I is for Intimidating, Yes; Imaginary, No
2006, Manila, The Philippines
2006 was about new beginnings, an exciting start to a new life, of chasing adventures and dreams. We had moved to Manila. My now 18 year old was all of 8. The DH had already shifted to Manila from work. He had painstakingly searched and found a beautiful condominium called Spanish Bay, in the lovely Bonifacio Ridge that we rented out. We took to Manila like fish to water. We would love jumping into the pool most evenings, as the sun went down. The three of us spent the evenings taking long walks around the wide open roads of Bonifacio Ridge, hanging out at Jollibee for Palabok (a local dish made of rice noodles that I love, love, love). On many weekend mornings we would go for idyllic breakfasts at Pancake House, around the neighbourhood.
Our mornings began with an invigorating workout at the Fitness First gym, after the little one left for school. The gym was walking distance from home. I had the most adorable and motivating instructors. Donna, my personal trainer was a complete angel. James was a very talented, quiet, serene Body Balance instructor. I used to attend a couple of group classes too, and had eventually made a bunch of fun friends, including my favourite instructors. We all hung out together post our work out. They would come home on some days and we would bond over Indian food and watch Indian movies like – Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. On other days they brought home home cooked delectable Filipino food over like Calderata, Sinigan, Kare-Kare and the likes. The DH, the little girl and I spent many weekend evenings gorging on Kettle Corn’s caramel popcorn and watching innumerable movies or music videos of Cosby Stills and Nash, Pink Floyd and the likes. I was initiated to this new world of music thanks to the DH. Prior to that I was a pop fan or would only listen to some Country or the Golden oldies.
Life was fairly hunky dory I must say. No teething or settling in issues. Except for that silly sinus that had become my forever companion that refused to leave my side. Then slowly things began to change.
One afternoon we had this couple, over for lunch. Let’s call them A – wife and C – the husband. They were Reiki healers and the wife was a psychic too. Our living room overlooked a lovely open kitchen that was immaculately designed, just like the entire apartment. As they walked in and were making themselves comfortable, A clutched her husband’s hand and whispered something in Tagalog, the local language. Her face had turned ashen and she looked disturbed. The DH and I were wondering if something was amiss. On asking C said that his wife could see the apparition of a woman with very long black hair in the kitchen. My heart almost stopped beating. And then it started galloping like a horse on the run. It would be an understatement to say I was horrified. On the other hand, this sounded like one of the ghost stories one had read.The ones we usually think are made up and even though we want to believe in them, we won’t just so that they don’t ignite our fears. The friends asked if we could take them around the apartment. We agreed. As we walked to the corridor this time A stopped short and looked across the walls, walking straight into the master bedroom. After they had scanned all the rooms we returned to the living room. We tried to ease out the heavy, disturbed vacuum that had suddenly enveloped all of us, by serving some wine and beer. During the course of our conversation A told us that there was also a spirit lurking in the corridor. We heard her out but did not want to stoke our imagination too much and give in to any fears. So we kind of let it go by. Thereafter the coming weekend we left for our holiday.
We had a sweet, middle-aged housekeeper called Gemma who used to mother us all. When we returned from our holidays, she apprehensively informed me about a shadow, an apparition of some kind lurking in the corridor. This had happened on two occasions she said. I was taken aback to say the least. After all Gemma was completely unaware of our conversation with those friends, yet she was reiterating exactly what we were told by them. She also mentioned how a few things in our kitchen would suddenly go disappearing, to be found in the same place a little later. I had personally experienced this occurrence and had found it weird, but disregarded it as forgetfulness on my part. But Gemma pointed out that this had been happening for a while now. I shuddered at the thought. That’s when I spoke to her about about the apparition of the woman with the long black hair in the kitchen and the shadow in the corridor, as seen by that couple.
One morning when I was preparing some Malabar fish curry, I noticed the mixer cover had gone missing. I had kept it right on the kitchen counter, a few minutes back to grind the spices. Gemma who was helping me in the kitchen looked at me, shook her head in frustration and said softly, “Mam’ she is playing again. Wait and watch.” She gestured me to continue doing what I was, as she herself went on to wash the dishes. And in just a while the cover was back to where it originally was. This was getting spookier than ever.
The last straw was when, one evening my little girl slipped in the corridor. This happened when I was downstairs with my friends. She had slipped very hard. Though there were no sharp edges she had a big wide gash on her head. that was bleeding profusely. Her T-shirt was drenched in blood. Not trying to panic, my friends and I rushed her to emergency where she was taken good care of, but ended up with 8 stitches. That night we returned home from the hospital, trying our best to placate our unnerved selves and our little girl with some warm soup and Pork Adobo.
After tucking our poppet to bed I came to the kitchen, to have a word with Gemma. She looked at me quizzically and said, “Oh Mam’! You are here. I thought you had just gone down with Sir.” The Dh had gone downstairs for a bit. I was taken aback but then Gemma and I went on to talk about the unforeseen accident and the possible entities. By now I was starting to believe that these occurrences were not per chance. Gemma felt so too. When the DH returned he overheard our conversation and asked us if everything was ok. I told him about the things getting misplaced in the kitchen. Also on how Gemma had felt that I had accompanied him downstairs. He looked back at us in disbelief and what followed was a kind of stunned silence. Thereafter he went on to tell us how he had felt the presence of an entity go down the elevator along with him. It was a very strong heavy feeling he said, as though it was trying to push him away.
That was it. I realised I had to do something about this. There had been a few other occurrences apart from these ones as well and they had to be tackled headlong. It was a now or never situation. The next day I spoke to some of my friends who were accomplished healers and to the couple who has seen the apparition and the shadow. Everyone mostly said we had to cleanse the house using sandal wood incense sticks or sage and draw crosses on every corner while doing so. Yes I know this may sound a bit crazy, and over the top, but that’s exactly what we did. We were also advised not to give into any fears. That’s apparently the thumb rule. The moment one get’s fearful of the entities, apparently they take charge over you and try to harm you. So one has to let them know that we humans are far more powerful than them. I followed the cleansing ritual twice a week for sometime, I think Tuesdays and Fridays. Kept the windows open and played some Pavarotti on full blast, hoping his loud booming voice with it’s open-throated quality that Italians call lasciarsi andare — “letting it pour forth” would drive the entities away. I think it did. 🙂 Things seemed to slowly settle down.
But Spanish Bay had lost it’s charm. And our cards had something else in store for us. The DH was moving jobs and countries, so we moved out from there sooner than anticipated.
This experience was a revelation of sorts. It helped me realise that we are stronger than our fears and far more powerful than any negative or devilish entity. Face your fears and look at them squarely in the eye and they will dissipate on their own. See it worked for us, and it will for you too, if God forbid you have any such encounters. Stay safe. Amen!
Disclaimer: This travel tale is a tad different from the tales I have been spinning for the last 8 days. It’s spooky, it’s bizarre, it’s not imaginary, and yes it’s completely true, word by word. There are a few more occurrences that happened and I have not written about them as I have already exceeded the word limit that I have given myself for this #AtoZChallenge. I also have no intention of losing out on my readers. I know I might have scared some of you here and you are probably thinking now that the deed has been done, it’s pointless to say so. But, please sleep well tonight. Even though I must say i was getting the heebiejeebies last night, when I had to get my herbal tea from the kitchen, as I wrote this post. I asked the DH to accompany me!!
My theme for this year’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is Travel Epiphanies that are my very own tales of adventure and revelation. I will be writing 26 posts throughout the month of April. You can read my theme here.