Asong Itim/The Black Dog

A Short Prologue of Sorts

This is a set of emails you might find interesting. I came in to possession of this after I bought a second hand notebook.. All personal information and mentions of a place have been removed for obvious reasons.

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To: XXXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject: New Assignment

Hello,

Just arrived today. The town of XXXXXXX is located inland a two hour from the Capitolyo. It is a newly established town more or less a 100 years old. Apparently, it was a cross-road area from the two older towns. It departs from the usual Filipino town with the Church and the Town Hall at center and radiating from it and surrounding it would be row of stone houses, succeeded by the lesser wooden houses and then the rice fields. Instead the church was at the near end of the town on top of a hill, practically isolated, almost hermit-like and separated from the town.

I had lunch with the Ladies of the Catholic Womens League. They had prepared a small feast to welcome me, their new parish priest. Through our talk, I learned a lot of things about the town both good and bad. How the current mayor traced his ancestry to the Gobernadorcillo who was in good relations with the colonial masters at that time and through his influence converted the poblacion into a town. Since then, The mayors of the town shared the same family name. Earlier, Before it was aa poblacion the town was a hacienda and when the family died out the land was given to the trusted majordomo, an ancestor of the gobernadorcillo, and tenants. The mansion of the haciendero’s was converted into a church.

So I am living in a haciendero;s mansion. A palace in the middle of nowhere. One does not miss the irony in this. Is the Archbishop’s sick sense of humor at work? A fitting punishment for his morningstar? The things one has to pay for one’s indiscretions.

Basta … one must push on and push on.
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To: XXXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject: My Flock

Hello,

It has been two weeks since my last email. And it seems I am getting used to my hacienda life in this hacienda-town. My flock is an obedient lot, going to mass every Sunday in their sunday best. Most of them are farmers planting, rice, black pepper and even coffee. Some families have advance more than the rest. There is the millter who also owns the grocery store and of course the Mayor’s family that seem to own everything else. Do not get me wrong it is a progressive town. The sons and daughters of the farmers have not all stayed. A great majority are working in the city or even abroad — sending money and other things to their family. The town even has several Internet shops, which reminds me the pocket wifi is working great, maybe because of the elevation of the church, you can see everything up here.

Weekday masses are only attended by the CWL Ladies and some residents. Although. I did noticed a lady a widow judging by here clothes constantly attending mass. She never misses a mass.

The former parish priest must have been an animal lover and he left his dog. I never see it although I hear it always at night making he rounds.

This “punishment” is turning out to be a reward.

BTW, I have been experiencing some weird dreams lately.

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To: XXXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject: The Dreams

Hello,

In my last email I mentioned to you about having a weird dream. No it is not about me burning hell because of what I did. Although in the dream I was a priest … a friar to be exact.

The dream takes place in Manila, to be exact Intramuros. I hear the bells ringing but its midnight. Then i am with a group of friars armed with pikes and other weapons. We approach a palace and encounter token or no resistance from the guardsThen on the grand staircase, We encounter an old gentleman and a young man. They both drew their swords to defend themselves but they were overwhelmed by the armed mob of friars. As soon as the fighting ends if you can call it fighting, the mob clears and he young man lay dead while the older man lay dying.

Then the sounds of jubilation could be heard outside. Shouts came out that announced that his Eminence the Archbishop was released and there was going to be a mass at the cathedral. I left with the mob as a group of people approached the dead and the dying. Cries and lamentations were heard.

Then I woke up. The old parish priest dog was barking and going around the church again.

What a strange nightmare.

In the morning I asked. Manang about the dog and I was told that the dog was given to a farmer just down the road. She told she was going to talk to the farmer not to let it out anymore.

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To: XXXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject: My Mystery Parishioner

Hello,

Yes. The dreams keep on coming every night. Doctor XXXXXX gave me some medicine and asked if I might go to the Capitol and see his psychiatrist friend. I said I would but ask him to keep it a secret, because my parishioners would start talking if their priest is going crazy. And it they start asking that what would they ask next?

How did I ended up in this backwater town? A scandal they would say.

And next they would ask, “Ohh the poor girl who killed herself? . You were the priest there?”

NO!

The medicine seems to work. I am also consoled by the vision of my mystery parishioner the widow. Who despite her mourning clothes was beautiful. She probably descended if not from the hacienda owner may from some other haciendero family in the island. I say this because no one see,ms to know her. She comes often to the church and attend service. The CWL Ladies and Manang believed she cames from the Capital. Maybe it was her panata to go to this church/

The Damn dog is still bothering me at night. I must talk again to Manang about it.

Tomorrow I am going to meet one of the local celebrities — a so-called famous historian .
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To: XXXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject: The FAMOUS Historian

Manang told me she was going to talk to the farmer again. AGAIN!

I met the historian. He told me nothing new really. He talked about a famous general of the province and that he was writing a book on it. Incidentally, He was related to this famous general He also talked about the hacienda being an encomienda given by the Spanish Crown given to the old and extinct family. Apparently, the family’s fortune and prestige dwindled in the mid 17th century and a catastrophe killed all male members of the family. Typhoid? Cholera? Lost at Sea? With no heir the last member a Dona Melione left it all to her major domo and her tenants.

The mansion was converted into the church he was in now and nearly everything was given away. Saved for a family portrait an oil painting . The Historian joked maybe it is walled up somewhere in the church. mural But most likely it was destroyed when the church was pillaged by thieves and hangs somehere in the Capitolyo or Manila.

is it still in the church?

After I solved this dog problem I will look for it.
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To: XXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject: ASONG ITIM/The BLACK Dog

Last night. I was visited again by the same dream and again I heard the damn dog going about. I went out with an looked for it armed with the staff of San Isidro. The only thing I could find. A few steps from the church, I felt the dog approach.

It was a huge black dog and it stopped in front of me. The dog was really huge but slender more muscle than bulk If you remember our class in mythology It seemed to take its from the jackal headed god Anubis. This beast stood there staring at me. It did not bark, howl or growl. I threw several stones at it. I missed a lot but a few hit him. But it just stood there just deadly stoiv staring at me. It was like a predator about to eat its prey/ As the Black Dog stood there facing me, it seemed that everything around it and I grew black. Nothing could be seen except the Devil Dog.

Then I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. It was Manang. I was awaken from my trance. I just said, “the dog you saw the dog?”

Manang looked at me, and said,”Yes Father … but the dog Father Bob was a white mongrel.

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To: XXXXXX@xxxxxx.com
Subject:

AM I GOIN CRAZY?

Manang saw that black dog also. She was taken to the Capitol this morning due to what she and I saw last night. I will be leaving in a while the Archbishop sent Sister XXXXX to take me to a hospital as well. I have looked up the church and stayed inside.

But before I go I must tell you what I saw this afternoon. Something I did not notice before or at least I just saw now. Inside my room hanging on the wall was an old family portrait. What shocked me was not that it appeared inside my room but the family it depicted. It was a family of four— a mother a father a son and a daughter.they were all wearing all 17th century clothes. The faces though. THE FACES. The father and son I SAW IN MY DREAMS they were the one’s killed by the mob of priests. But the daughter oh god the daughter was my beautiful widow.

WasTHIS A PRANK ? A CAREFULLY PLOTTED REVENGE BY THE GIRL’S FAMILY? WAS THE ARCHBISHOP IN ON IT? I HEAR CHURCH BELLS RINGING AND WAILING OF WOMEN. IT DOES NOT END.

I have taken some more stronger medicine. The family portrait is gone. Questions, questions and questions running through my head. I hear someone downstair knocking at the door of the church asking for me. It is a woman’s voice. It is Sister XXXXX. They have come to fetch me.
I will see you in Manila.
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A SHORT Epilogue of Sorts

But he never made it to Manila. He never even left the Church.

This was the last email sent by Father to his friend. The team sent to fetch Father found him dead outside he church. He died of a heart attack. What brought it about could not be ascertained but according to investigations — based on foot prints —when the heart attack occurred he was talking to a person with a dog. Despite searches the person and the dog was never found nor identified. And it was decided the cause of death was natural causes.

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