HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated November 01, 2009 12:00 AM
I was just six years old that rainy night in 1957. It was just a few weeks after my father had died in a plane crash. Torrents of rain were pounding on the roof of our house. It must have been about 2:30 a.m. when I was awakened by my younger brother Raffy’s crying. He was bawling his eyes out, afraid of the thunder and lightning that seemed so close to the window in our room. I lay on my bed curled up under a blanket on another bed facing the opposite side as he cried loudly, waiting for an adult to come and comfort him. And then, after a few minutes, without my mom or anyone entering the room to check on him, he suddenly stopped crying and fell asleep.
It was only years later, reminiscing about our childhood that he told me that our dad — who had passed away earlier — had suddenly appeared to him and sat down beside him that night on the bed, assuring him everything was going to be all right. That put an end to his crying.
I have heard similar stories from certain people about how dead relatives seemed to enter the realm of the living in order to help out somehow. A cousin of mine many years ago claimed that, when she was four years old, the “woman in the picture” hanging on the wall of my grandparents’ home who happened to be our lola was the one who helped her pee in the toilet when her mom and the other adults were too busy to take care of her. The thing was, our lola had long since passed away before my cousin was even born.
My wife Lydia and my three children all claim to have seen spirits around our house and garden. When the kids were growing up, they claimed to see a little child who would be walking around the premises of our home. They describe it without feeling any fear since this child seemed so benign. As for me, I have yet to see or experience its presence.
Do I believe in dead spirits living in our material world? Hmm… I really do not know. I do not discount other people’s experiences that seem to confirm that spirits live among us.
I have had my own “encounters” that leave me perplexed, wondering whether they were real or not.
Many years ago, I was in a province sleeping in a five-star hotel. I was suddenly awakened around 5 a.m. because I was so sure that someone had whacked the soles of my feet. I lay there with my eyes closed feeling a presence in my room. I refused to open my eyes because I did not want to know who was there. I fell asleep again after a few minutes. Thirty minutes later, I was again awakened because I felt my bed was shaking.
At around 8 a.m., I was talking to the people in the front desk and asked them if there was an earthquake at around 5:30 that morning. They immediately confirmed that there was indeed. That settled that, I thought, although right after the other guests hanging around the front desk had left, one of the hotel employees asked me what room I was staying in. When I mentioned my room number, he looked at his co-employee and said, “I guess there’s also a ghost there.” It seemed that there was one other room in the hotel where strange occurrences were known to happen. A hotel guest who had just checked in had opened his room to see a child playing in the bathtub!
When I was still part of the reality show Pinoy Dream Academy, one of the participants, Panky Trinidad, all of a sudden started having nightmares. Even when she was awake, she claimed to be seeing a child in fatigues, a young girl, a soldier and a few others hanging around the house at different times of the day. Also, it seemed strange to me that all the girls in the house were suddenly complaining that they were having bad sleep the past few days. Could Panky be telling the truth? Was this something the participants were suddenly “believing” since the time it was happening close to Halloween and All Souls’ Day? Was it all psychological? I was quite suspicious.
As the headmaster of the show, I ordered the male participants to change rooms with the females and see what would happen. It wasn’t too long after that the boys decided on their own to start sleeping in the sala since something “strange” had been going on in the room. They were uneasy and could not sleep. I felt some of them were close to hysteria and anxiety about what they were feeling. I was afraid that there was more here than met the eye.
After consulting with the producers, I called on two psychics who were highly recommended by a priest friend. I told them to check on the premises while everyone was out. I promised them that no TV coverage would happen.
That morning, when they entered the house, they heard psychic alarm bells ringing. According to them, there were spirits in the house that had been there for quite a while and were intentionally disturbing the peace. I expressed my cynical suspicion that they were somehow engineering all of this, so close to Halloween. It was too “showbiz,” I thought. The psychics told me that precisely because it was this time of the year, the spirits liked to make noise since the living were more likely to notice them, as they were most likely thinking of the dead anyway.
To make a long story short, they “exorcised” the premises with salt, crystals and prayers mixed with certain rituals. They concentrated on the girls’ room, and also went through the tunnels where the 50 or so cameras were kept that recorded everything in the house. We learned that the cameramen were also quite agitated because they, too, felt “spirits” who had suddenly tickled their ears, kicked their butts, or scampered about in the dark corridors.
After all the rituals were done, one of the psychics claimed that a dwende who lived in the garden wanted to “hang around” with me. I asked what “hanging around” meant. She said that dwendes liked to do that with people they fancied. In turn, they would bring luck and protection. They like to hang around for weeks, months or even years until they get tired, then move on to someone else. Quite amused at the prospect of an
“otherwordly” being following me around, I said “Sure,” and asked her what the dwende’s name was. After pausing for a while, she said his name was Hari Saray!
I smiled as she said that and commented that Hari Saray would have to take care of his own visa when I traveled back to Australia.
A month later, when Pinoy Dream Academy had ended, I did go back to Australia. To my big surprise, as I surveyed the garden, I had spotted a little dwende statue in the corner where before there was none. When I asked Lydia where it came from, she said it was given to us by a friend and she put it there to guard the garden.