Tales of mystery in Guinarona, IV


The “kulam” hit on Mano Yakong

Dolls for black magic, by Wikipedia. Were these employed on Mano Yakong?

He was tall and muscular–and the fiercest in Guinarona.  Mano Yakong was.  When he was mad at you, you better hide in a secure place because he will be after your ass.  His forte was to thrust his machete into your innards or your heart as the case maybe, and he had no qualms doing that.  Just don’t cross him, else you will rue the day you were born.  Just like what happened to Junie, whom Mano Yakong slaughtered without mercy.

Mano Yakong elicited fear, but at the same time he commanded respect.  Mama Zosing, his aunt, knew him well enough not to antagonize him.  But a time came for this altercation over an inherited land, which was Mano Yakong’s share, but which Mama Zosing jealously coveted.

One day Mano Yakong fell ill–seriously ill.  He did not know what hit him, as healthy and as able bodied as he was.  He was breathing rather shallowly.  Then all of a sudden his stomach ballooned, and he looked as if he was pregnant with a baby.  His complexion was akin to a black, overripe banana.  His stomach being bloated would last for 12 hours, then it would gradually deflate to its original size.  But that was only for the first 12 hours because in the next 12, his stomach would bulge again. .  . and this pattern continued on a daily basis.  Which reminded you of the ebb and flow of the tide.  Yes, more like the tides!

Mano Yakong knew who did it to him.  Maybe it was his intuition telling him.  Somebody close to him had a “kulam” hit on him.  He knew Mama Zosing it was who commissioned a “barangan” from Guiuan, Samar for the deed.  Apparently, Mama Zosing had someone steal a worn t-shirt of Mano Yakong ‘s, which the barangan utilized for the devilish hexing operation.

Mano Yakong suffered a great deal.  Imagine being hexed so that you get bloated to the point of bursting, in conjunction with the tide’s ebb and flow.  The spell was so potent that no one could undo it.  Eventually Mano Yakong died a horrible death, with icky cockroaches and centipedes coming out of his orifices.

On the night of Mano Yakong’s passing, his spirit showed itself to Mama Zosing, its eyes as red and flaming as embers.  Needless to say, Mama Zosing got the scare of her life.  A few years later, Mama Zosing herself died, and we were wondering if she and Mano Yakong would reconcile and bury the hatchet beyond the grave.

The outing that turned bizarre

The roads along the irrigation dikes from Guinarona to Ormocay to Patong to Tabon-tabon were sleek and inviting, as they were newly constructed.  Thus it occurred to Fred and Pablito, both National Police officers, to ride their motorbikes on a lark, as far as Tabon-tabon.  They had a drinking bout at Pablito’s brother’s house.  They were not really roaring drunk when they started out back to Guinarona.

The weather was A-okay.  The full moon was hanging like a silver disk.  The cool breeze was  caressing their cheeks.   It was almost midnight when they reached Kalansan near Barrio Patong.  Their cruising was uneventful. . . .until. . . .

A small deer. The Angab looks like it.

From out of nowhere came this silvery animal, the size of a small deer.  It was blocking the road.  It did not budge as they approached, and Fred and Pablito kept shooing it away.  All of the sudden, the creature just flew over their heads and scared them out of their wits.  They became white as linen with fright.  The animal landed behind them, and they each pressed their accelerators, but the bikes just froze!  The creature then flew again to its previous spot, blocking their way again.  Now they regained their sanity, and the alcohol in their system seemed to dissipate.  As they were trying to plot their next move, the creature just vanished into thin air.

It was an Angab, said to be the pet of fairies, and which is famous for its scare tactics.
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Tales Of Mystery In Guinarona, III


Ours was a haunted house!

For more than three decades, ours was the biggest house in Guinarona.  It stood regally at the corner of Real (Main) and Aragon Streets.  It was a two-story affair, with all living quarters on the second floor, the first floor being used as a bodega of sorts.  One time the National Irrigation Administration had its offices there.  This was after Father converted the ground floor into a coop for his Texas fighting cocks.

A Philippine haunted house by pinoyshop

As the story goes, people would skip our corner because a kapre (giant) would park himself beside our house, puffing away at a big cigar.  We knew he was there during moonlit nights as a consequence of chickens cackling like mad.  But being inside, you could not really make heads or tails of the kapre.  But the smell–that smell of mud, that reeked all over! Besides, we would be scared shitless to even attempt at taking a peek into a broken tipay from the window.

They were saying that two posts of our house used to be the domiciles of kapres and engkantos, which explained why it was haunted.  The experience that we won’t forget was the loud whispers–like invisible people conversing in your face in an unintelligible language, the wind from those whispers blowing at you.  Our hair would stand on end, and we would muster all courage to yell at them to stop.  Which, of course, they would not.  We would chase the whispers from the lalabaran to the kitchen to the dining room and to the master’s bedroom.  Still the whispers would go on and would just die off on their own.  But everyday, those invisible whisperers would do their thing, and we would sometimes let them be.

The engkanto from Limburan

A female engkanto, by thinkquest.org

Each fiesta day, May 17, we always had this eerie female visitor with a male child in tow, who would arrive at our house just in time for the offertory bells to peal and the attendant pabuto to rip our ears.  The constant in her was her wardrobe–the ancient sinamay cloth of the same color and design.  She was very engaging, telling stories about her other children left at Limburan (wherever it was), and could she please have some “take home ” to bring to them.  What was fascinating was that she would not age a bit, each fiesta time she looked like she was before.

Mother was asking her why she would always leave church (if indeed she was at church) just before the offertory.  To which she would explain in a confusing and roundabout way.  What was also constant was the way she would avoid eye contact.  Her boy was reserved and would also avoid your eyes.

Who was she?  Mother, in her inimitable ways, said that she was an engkanto, and that engkantos have this power to show up as persons.

In defense of smoking


Smoking Kapre, by Bobbie Short

We were able to quit smoking for a year in 1984.  But then the following year,  Congressman Tony Cuenco of Cebu hired us as his chief speech writer, and the pressure was just too much, which smoking mitigated.  From then on, we were back to smoking–with a vengeance, we might add.

When we stopped the habit for a year, we became bloated–as in obese.  It’s true that nature abhors a vacuum and that one absent thing will find a counterpart.  In our case the counterpart was pigging out.  The result was that we were always catching our breath–because of our fatness, moving about was a chore, including breathing normally.  When we begun smoking again, we ate less, and as a result, our weight fell into what we call “normal”.

We find it absurd that some people are egging President Aquino to quit the habit of smoking.  They don’t understand that even cars burn something in order for them to be of service to man.  They would rather inhale the belched smoke from vehicles–which causes cancer in humans–and bitch about smoking cigarettes by P-Noy and ourself.  They also do not know that tobacco is a very potent offering to our deceased ancestors and spirits in general.  In fact, the native American Indians first  introduced tobacco to the world as a spiritual offering.  The conquering whites latched onto the practice, not metaphysically, but as a way to calm their nerves.

There must be something in tobacco for it to walk astride between dimensions.  Kapres are known to be inveterate smokers.  We had this huge house in Guinarona which was a prop to many a kapre during moonlit nights, as vouched by so many, and they were always seen piping up!

The country’s  GNP  and GDP are  buoyed up by the productivity of people who smoke–from the rice farmer to presidents.  So STOP!  Stop preaching and leave us smokers in peace!

Where have all the kites gone?


A kite in Malaysia, by Blogtrippers

Back in the day, Dagmay was the king of kite aficionados in Guinarona.  His were HUGE kites, like using 15 sheets of papel de japon. Next would be Nerio, who could manage five sheets with his pinugtutan kite, which was also Dagmay’s favorite shape.   Pablo Ty had this kite with diamond patterns, but he could only manage three sheets at the most.

Oh, when their kites were up in the sky, their symphony was heaven!  Each kite had this sungba or a bunch of them at the kite’s back, which would produce a huge humming sound.  They made the sungba from the buri leaf, which they boil and dry and functioned as a bow, and with the wind pressure, produced the humming sound.

There was this Manasis guy from Liraw whose kite was the shape of the human form.  The old folks would balk at such shape because in their belief, it attracted lilente or thunderbolts.

The force of Dagmay’s pinugtutan kite was such that it needed two to three people to pull it.  Dagmay would often let his huge kite float in the sky for 24 hours–pinapahuron in the kite club jargon.

The most amazing time was when the kite operators would agree to a battle of kites.  The losing kite’s string would snap off, and the kids would run in the direction where the kite would land, and the lad who was successful in retrieving it (ladron) was a star of sorts.

Then, in Guinarona, the  kite season was February to March.  It presaged the closing of school and the ushering of lent.

Some of our friends are opining about the greatness of the past in Guinarona.  Well, the kite season was certainly one of the defining moments.

Who are the new Dagmay, the new Nerio, the new Pablo Ty?  Or shall we just be pining and hankering?

Wheels Up: Announcing the Launch of HuffPost Travel


I salute you, Arianna, for the inception of Huffington Post’s Travel Page. Commerce, which includes tourism, is like a river. It flows and flows, the only difference being that it also counterflows, such that everyone profits, whether materially or through imbibing.

I am partial, though, to eco-tourism, i.e. tourism without the frills. For which, I hope, the Philippines will merit a double take.

http://www.facebook.com/benito.maray#!/pages/GUINARONA/132160116812820?ref=mf
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Rediscovering Osayin


Osayin, by Jesus Cardenas

We had met Osayin in 1977 while rummaging through the forests at Malubago Hills, Guinarona, in Leyte, Philippines.  We did not know it was him; we thought it was some other malevolent spirit.  We came upon his fresh footprints right after a light rain.  Like hundreds of them–but only of the left foot!  What creature walks with only the left foot?

Thirty three years have passed before we came to know it was Osayin, only because our friend McCauley Baranov, an accomplished Orisha practitioner, pointed it out to us.  In her words, “Osayin  is the one in charge of all herbs and herbally prepared medicines or baths. He is very important to all Orisha rituals. You are blessed to have encountered him.”

So Osayin is now an added dimension to our spiritual practice.  Which is just as well considering how the Earth has come into some unhealthy balance–pollution here, logged out forests there.  And global climate change defining the here and now.

With apologies to the skeptics and naysayers, we go headlong into the alchemy of herbs, a domain of Osayin’s.  As we believe in self-discovery, we intend to go the trial-and-error route.  Have you learned that Pierre and Marie Curie were aided in their landmark discoveries by the spirit realm?  Well, we hope Osayin will be just as helpful.

Baba Oduduwa has this teaching about Osayin, thus:

Osayin Igba should also have a Stone carved figure of Osayin.  He only has one eye, one ear, one arm, one leg, one testicle, and they should be from one side to the other; for example: left eye, right ear, left arm, right leg, etc, like in a zigzag way. Osayin’s physical aspect is that of an old man. Osayin has 16 Gourds, they all should be charged with Osayin secrets. You should go to the forest at dawn to make ceremonies to Osayin.

You as Olorishas should receive Osayin, in order to use the Magical powers of the herbs, even without need to reap the Ewe (herbs), you can create magical powders what the Lukumi call Inshe Osayin.

The person who gets initiated into Osayin secrets, should make the commitment to learn, to study, and to know about herbs and their correct use. They should go to the forest, the savanna, the woods, and they should invoke Osayin, they should look for herbs, see them, smell them, touch them, taste them, and they should connect with the Ori Ewe (the consciousness of the herb), Ori Igi (the consciousness of the tree) all these in order to enter into communion with the Spirit of the herb, to receive the Ashe or Power of the herb. Also they are alchemical aspects of the use of herbs.”
Pick up herbs at dawn, when the Solar Energy in relation to the Earth is most powerful.”

Patterns of the rum during Osayin ritual, July 20, 2010

Since we had met Osayin before, our ritual for him three days ago was a way of reconnecting with him, and it was a success for all intents and purposes. On a green plate, we offered him a fresh rose with a libation of  rum.  We scribbled his name with a red marking pen on a small piece of white paper.  The following day, we saw that the marks of the rum formed interesting patterns, and– mark this– there was a figure with just one leg!  An indication that Osayin accepted and liked what we did.

Who knows then that down the road Osayin will lead us to the plants that will create a universal stir in the manner of the Curies?

Tales Of Mystery In Guinarona, II


Do you see the salamander spirit?

The naughty spirits at Sampaguita

We had this coconut wine operation at Sampaguita District in Guinarona. Business was always brisk, and we did not want for orders. Former Leyte Governor Remedios Petilla always saw to that.  Gov. Petilla left no stone unturned in promoting the Don Alfonso Coco Wine in the four directions.

One time we were with Romy Lobrigo for the bottling operation.  We did so outside the winery if only for the cool breeze that we coveted.  All the bottles were sterilized and arrayed, at 12 each.  We had a sterile plastic hose to decant the wine to the bottles.  Now the start.  We counted the bottles one to 12.  We then siphoned the wine to the first bottle.  After that, lo and behold, four bottles were missing under our very noses.  I said, “What’s going on, Romy, are you a bottle freak or what?”

Of course, Romy did not filch any bottle, neither did we.  We replaced the missing four bottles and started bottling again.  The same thing happened, each time some effing spirit was playing tricks by stealing four bottles.  This went on practically the whole time we did the bottling.

Moral lesson:  Don’t do your wine bottling al fresco because spirits are attracted to the alcohol, and will screwup  your work.

The omen that we won’t forget

August 26, 1997 at Guinarona.  This time, we were also rushing up the bottling of the Don Alfonso Coco Wine for urgent orders and deliveries.  Being methodical, we arranged each jug of wine to be decanted in a first-in-first-out fashion.   The wine bottles had been cleaned and sterilized.  Now the bottling part. . .

Bottling. . .bottling.  We used up three jugs.  We transferred each batch from each jug.  Time now to relocate the bottled wine to a separate counter for bagging and labeling. While lifting each bottle, the bottoms gave way, along with all the coconut wine contents.  Each bottle had a bottom that gave way!  What the heck was happening! Thinking that the thing was inauspicious, we stopped and decided to resume the following day.  Except that. . .

We had a fitful sleep that night, and at 3 a.m., August 27, we were awakened by Mother’s groaning, asking us to help her.  Mother was having a massive heart attack!  She was perspiring like crazy and was cold to the touch!  We rushed her to the hospital.  She stayed at the hospital for seven days, the last day of which she died.

The mass bottle breakage without a sensible cause was the omen for Mother’s passing.  An omen that we won’t forget.  Ever.