The Balbal

The sky was dark that night. My cousin Aliyah, younger sister Insi and me were talking about ghosts and other elementals. It was still 8 p.m. in the evening but our parents forbade us to go out at night except if it is really needed and when it has something to do with our studies. Our favorite topics is about monsters, ghosts (from other people's mouths). Aliyah and Insi were really getting scary when I told them about my experience in our previous house where I caught an image of a soul in my cellphone while I was taking my pictures. I kept it from everyone, especially that I lost my cellphone and I couldn't present them any proof. None of them questioned my story since they know I've had may experience with ghosts before.

When we ran out of stories to tell, Insi noticed that the light in my mother's room was turned off which only meant that she's not there. We looked for her and found her outside the house, at the garden. She was relaxing outside, sitting comfortably in a wooden chair facing the calm sea. From there, we could see the third floor porch of a house/lodging house. On the very top of the house, there was a small nipa hut where the head keeper of the house stays. I talked to her once. She's a thin, 40-year old widow with two sons studying and living at the city. I asked why she chose to stay at that small hut even if it's dangerous. But she just told me that it's fresh there and she could look down at all of the houses in the community.

After some jokes, my mom asked us why we went out. It's dangerous, she said, because it's a full moon. We just laughed it off but we were scared deep in our hearts. I told her that she should also go inside if its dangerous. My cousins laughed at my remark. My mom chuckled and looked at me, telling me nothing could scare her even if its a big monster because she has a powerful protector, her FAITH.

Just then, the three of us stopped laughing. My sister suddenly asked about "balbal". (note: "balbal" is what we call flesh-eating creatures, humans that turns into monsters at night, and become stronger in the full moon. I'm not an American, I came from the Philippines.) My mom, with a slight surprise and warning in her face, told her (also at us) to avoid saying that word or else "it" will find us, Aliyah and Insi were terrified, and turned to them and explained that once you say "balbal" the first time, the balbal will feel it and became alert, the second time you say "balbal" it will turn its head left, the third, it will turn its head right and would get ready to fly to finally go in the direction "it" felt the word. The more you call its name, the easier it will find you.

After I explained it to them, we heard a small noise from the bushes near us. I became alert, as well as both of my sisters. My eyes became alert, eyeing every movement I could see. My eyes set out at the small nipa hut on the top of the lodge house. I saw a figure move outside the house. Since it was dark, I couldn't tell who it was. I told this to my companions, all of them looked up at the place. I didn't know what was happening but I could feel something "not right" would appear in our very eyes. There was a small post standing at the middle (I assumed) of the place. The figure moved there. We watched as it moved in a languid motion, weak and slow. The figure stopped and faced at our house. I feared that the figure might see us but curiosity took over me instead of telling my companions to go inside the house. I looked at our house, and I saw that on top of our house, the moon, very big, round and yellowish, was there opposite to the direction of the figure. I looked back at the figure. Its head was arched back and his/her hands were raised like as though it was doing some ritual.

I felt more afraid than I had been in my entire life. Before I could talk, I heard my mom suggest that we should go inside our house now because we have disturbed someone. I could see her eyes staring fierce at me, my cousin and my sister. I was curious about why she did that.

When we were ready to sleep, my cousin told us something that made me secretly angry at her and probably the reason why we saw the figure earlier. She told us that after mom explained to them about the balbal, she tried saying it many times until we saw that figure. With a calm voice, I told her that its dangerous to disturb those who do not want to be disturbed, you may regret it later.

As for me, I have a suspicion who that figure was but I decided to keep it to myself. We were lucky enough it didn't do to us something horrible. The person I'm suspecting avoided me after that, after few months, I found out that that person had already left.

Contributed by Isnihaya Diranggarun and Copyright © 2007 all rights reserved. No part of this story may be used without permission.

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