In 1997, our organization was helping a community-based health NGO to conduct a research on the situation of women in their province. We went to different villages to conduct interviews and focus group discussions for the research. One of the villages we needed to go to was in a municipality north of the provincial capital. It took us about eight hours on a passenger jeepney on rough roads and across rivers to reach the place. We were dead tired by the time we got to the house of our hosts.
I was then with an assistant and a two staff from the health NGO we working with. Hosting us in the village was the family of one of the NGO’s staff. They had a two story house with several rooms on the second floor that are only used when their children and grandchildren are home on vacations. The elderly couple who owns the house have been using the downstairs bedroom since they started having difficulty climbing stairs.
We had an early dinner, thanked our hosts and went to our respective bedrooms – three women in one room and the male staff in another. There was only one bed, which my assistant and I shared while the local staff slept on a mat on the floor.
Tired from the trip, I think fell asleep around 7 pm. Then, sometime during the night I woke up and saw a small child jump from the window to edge of the bed near my feet. Startled, I tried to get up to take a look but I couldn’t move. I tried to speak and scream but no voice was coming out of my mouth. I was confused. I was wondering if I’m dreaming but my mind was fully awake. I kept trying and trying to move my arm and after some time I was able to and I sat up to look around. There was nobody in the room except for the three of us. It was deathly quiet. I looked at my watch and saw that it was a little past midnight. I was having a bad dream, I said to myself and tried to get back to sleep.
As soon as I fell asleep, the dream continued. I saw the child again but I can’t really remember what the dream was about, only that it was a continuation of the previous one. And again, I tried to wake up and move and speak and I couldn’t. Again, I tried and tried to be able to move until I was able to move. My heart was pounding. The room was dark and quiet and I was scared to go back to sleep and find myself in that struggle again, but in no time, I was back asleep and the dream again continued. I couldn’t move again. My mind was fully awake but I was frozen.
It was then that I thought that there might be spirits in the house who are welcoming me or something like that. I told myself that I should do something or I might die in my sleep. Then, I remembered reading somewhere about the Lord’s Prayer being a very powerful banishing spell for evil spirits. I started reciting it in English. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
When I got to the last line of the prayer, my mind went completely blank. I couldn’t remember it. I decided to start over from the top but still I couldn’t remember the last line. I decided then to say it in Filipino. Surely, I thought, I will be able to remember it but again, I couldn’t remember the last line. I decided to recite the prayer in Latin. I learned it when I took up Latin in college. Still, I couldn’t remember the last line.
My mind was racing. Oh my god, they are preventing me from completing the prayer, I said to myself. I was so scared. I started saying the prayer again and trying to move my arms. I knew I just had to keep on trying and that I didn’t want to die in my sleep. So, over and over, I recited the prayer in whatever language I knew until finally I was able to say it.
“… And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
I recited it three times and as soon as I said Amen for the third time, I was able to open my eyes and move my arms. I looked around and everything was as it was earlier. I didn’t want to go back to sleep. It was about 3 am. Still a couple of hours till we needed to get up but I was thinking that I should just stay awake but after a while, I felt sleepy again and as I was drifting off to sleep I heard my colleague who was next to me in bed moaning.
I shook her shoulder slightly to wake her up. I told her she was moaning and asked her if she was okay. She thanked me for waking her up because she said she was having a bad dream and couldn’t move or speak. I told her to recite the Lord’s Prayer three times and if she doesn’t remember some lines, she should just keep on trying until she is able to complete it.
I got up at around 6 am and sat in bed thinking about what happened. My colleague woke up and we started talking about it. She had the same dream about the child and we concluded that the spirit transferred to her after I drove it away.
We didn’t tell anyone else about the incident until we got back to the capital three days later. We told the daughter of the couple who owned the house about what happened. She said that beside their house is a piece of land planted with bananas. It has always been like that since they were children, and ever since, the people in the village have believed that malevolent spirits live there. In fact, she said when she was a kid and they were playing near that area, she just suddenly collapsed according to her playmates but she said couldn’t remember that it ever happened at all. The room where we stayed had a window facing that area and it did look eerie even during the day.