By Dr. Jaime C. Laya
This is the time when everyone frightens everyone else with ghost stories.
The “white lady” of Quezon City’s Balete Drive was a 1950s sensation. It’s now a busy street, but then it was narrow and dark, bordered by homes with large yards. Passing vehicles were few. A young girl (supposedly named “Lennie”) would be at roadside, frantically hailing passing vehicles as if fleeing from a pursuing menace. Sympathetic drivers would stop, she would jump in and vanish. My college classmates and I zoomed noisily up and down Balete Drive several times, as did dozens of other ghost-hunters, frightening away poor Lennie.
Then there’s that house in Pampanga that I visited back in the 1980s. A circular stairs led up to a tower room and someone climbing those stairs, warned the owner, had better hold on to the railing as he could discover a girl hanging by the neck, swinging slowly.
For several years, I was privileged to use a house on Baguio’s Cabinet Hill. I slept in a second floor room ignoring the alert that sometimes the door would open, a shadowy figure would walk in, raise the window, and climb out. A friend happened to have a similar perk and could stay in the house next door. She related that while sitting on the terrace between the two houses late one evening enjoying the whispering pines, she saw a shadowy figure open the window of my place and jump out. I never saw or felt anything, but that did it.
My first-hand experience, blurry ESP notwithstanding, was shared by 10 others. We were staying at a cottage in Teachers’ Camp, still in Baguio. The front door opened to the main floor that consisted of the sala, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms. The kitchen had a back door and exterior stairs leading down. The house was on a slope and had a lower floor with more bedrooms. My wife, four small children, and I stayed on the upper floor while the maids, cook, and drivers were below. The two levels had separate entrances. There were no connecting internal stairs.
I myself locked all doors and windows of the main floor before heading off to bed, six of us shivering together in the cold, in one bedroom. I had just begun to doze off when footsteps started, loud solid steps. We all heard them but since no one could possibly be in the sala, I said something like how noisy those guys downstairs were and went to sleep. When morning came, I asked who was stomping so loudly. They all looked at each other and said they thought it was me, upstairs.
More Halloweens later, my American friend Marsh T. and I discovered that we had both stayed in the same cottage, though at different times. They were with Korean friends on the lower floor and noticed that their friends’ little boy always sprinted when passing a corridor. Asked why, the boy replied that a sword-wielding, boot-stomping soldier was chasing him.
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