I almost neglected to tell the story of my lolo Cipriano who happened to be a grand uncle from my mother's side. He lived in Gordon Heights in Olongapo and died eighteen years ago from an unknown illness that not even doctors were able to diagnose. But his life was full of adventure and mystery that's worth retelling and I'm simply recalling from memory what I remembered about him based on what he told me when I asked him some questions that bothered me and a lot of our relatives who had been witness to the supernatural occurrences that happened around him.
According to his own account, he was walking home from the rice fields one day when he was a young man in his twenties when he stumbled upon an old man who looked like a beggar dressed in tattered clothes and coughing profusedly by the wayside. He went to help him by taking the old man home and giving him some food to eat. His kindness didn't go unrewarded for before the old man left he told him that because of what he did for him he wanted to give him an amulet as a gift.
My lolo was hesitant at first to accept anything from the old man but because of the latter's persistence he finally relented and was told to make a promise that he will only use the gift for good. After he made his oath he was astonished to see the old man regurgitate something from his mouth and before he could move the old man produced what seemed like a small pebble and told him to swallow it. This he did and expected to experience something extraordinary but nothing happened. Well, not yet anyway. He was told that in the same way that the stone was transferred to him will he also bestow it to the right person he sees fit when the time comes. This he must do or something bad will happen to him after which the old man left as mysteriously as he found him. As to how the old man got the amulet, he was told it came from an enchanted carabao that masticated this magical stone.
After this incident happened, my lolo Piano noticed some unusual things and abilities he possessed. All of a sudden, he realized that his eyes were opened to see the world of the supernatural. Good elves appeared to him whom he eventually befriended. He discovered he could heal people with different ailments like backaches, concussions, broken bones, etc. just by using his hands. He could also drive away evil spirits from people possessed with them most especially those who were cursed a spell by a mangkukulam. More importantly, he found out he gained extraordinary strength he was able to lift unbelievably heavy objects that normally would require three or more persons so much so that people nicknamed him kalabaw and so we affectionately called him lolo kalabaw because he apparently acquired the strength of the lowly water buffalo.
My uncles all have their own stories to tell of how my lolo amazed them with his uncanny abilities. One story goes that he had a giant spider for a pet that keep on producing little spiders that my uncles played with when they were children. One uncle fell from a guava tree once and after massaging the broken foot was restored to normal.
There were other stories about encounters with tikbalang, kapre, manananggal, tiyanak and other entities that he fought or overcame in the course of his long life.
When at last the time came for him to pass on the gift that was given to him he tried to convince one of his children but none of them wanted to have anything to do with it. And so he waited but nobody turned up whom he thought deserve the gift he possessed. He even asked me once when I was in high school if I wanted it but I politely declined. And I remember what he told me. He said that I could have been great if I wanted to but he realized I distanced myself from that responsibility early on in my life. When I asked him how he knew, he simply replied, "didn't you have that encounter with the dwendes when you were little?" and he gave me a knowing smile. When he died in 1984 it was of mysterious circumstances. He was found in a ditch by a cousin of mine with his throat all swollen and his eyes bulging wide as if he was struggling to expel something but couldn't.
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