I don’t believe in ghosts, but…
I don’t believe in ghosts. Do you? Well, let me tell you a story. Years ago I lived in this building where I live now, only on a lower floor. My home then was in another country, so I occupied that unit only occasionally. My son lived in Canlubang with his small family.
One evening, at about six o’clock, I entered the front door from where one could see directly into the bedroom. Light from the street lit the room. I thought I saw a woman with disheveled hair sitting on top of the bed and looking at me with big, sad eyes. Despite the dim light, I could see she was smallish and dark-skinned. When I approached, she disappeared. This happened twice: I saw the figure sitting on the bed, looking at me, and then vanishing. I didn’t tell anyone.
My daughter-in-law, who came around to check on things, told me that we had an eerie presence in the apartment. She said she was taking a bath and she heard loud knocking on the door, but when she opened it, no one was there. I told her that sometimes, noise from somewhere reflects inside one’s unit. She looked at me skeptically and said, “I think I would know, that from the sound, it wouldn’t have been anywhere else but on that door.” And she pointed to my bathroom door.
Many times, when I came to visit, my son and his family would return to Canlubang as soon as we all had dinner. I was always eager to be alone because I wanted to catch up on the local TV shows. By midnight I would turn off the TV set and the single night lamp.
Before I could doze off, I would sense the presence rise and move close to where my head was. I wouldn’t open my eyes because I wanted it to feel that I was ignoring it. Once, I quickly opened my eyes and saw a very dark figure seated, very still, by the dresser. I quickly sat up and turned on the light. It was just a pile of dark clothes on the chair. But I thought I heard a sigh and a hum, like the trailing end part of a song.
From my past experiences, I would have nightmares like someone trying to attack me, bite my arm, or grab me, and I would wake up screaming. But usually, it was because I was on a painkiller for my scoliosis and sciatic nerve pains. At the time of the nightly ghost visits, I wasn’t on any kind of drug. Not even an aspirin.
So, every night, as soon as I turned in, I would sense its presence. It liked to wake me up by bumping on the bed and making clapping noises with its feet. Sometimes it stood very close to me, watching me, and through our thoughts even talking to me, telling me to wake up. Once it went under the bed and started kicking the board until I really had to jump up and scream at it, like, “What do you want?”
When this last incident happened, I woke up early the next day and asked the maintenance people to turn my bed so I could see what was underneath it. I got the unit furnished and I didn’t know what the bed looked like from underneath. I was very surprised to see that it wasn’t wood where someone could kick on it and make a racket. The bed was composed of intertwined large metal rings and wires—no pieces of wood, and no space for anyone to get under it.
I was always busy rushing to finish what I came to Manila for, and so I took all these incidents as though they weren’t anything to be alarmed about. One night, my son, his wife and three of my friends were having a chitchat session. Two of my friends and I were huddled in the living room, seated very close to one another, and in the dining area my son, his wife and and the third friend were also having their own gabfest. We were almost all talking at the same time, and we must have been making an awful lot of conversational noises, when a very crisp, sharp, eerie sound I could never duplicate clapped on our faces. I felt a solid gust of wind hit my face.
But we recovered from that and resumed our conversation. Then came the sound of slippers with thin wooden soles clip-clopping very fast and sharply on the marbled floor by the door. Something was trying to tell us to quit the noise and for the guests to all go home. There were six of us in that unit and we all heard the very same thing.
Do I believe in ghosts? No, but fast-forward to the present, about 20 years later. I had just come from running errands and having a light meal at around six p.m. I entered my door and there she was on top of my bed, gazing at me with her big, sad eyes. A few nights ago, for the second time in less than a month, I woke up screaming because someone was pushing something like a metal contraption into my spine. I am now considering moving elsewhere, but she found me after 20 long years.
Shirley Wilson de las Alas, 75, lists reading and writing as her favorite pastimes. “I live alone,” she says, “[but] I can’t say I am really alone because I feel the presence of something in my condo unit. I feel it most when I leave the unit. It tells me not to go and it welcomes me when I return. Yes, I am old, but can you glean from my writing that there is a nut living in my head?”