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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.