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By: Aya Paredes
For years now, it’s been a family tradition to go every Sunday afternoon to this rather famous park. A river runs through the park and a trip to the place is not complete without a riverboat ride. This story happened last December. It was a few days before Christmas and most families would go there to have a picnic and even shop in tiangges. We did both. Tired of the entire afternoon going from one stall to another, renting bikes, and taking endless pictures, my cousins and I were ready to call it a day. We sat near the big metal bridge that connects the biking area to the opposite park where all of the foods stalls are located. It was already 8 p.m. but the park was still packed. “Come on, guys, let’s try the boat ride!” exclaimed one of my cousins, Joy. It was her first time there. Her family’s based in the province and she was just on vacation. “No, thanks. Let us just rest for a while. We’ve been roaming around for five hours straight!” I told them.
“Hey, I want to try a boat ride, too!” said another cousin Mark. “Okay, Ate Joy, let’s go together!”
“Are you sure that’s safe?” I asked Joy. They were instructed to wear floating devices. “Sure, Don’t be such a KJ, Aya, I’m a swimmer in our province. This isn’t even deep enough to drown us.” Joy assured me. “Wanna join us?” She was teasing. She knew I’m not up for those kinds of adventures. I’m a safety freak.
“No thanks,” I quipped after glancing at the dark water inhabited by large, icky janitor fish.
We had fun watching Joy and Mark tried their hardest to paddle around the river. I got a little worried when they decided to farther away from our sight, but other things caught my attention. I chided myself for being so anxious. They might even be having a good time, I told myself. An hour passed and there was no sign of Mark and Joy. Their boat wasn’t on the dock. An aunt of mine got so worried that she requested the management to send someone to look for my cousins. The management quickly obliged. When they returned almost an hour later, they were in a bigger motorized boat. Accompanied by some barangay tanods, I knew right away something was wrong. My cousins were with them, both were dripping wet. They were given blankets right away.
The tanods allegedly saw my two cousins floating at the deeper part of the river. That park was not within the park’s grounds anymore. When asked what happened their boat, none of them could answer. They were just shivering and Joy couldn’t stop crying. Days passed before the two of them finally related to us what happened to them. They were busy maneuvering the boat and having fun that they didn’t notice that the current was dragging them down the deep part of the river and away from the rest of the riders. They tried to paddle their way back to the boat station but the current was too strong for them. They were shouting for help, but the area was deserted and everything was totally dark. No one could hear them. Then Joy began crying.
They saw something big swimming in the river. They thought it was a big fish. But when two rotten pair of hands grabbed their boat, they both screamed for help. The attacker shook the boat violently, almost toppling them over. Then the attacker jumped and joined them in the boat. A long-haired woman with torn clothes and rotten flesh. Her fish was covered by hair. She grabbed Joy the feet. Screaming, Mark kicked the woman. She didn’t even flinch. He kicked her again. Then the woman grabbed Mark and threw him in the water. Joy didn’t waste another second, she too jumped off the boat. The woman stayed on the boat until it slowly sank under the dark water. The woman tried to swim her way towards my cousins once again, but was attack by a school of janitor fish. Not long after that, the barangay tanods rescued my cousins.
When we went back to the park, we did a little snooping. We wanted to know if the river was haunted and by whom. We couldn’t just let the incident go without knowing what happened. Some tanods claimed it must’ve been the ghost of the girl who was raped and killed being thrown in the river not so long ago. When the body was found, barangay officials decided to dispatch a team of barangay tanods nightly to patrol the area.