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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Ambulance That Carried JFK's Coffin Goes on Sale


A rare piece of Americana goes on sale this month, when one of the vehicles that carried the body of President John F. Kennedy after his assassination hits the block at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, which begins on January 17.

The 1963 Pontiac Bonneville ambulance was used to collect the president’s flag-draped coffin from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland upon its return from Dallas. Kennedy’s wife, Jackie, and his brother Robert accompanied the president’s body as it was transported to Bethesda Naval Hospital for an autopsy.

After the car was retired from service, it was sold as surplus and held by a single owner until it was sold again last year. The ambulance remains in its original condition, complete with U.S. Naval livery, a battleship gray paint job and a simple interior fitted with a stretcher, jump seats and two oxygen tanks. It was one of 15 similar vehicles purchased by the U.S. military in 1963.

The ambulance is being sold without reserve and, given the unique history of the car, it is hard to estimate its value. One of the Lincoln limousines used at the Kennedy White House was sold at the RM auctions this past August in Pebble Beach, California for $390,000. The vehicle that Kennedy was riding in when he was shot is on display at The Henry Ford museum in Michigan.

Three-year-old boy spends Christmas home alone with dead mother he thought was sleeping
By Mail Foreign Service

Tragic: The French town of Loison-sous-Lens, in the Pas de Calais region, where Emilie Decroix, 28, collapsed. Her three-year-old son is believed to have spent Christmas at home alone, beside the body of his 'sleeping' mother

A three-year-old boy is believed to have spent days over Christmas sitting alone by the dead body of his ‘sleeping’ mother in the hope that she might ‘wake up’.

At one point, his grandfather telephoned but the young child calmly told him 'mummy’s asleep’.

It is not known what the boy did for food and drink.

The heartbreaking tale unfolded in the French town of Loison-sous-Lens, in the northern Pas de Calais region, where Emilie Decroix, 28, collapsed.

Work colleagues in the nearby town of Lens presumed the single mother was off ill and unable to call in.

Instead an aneurysm, or weak bulge in an artery wall, had ruptured close to her brain, causing the office worker to die suddenly.

‘Emilie lived alone with her little boy who clearly believed she was sleeping and might wake up,’ said a police source.

‘Before the ruptured aneurysm, she would have had all the appearances of a young, fit woman – the child could clearly not envisage that she might be dead.

‘Emilie had not contacted anyone since before Christmas, suggesting that she may have died before this time.

'Her father spoke to her son over the phone and was simply told that she was asleep.'

Emilie had lived in the house for more than a year, but was a ‘quiet and hard-working’ woman who did not socialise much.

Neighbours were used to seeing her leaving the house in the early morning and dropping her son off at a local nursery, and most assumed she had gone away for the holidays.

The child’s grandfather finally called round to the house on New Year’s Eve, where he found her dead body, with his grandson sitting quietly next to her.

The source added: ‘The cause of death was quickly established, but the exact time of death is not yet known.

'Nobody knows exactly when Emilie died, but it is likely to have been before Christmas.’

A local police spokesman said the child, who had not been named for legal reasons, was currently in the care of his grandparents and was undergoing counselling.

He was unharmed physically, but was likely to suffer psychological problems because of his ordeal, he added.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Caloocan councilman saw death coming
By Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:44:00 01/04/2011

SMOKING GUN What should have been a “Kodak moment” of a happy family celebrating New Year’s Eve has become Exhibit A in a murder that took the life of Reynaldo Dagsa, the man who took this picture. Note the gunman at left (in crosshair) who is about to pull the trigger and his lookout (at right). Dagsa was rushed to the hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

MANILA, Philippines—He shot first, but his camera was no match for an assassin’s caliber .45 pistol.

A barangay councilman’s final act of taking his loved ones’ picture as the New Year arrived proved invaluable to investigators when the photograph he took also “captured” the gunman taking aim at him with a handgun.

Councilman Reynaldo Dagsa of Barangay 35 in Maypajo, Caloocan City, was just outside his home right after midnight of January 1.

He was taking a picture of his wife, daughter and an elderly female relative on Tuna Street when a suspected car thief he had sent to jail appeared from behind a parked car and fired at him.

Dagsa sustained wounds on his right forearm and chest. He was rushed to nearby Martinez Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.


Dagsa’s relatives showed the picture to the authorities who later identified the gunman as Michael Gonzales, alias Fubo of Fish Pond Area I in the barangay.

Caloocan police chief Jude Santos said Gonzales was arrested late Monday afternoon in Dagupan, Tondo, Manila and is now under police custody.

Just behind the elderly relative in the photo was another suspect—Rommel Oliva, alias Balong who seemed to serve as a lookout.

Police said a second lookout identified as Francis Bumjal was also on the scene but was not in the picture.

Investigators said all three suspects were residents of Barangay 35. The two alleged lookouts still remain at large.

Chief Inspector Cresencio Galvez, Caloocan police intelligence chief, said the suspects were known car thieves and holduppers out on bail. It is likely that they bear a grudge against Dagsa who had them arrested last year, he said.

A manhunt has been launched for the two other suspects. Homicide charges will be filed against them.

A close family friend of the victim said Dagsa was a kindhearted man who was not known to have enemies. “He was well loved by his family and friends,” the source said.

Police officers Galvez and Santos also vouched for the victim’s dedication as a barangay official.

Galvez described him as “hardworking” while Santos said he was “very active” in maintaining peace and order in the barangay.

Dagsa was a member of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team which helps the police in “ensuring the effective prevention, control and suppression of crimes” and “efficient management of disasters and emergencies.”

Sunday, January 02, 2011

TV5 boss tells granny’s story
By Marinel R. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Actor-director Albert Martinez toured Luzon province in search of the best backdrop for his period film “Rosario.”

The drama, which has crucial scenes set in the 1920s, will be shot in historic parts of Laguna, Batangas, Bataan and Bulacan, as well as in Metro Manila. “It took us a while to find the setting that will best reflect the pre-war period,” said Martinez, adding that the film chalked up two years of pre-production.

“Rosario,” which stars Jennylyn Mercado in the title role, is a co-production of CineMabuhay International Inc. and Studio 5. It is an official entry to the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival in December.

The film is based on a true story, Martinez explained. “Six years ago, one of Rosario Pereira’s grandsons told me the story. I got extremely interested in the colorful life she lived. So in 2006, I sat down with her remaining relatives. Shortly after that, we (with Elmer Gatchalian) began writing the script,” the director told Inquirer Entertainment last week.

The grandson is TV5 owner Manny V. Pangilinan.

Martinez said his team initially considered Bea Alonzo for the role, but the actress was too busy with TV work.

“It took us three-and-a-half years to find the right actress,” he continued. “We considered Jennylyn’s features, which are similar to those of the real Rosario, plus her ability to deliver a compelling performance, and finally, her schedule. We asked her to commit an entire month to this project.”

Crucial role

During auditions, Martinez recounted, the actors were asked to act out several scenes. “That was how we found the perfect cast,” he pointed out. Mercado is working with Yul Servo, Sid Lucero, Isabel Oli and real-life boyfriend Dennis Trillo, among others.

To prepare for the role, Mercado said she watched a couple of period films as reference. “I also studied the script really well.”

“I’m proud of this project,” said Trillo, who plays the scheming Alberto Gonzalez. “It’s an authentic Pinoy story.”

Martinez said of Trillo’s character: “His role is very crucial. When Rosario meets him, her life makes a complete turnaround.”

Trillo said he shares his director’s vision. “We haven’t started filming, but I see in him the enthusiasm and determination to make this right.”

Martinez has megged several drama anthologies on TV, among them “Pira-Pirasong Pangarap” and “Larawan.”

Major concern

But “Rosario” presents many “firsts” for him, Martinez said. It is the first film to show Manila in the 1920s. It is also the first Filipino film to use the high-definition ARRI Alexa camera. “Our DOP (director of photography) Carlo Mendoza flew to Los Angeles to learn how to use it,” said Martinez.

“Rosario” is also the only drama feature in the upcoming MMFF. The other entries are horror and comedy films.

Martinez said promoting the film is a major concern. He pointed out that “Rosario” is a co-production of Studio 5, the film production arm of TV5, and features contract talents of rival network GMA 7. “We will think out-of-the-box. We will use nontraditional methods to drumbeat this,” he stressed. “We’re here to make good movies.”

Also in the cast are Susan Roces, Dolphy, Aga Muhlach, Charlene Gonzales, Carmen Soo, Liza Lorena, Phillip Salvador and Eula Valdez.