I moved to Cebu City, Cebu Province, Central Visayas, Philippines in late April and married Karen two months ago. Recently she's told me some family stories, and a few other tales. Hope you enjoy them.
Karen's kid sister, Kim, is 13 years old and going to high school at a college campus here in town, I forget which one. That's common here, that a college or university also has elementary and high schools. She's entered several beauty contests and was recently (last weekend) at a pageant at the resort town of Baggao up on the island of Luzon, accompanied by her mother. Baggao is popular in the summertime 'cause it's up in the mountains and is cool, even cold by Philippine standards (upper 60s to mid 70s F). Anyway, Kim came down with a cold and fever this week, probably due to the cooler temps plus not getting any sleep all weekend. It seems that the ghost of a security guard who'd died there, I don't know how, was following one of the girls around, I don't know why. People advised all the contestants to stay awake nights or else the ghost would "get them". They even had a priest come in and pray over that one girl at night. (FYI Kim won fourth runner-up, in a contest for the whole Philippines, so she's the 4th-prettiest teenager in the country, I suppose.)
Karen's mom told her some stories when she (mom) was young, about their village in Samar Island where they're from. One time Karen's mom, when she was a little girl, was down by the river running some errand: washing or getting water or something, I forget now exactly what Karen told me (her mom's family lived in a small village in the mountains with no running water, etc.). It was in the evening right after dusk. She heard the sound of wings, large wings, overhead, like some huge bird or something. It was a wak wak! Luckily, one of the village elders happened to be there and he knew who the local wak was was, as did many people there- it was common knowledge. He said, "Benedicto, what are you doing? What do you want?" Next thing Karen's mom heard was the sound of wings flying away. The tradition is that if you call a wak-wak by name it'll go away and leave you alone. This wak wak just happened to be a man: I hear they're usually women.
Speaking of wak waks, just a few days ago one of Karen's co-workers, who lives near here, said that she and several neighbors heard the sound of large wings at night over their apartment building where there's a woman living there that's pregnant and near her due date. They've heard this more than once these last few nights. People say that the smell of women about to give birth or of unborn children attracts the wak wak and they try to feed on the fetuses. Sort of a human version of balut or something. *shrug* They snake their tongues down, down, down into the house from the rooftop and lap up the fetus. Or something. Maybe they just heard a night bird or fruit bat? Who knows. They believe it's a wak wak though.
Karen's mom's uncle, again in Samar, worked as a security guard. One night when he was coming home after work and was walking near a cemetery, he noticed somethng following him. I forget what Karen said this critter is called (maybe a sigbin? I'd ask her but she's at Bible study tonight) but it looked like a large pig, with oversized floppy ears, and its forelegs longer than its hind legs. She says they can look like a dog too, but with similar large ears and longer front legs. It's some kind of shape-shifter. Anyway, he started running and it chased him. He went to cut through the cemetery but it was taking way, way longer than it should. He realized that he was running in circles and was englamoured. He escaped by taking off his shirt, turning it inside-out and putting it back on that way. (Sound familiar, Irish people?) After he got home (he lived in a nipa hut on stilts) he saw that the thing was underneath his house!
The last one isn't really that scary, but it happened to us. The Saturday before last, July 4th in fact, we both watched the movie "28 Weeks Later", the sequel to "28 Days". The plot, what there is of it, was that a contagious disease called the rage virus wiped out almost all people in England. Symptoms of the disease were blood-red eyes and homicidal mania: people would attack, kill, and even try to dismember and eat anyone they encountered (except those who already had rage: how convenient). It was basically like your typical zombie movie, with people running around growling with their arms held straight out, chasing other people around. The movie was basically all chase scenes and gore. Pretty dumb, but for some reason it won all kinds of awards when it was released: go figure.
Anyway, Karen's a bit of a fraidy-cat anyway, and that night she shook me awake and said she'd heard something that sounded like a young girl saying, "Ayo! Ayo!" (That's what people here do instead of knocking on doors: they stand outside and call, "Ayoooooh! Ayooooh!") The odd part is, I wasn't really asleep yet, just starting to nod off but still aware of my surroundings, and I, too, heard something. Only what I heard sounded like a young woman saying something in Cebuano: something that started with an A. It wasn't "ayo" though: I've heard that enough times to know. It was more like a complete sentence or question. I was just dozy enough that I remember thinking, "Whatever she wants, I'll let Karen deal with it" as I often do when someone comes to the door for something. Most people here are more comfortable speaking Cebuano than English, and I only know a few words of Cebuano. (For example, "Gwapa baboy. Salamat." That means "Pretty sow. Thanks." :) ) I thought maybe someone was at the door talking to Karen, or it was her cell phone I was hearing, or something like that. It wasn't until she'd shaken my arm and we compared notes, as it were, that I realized that something was a bit odd.
Anyway, we ended up sleeping with the lights on that night. No more scary movies for her. And the next dy I went out and bought a baseball bat: no more getting up at night to investigate noises armed with nothing more than a determined expression. :) Plus, if our church ever holds a softball game, we'll be all set. :) I put this last incident down to both of us being almost asleep and having just watched a horror flick, plus perhaps whatever we'd had for dinner: Jollibee spaghetti and Yum burgers, I think it was (we'd planned to go out to a nice carinderia for dinner to celebrate my country's holiday, but it was pouring down rain so we ordered delivery from the Guadalupe Jollibee). Spaghetti with sweet Filipino-style sauce and sliced hotdogs in, plus two gutbombs. :) (We normally eat better than that, don't worry.)
I'll see if I can pry any more of these stories out of Karen, but it's difficult to do: she gets scared and doesn't want to talk about it, and then we end up sleeping with a light on. :)
It amazes me that people here, even Evangelical Christians, still believe in these things. In the West that would be like a grown-up still believing that there's a monster under his bed. Take that co-worker of Karen's that thinks she's heard a wak wak in her neighborhood lately: she's a rather large woman, in her late 20s to early 30s, of the type that wears sensible shoes. My point being that she's not the sort that would be afraid of noises during the night. BTW, the houses and apartments where she lives, where she's heard the sound of something large flying around near the roofs, is just around the corner from here and just a few yards from where Karen works. It's maybe 400 yards from our apartment by the roads, even less as the wak wak flies. :)
That noise we heard that Saturday night 3 weeks ago, the girl or young woman, was probably just a combination of a neighbor, the horror movie we'd seen that night, and the fact that we'd had fast food spaghetti with sweet sauce and sliced up hotdogs plus two cheap hamburgers each, and a Coke, for dinner. (Rant_Princess: two Jollibee spaghetti and Yum combos plus an extra Yum each.) This apartment is light and sunny, and has good vibes: I really doubt if it's haunted at all.
Tasdevil, from what I've read, the wak wak is the Visayan version of the aswang. It's sort of a cross between a vampire and a ghoul. Some stories say that the aswang's upper body separates from the lower half at night and flies around with its guts dangling. Others say that just its head separates, its ears grow huge and winglike, and you get this flying head. Either way, if you find the lower body you can kill the wak wak by putting salt and spices on the lower body or by preventing the upper half, or head, from reattaching itself until after the sun comes up: basically just like the vampire that has to be back in his coffin by sunrise. Or you can drive it away just by saying its name.
Regarding the [i]sigbin[/i] that chase her great uncle, some scientists think that there may be some kind of undiscovered animal living in the mountains on some of the islands here, something with large ears and longer forelegs than hind legs. The catfox was recently discovered in Borneo: a small, red-furred carnivore with longer hind legs than forelegs. So it's possible that this is some sort of actual rare animal species.
Karen just suggested that I search the Istorya.net forum for ghost stories and ghost hunting locations, and she and I could visit some. She says she isn't afraid if she's with me. I'll have to find the USB cable and charger for my iRiver first, so I can record our visits and try for EVPs. I wish I knew more Cebuano words so I could maybe understand what they're saying, if I do record any.
Karen [i]did[/i] tell me once that if I ever think I'm being followed by a White Lady not to turn around or look back, 'casue if I do she'll be right behind me. A friend of a girlfriend of hers once told us that there's an old house located just behind the provincial capitol building that's haunted by a White Lady, and that the house has been abandoned for years. Every tome we ride past the capitol building in a jeep or taxi I try to spot the place but have never seen it. It's hard to believe that such a prime piece of real estate would be vacant, the way land and housing prices are in the city: the lot alone is probably worth several million, if it's titled. This same guy told us about the cemeteries here, and how they're often used by young lovers as trysting places at night. You hear a lot of moans and groans, but not of the spooky kind, he said. :) (This was when he was driving us home after our wedding reception, so we had to endure all of his newlywed jokes and stories. He was a funny guy and had us all laughing the whole ride home. :) )
Karen, our Doberman puppy Rahab and I spend Christmas at my in-laws' house in Cabancalan, Mandaue City, Cebu province. The only ones home now are my mother-in-law and Karen's 13 year old sister as her other sister and her brother are both working in Singapore.
Their family owns several lots along a small easement road that used to be paved with asphalt or tarmac but the pavement has deteriorated to the point where many sections are just gravel or bare, stony soil. Since it's a private road the government won't repave it and the other residents along it don't want to pay for it themselves. The road goes along about 100 meters or so then there's a T-shaped intersection. To get to her mom's house you turn right onto the side street, go about another 50 meters, then the road turns 90 degrees to the left. Another 50 meters and there's another 90 degree turn to the right. Her house is right there at that second turn, and there's a large vacant lot enclosed by the side street on two sides and by the first road on one side. This lot just contains a few banana trees, maybe a coconut palm or two, and a few grazing goats but it used to have several large mango trees up until not too long ago. That lot is owned by a rich old lady who's living in America. She wants 25 million pesos for it where the going price would be maybe 4 million tops and probably closer to 2.5 million since it's kind of far from shopping and stuff. I think she basically just doesn't want to sell it. So there it sits with no one using it except the people who sneak their goats inside the fence to let them graze there.
Karen's mom's house is a single-story bungalow and they also have a small two-story house just beside it which they rent out. The current lessor is an acquaintance of ours from church- small world, huh?
The big day at Christmastime here is Christmas Eve, which they call Noche Buena and celebrate by going home to visit family, setting off fireworks, and having a special feast at midnight. That night my mother-in-law was cooking, Kim was in her room hiding from Rahab who she's scared of, and Karen was taking a nap. I'd drunk too many glasses of Coke to sleep so i went outside at 11:45 to have a smoke and watch the skyrockets (they have really good fireworks here). I was standing just inside the gate next to the street when, amongst all the firecrackers and explosions, I heard definite footsteps crunching in gravel as if someone was walking either in the yard or along the street, but no one was there. Neither did that lessor's two dogs bark and they were kenneled just outside of his house, maybe 35 feet away from where I was standing.
I mentioned this to Karen the next day (Christmas day) and she said it was probably an "elemental". She gave me two reasons why she thought that, although she didn't explain why she thought it should be an elemental (which in Philippines belief is a spirit associated with a particular place, or so I understand it).
When she was small they lived in a small house next to her paternal grandparents' place, further up the access street near the main, paved road, but they were just having the bungalow built. This would have been in the late 1980s. She was charged with taking lunch to the workmen who were building their new house. When she got close she could hear hammering, sawing, people talking and so on but when she got to the house there was no one there at all- the workmen had all already gone somewhere for lunch. She turned around and ran home.
Just a year or two ago the previous lessor of the two-story house told Karen that one evening he saw a White Lady sitting on a limb up in one of the mango trees in that vacant lot next door, not far from the lot where the two houses are. She just sat there smiling at him.
Also, not many months ago after Karen's sister left for Singapore (October, I think it was) Karen's mom wanted us to come and stay because she was frightened to be there with just young Kim, as she'd heard footsteps walking around the area when she didn't see anybody there, just like I heard. She thought it might have been one of her dead husband's family members rather than an elemental though.
It may sound like a really creepy place but it doesn't feel that way. I actually like it there- it's cool, shady, comfortable and quiet and it's only one tricycle ride plus one jeepney commute away from downtown Cebu City. It doesn't feel haunted or anything.