“Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s now time for our main event. In this corner, wearing transparent robes and a shroud, weighing in at 0.00001 gram, hailing from Quezon City and the eternal ether…. The White Lady!!!!”
“And…. Her opponent, in this corner, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, weighing in at more than a few cases of San Miguel Pilsen, the Kano!!!!”
“Let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!”
In one of the very early articles I wrote on this site, I mentioned that we had a white lady (multo, or ghost) living in our house. Far be it for me to say that Filipinos are superstitious, but Filipinos are superstitious. I think that there must be more ghosts, demons, creatures, aswangs, duendes, zombies, weird ghost animals, and spirits per square kilometre here than any other place on Earth. Sure, there are ghosts in the US. Lots of people believing in Sasquatches, giant squids that swallow ships, aliens anal probing, and astrology. The UK hasn’t gotten off easily, either. Every castle on that island has at least a solitary ghost, more likely several, in residence. China doesn’t fare any better. Chinese ghosts tend to be really pissed off at the living, and vindictive, haunting their descendants for eternity unless pacified by offerings. So, the Filipinos ain’t alone.
Rebecca was the first to see our White Lady. She appeared one night with a scowl on her face. So, Rebecca did what most Filipinos would do… She visited the local Albularyo, who told her that yes, indeed, the ghost was living in our house, but was protecting her and Juanito (I don’t think the white lady is protecting me… She is either indifferent about me being there or wouldn’t mind if I left). She gave Rebecca some magic oil to spread around and told her to light some candles and make a few offerings and prayers in order to calm the White Lady down. She also told Rebecca that our maid was stealing from us, and that the theft was what brought the White Lady out into the open. We should fire the maid.
So, Rebecca returned home, looked under the maid’s mattress, and found some items that were being intentionally “misplaced” by the maid…. So, we fired her. That night, the ghost came back, and she was smiling this time.
It was a while before I had any encounters with the white lady. I sort of pooh poohed the whole thing. Well, she’s come around me a few times since then, usually when Rebecca and Juanito are up in the province while I’m staying here in Manila. Rebecca asked the albularyo about it, and the albularyo told her that the ghost is just coming around to check on things if she doesn’t hear or see Juanito around the house (I guess ghosts can hear and see… who knows!).
Now, I’ve never seen her… But I see some of the things she does around the house. Some of the things that I have personally witnessed:
- One night, I had just gone upstairs to bed. I was in bed perhaps two minutes and wide awake. I hear a crash downstairs in our kitchen. Rebecca has her pots and pans hanging from hooks under our cabinets. When I get up and get downstairs, all of them were on the floor (around 8 of them), against the wall on the far side of the room. These were heavy woks and such… No wind could blow them down, nor were there any earthquakes. I could see maybe one pan slipping off of a hook and rolling, but all of them? What’s up with that? The hooks were still attached to the cabinets firmly.
- On a different night, I just got into bed, and the door to our bedroom opened, then closed after a few seconds. The knob turned as if someone opened the door and went inside, closing the door behind them.
- One evening, I was watching TV in our sala. One of Juanito’s toys (a car) was sitting on a shelf next to the TV. I got up to get a drink, and when I came back, the toy was on the other side of the TV.
- One morning, I was in the bathroom shaving. There is a little ledge in there about eye-level where we put shampoo, soap, and other similar things. As I was shaving, I noticed that a bottle of rubbing alcohol on the ledge moved about 15 cm to the right, as if someone pushed it (I watched it move). Again, no earthquakes or anything similar, and too heavy to be blown by wind.
- About three weeks ago, I was in bed and heard someone stomping up and down our stairs (It sounded like Juanito… He’s not exactly light on his feet!). I sat up and said, “C’mon!!! They’re up in Abulug! Let me get some sleep!” The noise stopped after that.
Now, none of this stuff is in the least bit threatening. I’m not afraid of the white lady, and neither is Rebecca. Rebecca has seen her, but I haven’t (She’s short, Filipina, very pretty, with long black hair down to her knees, but jagged teeth. Her eyes are “glowing”, but she’s sort of “faceless” or blurry around where her face should be). I think Juanito may have seen her, but with his limited vocabulary, he really can’t tell us much about it (More on that below). She seems to dislike Rebecca’s sister in law, Emma, but she seems to like her kids… When there are kids in the house she’s quiet.
Hey, ghosts need to stay somewhere, too. I guess they also can get lonely or bored. So, we have an understanding of sorts with the ghost… Behave, and all is cool. When she gets a bit restless, Rebecca lights a few candles for her and she seems to calm down for a bit. One of the neighbours had a house cleansing with the priest from St. Peter’s one time. Rebecca asked him to come over while he was in the compound and he went through the house saying prayers in Latin, swinging incense all over, and sprinkling holy water…. The white lady was quiet for around six months after that.
Am I sceptical? Certainly. I tend to be somewhat logical in my thinking. However, the incidents I described above were certainly weird. There was neither a ready explanation or any plausible explanation for those events. In other words, yeah, I don’t really believe, but I’m certainly not going to do anything to piss off the ghost either. Not going to get a Ouija board (Called “spirit of the glass” here… most priests in the Philippines discourage its’ use. Don’t want any possessions or speaking in tongues around here. No bleeding walls or levitation, either), nor am I going to go poking around and asking for trouble. Every horror movie I’ve ever seen ends badly for people who do things like that. Nope. We have a policy of détente in this house. Mutually assured destruction. Don’t bother us, and we won’t bother you.
So, around three or four months ago, Juanito is suddenly afraid to go upstairs alone. He says there’s a “mu-mu” up there (It took a while, but it finally dawned on us that he’s trying to say “multo”). We were a little surprised… Where did he pick up the word “multo”? As it turns out, one of the neighbour kids (around eight years old… Juanito is three) was trying to scare the little kids one day, telling them about multos. I told Rebecca to watch the talk about ghosts and aswangs and so on around Juanito, and to tell her family the same thing. I also decided to get those little rats back for scaring my son.
So, the kid that started all of this just got a new I-pad. There is a “ghost hunters” application that you can download for it, that supposedly shows where there is a ghost present (It puts a lens flare photoshop on the camera screen when there is IR interference nearby… so anywhere there is a wi-fi modem nearby). I see them outside playing with it, so I helpfully told them about the app, and about the white lady living in our house. Their eyes got really wide and then they started laughing. I said, “If you don’t believe me, download the app and go have a look.” So, he downloads the app, and I tell him, “Just be aware, that ghosts don’t like to be disturbed. If you see our white lady, she may just follow you home!” “Tito, that’s not true!” “OK… Go look at your own risk.”
So, we walk to our house, and I tell them to point it upstairs by our window (Where the wi-fi modem is located). Naturally, there’s a big lens flare there and these kids all panic, running away down the street. About three minutes later, I’m standing outside the sari-sari telling the owner about it, and as she finishes saying, “Kuya, that was mean!” (While laughing), the kids come up…
“Tito, do you think she followed us?”
“I don’t know… Let’s go check your house!”
Needless to say, there was wi-fi there (“GOTCHA!!!!”).
After thirty seconds or so of watching them suffer, I told them how it worked. As they were laughing about it, I told them, I only did this because you scared Juanito… Doesn’t feel so nice, huh? Lots of “sorrys” said, but Rebecca and I still need to try and convince Juanito that there is no ghost… Not so easy to do when there are candles being lit all the time for dead ancestors, scissors and garlic in the windowsills (for aswangs), salt poured occasionally (for duendes), and lumps of charcoal and coins in the cabinets (for miscellaneous spirits that may be hanging about).
John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.