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.
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
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.