MANILA, Philippines — As a journalist, I travel a lot and have visited quite a number of places, most especially in Asia.
But even before I became a writer and an editor, I have been sort of a “psychic,” as others would call it.
I do not know whether it is a blessing or a curse to always dream of me losing a tooth or my entire teeth to warn me that someone dear would be gravely sick or would die soon. If my sister would have the same dream, then that means we would likely lose someone in the family. If I am the only one who dreamt of it, then that means I would lose a friend.
So far, these dreams have been accurate most of the time. But they have been helpful only to prepare me emotionally, not really to prevent the deaths or the sickness from happening.
Ever since I was young, I have been experiencing supernatural things that did not make sense to me when I was a kid. But through research and watching a lot of documentaries, I have come to accept that sometimes I could get sensitive, most especially, my third eye.
Here are just some spooky stories my fellow journalists and I have experienced in our travels through the years.
Rizal and Quezon
Niyogyugan Festival 2017 in Quezon Province. Philstar.com/Jan Milo Severo
When I was in elementary, the nanny and I believed we heard what the nanny would call “tiyanaks” or monsters of dead babies—a very distinct chorus of ghastly cries—from the field next to our former house in Cainta, Rizal.
In the same house, I had encounters with doppelgangers or those that imitate my parents’ voices, even before I knew what they were called. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I would wake up to my father or my mother’s voice calling me from the outside, asking me to open the gates. But when I get up, I realized they still were not yet home from a late-night prayer meeting or dinner party.
Also in that house, our family used to lose things a lot and find the things we were looking for somewhere else. According to a nanny from the province, this was because a “nuno” or a dwarf was playing on us.
The list of supernatural encounters went on and on, even as I got older.
When my grandma died, I occupied her room in her house. Even after months after she left, I can still smell her scent and hear her footsteps outside the room every morning. Guests in her house reported seeing what they believed was her her specter in the kitchen. They claimed the bar’s heavy doors also swung by themselves when there was no air to push them. Some guests said they also saw my grandfather’s ghost in his former bedroom.
I was born in Quezon, and I used to go there a lot during school breaks. While there, my grandparents would tell me about “aswangs,” werewolves, “enkantos” and “tikbalangs.” But one experience stood out from the rest.
When I was a kid and was sleeping by a giant capiz window with my grandma, strong winds suddenly filled the room, as if a giant electric fan just flooded us with air from outside. My grandmother immediately closed the windows because she said, it might be a “manananggal.”
One of my grandmothers claimed she was targeted by an “aswang” when she was a girl, only that the “aswang” was killed first during a manhunt following the successive deaths of kids in their town.
I believed their stories when I was a child because my grandparents were convinced that what they experienced were real.
Recreated Balangay boats at the Manila Bay. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
When I was in college at the University of Santo Tomas, I experienced a lot of ghost encounters at the old office of our campus paper, The Varsitarian. While our fellow “Varsi” alumni told us of seeing ghosts of friars and decapitated bodies, I had my own share of experiences such as sounds of the ghost of the office’s old janitor sweeping in the dark room and arranging chairs in the mezzanine; a supposed demon whispering my name very loudly in my ear once when I fell asleep in the mezzanine; and the phone incessantly ringing on one Sunday when we passed by in front of the office after hearing mass in the nearby chapel, as if the one on the line has so much time and energy to redial the phone number again and again. Who has the right mind to call the office repeatedly on a Sunday?
When I was on duty as a student assistant at the library, I experienced loud banging and being chased by something I could not see.
When a friend and I used an abandoned comfort room at the medicine building, we heard a child loudly crying outside our bathroom cubicles. My friend and I decided to pray for the child’s soul, and then we ran as fast as we can!
One time, after a photo shoot in an art gallery, my fellow editor and I saw what seemed to be a bolt of black lightning going down the stairs. We looked at each other, as if confirming that we both saw the entity, and immediately left the compound.
A contestant posing as an elemental at the 2017 Burgos Street Party. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
When I am already working, I rented a room in Makati City. In my room, I was once attacked by a huge, hairy monster when I was half asleep. It only went away when I called Jesus’ name. It became usual for me to hear loud noises of what seemed to be someone knocking at the door or knocking things down from inside my room, when there was nothing that really fell or was really there. I also got used to seeing a lot of orbs in my room and outside my room. Spirit experts say orbs are signs of lost souls.
In another condo I lived in, I used to wonder why the comfort room faucet was always open when nobody has been using it. One time, I woke up with all the cabinets open. During some nights, I heard as if somebody was opening the cabinets. When I woke up the following morning, the cabinet doors were still closed and they were.
There were also several times when I saw the bathroom knob twitch and the door opened by itself. It also became common to hear the sound of a whistle that seemed to follow me everywhere in the condo, or hear some knocking at the door even in the morning, but whenever I open the door, no one was there.
But the scariest thing that happened to me there was when everyone in the house was suddenly awakened by a loud and violent shaking of our bedroom door. Our house help was so scared that she got sick. Immediately, I returned the image of the Shroud of Turin that used to hang in the door and since then, we did not experience anything strange from the bedroom again.
In a five-star hotel also in Makati City, a fellow editor recalled that he was awakened by the ghost of a Japanese soldier about to attack him with a bayonet. He shielded himself from the attacker. After a few minutes, he noticed that he is still alive and the ghost was gone.
Carabao carts are a popular mode of transport in Mindoro, where Puerto Galera is a tourist destination. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
During a diving trip in Puerto Galera, I stayed in a room with a couple of fellow writers from another publication.
One day, while I was brushing my teeth in the room, I saw from the mirror what seemed to be a white figure flashing beside me. I ignored it. The white figure passed beside me again and this time, it was bigger. I ignored it again.
But as I went on to brush my teeth, the white figure passed beside me again and as I saw from the mirror, it has become more visible and resembling the silhouette of a person.
Afraid that the figure might show its entirety, I immediately got off the bathroom and told my companions of what I saw. Scared, we all slept in another group’s room.
During dinner, a photographer from another news agency told me he has sixth sense and he has seen the specter in our room. He said he wanted to warn us about it, but he felt like it was a “friendly” ghost, so he just let it be.
Panagbenga Festival in Baguio features street dancers alongside flower-filled floats. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Of all the places I have been to, Baguio takes the cake when it comes to ghostly encounters. I had an encounter about eight out of my 10 visits there!
For instance, when booking for a hotel in Session Road, there was one room that felt so heavy. When the trip’s organizer and I both got into the room, the lights in the entire floor went off, as if someone does not want us in the room. But as soon as we got out, the lights went on again. The organizer then revealed to me that she also felt heaviness in that room.
At Baguio Teachers Camp, it was eight in the morning and a friend and I were knocking at the door of a friend’s cottage. We knocked and knocked and no one opened the door and answered, and yet we can hear laughter inside the cottage. I then picked up my phone and gave my friend, who was staying in the cottage, a ring. My friend answered the call and said, it is impossible to hear laughter in the cottage because no one was there as all of them in the cottage left and went to the restaurant to have breakfast at seven a.m.
Upon following our friends in the restaurant, a friend, who is a senior reporter for a newspaper, told us of her many horrifying encounters at the camp. One time, she was awakened by a loud knock in the door. When she opened it, she saw a decapitated body with a chain on the foot. She passed out and was just discovered lying on the floor by the organizers of the event she was supposed to cover.
I have not really seen a full ghost, not until I covered the Panagbenga Festival some years back. On our way to dinner at restaurant in a golf course, when the bus turned to a street, the entire street seemed to be full of ghosts of all kinds – from white ladies, to ghosts in period costumes, to only shadows and black entities. They were so many that they seemed typical and not scary.
At first, I dismissed what I saw. I thought to myself, maybe I was just hungry that is why I saw things.
But fast forward to some months after the festival, I went on another coverage, this time, in Bohol with a reporter from another publication. Out of nowhere, he told me he saw the ghosts in that Baguio strip because during the festival, there were so many press people and I was sitting at the back of the bus, while he was on the front. He confirmed that what I saw was real and that he saw them, too, because he can really see dead people since birth.
Ronie Esquivel, La Union’s multi-awarded one-legged surfer, died last 2012 due to a heart attack. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
During a surfing trip to La U, as it is fondly called, my friends from the press told me about past encounters at the beach. While camping, some of them heard sword fights at wee hours of the night, while some heard horse gallops and men walking with chains.
Structures and markers erected in honor of the fallen heroes of Bataan. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
During a night tour of Corregidor, my friend and I heard inaudible whispers inside one of the caves of a tunnel, where hundreds of Japanese blasted themselves off as they were losing the war.
After the tour, my friend and I were frolicking by the ship deck when we saw a tall shadow coming in and out of an admin office.
The following morning, we awoke to the sound of running combat boots outside our hut.
According to employees of the island, they have similar experiences like hearing gallops of horses by the cliff, where hundreds of Japanese soldiers jumped off at the end of World War II. Others also heard chains being dragged in the middle of the night.
View of Cebu’s beach from a hotel. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
A friend from a newspaper and I were staying at the roof deck suite of a five-star hotel in Cebu to review the hotel, its amenities and its new restaurant.
Our two-bedroom suite was the only room in the floor, but the next morning, I was awakened by the loud giggling and running around of what seemed like children playing just outside our bedroom and in our living room.
I woke up my friend, who was sharing the bed with me as she found the beds too big, but she said she did not hear children playing. She even laughed at me because we were supposed to be the only ones in the entire floor.
An elephant riding a vehicle in Pattaya, Thailand. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
I had my honeymoon in Thailand and will be back there to celebrate my birthday this December. So far, I have no encounters there, but a story from a more veteran editor spooks me to this day.
According to the lifestyle editor of the newspaper, who one would think is so posh to have an encounter, while she was staying in a high-end resort, she saw how her Louis Vuitton luggage zipped and unzipped on its own right before her very eyes!
During her entire stay in the resort, whenever she would turn off the lights and go to bed, a black cat seems to be roaming inside her room. But whenever she opens the lights, the cat disappears.
Two weird strips of light appeared in this photo of a bedroom in a hotel in Hanoi. Professional photographers could not explain how the lights came about. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
I have stayed at the 13th room of the 13th floor of a hotel in Korea, as well as trekked the Kota Kinabalu and hit the river bottom in a whitewater raft tour in Malaysia, but I have not been as “shookt” as I had been in the thousand-year-old city of Hanoi.
Upon entering my assigned room in a hotel, I already felt like I was not alone in the room. I ignored the feeling and just went on with what I usually do at trips: take pictures of the room before I mess on it.
In one of the pictures, I noticed two weird lights that seemed like they were randomly painted there. I had the picture checked by the professional photographers who were with me during the out-of-town coverage, and they confirmed that the lights were “supernatural.”
Still feeling a heaviness in my room, I asked if I can room-in with a fellow reporter.
While were already touring the city, we took random pictures of the people and places. In one of the pictures of a temple, I noticed weird and ghastly formations. Again, I had the picture checked and my photographer friends again told me that what I took was unusual because they did not have the same images on their pictures.
Once, I accidentally took a picture of my grandfather’s ghost beside me on the day he died. I would like to share the image, but it was in my old phone that crashed.
Similarly, my sister-in-law was able to capture the scary black image of the bad spirit believed to be haunting their old house, as well as the ghost of a dead nun that used to teach in their school. My sister, during a trip to Laguna, was also able to capture ghosts in her smart phone. One ghost joined her group picture with her friends, while another joined the picture of the entire class. We decided not to share the images to not transmit the negative energy that the pictures might have.
Because of these experiences, I believe that the spirit world is real. But during ghost encounters, I do not attempt to make contact of any kind. I only talk to Jesus by praying and calling him, and then I go.
I do not revisit the sites where I had encounters because I might bring the negative energy with me. I do not come back with my friends or with some “spirit questor” to try to expel the ghosts and be a hero.
We should acknowledge that we are only human and that there are things that go beyond our power and control. But if the enemy is within our homes and are already pestering our lives, we should seek help from a professional exorcist, preferably from the church.
If there is any consolation for having a sixth sense, it will be the comfort of knowing that the soul is also an energy, and energy, according to Science, cannot be destroyed.
That means the souls of our dearly departed might be just in a different dimension somewhere and one day, we could be with them again.
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