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By: Judy May Geronimo

My boyfriend halls from  far flung- Ozamis City, in Misamis Oriental. Although he’s  migrated to Manila,  he still goes back from  time to time to visit some relatives  who still live there including his favorite uncle.

Uncle Gaspar was a middle-aged bachelor with a pleasant disposition. Unlike  other men who get  grouchy with age,  Uncle  Gaspar remained  cheerful  and friendly, particularly to his neighbors, for whom he  had only good words.

Uncle Gaspar had a vegetable plantation in the next town which he visited every day. Along the way,  he passed  several neighbors, whom he never failed to  great with a jovial “hello” and a  compliment.

“Pareng Ambo, ang gaganda ng tanim mong halaman ah ( Hey there Ambo,   your plants are looking  pretty),” he would  call out fondly to his best friend. “Inday and puno  ng mangga mo hitik sa bunga, ang galing mo kasing mag alaga ( Inday, your mango tree is heavy with fruit. You really  have a snack for growing  these things),” he would tease  another  neighbor.

This was his daily routine. In fact,  his neighbors wouldn’t think  their day  was complete  until they see Uncle  Gaspar winding his way around the community and saying  hi to them.  Needless to say,  Uncle Gaspar was a favorite in the community. Everybody liked him.  on one particularly day, Gaspar was on his usual  rounds,  shouting friendly  greetings to every neighbor  he passed. Spying his best friend  puttering in the yard,  he waved excitedly and ambled over to the fence. “Bay,  pahingi naman ng rosas mo maya pag uwi ko . Anibersaryo kasi ng kamatayan ni Nanay at  balak kong dumaan sa simbahan   pagkagaling sa taniman ko.  ( Brother , may I have some  of your  roses later on? It’s Mother’s  death anniversary  and I plan to pass by the church after checking on my plantation to make an  offering),” Gaspar  requested with a smile. Ambo was watering his plants  with a tabo  (dipper) and a pail.  With a smile and an answering greeting,  turned at the sound of  his voice. He dropped the tabo in  shock.  “Diyos ko  ( My God)!”  he croaked, hurriedly making  the sign of the cross. Gaspar had no head! Ambo  blinked  once,  twice. Finally, he rubbed his eyes in earnest. But it was no use.  Gaspar’s head was gone! He was  talking to a headless body! “Bay, para ka namang nakakita ng multo d’yan. Masama ba pakiramdam mo  (Brother, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost. Are you feeling alright)?” Gaspar noticed his agitation.

“Ano, bibigyan mo ba ako ng rosas mo ( So, are you gonna give me some  of your  beautiful roses)?” Gaspar persisted. Ambo, was still in shock, merely noddedhis head. He blinked again,  and this time,  when he looked again,  Gaspar had his head back. “Sige Bay,  ipipitas na kita at daanan mo nalang mamaya ( Okay Brother, I will  pick some for you. You can come by for them later). “Ambo answered, still  bewildered. Minutes after Gaspar left,  Ambo was still wondering whether what he saw was  real or  it was just a  trick of the light. I really need to have my eyes checked, he thought to himself.

By this time,  Gaspar was on his way to his  vegetable plantation.   Riding in his jeep,  he saw an elderly woman with a long white hair on the road.  She was  wearing a black dress and a black veil  over her  head and  was walking in a zigzag fashion. Gaspar thought  she was drunk or  sick, so he tried to avoid her. In his  effort to avoid the old woman who seemed to pop out from every direction, he failed  to see the  oncoming road. Gaspar was dead on the spot.  At his wake,  Ambo couldn’t stop crying. He blamed himself for the death of his  best friend. Beside him, several witnesses to the accident  were talking  about it.  They said Gaspar was zigzagging on the road, like he was drunk  or avoiding  someone on that fateful day.  The strange thing was,  there was no one else in area with him.  Hearing this,  Ambo spoke up. “Dapat nang nakita ko siya kanina na walang ulo  habang  kausap ko,  dapat ay sinampal ko siya para di siya namatay. Hindi ba’t  may kasabihan tayo na pag nakakita ka ng taong buhay na walang ulo o di kaya ay malabo ang mukha , sampalin mo agad para di matuloy ang pagkuha ni kamatayan (I should  have slapped  him when I saw  him earlier, then he wouldn’t  have died. Don’t we have a saying that if you see a person  without a head. or whose face is  blurred. It’s a sign that he’s gonna die and that you should slap him to kekep hims from death’s clutcher’s)?” he asked  sadly. “Hindi  ko nagawa  sa kumpare ko kanina, dahil nagulat ako  at natakot ( I wasn’t  able to  do it  because I was too stunned and scared. I lost my wits).”

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