A Friend's Hidden Secret

My parents brought me to our province in Mindanao from Luzon when I was still a baby. We lived together with my grandparents. My father went abroad for a job, and didn't come back anymore.

Shortly, after my father sent a depressing letter to my mother, she also decided to go abroad for a job. So, I grew up there with no parents but with my grandparents. I have no siblings, I'm their only child.

Our house in the province is quite big, but I don't consider us wealthy. We have neighbors, however, unlike in urban cities, there's a wide distance between houses. They were comparable to a traditional Filipino Bahay-kubo (hut) with plants surrounding the house.

I had a friend there, and his name is Bryan. I was older than him. His family was a friend of ours since they arrived in our province. His father works in our family as mandayagay (coconut climber).

Because they were the nearest neighbor we had, we often play with his sister named Catherine. Even though we have electricity, we don't have PSP, computer, cellphone or any gadgets there. Thus, the only way we can enjoy ourselves is through playing traditional Filipino games, like patintero, luksong-baka and luksong-tinik. I admit that we also play games only for girls, like piko and bahay-bahayan. Aside of it, we can also go to fishponds, rivers, and beaches which are very near to our home. I can say living in the province is much more enjoying than living in urban city. It's seldom to feel bored there.

An unexpected death happened to their father. No one knows the reason why. It was a sudden death. He was still strong the day before his death. Some say it was caused by pasma, some say a kind of disease.

Years later, my mother decided to bring me to Metro Manila. She wanted me to finish my studies there. Since then, I never visited my province. I have no news about my childhood friends.

My uncle went home to our province. When he came back, I asked him what do it look like now. Of course, I didn't forget to ask him about my friends too. As we talked about Bryan and Catherine, I asked him if he knows the reason of their father's death. Well he answered me yes. He told me everything about him, and how did he actually died.

It was a silent afternoon in the fishponds. It was almost 6 o'clock pm. There was a family living there. Dado (not his real name) was cuddling his son inside their house to make it sleep. As the child slept, he laid him to the cradle, and went out to cook rice. His wife was out to buy something in the village. Minutes later, the child suddenly cried very loud. He was wondering why, so he left what he was cooking and went inside the house to check what's happening. As he arrived to the baby, he saw a black cat hanging in the cradle. The cat was reaching the child inside it. It looked at him with a blazing red eyes. Afraid of what he saw, he took immediately his bolo to kill the animal. But because the cat was in the cradle, he was afraid that he might strike his child instead. So he used the blunt side of the bolo. Then, he smashed it in its back. The feline rushed out through the window, bleeding. Dado chased the cat to kill it. As he get closer to the animal, he smashed it again, and created another wound on its back. Then, it ran much faster. He decided to let it go, then he heard suddenly the sound, "wak wak wak". Upon hearing it, he thought of an aswang. Hence, he went back faster to his house thinking someone will get his baby.

On the next day, Bryan's father died. They were thinking pasma as the cause of his death. The day before he died, he was watching over the coconut flesh he was fuming with fire. There was a pouring rain that time. Combining the heat caused by fuming the coconut and being soaked by rain may cause pasma.

When they prepared the body for a wake, upon changing its clothes, they saw two swelling straight wounds at its back. They wondered where did he acquire those injury. Dado heard of the wounds behind him, and told his experience the day before his death about the cat that he struck at the back two times. Of course, people just believed on the story without knowing the reality.

If it was true, I can't believe I played with his children.

You may also visit:

Shapeshifting Neighbor
Manananggal and Aswang in the City
Manananggal in Tondo
January 24, 1998 Aswang News in Caloocan City