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By: Luis Mondejar, jr.
Jimmy was a staunch labor lawyer. Scores of labor cases had been won by him in favor of the working class. He was popular among the labor sector and had been for his sincerity in handling labor cases. There was no instance he’d compromise the interests of his clients. Since he passed the Bar Exams in 1980, he began fighting for the cause of the working man.
There was a time he handled an illegal dismissal case of a labor union where some 30 rank-and-file employees had been ordered reinstated. One day, as a token of gratitude, he was invited as sponsor to the wedding of the daughter of one of his clients. The wedding ceremony was held at the province and they had to commute half an hour to reach the place where the reception was held. It was here that he noticed some talisay trees that surrounded the house of his kumpadre. The place was of course cool because of the trees. Attracted, he asked his kumpadre to give him a seedling to talisay tree. Without any qualm, kumpadre gave him one. “I’ll plant this in front of our house,” he said, telling his kumpadre that he just moved into a subdivision in Bangkal . “There’s no plant around the area of our house. It’s good to have this to cool the house.”
Right after he arrived home, he planted the seedling. His spouse was against it. “It’s only good in the province, in the farm in particular. They say you can’t plant a talisay tree in the city. It’s bring bad luck,” his wife said.
“That’s superstition,” he said. “Bahala ka nga!” the wife said.
In their subdivision, not a single homeowner ever bothered to plant a talisay tree. All their neigbors prefer flowering plants, avocados, and mangoes.
“Give me a few more years and let us see which house has a good shade,” he quipped and smiled.
True to his expectation, after seven years, the talisay tree was already full grown, standing majestically, in front of their house. The tree provided an enviable sight to the neighborhood because not a single homeowner has grown a talisay tree. It was tall and enormous. One day, he put up a hammock in the tree purposely to use it for relaxation. But his wife again cautioned their kids not to play around the tree’s premises and not to touch the hammock put up by their father. “Why, Mommy?” their kids asked.
“Just do what I say,” she replied.
Jimmy used to relax in the hammock every Saturday afternoon, reading a magazine or a newspaper and then naps. In the evening, neighbors and passersby would be surprised to see a man smoking cigar in the hammock especially during very late at night. The man was very black- as black as the night- hairy, with bulging round red eyes. The sight was reported to the couple, but Jimmy didn’t believe it. “Why don’t you believe them? They saw it,” the wife said.
“But nothing happened. Maybe they were seeing things,” Jimmy protested. From then on, sightings of the strange creature became more often. Terror stalked the entire neighborhood. Many said the talisay tree was inhabited by a Kapre. Some said by ghost. Whatever it was, it was a common sentiment to cut the tree.
“Why? Did the tree harm any of you? asked lawyer Jimmy. “Perhaps, you’re just jealous of my tree that’s why you all are making up these stories.”
The plan to cut the tree didn’t materialize, but the black man in the hammock continued to appear. One day, after relaxing in the hammock, Jimmy started coughing. Soon, he begun spewing phlegm. He noticed that he was weakening. His cough worsened. He hardly slept that night. He reported for work the following day, but he was so weak that he had to go home to rest. The coughing didn’t stop . He continued to spew phlegm. He was losing weight fast but he never lost his appetite. This puzzled him and his wife. Also, his body steadily weakened. One morning, he went to see a neighborhood doctor. The doctor advised him to go the hospital to have a laboratory test as he found nothing wrong with him.
He tried the hospital. He’d a laboratory test. All kinds of tests were done but nothing told them the cause of his worsening health. Not contented with the results of the laboratory test, he decided to have a CT scan. Still, the result showed no abnormality in Jimmy’s physiology. Jimmy’s wife was sick with worry that she decided to consult an albularyo. “I am already too weak. Where shall we go now?” asked Jimmy weakly.
” Mang Andoy in Negros. He’s known to be a good healer. Perhaps, he could help us.”
Mang Andoy was a known albularyo in the locality. He was known to have cured patients of various illnesses, including those possessed by an evil spirit. Jimmy’s wife came from the same town where mang Andoy conducts his business.
The couple went to see Mang Andoy was already 80 years old Mang Andoy still recognized Jessica, Jimmy’s wife.”What brings you here? Welcome back,” said the old man. Jessica narrated briefly what had transpired. She said the doctors had no findings about Jimmy’s condition. Mang Andoy picked up clean a sheet of paper. He scribbled something on the paper only he could understand. He then asked Jimmy to dip it in the glass of water and drink it. He was asked to do the same for three days. After three days, Jimmy’s health was back to normal again. They went back home. Their neighbors were surprised at how fast Jimmy recovered. Jimmy had the talisay tree cut. They were all surprised to see that the tree was bleeding when they were cutting it. After the tree was cut, the black man was never seen again.