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Eye For An Eye

December 2004

In the Philippines, there are many superstitions and stories about the paranormal. As far as I can remember, I've heard many tales about the spirits that roam the lush province side of Ilocos Norte. I merely thought the spectacular stories about magical dwarves, and even the fabled half-bodied demon "aswang" were just that, fairy tales. But that all changed after I crossed paths with one while on vacation there.

We were staying in my families' village, roughly eight acres to hold the entire family in a small community. Our branch of the family was separated into three houses, one made of bamboo and the other two houses made of cement. There is a large bamboo tree that is visible from all three houses, it formed a weird structure and never seemed to grow, instead of the bamboo growing outward, it kept together to create a natural wall. It has a weird aura to it, a feeling that it didn't want you near it.

As kids, if you are warned to stay away from an area, you will most likely go there to figure out why and that's what we did. We examined the bundle but we couldn't see inside (that's how tight it was) so we moved on to better things.

My cousin made a slingshot for me out of a fallen branch and a fastened thick rubber band the day before, so we decided to do some target practice. Picking up nuts and pebbles, we hit fruits in the near by trees and cans next to houses, even the chickens that ran around, but that wasn't enough to keep us in content. We warned by my Aunty to stop doing that or else we would wake the spirits, but as kids we didn't care. I couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching me while I was playing; it was like a stabbing sensation in my mind. The feeling came from the bamboo tree that was growing, it was an ominous feeling that I didn't understand at the time.

My Aunty didn't know how right she was. I began firing my slingshot at the bamboo tree and into the bushes around it, and all the sudden the wind began to pick-up. My brother was with me at the time, we were trading shots but he was aiming at tin cans and such. Every time I hit the tree there was a "thump" and I would rustle the bushes, but when I shot into the bushes I heard a "thump" as well. The bush began to rustle about but I simply thought it was the wind, so I shrugged it off ran off to our house for supper. That night I woke up to the sound of laughter, the windows were barred up so I felt protected. A shadow stalked outside our window, about the size of me so I thought it was my cousin who usually wandered during the night. The next morning, I went into the bathroom to discover my left eye was heavily bruised and on the verge of closing. Mucus ran down it and it itched, but there was no pain. I didn't realize it at first, because I see perfectly fine.

My grandfather grabbed me after I told him how I felt, he is one of the three remaining brothers who own this land and his wide eyes told me that he knew what was going on. Three old ladies stayed with me that night, chanting in Tagalog, the Filipino province dialect. My brother lay on the bed opposite to me, bed stricken with a fever of massive proportions. Laughter rang across the room as if carried in by the wind, and silhouette appeared once more and so the ladies picked up their chants. My grandfather wasn't home that night, but appeared exhausted in the morning. My eye was opening and my brother was getting better.

It was explained to me that the old ladies were protecting me against a vengeful spirit that I hit in the eye; it was getting back at me for attacking it without apology. It would have gotten worse until what degree I don't know and I don't want to know. My brother was with me so he felt its wrath as well. My grandfather jokingly told me he begged the spirit to release me and my brother, I don't know if it was truth or not. We made our miraculous recoveries but never approached that bamboo tree again.

00:00 / 01:04
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