THE KAMUNING LOVER

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The Maricris  Bacala

Hongkong  in late November  is just perfect  for a trip.  I was among  the lucky one chosen to participate in a tour hosted  by one  of the world’s  top air carriers.

Great I thought,   I can get some  Christmas shopping  done.  I felt  pampered all throughout the trip,  enjoying  only the  best services on offer. business class seats  on the plane,  first class  hotel  accommodations,  sumptuous food and  a whirlwind tour of the island’s famous spots.

It was the perfect vacation for me. I have been breaking my  back for the past three months as a feature writer for  one of the  glossy magazines in town.  Our publications is centered on personalities and  issues, and would oftentimes be heavy on research. Sometimes I would be assigned to report on the effects of the latest disease, like Hepatitis B, and at others I would be told to interview a reclusive business tycoon.

But things are not all  as glamorous as they seem.  Putting the stories together  entails  research and sometimes a lot of  legwork. Plus,  there’s always the pressure of an  upcoming deadline hounding you,  sometimes even in  your sleep. In the past three months, I have also  been pinch-hitting  for our  publication’s managing editor, who is on maternity leave.  This means that, for the  past three months, I have been putting the publication “to bed”  inheriting  pressure and attendant headaches that being  a managing  editor entails.  This is why,  when I was offered  to cover the  launching of a book  in HongKong, I immediately  jumped at the chance. Fortunately, Lisa, our managing editor was due  back from  her leave and my editor-in-chief allowed me to join the tour. The first two days of the tour passed by in a blur of cocktails,  luncheons and,  of course, shopping  tours. We barely had time  to rest before we were dragged to an other party or function. At the end of another full day of touring  around the  territory. I  decided to make it  an early night  and catch up on my sleep. After enjoying  a long luxurios bath in the tub, I finally  settled  in for the night.  I went over the day’s events in my mind as I slowly drifted  off to  dreamland.   I had just dozed off when I was rudely awakened  by some force pressing  me down on the bed. Vaguely, I tried to think  whether I was alone  in the room.  Slowly, I gathered my wits and remembered  where I was- alone in  a hotel in  Hongkong.  I tried to  sit up, but I couldn’t  lift my head.  I felt  a heavy weight across my  chest,  like something was laying on top of me. Oh no,  this couldn’t  be happening again! A few months ago. I also woke up in the middle of the night. I was at my rented room within the confines  of a gated  village in Makati.   Someone or something was pressing down in the bed.  It was pressing down  on me so  hard,  I could  hardly  breathe. I  was so scared  because I thought this would  lead  to an asthma attack.  I had ashtma ever since I could remember  and sometimes  stressful  events triggered my attacks.

I cracked my eyes open, and what I saw nearly made me  faint with fright! Sitting on top of me was a creature so hideous, I could barely described it. The best I could  say was that it  resembled a horse  standing  on its two hind legs.

I shut   my eyes tight and prayed  hard.  After a while, I felt  the pressure ease, and  then, all  of a sudden it was gone!

I slapped at the lamp switch beside the table. Light flooded the room.  There  was no one there.  But that was three months ago,  and several thousand kilometers away in Makati. How could  it be happening again?  How could it’ follow me to HongKong?  I could barely muster enough courage  to open my eyes. I knew that I would  see and I prayed so hard I cried. This times the pressure on my chest was like a vise getting tighter and tighter. I don’t  know what happened  next.  I think I lose consciousness.  But when I woke up, it was broad  daylight,  and the hotel phone was ringing off the hook  on the night  table beside me.  I sat up,  but immediately   fell back down on bed,   weak as a new born kitten. I  searched  the night stand  for my asthma medication  and immediately took it.   I tried to act normal  in front of other people in the tour until we flew home in Manila.  When I got home,  I immediately called up my cousin, Anna,  to help me look for  a psychic who could perform a “tawas”  or candle ritual that would  purge the spirit that kept following me. We found one in our old neighborhood in Kamuning. The psychic said the spirit was that of a “lamang lupa”  or earth creature who  fell in love with me when I was 16 years old and living in kamuning. She tried to  purge  the spirit out of me, but to  no avail. The psychic said the creature was very stubborn. It has formed  an attachment  to me and has vowed to stay with me whenever  I would go.  Which is  why it is still with me now.

**

 

THE SAGADA ADVENTURE

We were  having our vacation  in Sagada, in Banawe, where we  had gone caving  it was a hard trek but my sister and I, along with our guide , wanted  to go all the way to  the bottom.  Upon reaching  the bottom I felt something following me. Throughout our  trek,  I could feel  the presence beside me. Several times, I felt it  tyring to grab my hand, but I just ignored it, thinking it was just nerves. I was unwilling  to let my fears get the  better of me.

After viewing  the magnificent  formations in the caves we began our ascent,  this time with lighter feet. The  feeling that someone  was with me  had lifted and I was  able to  move freely.  Upon finally reaching the top,  our guide confessed something  that made my hair stand on end.  He said  every time the lamp shone in my direction,  he could see another shadow walking beside me.  Then he told  us that previously there were two Australian tourists who died  while attempting  the trek.  They did not  hire a guide to show them  which way to go. But the mountain is too steep and its  trails  are too treacherous  to attempt without an experienced  guide.  Somewhere along the way, they slipped  and fell in one of the ravines and died.  While walking back to the car, the guide took  us to the grave of the two  Australians and an unidentified grave. According  to our guide, this unidentified person’s  spirit  is the one misleading unaccompanied  trekkers  and pulling  them to their deaths-even  to this day.

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