Anybody could experience spirit possession anytime, anywhere—even mountaineers, they who get a high at the sight of nature’s beauty.
These side stories spice up the experience of mountain-climbing.
Paul Padayao, 33, a mountaineer since he was a student at the Philippine Maritime Institute, recounts two of his paranormal encounters in the mountains. He has done countless climbs, having explored more than 40 mountains already.
Mt. Buntot Palos
During the mountaineering club Expose on Environment Mountaineering Society’s anniversary climb in 1999, Padayao said he and 20 others trooped to Mt. Buntot Palos, popular for its waterfall in Pangil, Laguna.
While merrymaking in the camp site, Padayao claimed that two woman climbers were “possessed” by unknown spirits who almost took away their lives.
For two days, they were reportedly struggling, violently throwing away everyone who tried to subdue them, and speaking in hoarse, angry voices.
Padayao said Ham Ugay, another mountaineer, tried rubbing a matchstick between the toes of the women—the town folks’ way to stop demon possession.
The ritual had no effect on her.
At 2 a.m., Padayao said Ugay sought the help of Mang Temmy, the land’s caretaker and the only resident of the mountain. He instructed the mountaineers to tie up the women on top of the table to subdue them.
Mang Temmy, it was said, then knelt and whispered something to the women. No one heard what the caretaker said but it sounded like a prayer.
Mang Temmy said that the mountain spirits must have gotten very angry at the group’s carousing. To appease these spirits, the caretaker asked them to offer a live chicken and a bottle of gin.
Padayao and coclimbers Jeremy Ferrer and Alvin Lateda then sought another healer for a second opinion.
They found a certain barangay kagawad who was known to heal through his devotion in Mt. Banahaw.
The kagawad told them to pray “Apostle’s Creed” before the two “possessed” women. It goes by its first line: “I believe in God…” Both admitted they didn’t know the prayer by rote and had the kagawad write them on a piece of paper.
He even said it was Mang Temmy who told the spirits to get in the body of the woman; he said Mang Temmy didn’t like that he wasn’t asked to join the drinking.
Since the kagawad could not go up—he was suffering from rheumatism—the three decided to bring the possessed woman down to him. He told them to bring bamboo sticks and tie the two women on it in the event that they became hard to control.
They then went back to the mountain, bringing some offering to Mang Temmy. The possession stopped. And they went down hoping they had seen the end.
As instructed, their team went back to see the kagawad. It was then they realized that the spirits had not yet left their bodies.
As they came nearer to the healer’s house, Padayao said the possessed women resisted and screamed.
The kagawad got some matchsticks, blew and prayed to it, and put it between the women’s toes. Both women shook in fear and pain as this acupuncture-like ritual took place. Only Padayao and Ham were able to recite the “Apostle’s Creed” during the ritual. The other climbers ran away every time the women fought back and struggled.
It was the second day of their “possession.” The kagawad still was not able to drive away the spirits.
He didn’t want to let the women go without exorcising them, he said. The healer gave them another night of board and lodging.
‘I want her body’
Two different spirits got into the two women’s bodies, it was said. This time, a mother and a son, it was worse, angrier. They wanted to take the lives of the two woman climbers.
“Akin ang katawang ito,” one of the woman said. “Akin na siya.”
One of the women, tied to the pole, said: “Parang awa niyo na pakawalan niyo ako.”
The mountaineers couldn’t do anything. They were shocked when the woman bumped her head on the pole.
The other woman climber said she wanted to pee. So they accompanied her to the restroom. As the man accompanying her was taking her back up the steps, the woman dove, her head hitting the floor.
She really seemed like she wanted to commit suicide, Padayao said.
After a few more misses, the healer gave up and sought the help of another healer.
The third healer—considered the most powerful in the area—came on the third day.
Immediately, he held a mass of the woman’s hair, curled it in his hands, and pointed his thumb in her forehead, reciting a little prayer.
The women lost consciousness and the spirit finally left their bodies.
One of the women asked why they were already at the foot of the mountains. She did not remember anything, Padayao said.
Mt. Pico de Loro
On a night trek to Mt. Pico de Loro the same year, Padayao and his friend Allan were told by the caretaker of the mountains at the jump-off point that about seven girls had come up before them.
Excited, they walked fast to catch up with the girls.
Along the trail, they saw seven traces of lights flashing before them. They thought they were getting nearer the girls. They even heard voices of women talking, laughing, giggling.
But the sound faded the closer they got to the light. They followed, walked faster, but they never caught up with the women.
They ignored it.
Some hours after that, they saw a black carabao and a dark man whose face was completely hidden. As they got near them, almost at arm’s length, both disappeared. It was a single trail. Nearby was a cliff. Where the carabao and the man went, they couldn’t tell.
Padayao said they never talked about it during the climb. The supposedly fun climb turned into one of the most silent climbs he had. When they woke up, they realized they never reached the camp site. They slept at the middle of the trail.
Mt. Pico de Loro in Ternate, Cavite, was known to be a famous line of defense of Japanese soldiers against the Americans, according to Padayao. It was where the bombs, aimed at enemy forces headed towards the mountains, were set up. Many soldiers died there, he said.
There have also been tales of mountaineers hearing the footsteps of what seemed like a marching soldier, these steps circling their tent.
Jason Perez, another mountaineer, had paranormal experience in Mt. Makiling. The supposedly day hike extended to night. Overcome with fatigue, they stopped and camped out near a river.
The mountaineers cooked rice, and washed their clothes near the river. Some took a bath there also.
Everyone was shocked in the morning to see there was no trace of a river nearby. The place was entirely dry.
Faith and fear
Everyone could be demon- or spirit-possessed and a target of the supernatural, said paranormal expert Jaime Licauco. “Some people are just more susceptible, weaker in spirit than the others,” he said.
The tired, the restless and the weak in spirit are the most prone to spirit possession, Licauco added.
“In the physical world, it’s unlike poles that attract. But in the mental and the spiritual plane, it’s different. You attract your kind,” he said.
Licauco, an Inquirer columnist, pointed out that a person who is filled with negative spirits is most likely to attract negative spirits. If you are fearful, he said, you attract fear.
Padayao confessed that he was never a fan of the supernatural but he witnessed it himself.
Four types of elementals inhabit the earth, Licauco said: those of the earth called the gnomes—the dwarves and the elves; the Sylph, the air elemental comprised of the fairies; the undines or the water elementals, and the salamander which represent the fire element. Their goal, he said, is to balance the elements of nature.
Licauco said elementals interfered with the humans when their habitats were destroyed—a typical response of anyone who loses his or her place.
He cited the case of the destruction of the Lake Caliraya, when several inhabitants reportedly got sick after part of the land was converted into private property.
“What would you feel if your place is destroyed, would you not get angry?” asked Licauco.
It’s living and letting live; it’s all about respect, he said.
Padayao, who believed in the power of prayer, also emphasized the importance of acknowledging and paying respect to locals.
“When in a new land, take care of nature. Do not mess with it, and as much as possible, do not be too rowdy. Some locals or spirits might be disturbed, and might disturb you in return,” he warned.