When I put out a call for people willing to share their supernatural experiences, a friend immediately volunteered her mom, Anna, a gifted sensitive who later put her abilities to use as part of a supernatural research group in college. She shares her story. This interview was conducted with the help of her daughter.
Anna had been seeing things for as long as she can remember. “Ever since I was a child, it’s been normal for me to see things and I thought it was also normal for other people to see (them as well), she says. “(I’d see little people that I) thought were my playmates and I’d hear sounds in the night… (I was) around 10 or 11 when I realized that they weren’t your normal people that I would see, but it didn’t scare me. For me, it was like, ‘Oh, okay. I can see them and others can’t.'”
It was in college, where she got a degree in psychology, when Anna realized that there other people like her. “I was doing a research paper on euthanasia. We were supposed to interview a certain number of people and one had to be a priest. Somebody referred me to (renown psychologist and parapsychologist) Fr. (Jaime) Bulatao of Ateneo. When I went to see him, we automatically had a connection with because he’s also the type of person… that was very close to nature spirits,” she says. “When we were interviewing… I could see the entities that were with him. They were fairies or elves or dwarves because I could see lights around him like fireflies darting back and forth. He noticed that I couldn’t look him directly in the eye because my eyes would (be looking at the lights around him) so he asked me, ‘You see them?’ I didn’t know how to react because I was surprised. He told me that those were his bantay and that there were seven of them.”
Anna later became part of Fr. Bulatao’s group of students who would study the supernatural. She explains how supernatural entities appear to her. “Sometimes, (when) I… see ghosts that have been in an accident, I would see them (as they were when they passed)–like, if they had a head injury, I would see them with a head injury. But after a while… if I knew the person that passed on, I wouldn’t see them with… injuries anymore. But I did see ghosts, especially those from accidents, that would have blood on their faces, on their bodies, that’s how I knew they would be from an accident.”
She gives an example, one of the many that her friends and loved ones have come to accept as part of her everyday experience. “There was one time along C5, it was late in the evening and it was bumper to bumper traffic so I did not know what was going on. I saw this man in shorts… on the right side of the overpass… He looked dazed. I knew he was a ghost. That’s when I knew there was an accident. The person I was with said, ‘What’s happening?’ I said, ‘There’s an accident.’ I know someone died because I was describing the guy I saw on the right side of the overpass. He was just holding his head. He was just standing there. After a few meters or so… we saw the accident. He was on a motorcycle, he had a very bad head injury, he had the same clothes I explained to my companion, and he had no helmet. I didn’t know who he was. They just appear out of nowhere.”
Not all the spirit she comes in contact with are random. Sometimes, they are of people she knew and loved. “Now for certain ghosts that have an affinity with me, there is automatically a connection when they want to communicate, like my sister,” she says. “I still see my sister every now and then. The last time I saw her was papa’s birthday. I felt papa on his birthday that’s why I told your siblings to sing. So we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for papa because I felt his presence but I didn’t see him. I saw my sister because she also wanted a happy birthday song for her, so we also sang for her.”
She goes on to explain her theory of why spirits look scary to many people that come across them. “Other people, if they see ghosts, it’s actually the fear inside of them that subconsciously makes them see what they fear most. That’s why the ghost comes out scary. Because unconsciously, the mind will always relate to the fact that this person is not alive, so automatically, you’d think that if he’s dead, he would come out a certain way—gaunt, looking pale and dead.
“Sometimes, that’s what happens to people, which is why some spirits that would like to manifest themselves to the people that they love don’t like to show themselves, they just want you to feel that they’re there or they send out signs because they know that automatically, what will register in your mind is the fear of the presence of somebody who is not alive anymore.”
Her abilities, coupled with an encounter with her grandfather’s ghost (see story three), has changed her perception of what death is. “After that time, I had a completely different concept of death, that it’s passing through. It’s not… the end. Of course, you can’t physically touch or talk to the person but they’re there. They’re now in a different dimension,” she says. “Whenever you miss somebody that has passed on, it’s because that connection transcends the physical side of living. That’s the connection that love has, so it’s abundant that it’s stronger than not being physically there. When a loved one has passed and you’re doing something and suddenly out of the blue you just remember them and you miss them, it’s because they’re beside you, and the part of you that receives that particular connection automatically misses them because you want to see them, you want to hold them, you want to know how they are. That connection of love, it’s always there. That’s how I understood death.
Anna is very open about her abilities and doesn’t think they’re anything to make a fuss over. “It’s something that you don’t have to be on TV for or be interviewed for during All Souls Day with scary music in the background…” she says. “It’s part of my life, so it’s not surprising if I see things in somebody’s house or I see people in somebody’s house that shouldn’t be there, it’s completely normal for me.”
Story 1: The Silent Girl
When I was growing up in Bacolod, I would always wake at a certain time of the night because I would hear the chairs being pulled (from the dining table). I knew that there was nobody there because everybody was asleep. I would always go out of my room in the dark–I must have been or eight years old–and I would always sit at the top of the stairs and when I heard the sounds, I would go down towards the middle of the stairs and I would always look through the bannisters. I couldn’t see anything, but I would always listen. Whenever I felt something, I would always ask, ‘Are you there?’ Sometimes, it was just complete silence, (as if) the other person was trying to find out what I am.
That went on for some time until one time, I said, ‘Are you there?’ and I heard a faint ‘yes’ in Ilonggo. And I heard that person say, ‘Come here,’ so I went to the stairs and sat at the very top. There was a little girl three steps down. She was holding onto her knees but she was sitting down. I said, ‘Come up here beside me,’ patting the place beside me. She didn’t answer. After a while, she said, ‘You come down.’ So I moved down–you know how you move down without standing up but you just move your butt down?–and then she was right beside me. I couldn’t see her face but I could tell she was angry. I knew she was dead. We just sat there, then I told her, ‘I have to sleep.’ She said, ‘I can’t sleep. I don’t sleep.’ So I said, ‘Do you want to sleep now?’ Then she disappeared. After that, I went up to sleep. I remember that vividly, even the sound of her voice.
After that time, there would always be a knock on the door and I always knew that she was there, and we would always end up on the stairs, just sitting there. We didn’t even talk. It was like she just wanted somebody there to be with her.
Later, I realized that sometimes, if there are negative spirits in a house, they will (negatively) affect the members of the household. I remember that we had a relative that, whenever he would go to the house, would always end up shouting at people and getting angry, but whenever he was out of the house, he wasn’t like that. Then he said he didn’t want to go to the house anymore because he said there’s a presence (there). At that time, I did not understand because for me, at that time, that presence was my friend. She later disappeared and we moved out of the house, so I don’t know what happened after.
Story 2: The Italian Priest
When I was around 10, I got German measles. It was a bad case so they decided to take me to the hospital. My mom decided to put me there because she was a nurse and she would be able to better watch over me. Most of the time, I was alone because they put me in the ICU. I remember that I liked my room because whenever I opened the window, I would see the morgue. It was something to do because I was bored there. I couldn’t go out because I was infectious. Every time I’d hear the ambulance come in, I knew that somebody’s dead, so I would always look out of the window.
Once evening, I fell asleep early and when I woke up, I saw somebody by the door. The door of the hospital was one of those doors that had a see-through glass window so that the nurses could always check on you. There was a man there. He was gaunt. He was a foreigner and he was kind of old. I waved at him. There was no response. He was just there by the door, looking at me. I said, ‘Are you sick, too?’
There was no reply, so I thought maybe he was shy. I was bored so I just kept on talking and talking. I said, ‘I have to sleep now.’
I turned around because my pillow fell on the other side of the bed. I got my pillow back and when I looked back to see if he was there, he was in the room. There was a chair by the side of the bed. He was garbed like some kind of a monk–those long robes tied with a rope at the waist, so I thought he was a priest. I said, ‘Are you doing your rounds? Do you think I’m going to die? Is that why you’re here?’
He said, ‘That’s not for me to decide.’ He had an accent which seems now that he was Italian.
This went on for several nights. At a certain time of the night, I knew he was coming to visit me. It never occurred to me that he never opened the door. All that I really remembered was that he was there and I would have somebody to talk to because my mom was on the graveyard shift.
One night, one of the nurses said, ‘How come you’re still awake?’
I asked, ‘Am I going to go out of the hospital na?’
She said, ‘Yes, soon.’ So I asked, ‘Where is my friend, the priest? I want to say goodbye.’
She said, ‘What priest?’ I said, ‘The priest that visits me every night.’
I explained what the priest looked like and the nurse and the doctor just stared at each other and they told my mom because apparently, there was a priest that was there but a long time ago that fitted the description of the man that was visiting me and that man had already died.
And so the following morning, there was a priest that wasn’t dead that was blessing the room, saying all these Latin incantations, and spreading holy water because they said that that priest shouldn’t be there because he was long time dead already. I still remember vividly his face up until now.
Story 3: Lolo’s Last Words
After my grandfather passed away, we gathered in the house he was interred in Talisay. All the cousins were there. I remember waking up at past midnight because somebody was touching my hand. When I opened my eyes, there was this figure. I said, ‘Papang Giro?’–that’s what I called my lolo.
He said, ‘Come with me.’ I didn’t understand the concept of death then. I was young. But I was holding his hand and we went to where his coffin was. He said, ‘Who’s in there?’
I said, ‘You.’
He said, ‘That’s not me anymore.’ And he said, ‘This is me now.’ And that’s when he said, ‘You take care of your parents and your sister, you love each other.’ He said, ‘I have to go.’
I said, ‘Where are you going?’
‘I have to go somewhere far but I’ll see you again someday,’ he said in our dialect, ‘I’m done here so I have to go.’
He made the sign of the cross on my forehead then I felt really really sleepy and the following morning, they all found me asleep at the foot of the coffin. Nobody knew how I got there. That, I remember vividly.
Artwork by Samie Carvalho.