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Legend and Stories of the Philippine Kapre Tree Demon
The ancient tree abode of my grand-aunt's Kapre suitor
A century old Tamarind tree can be found behind the old house of my spinster grand-aunt. Family legend has it that a kapre fell in love with her.On the eve of her wedding her inebriated fiancé tripped on the stairway of our old ancestral home and broke his neck. Another suitor never married and entered the priesthood.The last man who seriously propose to my grand-aunt was found in his bedroom with the upper part of his head blown off. Bits and pieces of brain and bones where found on the wall and ceiling.The police investigation reported that he had "accidentally" shot himself with a sawed off shotgun.
A Kapre is a Philippine mythical tree demon. It favors big trees like the Balete(banyan), Mango and Acacia tree where you will sometimes find it sitting under it's shades. It is describe as being tall (8 to 10 ft) brown hairy male with a beard and fond of smoking. A strong scent of tobacco is what humans notice when they believe there is a Kapre in their presence because it is invisible unless it wants to be seen.
They are pranksters. Often disorienting travelers and making them lost their way in the thick forests or mountain trails. Even in familiar surroundings a person can forget where he is if a Kapre decides to play a trick on the unsuspecting. Victims also experience loss of memory when they are under the enchantment of the Kapre.
Witnesses have heard loud laughter from unseen beings.Rustling leaves from tree branches even if there was no wind. A pair of fiery red glowing eyes staring at them from tree tops. The smell of tobacco and smoke coming from behind leaf ladden branches.
They are also romantics. If they fall in love with a woman they will consistently follow the "love interest" throughout life,
and no man shall ever come between them......
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The three friends were waiting for their first victim.
Having filled their pockets with the seeds of the tamarind they were well stock with ammo.The only road leaving from the town proper going to the rice fields and adjacent barrios had to pass by the Tamarind tree where the boys lay hidden.The leaves and branches of the huge tree extended across the small dirt road like an umbrella and over the low whitewash wall of the town's cemetery. Portions of the wall had crumbled from a recent earthquake. Large gaps in several places provided glimpse of ancient sepulchers that had breaches in their masonry and the newer tombs made of hollow blocks had ugly cracks.
On nights when boredom or the lack of any other activities made them restless, the boys would climb up the tamarind tree with a bottle of gin and some smoke to pass the time in conversation and have fun at the expense of an unwary barrio bumpkin, who overstayed in town and now had to go home at night.
"Hey get ready.."whispered one of the boys.
A solitary teenager was approaching. He would glance once in a while at the muted cemetery and at imaginary phantoms lurking behind tombstones.Dust flew up from his hurried steps.He had been to town to visit his girlfriend and time unknowingly passed quickly. Although this road was well traveled in the day time, he found himself alone with the sounds of night creatures his only companion. His new shirt soak with the perspiration from his back.
Passing beneath the extended tree branches a hail of seeds peppered the back of his nape.
Already in an agitated and fearful state of miserable wretchedness,the hapless turn looking towards the direction where the projectiles came from.
Because the huge tree trunk was overgrown with branches blanketed with leaves he could only make out the smoke and the glowing embers from the boy's cigarettes. A rustling of branches tied with a string of Manila hemp did nothing to improve his confidence. Stories of Kapres inhabiting these dense growth of trees have been told ever since he was a toddler.
The hidden pranksters did all they could to stop from laughing and betraying themselves.
"Did you see that!" "I think he broke the school record for the 100 meters" Gerardo held on to his stomach to stop the pain cause by the scornful mirth.
"It still can't top the performance of that dumb ass Julio" recalls Eddie. "He left a trail of piss, remember?"
"Well, maybe we'll get someone to shit in their pants" "HA Ha ha" The third boy Manding was hysterical as tears flowed freely from his eyes.
A lull fell in the conversation as the three friends quietly waited for their next victim. Only the chirping crickets and the occasional hoarse utterance of a bullfrog disturbed the silence.
"Hey Eddie,pass the bottle"
Taking a swig,Gerardo ask of no one in particular " I wonder what happen to that school supervisor they sent from the city? Some said he saw a real Kapre."
"Oh...so now you believe in fairy tales?" Eddie riposte. "Hello...anyone in there?" as he gave his friend a gentle rap on the head.
"Didn't even know who or where he was." Continued Gerardo. "Remember when they took him back to the city?"
The boys where among a crowd of curious town folks when the man was led out into a waiting ambulance.He had to be restrained as he refuse to leave the safety of the police station where he was in protective custody to avoid hurting himself and others. He was yelling expletives and incoherent statements about a dark man stalking him. Some said that the rumored insanity that ran in the man's family had finally overcome him.
"Didn't he lodge with the Apostols?" He asked.
"Overstayed and fell in love with their daughter Jocelyn" Manding added.
"Yeah,baby......!!" " I get the hots too whenever I see you at school" "MMmmm....Mwahhh..." Eddie was making kissing sounds and thrusting the empty space with his pelvic as he fantasize about their math teacher.
"Ohhhh......I think Eddie's gonna come." hissed Gerardo as the three boys join in laughter.
Soon the conversation drifted aimlessly as the bottle passed from hand to mouth.
The boys were too drunk to notice an indistinct murmuring and furtive movements behind the branches. Deeper into the grove two glowing embers much larger than those from the boys' cigarettes revealed themselves.
An odor of tobacco permeated the air.
"Boys will be boys"
"I wonder what Jocelyn is doing?"
"Hmmm.....I think I'll pay her a visit."
My grand-aunt reach the age of 101 and died peacefully in her sleep. Less than a year later the old house burned down under mysterious circumstance.The new caretaker conveniently just happen to be visiting relatives in town. Among the overgrown vegetation the old tamarind tree with the fire-scarred side facing the house is still standing. Some people say the place is haunted....On some dusky nights a translucent figure of a lady can sometimes be seen near the old tree.True Love?
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