The 28-year-old wife of slain Filipino racer Ferdinand “Enzo” Pastor—who is now considered a person of interest in the killing—has not been heard from since the 40th day after Enzo’s death. Their two children, Damien, 8, and Xander, 6, are with her, according to her lawyer, Ruy Rondain, and have not gone back to school since August, when two suspects in the case were arrested.
Dalia was implicated by alleged gunman PO2 Edgar Angel, and has recently been the subject of leaked photographs showing her in intimate poses with her alleged lover Domingo “Sandy” de Guzman III—also a suspect in the Enzo slay—and of a text brigade disputing her blood ties to two of the country’s most distinguished families.
On June 12 this year, renowned racer Enzo, 32, was shot dead inside his truck at the stoplight on Congressional and Visayas Avenues in Quezon City. According to reports, the racer and his assistant Paolo Salazar, were bringing his race car to the Clark International Speedway for the fifth leg of the Asian V8 Championship, when motorcycle-riding gunmen drove by the truck and opened fire.
At Enzo’s passing, his wife refused to give interviews and asked for privacy as the family dealt with the tragedy. Two months later, alleged gunman Angel, who was arrested by police on Aug. 25 on drug peddling charges, implicated Dalia in the shooting.
Angel confessed twice—to police and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which provided him with a lawyer—that he pulled the trigger on Enzo for P100,000 paid him by car shop owner De Guzman. The businessman has allegedly been in an affair with Dalia since 2012.
Before he recanted his testimony early September, Angel said the two lovers plotted in December last year to have the racer killed.
As of press time, Dalia has yet to surface to answer the charge of parricide filed by the Philippine National Police despite the lack of a warrant for her arrest. The case against her is still under preliminary investigation, but in a sworn affidavit submitted in July to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Dalia denied having an affair with De Guzman and insisted that he was merely their friend.
For the racing community, Enzo Pastor’s death was such a loss: It happened when Enzo was on the brink of finishing first in an international race meant to put host country Philippines back on the global motor sport map.
Tom Pastor, Enzo’s father and a renowned Filipino racer in his own right, was one of the first to hear the news. He was with Enzo at the latter’s home right before the shooting and could not fathom how, a mere hour later, he would lose a son, business partner and fellow motor sport lover in one fell swoop.
“We were very close. He was a partner in business and in my passion, and I was a complement to his talent. I supported his talent,” Tom said in an interview with Sunday Inquirer Magazine before the arrests of Angel and De Guzman.
He added: “One minute, you think you’re doing everything right… and then the next thing you know, you’re in the morgue preparing for [your child’s] burial and now devoting the rest of your life trying to make sense of things.”
Weeks after the interview, the elder Pastor’s puzzlement would only grow: How could his daughter-in-law, the great granddaughter of Don Ramon Roces—who built a media empire in the Philippines—and a member of the prominent Guerrero clan, be so involved in the dastardly crime?
Dalia met Enzo when she was 18 and a full-time racer while he was a 22-year-old student at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.
What seemed like a good match between two good-looking racers bound by a common passion for the sport turned out to be a dud, at least according to news sources.
In a Sept. 10 story published on INQUIRER.net, the Pastor children’s nanny, Chona Domen, executed an affidavit confirming the affair between Dalia and De Guzman who, Domen said, would often visit Dalia whenever Enzo was out of town.
“Whenever Sir Enzo would leave the country to join a car race, Ma’am Dalia would text a man to come to their home, and I would hear her and the man do something inside a room. I learned that the man was Sandy De Guzman, and that they would often meet especially if Sir Enzo extended his stay abroad,” Domen said.
It was Domen who told Enzo about the affair. The racer then confronted his wife and wrecked some of their furniture in rage, prompting Dalia to call her parents. When they came over, they castigated Enzo for the incident, according to an Inquirer source close to the Pastors but who refused to be named to stay out of the headlines.
The source expressed surprise at such reaction: “Instead of getting mad at your daughter and taking her aside to ask about the alleged cheating, they came and got mad at [Enzo].”
The source added that on the night that De Guzman was arrested, Dalia sent lawyers to defend him. “Instead of celebrating the fact that your husband’s killer had been arrested, [Dalia] supplied lawyers to the alleged mastermind. When the police asked, ‘Who sent you here?’ [The lawyers] said, ‘Dalia.’”
Such lukewarm response to her husband’s killing was echoed earlier by the Pastor patriarch, who noted that Dalia was “not keen” on seeking justice for her husband.
Dalia’s continued disappearance seems to add to her guilt, and so does a multitude of messages apparently meant to tie her to the crime.
Top Gear Philippines editor in chief Vernon B. Sarne received one such private message on the eve of Sept. 11, from a Justice ForEnzo Facebook page—not to be confused with the Justice For Enzo Pastor pages on Facebook set up by the Pastors in the wake of Enzo’s death. The message included “revealing and intimate” photos of Dalia and De Guzman.
“Obviously, whoever sent the photos had an agenda, and that agenda was to pin down both Sandy and Dalia,” Sarne said in a phone interview with SIM. “I think they were hoping that we would run the photos.”
Sarne, who knew Enzo and Dalia personally from a previous interview and motor sport events, had been writing about the slain racer on Topgear.com.ph.
He also interviewed the couple way back in 2004 when he was working at The Manila Times as its motoring editor. They were very much in love, he had written; “Five minutes with this playful couple and you’re transported all the way back to high school—or college, depending on the first time you had butterflies fluttering in your stomach at the thought of romance.”
Today, the stories Sarne has been hearing—coupled with the graphic photos of Dalia and De Guzman, which have since been taken down and which Sarne had refused to post because “these are not for public consumption”—are a far cry from the story he had written 10 years ago about a couple who he thought “would live blissfully ever after.”
“To be honest with you, as soon as [the Enzo killing happened], rumors started circulating about [Dalia] having an affair, about love affair as an angle that police could [explore],” Sarne said. So when police ruled the love triangle as a possible motive for Enzo’s death, he and the motor sports community were no longer surprised.
A text message has also been circulating in Manila’s high society detailing how Dalia is not a Guerrero by blood, how she was born before her mother Valerie married into the Guerrero clan. A report published in the Inquirer’s Lifestyle section on Aug. 31 noted that photographer Xavier “Wahoo” Guerrero had married Dalia’s mother Valerie after his separation from his first wife.
Such a campaign against Dalia and De Guzman can be considered “trial by publicity,” said Sarne. “I think [that Facebook page] still gave [the photos] to media because [some parties] want a trial by publicity. They want to paint a very, very bad picture of Dalia and Sandy,” he said.
Asked if he believes that there was indeed an affair between the two, Sarne turned equivocal, saying he would not side with anyone and that it was up to the police and the court to decide on the truth.
The police definitely have a lot to do despite having virtually declared the case closed on Aug. 28, when the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) arrested De Guzman. Five days earlier, the QCPD had arrested Angel on drug-peddling charges. Angel in turn implicated De Guzman as having paid him P100,000 to kill the racer.
De Guzman was arrested in an entrapment operation; he was supposed to give a P50,000 bonus to Angel who, by then, was under police custody.
Angel has since been charged with Enzo’s murder and the frustrated murder of his aide, Salazar, who was with the racer on June 12 and survived the attack only because the racer had shielded him from the bullets.
De Guzman, now out on bail, is also facing similar charges for murder and frustrated murder, as well as a charge for illegal possession of firearms after two .45-cal. pistols were found in his glove compartment.
Angel recanted his affidavit on Sept. 9, saying that police had threatened to do him harm unless he confessed to the crime. Despite the recantation, the Inquirer source close to the Pastors confirmed reports that Angel’s family and attorney had apologized to the Pastor camp for taking back his affidavit, as the gunman was “under threat.”
The recantation also led to Dalia’s father, Xavier Guerrero, asking that his daughter be cleared of the charges against her. “Dalia has everything to lose and nothing to gain by plotting to kill her husband. I believe my daughter is innocent. Legal means are at hand [and are] always open to her. Her life with [Enzo] was actually getting better, whatever problems they had in the eight years of their marriage,” he said during the hearing.
In a statement sent to SIM, lawyer Rondain, Dalia’s counsel, said Angel’s retraction “removes any justification for maintaining the charge against Dalia” and that Angel’s affidavit was “inadmissible” in the first place. The lawyer said that “Angel’s [act of] implicating Dalia was insufficient to charge her in the first place; not only were his conclusions conjectural, but his entire story was incredible.”
He added, “Now that even that inadmissible statement is gone, there is absolutely no probable cause to indict Dalia.”
But the prosecution is not fazed. Lawyer Enrique de la Cruz, counsel of the Pastors, said in a phone interview with SIM that they still had a strong case despite Angel’s recantation. “We have no doubt [about Dalia’s guilt], especially now with various affidavits and additional evidence that we have gathered,” he said.
Aside from the nanny’s affidavit, two other witnesses seem to add more damning evidence against Dalia. Alvin Nidua, a hired killer, said De Guzman had approached him first to kill Enzo but they did not agree on the price. Enzo’s aide, Salazar, who was wounded in the June 12 attack, had also positively identified Angel as the gunman.
The Pastors’ lawyer also point to the phone logs among the involved parties. Dalia had said in her affidavit that she had not been in contact with De Guzman for some time, but the phone logs indicated that the two were in contact over the phone at least 17 times on the day Enzo was killed.
Salazar similarly added in his affidavit that Dalia was giving Enzo detailed directions the night he was killed, when the slain racer knew very well how to get to Clark Speedway.
Additionally, De la Cruz said the prosecution has 15 other affidavits that could be submitted anytime, depending on the counteraffidavits to be filed by both Dalia and De Guzman by Oct. 6. Nine of the documents are with the NBI and six with the Philippine National Police.
People who know Enzo grieve not so much for the marriage gone terribly wrong but also for the racer who was zooming nonstop to greater heights until 11 bullets stopped him. Because beyond the murder and alleged love triangle, Enzo was a celebrated racer; some would venture to call him a motor sports prodigy.
With numerous trophies under his belt, the 32-year-old was the Philippines’ most famous representative and perhaps the one racer who would finally bring the sport mainstream. He was a pioneer in the Filipino racing scene, from having won the Rookie of the Year award in 1999 at the Toyota Corolla Cup championship—his first race—to being the first Filipino to be invited to test for Formula 3 (2003), Formula 1 (2004) and Nascar (2012).
The racer’s passion for motor sports even went beyond the races and into cultivating young talent and supporting the local scene. In 2010, he founded and chaired with his brother the Don Circuit Showdown, a venue where amateur Filipino racers could learn more about the racing world. Enzo was also managing partner in his father’s Philippine Formula Autosport Foundation Inc., which co-presented the Asian V8 Championship.
The Asian V8 was supposed to launch the Philippines as an international motor sport destination and host, the first of what was hoped to be a continuing rise of the sport. As of press time, the event, despite having two more legs to finish, had been postponed indefinitely.
Even in death, Enzo wanted to be one with the sport that meant everything to him. Aside from his wish to be cremated and to have his ashes given to his family, the racing champion had a more peculiar request. He wanted some of his ashes ignited with the revving of one of his cars.
“Some want their ashes spread over the sea,” Tom said of the request. “Enzo wanted this.”
After the cremation at Heritage Park, younger brother and fellow racer Don Pastor placed some of his brother’s ashes inside the engine of a Toyota Corolla—the same car Enzo drove when he, during his first major race, won Rookie of the Year in the 1999 Toyota Corolla Cup—and revved it.
What was left of the ashes was distributed among immediate family members, as requested. Each of the Pastors—Tom, his wife Remy and five other children, and Dalia and the two kids—got a locket with some of Enzo’s ashes inside. The lockets’ designs varied; some were in the shape of a cross and others, like the ones with Damien and Xander, carried resemblances to a toy car and a bear.
Tom personally chose a locket in the shape of a bullet; “Since he died by a bullet,” he whispered. But the Pastor patriarch refuses to let Enzo’s memory be marred by his tragic death. Enzo’s legacy, his father said, should be to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
Don, who now feels hesitant to continue racing because of his brother’s death, is as passionate about cultivating local talent, and has a driving school for such a purpose.The Pastors, Enzo included, wanted only one thing for Philippine motor sports: for it to race ahead and become developed.
“[Enzo’s death] is just a step back. But with his passing, everyone is now aware of racing, unlike before when people weren’t as interested about the projects we were doing. Now there is media clamor for motor sports and we’re trying to see how we can expand and turn it around,” Tom said.
Sarne, too, believed that Enzo should be remembered for his achievements for Philippine motor sports. More than his numerous trophies, the Top Gear editor said it was Enzo’s dedication to “grass-roots” racing that made him memorable, as he allowed those who did not have the funds experience racing at very minimal fees.
The Enzo Pastor Circuit Showdown Foundation Inc., with its aim of cultivating grass-root racing, was put up by the Pastors to harness and train more local talent and put the Philippines back on the motor sport map for real.
The elder Pastor said there were plans to put up a PBA-like tournament for racing to be participated in by local gas companies, where the winners would get to test for Nascar.
But the next and most immediate step, might even be closer to home. Damien, Enzo’s eldest son, has already tested for go-karting and may begin racing in that field next year, Tom said. “It’s like Enzo’s growing up again, from being a small boy,” he added, smiling.
The fear and grief may still be there, but as Tom pointed out, the Pastors, whatever came their way, will always be a family of racers. •