“I woke up not feeling too well. I got out of bed but found myself crashing on the floor. I could not walk anymore.”
I was five when it all happened. We just moved from our old home that we were renting in Makati to our own house in Parañaque. The subdivision we were moving to was not yet full of houses. In fact, I don’t think there were even fifty houses in a village that could has a capacity of seven hundred fifty. The spaces between houses (except for the streets) were filled with cogon grass.
We were told to stay away from the grasses. Not only were there fears of snakes, there were warnings about the nuno sa punso (old man of the mound). The nuno, in Philippine mythology, lives in an anthill or a termite mound. I am not sure what kind of mound was near our house or if it was just a pile of soil but to be safe, we always said “tabi tabi po” when passing by. It means excuse me.
There were other superstitious beliefs that we grew up being lectured about. We were not allowed to play beyond five in the afternoon because we were told that the duwende, (an umbrella word for creatures but are more close to goblins, elves, and dwarves) come out during that time. They say a duwende may be good or evil depending on their color (often black or white). You would not want to offend a duwende for fear of being punished terribly.
One day, I was playing a game with my sister, some friends and the boyfriend of my nanny. We were knocking down a tin can with slippers. Because I did not want to take my slippers off, I used stones instead. Unfortunately, I was not very good at hitting targets and was very mischievous at that time. My stones went everywhere, some landing on the grassy areas.
I went home after a few minutes of playing because I was not feeling like myself anymore. As a kid, I shrugged it off and went to bed that night without a care in the world.
The following day, I woke up not feeling too well. I got out of bed but found myself crashing on the floor. I could not walk anymore. I tried to scream for my mom but my throat felt so sore. All over my body were spots that looked like somebody tried tortured me with cigarette burns. Thankfully, Mom went up to check on me and found me in the state I was in.
We went to different doctors but they could not figure out what was wrong with me. They said it was not chicken pox or measles. They even tried hitting my knees with a hammer-like looking thing to check whether my nerves were still reacting to stimulation. My knee-jerk reaction was not impaired but the legs seemed unable to hold weight. The medicines given to me were not helping at all and were making me feel worse.
Because they pitied me so much already, they decided to try getting an albularyo (folk healer) to check what happened to me. Armed with a candle and basin of water, he said I hit a duwende with a stone so it was angered. Thus, the curse placed on me.
The albularyo said some incantations and gave me an anting anting (amulet) for protection. If they made any offerings to the creature I hurt, I do not remember anymore. I do remember getting better a day or two after. I wanted to throw up and my first instinct was to run to the bathroom. All I ended up doing though was to spit out blood, probably from my sore throat.
I had so many scars on my body that took years to get rid of. The more lasting effects, however, were my inability to stay still for long periods of time and inability to wear shoes that will not allow me to wiggle my toes. For that reason, I keep on going on bathroom breaks, moving in my seat and spend so much time when shopping for the most comfortable shoes. I need so much leg room so I can move or stretch my legs because staying still for more than ten minutes will start making them numb. Maybe deep inside, I am still afraid of waking up one day and being unable to walk again.
Have you had any unexplained illness or encounters with mythological creatures? Please tell me about them.