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My Mother's Hometown: The Legend


I will not tell my mother's hometown's name for privacy and security but it was near the hometown of my father. They were in the same province. We usually spend our vacation in my mother's hometown.

The very mysterious hauntings at that place was the river. Yearly, the river is always taking a man or "nangunguha" and mostly are male visitors. If you are a visitor on that place and tried to swim on the river, something will happen to you. You would suddenly drown and die even if you're a good swimmer. The floor of the river was sand like you were at the beach. Sometimes if your standing even the water was at your knee level, the sand will suddenly become soft and you are actually sinking slowly. Our elderly have this story of why that river became aggressively haunted.

Way back centuries ago, maybe it was Spanish era in the Philippines, there was a man from Manila who visited Pangasinan. He was invited by his co-worker who lived there. In the Philippines, we have this culture to invite guests and visitors from other places to go to our feast. He met a certain woman in that place and he fell in love with her because she was so beautiful, and they became lovers. The women got pregnant and became happy. When the woman told the man that she was pregnant and needed them to get married, the man refused and confessed that he was already married and had his own family in Manila. That was the reason why the woman got angry at him and cursed him to death. She stole the church bell of their church and went to the nearest bridge. Before the woman jumped off the bridge, she cursed the man that they will see each other again and all pregnant women that will hear the ringing of the bell before night has come, will experience a miscarriage.

Our elderly told us too that during those days they could hear church bells ringing at 6:00 pm. But as far as I can remember, they didn't told us if there were pregnant that had a miscarriage. So I didn't believe that. But the curse, that they will see each other, I strongly believe, because I am a witness of many incident that I know. I will tell you the scariest one.

It was new year (I forgot what year it was), our family on mother side is having our annual family reunion at my grandparents old house.

One of our neighbors will be having a wedding event of their daughter, and my sisters and other cousins will be the bride's maids.

Early morning of the wedding day, one of the make-up artist of the bride wanted to see the river. He actually a homosexual. He insisted not to see the beauty of the river because he wanted a refreshment and to ride a boat. He was told of the parents of the bride that the river will take a man or "nangunguha" and this year, the river hadn't yet taken any soul. If danger will happen to them, that will be the first again for 2 years. He didn't listen instead he went to the river along with a woman, the best man of the wedding and one of the residents to be their tour guide. The 3 of them were all visitors.

They were 4 in the boat and the resident was the one who do paddling. The gay was enjoying the ride and to his flirty, he shaken the boat and they all fell in the water. The resident and the best man were good swimmers and they helped the other two. But the gay was drowning so the best man tried to swim harder to get him. The best man pulled the gay to a shallow part of the river but something pulled him to deep part. The gay was saved but the best man was missing.

It was early in the morning when we woke up and the news spread throughout our community. Almost all of the residents were standing and looking in the riverbanks if the body of the best man will float soon. Some of the residents that were good swimmers and all fishermen helped each other to find the body of the best man. I was there when that happened. The gay told the story that when they were on the water, there was something holding his feet and pulling him down to deep but he was saved by the best man.

The wedding was soon to start so they need to pull someone to replace the best man because it's almost lunch time but his body couldn't find. And even the wedding already finish, the best man's body was not found.

Days had passed and we already left my mother's hometown because classes at school will soon to start.

The parents of the best man tried to call the help of "albularyo" or herb doctor/faith healer (even my father was a faith healer, he was not around at that time). Some albularyos told them that they couldn't do anything because the entities of the river were more powerful. One of them expressed that they could see their son in the river with a beautiful woman and they already live in the world where the woman was, but their son was unhappy. One of them also told the parents that they need to offer something like a live chicken and put a candle on the spot of where the best man last shown and pray for mercy to give back their son's body.

Our relatives told this story when we came back for a vacation. The parents did that suggestion with the help of the albularyo. They made a miniature of a boat and put the candle on it and floated it on the spot where the best man last shown. They offered a live chicken and slit the neck of the chicken then the albularyo did a ritual. I don't know if days have passed or on actual ritual, the body of the best man real came back but it was already in decomposed state. And they thank the entity for giving back their son's body.

I also encountered the sudden deep of the water of that river when I and my cousin went to the other side of the river to gather some shell that could help a breastfeeding mother produce more milk. This was happened January of 2012. We needed to cross the river without boat because that time it was low tide. When we were in the water the first part was knee level then walked few steps, the water was in your waist level. At the middle was above your ankle level then from there until you reached the shore, you can make a "U" shape but the level of the deep part was at your stomach.

My cousin asked me if I could speak in Pangasinense. I told him yes because I know that the river could only get a man that was a visitor. Then he told me we can talk in Pangasinense but if we noticed that the water becomes deep he would tell me to swim. I asked him if the river didn't get anyone from the past few years. He told me yes so our situation was more dangerous. Then I said okay I could swim but don't leave me behind. So we walked across the river and got wet. When we reached the "U" shaped we suddenly felt the water was slowly deepening and the water became above me (I was 5'6" so the water was like 6 feet). My cousin shouted at me to swim and grabbed the grass on the shore. And that was I did when I reached the shore, I grabbed the grass and felt the land on my feet. And we reached the other side safe. But how about when we need to return?

We get to the bank and look for someone to tell that we were there. We used to go to the nearest house to have a companion. After we got some shell, and had our meal, we need to go back and walked again on the path that we used previously. But when we started to cross the river, we noticed that the water level was actually on our stomach level. My cousin laughed and said bad words and told to me that we were played and we actually swum in a shallow part. But I told him that the water was actually above me and I knew it. And we just laughed until we reached the opposite shore.

Thanks for reading.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, unknownymous05, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

fence_sitter (4 stories) (27 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-03)
Hi RCRuskin, I believe most of these Philippine folklore date back to the Spanish period in the Philippines (most of them start with the common phrase "during the time of the Spaniards..."); however, some stories from the indigenous tribes/ethnic groups in the country predate the Spaniards and the Catholic friars (missionaries) --- these usually involved nature spirits (elementals) or mythical creatures. Several of these "serial killer" river stories are not documented in print and are just passed on verbally through the generations (just like this story of unknownymous05 that was told to him/her by the elders of their place). I personally heard a lot of these type of stories when I was still a young geologist involved in mapping/exploration expeditions in the jungles and mountains of this country. Just my two cents worth. Peace.
RCRuskin (9 stories) (826 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-03)
Reading through the comments, this by Fence Sitter, struck me as important.

The stories of "killer" rivers like this one written by unknownymous05 is quite common in the Philippines. It seems that every province in this country has one.

I wonder if the killer river legends predate the Spaniards and missionaries?
fence_sitter (4 stories) (27 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-03)
Hi unknownymous05,

I believe the turbidity (or the murkiness of the water) is not relevant. If the water-saturated sand layer is adequately thick, it will still suck in animals or people regardless whether the water on the surface is clear or not. Based on your account the best man was dragging the gay person towards "a shallow part of the river" (i.e., river bank area) when he suddenly fell under allegedly towards the "deeper part" --- this is relevant because quicksands are most often located along river banks. He may have stepped on some really virulent patch of quicksand that eventually led to his demise (or he might have died by a combination of being brought under by quicksand then drowning, and possibly being lodged afterwards underneath a boulder or entangled by some tree roots that prevented his body from surfacing; or some vengeful supernatural being dragged him down to his death which is really the gist of your story). Being a scientist by profession, I find it hard to come up with something conclusive on this matter without an actual physical inspection of the area. What I can do really is just offer my monday-morning quarterback's hypotheses based on your account.

Just my two cents worth. Peace.
unknownymous05 (12 stories) (16 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-02)
Hi All,

Thanks for reading my story and writing your comments.
Our elder didn't tell us how big or small the bell was so I don't know how that woman stole the church bell.
We already suspected the quicksand that causes of drowning but I know "kumunoy" or quicksand are muddy but the river have clear water. Is it possible have a quicksand in clear water?

bluntforcetrauma (2 stories) (12 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-31)
I agree with Lady-Glow, church bells here in the Philippines especially those from the Spanish era weight tons. It would be a tough assignment for a squad of soldiers to carry that bell, let alone a pregnant woman.

Bodies of water that takes lives is a common theme in our stories because they do happen a lot, up to this day. I myself am afraid to swim in Zambales because I know people personally who have drowned there. One was 6 feet tall in shallow water and he still died from KNEE DEEP WATER. The cause was an undertow but I still believe that some these things happen because of something paranormal. So I respect nature whenever I am in contact with it.

Having said that, I did enjoy this story because I love local folklore and urban legends. Also, you can lessen the use of the word gay and instead just mention the name. His gender preference was already established.

Thanks for the story!
fence_sitter (4 stories) (27 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-30)
The stories of "killer" rivers like this one written by unknownymous05 is quite common in the Philippines. It seems that every province in this country has one. Here in Negros Oriental, we have the legendary Casaroro Falls of Valencia and the haunted Okoy River of Palinpinon that are notorious for taking the life of a visitor or a local every year. Stories have it that fairies or some mythical creatures (like the "Siokoy" of Okoy River) are responsible for this. If you are visiting some of these remote, scenic places in this country, it is sometimes wise to ask the locals regarding legends/folklore like these as a heads-up for taking extra precaution to avoid having some unfortunate mishaps or accidents.
fence_sitter (4 stories) (27 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-30)
I agree with the logic of lady_glow regarding the alleged stolen bell. Here in Negros Island (Philippines), these Spanish-period bells weigh a half a ton and sometimes more and are generally made from solid brass or bronze. Could it be that the bells in your story are the celebration or altar bells used by the sacristan during masses since these are a lot smaller and could be wielded easily by a distraught, pregnant damsel to a local bridge where she could commit suicide by jumping to her death?

Regarding your statement on the haunted river --- " Sometimes if you're standing even the water was at your knee level, the sand will suddenly become soft and you are actually sinking slowly" --- I suspect that you have pockets of quicksand in the area that may be the culprit behind the disappearance of the swimmers in your story. This might also explain why the drowned person failed to surface after a few day (i.e., drowning victims usually surface after 3 or 4 days when the gases in the stomach cavity accumulate substantially (due to decomposition) to provide the required buoyancy for the body to float to the surface; contrary to what you see in the movies where newly drowned victims are shown floating face down on the pool or river, once a person drowns, large amounts of water are ingested and inhaled into the body causing the victim to sink down into the body of water). Once the river quicksand sediments are disturbed by mechanical forces like floods or dredging activities, the entrapped victims could be released and resurface.

Just my two cents worth. Happy New Year. Thank you for the nice story --- keep them coming. Peace.
lady-glow (16 stories) (3159 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-30)
Perhaps you could research the church's history archives? I'm sure a stolen bell would be a very important event to go unregistered.

Any word about the Bell's whereabouts? Do you know if it was recovered from the bottom of the river of it is still there? 😕
lady-glow (16 stories) (3159 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-30)
To be honest, I can't even fathom the image of a petite Filipino woman stealing and carrying a church bell. 😕

Since you are talking about a church built during the Spanish ruling of the Philippines, I'm sure that the said church must have been built as the ones in Mexico during the colonial times... Their bells are massive with the smallest ones weighting 400 pounds!


This is just my opinion but, perhaps all those men who have died over the years have been victims of preventable accidents and not the targets of a super-duper strong female beauty that might have never existed.
Though, unfortunately, men taking advantage of the trust and love of women are and will be a problem that never will stop.
RCRuskin (9 stories) (826 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-30)
Just goes to show what I learned in boy scouts: avoid swimming in strange and unknown waters.

Just for my clarification: the drowning victims in the river were all visitors, and those native to/living in the area were not targeted by this entity?

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