Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sixth Sense

Because the inestimable Luke asked, here's what happened while we were enjoying the cooler climes of Baguio City over the weekend.

For those who don't know, Baguio is a small city situated on a plateau in the middle of the mountains of Benguet. Because of its low temperature, the city is an ideal place for vacation during summer and sometimes-- just for the hell of it-- during the colder periods of the year. It's a beautiful place: pine trees can survive the high temperature of the country there and flowers bloom all year 'round.

Likewise, any city has its own share of ghosts and spirits but Baguio seems to be well-known for them moreso ever since the Hyatt Hotel collapsed in 1990 and killed 1,300 people. I suppose the primeval appearance of the pine tree forests, combined with the late night mists, make Baguio a choice spot for hauntings-- and haunted imaginings.

Among my friends who went up to Baguio were R__, his wife and his baby. It was on our second night in Baguio that I found out R__ had a kind of second sight, which was a surprise as R__ was a regular trickster and he never struck me as a "spiritual" kind of guy. It was R__ who suggested that we check out Loakan Road near the Philippine Military Academy, which had a couple of reputedly haunted cemeteries.

However, the next night, the adventure didn't push through as half of the group (the female half, including R__'s own wife) expressed disagreement with the idea. So after a few beers at Camp John Hay, it was decided that we'd all go back to our friend's condo unit and drink there. However, while a third of us did drive straight to the condo, the rest had decided to make a stopover at the Presidential Mansion, and nearby, a stone gazebo that was a regular hangout for the kids there.

Separating the Mansion from the gazebo is a long reflecting pool while surrounding it are stands of pine trees. During the day, tourists can marvel the tranquility of the pool and the quiet coolness of the forest. But at night, lovers hug each other to keep warm while friends could drink the darkness away under the stone arches of the gazebo. It was there my friends had stopped for a while to check out the scene.

Unfortunately, just after getting there, two of my friends started to feel uneasy. It didn't help that there was a rowdy group of kids destroying the silence of the night by joyriding around the pool. My friends had decided to leave when R__ said, "Do you guys hear that?"

Though no one did, somehow the atmosphere had everyone on edge and R__'s question had them jumping back into the car in a rush (as someone said later, "Everyone was in the cars within three seconds!"). Later on, R__ said he "saw" a number of ghosts in the area-- around 30-- and all of them were angry because of the ruckus caused by the kids. Some of the "spirits" he could identify, like a World War II soldier; others were just dark shadows or white figures. Likewise, the sound R__ had heard was like "a groan."

Unfortunately, they couldn't leave immediately as the trunk of one of the cars wouldn't shut no matter what they did. They decided to leave the car trunk alone and they left the area with the lid hanging open. When they got to the condo, they checked out the trunk in order to repair it. Though the lock mechanism was working, whenever they tried to shut it close, it wouldn't-- or didn't-- catch, as if something was blocking the mechanism.

Furthermore, as they were trying to figure out how to fix the trunk at the condo's parking lot, R__ was relating how three "spirits" seemed to be heading towards where they were parked at the time they were trying to close the car trunk. Was someone warning them to leave the place? Who knows. It didn't help that R__ said they had picked up a "something" from that place and was now among us.

Now, mind you, I wasn't there when all of this happened though I did see how they tried to get the car trunk shut when they came back. Likewise, despite R__'s reputation as a trickster, he did seem a little jumpy when we all trooped back up to the condo unit. Everything seemed to be fine afterwards while we hung out that night at the condo unit. Every now and then, we'd talk about what had happened earlier but no one really pressed the matter.

It was only later on that I was tipped off that R__ was acting strangely when he asked if anyone was upstairs despite the fact that everyone was right there with him. As his wife slept by his side on the couch, I saw R__ was looking around the place from the corner of his eyes. And when I turned to see what he was looking at, I noticed that he kept looking at the top of the stairs leading to the rooms. And no, R__ didn't know I was looking at him.

What confirmed my suspicion that there was something among us when Jay asked R__ if he could see anything hanging over the top of the stairs. Now Jay doesn't have a 'sixth sense' like R__ but he does have his own experiences, living in a house/ school that have a number of ghosts in it. Specifically, Jay asked R__ if the spirit was something all black and shimmery. R__ replied it was possible but didn't say anything further to avoid waking his wife.

The night passed quietly after that. People got drunk, people went home. However, the events that night did confirm for me that-- whatever doubts there were about R__'s declarations-- there was some truth to what he could see.

To quote a famous line, "There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

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