Before you scoff and say that ghosts aren’t real, and that engkantos and duwendes are all just figments of folklore, let’s just say that there are things I’ve seen, heard, and experienced—shit I cannot make up. And since people, even the skeptics, love a good ghost story; I’m great fun at dinner parties (especially in old houses).
I was about six or seven when I started refusing to play alone in the bedroom I shared with my ate. I always left the door ajar—it made me feel less threatened by the tall, black shroud I would often see leaning against one wall.
I also often dreamt of menacing, white-faced figures pulling at my legs while I lay in bed, powerless. It was only years later when I admitted my experiences to my older sister, who also has an open (and quite powerful) third eye. She always figured I was lapitin, but never said anything until then. Her calm reply: “You weren’t dreaming. I saw them too.”
As I got older, I continued to “see” things that weren’t there—but not in the bulagaan, Sixth Sense way people assume. The slow, creeping realization that something is there is actually scarier (and I have never gotten used to it). And those somethings know I can see or feel them, and sometimes, they can be violent—like that Sadako-like grey-skinned woman who followed a former co-worker around our office (I never found out if he knew) who left long gashes on my arm when I tried to get her to leave. Or the vengeful ghost of a murdered woman who liked my fiancé a little too much to let go of him (remember that scene from Shutter?) and we both got sick for days after the encounter.
Shadows appear out of the corner of my eye; faces or hands suddenly appear on windows; or things that are DEFINITELY not human peer at me from behind trees or doorways—all regular occurrences, and it’s not like I can close my eyes and not see them anymore.
Now, thanks to my psychic intuition, I walk into a space and immediately feel if there is something there (long-gone relatives or old inhabitants of the place, imprints from particularly gruesome or violent events, or non-human entities). I easily get overwhelmed and quickly absorb strong emotion if I’m not careful—funerals and visits to old houses still tire me out to the point of fever and vomiting.
When I tell a friend that I feel her pain, I mean it quite literally—her grief, anger, stress, or pain becomes mine, too, a sharp pain in my stomach or a persistent headache that stays with me for days.
My friends now know to trust me when I say that, no, you really shouldn’t be sleeping in that room alone or hey, you really shouldn’t go ghost-hunting in your lola’s house this Halloween.
Being sensitive to the paranormal definitely made me stronger emotionally and psychologically (sleepless nights being haunted by huge shadows with sharp teeth will do that to you). And I do feel that I affect others positively with my gift: I’ve comforted grieving families that their loved ones have moved on; I’ve shielded my friends from a harmful engkanto disturbed by our drunken revelry; I’ve even told people that the condo they’re renting, well, already has someone else living in it.
At the very least, I get to open other people’s (not third!) eyes to the reality that there is a dimension beyond ours, and there’s no harm in being accepting, even respectful, of what could be out there.
But if we’re together and I suddenly fall silent or act strangely, don’t ask why—I really, really don’t like scaring my friends with what’s right behind them.