“Mommy. I’m scared. It’s there,” my daughter said as she points to the corner of the room.
“That’s nothing bub, that’s just your imagination.”
“Mommy, pweese!” She cried. “It’s coming!” She screamed as she scrambles for the door.
11 p.m. in my in-laws’ house and all I wanted to do was dash to their room with little bub in tow, and sleep in between granny and 11wowo like the scared sh*t that I was at that moment. My husband’s away for work and my yaya had to leave for Cebu. I needed the help so my daughter and I decided to stay with hubby’s folks in the meantime.
I didn’t want my daughter to see me frightened. Even if I felt all the blood drop to my knees, I kept a straight face. “Jesus can make it go away. Remember I told you that Jesus is like a superhero? Sing with mommy. ‘In the name of Jesus, we are the victory. In the name of Jesus, demons will have to flee…'” I sang as forceful as I can. She stopped where she was and stared at the same corner. She was no longer crying.
“What do you see?” I ask.
“It’s going faster. Like this.”
She bent her back while wiggling her arms wildly. I sang and sang until she said it was gone. I carried her to bed and hugged her the entire night. I whispered the same song until sleep took over me.
The morning after that, I worked on my laptop at the in-law’s lanai while little bub played with her Duplo Lego in the living room. I was keeping an eye on her in between typing and noticed that she’s stopped playing with her toys and was just looking at her granny’s antique cabinet with glass doors. She suddenly screamed and ran to me.
“Mommy! Mommy! Scary face!” She buried her head on my lap but kept her finger pointed to the cabinet. She said there’s a scary face inside and opened her mouth wide when I asked her what it was doing.
I wasn’t so sure if it was her wild imagination or if she could really sense. I remember when she was still a baby, there were rooms and corners in this house that would cause her to scream as if she’s in pain. She once turned purple from a breath holding spell. And she would be unusually cranky most of the time when we would visit.
I’m not a newbie from experiences in the same house too. There was that one night just a few years after we got married when I saw a tall figure standing by the door. It was shaped like a human but I couldn’t make out its face. I thought it was my father-in-law, though it was way taller than him, so I asked what he needed. It just stood there. I went back to sleep with my hubby. The next day I asked if anyone visited for the night and went to our room. Of course, they all said no.
A thought crossed my mind and it was what our family spiritual counselor said to me a few years back. I brought up the beliefs my MIL (mother-in-law) imposed in her home during a conversation. “To give in to these superstitious beliefs is telling God that He’s not good or powerful enough. But worst of all, it invites the devil to toy with our faith, using these tools to veer our focus away from God and His ultimate and good plan for us.”
I went upstairs to where little bub and I were sleeping and I searched the room. Under the bed is this small golden totem pole with odd-looking characters and shapes. It was the very same one my MIL placed under my husband’s bed when we were newly married. “To ward off evil spirits.” The reason I found it before was because hubby and I kept fighting for days, and when I told my MIL, she said we shouldn’t worry because the totem pole will soon take effect. I kept that thing far from our room after that.
I came up to my MIL and told her what I found, along with the story of what happened the night before. “Buti nalang nandyan yung totem pole. Tsaka wala naman mawawala kung maniniwala tayo sa mga ganyan,” (It’s a good thing that the totem pole was there. We won’t loss anything if we believe in things like that) she said. That’s the line she always used when she was questioned for her contradicting beliefs.
The Last Straw
I’ve always been passive about these things. Despite my Christian background, I found that simply agreeing to everything the in-laws say, although not necessarily taking them to heart or practicing them, just made my relationship with them oh-so smooth. A decade into my marriage and I haven’t had one problem with them. Nada! When my MIL poured coins and chicken blood on our home’s foundations at the construction site, or when she came with containers of sugar, salt, and rice as offering to other entities once we moved in, not one objection slipped out of my lips.
When I gave birth, little bub was showered with different kinds of anting-anting. She ordered my yaya to always bring them with us. I learned more than just the usual “pwera usog” lines to use for whatever otherworldly problem I would probably face as a new mom. I felt like your modern day Panday. I wouldn’t be surprised if my MIL actually knows how to concoct spells.
But now that little bub could speak, it’s a totally different story. Are these things causing her more harm than good? What do I do now when my child suffers from possibly an environment they’ve created in their home because of their wildly contradicting beliefs—staunch Opus Dei Catholics who embraces every superstition that promises good luck, health, and fortune? And it’s not just these little luck ornaments they have laying around the house. There’s also the regularly held palm and card reading from manghuhulas and hilot or prayers from faith healers.
I told my MIL what the church counselor said and she dismissed it despite the flash of worry on her face. My daughter pleaded to go home soon after, and her granny promised her she’ll get rid of the monsters in her house.
I took that totem pole with me. As soon I got home, I brought out a large garbage bag and threw away that thing along with the containers of alay, the rotting round fruits and coins in a plate, the rolled up crisp peso bills stuck on a bowl of bigas, and the charms, mirrors, and jade frogs I’ve received over the years.
If what the mind believes dictates our actions and the consequences thereafter, then I wouldn’t want my daughter to be guided by hypothetical and restricting convictions (not to mention harmful, in her case). Shouldn’t our faith focus on love, respect, hard work, and acceptance above all else, rather than fear, greed, and control? From now on, there won’t be room in our home for any of those.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.