My contribution to Moonless Tales
I like to collect things. In my youth I had and still do collect comic books and toys. As I grew older I expanded my collection – so th speak – to other things antiques – swords, knives, cameras and papers. Papers – old manuscripts, deeds, wills and just about anything that had been written on. Of course due to lack of finances my search collection was limited to collection of well not so famous people. Although during the time Marcos left I was able to get some of his papers but only because I was one of the first ones who were there when they left Malacanan Palace.
Anyway my fondness for such thing led me to the interesting case of a series of deaths within a community and in particular of a family in the town of Pangil, Laguna. But I get ahead of myself.
If you are in search of old and probably good buys and if you are in the Philippines one of the best places to go to would be Bangkal. Makati. There, depending on the time of year, you would fine worthwhile buys. One of the shops I occasionally visit was owned by Mr Azcueta. An old man who sported a whiteside wall haircut, wore a horn rim bifocals and wore white oversized t-shirts. He would often go out of town to buy houses. Yes houses and everything in it, This he would then strip and sell of anything of the house and the house itself – bits of it,
I was in Mr Azcueta’s shop one saturday and I noticed an old cabinet with a mirror. And it was flourished with rectangle and squares. At the top most part of the cabinet’s door was a Chrysanthemum. Probably this was done by a Japanese craftsman in the Philippines ?
After a few minutes of haggling with the old man, he finally agreed on a price and then arranged to have it paid and delivered to the house. They delivered it the next day.
The cabinet was a perfect addition to the sala. It was to high to bring up the bed room and the room was already filled with books and other things.
As I cleaned the cabinet and preparing it for things and things to be placed there, a discovery was made. If you pulled out the drawers inside were two secret drawers. A hidden safe during those days. And in certain instances aa time capsule of sorts, awaiting its discoverer.
What item from the past would it reveal. Coins, jewelry or a rosary. None of that sort. Inside the drawers were papers and a notebook. And from the looks of it was most likely placed there during the 1930s. Neatly bundled.
On close inspection of the notebook and papers of a family living in Pangil, Laguna. It was a diary of the patriarch of the family. Written in long hand. The papers were composed of records of paryments and expenses; promissary notes; legal documents; letters and a will. It was written in Tagalog and sometimes in Spanish.There also was a key among the papers.
The writer of the diary was the son of the town’s Mayor and the daughter of a Chinese Merchant. Reading the diary states that the writer’s Grandfather had come from China and was Rice Merchant. The writer even mentioned that his Granndfather sported a pigtail.
One of the interesting story relates when the writer who had married a girl from the poblacion of Balian got as one of their presents a for post bed. The bed was decribed as made from an old tree near the river in the forest. It was heavily ornate with designs of flowers, deers and nearly all sorts of creatures. It was rather uncommon for beds done for the time that had followed a certain pattern (unlike my cabinet).
EXCERPTS FROM THE DIARY OF ABRAHAM (translated)
Received the diary today from Tito Julian. Corong does not like it. Will have it assembled by the end of the week.
Just went to the wake of Tito Julian. A lot of people came to the wake..Father was talking to the Mayor of Paete about some land dispute. Even the old craftsman from Paete was there and thanked him for the bed. He just smiled and said my uncle got the wood from the forest beside the farm at Sierra Madre. Tito Julian’s death was unexpected he died in his sleep.
Went to Manila today. Bought some stuff for Corong and some business with the bank. Learned that the old wood carver had died during the night. His family was distraught.
Corong had the bed set-up in the guest room. But refuses to sleep in it. She says it scares her. I suppose its because of the carvings. The wood carver was very good but where did he get his ideas?
Apparently Tito Julian made me his heir. I am now running his business. I am now a proud owner of a Lanzones orchard; a coconut farm, and his farm in Sierra Madre. And a place called Polvorista.
I have to find new men for the farm. Three of Tito Julian’s people died a few days ago. More funerals . According to stories the three probably ate something poisonous during a drinking session the night before and led to their death,
Corong still refuses to sleep on the damn bed. Anyway, were leaving tomorrow for Manila and from their to visit my brother-in-law in Washington. It is going to be a while till we come back to Pangil. Anyway, the family will be here to take care of things.
The rest of diary tells of the couples time in Manila and in Washington. From time to time he received news from Pangil. His cousin tells him that their house in Balian is said to be haunted. A man is seen every night by the neighbors going in and out the house. Not really a man but something in shape of a dark fat short man. One or two children have been caught sneaking inside the house’s yard to see the phantom. They were dared by their friends. One actually claimed to have seen the phantom a dark short man. He had fever for a few days and complained of seeing the Dark Man. Kabesang Impong was called to cure the boy.
The couple come back to the Philiippines December. And in the next few days comes back to Pangil and the poblacion of Balian.
Back in Balian. Corong still refuses to sleep in the bed. I have to prove to her that she has nothing to fear. Talked to the neighboors as well and they seem to be of the mind that there is something inside the house and its not our katulong – Anding.
And even Anding is afraid to stay in the house alone and prefers to walk back to his house beside the town cemetery.
I have to prove Corong wrong.
I had the bed dismantled and sent to the farm in Sierra Madre.
The diary chronicles the life of Abraham and Corong during World War II, the Marcos years and the last days of their lives. In Balian. Abraham died of a heart attack and a few years later Corong died peacefully in her sleep.
And I thought this was the last of it. Until I read the last will and testament of Corong. Here are parts of it:
EXCERPTS FROM CORONG’S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
My father believed that a woman should not go to a University. He told of us when we got married we were not going to able to use it anyway. Abraham though was different and he encouraged me to read evey day the newspaper and books
I do not like the bed before and I do no like it now. It has been some years since I have seen it. And it is part of my last will and testament that it should remain where it is. And I am going to tell you why.
The night Abraham decided to sleep on the bed I was ill at ease and asked Kabesang Impong and Anding to be at the house. Abraham was stubborn and at first he did not want it but he agreed and said we looked foolish.
The three of us waited in the sala while Abraham went to bed. And from time to time one of us went to the room and checked up on Abraham. Near midnight we were startled by Anding shouting for help. And as we got to the room. We saw Abraham having a fit and for a brief time I saw this black fat short man – actually less of a man more of a dark shadow of a man, sitting on top of Abraham’s chest and strangling him. And the dark shadow smiled at me as if he was aware I was aware of him.Then he was gone but Abraham was still struggling.
The three of us went to him and woke him up. Thank God Abraham woke up and when he did he told us of a bad dream where a dark shadow was killing him.
And that is why my children, whether you believe it or not I want the bed to remain where it is.
The story of the bed ends here. The next saturday I went to Mr Azcueta and asked whether there was a bed alonGside with the cabinet Mr Azcueta said “yes but another buyer had bought it.”