10 True Stories of the Strange and Unexplained

There's something strange in the neighborhood.

 

(SPOT.ph) There's something weirdly fun about sitting with your friends and talking about strange experiences, baffling phenomena, miracles and mysteries around the Philippines. You'll need a good dose of curiosity, natural skepticism, and a sense of humor to take all these stories—whether or not you actually believe them. Here are 10 bizarre local stories that will have you scratching your head or feeling the creeps.

 


 

The Teleportation of Gil Perez

Upon the assassination of Gov. Gomez Perez Dasmariñas in October 1593, guards were deployed to secure the palace to await the appointment of his successor. One of those who stood guard was a soldier named Gil Perez. During his duty, he suddenly felt sleepy, and momentarily closed his eyes to rest. When he woke up, Perez was bewildered to find himself in a strange place with unfamiliar inhabitants. It was only after he was interrogated by the natives in Spanish that he realized he had woken up in Mexico City’s plaza mayor—9,000 miles away!

 

Upon further questioning, the confused guard related his incredible teleportation story, including the Philippine governor’s assassination—which was yet to be known in Mexico. Perez was jailed because he was thought to be a deserter; all he could say in his defense was that he had traveled from Manila to Mexico “in less time than it takes for a cock to crow.” Finally, a galleon from the Philippines arrived two months later, bringing news of the governor’s death, just as the Filipino had reported. Some passengers of the ship also recognized Perez, who had last been seen in Manila on October 23. Perez was released, sent back to the Philippines, and resumed his guard duties—his mysterious experience never to be repeated.

 


 

The Berbalangs of Cagayan Sulu

As early as 1896, stories were told about an island on Sulu Sea—Mapun Island, whose old name was Cagayan Island—inhabited by a group of humanoid beings known as Berbalangs. The Berbalangs were described to have eyes with cat-like pupils whose spirits could escape from their bodies, as well as turn into a creature with wings. This, they do, when they hunt for food—including living human beings. The Berbalangs could be repelled either by exposing the human to a "coconut pearl," (a magic stone found inside a coconut), or by pouring lime juice on graves to deter the creatures from eating cadavers.

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A lieutenant of the British Navy named Ethelbert Forbes Skertchly visited the island where he met two rival chiefs who each wanted control of all the island villages, except one—the village of the Berbalangs. Skertchly explored the village with a guide but was surprised to see it abandoned. His guide, convinced that the Berbalangs were hunting, hid Skertchly among the tall grass next to the road. Skertchly not only heard the sound of flapping wings but also saw “a lot of little dancing lights” fly over his head. The next morning, hoping to find an explanation to the strange events, the two went over to the hut of an acquaintance, Hassan, whom they found lying dead with his face frozen in fear.

 


 

The Miraculous Salvation of Roman Payumo

Angeles is home to an age-old image of the dead Christ, known as “Apung Mamacalulu” (Lord of Mercy). “Apu” is the most important figure of veneration by Angeleños as it is believed to be miraculous. Proof of this is the story of Roman Payumo, a farmer, who, while gathering grass for his animals, was captured by the Spaniards and suspected to be a Katipunero. The hapless native was interrogated, tortured, and then sentenced to die by musketry.

 

On October 25, 1897, Payumo, bound tightly in ropes, was led to his place of execution. As the retinue passed by Sto. Rosario Church, the desperate prisoner was moved to cry out to “Apu”—“Oh, My God, turn your merciful gaze upon me! Please arise from your recline and come out to me! Embrace me tightly and enfold me with your holy robe and save me, and cast away my executioners!” Suddenly, the rope loosened and Payumo, realizing he was miraculously untied, made a mad dash for freedom. The Spanish guards pursued him, but he disappeared from sight. It turned out Payumo fell into a 30-meter-deep locust trap that hid him from his captors until he crawled out to safety after a few days. Payumo’s experience signaled the beginning of an intense popular “Apu” devotion from that time on.

 


 

The Mystery of the Twin Crosses in the Trunk

It was just another routine job for young laborer Crispino Lacandaso on March 23, 1922. An ancient sampaloc tree had fallen down in a vacant lot at 1885 Juan Luna Street, Gagalangin, Manila and he was tasked to chop it down to little pieces. With a mighty heave, the young worker managed to cleave the trunk in two. When he parted the two pieces, Lacandaso was startled to find the distinct imprint of a cross standing on a base on both halves of the tamarind wood.

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“Kambal na Krus”—was how the residents named the crosses, and their sensational discovery was regarded as a miracle, causing quite a stir in the small neighborhood. A makeshift chapel was quickly set up so people could venerate the two identical crosses. In time, the kambal na krus were encased in glass and metal, and are now enshrined in a concrete chapel along Raxabago Street, where devotees come on regular visits.

 


 

Clarita Villanueva and the Diabolical Thing

Clarita Villanueva was a 17-year-old illiterate child of an espiritista mother from Bacolod, who died when she was 12. Clarita became a vagrant in Manila, which led to her being detained in jail by police in May 1953. Thus began her ordeal involving a violent entity called “The Thing.” Its appearance was presaged by stones pelting her while in her cell. Next, she woke up to find her right leg wedged inexplicably in her wooden bed. When the guard came in to investigate, the wild-eyed Clarita pointed at “The Thing” perched on a beam over her head. The big, black, curly-haired “Thing” then promptly jumped on top of her and began biting her. As Clarita screamed in pain, prison officers who saw nothing, tried to calm the tormented girl. They asked her to pray before an altar in her cell, but, as Clarita recalled later, “The Thing” stood in front of her, blocking her view.

 

Those who saw the incident were convinced she was devil-possessed. The medico-legal, Dr. Mariano Lara, first suspected that the girl was biting herself, but when he saw with his own eyes the teeth marks appearing on her arms, he changed his mind. This was witnessed by Arsenio Lacson, then Mayor of Manila. The attacks of “The Thing” came to an end when TV evangelist Pastor Lester Sumrall succeeded in casting out the demons from Clarita.

 


 

The Vanishing of a Banahaw Hermit

In mystical Banahaw, Agrifino “Mamay Pinoy” Lontok is regarded as the first hermit to be commanded by Santong Boses (mountain spirit) to safeguard the secrets of the mountain—including its most sacred places. One such location is the so-called Santong Jacob, a cave with a bottom that can only be accessed by crawling through a tight, dark crevice. Devotees must dip themselves thrice in a well in the cave's floor to be purified. It was in this cave that Mamay Pinoy immersed himself in the well; then, he suddenly felt weak and unable to move. Next thing he knew, he was being sucked under the water and vanished—only to resurface on dry land.

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Mamay Pinoy had entered the realm of the enchanted. His initial disappearance worried his family until he returned to tell his fantastic time in encanto land—where a day was equal to three earth days. His daughter Cristeta, who was 73 in 1986, would relate that her father would routinely vanish for days and then suddenly appear again through the same well. It was her father who first declared Mount Banahaw as a sacred mountain.

 


 

Our Lady Came to Cabra Island

On December 6, 1966, the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to 10-year-old Belinda Villas, who was on her way home from school, on a rocky hill on Cabra Island in Mindoro. The farmer’s daughter felt a tap on her shoulders and beheld “a beautiful floating lady in a white garment with light-blue mantle and sash" whom she described to her friends as a “madre.” Eventually, Mercilita Cajayon, Dalisay Tameta, Edna Villas, Matilda Somintac, Mindadelia Tulaylay, Erlinda Villas, and Gloria Tulaylay witnessed the Lady, too.

 

News of the apparition spread nationwide, more so when Belinda revealed that Our Lady promised that a miracle would happen on March 25, 1968. Over 7,000 pilgrims from all over the Philippines came to Cabra that day. People claimed to have seen the Virgin appear at 4:30 a.m. and several eyewitness accounts included seeing the “sun turning and changing its colors,” “a bright star on top of the tree near the chapel,” and “spinning like it was coming towards the people.” The alleged apparitions continued until March 25, 1972. By then, the seers were living separate lives, some in Manila, others in Cabra. Public interest in the apparitions waned as political turmoil took over the country.

 


 

Loakan's Bleeding Heart of Mary

In a shrine close to the Loakan Airport of Baguio, one can find an imposing marble statue of the Blessed Virgin that once attracted thousands of devotees. In July 1979, it was reported that the Marian statue began bleeding, the blood seemingly flowing from her exposed heart. Laboratory tests allegedly confirmed that the dried blood was actual human blood, but strangely, the sample analyzed contained no blood cells.

 

Supreme Court Justice Juvenal Guerrero attested to the fact that the bleeding heart phenomenon actually happened, and soon, people were flocking to the shrine to pray and seek favors. A chapel was constructed, and devotees even organized themselves into the Missionaries of the Bleeding Heart of Mary to popularize the devotion. There were skeptics, however, and one TV station exposed it as a hoax. Today, the image is still visited by a few devotees, housed at Our Lady of the Bleeding Heart of Mary religious center.

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Trumpet Sounds from the Skies in Lobo, Batangas

On June 4, 2015, strange, eerie sounds were heard from the skies in Lobo, Batangas at about 3 p.m. The trumpet-like sounds using them were recorded by Vincent Andy Magnaye for about seven to 10 minutes, which disturbed animals like birds and dogs. Some speculated that the sounds were caused by the wind, rumbling thunder, or from a power plant nearby. Others, however, took the trumpet-like sounds to be an apocalyptic sign, as mentioned in the Book of Revelations, in which seven trumpets were sounded from the skies by angels.The unusual occurrence, though, has also been reported around the world. NASA confirmed that the strange sounds heard around the world—called tweeks, whistlers, and sferics—are the earth’s background noise, a natural radio emission.

 


 

Trees of Tragedy: "Tres Marias" of Clark

Entering Clark Air Base in Pampanga through the Mabalacat gate, one encounters a trio of towering aguso trees (from the pine family), about 45 to 50 feet tall. Known as “Tres Marias” (Three Marys) by Clark residents, they are linked to unexplained events, mostly vehicular accidents, that have been reported for many years. An incident report from the period July 2010 to 2015 recorded 298 accidents occurring in the area—a rather unusual number.

 

Many people attribute these tragic events to the trees which they believed to be cursed. Oldtimers say that this was the place where the bodies of three women, violated and then killed years ago, were buried. The trees, they say, are a dwelling place of animals of extraordinary sizes, and people have reported sightings of a giant cow, dog, and wolf. This concept goes back to our pre-colonial animist religion, in which plants and trees are believed to be abodes of spirits and animals. Thus, any kind of disturbance against these sacred plants merits punishments depending on the gravity of the action. For this reason, car drivers must ask permission first before entering the spirits’ territory—by honking their horn and making the sign of the cross as they pass the mysterious “Tres Marias.”

 

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