Five Philippine true crime podcasts that unearth horror like no other

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Crimes in the Philippines that gather the most notoriety and infamy are hardly ever solved, and we are left with facts that have us yearning for justice. Illustration by JL JAVIER

When on the topic of Philippine horror, crimes in the Philippines rarely horrify the way they’re expected to. Perhaps it’s because of the way news is delivered, or the sheer frequency of reported crime, but reactions that tend to be elicited are lukewarm in the least, and sensational at best. There is simply too much crime to be horrified by.

Some Pinoys, faced with recent high profile deaths like those of flight attendant Christine Dacera and artist Bree Jonson, tend to treat the cases like sources of gossip, fixating on the victims’ grieving mothers, whom they were with at the time of their deaths, and whether or not they were addicted to drugs.

When listening to true crime podcasts, you can’t help but really listen to the case. And you can’t help but feel intrigued beyond the sensationalism each case has brought its time.

“I think people gravitate to true crime because we’re naturally curious beings with a hunger for truth and justice,” Derek, the creator of “Stories After Dark” said to me via email. “We want to know the who, what, when, where, and why of a crime. And are delighted when perpetrators are caught and punished. And maybe there’s a taste for the macabre too.”

In terms of scale, Philippine true crime still remains distinct compared to crimes found in other countries. “What we lack in serial killer stories I think we unfortunately make up for in massacres, rapes, human trafficking incidents and extrajudicial killings,” Derek explained.

However, methodology will always find a way to catch up to scale. Derek mentioned that crime rates in the ‘90s were staggeringly higher than they are today, but we are now facing different kinds of crimes than before. “I think the same crimes back then still persist today, but crime has evolved with the advancement of technology, like with child pornography and other cybercrimes,” he said. Derek is hopeful that law enforcement can catch up on more modern methods like forensic technology in order to prevent and fight crime. He also warily mentioned that our declining crime rate could be a matter of cases like rape and domestic abuse being underreported.

“While I know the Philippine justice system works,” Derek said. “I think there’s room for improvement based on the cases I studied for the podcast. There are quite a number of cases I have been following which I couldn’t write about yet because the trials have been pending for years.”

Perhaps this is what helps us latch onto the horror. Crimes in the Philippines that gather the most notoriety and infamy are hardly ever solved, and we are left with facts that have us yearning for justice. For now, all we can do is listen and make sure victims’ voices never fade into obscurity.

Read on to unearth the horror behind these heinous crimes as narrated in Philippine true crime podcasts.

The Torture and Murder of Archimedes Trajano (1977) by Stories After Dark

“Stories After Dark” is a Filipino true crime podcast written, produced, and directed by Derek, whose fascination with true crime led him to pursue his own podcast on Spotify.

In just over 18 minutes, this episode faithfully documented the day Archimedes Trajano was last seen alive, and his infamous questioning of a then-21-year-old Imee Marcos’ appointment to the Kabataang Barangay lives on.

Unsolved Murder of Ramgen Revilla by Gaytective: PH True Crime Stories

The “Gaytective” podcast approaches true crime stories in a more casual manner. Similar to his American counterpart Bailey Sarian, host Martin Rules narrates the terrifying details of true crime cases while applying a generous amount of makeup. Martin’s conversational tone is more reminiscent of a close confidante than that of a stern true crime reporter.

One of Gaytective’s episodes covers the murder of Ramgen Revilla, a matinee idol of the Revilla clan who was stabbed multiple times while at his family residence with his then-girlfriend and sister. Despite its notoriety, this crime remains unsolved.

Damages and Dynasties by Super Evil

The Inquirer-led “Super Evil” podcast is produced by PumaPodcast, a local podcast production company.

Regarded as one of the worst attacks on journalism in Philippine history, details of the Maguindanao massacre still continue to send chills down spines, even 12 years later. This episode certainly proves that the pursuit of truth in the Philippines is not without consequences.

The Jennifer Laude Story by Lagim

“Lagim” (stylized as “LAGIM”) is led by Christine Abrigana, and has a penchant for reporting notorious local crimes.

Justice for Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who was killed by Joseph Scott Pemberton, is something that LGBTQ+ rights groups are still actively seeking to this day after Pemberton was abruptly released and flown out of the Philippines. Still one of the most horrifying hate crimes against trans people to be committed in the Philippines, this episode is worth revisiting if you truly hope for a better future for our trans siblings.

Pinoy Serial Killers by Creepsilog

Creepsilog, hosted by Gideon Mendoza and Glenn Tabarejos, puts the spotlight on both true crime and paranormal events.

This episode claims to debunk the question, “Why are there no Filipino serial killers?” Their answer is that we simply aren’t aware of them, and they certainly did exist way back when.

The very first documented Filipino serial killer was a Spanish priest in 1810. Hanged for a series of about 57 murders, Father Juan Severino Mallari murdered several victims believing that each murder would cure his ailing mother.

His story is joined by that of Alyas Waway, a serial killer and rapist from Cebu, and Armando Sierra, who was responsible for above a hundred killings in the ‘90s. These crimes have not yet spawned present day copycats, and we hope they never do.