IN MEMORY

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By: Sharron R.  Navera

When I was in College, I went to an expedition with three  classmates  in a place where an ” enchanted” mountain is located. We wanted to have  a documentation of traditional witch practices in the place for our socio  anthropology subject.  Upon arrival in the place,  we were welcomed by Mang Timo,  the  barangay chairman of the  area.  He led us to his  house made of concrete  and wood.  His garden was a beauty to  behold with flowers of varying colors and sizes.  At around 6 pm., Mang Timo told me  that the local albularyo was  beginning his healing sessions.  We grabbed out things and proceeded  to  where the ritual  was being held.  We saw  a long line of people-some  were ill and were there to seek treatment while others were foreign tourists who were there out of curiosity. And then there were us who  went there for academic  reasons.

“Mag-ingat ka sa kasama mo,” the albularyo  told me  while  pointing at Andrew, one of my classmates.  We were on our way home then. I was  puzzled.

The next day,  together with a tour guide, we were taken to a hill behind the village. He said  that every Holy Week, several people go  there to recharge  their powers of healing.  Andrew took something from the ground. I didn’t  know this  then but  I just found out later.  It was a branch of a sinag araw, a local plant which was so called because if  you cut the branch,  the inner rings  would from the sun ray’s  We went home  after the trek to the hill.  We retired for the night.  When every was sleep, I felt an  eerie presence   around me.I saw a black figure pass infront of me and disappeared near the long table. I  didn’t make much  of what I saw and went  back to sleep.  Early the next morning,  we decided to go to the top of the hill. My  classmates were ahead  of me and I was  trailing behind.  Midway to the  top,  my feet became so sore that I had to stop and rest.  I thought I won’t  be able to resume the hike so I decided  to just walk  back to the base of  the hill. Since I was familiar with the trail,  I didn’t bother calling anyone  to accompany me. I proceeded alone.  On my  way down, I suddenly realized that I was lost. I started to  panic. Lost and thirsty, I just kept  on going not minding  much where  my feet were leading me. Suddenly, I saw a thin mestiza woman in red blouse and pants. She had a very dark short hair.  She saw me too and  asked if  I needed help finding  my way down the hill. I said I did and so  we went our way down together. We chatted a bit as we were walking.  Upon reaching  the main road, I looked back to thank  her for her  help but  I saw no one. She disappeared.  That day, after the rest of the group returned from the hill,  we decided  to go swimming. We trooped  to the waterfalls.  That water was so cold and refreshing. It was so cleat that you can see the stones underneath.  I dove and planned to examine more closely the water bed. When I  dove,  I saw  a hand reaching out for me. I took it, thinking that it was my friend’s, and it  led me farther down the water. I was fast losing oxygen and I desperately  needed  to resurface for air  but the hand wouldn’t let me  go. I struggled to free myself from the hand’s grip. Then I felt someone pulled my shirt  collar and the next thing I knew, I was breathing fresh  air. I looked at the water and was surprised  to see that it wasn’t even  deep.  Everyone was laughing at me.  They said I fell asleep.  After our swim, we proceeded to a cottage. We saw several children  gathered  up for lunch. They invited us to dine with them.  We had a  wonderful  lunch of vegetable and rice cakes.  After the meal, we asked  Mang Timo who the children were. He said they were dewendes. All of  us turned  around the “children” were all gone.  That night,  Andrew said he was nauseated  and went early to bed. Me and the rest  of the group talked about the day’s events. Suddenly,  Andrew got up and asked us to rescue him. I did not know what to do.  He was possessed by an entity who refused  to leave his  body.  The entity  told me that I should leave the place or else she would kill Andrew’s  soul.   We tried to rescue him by saying  prayers. Suddenly, Mang Timo came bringing in with the albularyo  in tow.  He said he knew what was  going on. He  asked us if Andrew brought  anything home from the hill.  Karen, one of my classmates, pointed  at the stick, the sinag araw. The albularyo was mumbling some words. There was a sudden calmness in  the air.  After the healing,  they warned us never to get anything from the hill without asking permission.  The next morning, I was the first to wake up. I saw an old woman by  the door.  She was dressed in white, a pool of blood on her feet. I asked why she was there. She said nothing and left.  When Mang Timo arrived to pick up the sinag araw, he said that there was a mananangal  lurking within the area. He told us to always be cautious.  Since that was out last day, we were invited for a farewell gathering,  I was made  to drink several shots of lambanog.  I wasn’t  too drunk that  time,  but I saw  the old woman again.  This time,  she was pointing at  something in the tree. It was Andrew. I went to him and touched his  shoulder.  My hand went right through his “body” I went back to the group to report what happened. I saw Andrew  there, drinking. Since I was very tired, I ignored the whole thing. We  went back to Manila.   Two years after our trip, Andrew’s cousin reported that Andrew was  admitted in a mental hospital. He would  display violent behavior.  The parents  also sought some albularyos and even took him back to the  mountain.  Nothing cured  him of what appeared to be a case of possession  by some entity  I saw his cousin again in 2004. He said that Andrew died the year  2000-9 years since our expedition.  I never talked about this  with my paranormal students. I just warned  them about the mountain. I wish I could bring  Andrew back. I never returned to the place.

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