By: Gianna Maniego
Elise had never been a firm believer in ghost stories. When it came to campouts or sleepovers, friends would try their best to scare her by telling the creepiest tales. But she never bit.
Now that she was working, she was an even bigger skeptic than before . One day, she noticed their new next door neighbor moving in. Being a friendly person, she greeted the old woman who was supervising the movers.
“Good morning po. Kayo po ba ang titira sa tabi namin? Ako po si Elise ( Good morning, are you the one moving in beside us? My name is Elise) she stuck out her hand in a welcome gesture.
“Kumusta ineng, Ako si Mrs. Estanislao. Nanay Celia nalang ang itawag mo sa akin. Oo, dito na kami titira ng dalawa kong apo. Nasa States ang mga magulang nila nagtratrabaho kaya ako ang nag-aalaga sa kanila ( How do you do? I’m Mrs. Estanislao, but you can call me Nanay Celia. Yes, I’m moving in with my two grandchildren. Their parents are working in the States so I’m taking care of them.), ” said the friendly old woman. Nanay Celia invited Elise to come by after they had settled into the house and Elise agreed.
Two nights later, bringing a huge platter of Spaghetti carbonara that her mom had cooked, Elise knocked on Nanay Celia’s door. “Hello po, pinabibigay po ng mommy ko ( Hello, my mom asked me to give you this), “Elise knocked on Nanay Celia’s door. “Hello po, pinabibigay po ng mommy ko ( Hello, my mom asked me to give you this), ” Elise smiled, indicating the platter. “Naku ineng salamat ha, nag abala ka pa. Halika Kwentuhan mo ako ( Thanks, you shouldn’t have bothered. Come in and chat), Nanay Celia said, Elise felt right at home with Nanay Celia. She was a kindly old woman who had lots of stories to tell. In the next few days, they became close and sometimes Elise would babysit Nanay Celia’s two grandchildren, Bingbong and Lilit. Bingbong was eight years old, and Lilit was a year younger. One day, as they were having merienda, Bingbong blurted:
“Lola, sana dito nalang tayo forever, para malapit lang tayo kay ate Elise palagi (Lola, I wish that we can live here forever so that we can stay close to Ate Elise all the time).”
“Oo nga lola, sana hindi na tayo habulin dito. I hope they don’t follow us here ) Lilit dittoed. Elise glanced curiously at Nanay Celia, who seemed to avoid looking at her. instead she diverted the kids attention by shooing them into the living room to watch TV. “Pasensya kana, Madaldal masyado minsan yang mga yan ( My apologies, sometimes they talk so much),” she said as she cleared away the table. “Okay lang po’ yun. Bakit po, lagi po ba kayong palipat-lipat ng bahay ( That’s okay. Have you been moving from place to place)” Elise asked curiously. “Hay naku, mahabang kuwento (It’s a long story),” Nanay Celia answered, as she led Elise to the veranda. According to Nanay Celia, weird experience have dogged her and her grandchildren for the past two years-ever since her eldest granddaughter got murdered. They were still living in Paranaque at the time. The house was pratically new and her daughter Luisa and Luisa’s husband Dante had bought it for a song. The two were working as nurses in the States and yearly, they would spend 11 months abroad, so they asked Nanay Celia to stay home and take care of the kids. The place was ideal in that it was very near a school where both Bingbong and Lilit could study and it was just a street away from their paternal uncle Ernie and his family . Their house was also very near a park where yayas would often bring their charges in the afternoon, and teenagers would often hang out at night. Eighteen-year-old Tintin, the eldest, was the same age as Laarni, her cousin, Both of them studied in a university in Manila, so everyday, Tintin would walk to her uncle’s property. One day, Tintin didn’t come home at her usual time. Nanay Celia got worried because rain or shine, Tintin would always be home before 6:00 p.m. to catch her favorite soap opera on TV.
Nanay Celia called up Laarni’s house and asked if Laarni had arrived home. Upon learning that Laarni wasn’t there yet, her anxiety lessened a bit. Maybe they were just caught in traffic, she thought. But by 8:00 p.m. Tintin still hadn’t arrived. Really worried now, she called up Laarni’s house to check. Laarni herself answered the phone. ” Hi, Lola, what’s up? Kamusta nga po pala si Tintin? Me sakit po ba siya (How is Tintin, is she sick)?” Laarni asked gaily. “Bakit, hindi mo ba siya kasama? (Why, isn’t she with you)?” Nanay Celia asked, panic creeping into her voice. “Hindi po siya sumabay kaning umaga. Akala ko po me sakit kaya absent Wala pa po ba siya dyan? ( She didn’t hitch with us this morning. I thought she was sick, that’s why she was absent. Isn’t she there yet?” Laarni asked, worried herself now. “Wala! kaninang 6:30 ng umaga pa siya umalis dito. Ang alam namin, sumabay sa inyo pumasok . Naku! Nasaan na ba ang batang yan ( She’s not here. She left this morning at 6:30. We thought she’d hitching a ride with you as usual. Oh, where could that child have gone)” said Nanay Celia. Laarni promised to call some of their mutual friends to see whether Tintin was with them. By 10 P.M. Nanay Celia was hysterical , Laarni called and said Tintin was not with their friends. Ernie began going door to door, asking the neighbors if they’d seen Tintin. Some of them mentioned they’d seen her that morning cutting through the park. A group was formed and they searched the park. Within the hour, they discovered Tintin’s broken body hidden under a pile of garbage at the far end of the park She’d been raped and stabbed to death!
The whole neighborhood mourned the death of Tintin. Her parents rushed home from the States and tried to help with the funeral preparations, but it fell to Nanay Celia to arrange most of it. A few nights after she was laid to rest, the day after Dante and Luisa flew back to the States, Nanay Celia decided to go to bed early. “I was so tired, I immediately fell into an exhausted fell into an exhausted sleep. But then I had a strange dream, or so I thought.”
At about 3:00 A.M. she heard a knock on the door. She got up to answer the door, and when she opened it, Tintin was standing in the doorway wearing the dress she was buried in.
Tintin said: “Lola, I’ve come home. I knew you’d be worried. I’m home Lola”. Nanay Celia woke up in tears. She thought her dream was an offshoot of her grief. She still had to come to terms with her granddaughter’s death. The next morning, she was preparing breakfast for Lilit and Bingbong, who were only around 5 and 4 at the time.
Suddenly she heard a loud shriek and the two kids rushed out to her. “Lola, Lola, ang damit nasa cabinet ( the dress is in the cabinet)!” they both shouted .
“What dress?” she asked Bingbong explained that they were playing in their sister’s room, and one of them opened the closet. When they saw what was hanging in the closet, they rushed out. Not knowing what they were talking about. Nanay Celia went with them into the room. There, hanging in the closet, was the dress that her granddaughter had been buried in a few days before! The same dress Tintin was wearing in her dream! Spooked by the incident, Nanay Celia had the house blessed. But the day after it was blessed, when she opened the closet, the dress was there again! Nanay Celia said they decided to sell the house and transfer to another place. The house held too many sad memories and, it seemed, it was determined to constantly remind them of it. But the same thing happened in the new place that they got, an apartment in Makati. After a few days of quiet, Nanay Celia opened the cabinet in Lilit’s room to put away the clothes, and there, hanging in the closet was Tintin’s burial dress!
They’ve transferred houses several times in the past two years, but the dress kept following them around. At one point, they tried to burn it, shred it, donate it to the poor, have it blessed… but the day after, the dress would be back on its hanger. They figured it was because Tintin’s murder hadn’t been resolved and her restless spirit was reminding them to seek justice for her. But shortly before they moved to their current house, Ernie called and said one of the carpenters confessed to the murder. He had been working on a house near Ernie’s and had seen Tintin walk through the park everyday. On the day Tintin was killed, he was high on drugs and through he could get away with raping Tintin , since she was always alone. But Tintin fought back and he was forced to hit her on the head with a stone. He left her to bleed to death. After hearing this, Nanay Celia offered a short prayer that Tintin’s soul would be at peace. Sure enough, so far, in their current house, the dress hadn’t made an appearance yet.
At first Elise was skeptical about Nanay Celia’s story. But the old woman showed her the pictures that they took of the funeral. There were several shots of Tintin in her coffin right before they closed it. She pointed out a smudge where the funeral parlor assistants stained Tintin’s white dress near the collar. The morticians put too much foundation on her neck, so when they dressed her, there was a ring of makeup on the collar. Then she showed Elise another picture of the same dress hanging in a closet. She pointed out the same make up smudge on the collar! Although she didn’t want to believe it, Tintin’s story disturbed Elise. She didn’t know why. She was still thinking of Tintin as she left Nanay Celia’s house that night. As she approached the gate, she looked back at the house and waved to Nanay Celia, who was still in the veranda. She could hear Bingbong and Lilit arguing over what to watch on TV. Then something caught her eye and she locked up. There in the second story window was a figure. A young woman was smiling and waving back at her. She looked exactly like Tintin, and she was wearing the burial dress.