With Halloween only eight days away, I’ve been indulging in paranormal and supernatural movies and television shows. I have allowed myself to be seduced by highly imaginative plots involving wandering zombies, bloodthirsty vampires, vengeful ghosts and unsuspecting “humans” with supernatural gifts. Call me crazy, but I’ve come to enjoy the thrill of a well-executed Hollywood spook. That, however, should not imply that I enjoy being frightened – just entertained.
As a Filipina, I am no stranger to superstitious beliefs. That’s par for the course growing up in a rich culture that embraces the beliefs and practices of the old, despite having a very religious Roman Catholic identity. My grandparents would often warn my sister and I never to wander off into the boonies for fear of being cursed by a dwende (dwarf) with sickness or snatched and eaten by an aswang (vampire-like ghoul). Their intention, of course, was to instill fear, discourage misbehavior and prevent us from exploring areas we had no business being in. It was a great tactic that worked like a charm; it has undoubtedly left a lasting impression. Even years after I’ve outgrown the concept of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, there continues to be a special place in my imagination for all things paranormal and supernatural.
When I moved to Hawaii eighteen years ago, I became well acquainted with Hawaiian folklore and legends. Some of my favorites are those of the huaka’i pō (ghosts of ancient Hawaiian Warriors), referred to by many locals as Nightmarchers. It is said that the Nightmarchers come forth at sunset and just before sunrise from their burial sites to march out to past battles or to other sacred places. Anyone living near their path may hear chanting and marching, and must go inside to avoid notice. Anyone looking upon or seen by the marchers will die unless a relative is within the marcher’s ranks.
Hawaii Island’s Saddle Road leading to Mauna Kea is known for sightings of Nightmarchers. Several years ago my husband and I decided to take a quick detour to Mauna Kea State Park on our way back from Kona. The sunset was gorgeous that evening so we decided to take a few photos with the new camera we had just purchased before heading back to Hilo. After several snap shots the camera unexpectedly stopped working. An eerie chill ran though my body; I franticly hurried towards the car, pleaded with my husband to follow suit and leave immediately. As we approached Hilo town the camera suddenly turned on and proceeded to rewind the film.
The following day I took the roll of film in for processing. As I flipped though the photos I noticed a white figure captured in the last photo that was taken. My husband and I considered possible reasons for the unusual image: dust, bugs or electrical interference. To this day we still don’t know what our camera captured. Was it a ghost or mechanical error?
I am always amazed at how life throws me into a story. Regardless of your belief in paranormal or supernatural, I hope my little story got you a little spooked – if not entertained.
So if you’re home alone and hear a seemingly unexplainable creaking noise, try your best not to freak out. There’s a good chance you have a wild animal (like a rat) living in your attic, or in my case, a dog making his way to the kitchen for a drink of water.