25 June 2010

Spook Stories: Sometimes There is a Logical Explanation



Those of you who have been to the Dallas area of the Base know that many of the houses in that section of the military property are – or were; I haven’t been there for sometime – wooden American style homesteads. That was because, Dad used to explain, the initial houses in the area were Dallas prefabricated huts.

Now, of course, we would “ahhhh” to Dad’s explanation; albeit, to this day, I do not know what a Dallas prefabricated hut is. At any rate, it was in our own wooden house that this next story occurred.

I’m not sure if I was even born yet when this incident happened; if I was, I must have been very young. From what I can recall, Mom was apparently awakened in the middle of the night by what sounded like footsteps on the wooden floor.



“Daddy! Daddy!” Mom roused my Dad. “May naglalakad sa may kusina…”

My Dad did not spook easily. When the family kuwentuhan revolved around the aswangs and the vampiras, Dad would dismiss such tall tales as kalokohan! He would taunt us and tell us about how he used to walk past a kawayanan on the way home in the dead of the night when he was a little boy. And encountered absolutely nothing…

Anyone who has walked past a kawayanan on a moonlit night knows how creepy an experience it can be. So we all admired Dad for being brave. Albeit, nobody believed him when he said kalokohan because the spook stories were always oh-so-nice to hear and tell!

Back to that night with my Mom and Dad, the latter being what he was, he initially told Mom to go back to sleep. The footsteps had stopped. It must have been Mom’s imagination.



Before long, the footsteps restarted; they had become louder, if anything. My Mom, the exact opposite of Dad, was already bordering on the hysterical. So my Dad got up to investigate the kusina, even walking to the adjoining sala just to see what the big to-do was all about.

There was nothing, of course. And the sound of the footsteps had stopped…

So Dad went back to the bedroom and tried to reassure my Mom that there was nothing outside. Except that the sound of footsteps resumed…

Mom was really spooked by this time, so the two got up to stand by the bedroom door. “Daddy,” my Mom implored Dad, “mamamatay na ako sa takot. Magmakaawâ ka na para umalis…” And so Dad – an Ilonggo – in his sawit Tagalog started to beg the unseen entity, “Para pong awâ n’yo na pô… Takot na takot na pô ang asawa ko…”

I think the mixed-up Tagalog was just my Mom’s embellished version of the story. I know I said Dad did not spook easily; but this was an extraordinarily creepy event! There were footsteps in the dark; but there was nobody there!

I’m not really sure how the two managed – if at all – to get back to sleep. By morning, the spook story ended in a total anti-climax. An aunt who lived with us had gone to the bathroom to look for the catfish she left swimming the night before in a palanggana. It was not there.



“Manang! Manang!” she called out to my Mom. “Nawawalâ ang dalag!” After looking all over, they finally located it lying motionless under the living room sofa. Ayun! Nagmakaawâ ang Daddy sa dalag!

Everyone, therefore, sheepishly came to the conclusion that the stray fish, snapping on the floor in the absence of water, was the one making a sound that sounded – to my Mom’s fear-crazed ears – like a person walking on the wooden floor. Humbling… Verrrrryyyy humbling…

I myself had a similar experience the week after my Mom died back in 1992. I had just turned the light bulb off and laid down on the bed when what sounded like somebody knocking on the door started. It did not bother me initially, even if I was alone in the house at the time. I had already outgrown my former lively imagination and did not spook easy anymore.

Except that the knocking was becoming more insistent… I thought to myself, if it was Mom paying me a visit, I hope she came to tell me about millions she had hidden away somewhere unknown to everyone else. I thought I would try to sleep through the noise and maybe Mom would speak to me in my dreams.

I could not sleep, of course! As the rest of the night grew quieter, the knocking sound seemed as though it had also become louder. Ah-ah ang Mommy, I was thinking, makulit-kulit din… When I reached the point of irritation, I got up to face whoever or whatever it was that wanted to come in.



I turned on the hallway lights and of course there was nobody there. Then, something from the floor jumped up and hit the door which I had left ajar. It was a small brown palakang punô that must have gone in through one of the open jalousies. The sound of that frog hitting the door was exactly the same as that of somebody knocking.

If that frog had come to tell me about Mom’s hidden millions, I could not see how it would do it. So I picked it up and threw it out the window so it could find somebody else to disturb. I could imagine what my spook story would have been had I not gotten up from sheer irritation: “Binisita ako ng Mommy kagabi, eh!”

I can imagine… So many spook stories told and retold over again must have had perfectly logical explanations like these in the stories I just told.

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