Life So Mundane in Batangas
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11 May 2010

"Encounter" with a Poltergeist in Lian, Batangas During a DLSL Admin Workshop

God forbid that I ever see my first-ever ethereal manifestation – i.e. ghost – but I do tend to sense it when any sort of paranormal presence is in the immediate vicinity. There is something about the old gym when the place is empty, for instance, that spooks me even in broad daylight.

Ditto the second floor of the Diokno. I used to work alone any time of the day – or night – in my old IES office in front of the school. To this day, I will never go alone to the Diokno when there is no one there if I can help it, particularly after darkness has set in.

It’s hard to explain this spooked feeling and what even brings it on. For starters, my head feels like it is starting to expand and the hairs at the back of my neck begin to stand. Then, my leg muscles stiffen up somewhat and my feet feel leaden as I walk, almost as though a primal instinct is warning me not to proceed further.

Let me take you on another flashback to when I had my first – and, hopefully, my last – tangible encounter with the paranormal. This was in the summer of 1985, and I had gone with fellow school administrators on a planning workshop at the DLSU Bio-Research Center in Lian, Batangas.  Brother Jaime Dalumpines was the Principal and we were preparing for the following school year.

Those of you who are from this province, I am sure, had heard one tale or another about this obscure little town Lian. Childhood spook-stories had it that when one visited the town, one should never look straight into the eyes of anybody whose eyes were bloodshot. Or, that if you went to the town’s fiesta and got served dinuguan, you should make it a point to squeeze calamansi into the bowl before helping yourself to a spoonful...

If the sliced innards squirmed inside the bowl upon contact with the calamansi’s acidic juice – at least that was how the spook-story went – then you could bet your life that the innards once belonged to someone that had two instead of four legs. I do not mean a chicken, of course.

Now, if one was bold and ate the dinuguan, anyway, then one had better be prepared to grow coarse hairs all over one’s body as well as sharp talons whenever a full moon rose from the eastern horizon.

I hasten to clarify that these were childhood spook stories no different from those that had regrettably stereotyped cities like Capiz and Roxas in the Visayas.  These stories were unfair and likely did not hold a shred of truth.  Or didn’t they?

Back to my story though, the workshop was typically uneventful until it was time to go to bed.

The venue’s sleeping quarters were two long parallel rooms with double-decked beds. The female administrators went into the room closer to the main door. Their room was smaller than the second one, but there was another door at the end of it that opened into a small room that had just one double-decker bed.

I was, of course, in the next room with the other male administrators. In the room were beer-bellied nocturnal concert performers who I feared would keep me – an endemic light-sleeper – awake all night.  If you failed to grasp the metaphor, I was referring to the chronic snorers among the group.

When the lights went out and the artists started to perform... Put it this way, had Megadeth jammed with Iron Maiden inside the room, I would have found them more melodic in comparison to the snoring barrage I was being subjected to in the dark.

When I could not bear it any longer, I resolved to move to that small room I had mentioned earlier. Before doing so, I paid the bathroom a visit to relieve myself.

There were three stalls in the bathroom that opened into a short and narrow corridor. Left of the corridor as one entered was a window which ran the length of the wall. Instead of glass, the window had three iron rails along its length. In other words, it was for all intents and purposes open.

When I stood in front of the commode... I dunno... The hairs at the back of my neck shot straight up and I started to feel that somebody just outside the window was staring at my back.

I turned around; but, of course, there was nobody there. The feeling refused to go away, so to be able to pee, I twisted my body around at the waist so I could see what was behind me while I peed. Go ahead and laugh at the thought of me doing that...

Done, I hastily fled to the small room and fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.

I slept so soundly that I did not stir until I was awakened by the creaking sound of the door opening – by itself. I know I initially thought I was dreaming; but the door continued to open for 2 or 3 more seconds after I was sure my eyes were wide open and I knew I was fully awake. It was as though whatever it was belatedly realized that the occupant of the room had awakened and moved elsewhere to play its prank.

My first instinct was to check my watch. 5:30...

In all honesty, I was not scared at all. More like curious... I got up to see if there was anyone behind the door; but all the girls were still fast asleep. Thinking no more of the incident, I went back to bed to try to get some more sleep.

Later, at the breakfast table, I didn’t even have to decide whether or not to tell everyone of the door-opening incident. Mr. Rolando Baltazar was already talking about how, when he was brushing his teeth, the pot cover leaning against the wall suddenly fell as though somebody pushed it down to the ceramic tiled platform beside the sink.

Brother Gregory Refuerzo – he had slept on a folding bed in the space that passed for both the living room and the kitchen – then related that something kept turning the tin cover of the Cheez Whiz bottle sitting on top of the dinner table intermittently on through the night.

Next, it was my turn to tell my story...

On the guestbook, before leaving, I had to write this note, “Why do doors open by themselves?” I know, I know... There was just this poltergeist begging for some attention.

The startling realization from this experience was that, when you get a ghostly experienceyou probably won’t even realize it until you have given it some thought. And yet I continue to get spooked by things in the dark that I cannot even see...

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