Iloilo is where the macabre gets celebrated as actual holidays. As proof, we’ve got a man who played ‘Hudas’ and hung himself for real during a Good Friday. And we haven’t even gotten to the bloody taltal yet. So, it shouldn’t come as exaggeration that one of the holidays that can actually rival Christmas in the last quarter of the year is November 1, All Saints’ Day.
Look, everyone in Iloilo knows that November 2, that being All Souls’ Day, is when the dead should actually be celebrated. But then again, why ruin all that tradition when you and your lola are conditioned to observing it?
You know what else folks like to do during Pista Minatay? It’s scaring the dentures off of other people with scary stories they’ve encountered when they were still students. Because surely, nothing goes well with quality education than by telling a story about the “white lady” or aswang residing in your alma mater.
In honor of this year’s impending Halloween/Pista Minatay—thank you, long weekend!—we’ve gathered accounts, both firsthand and indirect, from a few Ilonggos who bravely shared their own scary school stories. Check your scepticism at the door, and just enjoy the goosebumps.
The Girl at the Biology Lab
translated from the original Hiligaynon transcript by Marl Patrick Borro
My friend was waiting for our 6 -7:30 pm class to finish in Roblee Science Hall, a green-colored structure which belonged to the Biology department. While waiting for the class to finish, I noticed him talking to two female “working students” who were being accompanied by a security guard.
I got curious, so when our class finally concluded, I asked my friend what they talked about outside. He told me the working students asked the guard to accompany them since they said they encountered a girl dressed in white while cleaning the women’s restroom in the first floor. The girl did nothing; she just looked at them and disappeared. Scared witless, they ran away from the CR screaming.
A similar event happened to a female classmate with a “third eye” a few weeks after the first incident. When we were having a class at the 2nd floor of the same building during our fourth year of college, she suddenly went silent and pale. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she saw white smoke pass by and then felt something cold sit on her feet.
When I related that episode to fellow students in CPU’s ‘half-moon’, one of the listeners told me that a female student was raped and murdered inside one of the rooms in Roblee while she was left behind completing her extracurriculars through the night during the 1970s.
At that point, it dawned on me that the victim may have been the same female ghost who appeared in front of the two working students. The last time I checked, stories still abound of wild noises and stuff being strewn all over in one of the rooms in Roblee.
Crash and Howl
by Jeng Martinez
It’s almost 3 AM at the Girls’ Wing of Balay Kanlaon in UP Miag-ao, and we still haven’t slept yet. The movie marathon was still going on, and everything was dark and quiet except for the lights and sounds coming from the movie playing in the laptop.
We were so engrossed in the movie that we’re startled immediately by a huge crash coming from outside. We paused the movie and peered through the noise’s direction, which just happened to be the space that separated Balay Gumamela from Kanlaon. Seeing nothing, we dismissed the noise as that of a cat who might have fallen on top of the roof. We even joked that it might have been a giant bat who got disoriented and forgot to use its echo-location.
We were about to go back to the movie when a dog howled. It’s the kind of howl that made the hair of our necks prick. Then another howl answered in the distance. We got more nervous with each howl, and it seemed the “dogs” went at it for a long, long time. When everything finally went silent, us dorm mates looked at each other, switched the lights open, closed the laptop, and went to sleep without a word.
Not that doing all of these made sleeping easier.
The Priest at Jalandoni’s Feet
by Francisco S. Sobrevega
I graduated from Iloilo High School (now known as Iloilo National High School) thirty-nine years ago. I was in Batch 1977.
Back in high school, our focus was on our studies and managing the allowances given by our parents from their hard-earned money. We heard ghost stories, but we were too busy to give it any mind since it was not as important as completing our secondary education. Still, I find the following story hard to share, even after all these years.
Much like today, some students still stayed at the school premises after classes to finish their assignments or their extra-curricular activities. In addition, some students from the Iloilo School of Arts and Trade (now known as the West Visayas College of Science and Technology) took shortcuts by crossing through INHS instead of going across the railway tracks.
If you’ve ever been to INHS, you would have noticed the statue of Francisco H. Jalandoni, which stood at the front of the school’s main building. It was said that one late afternoon, a female student noticed a figure in white prowling at the steps of the statue. Almost automatically, she then found herself walking straight to the figure. The reason why it was unusual? It was against her will.
When she was only a few steps away, she saw that the figure was a man wearing white robes. He was a priest, and he’s also headless.
She tried running away, but she was having a hard time raising her feet. She tried screaming, but she could only mutter wordlessly in a shrill voice. Luckily, several passers-by noticed that something was wrong with her and tried asking her if everything was all right.
The girl eventually snapped back into consciousness after a few tense minutes. She tried telling her rescuers everything that happened, but the people didn’t see any other figure standing at the statue. What they saw from afar was the girl walking towards the statue, seemingly in a trance-like state, and then recoiling back with a terrified look after she got nearer to the statue.
Was it true? I do not know, even though I myself stayed at Jalandoni’s statue even well through the night with my friends. Rumors of a headless figure, however, is enough to terrify me.
Artwork by Jun Ray C.