True Weird: A Chef’s Encounters with Spirits

The next reader about to share their encounters with the weird is a chef who currently runs three restaurants and loves nature. “I’m not a fan of horror film because it scares the crap out of me and I’m jumpy when I watch one, although I like talking about supernatural and paranormal things,” they say. Without ado, here are their stories.

Do you believe in the supernatural? What got you interested in it?
I never really paid much attention to such stories at first, maybe because I was never really was exposed to it until I lived in the province in high school. The locals told me stories about dwendes, enkantos etc. The clincher was when I saw a possession take place in front of me.

Story One: Enkanto

This story is about enkantos.

When I was in high school, I would go to my brother-in-law’s resort in Laguna in front of Mt. Makiling to work odd jobs like lifeguard, banquet staff, assistant cook, and so on. The resort is so huge that at that time, not all of it could be lit at night. I became interested in the supernatural after talking to so many people who worked in the resort who actually experienced such things instead of hearing about them on TV.

We had an event one night. It was a busy early evening as we were preparing to serve 150 guests at a pavilion a few meters away from the kitchen and restaurant. The dining area of the restaurant wasn’t being used at that time so we used it as our prep area. It was an opposite of a loft so it was kinda like a half basement. It was always dark and creepy. I heard stories about that part of the resort as “meron jan” (There’s something there). Anyway, the chef gave me a go signal to double time the plates and silverware, so I  went to the dark dining area to tell one of the waitresses to go ahead and set up. And as I looked at her, she was holding on to a stack of plates but she was staring at me weirdly. I got a little goosebumpy because I knew something was… different. That, plus the fact that we are in one of the scariest parts of the resort. So for me to break the ice, I spoke to her and said, “O ano pang tinitingnan mo jan?” (What are you looking at?)

She answered back with my words, “Ano pang tinitingnan mo jan?” (What are you looking at?)

I asked her what she was doing again, and again, she repeated my words in an eerie monotone.

I ran back to the kitchen really freaked out and told the chef about it. We both went back to check on her. This time, the the chef reminded her of what to do but she wouldn’t respond. The chef told the assistants, “Tawagin si mang Enrile” (Call Mang Enrile!)

Mang Enrile was a chain smoking in-house handyman/albularyo (herbalist). When mang Enrile arrived, the girl was no longer there. Not knowing where she went, and the resort being too big to search, Enrile lit a candle right there in the kitchen, got a plate, set it upside down, and heated the surface with the candle’s fire. A minute or so after, he placed the top side up and we saw the surface was all blackened with candle’s carbon deposits. He looked at it closely as there were etchings of something. It turned out to be an illustration of one part of the resort. That part was huge and contained four massive swimming pools. And since it was new, there was no power yet–I mean total darkness. You’re lucky if the moon’s doing its job.

So Enrile, the chef, and I took a couple of off-duty lifeguards and a security guard and followed the map. As we entered the gates, we were a little skeptical about the girl being there due to its darkness and for us, no one would dare go there. But we have to follow what the map says, and if indeed she was there, then there really is something wrong.

Enrile said a few prayers over the woman and she came to her senses. She was calm, though shocked at what had happened to her. The next day, it was business as usual.

I have a theory about these possessions. Victims are normally vulnerable, whether they’re depressed or having life issues, and who have weak personalities. Although sometimes, these same types of people are accused of making stuff up for attention.

Story 2: Messages from the Dead

This story is about a dead woman trying to leave messages during her wake.

About 12 years ago, I was living in Baguio City, the ghost capital of the Philippines. My friend’s grandma died in her 80s. I don’t normally go to wakes but for this one, since I was close to the deceased and considered a part of their family, I had to be there.

The wake was held old school–meaning it was held in the family home. Plenty of distant relatives attended. There was this woman who was a far cousin of my friend. She was there to assist and help around, but her main job was to cook food for the visitors.

During the second day of the wake, a lot of people came. It was around 2:30 pm. When everyone was trying to relax, all of a sudden someone moaned so loud it caught everybody’s attention. We saw the distant cousin seated by the head of the casket. At first glance, I thought she was just stretching. Then she moaned again. IIt was weird. The creepy part was when she started talking. Her voice wasn’t a normal voice. It was a little husky and it sounded old. It could still be her voice, but distorted. She started calling out names, like the name of my friend’s mom. For a while, she just kept on saying the same things. We came to a conclusion that the grandma was possessing the woman. My friend’s brother took a video of the event. I excused myself and called my eldest brother-in-law, who happened to be a pastor at that time. I asked him for advice regarding what was going on.

I told him that this lady was being possessed by the deceased grandma. My brother-in-law said that, “It’s impossible… It can’t happen… Once a human dies, there’s no way the spirit can come back nor has the power to possess someone. But one thing’s for sure, it’s the devil. It’s the work of the devil.”

So I returned feeling hopeless and accepted the fact that she was possessed by some evil being. A little later the possessed woman started talking about things that no one else knew of–personal things that only the deceased grandma knew about. She started telling my friend to get the leftover cash in dollars inside her drawer; everyone that afternoon was amazed and at the same time freaked out. Today, as straightforward as it may sound, I still can’t explain why and how that happened.


Yvette Natalie U. Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and the Agriculture section editor of Manila Bulletin.

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