Ghost Stories

By Virginia G. Guzman-Manzo, MD

Do you believe in ghosts?

Are there really spirits of the dead who go around visiting people or even living with them in their homes? The teaching of the Catholic Church is that when a person dies, he is immediately judged as to where his soul will go:

heaven, or hell or purgatory. Purgatory is a state where the soul without mortal sin stays for purification for some sins that have not been completely erased before death.

Can a soul come back from the dead?

A soul in heaven does not have any reason or desire to go back to earth because it is totally absorbed in enjoying the beatific vision and so engrossed in boundless happiness that nothing outside heaven matters. A soul in hell is fully occupied with “wailing and grinding of teeth” in the untold suffering it is being punished with and cannot escape the fiery prison of eternal damnation. A soul in purgatory is suffering the process of purification and cannot be distracted from its desire to get over the punishment in the shortest possible time because it is in a hurry to get away from purgatory and go to heaven.

Where then are the spirits coming from who are said to be roaming the earth and mingling with people, often frightening them out of their wits? We will never know until perhaps we experience death and find out what really lies behind in the next life. However, we cannot deny that since time immemorial, there have been many stories about the dead whose presence is experienced by quite a number of people.

Encounter with dead bodies, not ghosts

Personally, I never had any experience about ghosts. Perhaps it is because I am not one easily frightened of the dead. After going through dissection classes in anatomy where we were faced with rows and rows of dead bodies of all shapes and sizes, stiff and rigid, with hollowed eyes and checks, their skin darkened and dry, with the strong smell of formalin trying to drown the smell of dead flesh, my fear of the dead have long been past. Fear of the dead was overcome by the fear of failing in anatomy.

Ghostly encounters

I will relate some ghostly encounters from people I know personally whose integrity and state of mind I can vouch for.

Sometime last year, my daughter Iris attended a spiritual retreat somewhere in Laguna. The retreat house was old but well-maintained and situated in a lushly-wooded hill. On the second night of the retreat, Iris was awakened about 4 o’clock by the sound coming from a bathroom shower. She thought that the occupant in the adjacent room was taking an early bath. Then the sound of the shower stopped and in a little while, she felt the presence of someone inside her room.

In the dark, she tried to see who it was but couldn’t see anyone Then, she felt her bed shaking and thinking there was an earthquake, she tried to get up but the shaking stopped. She felt someone trying to lie down very slowly on her right side. A heavy weight came pressing down on the right half of her body. Her right arm felt numb and hot.

Now she was terribly scared.

She tried to shout but nothing came out of her mouth except a weak, frightened sound. Then she felt the presence rise slowly from the bed and it was gone.

Unable to go back to sleep, she took a shower, dressed up and went to the chapel until it was time for mass. She thought that no ghost would dare follow her inside the chapel. At the confessional that morning, she told the priest about her experience. The priest told her, “Don’t bother about it. Just pray for that spirit. I had the same experience myself some time ago when I was the retreat master in this same place.” Later, she was to find out that there were similar experiences by others in the past in that retreat house.

A haunted family

Harold and Sonia became our close friends but long before we met them, they have experienced many eerie ghostly encounters which they continue to experience up to the present. In 1978, when Harold was still a bachelor, his family bought an old house in Quezon City. One early morning, not long after they have settled, Harold’s mother was going to the kitchen to cook breakfast when she heard footsteps coming from the garage. It was the sound of flip-flapping slippers.

When she went to look into the garage, she could not see anyone, and attributed it to her imagination. But that same sound of footsteps in the garage would later be heard every now and then, not only by Harold’s mother but also by other members of the family. One day, Harold, his brother and sister decided to watch the garage through the screened window, hoping to see the owner of the footsteps. They were quietly and patiently waiting but no footsteps or its owner appeared. Suddenly, a gust of cold air hit their ears as if someone’s mouth blew air strongly into them. All three of them screamed running scared to different directions inside the house.

Other times, they would hear heavy footsteps on the roof of their house accompanied by incessant meowing of a cat. Someone volunteered it must be the meowing cat causing the sound of footsteps until another commented that cats’ footsteps are inaudible. Eventually, after some time, they sold the house.

The haunting continues

We meet Harold and Sonia in 1982 when they moved to a house with their 4 young children in a Paranaque subdivision where we live. The house was an old bungalow, a few blocks from our house, which they bought from a widowed woman with two daughters. Harold and Sonia remodeled it into a bigger, 2-storey house.

Life in their new house went smoothly and peacefully until one late afternoon while Sonia was in the garden in front of the house, two men looking like Indian nationals stopped and told Sonia they won’t stay long in that house, then walked away. Sonia was somewhat annoyed and slightly frightened at these two foreign-looking strangers, thinking there must be a problem in their sanity.

Not long after, while Harold was working past midnight on the computer in the 1st floor, he heard footsteps coming down the stairs from the 2nd
floor but did not see anyone.

He did not mind it, thinking it was only his imagination. However, during the days that followed, he would occasionally feel a presence as if someone was passing by or hear footsteps but could see no one.

Someone is in the house

One late afternoon, the housemaid was coming down the stairs and saw Lucy, the youngest daughter, working at the computer while a man was standing behind her and looking

down at what she was doing. The maid thought it was Lucy’s boyfriend. When she reached the first floor and looked again, Lucy was still there but the man was gone. When Lucy called the maid to please bring her a glass of juice, she asked if she will also prepare one for Tony, Lucy’s boyfriend. Lucy was surprised because Tony was not around. When the maid told her that there was a man behind her just a few minutes ago, Lucy laughed at her saying she has been all alone in the computer room all afternoon.

A white lady

One day, Harold was visited by his cousin Charlie. While they were in the music room listening to some vintage music, Charlie saw a lady in white passed and went directly to the bathroom adjacent to the music room. When Charlie asked about the girl, Harold asked, “What girl?”

Harold knocked at the door of the bathroom but there was no answer When he opened the door, there was no one inside.

A man at the window

One evening, the maid (not the same one mentioned above) saw a man perched on a branch of the tree outside the window looking at her. She ran frantically to the living room and told Harold that there was a peeping Tom at her window. Harold rushed to the maid’s room but saw no one. Later, the maid would claim she would occasionally feel someone looking at her through the window. Or that she would occasionally hear heavy footsteps.

Not long afterward, she resigned her job.

Several months later, another maid (not acquainted to the other maids mentioned), came running one night out of her room and indignantly complained to Harold and Sonia, that their two young bachelor sons, were playing a distasteful joke on her. She said that she was about to go to bed when she saw two men staring at her through the screened window. When they ran back to the maid’s room, they could not see anyone at the window or outside. At that time, the two boys were attending a party in Makati.

Seen by a “third eye”

One evening, Harold and Sonia were entertaining some friends in their house. While having dinner, one of the visitors, a lady, whispered to Harold and asked if his family has experienced some spirits inside their house. Suddenly, Harold remembered this lady was known to have a “third eye” so he whispered back, “Why, do you see anyone?” She said under her breath, “Yes, there is a lady in white coming down the stairs.” Harold and the lady visitor kept quiet as they did not want to scare the others and cause panic.

A tragic history

One time, Sonia was doing some gardening. Her next door neighbor, Tina, was also in her garden. Through the low fence, they got into the usual conversation between neighbors until Tina mentioned that she used to be friends with the former owner of the house. Casually, Tina mentioned about the tragic life of her former neighbor and that the husband who was an Indian national committed suicide by hanging himself on the tree at the back of the house. Then Sonia felt goose bumps recalling the incident when two Indian nationals passing by their house made a comment that Sonia and her family will not stay long in their new house.

Friendly ghosts

There are other ghostly encounters but too many to recount. The different members of the family seemed to have become used to them.

Since they are not subjected to any harm, they considered them friendly ghosts and don’t mind these encounters anymore although once in a while, they would get goose bumps or an eerie feeling. Twice since their stay, their house had been blessed by priests but the haunting continues.

The recourse

Whether ghost stories are true or just products of vivid imagination and heightened emotion, there is only one recourse and that is to pray for the dead. There could be restless souls in purgatory giving us a message asking for our prayers so that their purification would be shortened and they can move on to heaven. If the haunting becomes troublesome and intolerable, we can always consult our priests for possible exorcism.

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