I promised to write about the paranormal things that we experienced as a family back when we lived in Escario extension in Cebu City. We rented this huge house that had six bedrooms upstairs and a huge den/bedroom downstairs with a proper bar that had this “reminiscent of cowboy movies” swining-door and a huge front and backyard. The house also stood next to a vacant lot that had some mango trees and a huge and ancient acacia tree that stood near the wall of the house. This wall is where the second floor’s bathroom is located. This bathroom joins my parents bedroom and our bedroom (my younger brother Alvin and I slept in this room with Tia Meding).
In the beginning, we noticed some strange little things like the sound of the typewriter being used upstairs when nobody was even there! My dad had converted part of the second floor into an office and he had his desk set-up with this old, bulky typewriter on the side of the table. Nobody save for my parents were ever allowed near this table and the file cabinets that held important documents. We were all scolded if we ever played near the “office” so everyone kept well away. However on some days, there would be someone typing on that enormous typewriter – when my dad was in his office, my older brothers were still in school and everyone was in the den or the living room watching TV. Being a tropical country, most home dwellers would stay on the ground floor where it is cooler. At first my grandmother suspected it to be just the cats, playing on dad’s desk. But as kids, we couldn’t imagine cats to be so clever as to type on a machine that needed quite some strength to push the keys off and make that distinct “imprinting” sound: the tap, tap, tap of a typewriter. Later on we'd hear laughter like children at play, only the kids back then were just Alvin and I and we'd be asleep when stranger childlike laughter would fill our home.
Then there is the imaginary friend that my younger brother, Alvin has. He talks to them and he described them as small, as tall as he is, and that there is more than one that he plays with. Being children, I too had an imaginary friend I named ‘Petunia’ whom I so convincingly created and pretended to be real that my brother had even inherited her. But for all her fun and laughter that she brought to us, Petunia was definitely make-believe. Unlike the new friends my brother has...they were real!
He liked playing in the bathroom that joins my parents and our bedrooms. Until now, he’s well over-30 my brother liked doing things that involved water – be it washing his car, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom or washing his maongs (jeans). So often in the day when its summer or there’s no school to go to, he’d be up there splashing and laughing and talking to himself. Everyone thought it was just normal. Mom was more worried of him accidentally slipping or putting his head into the huge pail of water and drown than for anything else. However he started to develop huge pimple-like breakouts on his skin. Like an inverted pimple where you don’t see the ‘eye’ these lumps started to grow on his legs and arms, his chest and all over his body. My parents were desperate for a cure! We’ve been everywhere: his pediatrician (he was only about 3 or 4 years old then); Chong Hua Hospital (which is considered the best medical care in Cebu back then); even quack doctors and herbolarios (traditional medicine men or healers that uses herbs and oils). One of these herbolarios used a candle that he lets drip onto a basin of water. The shape of a small man formed. In Filipino, we call these “duendes” (fairies or elves). He suggested to perform some form of ritual to be rid of them but my parents refused, disbelieving the man. All forms of medicines and ointments have already been used on my brother at this point and my parents were desperate for a cure although, they wouldn’t want to succumb to killing a chicken and spilling its blood type of ritual, yet.
The worst of the strange events happened after Valentines’ Day in the early 80’s. My parents are members of socio-civic organisations like my dad is a member of Kiwanis Club while my mom was a member of the Cebu Jaycees. That V-day, mom held a party for her fellow Jaycees in our home. Dad also invited some Belgian guests from work and other close friends. It was a fun night and I was even allowed to join the party handing out party favours to the women and asking everyone to sign in this huge cardboard heart that served as a guestbook. Guests enjoyed the night and stayed on until the wee hours, laughing and having fun. We we’re all shocked by what we saw the very next day!
The long bar situated under the staircase was ransacked. Bottles appeared to have been melted out of shape! This was no ordinary melting as there was no sign of any burn or charring. The swinging cowboy door was pulled out of its hinges and being secured by huge bolts, it looked like only someone really strong could have done it. My parents were baffled. The last of the guests left at about 4:00 am. There was just my parents and some elder family members left who did a quick clean-up of the party leftovers and went to bed, deciding to do the rest of the cleaning the following day. We all woke up at around 9:00 am and still in pajamas, we all heard the scream of our ‘house help’ (maid) who had been up since 7:00 but had only been through the living room for the first time. She’d had breakfast and cooked breakfast for the family, she was off to the sala (living room) to clean up the rest of the previous night’s party mess when she saw the bar in this state. We all ran to her aid, thinking she’d been hurt but she just pointed at the bar and was shivering in fear.
My parents even called the police and they came, took some pictures and interviewed the adults about the night. Yet the puzzle remains unsolved. Nothing was taken, nothing was lost. No one was really hurt save for the poor wine and alcohol bottles that have been re-shaped out of their original state and the swinging door that has been pulled off its hinges.
A friend who claimed to be a “seer” of sorts explained to my mom that the duendes were upset about all the noise and ruckus of the party that they destroyed all the alcohol and wine so that people would stay sober and not make such disturbing noises. Also she added that my brother, Alvin can see them too and has been playing with them. They like him so much (being so cute and chubby back then; see our picture below...) that when at play, many of these duendes would pinch him, thus the unexplained and incurable lump-like pimple-like outbreaks on his arms and legs and chest. These duendes lived in the huge acacia tree that stands near the wall that is to our bedroom and the shared bathroom.
We haven’t really noticed it but perhaps due to a previous typhoon and heavy rainfall, the branches of the acacia tree had fallen and leaned towards the wall, and a huge branch has settled near the window of the bathroom. This had enabled to “others”, these paranormal creatures to venture into our bathroom where they met the cute Alvin and made friends. Eventually, some had ventured more and more into the house and have played with the typewriter, in the rooms upstairs and even downstairs where on a really dusty day, we’d see small footprints on furniture where the dust had seemed to settle. At first we thought they we’re the cats or dogs’ footprints but looked too human in shape and yet too small to be ever mine or my brother’s the only children in the house. These footprints were also on odd places where no human child could ever reach or even canine and feline pets would have difficulty reaching.
With this revelation, my parents have decided to move homes. Thus saying goodbye to Escario Extension, we moved to V. Luna, into a 5-door apartment where we occupied one unit and my grandmother opened a convenient store. Alvin's "pimples" misteriously just all disappeared and got miraculously cured.
More on Cebu life stories on my next blog.
Just an added thing, which may be of interest: I asked my brother how they looked like, his so-called duende friends and he described them as looking like gnomes but not fat, more like hobbits in their build. Slim, like 3 year old pre-schoolers in height, they har pointed ears, wore pointy hats and costumes like those of a gnome...but not at fat or heavy. They also looked younger, not the old bearded faces of gnomes. Below is a picture of a gnome and a hobbit - you just have to combine the bits together to get an idea of how the duendes may have looked like to my brother and why he liked playing with them in the bathroom.