the horror story challenge

A few weeks ago naisip ni Claudiopoi na mag-organize ng isang horror-fest. Ang challenge: magsulat ng isang horror story at i-post on May 31. So I'm deviating from my usual bullshit-writing to make way for this one time fictional horror story na sinulat ko sa Baguio last week. Here's my entry to the Horror Story Challenge.

I was born in a time of superstition. I believe in the supernatural, the unexplainable. I respect folklore, so much more than history itself. I know of the mythical creatures from so often hearing about them in stories told during countless stormy nights. Most of all, I fear the dark, and I have a very good reason to.

When I was just a boy, my whole family boarded a ship bound from Manila to C--. On its second night at sea, the ship went ablaze and sank, leaving me and my little sister among a handful of survivors. Orphaned and left in an unfamiliar town, with no family to go to, we wandered through the streets of C-- until we were adopted by a kind elderly woman. Her real name was Luisa G-- but she was more commonly known as the Kapitana. She lived in a big house in the wealthier part of the town, married to the affluent Geronimo L-- of Spanish descent. The Kapitana herself was adopted when she was a child.

We looked up to the Kapitana as we would our mother. She cared for us as her own, raised us in comfort and gave us a Catholic upbringing. She was a devout believer; we never missed a single Sunday mass, we prayed the rosary even before we learned how to read and write. It was also she who instilled in us an early fear of the supernatural. She maintained that the earth was inhabited not only by man and beast, but also by a motley range of creatures more ancient and of a higher nature.

Stories of quiet horror filled our childhood. We learned to never cross a mambabarang, or be impolite to an albularyo. We learned to be wary of the vengeful engkanto or of the tricky tikbalang. We knew better than to be caught in the streets at night, or to forget to whisper a prayer before bed.

Her favorite story to tell us was about the manananggal. She said that there is more to the manananggal than a craving for flesh at certain times of the month. She said manananggals are actually humans who sold their soul to the devil to be immortal. The separation of the upper body from the lower half was not only a violation of natural laws, it was an utter desecration of oneself, an upfront taunt, a mockery screamed at the face of God.

According to the Kapitana, the first manananggal she heard of was from the D-- family, hailing from I--, a distant small town, barely a dot on the map, from several years ago. In that town, a rumor about the D-- family spread like fire; the mother, Demetria, was a manananggal, and so were some of her children. Now this mother was a magnificent, strong woman, and though the rumors were persistent, there was never any proof.

Yet stories of massacre sprang up; two victims were recorded. One was a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy, the other was an infant twin not even a month old. Both deaths were marked not just by the cruelty of murder or the shock of bloodshed, but also by a devilish symbol: a tiny hole through the nipa roof.

Demetria then died of some disease and was hurriedly buried. After her burial the whole family moved north and never returned since. The massacres stopped, further solidifying the rumors spread among the people of I--. After less than a year, news of similar crimes in a distant town reached them, causing the people to fear again the great evil that once haunted them. One night, to confirm the suspicion, several men snuck into the cemetery to exhume Demetria's remains. The coffin was empty, and there was no sign of it being ever occupied.

The D-- family moved to our town twenty years ago. The rumor of course followed them, but we never heard about any unexplained deaths, and none of us have ever seen Demetria. Still the Kapitana always reminded us to beware of them.

I was seventeen when the Kapitana, in her advanced years, started to weaken with age. From being a vivacious, sweet and warm mother she turned into a quiet, bitter woman who just refused to succumb to death. She abandoned her old Catholic ways and lay in bed all day, waiting for her time to come.

I will not be ashamed to include in my story my incestuous relationship with my little sister. I searched myself for the reason the Kapitana lost her amor for us and this was the only thing I could think of. When the Kapitana found out that my sister was pregnant with our child, she suffered a heart attack, and all I could do was watch as she struggled for life. My sister and I were driven out of the house, no longer a part of a family.

With no place to go, we lived on the streets, living off on scrap food and donations, waiting for the forgiveness that never came.

Almost immediately, news of the Kapitana's death reached us, and we were to blame. We could no longer count on people's kindness. The Kapitana was well loved. My sister and I, her adopted children, an incestuous couple, were her murderers.

We decided to move from the mournful city streets to the barrio, a secluded forest area by the sea, where no one knew us. We built a small hut, and we prepared to endure the coming months, to wait for our child to be born.

After four months of cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world, I ventured out of the forest back into the city in search for a living. There I was met with cruel eyes. No one spoke to me, and I felt like an outcast from the society I once belonged to. I have never seen so many closed doors, I have never heard so many hurtful words in a day. It was almost dusk when I made a decision. With a heaving heart my footsteps led me to the only place where I knew an outcast like me will be welcomed: the household of the D-- family.

It was the thought of this grim task that brought me almost subconsciously to the fences of the D-- home, a big house behind a clump of mango trees. I called out, at first with a soft voice, like how it is when you want something but are too ashamed to ask for it. I called out again, until a young woman of about my age emerged from between the trees and asked me what I needed.

Immediately, my first thoughts were about how normal she looked. After years of avoiding direct contact with any of them, I found myself looking at her face, and speaking with her, telling her how I was in need of a job.

Her puzzled look answered me, and I knew then that it was useless. I started to turn away when she called out, "Bumalik ka bukas ng umaga at kausapin mo si Tatay, baka may maialok sya sa iyo."

I said "Salamat," and went my way. I was resisting an urge to look back, but after taking a few steps I turned around, and the young woman was gone. Instead I saw someone else from behind one of the trees, lurking around, watching me leave.

It was an old woman, thin and tiny, who can only be one person: Demetria, the manananggal who faked her death.

Immediately I was possessed by a dread I cannot explain. The woman was there, I could make out her figure from behind the trunk, and I caught myself reciting my prayers, while walking quickly away. I could feel her eyes behind me, piercing into me.

I kept walking and praying. The words kept coming out of my mouth but my mind was reeling with something else, something more real than a prayer, something tangible and dangerous. I kept walking and soon it was beginning to get dark. I was almost at the edge of the forest when my real terrors began.

I had that unmistakable feeling of being followed.

It was subtle and quiet, but the presence was there, watching me from the shadows. I turned around a couple of times but I saw nothing, yet as I walked I kept hearing the slightest footfall, the softest exhale, the most sinister footsteps of a predator at the tail of its prey.

I abandoned all efforts of calmness. I ran for my life. All I could think of was my unborn child, waiting for me. Soon I could see our tiny house in the distance, surrounded by darkness, and as I reached it the darkness has been replaced by the moon's light. I kept running, and a few feet from the door I called out to my sister, who was quick to open the door. I leapt through the few steps that made up the ladder* to the door, flew inside and shut the door behind me.

I fell to the floor as my strength left me. Exhaustion, it seemed, caught up with me, and I felt lightheaded. A darkness was gathering around my vision, like my consciousness was about to leave me, but I tried so hard not to faint, as a more terrfying reality brought me back to my senses:

I led the manananggal right to where my pregnant sister was.

I turned the gasera off and motioned for my sister to be quiet. Darkness immediately crept and shrouded us, and for a moment wecould see nothing and nothing could see us and we felt safe. Yet in a few moments my eyes grew accustomed to the dark, and soon I could see my sister, outlined in silver by the moonlight seeping into the cracks between the wooden planks of our wall.

I lay down on the floor and listened, my sister lying beside me. It was all quiet. Not a thing stirred around us, yet I knew then that this was a false sense of peace, that horror was about to befall us. I knew the woman was out there with us, outside, waiting...

I prayed, prayed with all the strength I have left, prayed for safety during this black night. To fall asleep now would mean death. I lay and stared at the nipa roof, my heart furiously beating inside me, and I could feel the blackness again, permeating not just the room but my mind, and as my thoughts raced, all was drowned in black.

I felt a tug at my shoulder and instantly I knew that I had fainted, and I had no idea how much time passed since. It was my sister lying beside me, quietly ushering me into wakefulness. But there was an urgency in her touch, as if an unknown evil has gripped her, and she could not shout for help. It was still deathly quiet around us. Her hand on my shoulder alone warned me of what was happening.

"Bakit?" I whispered, as the fear from which I was momentarily spared seeped back into my soul. She did not answer me. I held her face, she was burning with fever. Her hand still clutching my shoulder, I got up and that was when I saw the blood.

Oozing from a small cut in her belly, the bloodstain was unmistakable even in the dim moonlight. I lifted the hem of her clothes and found the wound, like an ugly smile on her skin.

I needed no further confirmation, this was the work of the manananggal. And as if to answer me, I looked at our nipa roof, and directly above where my sister lay was a small hole. It looked like an evil eye, about to convey a world of pain onto us.

I whispered to my sister to try to sleep. She nodded and as she did, I fumbled around and found a rusty kinfe. I slowly climbed on top of a table, and drawing myself to full height, I waited, with the knife in my hand. I closed my eyes and imagined the trees outside, where surely the manananggal is now perched, waiting for the perfect moment to strike again.

I stood there on top of the table, looking over my sister who was lying almost right below me. She was still bleeding. The cut was small though and not critical. She must have woken up to the pain in her gut and interrupted the manananggal. My knees were getting numb from standing on top of the table, my back was aching, and for what seemed like an hour I waited there.

My legs were starting to buckle and I was about to climb down the table to rest for a bit when I heard the unmistakable shift in the wind, the graceful swooping of wings, quiet and sinister, on top of our roof. I felt the nipa roof above me take the weight of a winged being, slowly and quietly it planted itself on our roof. I held my breath as a supreme fear flowed through every vein in my body.

Soon enough a black finger carefully pierced through hole, enlarging the small opening. My heart stopped as I realized that the only thing between me and the manananggal was the nipa roof. Demetria, of whom I only heard before, now crouched above me, her heartbeat like a drum playing a death march in my head.

A black piece of string started lowering into the hole and descended slowly, its tip trembling, searching the air, drawing a straight path down to where my sister lay helplessly below. I waited and watched. It was black and thick, straight and slimy, and its tip moved further down the room. It was like a serpent's tongue, quivering, sensing, blindly searching for the first wound it sliced through my sister's skin, determined to finish the job.

I could almost feel the air around me pulsating, as I watched the spot where the manananggal crouched. I extended my hand toward the tongue. Just a few more inches before I could reach it with the knife. I could almost feel it breathing its evil breath as the tip of its tongue reached the cold steel. Alarmed, the string was hastily drawn up into the hole on the roof.

It was slick and quick, in a matter of seconds the string has vanished from the hole. As the end of the string disappeared, I heard a loud flapping of great wings, and I could imagine a gigantic bird taking flight from our roof and into the sky. The weight on the nipa was released, and soon it was quiet again.

I was not a fool though. I knew just how strong the manananggal's hunger was.

I stayed on top of the table, with my hand positioned near the hole, my fingers around the knife, ready to snip the string off at the earliest chance. This time, I resolved to never let it get away. I stared at the hole for what seemed like an eternity.

No fingers pierced the hole, no tongue pushed through. All was peaceful and calm. I supposed I can lay again on the floor and not sleep this time, instead watch our for the evil tongue again. If we survive the attack tonight, the manananggal will be back the next day. I had to finish it tonight. I climbed down from the table and decided to attend to my sister's wound.

Her eyes stared lifelessly at me. Her round belly was now hollow.

And what I saw through the slits between the bamboo strips of our floor was an image I will forever carry in my mind. It was the manananggal, lying on the ground under our house, face up, its tongue a black thread extending upwards and through the bamboo slats, sucking my sister's guts from beneath.

Slowly I crept toward my sister, now dead and and still being sucked dry. The manananggal was devouring her with gusto, ecstatic, its eyes delirious with lust, and I took the opportunity to slowly prop my sister's body up, grip the demonic tongue and with a definite SNIP! cut it right out of the manananggal's evil mouth.

The cry I heard was the worst part of it all. The sound was nothing human, it was purely animal. It was the sound of a hundred pigs being slaughtered, the desperate flapping of wings against the bamboo floor and the earth, the great thuds as the mananaggal hit the ground repeatedly. Its flailing hands scratched violently on the bamboo slats as it crawled from under the house into the night.

I jumped and in no time reached the window, and there it was, like a wounded beast, struggling to pick itself up from the ground, screaming, retching, vomiting blood. The winged torso, after falling a few more times, managed to spread its wings and fly, but a few feet from where it fell, it got tangled into a few branches of trees, like a fly caught in a cobweb.

And as I watched, it turned its head back to me and looked at me, and I saw its bloody face.

It was the face of the devil, and several years later I can still see it in my mind. It turned away as its hands untangled itself from the tree, and soon it gained wind and flew away, on top of the trees and into the black, endless dark of the night.

Several years have passed since, the memory it conjures is still so fresh. After that night I left our house, my sister, my life behind and lost myself in the world's crowds, away from evil. I just walked, walked until I reached a place where nobody knew me. I lost track of who and where I was, and years after I woke up amidst a roaring, bustling city life. My clothes were dirty and tattered, my hair a sticky clump growing to my waist, my nails long and mangled. My face reflected the life of a broken man, charred, muddied, beyond recognition.

I was again an outcast. A tin can sits before me, awaiting sympathy, inviting sorrow.

It was not noise which woke me from the despair I wallowed in, it was the absence of it. It was not words, but the lack of it. I woke up today to tell my story, because today, as I sat on the pavement, a familiar clinging rang through my ears as a solitary peso dropped into my can. I looked up and said "Salamat", and she smiled at me, and said "Walang anuman" but not with words, but with the hand gestures of someone who was obviously mute.

I swear it was Luisa, or more commonly known as the Kapitana.

*Nipa huts, standing on four corner posts, are commonly elevated two to three feet from the ground. The roof is made of nipa, the walls are made of sawali and the floor is made of bamboo slats.

happy birthday to me

Hey Kids birthday ko ngayon! Hindi na ako humingi ng pic greet, nagawa ko na yun last year. Hihingi na lang ako ng isang testimonial. Yung parang sa Friendster. Magkakilala man tayo in person o hindi, just tell me what you think of me. Make me happy, birthday ko eh!

Pakilagay po sa comments yung testi...

At gusto ko na rin magpasalamat sa mga nagbabasa ng blog ko.

Salamat! Mwahchupah!

isla del mar boracay beach hotel

Two weeks ago inimbitahan ako ni Rose na pumunta sa hometown nya sa Mindoro. Tapos sabi nya, "Alam mo from Mindoro two rides na lang nasa Boracay na tayo." Sabi ko Go! Na-excite me. Akala ko yung sinasabi nyang two rides eh jeep at tricycle.


Isang 48-hour na byahe on land isang 84-hour na byahe on water.

Wala naman kaming choice, hindi pwede mag-eroplano from Manila to Caticlan dahil kailangan namin dumaan sa Mindoro. Isa pa, low low low budget talaga ako as in low budget na pang-indie film.

Buti na lang at may contact si Rose na isang affordable hotel dun, si Ate Marilyn from Isla Del Mar Boracay Beach Hotel. Isang text lang, sinundo nya kami sa Caticlan... kahit nasa Mindoro pa lang kami. Alam nyo ba na hinintay nya kami ng tatlong oras? Nakatayo lang sya sa gate sa pier ng Caticlan. Ganun ang level ng concern nya sa amin.

Nung nalaman ko kung magkano per night, napa-WTF ako sa tuwa kasi ang mura lang. Sabi isip-isp ko, Baka naman sa presyo na yan eh matutulog pala kami sa sako sa ilalim ng tarpaulin sa likod ng bodega 500 meters away from the beach. At kung ganun nga ang mangyari, tanggap ko naman dahil beggars can't be choosers.

But no.

Pagdating sa hotel, TUGSH! Nagulat me kasi maganda, malinis, tahimik, at malapit lang sya sa beachfront (likod lang ng Starbucks).

Dito kami nag-stay sa second floor, yung rightmost room. Hindi lang makita sa picture, pero diyan kami nagsampay ng mga wet undies sa veranda.

Pasensya na hindi naman ako travel blogger at lalong hindi ako gumagawa ng mga review ng mga hotel tulad ni *. At lalong hindi ako professional photographer tulad ni *. Sila na ang magaling mag-advertise at mag-picture-picture!

Patawariiiiinnnnn ang hindot na model, hindi nya alam ang kanyang ginagawa.

Anyways, like I said sulit na sulit yung hotel. For a low low low rate, may airconditioned room, may TV, may veranda, may Wi-Fi, may hot and cold shower, at may fridge. At napakabait pa ni Ate Marilyn at ng asawa nyang si Kuya Noli, napaka-accomodating and warm. Kahit nabaog ako sa haba ng paglalakbay namin, sulit naman kasi maganda naman talaga sa Boracay at sa Isla Del Mar! Naks!

May discount daw kami pagbalik namin.

Bago kami pumunta ni Rose sa Boracay akala ko sa sidewalk kami matutulog dahil sa low low low sagad sa lupang budget kami kaya wala akong balak ipagsabi na nag-Boracay kami dahil kahihiyan lang ang aabutin namin, pero after meeting Ate Marilyn and Kuya Noli naisip ko na hindi ako pwedeng lumimot lang sa kindness nila so in my own little way this is my way of saying THANK YOU! Hope to see you again soon!

Hindi na ako magkukwento sa Boracay trip na to dahil nakakaumay at hindi naman ikaka-improve ng buhay nating lahat na malaman pa ang mga kaganapan. Mag-iiwan na lang ako ng isang picture na pantanggal umay. You're welcome.

Peace and Love to one and all. Mamatay na ang kokontra.

If you're interested (sa hotel, hindi sa akin) mangyaring iclick itong link ng Facebook Page ng Isla Del Mar Boracay Beach Hotel at makipag-ugnayan sa mga kinauukulan. Thanks Mwahchupa!

happy mother's day

Sa mata ng ating mga Nanay, tayo ang pinakagwapo o pinakamagandang anak sa mundo. Sila lang ang may lakas ng loob na sabihin sa iyong, "Anak, GWAPO KA!" kahit sumalungat ang buong lipunan at tamaan siya ng kidlat o kaya araw-araw sabihing "Anak, ANG GANDA MO!" para hindi sumama ang loob mo, right Khikhi?

Syempre sa mata nating mga anak, Nanay rin natin ang pinakamagandang Nanay sa mundo. I'm sure magaganda ang mga Nanay nyo. Maganda rin si Mudrax, lalo kapag gumising sya sa umaga na ganito ang itsura:

Doris and her mini-garden sa Baguio.

Happy Mother's Day to all our beautiful moms!
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