October 31, 2007

Paranormal Folly

By: Totoy Time Machine

Something happened to my friend's brother that we still couldn't explain, let alone have his family explain it. This happened in Makati back in the 80s.

The "utol" was a young man attending college in the university when he came home late one evening. He said that he just couldn't quite get home. He was so disoriented that he had been commuting around Manila for several hours before he finally found his way home.

The days that followed was a flurry of "weird happenings". Utol hardly slept at night, preoccupied by discomfort and strange sensations going through his body. He also had a hard time swallowing food because he felt that something was "blocking his throat". His limbs and joints wouldn't cooperate so much so that he walked funny and slower than usual. He was practically invalid and was unable to go to school and function on his own at home. Although he was a grown man, another family member had to give him a bath and force-feed him. It was a struggle to feed him because he would almost refuse the food and water that was given to him. Something seemed to control him from nourishing himself. The family saw that Utol grew thinner with each passing day. His lips were very dry and cracked, and his face and body had a deathlike pallor.

There was a time when the family brought him to church so that the priest would give him holy communion but Utol also refused to swallow the blessed host.

A family friend confided that her husband was a "spiritista" and offered to help find answers to the family’s dilemma. The couple came to the house and brought with them another person, a woman who they said would also help out.

So it was one fateful evening in a typical home in urban Makati that our friend called the rest of the barkada over to a bedroom on the second floor of their home to witness what promised to be an actual séance, or possession, or whatever we wanted to call it.

It was still early in the evening, around 7 or 8 pm, judging from the noise of a neighbor's primetime TV show we heard from the open window. The kids were shooed out of the bedroom and someone was instructed to accompany Utol as he was also kept out of the room. This meant that only adults were left behind : there were four of us in the barkada, two or three other family members, our friend's parents, the "spiritista" and his wife, and their guest who was a flight stewardess. Let's call her "Tess".

The spiritista began to advise us that he will try to discover if there was a supernatural explanation to what was bothering Utol. Tess volunteered as a sort of medium and came along because she said that what Utol was going through also happened to her but she was cured by this spiritista. This time she felt she wanted to help out.

The spiritista brought out his paraphernalia from a duffel bag that he brought with him. There were assorted empty wide-mouth bottles and caps, and candles. He didn't caution us to be silent but as he went through the motions of praying quietly while lighting a candle, our excited chatter slowly died down. After some chanting, he melted wax from the candle into a shallow basin and directed us to look closely at the shape or figure that materialized as the wax hardened.

One of the women in the room gave a sudden shriek. She said that she saw the face of a scary old man in the hardened wax. We all crowded around the basin the spiritista was holding out. I eagerly looked closely and saw the lines of what appeared to be a bony face of an old man, with wiry, long hair (Parang si Impakta doon sa Darna movie! hehehe…). Others couldn't distinguish these images from the squiggles and lines they saw.

Convinced of a supernatural creature behind Utol's torture, the spiritista instructed Tess to lie flat on a long bench. As he started chanting and calling out for the creature, he also directed many of us to stand guard around Tess. We positioned ourselves strategically near her arms and legs holding them firmly as we were told that she has gone under a trance-like stage. What was very strange was that right before our very eyes, wrinkles and lines started appearing on Tess' once flawless face. Her eyes were still closed shut as if asleep but a few minutes later she began to struggle as we tried our best to pin her down.

At this stage, the spiritista explained that he was able to send the spirit into Tess’ body. He started to probe the underworld creature trapped in Tess' body.

"Sino ka ba talaga?!"

"Anong kailangan mo kay Utol?!"

A cracked voice, almost hesitantly, came out of Tess' mouth. The words that were uttered were in a foreign language. The spiritista cursed obscenities and shouted at Tess that he couldn't understand him. ( Translator, we need a translator here…)

The spiritista was holding something that he would poke around Tess' flesh and he did this several times when the spirit refused to answer properly or cooperate. Tess would cry out and try to wiggle out of our clasps. There were at least six of us who would alternately hold on to Tess during the struggles. She was a very petite girl but the strength fighting us back was that of a stronger man.

Meanwhile, the spiritista continued his probe until he was able to elicit more familiar words from the stubborn creature. This time, the creature spoke in Spanish. We understood that he was 300 years old and living in a tree along a lane right outside the university Utol passes by everyday to school.

He took a fancy of Utol's weak and somber disposition and wanted to take him to his world for his companion.

After the spiritista was able to draw out all that he wanted to hear, he instructed all the people involved to hold Tess even more firmly because a final, much stronger struggle would take place.

The spiritista continued his chants and rituals, commanding the spirit to give up on his evil designs. The spirit in Tess' body expressed his rage by twisting and turning as we continued to hold her down. He tried to address his captors and distract us from holding on as we avoided direct eye contact with him. I tried not to think too much of the wicked look in Tess' eyes. Tess was spewing out saliva freely at this point. One of the barkada got hold of the spiritista’s tool, a shiny flat stone, and began pushing it into Tess' flesh, as if to hurt her as was done earlier. To this Tess would writhe in pain.

The spiritista asked someone to uncap one of the bottles. A family member handed out the bottle and cap to the spiritista and then we were told to assist in sending the spirit to the bottle by praying quietly on our own.

After what must have been two hours of struggling, Tess let out a final moan and as sudden as the struggle started, fell back limp on the bench. Her profuse sweating made her clothes stick on her body like second skin and her face was covered with slimy, disgusting saliva.

The spiritista firmly sealed the bottle he was holding and expressed smugly that he succeeded in trapping the spirit haunting Utol in that clear glass bottle. He was even holding out the bottle to us for a closer inspection but we didn’t actually see anything with in the space inside the clear glass.

So what did actually happen here?

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