her brother Bong’s reaction.
“Inakap po niya ako sa loob, [sabi niya], ‘Tama na, wala na tayong magagawa, nandiyan na. Tama na, at nahuli ko na naman, kaya lang ‘yung isa napakawalan ko,'” Rizalina said. “Parang kinabahan po ako.”
It dawned on Rizalina that it was possible it was Bong who killed their mother.
“Naghihiyaw na ako sa kanya. 'Ikaw ang pumatay kay Inang,' sabi ko. 'Demonyo ka, ikaw ang pumatay kay Inang,'” she recalled. “Ang sagot niya sa’kin, ‘Eh wala na tayong magagawa.'”
Little did they know that Bong’s daughter, Amelita, witnessed the whole crime.
|The victim. On November 11, 2011, Lydia Solomon was found dead inside her home in Nueva Ecija.
According to Amelita, she woke up around 5 am the day her grandmother died.
“Nakita ko ‘yung papa ko, pinapainom ng ihi ‘yung inang ko, hinahakot niya po sa arinola,” Amelita said.
But what happened next shocked her more.
“Pagkatapos po nun, sinaksak niya po tapos sinakal,” she said. “Dahil natatakot ako, inantay ko na lang po ‘yung umaga. Ginigising ko po ‘yung lola ko kaya lang hindi na siya nagising.”
Amelita thought that if she wiped away her grandmother’s blood, she would wake up. But the latter never did.
The village officials of Brgy. San Andres, Munoz, Nueva Ecija who responded to the crime were shocked by what they saw.
“Nakasindi ‘yung kandila, nandun sa itaas ng ulo ng nanay niya tapos ‘yung dasal niya, hindi naming maintindihan, parang Latin,” Brgy. Kagawad Virgilio Gaspar said.
The suspect was turned over to the Nueva Ecija police. PO3 Jerry Castelo and his team surveyed the area for evidence and found what could possibly have been the murder weapon—a small knife.
But based on post-mortem examination, Lydia Solomon died due to asphyxia.
“Mayroon siyang tatlong sugat sa ibaba, mababaw lang, dito sa gilid ng leeg,” health officer Dr. Theresa Fernandez said. “Mababaw lang din dito sa dibdib. [May] malalim na nagpenetrate, tinamaan ang baga, malalim ang pagkakasaksak sa kanya. Mayroon din akong nakitang pasa sa leeg nita at mga gasgas, sign na sinakal siya. Kaya more of asphyxia ang cause of death niya.”
But what could possibly have led Bong to kill his own mother?
|The suspect. Alberto “Bong” Solomon.
During the course of the investigation, Bong eventually admitted to killing his own mother. But the motive was sketchy.
“Ayon sa kanya, dun sa kulto na sinalihan, walang eksakto mismong mga members. Pero ayon sa kanya, ito’y samahan na international, may mga member sila na galing sa ibang bansa,” PO3 Castello said.
“Sabi po sa akin ng tito ko, ‘yung papa mo, miyembro ng kulto,” Amelita added. “Sabi niya po parang nagpapapatay po ng tao.”
This cult supposedly has a chapel behind Quiapo Church. ABS-CBN SOCO went to Quiapo to look for the said chapel but it was nowhere to be found. In fact, no one has heard about the alleged cult that Bong joined.
ABS-CBN SOCO then consulted with a forensic psychologist to understand what Bong could possibly be going through. An initial assessment showed that Bong was probably under extreme depression and it was what pushed him to commit the murder.
But while the real motive is yet to be determined, Alberto “Bong” Solomon was charged with parricide. He is currently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology detention center in Talavera.
ABS-CBN SOCO was able to interview him and he denied that he was a member of a cult. He also denied killing his mother.
“Paano ko papatayin ang nanay ko, siya ang nag-aalaga sa mga anak ko,” he said. “’Di ko po magagawa ‘yan kasi sa kanya po ako galing. Na-brainwash na po ‘yung isipan ng mga anak ko.”
He also asked for forgiveness from his sister.
“Mga kapatid ko, kung mapapatawad nila ako, ‘yung mga ibinibintang nila sa akin, nandito na ako sa loob, pinagdudusahan ko na,” he said.
“Hindi ko siya mapapatawad kasi ginawa niya sa inang ko ‘yun,” Rizalina said. “Sana isipin niya ‘yung pag-aalaga ng magulang ko sa kanya.”
But the most affected of all was his daughter, Amelita, who, at a very young age, witnessed the gruesome crime.
“Ang sama mo, Papa, ang sama mo talaga, bakit mo pinatay si Inang?” she said. “Sobrang galit ako sa kanya dahil pinatay niya ‘yung lola ko, kabait-bait."