Scary Stories From My Childhood
Scary Bedtime Stories
This coming Halloween has occasioned memories from my childhood. As children, my siblings and I (there are five of us) would beg Mother to tell us scary stories before we sleep. If other children would ask to be read their favorite fairy tales at bedtime, well, we prefer to hear goose bump inducing tales of scary, mythical creatures that rule the night.
Philippine literature is rich in mystical creatures that are the stuff of nightmares like the aswang or our version of the vampire, the taong lobo or werewolf, and other creatures our folks use to keep us in the house after dark such as the tikbalang, a giant entity that has the head and hind feet of a horse and the torso and hands of a man, kapre, a tree dweller that has an affinity to tobacco and enchanting pretty girls to make them his wives and the ghost of a lady in the Balete tree.
So as I was saying, scary stories are regular bed time stories for us as kids. We'd spread the beddings on the floor, turn off the lights, then snuggle up with Mother between us and hug each other or clutch our pillows as she fills our hungry imagination to our heart's content.
I don't remember any of us suffering from nightmares after such storytelling sessions...just the necessity to go in pairs or threes when someone needed to go to the bathroom.
In this lens, I'm going to share with you some of the stories I heard from our mother when I was very young. These are the ones I remember clearly and if I recall the others, I will update this lens. Hope you enjoy and happy Halloween!
[Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
The Companion In The Dark - This story was from Mother's own experience as a child
In the provinces, some 40 years ago, there were no electricity and by 6 pm, darkness had settled. The only sources of light were the stars, the moon when it's out and whatever light that comes from oil lamps from greatly spaced Nipa houses or passing farmers in their carabao-pulled carts.
Mother was then about 12 and as she often told us, she liked staying late in school after classes to explore and play on the vast school grounds. One day she stayed a little later than usual and before she knew it, it was getting dark. She knew very well that the al-alya (the local term for ghost) rises at dusk so she hurried for home - which was a good 4 kilometeres (to miles) from the elementary school. Yes, that was how it was in the provinces, no school bus to take children to and from school. They will have to wake up very early in the morning to prepare for school and they will have to walk. Yet, as Mother said, they never complained! Right, now you know the kind of telling-off we kids used to get on days when we're lazy to go to school.
So as it happened, darkness fell before Mother was even halfway home. There was no moon that night and though the sky was clear, the stars were not enough to light the path obscured by tall, thick trees. Little girl Mother was silently praying to hear the clip-clops of a carabao's hooves that would mean she could hitch a ride on a farmer's cart. Before long, she did hear the soft thuds of hooves on the dirt road and she looked back, expecting to see light from a farmer's lamp. But to her surprise, there was none and she also realized that the sound of hooves stopped. Scared, she walked faster and after a few paces, she heard it again. She looked back again but no one was there, she strained her ears but she can't hear the hooves again. That was when Mother started running as fast as she could. She hasn't gone very far when she felt like there was someone running behind her, though the sound of hooves were no longer to be heard. The footfalls seemed padded and she heard a panting sound. Still running, she twisted to look behind her and she saw a great white dog running behind her - she wasn't sure if it was running after her - with its red tongue hanging out of its grinning mouth.
She ran faster and never looked back again. She ran until she reached home, not stopping to remove her shoes on the balcony. She ran straight through the door and slammed it behind her. Grandmother looked at her scared face and simply said: "Well, serves you right for staying out late! If you don't want the al-alya to accompany you home again, come home early."
Entity Having Fun
A lesson to be learned...
Mother told us this story about a farmer in their village who liked to make fun of the al-alya. He would tell anyone who would listen that he wasn't afraid of these entities and whenever he was drunk he would shout insults to the unseen entities. The elders would tell him off saying that to insult these entities would be like courting harm or injury.
Well, said farmer never listened so one night as he was sleeping in his hut on his farm, he was roused by some people whispering nearby. He thought they must be farmers coming home late or going to their farm early. But the whisperers didn't seem to be passing by, they were outside, surrounding the hut. He couldn't understand what they were saying but they seem to be laughing softly too and getting closer and closer yet he couldn't hear their footfalls on the bamboo floor. Suddenly he felt his bed being lifted but he couldn't see anyone, the soft voices with their strange talks and mirthful tones are all he could hear. He decided to pretend he was asleep, opening his eyes just a little to see where they were taking him. He recognized an old jackfruit tree and not far behind the tree was a big boulder that kids would climb for dares. And that's when he realized where the entities are taking him, not far from that spot was a ravine some 15 meters deep. Abandoning all caution, he sprung to his feet and jumped from his bed carried aloft by unseen entities, landed on his feet and ran without a backward glance.
The next day, with some companions he went to the ravine and yep, there, 15 meters below were the crashed remains of his bed. The elders just told him to be grateful that he lived to tell the tale.
Do I Believe In Ghosts?
Weeeeellll...when I was a kid, VERY much!
Now? Not so much :) Just a teeny-weeny, little bit.
Books About Ghosts
My Aunt's Story - Going In Circles
My Aunt, Father's older sister, also had an encounter with an unseen entity as a young girl.
She was with two other sisters and they were going to visit their uncle's house. It wasn't their first time to go to his house but going there on that particular day seem to be taking longer than usual. For some reason, the three girls felt like they were going in circles and they passed the same group of guava trees for like the third time.
When they passed it again for the fourth time, my aunt suspected that an entity must be playing with them. So she told her sisters they have to take their shirts off and put them back on inside out. Yes, I asked why they needed to do that...
...and this was her explanation...
If an entity is trying to confuse you so that you won't reach your destination, you need to make the entity lose concentration by making them laugh. ^_^
She said your option is either you wear your clothes the wrong way or inside out OR you show them your behind.
Showing your behind is unlady-like ("But Aunty, you took off your shirts!" "Yes, but we had undershirts." "Right.") so they opted for wearing their clothes the wrong way. Right after they did what they did, they heard a sound like a tree limb snapping and they ran. Before long, they reached their uncle's house.
Dragons, fairies and other creatures of myth...
Let me just ask you...
Do you believe in ghosts? Or rather, do you 'STILL' believe in ghosts?
White Lady - An Urban Legend
The story of the white lady is very popular in the Philippines. Almost every city, every town, every village in the provinces has its own white lady story.
The white lady is the ghost of a woman who cannot rest because she has maybe an unfinished business or she wants revenge on her murderer or she is simply lost and cannot find her way to the Other Side. The white lady's favorite haunts are large Balete trees, lonely stretches of roads, deserted old buildings, or the place where they died.
In the city where I live, the most popular white lady urban legend is that of the spectral woman who likes flagging down taxis. Father was a taxi driver and he told us this story, told to him by a fellow driver who according to him, experienced it himself...
It was 11 pm and this taxi driver was just driving towards the central business district having just taken his last passenger to one of the best hotels in the city. This hotel now stands where the previous military camp of the United States was, and it was a good 15 minutes away from the city center. The road winds along a reserve of trees, mostly pines, and there were no street lamps, so the only sources of light were from cars.
Father's acquaintance was just driving along and listening to the radio when some distance ahead, the headlights caught a woman as she stumbled from a clump of trees some feet from the roadside. The woman raised an arm to flag the taxi down and though a bit wary as there were no houses near the area, the driver still slowed down. The driver tried to see behind the woman in case she wasn't alone but it seems that no one else was with her. He rolled the passenger side window halfway down and the woman leaned over but did not show her face and said she needs to go to St.- Church. It wasn't along the way but not very far so though he was wondering why the woman needs to get to church at that unholy hour, he agreed to take her anyway.
The woman, wearing a simple white dress that looked old and faded sat in the back. The driver tried to look at the woman, see her face, but the woman was leaning close to the door, the side of her head against the window and her long hair screening the side of her face. The driver tried to chat her up, saying that he didn't know there were houses near that area where he picked her up. But she was silent so he just increased the volume of the radio and contented himself to listening to the radio.
After about ten minutes, they reached the church and as the driver stopped the taxi in front of the church, he turned towards the backseat meaning to comment that the church gates were locked but she was no longer there. For a second he thought wildly that she might have fell as she was leaning against the door but then he realized he would have heard it somehow, as she would have yelled or the car door would have slammed back. He leaned over towards the backseat to make sure that the woman hasn't collapsed on the floor, but still, no woman in a white dress was lying there.
Scared witless, he quickly drove off from the place, not daring to look in the mirror and praying he doesn't see her on the side of the road.
Books On urban Legends
Amazon Sells Fright!!
Scary Stories From My Childhood by Harriet Chan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.