A compilation of ghost stories, urban legends and myths to make your spine tingle and skin crawl.
By Chiara Cui
Remember when you were a kid, when you and your friends would gather around in a circle, usually with a single candle burning in the center, to all tell each other the scariest stories you knew, or in some cases, could come up with? I do.
I remember how when I was young, how thoroughly convinced I was that ghosts existed. My overactive imagination embraced every ghost story I was told, I ate it up with an eagerness and enthusiasm that almost seems alien to me now. Reading True Philippine Ghost Stories took me back to those times my friends and I played with a Ouija bored or attempted to play spirit of the glass (something always went wrong, usually someone would chicken out or no one knew how to “play” it properly) or those times when someone was convinced they’d just seen a White Lady.
In one of the stories from the book, a man writes about his drive down an unnamed street in the early hours of the morning. This street is supposedly notorious for its White Lady lurking in the darkness, ready to scare unsuspecting motorists by appearing in their rearview mirror, or even beside them in the passenger seat. The reference is obviously to Balete Drive, the infamous street in New Manila known for its White Lady and haunted mansions.
The stories in True Philippine Ghost Stories vol. 27 are well-written, with a hint of camp that does not go unappreciated. Like in most ghost stories and movies, a little camp goes a long way. In one story, a young couple gets frisky in their ultra-conservative Catholic university only to be apprehended and assaulted by a long-dead priest who disapproves of their salacious behavior. His severed, bloody hand yanks at the hair of the young man as he kisses his girlfriend in front of the school’s library.
Some stories, though, border on the cliché. In The Sleepover, a young girl brings her friends over for the first time for a sleepover. Their initial enthusiasm when they arrive quickly turns into regret when they discover the house is haunted by the girl’s dead aunt.
Published by PSICOM, True Philippine Ghost Stories lays it on thick. Ultimately, I think it’s a testament to the highly superstitious nature of the people in our country and how strongly we’ve clung to these beliefs, despite the persistent absence of any evidence to hold them up. But then again, we’ve always been a country of blind faith, whether it be in our gods, our politicians, or even our ghosts.
Although, the stories too often teeter on a thin line between credible and inconceivable, it’s a fun read. Take the stories at face value, with a rather large grain of salt, and let the experience envelop you. At the very least, you should feel some spine-tingling moments. For full effect, read in a dark, dimly-lit room, preferably with a candle burning, and get into it.