Old Houses: Negros

January 21, 2020

When I was taking guests around one huge ancestral house in Negros, I told a lady guest that I have been inside this 1890’s mansion several times but had not experienced anything supernatural.  We were on the ground floor at the patio where the horses’ stables used to be.  This woman was gifted with the third eye and everyone in her group treated her “superpowers” nonchalantly. Obviously, they had gotten used to her special ability. She looked somewhere at the top of my head and said, “You don’t feel anything because your antenna is down.  Do you want me to raise your antenna?”  I vociferously protested, “No, no, no, no!” and with good reason- I wanted to live undisturbed on this earth.  Let “the others” live in peace on their own spiritual planes. I knew that once my third eye was opened, my life would not be the same again.

Then, it was time to go up the second floor.  The beautifully-carved balustrades were strong with chinoiserie themes because Chinese artisans were imported to create the woodwork and other features of the edifice. In this house,  all of the furniture had been removed and distributed among the heirs. The only moveable items left were four portraits of its most prominent occupants arranged as in a quadrant so one can stand in the middle of what was once part of the living room and be surrounded by them. 

One sees his photograph first as soon as one reaches the caeda.  His aristocratic European profile is one I have gazed upon countless times before.  I tell my guest, “This is Don So-and-So.”  And she tells me, “I know.  He told me.”  Ah, es verdad, Senor. She had already made her acquaintance with you. She is a perfectly educated, well-bred, two-feet-on-the-ground kind of lady with a special gift, so, not an eyeroll from me. She meant what she said. I try to be nonchalant about it, too, like her old friends and I stick like glue to her the whole time. Who would want to miss an opportunity to see another world even just through someone else’s special eyes? The Don had intimated to her that he was very happy with the restoration of the mansion and that she should have seen it in its heyday. “Es muy preciosa.”

There were other interesting details that happened during visits to that house, but two were outstanding with the second teaching me to proceed with much caution.  Both are forever etched in my memory.  When my guest and I were in front of the picture of the wife of the original owner of the house, my guest turned to me and said, “She said to pray for her.”  She repeated, “Pray for her.”  I clarified if it was a general request, or if the request was specially directed at me.  My guest said it was the latter.  At that point, I should have paid attention to the foreshadowing presented by the statement – that the lady in the photograph had taken it upon herself to connect with me.

It would be a bit later when the visiting group including me walked around the balcony and stopped at where it was opposite the gate.  The guests were huddled off-center for a group picture while I waited patiently from a distance for them to finish.  Now, here’s the strange part.  I felt a very strong urge to cry that it took some superhuman effort not to for that would be embarrassing for people to see me their tour guide  in tears. That evening, I sent a message to the house owner’s great-granddaughter and told her what happened to me.  She explained that her great-grandmother used to stand at the balcony waiting for her husband to come home.  He, my friend explained, had a second family (10 children by the other woman I was to find out). “My lola died of a broken heart.”  So, it is no wonder that I was requested by the Senora to pray for her. 

The second incident happened when I brought guests late in the afternoon of Sunday.  I took them around the usual route when, at the dining room, an inexplicable coldness swirled around my lower extremities and a heavy malignant force pressed on my shoulders.  I had to rush the visit and moved my guests out of that room and, soon, out of the house.  I thought I was friendly with the resident ghosts there! Sulk. Some of them seemed to resent my presence on that afternoon. This has taught me an important lesson: never to forget that a visitor is only a visitor and courtesy extends even to those we cannot see.

My succeeding visits would take on a different habit, and that is to greet the unseen starting from the front gate and ask permission to pass through while walking towards the house.  Then, I would greet “the others” as I enter the mansion and make sure that it would be at a time when the sun is still up.  I haven’t encountered any trouble since then and I’m happy that I’m back in their good graces.