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By: Judy May Geronimo
My boyfriend halls from far flung- Ozamis City, in Misamis Oriental. Although he’s migrated to Manila, he still goes back from time to time to visit some relatives who still live there including his favorite uncle.
Uncle Gaspar was a middle-aged bachelor with a pleasant disposition. Unlike other men who get grouchy with age, Uncle Gaspar remained cheerful and friendly, particularly to his neighbors, for whom he had only good words.
Uncle Gaspar had a vegetable plantation in the next town which he visited every day. Along the way, he passed several neighbors, whom he never failed to great with a jovial “hello” and a compliment.
“Pareng Ambo, ang gaganda ng tanim mong halaman ah ( Hey there Ambo, your plants are looking pretty),” he would call out fondly to his best friend. “Inday and puno ng mangga mo hitik sa bunga, ang galing mo kasing mag alaga ( Inday, your mango tree is heavy with fruit. You really have a snack for growing these things),” he would tease another neighbor.
This was his daily routine. In fact, his neighbors wouldn’t think their day was complete until they see Uncle Gaspar winding his way around the community and saying hi to them. Needless to say, Uncle Gaspar was a favorite in the community. Everybody liked him. on one particularly day, Gaspar was on his usual rounds, shouting friendly greetings to every neighbor he passed. Spying his best friend puttering in the yard, he waved excitedly and ambled over to the fence. “Bay, pahingi naman ng rosas mo maya pag uwi ko . Anibersaryo kasi ng kamatayan ni Nanay at balak kong dumaan sa simbahan pagkagaling sa taniman ko. ( Brother , may I have some of your roses later on? It’s Mother’s death anniversary and I plan to pass by the church after checking on my plantation to make an offering),” Gaspar requested with a smile. Ambo was watering his plants with a tabo (dipper) and a pail. With a smile and an answering greeting, turned at the sound of his voice. He dropped the tabo in shock. “Diyos ko ( My God)!” he croaked, hurriedly making the sign of the cross. Gaspar had no head! Ambo blinked once, twice. Finally, he rubbed his eyes in earnest. But it was no use. Gaspar’s head was gone! He was talking to a headless body! “Bay, para ka namang nakakita ng multo d’yan. Masama ba pakiramdam mo (Brother, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost. Are you feeling alright)?” Gaspar noticed his agitation.
“Ano, bibigyan mo ba ako ng rosas mo ( So, are you gonna give me some of your beautiful roses)?” Gaspar persisted. Ambo, was still in shock, merely noddedhis head. He blinked again, and this time, when he looked again, Gaspar had his head back. “Sige Bay, ipipitas na kita at daanan mo nalang mamaya ( Okay Brother, I will pick some for you. You can come by for them later). “Ambo answered, still bewildered. Minutes after Gaspar left, Ambo was still wondering whether what he saw was real or it was just a trick of the light. I really need to have my eyes checked, he thought to himself.
By this time, Gaspar was on his way to his vegetable plantation. Riding in his jeep, he saw an elderly woman with a long white hair on the road. She was wearing a black dress and a black veil over her head and was walking in a zigzag fashion. Gaspar thought she was drunk or sick, so he tried to avoid her. In his effort to avoid the old woman who seemed to pop out from every direction, he failed to see the oncoming road. Gaspar was dead on the spot. At his wake, Ambo couldn’t stop crying. He blamed himself for the death of his best friend. Beside him, several witnesses to the accident were talking about it. They said Gaspar was zigzagging on the road, like he was drunk or avoiding someone on that fateful day. The strange thing was, there was no one else in area with him. Hearing this, Ambo spoke up. “Dapat nang nakita ko siya kanina na walang ulo habang kausap ko, dapat ay sinampal ko siya para di siya namatay. Hindi ba’t may kasabihan tayo na pag nakakita ka ng taong buhay na walang ulo o di kaya ay malabo ang mukha , sampalin mo agad para di matuloy ang pagkuha ni kamatayan (I should have slapped him when I saw him earlier, then he wouldn’t have died. Don’t we have a saying that if you see a person without a head. or whose face is blurred. It’s a sign that he’s gonna die and that you should slap him to kekep hims from death’s clutcher’s)?” he asked sadly. “Hindi ko nagawa sa kumpare ko kanina, dahil nagulat ako at natakot ( I wasn’t able to do it because I was too stunned and scared. I lost my wits).”