(In the aftermath of DOJ's dismissal of the Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide case against actor Richard Gutierrez, PEP is publishing YES! magazine's special feature on Nomar Pardo, the personal assistant of Richard who was killed in a tragic vehicular accident on May 22, 2009. This article came out in the October 2009 issue of YES! magazine.)
Self vehicular accident involving Richard Gutierrez—that's the subject of a memorandum prepared by Police Superintendent Danilo Berber Buentipo of the municipal police station in Silang, Cavite. Dated May 25, 2009, and addressed to the provincial director of the Cavite Police Provincial Office, the memorandum is the official police report on the car accident that led to the untimely death of Nomar Pardo, the personal assistant, or P.A., of movie-TV star Richard Gutierrez.
Police Superintendent Buentipo's report names the "subject persons" in this tragic tale: Richard Gutierrez y Rama, 25, single; and Nomar Pardo, 47, and George Mastura y Adam, 37, described as "both married and personal assistant of Richard Gutierrez." The three "allegedly came from shooting/taping in unknown place at Southern portion of Luzon and when about to go home, met sudden vehicular accident along Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road situated at Brgy Puting Kahoy, Silang, Cavite."
The report, which we excerpt, goes on to state the "facts of the case":
• On May 22, 2009, at around 1:30 a.m., Richard, accompanied by George and Nomar, was driving his gray Nissan Skyline GT-R sports car at "high speed" when he reached "the blind curve beside the Filoil Station." The Kapuso star "unnoticed the same, and instant situation upon seen the curved, applied brake, but its too late." The car "hit and bump" a Meralco post before it "accelerated down at the gully" and "smashed to the other two coconut trees." The accident resulted in "total wreck of said vehicle, physical injuries of the victims and damage to property."
• With the help of concerned citizens, the victims were brought to nearby hospitals to receive medical attention. Richard, who "sustained sliced/cut wound at the left eye brow and contusion at the left shoulder," and George, who sustained "minor injuries," were brought to the Tagaytay Hospital and Medical Center. Nomar, who was "seriously injured," was brought to the Adventist University of the Philippines Hospital, where he was pronounced "dead on arrival."
• At about 4 a.m. of the same day, Richard's parents, talent manager Annabelle Rama and veteran actor Eddie Gutierrez, "demanded for the immediate transfer" of Richard and George to the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, for "appropriate medication/surgery of slice/cut wound" that Richard sustained.
Police Superintendent Buentipo further states that he and the Silang station's chief investigator went to the scene of the accident and to the two hospitals, but that Richard's relatives, particularly his parents, were "reluctant to see us and uncooperative to give statement."
In the last section of his memorandum, the police superintendent gives this assessment of the case:
"It could be gleaned from the information gathered and ocular investigation at the scene of incident, that DRIVER of subject vehicle has NEGLIGENCE for said incident and still subject for criminal offense for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property and in our present law 'NO ONE ARE EXEMPTED THE LAW OR NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.'"
The memorandum notes that the offense could not be prosecuted "without the active participation" of a complainant, but that if a complainant does come out, Richard Gutierrez "will be liable for RIR [reckless imprudence resulting] in HOMICIDE and DAMAGE TO PROPERTY."
I NEED NOMAR. Richard Gutierrez is one of the highest-earning young actors of today—getting P4 million for his most recent movie, When I Met You, with KC Concepcion; earning in the vicinity of P3 million monthly for his television appearances; and commanding payment in the range of P4-P6 million for every trimedia commercial.
The tall and handsome mestizo shot to fame in 2004 in the hit GMA-7 fantaserye Mulawin. He went on to topbill six Kapuso primetime shows: Sugo, Captain Barbell, Lupin, Kamandag, Codename: Asero, and the recently concluded Zorro.
It was during the taping of Codename: Asero in 2008 that Nomar Pardo began as Richard's personal assistant, or P.A. At that time, Nomar had already been working for two years in the Gutierrezes' Royal ERA Entertainment & Talent Management, assisting such stars as JC de Vera, Ehra Madrigal, Michelle Madrigal, and Bubbles Paraiso. He was also assigned to the Gutierrezes—Richard's brothers Raymond and Elvis, and later, Richard's father Eddie.
Nomar's widow, the 29-year-old Lorayne Pardo, relates: "Nakita ni Richard na maganda 'yong trabaho ni Nomar. Sinabi niya sa daddy niya, 'Dad, I need Nomar to work for me.'"
As Richard's P.A., Nomar attended to everything that the young star needed—from schedule to wardrobe to personal needs. Nomar was there to make sure that Richard need not worry about anything except his job: being a star.
But though he was officially assigned to Richard, Nomar also extended his services to Eddie—whom Nomar fondly called "Senyor"—and to Elvis, both of whom were also in the cast of Zorro.
"May sariling P.A. 'yong dalawa," Lorayne says, "pero si Nomar, andoon din to support. 'O, Senyor, batuhan tayo ng linya...' Ganito, ganyan. 'O, Senyor, take na kayo.' Pero si Richard lang ang hawak niya. Hindi lang siya nagi-stick sa isa. Hindi siya nagsasabi ng, 'Eto lang ako. E, di, dito lang ako, bakit ko aanuhin 'yon?' Sa kanya, ang trabaho, as a whole...
"Hindi na nila kailangang magtanong na, 'Nomar, mayroon ba akong take? Nomar, mayroon ba akong ganito?' Si Nomar na ang nagtatanong, 'Schedule ni Richard? What about si Senyor? What about si Elvis? Ano'ng call time ni Elvis? Ano'ng call time ni Senyor? Anong sequences ang kukunan? Ano'ng unang sequence? Ganito, ganyan, ganyan.'"
The job entailed long hours. As long as Richard needed him, Nomar was there. "Uuwi sila ng morning, 'tapos ang take nila morning din," says Lorayne. "So uuwi lang siya para magpalit ng mga damit niya, palit ng suot niya, 'tapos next location na."
When asked how often Nomar was with Richard, she replies, "'Tanong mo na lang: kung sa isang linggo, ilang beses ba siyang nasa amin?"
She adds: "Wala siyang specific day off. Kung kailan sabihin ni Richard, 'O, Mar, uwi ka na lang muna.'"
Nomar's three-year old son Ezekiel, nicknamed Kiel, got used to his papa's hectic schedule.
"Masuwerte na 'yong umuwi siya ng seven ng gabi, eight ng gabi, ganoon," says Lorayne. "Madaling araw talaga siya umuuwi. So, pagka dumating na siya, minsan gising ako, minsan tulog na ako. Gigisingin niya ako. Pero si Kiel, pagka sinabi ni Nomar na, 'Kiel, Papa's here'—kahit ano'ng tulog niya, gumigising siya. 'Papa!' gaganoon siya."
When he did get a day off from work, Nomar usually spent it with his kids.
"Dinadala niya 'yong mga anak ko sa mall. Mayroon isang place doon sa amin malapit, mayroong playground. So silang tatlo nandoon, naglalaro sila. Ako naman, usually pag nandoon sila, bumibili naman ako ng grocery. Habang inaantay nila ako, andoon sila, nagba-bonding silang tatlo."
WHERE ARE YOU NA? May 20, a Wednesday, was one of those rare times when Nomar had the whole day off. "Morning, umuwi siya," Lorayne recalls. "The whole day ng Wednesday, magkakasama kami."
The following day, May 21, Nomar had to go back to work. Richard would be in Tagaytay, shooting the promo for his then upcoming GMA-7 series Full House, a local adaptation of the hit Korean series.
Lorayne narrates the exchange between Kiel and Nomar early that morning.
"Sabi niya, 'Pa, where are you going?' 'Going to work na with Asero.' Tawag ni Kiel kasi kay Richard, Asero. 'Can we come?' 'No, baby, cannot, e.'"
Kiel pouted and made a sad face, says Lorayne.
"Ang ginawa ni Nomar, hindi siya kaagad umalis. Nilaro muna niya 'yong anak niya, nilambing muna niya. 'Tapos, no'ng medyo okey-okey na, 'tsaka siya umalis, para hindi malungkot 'yong anak niya."
That night, at around 9:30 p.m., Lorayne called her husband to ask what time he would be coming home. Nomar explained that the shoot was still not finished. Lorayne passed the phone to Kiel, who asked his Papa: "Where are you na?" The couple's eldest, Don Enrique—nicknamed King—also requested: "Pa, can you please bring us food when you go home?"
Lorayne says that, after talking to Nomar, King told her: "Ma, Papa will bring us hamburger."
Minutes later, because Kiel was crying, Lorayne called Nomar again. She recalls Nomar telling the kids: "Baby! I love you! I miss you! Wait lang, Papa will go home na, little na lang."
The two boys eventually fell asleep. At around 11 p.m., Lorayne sent Nomar a text message. "Sabi ko, 'Babe, sa'n ka na? Hinintay ka ng mga bata, kasi sabi mo may dala kang food para sa kanila. Nakatulog na.'"
Lorayne then tried calling her husband's cellphone, but he wasn't picking up. She did not think anything untoward had happened to him, since she knew how busy he could get.
"As a P.A., expected mo na gano'n, e," she explains. "Sa amin kasi, pag bising-bisi siya, hindi siya nakakatawag. Pag nakita naman niya na may missed call, tumatawag siya sa 'kin... Sabi ko, siguro it's either busy siya, or nakatulog siya, or something like that."
Still, Lorayne was restless the whole night.
"Pag nasa labas siya, hindi ako kampante matulog nang diretso. Usually, nagigising ako, 'tapos tinitignan ko kung nandiyan na. Pag nandiyan, diretso na 'yong tulog ko, pero pag wala pa, alam mo 'yong di pa gano'n kakampante tulog ko?"
She was eventually able to catch some sleep in the wee hours of the following day, May 22. At around 5 a.m., she woke up and checked her phone. She had a missed call from Ramon Christopher "Monching" Gutierrez, plus his text message: "Lorayne, are you awake?"
Lorayne, who knew that Nomar was with Richard, wondered why Monching, Richard's half—brother, was calling her so early in the morning. She found out why when she got to talk to Monching.
"He was telling me na naaksidente, pero hindi dinetalye. Sinabi lang niya naaksidente. Bumangga daw sila. Ang expected ko, 'yong harap bumangga lang. Gano'n lang. Ang sabi ko, hindi naman siguro grabe, kasi wala rin naman siya [Monching] sinasabi."
Lorayne says Monching asked for her address because Richard's mother and talent manager, Annabelle Rama, was going to send a car to pick Lorayne up and bring her to the hospital where Nomar was.
While waiting for the Gutierrezes' driver, Lorayne received another call from Monching. This time, their conversation alarmed her.
"Sabi niya, 'Can you please bring identification for Uncle Nomar, damit, 'tsaka birth certificate?' So do'n pa lang, sabi ko, 'Tito Mon, ano ba'ng nangyari? Can you please tell me?' Sabi niya, 'Tita Lorayne, di ko kasi alam ang nangyari. Wala kasi ako do'n...'"
Prodded by Lorayne, Monching finally blurted out: "Tita Lorayne, baka wala na si Uncle Nomar."
Lorayne went hysterical. "Hindi!" she cried out. "Hindi pupuwede! Ano nangyari sa kanila?"
By then, she was in tears. Her outburst awakened the kids, and King's immediate reaction was: "Ma, why? What happened to Papa?"
Lorayne was surprised that her eldest immediately thought something had happened to Nomar. She calmed King down by telling him, "No, baby. Everything's okay."
When she was picked up by the car sent by the Gutierrezes, Lorayne asked the driver if he knew what had happened to her husband, but the driver said he didn't know anything.
It was past 7 a.m. when Lorayne arrived at the Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP) hospital in Cavite. A man who was waiting for her at the lobby led her to the hospital morgue.
"Sa table, may nakabalot na puti," Lorayne recalls, sobbing. "Hindi ko pa din inaano na si Nomar. 'Tapos, pagbukas ko no'ng blanket, siya na nga.
Sabi ko, 'Babe, ano'ng nangyari? Babe, ano'ng nangyari sa inyo?'"
Nomar's body was black and blue with bruises. "Mayroon po siyang sugat dito," she says, pointing to her forehead. "'Yong kamay niya, matigas na. 'Yong katawan niya, matigas na."
She can't help but bewail the fact that she was kept in the dark for such a long time.
"Iyong haba noong oras na puwede nila 'kong tawagan para sabihin sa akin ang nangyari, walang tumawag na galing sa kanila... Two hours ako on the way to Tagaytay. I was still hoping that he was still alive dahil hindi ko alam kung papa'no sila naaksidente. Wala akong idea, e. Pagdating do'n, I was hoping na sa ospital ako dadalhin. Pero hindi, e. Sa morge."
HINANAP KO ANG BODY. At the AUP hospital, the grief-stricken Lorayne saw George Mastura, described in the police report as a personal assistant, but actually Richard's bodyguard. George had survived the car accident.
Lorayne asked him what had happened, and he replied: "Napakabilis ng pangyayari, e. Noong nagising kami, andoon na kami sa ditch."
In a May 28 interview with Jojo Gabinete for YES! Magazine's online affiliate, the Philippine Entertainment Portal, or PEP (posted May 29 on www.pep.ph), Richard Gutierrez recounted what happened after the crash:
"Very clear sa akin ang nangyari sa aksidente dahil the whole time, nakadilat ako. Nakita ko lahat ng pangyayari. Until bumaba ako ng kotse through the window, humingi ako ng tulong sa may kalsada, hanggang dumating ang GMA-7. Lahat 'yon clear sa mind ko...
"Pagtigil ng kotse nung aksidente, tinanong ko si George nasa tabi ko, 'George, okey ka lang?' Sumagot, nasa tabi ko.
"Sabi ko, 'Ikaw, Mar?' Paglingon ko, wala siya. Doon pa lang naramdaman ko 'yong shock talaga. 'Nasaan siya? Bakit wala siya sa likod? E, kanina nasa likod siya.' ... Na-shock ako, bumaba ako ng kotse, hinanap ko siya...
"Pagbaba ko ng kotse, ang una kong ginawa, hinanap ko ang body ni Nomar. Sigaw ako nang sigaw. Siguro mga five minutes or so. Hinanap ko 'yong body ni Nomar and hindi ko nakita."
In her interview with YES!, Lorayne tries to recreate the last minutes of her husband's life, based on different accounts she gathered from the GMA-7 crew members who were there that fateful night.
"According lang din sa kuwento sa 'kin ng mga kasama do'n, from GMA, mabilis ang patakbo. Dahil nauuna sila [Richard], e. Nauna silang umalis kasunod ang GMA van. Ang GMA van, nang dumating do'n, traffic na, dahil may nakatumba na poste. Nalaman nila nandoon na 'yong sasakyan ni Richard. 'Yong asawa ko, wala doon sa loob ng sasakyan. Tumilapon siya."
The GMA-7 crew brought Richard and George to the Tagaytay Hospital and Medical Center. Two crew members were left behind to look for Nomar.
"Hindi nila nahanap kung nasaan ang katawan ng asawa ko, kasi do'n lang sila naghahanap within the vicinity ng car."
A few locals, Lorayne says, decided to help out in the search.
"Kaya nila nahanap 'yong asawa ko, kasi umungol... So dinala nila sa roadside, pero no'ng time na 'yon, wala na-lumabas na 'yong dugo sa bibig at sa ilong. Naghihingalo na 'yong asawa ko."
Lorayne's lawyer, Atty. Ombra Jainal, who is present during the YES! interview, reveals that Nomar's body was found ten meters away from the car.
"Hindi nila hinanap," he comments. "Sinasabi na hinahanap, pero hinahanap dito sa kotse. But within ten meters away, doon nakita. Hindi talaga naghanap. Paano mo hindi nakita, ten meters away lang 'yon?"
Lorayne believes there were measures people could have taken that might have helped save Nomar.
"Wala silang 'pinadala na ambulance para sa kanya, di ba?" she says. "Kasi si Richard, dinala na sa Tagaytay, so ano naman 'yong sabihin na, 'Magpadala ng ambulansiya para do'n sa naiwan na tao!' Wala.
"Mayroon lang dumaan na ambulansiya, pero pa-ano na, e-carbarn na kumbaga. Pauwi na. Doon 'sinakay ang asawa ko, pero wala siyang facilities sa loob."
According to the death certificate signed by Butch Loreto O. Garcia III, medical director of the Adventist University of the Philippines, "cardiorespiratory arrest" was the immediate cause of Nomar's death, with "multiple physical injuries" secondary to "vehicular accident" as the antecedent cause.
Nomar was proclaimed dead at 1:53 a.m. on May 22. He was 42 years old.