Voice In The Woods
It was around February of 2004 when my boyfriend, Jake asked me to join him for a hike on a mountain. I never tried hiking before, so I was a bit reluctant to go, but, being a nature lover, I decided to give it a try. He told me that we were to go on a night trek, and that we will be staying there for 3 days, so I'd better be sure I'm really up for it.
We left Manila at around 7:00PM on a Tuesday, and arrived at the destination about 9:00PM. It was really dark and there was a full moon that night, so he told me that using a torch is not necessary. He told me that's how I'd get a first hand feel of being one with nature, but being a coward when it comes to the dark, I still told him I will use my torch. We walked some 10 minutes more and across a small stream to reach the base point, and my heart just skipped a beat when I saw this huge shadow walking towards us.
I held his hand tight and was about to do an about face dash back to the highway, when he just laughed and told me, "Relax, it's just a horse..." I was really close to tears upon reaching the entrance at the foot of the mountain, and I was already a nervous wreck when we heard this loud, sort of, squeal, as if there was a pig who got scared of our presence. Mind you, when I say loud, it really is LOUD. We looked at each other and he just tried to calm me by saying it must have been a pig indeed.
Mustering up my strength to take another step forward instead of backwards, I breathed in deeply and said to myself, if we make it through, this is going to be the first and the last time I'll be doing this. Moving on, we passed by a tiny make shift house and registered ourselves, changed into our hiking gear and started the 2 and a half hour trek to the summit/camp site. But, before going, he told me there is only one rule to keep in mind. " Whatever you see or hear, just keep it to your self." After telling me that, I started regretting saying yes. Anyway, we're already there, so there's no use turning back.
Jake, being familiar with the trail went first, and I followed closely behind. The first hour of the trek was doing well, so far, he kept on talking to me and asking me questions, as if trying to make me feel at ease, for there were moments when I'd just be quiet all of a sudden. He is aware of my fear of the dark. I already have my rosary in hand and I have been tagging behind him with my eyes closed. After a couple more minutes, he finally asked me why am I so quiet. But, I just can't seem to speak, remembering the rule he told me before starting the hike. So, I just said, I'm tired. Little did he know, I kept on glancing behind me because it felt like some unseen being was following us, I can't see it, but I can definitely feel it. We have already talked about everything when I started to hear a water fall, so he told me we're almost there.
Finally, after 30 more minutes, we reached the camp site. It was awfully dark and quiet. Except for the faint sounds of the rustling of the branches and leaves of the trees above and hoots and screeches of whatever it is out there. He chose a spot for us to pitch a tent and it was below this huge tree, it was so huge and tall, it covered the sky, and at least four grown ups will be needed just to be able to hold the trunk. What puzzled me that time is the fact that when we are approaching the tree, a strong gust of wind seemed to blow AROUND US. I decided to ignore it and just thought that we are in the woods, after all.
While he was busy taking out all our supplies and tent, I sat at this large stone. And saw a tiny kitty, I still remember it was gray with white stripes. I wondered how it got there, but the kitty looked like it was so cold, I took it and sat beside where Jake was finishing the tent and he was surprised when he saw me with the kitty, he asked "Saan mo nakuha yan?" (translation: "Where'd you get that?") I said by the rock, and he just looked at me like he was tying to say something. But I just shrugged and I continued to play with the kitty a while and I let it go when I had this need to "use the little girls room".
Being on the mountain, there's no restrooms or what, so I asked Jake where I can do my business. He just told me to pee on the ground by the tree. I looked and when I saw it was dark, I just said never mind. So, when the tent was finally done, we settled our things inside and Jake told me he'd make us some coffee, so he took out his portable stove and when he was about to light the match, we saw the kitty walk up to us and sit by the tent door, with two more kitties behind it! I was about to get the kitties when he told me not to, then suddenly, another strong gust of wind came, this time it was stronger than before, it blew the fire out of the stove and the kittens started to meow like they were crazy, the kitten that I first saw even looked at Jake with all its hair standing on end, fangs bared as if it's about to attack Jake. There was this scary and weird look in their eyes that really shook me and it rooted me on the spot. Jake had to drag me inside the tent. (I am getting goose bumps just by typing this. Believe me.)
Once inside the tent, the wind kept on blowing harder, almost to the point where the whole tent was shaking. The kittens are still meowing louder and, all of a sudden, as if on cue, when the kittens stopped meowing, the wind died down as well. That was really the point where I started crying and telling Jake that I want to go home. He just kept on telling me that everything's going to be alright. He told me to just close my eyes and try to get some sleep. As if I can sleep.
It became awfully quiet for a few minutes when suddenly it started to smell like something's burning... RIGHT INSIDE OUR TENT! I sat up and looked at Jake, and what he did next actually surprised me. He hugged me and told me. "Let's just pray." So we did and I closed my eyes.
I didn't know how long I have my eyes closed, or if I have already fallen asleep, but, all I can remember is that it was still dark, it was probably around 4:00AM, when I heard footsteps, closing in on us. I squeezed my eyes tight, started praying again, waiting for the inevitable when I heard a woman's voice say out loud: "Tao po! May tao ba diyan?" ("Is anyone here? Anybody there?") I thought Jake was asleep so I actually jumped when he told me "Ayan, may tao na. May kasama na tayo." ("There. Someone's already here. We've got company.") And that was the only time that I drifted off to sleep.
We woke up when the sun was high and the birds are chirping. We got out of the tent and what I saw ALMOST made me think our ordeal the night before was worth it. We were camped about 15 feet from a water fall, our tent just a feet away from a fresh water spring and the sky was so beautiful, and it made me think that what happened last night was just a nightmare. There was even a small store and a house across the spring, and Jake told me that he wants to transfer our tent beside the small store, so we crossed over. I decided to buy some food for breakfast, when I remembered the woman who arrived, so I asked the person who owned the store "Sino po yung mga bagong campers na dumating kaninang madaling araw?" ("Who are the new campers that arrive earlier this morning?") The lady looked at me as if I was crazy, and her reply actually gave me the shivers. She replied "Anak, walang ibang dumating dito. Kayo pa lang dalawa ang nandito simula pa nung Linggo." ("Child, no one else came in this morning. No one else is here but the two of you since Sunday.") I ran up to Jake and told him everything. He just looked at me... And he was pale.
The kittens are nowhere to be found.
Prior to this experience, I was never a believer. I'm not saying I still don't believe it, but, there's a part of me that makes me think here must be a logical explanation. This experience still gives me the creeps whenever I think about it. I just thought that it's only because of fatigue and panic that we heard that woman's voice. It just the wind, playing with our imagination. About the part where we smelled something burning inside our tent, only one thing came to our mind when we went back to Manila 3 days after, (Yes, we still stayed in spite of it all... And I have a lot more to tell you as well...) Anyway, going back, Jake and I knew that the smell inside our tent that night only came from one "thing"... There's this some kind of entity that we call "Kapre", a HUUUUUUGE man all covered in hair, wears only a loin cloth and smokes tobacco and sits on tall trees... (We both don't want to agree on it, and we both don't want to admit it.) Or, another logical explanation: Someone from the house must have burned some fire wood, the wind must have drifted the smell to our tent.