Ghosts haunt Comelec office, and they’re not even voters
On election day, Commission on Elections (Comelec) employees have to contend with ghost voters; at other times, however, they have to face up to ghosts reportedly haunting the office premises at Arroceros, Manila.
Employees working late have reported hearing children playing, whispering or roaming around the area, while sightings of faceless men and women, as well as strangers staring at them and then disappearing are common enough occurrences after midnight, they said.
Those who have experienced paranormal episodes pointed to the second floor of the building, where voters’ registration is usually held, as the area where the ghosts of deceased patients often linger. The building used to be a hospital, they added.
A check at the Manila City Hall showed that the Arroceros building, while considered a property of the city of Manila, has no detailed record of former ownership or enough information as to its former use, which might have led to endless stories of sightings and speculations.
Grace Fulgiente, a Comelec assistant for 23 years now, recounted how she once saw a man clad in white walking around their office, which she said was the former site of the hospital’s operating room. She clearly saw the man, she said, but not his face as he had his back turned. Another employee had the same experience and saw a man staring at her while she was working past midnight, the Comelec assistant recounted.
Aldwin Yap Pascual, 27, recalled being alone on the second floor office and rushing some election-related documents, when he heard someone walking around the room. He tried to ignore it, until he heard the sound of a man being dragged and falling on the ground. The loud thuds were suddenly followed by the sound of children talking, playing and running around him. The voices sounded louder and louder, and suddenly disappeared.
Pascual said he was supposed to finish more papers and sleep at the office, but the ungodly sounds were more than he could bear. At 3:30 a.m., he stepped out of the building and hurriedly walked away. The incident was too scary to ignore, said Pascual, a Comelec encoder for three years now.
Dario “Darwin” Adel, 21, Pascual’s coworker, also heard the sounds of children playing and whispering. Sometimes, there were sounds of little feet marching around the room, or the feeling that someone was staring at him, he added. At times, the door would swing to and fro, as if someone was pushing it. One time, Adel recalled, he fell asleep while checking some Comelec papers. When he woke up, he almost jumped to his feet in fear: the ghost of a dead child was seated beside him.
But despite the hauntings, they have “never consulted a spirit warrior or priest yet,” Fulgiante said, with Pascual saying that the ghostly presence “are friendly and do not mean to hurt us.”
“They would never harm us—especially the children,” said Pascual, who consider the ghosts of children as angels. “We are afraid, yes, but I guess, that’s what our work requires of us—to withstand not only staying awake while encoding, but also to stay wide awake even when somebody—seen or unseen, living or dead—starts bothering us.”
To cope with their ghostly encounters, they pray silently or turn on the TV’s volume, said Pascual, adding that “what we should really fear are real people, people who kill, as well as ghost voters or flying voters—illegitimate or dead voters who are still registered.”
“Like real ghosts, ghost voters disturb the regularity of elections. They are there, but they should not be there,” Pascual said, adding that these ghost voters have the power “to change the results of elections.” And that’s what we should fear, he said.
While the ghosts sighted at the Comelec office inspire fear among the living, the Ibaloys at Sitio Cabayaoasan in San Nicolas, Pangasinan, make sure the spirit of the dead stays with them at the family home.
Buried within family lot
Burying the dead just outside or within their family property, has always been their practice, said grade school teacher Charlie Cayabas, an Ibaloy, one of three indigenous peoples’ living in three separate tribal communities in San Nicolas, Pangasinan. The Kalanguyas stay in Barangay Malico while the Iwacs live in Barangay Fianza.
“The Ibaloys believe their ancestors do not leave them. Instead, they linger to guide and help surviving family members,” Cayabas said. “On All Saints’ Day, we prepare food and offer these to them on their graves. Then we ask them to continue to help us,” he added.
In his village at Barangay San Felipe East, the dead are not put in caskets, said this Ibaloy. After mourning, the bodies are wrapped in a ceremonial blanket and buried 6-feet deep within or near the family lot. The period of mourning depends on the age and status of the deceased. If the dead Ibaloy was an old man or a village doctor, mourning usually takes a week, Cayabas said, “to show our last respects to old people because of the wisdom they had contributed to the tribe.”
Cayabas said Ibaloys take the remains of their dead with them when the families relocate and settle in other places. “We dig up the bones and even the soil where the bodies had decomposed and bury them in the new place where we have resettled,” he added. “The (dead) should always be with us. If you don’t bring them with you, members of your family will get sick,” he said.
Catholic bishops appealed for a solemn and prayerful observation of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and urged families not to turn gravesites into picnic spots.
“Let us remember that Nov. 1 and 2 are occasions for us to reflect on our state, our status, knowing that our lives have an ending and that ending should bring us to heaven,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas.
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo also urged the government to declare Nov. 2 a holiday and recognize it as the appropriate day for remembering the dead. With a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Tina G. Santos