By Ignacio R. Bunye
From Day One of my assumption as Press Secretary in 2002, I have been warned about creepy happenings inside Malacañan.
There is the legend of the big kapre guarding the giant balete fronting the main entrance of the palace. Also, not a few members of the Presidential Security Guards claimed hearing voices of women, apparently in distress, during their watch in the wee hours.
It was not uncommon to hear about various offices being blessed every now and then, supposedly to ward off any unwanted unearthly visitors.
One senior official even had the windows and doors of his office plastered with small medallions of the Blessed Virgin as added insurance.
Not being the superstitious type, I readily dismissed the ghost stories.
And then it happened.
One night after a late dinner at the Palace Ceremonial Hall, I passed by my office to pick up some stuff before going home. It must have been past 9 o’clock.
My office , at that time, was located at what used to be the bedroom of the late President Marcos. To reach it from the Ceremonial Hall, one had to pass through a series of doors and hallways – starting with the Music Room, then thru the Ramos Room, another connecting room, and finally the Marcos Bedroom.
As I walked to my office, I had a funny feeling that somebody or something was following me. I could feel my hair rising and my heart pounding faster.
In the still of the evening, the footsteps on the wooden floor were very audible. As soon as I reached my office, I locked the door behind me (as if it would have mattered).
The footsteps slowly but progressively moved closer. Then I heard the door knob turn and I felt the slight push on the door. After a while the footsteps started to move away, but seemingly in circles.
What I have heard is now happening to me!
I quickly said 3 Our Father’s, 3 Hail Mary’s and 3 Glory Be’s.
Somehow, I felt emboldened and I decided to leave in a hurry.
I told myself: “The Thing” can scare me but it can not hurt me!
My first view of “The Thing” from a distance was of a white-haired man wearing a dark suit.
“The Thing” must have sensed my presence because he immediately turned around.
He asked: “Toting, paano ba lumabas dito?”
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez seemed as relieved as I was.
After the late dinner, the then newly-appointed Justice Secretary (May his soul rest in peace.) had inadvertently followed me thru the “secret door” and somehow had gotten lost in the palace labyrinth.
Pabaon to the next world
Do you know that Filipinos from a thousand years ago decorated their beloved dead with special masks made of gold sheets?
The masks were supposedly meant to keep the soul inside the body and to ward away evil spirits.
Aside from covering their dead loved ones’ features with these masks, the ancient Filipinos also used a variety of gold coronets, fillets and other ornaments in adorning their dead.
According to a Metropolitan Museum of Manila staff, large burial jars were also made to hold the bones of the dead, along with other objects such as jewelry and other small earthenware.
The Filipinos of long ago believed that a person did not really die completely, and that death was just a door leading to another world.
“As such, that person would need earthly belongings in that world as well,” the Metropolitan Museum staff explained.