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By Henry Barrameda
Part 1: The mysterious passenger
Behind the festive mood that Boracay has on summer night is a mystery waiting to be discovered by an unfortunate few.
I was one of those whose memories wholesome frolic in the pristine sands have been tainted by a dark and horrific experience.
It happened two summer ago, when the company I worked for mounted a huge event in the island paradise. As expected, the Boracay nights that summer were lit up by a string of parties because we were not the only ones scheduled to hold an event there.
These parties would last throughout the night and almost always end in the wee hours of the morning. Some of the revelers would party on even as the morning sun peeked out of the horizon. On our last night on the island, when the last of our parties was held, my roommate and I decided, for once, to turn in right after midnight.
After a week of festivities, we were both partied out. Besides, we were exhausted from the work we’d been doing for the past five days. We decided on an early morning swim before departing for Manila in the afternoon.
As we weaved in and out of the crowd on our way to our rooms, the noise became steadily fainter, As we stumbled onto the main road, an eerie silence greeted us. Since it was only a little past midnight, we thought we could still catch a tricycle to ferry us to back to our resort, which was on the southern end of the island.
For half an hour, we waited. Finally I proposed that if after another 10 minutes no tricycle passed by to pick us up, we might as well walk the one-kilometer trek back to our resort. My companion wasn’t too happy with the idea since we didn’t know what we would encounter on the way. He had heard about the island’s urban legends.
Being a non-believer of such horror tales, I insisted that if we wanted to make it back to the resort and get enough sleep, we had to hoof it.
Realizing he was left with no choice, my friend finally agreed. So after 10 minutes and no tricycle passed, we began our hike back to our lodgings. By the time we’d reached a hundred meters, we were so exhausted from trying to trudge through the badly-lit road, which, to top it off, was under repair at that time.We had to be careful about which side of the road to walk on.
Minutes later, we heard the welcome sound of a motorcycle engine somewhere behind us. I looked back and saw a tricyle coming towards us. Relieved, we flagged down the vehicle and stumbled into the vestibule, stammering our thanks to the late staying driver. The driver merely grunted and sped down the highway.
After another hundred meters or so, we neared a bank. To our surprise, the driver told us that he could no longer take us any further and insisted we get off at that point. We asked him why but he would not give us any straight or logical response, answering cryptically:
“Basta, madilim na masyado paglampas diyan. (It’s already too dark beyond that point,)” We became furious upon hearing this, not because we were frightened by what lay ahead, but because we were already exhausted and walking the rest of the way toour room was a big inconvenience. We hurled invectives at the driver, but he seemed oblivious to anything we did.
Left we no choice, we got off and began trudging the rest of the way home. A few minutes later, we heard another motorcycle engine coming from behind us. Another tricycle was coming. It was running at low speed and so we thought it would stop to pick us up. We flagged him down.
To our surprise, he did not stop, though it was impossible for him not to see us. Instead, he sped up. He probably had too many passengers already, we thought. Peering into the tricycle cab as it passed by, we saw nothing but the driver and a lady seated at the back. A few meters away from us, the tricycle stopped and we saw the lady alight.
This is our chance, we said. We shouted at the driver, telling him to wait for us, and ran to the vehicle. As we made ourselves comfortable inside the tricycle, we attempted to make small talk with the driver. We asked him if the lady who went down from his vehicle earlier was his girlfriend. The did not seem to hear, nor brother to answer us. Instead, he increased his speed and careened dangerously from side to side. We had to hold on to the railings to maintain out seats on the vehicle.
By the time we reached the end of the road and were about to alight, we began to worry that the driver had gone berserk. We asked him what the matter was. As we handed him our money, he finally replied, “Sinong babae ( which girl)?” Obviously referring to our earlier question. We replied, “E di yung ninyo dun sa may puno ( The girl who alighted near the group of trees).”
“Wala akong sinakay na babae, kaya hindi ako huminto sa unahan niyo kasi yung puwesto niyo kanina may lumalabas na babae pag hatinggabi( didn’t pick up any lady passenger. The reason I didn’t stop in front of you is because that area is notorious for being haunted by a ghost lady who appears every midnight.)”
PART II: The telephone call
As the tricycle driver sped off, all we thought about was how we’d reach the resort without encountering any more eerie incidents.
There was still stretch of road before we finally got to our lodgings. We took comfort in the fact much of it was via the beach, where some other resorts were located. We prayed that these resorts would have their lights on at that time of the night.
Sure, enough all of the resorts that lined the last strip of beach towards our resort had lampposts, giving more than ample lighting to those passing by. Upon reaching the resort, we noticed that the reception area was empty. None of the guests appeared to be up and about. At last, some peace of mind, we thought, heaving a sigh of relief.
We took our keys from the front desk and tried to put up a brave front by singing our way up the stairs in order to keep our minds off the lady of the road. When we finally reached our room, we checked for anything unusual, like if the bed covers were disheveled, or the windows left open, to make sure we didn’t have anymore spooky encounters.
Everything seemed to be normal. This calmed down our jittery nerves and we tiredly prepared for bed. Looking at the air conditioner, I debated whether to turn it on or not, since the air outside had been cold and dry. I decided to not to, informing my roommate that the air was cold enough to leave the aircon off. He agreed.
I settled down to get some shut-eye, as my roommate went to the bathroom for a quick shower. Just as I was dreaming off, I felt a chilly wind slip into the room. It was colder than the breeze we felt outside. I stoop up and shut the windows against the frosty night air.
Bothered but too exhausted to do anything else, I cocooned myself within the bed covers. Determinedly I ignored the icy atmosphere.My roommate, who had just gotten out of the bathroom, rushed to put on some clothes, complaining loudly of the cold.
I told him I had already closed the window. I no longer felt the cold so much since I had already covered myself in the comforters that I brought. We got into a heated discussion over whether to put on some music as we slept. I wanted some music because I usually fell asleep listening to it. My roommate on the other hand complained he couldn’t sleep with the radio on.
After some amount of reasoning, I won the argument. But he had gotten worked up by the thought that he might not be able to get some sleep and so grumbled loudly, even as I hummed to the music that was playing, oblivious of my roommate’s irritation…
After a few minutes, he got fed up said he would not be able to sleep if we kept the music on, more so if I kept humming to the songs. What started as a little argument soon escalated into a shouting match.
In the middle of the argument, we both realized I had dropped some of the materials needed for our even while we were on the tricycle.
I told him nothing was gonna make go back out there and pick them all up, not even the threat of my boss’ wrath. In the middle of the argument, the phone rang. We froze and stared at the phone. It was like a scene from those horror schlockers, when something spooky is about to happen.
Meanwhile, the phone kept on ringing. We let it ring few more times while we silently argued over who would pick it up. Neither of us would budge. Eventually, I caved in. I felt guilty about the music and the lost materials.
I picked up the receiver and said hello, but there was no one on the other end of the line. So I put the receiver down and went back to bed. Less than a minute later, the phone rang again. I told my roommate it was his turn to pick up.
So he answered the phone, but like the first time, no one was on the other end. Instead of getting scared, we became annoyed by the incessant ringing. I decided to contact the officemates we left at the party to ask if they had been trying to call. I was sure on one would call us at that time of the night except our officemates, who probably wanted to make sure we were safely back at the resort.
Not one of them admitted to calling us up. Then the phone rang again. This time, it was my turn to pick it up and a voice finally spoke on the other end. It was a woman’s voice. I asked that she wanted and she asked if she had called the right room number. I said yes, I asked her again what she wanted.
What she said sent chills down my spine. “Hindi niyo ba kailangan ang mga gamit na naiwan niyo sa daan kanina ( Do you not need the materials you dropped on the road earlier)?” In instantly dropped the phone. I tried to recall if there was any other lady in the area at the time. I could swear there wasn’t any. I ran for the bed and buried myself under its covers.
I told my roommate all about the conversation. He said it could have been some lady whom we saw back there. But how could she know which resort and room we were staying in. I challenged him. It was impossible for her to tell from the materials we had dropped because they did not contain any information about where we stayed. My roommate ordered me to leave the phone off the hook so we could not get anymore calls, I did. Right after I did that, the phone rang all of 13 times!
Already frightened out of our wits, we unplugged the phone. “Let’s see if that phone rings again. Because if it does, I am out of here. I am running to the beach and heading off to our officemates, even if it takes me half an hour to get there!” I cried. The phone rang became silent after this.
But as soon as we were under the covers, the phone rang 13 times again. We did not get up. Instead we shut our eyes tight and determinedly ignored the incessant ringing. When we woke the next morning, we told all of our officemates about the incident.
I thought our horror had ended that night. I was wrong. The resort owner overhead us talking about it and finally spoke up: “Paano magri-ring e putol and lahat ng linya mula alas dose ng gabi. Tsine-tsek ko pa nga oras-oras e. ‘Di ako nakatulog kasi may kailangan akong tawagan sa resort diyan sa daan malapit sa bangko. May babaae daw na nawawala. Akala ko, yung pamangkin ko (How can it ring, when the line had been disconnected since 11 o’clock last night. I know because I kept checking every hour for news of my niece. I couldn’t sleep because I had to call the resort near the bank. Reports claim a woman has been missing. I was afraid it might be my niece.)”
He left us speechless, with our months hanging open.