True Pinoy Ghost Stories
In the beginning was the word. “Stories were not written. They were spoken, told, sung, enacted in movement and dance, rendered in rough-hewn sculpture, sketched in sand, stained into the walls of cave,” wrote Douglas E. Winter in his introduction to Skin Trade, book five of the Night Visions chronicles.
And in the deepest recesses of the human psyche, reigns fear – of the unknown, of the dark, of evils outside and demons within. Stories were a form of exorcism – to give warning, to understand what cannot be, to banish nightmares.
Or to summon them.
Do you believe in ghosts? Do ghosts believe in you? These are real stories from real people. You decide. After all, “There are only two things worth writing or reading about: love and death, eros and thanatos,” according to sociologist F. Gonzalez Crussi. But if we are forced to make a choice, there can be only one.
Our first story is the personal experience of fashion designer Barge Ramos shared in Astroscope magazine.
It wasn’t Luigi’s first time in Japan but for some strange reason he got lost in the subway. Admittedly, it’s not something for a celebrated Manila artist to be proud about, so he tried to feel his way. The noise was insane; everybody was walking a hundred miles an hour. Being a fervent Sto. Niño devotee, he muttered a little prayer and it calmed him somewhat.
Then suddenly, a small boy appeared at his side and motioned for him to go to the other side of the station. Luigi couldn’t speak Japanese, and the little boy couldn’t speak English, much less Cebuano, so he tried to ignore him. But the kid was persistent, if not coherent. Luigi allowed himself to be led and the next thing he knew, the boy was pointing to what he realized was the right train. So he embarked and little boy was with him until his stop. When he emerged in the sunlight, he saw his hotel a few blocks away. He turned to the little fellow to thank him
But the little boy had already disappeared.
It was only later that some friends told him that the tunnel used to be a bomb shelter that was blown away in World War II, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, mostly school children.
Our next tale came from Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon columnist Jarius Bondoc.
In the middle of the night, Aling Daria came suddenly awake. She was bathed in cold sweat, chills running up and down her spine. She could have sworn she heard her eight- year old daughter Ana, crying for help as if in great agony. The words remained distinct in her mind: “Mama, Mama, help me! It’s so dark in here! I can’t breathe! Please take me away!”
But that’s impossible! her mind protested, Ana was dead! Didn’t her daughter fell victim from the cholera that was plaguing the village? Didn’t she saw with her own two eyes Ana’s coffin being lowered into her damp grave just this morning? Didn’t she almost have a nervous breakdown in the cemetery?
In the dark she groped for her husband who moaned, mumbled, and was soon snoring again.
The next day she went about her usual business in the wet market in a daze. Her friends were sympathetic of course but they reasoned, it’s possible that it was only a manifestation of her subconscious brought about by her tremendous grief of losing her only daughter although they didn’t exactly use those words.
The epidemic has spread in this remote Western Mindanao province, killing thousands, mostly children. Add to that the increasing terrorism of the invading Japanese. Daily survival was of paramount importance than some superstitious wishful thinking.
That night, she heard Ana’s voice again. A plaintive wail that harrowed her soul. Somehow it was more urgent, more terrified. Louder.
The next day she consulted a witch doctor from the next barrio. His macabre advice: Dig up the grave and open the coffin. She refused and went away, even more disturbed.
The voice of her daughter continued to haunt her. Finally, she relented. They went to the cemetery with the local priest and began to exhume Ana’s body. It’s been more than a week and she was told to expect the worse: The body would be bloated and rotting beyond recognition, crawling with worms and maggots and the rush of odor would be indescribably evil – more foul than anyone can ever imagine.
Finally, the coffin was opened.
They were all aghast. The women screamed hysterically. Aling Daria collapsed.
Ana’s body showed no signs of decay.
But instead of lying in repose, her hands were held in front of her, with broken nails and bloodied fingers. The flesh from her knees were scraped clean, bones visible beneath the dried blood. Her mouth was open, as if in silent scream, and her eyes…
A glimpse is enough for a lifetime of nightmares.
The final installment of our trilogy belongs to Albert Seeland of Tempura Misono at Hyatt Regency in Manila, also taken from Astroscope.
The night seemed darker than usual. A sense of eeriness pervaded the scene that Carlos couldn’t help feel a little chill. In the car, his wife was oddly silent, lost in her own thoughts, while eight-year old Jake was sleeping in the backseat, an island of innocence in a sea of gloom.
Carlos had taken this same route to Baguio many times, but not at night. And the little voice inside him telling him he made a wrong turn earlier didn’t help any.
Then suddenly, the car was heading towards a ravine and Carlos had just barely managed to step on the brakes to prevent them from plummeting to their deaths.
The front end was hanging precariously from the edge and the slightest movement is literally a matter of life and death.
Then a very tall man suddenly appeared. He took the entire situation in a glance. Carlos had a surreal feeling that wasn’t exactly different from nightmares, but for some reason, the presence of the tall stranger gave him some comfort.
From nowhere, a group of tall men converged on the car. They tied a long strong rope to the rear bumper, and together, pulled the car like it weighed nothing. Carlos was breathless with gratitude but before he knew it, the men had already driven away in their truck that materialized from the dark.