THE HAUNTING AT BENITEZ HALL

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 By: Joel P Salud

It was about 11 in the evening and the air was damp  and heavy with rain.  The evening  sky covered  the city like a dark gray blanket even though it was nigh on midnight. The wind  was cold, bitter and crisp, almost vindictive as it holved  and made  the branches of the old acacia trees that lined  the edge of the University of the Philippines’ sunken Garden Whistle.

Two friends, Alma and Christine (not their real  names), both young creative  Writing instructors  at the Diliman campus,  were stranded in front of Benitez Hall.   They hadn’t  expected  it to rain  so hard  that day. There was  nothing in the news about an incoming storm. There were no warnings from PAGASA, as usual.

After alighting from the jeepney,  they ran as fast as  they could towards the  huge wooden door of Benitez  Hall where a security guard was sitting quietly,  writing  something on a small piece of paper.  Christine,  who lived nearby, asked the security guard to let them into the  building since the rains were getting more furious, The two teachers needed  a place to  stay for the night, or at least, until the rains subsided.

After presenting their IDs, the guard let them in.  By that time both Alma  and Christine were already soaking wet.  The guard accompanied them into one of the rooms situated at the left wing of the old building.  The guard called Obet, the caretaker of the building,  and asked  if he had the keys  to the classrooms.  As the caretaker opened  the door, a whiff  of frosty air  blew toward the faces of the two instructor. This is  strange,  Christine  thought,  noticing  that all the windows were closed.  As the two  instructors  went in, Christine, who was  more spiritually sensitive of the two, felt  a certain presence  brush near her  shoulder. At first  she did not mind it. It’s  probably a wayward breeze, she said to  herself.

Benitez Hall,  or the college of Education,  was one of the  oldest buildings on  campus. Aside from being the building  where some  of the best professors  in UP were  honed, Benitez Hall is  likewise infamous because of its ghost sightings. In its  former incarnation,  it was an interrogation camp of the Japanese Army  during  World War II. Most UP graduates know that it is the most haunted building on  campus.  Christine and Alma settled down and  took  off their  wet business jackets. They  put together two tables to use as beds.  Since they did not  have blankets, the two used  their jackets. As Christine  was about  to hand  the jackets to Alma, she heard  footsteps coming from the corridor, on the other side of the door. At first, she  thought it was the  guard, but she noticed that the  footsteps were made by  someone with rubber soles, like  slippers. The guard  was wearing leather shoes. Both knew  theirs were the only ones in the  building aside from the guard. Christine went to the door. She tried  to open it,  but the door remained tightly shut.  Feeling something  eerily strange  about the goings on,  she motioned to Alma to  help her open the  door.  But though  both of them combined their strengths  and pulled with all their   might, they could not budge the door.  They started yelling,  calling for the guard. Despite  their shouts and calls   for help  though  the guard  did not come.  But Christine could still  hear the footsteps from the  other side  of the door. After about three minutes, the sound of footfalls stopped.  She peeked through the peephole to see who  it was on the other side. All she  saw was the color red.  Alma,  scared stiff because of the ghost stories she heard in the past about Benitez Hall,  started banging on the door and kicking it.   A few seconds later, the door opened  and the guard  rushed in the classroom, asking what happened.

Christine asked, “Is there anyone in the building aside from us? The guard shrugged his shoulders.

“We heard footsteps, someone wearing slippers.”

“Obet already left.  There’s no one in the building  but us,” the guard confirmed.  “Is  this building really haunted? Alma asked.”I’ve heard stories of people who died in  Benitez Hall. I also heard ghost stories from  the former guard.  I don’t  believe this ghost stories. All I know is  that a student died  here once. A friend of mine who used to be assigned to guard  Benitez Hall said he saw  a person floating  in the air  dressed in white,with BIG RED EYES!”  at that, Christine slumped down in a dead faint.

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