I first heard this true-to-life ghost from my professor who ran out o f lessons to teach one sleepy afternoon. It was about this saleslady- let’s call her Mrs. Santos -during the Seventies who was into direct-selling Tupperware products, sometimes new in the kitchenware market at the time. At the end of the demonstration she conducted in Laguna, a middle-aged gentleman, who looked like an important businessman-sort of like a Jaime Zobel de Ayala or a John Robert Sobrepena-approached her.
The guy -let’s call him Mr. Cruz-invited her to do another demonstration in a house along Dona Juana Rodriguez in New Manila, Quezon City. Charmed by the man’s courtly demeanor, the saleslady accepted the invitation and went the following week to the address given. It was at an old Hispanic mansion with century-old trees and an ancient garden surrounding it. It was a lazy Saturday midafternoon and very few vehicles were passing by in front of the mansion. In the front yard stood an old, balding man in a white undershirt, sweeping away the dead leaves. When he saw her, the old man, who was probably the caretaker, readily invited her inside. The interior of the mansion exuded a certain Old World charm, something seen in period movies like The Sound of Music or Gone with the wind. She was ushered into the sala and was told to wait for Mr. Santos proceeded to set out all the tupperware items she had brought with her. By the time she had finished, Mr Cruz still hadn’t arrived. She decided to pass the time by reading some of the magazines. Oddly enough. She couldn’t recognize any of the faces featured on the covers. Glancing at the dates, she saw that they were all dated in the 1930’s. Suddenly, she heard voices coming from upstairs -animated conversation, punctuated by laughter here and there. When she looked up, Mr. Cruz, together with several men and women similar to his age and bearing, were coming down the stairs. Mr Cruz introduced her to his friends, who were all wearing gray suits. Some of the men were in gray skirts and long gowns. Mrs. Santos didn’t pay particular attention to their attires, surmising that perhaps it was a gathering of an upper-class club or organization and such “uniforms”were required. Mrs. Santos introduced the Tupperware products and everybody seemed excited and pledged to order some items. After her demonstrations , someone turned on the turntable and played old tunes, probably Bing Crosby classics. Then someone brought out some food and wind and a party began. Mrs. Santos was invited to stay for the party she declined, saying it was already getting dark, but did drink a little of the wine. Mrs. Santos went home happy and tipsy that day. She stayed the night with a 60-year old aunt who lived in Malate. Mrs. Santos told her aunt about her rich, elegant but weird clients. The aunt was surprised when she mentioned the names of Mr. Cruz and his friends. Apparently, her aunt knew them all by name and reputation. Yes, they were all celebreties and elegantly rich! Some of them were famous artists, musicians and socialities. The only thing was, her aunt and watched and read about them during her college days, decades ago. As a matter of fact, these people had been dead for a long time. Many of them didn’t survive the Second World War!
Mrs. Santos was too tunned to speak. To think that she even danced a tune of two with them and tasted some wine!
A few months after, Mrs. Santos decided to write about her experience and have it published in the Sunday edition of the Daily Express. It came out in the second week of December 1972.
When my professor read the article, he tried to find out the truth behind the story. He asked his students (at the time, he was teaching the high school students of San Beda College), to visit the mansion in New Manila with him- as a sort of adventure. So, together with a dozen of his students, my professor went to the house one Saturday morning. To their surprise, an old man identical to that described in the Express story was there in front yard, doing much the same thing that the old man in the story was doing-sweeping away dead leaves.
My professor made some pretext about needing to enterview Mr. Cruz about old houses. The old man ushered them all inside them all inside, and there they found everything as described in the 70’s article. Even the old magazines were there, bearing the same dates. the old man told them to wait as he climbed the long staircase to inform Mr. Cruz about the group didn’t wait around to find out as they sped out of the mansion as fast as their feet could carry them. When I asked the professor whether the story was true or not, he dared me to find out for myself. He gave me the exact location of the house. which was some blocks away from the Broadway Centrum. So one Sunday morning, I decided to see for myself. Trudging up Dona Juan Rodriquez Street. I noticed some old houses but saw no sign of the old man. Reporting back to my professor, I suggested that after 20 years, somebody might have bought the property and turned it into one of those townhouse complexes. Probably, he said. He didn’t because after the horrifying incident he never went back there. Even at the height of traffic in the area, he always made it a point to avoid the street. As for myself, I can only report this strange incident that happened after I visited the street: One Monday morning I checked out the National Library for old copies of the Sunday Daily Express Magazines. To my surprise, I discovered that all the copies of the December 1972 issues were there- except for the issue that came out on the second week. The librarian, who was has been working there for decades, was also puzzied. Coincidence? Somehow, I think not.