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By Jonathan C. Celeste
We Filipinos have a number of traditions and superstitious beliefs that we religiously observe. We have practices for getting married, taking care of a newborn child, and even for constructing or moving into a new house. As a Pangasinense, our family keeps some rituals too.
When my sister’s house was built, Pangasinenses that we were, we kept our belief that before laying the groundwork of any construction, Animals’ blood should be poured on the pillars of the house so that the house could withstand any earthquake that will rock its foundation.
It was just like in the Bible when God ordered Moses to paint the door of every Israelite’s house with lamb’s blood so that the Angel of Death would pass over them. thus giving birth to the feast of the passover.
My uncle who headed the team that built my sibling’s house bought a live goat, offered it to the spirits of the place, slaughtered the animal and poured the goat’s blood on the pillars. The tradition also applies to the construction of bridges.
In our province of San Carlos City, Pangasinan, old folks in town say that to make a bridge strong, humanblood must be offered, preferably a child’s blood. Our old folks used t his belief to scare children in town who played outside at night.
They say a man from the construction team will get the naughtiest kid and offer his/her blood. Although this speculation that a kid’ blood is offered was never proven, it grow in popularity and gained the notoriety of an urban legend.
As I was growing up, I thought this weird practice was only at tall tale. But something happened to our community in Sta Cruz, Manila that made me think twice.
The house next to ours was a big old Spanish house. It belonged to an old rich clan whose surname can be found in one of Paranaque City’s streets. Since there was no one else left to inherit the house, the family decided to sell it to some real estate developers. The new owners wanted the old creepy house torn down. In its place, a five- story apartment was to be built.
Naturally, a throng of constructions workers was deployed to build the edifice. As they were about to tear down the old house, the team encountered several difficulties. First, they had a hard time pulling down the steel rope they tried to one of the walls of the house.
After about two days of painstaking effort and mind-boggling brain-storming on what strategy best be used to bring down the wall. An old Visayan carpenter named Mang Simon (not his real name) suggested to his foreman that they make an offering to the spirits of the dwelling.
At first the foreman was confused. How could an offering being down a wall? But he was running out of ideas, so he obliged. The crew bought a live chicken. slit its throat and offered its blood to the spirits.
The following day, on their first attempt to tear down the wall, they were all surprised when the wall was easily brought crashing down to the ground. They were even more surprised when they were clearing the rubble. Three skulls and several human bones were unearthed on the site! How could that be when an old house was the only structure on the site all this time?
Mang Simon said they might have been buried there for the longest time. But to whom did the skulls belong to? The old man said, maybe when the house was being buitl, three human beings were sacrificed and offered to the spirits.
A month passed and the rubble had been moved. The construction team began to dig into the earth to lay the foundation for the building’s pillars. One Friday morning, shocking news awakened our community. Mang Simon was found brutally stabbed in the heart in the makeshift laborers’ quarters of the construction site.
His co-workers said Mang Simon probably had a fight with someone he was drinking with. The old man just couldn’t hold his liquor and would become hotheaded whenever he got drunk. He must have pissed off someone more violent than him.
The night before, the workers said, Mang Simon just normal . He cooked the crew’s dinner and played some cards and went out for a drink. Nobody noticed when he came back to the site. What made this creepier was Mang Simon’s corpse was practically emaciated thin and dried up, when only last night, he was positively plump.
Mang Simon’s autopsy report declared he died of 13 stab wounds, Not only that, Mang Simon’s body had only shed about a cup of blood when he was being embalmed. His body had been bled dry! I don’t know if it was just plain coincidence but the day the poor Mang Simon was found dead, the foreman ordered the immediate pouring of cement on the site. Mang Simon’s case was logged with the police but to this day, no one was every caught.
Months’s passed and soon no one in the community remembered the crime. The building was finished and new neighbors moved into the brand new apartment. The place bore no traces of the brutal crime that took place there.
Until one night. The maid of a Chinese family that lived in one of the units woke up shouting at the top of her lungs. She said she saw bloodstains painted inside her room.
The following day, they found out this was the exact are where Mang Simon’s body was found.