TARLAKENYO (July 5, 2023) — Tarlac’s veteran journalist Pacifico ‘Dillinger’ Guevarra succumbed to lingering illness last night. He was 79.
‘Pykes’, as he was known among his peers in the media and the local politicians he became friends with, was well-liked by everyone.
He regaled the people around him with his colorful life story as “Dillinger.”
“I received P200,000 from Viva Films for Raymart Santiago to star in a movie about my life,” Pykes reminisced back in 2022 as he whiled away time.
His life story was shown on the big screen as Santiago starred in “Pacifico Guevarra: Dillinger ng Dose Pares” opposite Nanette Medved and Marjorie Barreto.
Pykes was 14 when a series of unfortunate events befell him.
He was in Grade Six and a candidate for valedictorian when he was accused of writing an explicit message on the blackboard. The young Pykes was then hit several times by the teacher until he lost it. He pulled out a nail cutter and threatened the teacher with it.
He still graduated from Grade Six but not as a class valedictorian hence he lost his chance for a high school scholarship.
And without the scholarship, he also lost what should have been a very bright future.
He abandoned school and walked from Tarlac to Angeles City, then a haven for American servicemen. That was in 1958.
Pykes became a shoeshine boy and eventually a yard boy for an American Captain inside the sprawling Clark Air Base.
Again, bad luck followed him. He was accused of stealing a typewriter inside the base. He lost his job.
His life spiraled uncontrollably as he joined a gang stealing $50,000. Among the group members, he was the only one who was caught.
At this time, he was called “Dillinger” by his peers because of the type of hat he wore.
“Tinawag akong Dillinger dahil kamukha ko raw si Dillinger dahil pareho kami ng sinusuot na sumbrero,” Pykes said in between soft chuckles.
John Dillinger was an American gangster during the Great Depression in the 1930s. He led the Dillinger Gang, which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations. He and his gang members were well-known for wearing fedora hats.
Pykes was jailed in Angeles City for the crime. He was transferred to the Pampanga Provincial Jail after he tried to escape from the city jail. He also tried to escape from the provincial jail.
A few years later, he was transferred to a more secure prison – Bilibid in Muntinlupa. After only a month, he was again transferred to Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro. It is the country’s largest penal facility with a sprawling lot of 16,190 hectares where minimum security inmates are incarcerated. The facility uses the inmates for labor in producing rice crops.
It was here in Sablayan that he stabbed a fellow inmate with a bolo after the latter attacked him. For that, he was placed in solitary confinement for seven months.
After solitary confinement, he was sent back to Bilibid Prison where he got involved in uncountable prison riots. For these, he earned three life sentences.
ROAD TO REDEMPTION AND SECOND CHANCES
He claimed to have been reformed after he joined various religious activities in 1971.
In 1985, Pykes was allowed by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports to take the college entrance exam despite lacking a high school diploma. He passed the examinations and took up Entrepreneurship.
He was released from prison in 1990 after 26 years by the Board of Pardons and Parole.
A year later, he received his Entrepreneurship diploma from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and went on to study Law.
Despite his release from prison, he was not able to find any employment mainly because he was an ex-convict and the reputation that always precedes him.
Despite the challenges of being an ex-convict, he persevered and in 1995, then-President Fidel Ramos granted him an absolute pardon. Shortly thereafter, he earned his Bachelor of Law degree from the Manila Law College.
THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
He went back to his native Tarlac the following year where he wrote for several local and national newspapers.
For the next 10 years, he would petition the Supreme Court to allow him to take the Bar Exams. These were all in vain.
It was during these times that he fell in love with his friend’s daughter, Analyn, whom he married years later. They have three beautiful daughters.
He may have been a gangster, an ex-convict, or a lawyer, but in his heart he had the passion to stand up for what is right, to be the voice of the voiceless. He chose the pen over the sword for it is mightier. He wielded his pen with pride. He was our Dillinger.
But unlike John Dillinger, who died at a young 31 years of age, Tarlac’s Dillinger lived 79 long, colorful years.