Close encounters with elementals
The teenage boy had not eaten for days yet four grown men and his own mother could hardly subdue him as he reacted violently to the presence of Fr. Armand Tangi of the Society of St. Paul.
“He had menacing eyes, was screaming words I could not understand, and it seemed that he would spew vomit on me anytime. I was just waiting for it to happen,” the priest said, recalling a familiar scene in the movie “The Exorcist.”
The boy and his family live in a bucolic Central Luzon community, in a compound with a ladies’ accessories factory and residences of its owner and his workers. A clear brook runs through the leafy estate.
It was an idyllic place until strange sightings of a “white lady” were reported, the boy exhibited a bizarre behavior and the factory owner’s niece suddenly fell ill and became practically paralyzed.
The strange happenings, manifestations of so-called “elementals,” or nature spirits, gravitating in rivers and trees, prompted the businessman to call a psychic, who said the area used to be a Japanese garrison where beheadings occurred during World War II.
“I was told by the businessman that the psychic heard constant screams of terror. And that he also felt that there was also a lot of tension and chaos,” Tangi said.
Admitting he could not deal with the spirits, the psychic advised the businessman to call an exorcist-priest.
It was midmorning when the Makati-based Tangi arrived at the compound in early September. He was immediately taken to a kiosk to see the boy.
“He looked like a normal boy, of medium built and about 5’8” in height. But he looked at me in a very intimidating way. I was actually scared of him,” Tangi said.
The priest was convinced it was a case of demonic possession and decided to say Mass at the kiosk.
Boy goes wild
Every now and then, the boy would mutter something incomprehensible but was generally subdued. But when Tangi raised the host during the Consecration, the boy went bananas, threw off those holding him, screamed at the priest, and spewed vomit.
“It gives me goose bumps just to remember what happened,” Tangi said.
After the Mass, the priest approached the boy and recited deliverance prayers, especially those addressed to St. Michael, the archangel who defeated Lucifer, and St. Gabriel, the Prince of the Heavenly Army tasked with leading angels in the final battle against evil spirits.
Tangi could not perform an exorcism because it requires permission from the bishop. Also, an exorcist priest and his prayer warriors, or assistants, would have to fast and recite special prayers for protection before they can face the possessed.
After Tangi and the locals prayed over the boy, the priest sprinkled holy water on him and anointed the boy with blessed oil.
“At that time, I felt it was not a really strong demon. After the anointing, the boy already smiled and began eating. I just hope that he would not have a relapse because when that happens, the retaliating demon usually becomes stronger,” Tangi noted.
Mummy in bed
Later, the priest was led to the businessman’s ailing niece. She was in crutches in a small, windowless room. He was shocked to see what he thought was a man wrapped in black bandage “like a mummy” lying on her bed.
“His neck was bent backward but his eyes were wide open and staring at me,” the priest recalled. “I looked back at my companions and apparently, they did not see it because they were not reacting,” Tangi said. He turned to the bed and the vision was gone.
“The room was very dark, there were absolutely no openings. And it felt very eerie just being there,” the priest said. Workers complain they feel “something unusual” whenever they are near the girl’s quarters.
Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia, in his book “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult,” notes that evil spirits prefer “areas which are smelly and dirty like toilets, garbage areas, and the like.”
Syquia, director of the Office of Exorcism of the Archdiocese of Manila, says dark rooms without blessed objects like that occupied by the girl attract sinister forces.
Snake in the trees
Tangi recalled the niece’s room was in total disarray. “There was stuff everywhere, it was so chaotic. She said that when she came in at night, she was always too tired to pick anything up,” the priest noted.
The businessman told Tangi that his niece used to be healthy, but she suddenly suffered a series of illnesses that doctors could not explain and that left her practically paralyzed.
Tangi suspects that someone else was staying in the room and whoever it was might have caused her disability. After blessing the room, he told the niece to clean up, put more lights and paint the place white.
The priest also visited the teenager’s house in an area that was well-isolated from other factory residences and that was encircled by old trees.
Old-timers claim a giant snake lives nearby but they do not dare kill it, believing “it is the real owner of the property.” The residents fear that the snake’s spirit might haunt them if they kill it.
Tangi did not see any giant snake in the boy’s house.
“But it was unusually hot inside. And as I was sprinkling holy water and my companions were reciting Marian prayers, I heard hissing sounds. It was hard to tell where they were coming from,” he said.
Spirits could strike again
Tangi said residents told him they had “eerie feelings” whenever they walk around the property. One old man told the priest that he normally saw a “lady in white” at night in the area.
The priest also stopped at the house of the businessman. He thought there were no evil spirits there. “It was airy because there were lots of windows. It was well-lighted,” the priest remembered.
While Tangi had not heard again from the owner, he remained concerned.
“There are lots of trees in the property and there is also a brook where the residents catch fish from. It may be possible that elementals or nature spirits living in the trees or the water were responsible for the manifestations,” he said.
The priest fears these spirits can strike again.
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