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Huwebes, Mayo 17, 2012

Prayer for a Ghost

My family and I used to live in an apartment in Manila. The apartment was very old. We liked to think it had character. More than that, it had a ghost.

Nobody in our neighborhood wanted to admit they knew about the ghost in our new house. We'd heard the talks though.

But since the rent was quite low compared to most apartments in the area, my parents chose to "conveniently ignore" the rumors and attributed them to the overactive imaginations of our neighbors.

But our "housemate" would not be ignored.

The first night, we felt the presence immediately.

We were in our respective rooms when our three dogs started howling. I quickly got up to check what was causing the commotion. My parents also went out to investigate.

We saw all three dogs circling around and howling at some unseen entity. My mom yelled at the dogs to stop and herded them to our room.

For weeks, things went on that way. The dogs would suddenly go berserk, and bark at something, their fangs bared as if ready for attack. Then, they would whimper, as if scared into submission, and then run off, their tails behind their legs.

One day, after my dad, my younger sister and I went off to work and my brother went to school, my mom set off to clean the house. She had just finished cleaning the bedrooms and decided to do the same to the sala (living room) when she heard something fall to the floor.

Suddenly, my brother's toy cars came zooming in the sala from his bedroom. She quickly ran out of the house and ran to the nearby sari-sari store. The owner told my mom it must be some spirit who wanted prayers.

She told us what happened that night, and said she thought she would faint from fear.

You could just imagine the agitation the whole incident caused in our household. My parents decided we should start looking for a new house and move out. But it wasn't easy to find reasonably-priced apartments in Manila. They're either too expensive or too cramped.

So we decided to stay put till we found a new house, one that didn't have much "character".

It's funny. The house we just moved out of had a ghost too. I'm beginnning to suspect ParaƱaque's full of earthbound spirits. Either that or they're following me around. Of course, they're both crazy assumptions.

Then it happened again. To me.

My younger sister and brother went to sleep over at their friends' houses. I share a room with my sister, that means the whole room and the television are all to myself.

I retired early. I turned on the television and picked up the book I'd been trying to finish that week. I do that a lot--watch TV and read at the same time. Or watch TV and write.

I don't remember falling asleep, but I do remember a shrill scream waking me up. I quickly wiped the sleep from my eyes with the back of my hands. The TV was still on, some 70s-looking slasher flick was on.

I turned off at once and pulled the plug. My father always insisted we pull the plug of whatever appliance we've used as a safety measure.

I then turned the lights off and went under the covers. Suddenly, I felt the temperature in the room drop. It's not like I have an aircon in the room and I didn't think I set the electric fan on Number 3.

Then I saw her. She was sitting at the foot of my bed.

In the dimness of the room, she appeared to be illuminated. It was the image of an old woman, wearing a floral dress and a pair of eyeglasses. She had short, graying hair and a pert nose. She appeared to be smiling although I couldn't be so sure. I blinked and then she was gone.

The following day, our landlady visited us, having heard all the strange stories about the house. I then told her about what I saw the previous night. She looked shocked and her eyes became watery.

"That's my mother," she said. "Her death anniversary's next week."

We had a mass paid for her and the bizarre goings-on stopped.

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