Saturday, December 27, 2014

True Story: The Ghost of Ermita, Manila, by Lucy Urgello Miller

Lucy Urgello Miller

Before Christmas I had a lively discussion with some people about ghosts and I had a couple of blog entries about that subject matter. Lucy Urgello Miller had mentioned that she had a ghost encounter when she lived in Ermita, Manila. I told her that my family had a house in nearby Malate in Manila, where we also had a ghost, a St. Paul nun. After World War II, my parents returned to their house in Manila, which was, along with the rest of bombed Manila, in ruins. The decomposed body of a Paulist nun was found stuffed in a barrel, a victim of the war. They buried her where they found her, in the yard. Many people, including our servants and my own brother, saw her ghost flitting by windows or near the area where she was buried.  Whenever she was seen, my mother used to race over to church to have Masses for the dead said for her.

I asked Lucy if she wanted to write down her ghost experience and she did. It is published in this blog with ther permission.  Thank you for sharing, Lucy ~ Cecilia

The Ghost of Ermita, Manila
by Lucy Urgello Miller

It was around August 1970 and my ex-husband and I were excited to have rented our very first house in Manila. This was to be our home for six months out of the year. It was an older house built around the late 30’s or early 40’s. There were five of these houses on a short street that faced what was once a park, but at that time, was just a big empty lot. The other four houses had been converted to consulate offices and this was the only house on that short block that was still used as a residence.

The house was spacious with the living quarters on the second floor. The living and dining areas were all in one big open space with the three bedrooms on one end of the living room and the kitchen behind the dining room. On the first floor were a den and a bedroom on one side. Beyond the other door were the servants’ quarters. All was well in that house until about two months into our occupancy.

I was in John’s room, our six-month old son, with his yaya, when we heard a loud, bold knock on the door—a quick series of three knocks. Lydia, the yaya, who was by the door, immediately opened it only to find no one on the other end. She looked into the living and dining room but no one was there. There was no way anyone could have gone to the kitchen or any of the adjoining bedrooms in that short a time. We both shrugged that off as strange, but nothing to worry about. The knocking became frequent, either at our bedroom, or John’s room, or if we had visitors, in the third bedroom.

Our first visitor was my cousin, Pilar, who was in Manila for a few days. On her first morning, she was up early and was having breakfast in the dining room alone. John was in his stroller by the stairs, which faced the dining room, while his yaya went back into the kitchen to get something. Suddenly John perked up and looked towards the stairs and he started smiling and cooing, like someone was there. Pilar was so terrified, she ran into the kitchen and later that morning, chided me for not telling her that our house was haunted. She did not stay long in our house. She found another cousin to stay with, instead.

The following month, Munec, my other cousin, also came to visit. She was downstairs in the den, talking on the phone with one of her friends when she saw the doorknob of the den bedroom turn and open. So, she went to check if someone was in the room, only to find that it was empty. She flew upstairs and was there in record time.

By this time, I was getting quite spooked and instead of reading in the bedroom, I would read in the living room, which was not air conditioned. One time, John’s yaya left John in my care for a while. So, I took John, who was in his stroller, into our bedroom and locked the door, just to make sure no strange thing would happen while I was in the bathroom. I made sure John had a rattle to play with along with other toys on the tray of his stroller while I was in the bathroom. I noticed that his big rattle, which was his favorite, was at the foot of his stroller. I almost picked it up to give to him but decided he had enough toys on his tray. When I came out of the bathroom, there was John, with the big rattle in his hand. There was no way in the world he could have reached it.

The strange occurrences escalated the longer we were there and by the sixth month, even the help were getting really spooked and frightened. At nights, someone with ice-cold hands would wiggle their toes, or someone would slap them in their sleep, or poke them. The mysterious door knocking was getting out of hand and finally, I could not take it any longer. I told my ex-husband that I could no longer stand to stay in that house. So, he gave notice and we vacated it.

It took a few days to get all of our things out of the house and so we left our trusty houseboy, Alan, who was not afraid of ghosts, to stay in the house. On his 2nd night there, he heard the telephone in the den ring, so he ran from the servants quarters into the den to answer it. (This particular door was set up to close on its own when opened, to insure privacy). Well, when Alan got there, he saw the phone receiver go up in the air like it was being answered and held to someone’s ear, only no one was there. He was terrified and turned around to open the door to go back into his quarters. The door would not open—it felt as it someone on the other side was pulling on it. Terrified out of his wits, he yanked so hard that he finally succeeded in opening it. Alan raced out of that house and slept on the street outside the gate that night.

When we had moved to another house in Manila, my ex-husband told me that the neighboring consulate employees had warned him that the house was haunted and that no one ever stayed beyond six months in that house. These employees were used to the strange occurrences in their offices, but since there were a lot of them there, they were not spooked too much. Later, we found out that during WWII, many Filipino prisoners were taken there and executed in that park.

I do not remember the name of the street that that house was on, or I would go back to see if it still stood and still served as a residence. I also wonder if that park is still empty or if buildings are now on it. The ultimate question is, are those houses still haunted, or have the spirits been appeased and prayed for?


Lucy Urgello Miller hails from Cebu, Philippines, where she attended St. Theresa's College. An avid collector of vintage Philippine postcards and photographs, she has a coffee table book, Glimpses of Old Cebu: Images of the Colonial Era, published by the San Carlos Press, Cebu City.

Read also
A Ghost Story, by Joan Cuyugan Bohlmann
The Ghost Children in Amboise, France, by Cecilia Brainard
Ghostbusters of the Philippines: Tony Perez and the Spirit Questors

Tags: paranormal, ghosts, ghost story, stories, supernatural, Ermita, Manila, World War II, Philippines, spirits, #paranormal

This is all for now,

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