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Home / Filipino Horror Stories / THE PORTRAIT


By Jan Camille R. Tongco

 “Would you like to have a painting for free?”

When she heard those words, Janine ecstatically said yes,  got in her car,  and drove straight  to her friend’s  house. For an art lover like her, opportunities like those  were heard to find and  she wasted no time in getting her hands on the prized portrait. “This,” her  friend said with a smile “was a wedding gift from a friend. I’ve  forgotten all about it until  I found  it in the  attic  the other day. I’ve  never been found of paintings and so I’m giving it to someone who can appreciate it.”

After  thanking her friend. Janine went straight home to her apartment, unwrapped the painting and hung it on the wall near her bed. When she  had finished  her  adjustments, she laid down on her bed  and looked at the painting.

The painting was a scene of a typical barrio  fiesta. Colorful banderitas were  hanging all around, a large  wooden table filled with sumptuous meals  amidst the townsfolk.In one corner were some couples dancing to  the beat of the rondalla singers.The children were trying their luck at palo sebo and palayok-palayukan. Overhead, the setting  sun gave  the painting an overall feeling of flushed excitement.

The faces  in the portrait  were  full  of joy except for one. The man’s  face was  gaunt and he looked  more at home at a funeral than a fiesta. He wore a dark brown jacket, which made him stand out amongst the colorful camisa de chinos and  sayas.  Janine thought it strange that such a dreary man was  included in the painting.

Suddenly, the phone in the sala rang. Janine got up  and thoughts of the  strange man in the portrait vanished  from her mind. That night, Janine had a strange dream.  She dreamt that she was in a barrio attending the fiesta. As she approached the table laden with food, she saw a man dressed  in a brown, faded jacket walking away, heading for the nearby woods.

Janine had an  uncontrollable impulse to follow the man.  The man kept  walking until  he reached a clearing. Janine noticed  that there  was a woman in a white- T-shirt and blue jeans sitting under a tree,  asleep. The man  made no  sound and  quietly approached the girl.

Sensing that there was someone beside her, the girl woke up. The man quickly grabbed her hands and tried to kiss her. Janine could see that the girl was screaming but no one could hear. She herself could not hear anything except the sounds from the  fiesta. As the girl’s struggle intensified, the man slapped her so hard that her head hit the tree trunk. Before  she could  lift her head, the man grabbed  her by the neck and  started  choking her. Horrified, Janine began to scream.

Janine was sweating and shivering when she  awoke from her nightmare. She turned on the lamp beside her and stared  at the portrait.

What she  saw made her scream. The strange man was sitting beside the rondalla players, his jacket drenched  in blood. And standing amidst the crowd was the  bloodied girl  Janine saw in her dream. The next morning, Janine’s  friend brought a psychic to examine the painting. He instructed Janine to burn the painting, which she  immediately did.

After reciting a  prayer, the three of them watched the fires consume the portrait  and turn it to ash.  When they asked the  psychic about the  portrait, he said that he had felt a  strong  negative energy, perhaps anger or revenge, coming from the painting. The psychic  asked Janine’s friend about its painter and she told them that that the friend who gave it to her was also the one who  painted it.

The painter had died a year ago from a car accident. He had a sister that was  murdered when attended the fiesta in their hometown.  He was devastated  by her  death and he  frequently cursed  the man he  suspected  to be the killer. He gave the portrait to Janine’s friend as a wedding gift, saying  that he hoped  that it would  fulfill her  wish for happy life the same why it had fulfilled his.

“Do you  know what happened to the suspected murderer?”Janine’s friend  asked her. “I found out later that he had  died from a nightmare. Binangungot.  My  friend’s wish of revenge was fulfilled.”

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