The story of my “haunted” house
The Manila Archdiocese's chief exorcist explains malevolent infestation through teachings of the Catholic Church
Oct 22, 2018
The things I’ll tell you did not happen immediately. Or maybe some things did but the family didn’t notice. Or maybe we didn’t think they were out of the ordinary. At first.
We stayed in a house in Parañaque for eight years. The kids were very young then. There was so much we did not know about the property before the purchase.
We tore down the old structure after buying the property from an uncle-in-law whose entire family moved to the US. So we constructed a new house that stood in the same lot occupied by the old house.
A year or two after we moved in, the kids’ yayas complained about strange noises heard around noon time. They often sounded like someone was throwing small pebbles through the second floor window and into their room while they rested.
“Minsan parang bato, minsan parang jolens,” one of them reported. They would scour the floor—even under the bed and behind the heavy drawers—to see what it was but found nothing.
It wasn’t possible for anyone to throw anything through that window because a yucca tree two storeys high stood in the way from the street.
One of the girls would pee in the wee hours and hear a sound as if a wind blew from the hallway to the bathroom. She had goosebumps during these moments, she said.
My husband would watch television in the outdoor kitchen at night because he liked the volume loud. He would feel as if someone watched whenever he climbed up the stairs to sleep.
Things got weirder when I became an active church member. I combined my job as a journalist with volunteer work in the ministry and wrote articles explaining the much-misunderstood work of exorcist-priests. I called it the Halloween beat.
One morning, my two yayas showed me hard lumps that seemed to have grown overnight just underneath the skin behind their legs. They insisted on going to the barangay health center first to no avail. We consulted a doctor after but she also failed to explain why.
I mentioned the girls to a priest during a casual conversation. Fr. Jude was active in the deliverance ministry but was quiet about it. Parishioners who knew called on him for prayers of protection when they felt something “extraordinary” at home.
I brought Fr. Jude to see the girls. He inspected the house. Then he asked the yayas a few questions and prayed over them. The lumps were gone in a few days.
Elementals in the house
Fr. Jude later told me an unseen entity lived in the yucca tree. He wasn’t quite sure if it was a kapre or a tikbalang but there definitely was an elemental (a fallen angel who lives in nature like trees, shrubs, etc.) living in the tree that overlooked the second floor window.
While promising to offer prayers to get rid of it, Fr. Jude also advised me to burn any old vinyl record beneath the yucca “because the entity won’t be able to stand the smell and leave.”
I silently scoffed at the kapre–tikbalang-elemental as I waved James Taylor’s lighted copy of “Fire and Rain” in the air. “I don’t charge you rent yet you hurt my girls,” I hissed half-seriously. I left the burnt vinyl under the yucca and closed the front door.
The elemental didn’t take it kindly. A few days later en route to a family vacation, I suddenly developed a fever inside the plane and was briefly detained by Hong Kong immigration where I was asked when I last ate chicken. (It was bird flu season.)
The fever subsided during my “interrogation.” I was let go but was also told not to remove my surgical mask until I have left the airport.
I had stomach cramps the time we reached the hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui and I had to beg off while everyone else went to lunch. Hubby pulled the curtains shut so I can rest.
I barely made it to the bathroom five minutes later. Whatever I ate left my body in the same state. The food was not digested at all. Dizziness and vomiting came next. I had several trips from bedroom to bathroom.
After my last bout, I glanced at the bathroom mirror and saw a strange woman staring back. I propped myself over the sink and pushed myself closer. I was delirious at this point. The woman’s mouth was closed. Which was strange since mine was slightly open as I was breathing through my mouth.
Then just like those cursed characters in The Ring, the woman’s face began to warp. Her mouth twisted into a very unnatural smile. I didn’t need to see what would happen next so I ran back to the bedroom, jumped in bed and passed out.
The Catholic Church explains hauntings
Fr. Jose Francisco “Jocis” Syquia is the director of the Archdiocese of Manila’s office of exorcism. He has written several books detailing personal accounts in the exorcism ministry. Syquia has been asked on numerous occasions to cleanse or exorcise haunted homes.
The priest offers a very scholarly explanation of why some houses become infested with malevolent spirits in his book “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult.”
Syquia said science considers a house to be haunted “when there are paranormal disturbances occurring within the vicinity.”
Catholic Church authorities also acknowledge the phenomenon and encourages affected residents to call a priest instead of occult practitioners like “espiritista” or “mangkukulam” to eradicate the evil dwellers.
Syquia talked of cases caused by human parapsychology or the poltergeist phenomena which he said is tied to a human “agent,” usually an adolescent female “who, due to extreme hormonal changes, expends a great deal of emotional energy.”
“These women subconsciously release their pent-up frustrations in telekinetic bursts of energy…Members of the household…would hear mysterious sounds, feel physical touches on their bodies, and usually notice unexplained movements of physical objects,” he explained.
Referring persons who exhibit such energy to specialists like a psychiatrist can help.
Syquia however, warned that there are cases where spirits attach themselves to these persons. In this case, counseling with a priest can determine whether the person suffers from demonic oppression and would need deliverance prayers to be freed.
The priest said the Church also acknowledges spiritual cases of haunting in places where people died, or where someone was killed or committed suicide. Their souls would manifest to ask for help in the form of prayers, sacrifices and Holy Masses.
Syquia made it clear God allows souls to “manifest themselves to living persons so that they gain the needed prayers, sacrifices and indulgences to enter Heaven.” Once the necessary prayers are granted, the manifestations stop.
Prayers and sacrifices are adequate to help souls, the priest said. This is the same reason why loved ones left behind should not deal with occult séances because the practice actually invites more evil spirits.
Then there are the preternatural demonic causes. Syquia calls the first “infestation” that happens when “evil spirits find a spiritual opening and are attracted to dwell and roam within the premises due to occult and sinful activities.”
He said these activities include séances or magic sessions (Ouija board, tarot cards, spell casting, etc.); or when these places have been used for satanic worship, prostitution, crime, drug dealing or blasphemous activities such as Masonic meetings.
“Unless these activities are stopped, repeated sin and dealings with the occult can allow these spirits to have even more dominion within the home, as well as attract even more evil spirits,” Syquia said.
“These make the disturbances even more apparent and tangible. (Demonic) oppression like nightmares and physical, emotional, and spiritual attacks recur and become more powerful,” he added.
I heard an explosion and saw the bulb, its tungsten filament still glowing, fly in the air and land on the other side of the master bedroom without breaking.
Another reason for demonic disturbances is the presence of elementals like the one in our yucca tree. The priest mentioned spirits “residing in old trees, mounds (nuno sa punso), shrubs and the like even before the house was built.”
Syquia said elementals (considered among the fallen angels who joined Satan) like “lamang-lupa, engkanto, or nature spirits” could have been “displaced by the construction of the house (so) they start to reside in the structure or the places where they (moved) in such as an old tree standing near the house.”
The Church insists these spirits “are of a diabolical nature (and)…must be driven out in the name of Jesus.”
Syquia stressed human residents of an infested should not compromise with these dwellers.
“There is no such thing a mutual peaceful coexistence with elementals or nature spirits since no one in his right mind would want an invisible liar and murderer filled with hatred in one’s home. They will always clandestinely affect the persons in the home in a negative manner…through sicknesses like heart attacks, headaches, and stomach aches; relational problems and division within the family; emotional and psychological illnesses like impatience, anger, and depression; temptations like lust, pride, and sloth in one’s prayer life; weakening faith and even failures in businesses,” he explained.
Some wily spirits, in an effort to gain a family’s trust, would sometimes offer “protection” or “good luck” at first so they would be allowed to remain at home. They also appear as beautiful beings like the “spirit guides” that New Agers favor. This only allows them to eventually affect family members “in more dangerous and unseen ways,” the priest said.
Duwende and the flying light bulb
We were about the move to a new and bigger place several years after the yucca incident when I finally learned the back story of the house in Parañaque.
The former owner, Uncle-In-Law 1, first lent the house to his brother, Uncle-In-Law 2, when U1 flew to the States. U2 had a business then and for some strange reason thought of getting help from a duwende, one of the more popular elementals, for luck.
Witnesses said U2 even built a tiny house and put it somewhere in the garden for any random duwende to live in should it choose to do so. Business thrived, I guess because U2 stayed in the property for several years. That the property was “suwerte” was among the reasons why we were convinced to buy it later.
It is possible elementals other than duwende resided in the area while U2 was there. I was told that when U2 moved out and we moved in, his children, grandchildren and their guests experienced eerie stuff in their new home.
I believe most of the elementals who once resided in our property went along with them.
Hubby’s cousin once told us about seeing a man with luminous green skin in their new home. A bewildered niece was told by a classmate about a “quiet auntie with long hair” that didn’t respond when greeted.
Another cousin, U2’s youngest child, talked of “small people” who poked her from under her pillow as she slept at night.
Some of the elementals refused to leave our house though. One night around 3 a.m., I was awakened by the sound of screeching metal and noticed the lighted bulb firmly ensconced in my night lamp’s socket turning by itself.
I heard an explosion and saw the bulb, its tungsten filament still glowing, fly in the air and land on the other side of the master bedroom without breaking.
It was dark but I could still make out my sleeping baby’s silhouette in the dark. I turned to her, thanked God the noise did not wake her, prayed and covered her with my free arm.
I couldn’t sleep afterwards.
No mutual co-existence between humans and evil spirits
Father Syquia warned us during a lecture that there is no difference between the so-called white or benevolent duwende and the black, malevolent one. All duwende are elementals and should not be tolerated in one’s home. Any offer of aid or luck will eventually result in the elemental asking for payback such as one’s soul.
The priest explained in his book that early Christians “never exhibited signs of adoration nor appeasement to inhabiting spirits like having food offerings and the like. They knew very well who these spirits were that were causing trouble.”
Syquia added the early Christians “never reserved any place in their houses where spirits could dwell in. There was no such thing as ‘mutual coexistence.’”
The priest observed that Filipino Catholic families usually seek recourse to three possible sources when it comes to haunted dwellings- occult practitioners like “espiritista,” “mananambal,” “albularyo” and “faith healers”; psychics and the Church usually as a last recourse.
Syquia said occult practitioners derive their “powers” from evil spirits, hence we encounter “healers” who sometimes recommend another healer “with powers greater” than theirs.
This is because the one lending powers to these healers are actually fallen angels, each with a level of power that can be overturned by a stronger evil spirit.
Seeking recourse to an occult practitioner only causes the evil spirit lending the healer his or her power to latch to the resident of a haunted house. Which makes this worse.
“Relief is only short-term followed by greater troubles since the person acquires a bond with the evil spirits through the occult practitioner,” the priest said.
Syquia said he has no issue with asking help from psychics PROVIDED these psychics use their preternatural gifts “only according to God’s designs” and do not charge fees, not even donations, for their services.
The priest also stressed that psychics that cleanse haunted houses should not resort to occult instruments and New Age formulas like crystals, pendulums, tarot cards, “anting-anting,” and “tawas.”
“If these are used, one is already in the realm of the demonic. These activities and objects would only empower the evil spirits and allow unseen bondages to be formed with the psychic and those who use their services,” he explained.
Cleansing rituals by the Catholic Church may be tedious for some. These involve interviews about the circumstances of the disturbances as well as data gathering about the history of the haunted house before the actual exorcism of the house.
Syquia said priests also ask for help from “seers” and “sensitives” who feel invisible entities. “These persons should be prayerful and humble individuals, imbued with a paranormal, if not charismatic gifts,” he clarified.
The faith of residents who want their houses freed from malevolent spirits is also a factor.
Syquia said they must always remember that more than the priests and assistants, the battle to cleanse a house is God’s. “He is always in control of the situation,” the priest maintained.
The Mass and the message
It’s one thing when I am harassed by a malevolent spirit. But having children in the same environment raises the stakes. I immediately asked for prayers from several priest friends after the flying bulb episode.
Prayers hardly relieved my anxiety as the incident played constantly in my mind. I asked God for a sign, like many who seek help through prayer.
That afternoon, I went with the two older children to their ice skating lessons. The skating rink was located inside a mall. Restless, I made sure the children were with their coaches before I began to walk around, looking mindlessly at the shops. I later found myself outside, staring at a church still under construction just across the parking lot.
A Holy Mass was ongoing when I went in. I asked God for protection, especially for the children. And a sign that would tell me everything would be alright.
As I walked back to the skating rink, I passed by the taxi queue and noticed there were no waiting passengers. A taxi pulled over. On its door was painted “San Gabriel”—God’s messenger. I smiled to myself.
Another taxi followed, the door said “Ina ng Awa,” referring to the Blessed Mother, Queen of the Angels and the saint that demons are most afraid of.
Finally, a third taxi, also vacant, with the words “Santo Cristo.” I remember the priests and their prayers as I made the sign of the cross. I asked for a sign and got three. The hauntings ceased after that.
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