Cebu City in the Philippines has never been a hotbed for ghostly haunting and apparitions. Unlike some areas in the country where myths and stories about strange beings and ghosts are rife, Cebu does not really qualify for a paranormal tours stopover. Having said that, I do know a couple of places around the city that are said to be haunted, one of which is my own parents' house.
I grew up in a house that was built in the late 40s. The original house burned down, along with the surrounding houses, when a conflagration gutted an entire neighbourhood in this part of the city. The house is 2 storeys high, made up of concrete and timber. There were 3 bedrooms upstairs and 1 downstairs. The living room, kitchen and laundry were all located downstairs. There was also a cold and damp basement I rarely go to, mainly because I didn't have any business to be there. Besides, this was never really utilized except as storage for old and broken furniture and fixtures. While never really a hoarder, my mom was wary about throwing things away that could still be repurposed.
While my younger brother was experiencing quite a number of strange occurrences in this house, I never really had my fair share. I would usually dismiss his stories as figments of his active and creative imagination. I never realized that one day things would change for me.
I had my first job when I was 18. It was a summer job. I worked the late shift in one of the popular fast food chains. More often than not, I would get home around 1 am (I was still living with my parents then as I wanted to save some money). I would usually fix a quick bite and watch a bit of TV before hitting the sack.
One time while fixing something to eat, I heard activity in the basement. It was as if things were moved around. I thought it was strange because one, it was too late to do house chores, let alone in a cold and damp basement and two, we have never moved things around in the basement. Things that were no longer used or broken were stacked neatly, each in its own place. So, I decided to investigate. I could still hear movements as I approached the basement door. The noise ceased the moment I switched the lights on. To my surprise, nothing was moved; everything was still nicely stacked up. Needless to say, I was spooked. This eventually became an almost nightly experience. Sometimes I would hear glass bottles smashed against the wall and find nothing upon inspection.
I moved out of the house after graduating from college. After my mom passed away some years later, I decided to move back in to keep my dad company. I was the only bachelor in the family so the duty fell on me. I was working then as a night supervisor for one of the hotels in the city. When I got home during the day, my usual routine was eat and watch TV before going to bed and I would usually end up sleeping on the couch while watching TV. Dad never really bothered to wake me up most of the time because he knew how tired I was.
One time I was woken up by a noise upstairs. I could distinctly hear a tennis ball, or some sort of rubber ball, being bounced on the wooden floor. This went on for some time until I gathered enough courage to go upstairs and investigate. Other than my Dad who now occupies the bedroom downstairs, there was no one else in the house. I didn't find any ball except some of my baseballs and they don't bounce on the floor like tennis balls. I decided to sleep in my room. As I was dozing off, I heard footsteps running along the hallway. I listened hard. The footsteps were that of a small child. I checked the hallway, the rooms and the bathroom and found no one. I went back to my room and heard the same footsteps again.
Apparently, my brother told me, there is a resident child ghost in the house. A boy, around 9 or 10 years old. While I have never really seen him (my brother has on numerous occasions so he told me), I have certainly heard him walk up and down the stairs and run along the hallway upstairs. His footsteps are really distinct - that of a small child. I often wonder who he is and why he is in the house.
Once, while asleep in the couch in the living room after my night shift, I was woken up by a soft tap on my shoulder. I thought it was Dad but when I was finally adjusted to the dim light, I saw no one. I went back to sleep and thought I was probably dreaming. I was woken up the second time feeling the same tap, it was so distinct, no mistaking it for a dream. I was tapped again the third time, fully awake. This spooked me so much that I left the house and continued sleeping at my sister's place.
Another time, we had relatives visiting us for a few days during the holidays. To accommodate everyone, I shared my room with a cousin. The day before Christmas, my cousin opted to stay in bed later than usual. While the rest of us were gathered around the kitchen table exchanging stories, we heard my cousin scream. He then came down running. He told us that while trying to go back to sleep, the TV switched on by itself. He thought it strange but dismissed it and switched it off. The TV went back on again, he switched it off, this time unplugging it completely. He had the fright of his life when it switched on yet again. He would never stay in the room again on his own.
Early last year, Dad decided to install a doorbell. Already hard of hearing because of his age, he couldn't hear if someone knocks at the front door. The bell was unreasonably loud for the reason stated earlier. It was working fine for a few months. Then we started hearing it buzz in the middle of the night, at 2 am to be exact. We initially thought some jokers played prank on us. This went on for several nights. My Dad had had enough and reported the incident to the Homeowners Association. They had security patrol the area and the area adjacent to ours. They found no one. Fed up with the nightly buzzing, Dad literally cut the line connecting the doorbell button to the buzzer. Strangely we were still woken up by the buzzing sound at exactly the same time - 2 am! After the third night of this activity, I removed the doorbell button from our front door and threw it away - it failed to stop the buzzing. It only stopped when I dismantled the actual buzzer.
Just this February, Dad decided it was time for another family photo. We usually have ours professionally done. My brother made an arrangement with a studio and also booked a restaurant for lunch. Lunch was set for 1 in the afternoon. Because not everyone came to the studio on time, the session took longer than expected. It was already way past 1 pm by the time we were done. Not knowing whether we were still coming for lunch, the restaurant manager called the number my brother gave them, it was my father's landline number. A lady apparently answered the call and told the manager to cancel our reservation, which she did. To her surprise, we showed up around half an hour late. My brother was indignant when the restaurant manager told us that our reservation was cancelled. After explaining to us why, she turned literally pale when my brother told her that no one was in the house; that the only two people with keys to the house were myself and my Dad and we were both in the photo shoot. My dad jokingly told her that it was probably mom.