Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Saw Something Case 2 - The Curses of Balete Drive

I Saw Something

Case 2 – The Curses of Balete Drive


“One afternoon around 4pm, my mother and my sister came from the house of a friend who lives in the mid-part of Balete Drive. There’re no public transport passing that time may be because of taxi drivers are avoiding the said road and because the road is poorly lit so they decided to walk to get to the nearest high way where there’re vehicles to ride. When they got to the end of Balete Drive which is E. Rodriguez high way and about to cross to the other side, they saw an old lady coming out of a jeepney wearing black with hood covering her face holding a big black candle like she’s attending for a procession. As the lady in black stand beside them waiting for a chance to walk across, my mom and sister suddenly felt an eerie feeling. Out of curiosity, they peek on the lady’s face and shocked as they saw a skull like face. The lady walked across E. Rodriguez high way going to Balete Drive.”
Mrs. Sandra told me yesterday.

 This is the Russian Blue. I love listening to ghost stories. However, I choose which story I believe in. It would take standards and justifications before I could say which part of the story is true to believe and which is too good to be true. But I’m no ghost hunter. I just believe sometimes a ghost story is just a product of fear and superstitions.  And to prove the truth, I will go there where everything happened and try to experience what they experienced. And if the story is untrue, would you still believe it?

Balete Drive. One of the most haunted place in the Philippines. Almost every driver knows this haunted road and they’re trying to avoid it. Internet is flooding by its’ haunted stories. Without any specific time frame; most of its victims are Taxi drivers.

11:32. 21st of September. I leave the house and bike from Cubao to SM North to get my gears for my next destination.

There’re lots of stories about Balete Drive. Whether its origin or the haunting effects, Balete Drive can almost full a book of ghost stories. So many I already made a list:

  • A young woman raped by a taxi driver and threw beside a Balete tree after killed. May be this is the reason why the lady in white always haunts the taxi drivers, hoping to see the driver who raped her.
  • A girl failed to escape from her family and killed. She was said to ride on taxis still trying to escape even in the afterlife.

  • The lady in white that rides on taxi’s and suddenly vanishes
  • The floating lady in white on Balete trees
  • Balete Drive’s road that doesn't end
  • The headless lady
  • Old lady in black
  • The haunted big abandoned house
  • The spirit of couple that rides on taxis and disappears
  • The three laughing witches
  • Walking dead shackled dog

I’ve studied each story that I’ve gathered and planned how to prove each story. A family friend –Mrs. Sandra Soulcross told me some stories about Balete Drive. She mentioned four of the stories in my list: the headless lady, the old lady in black, the three laughing witches and the old abandoned house. I listened carefully on her stories but none of them is her experience. All of the stories she told me was actually her mother’s experience and night guards’ experience. The famous story on my list is the lady in white who ride on taxis and suddenly disappears based on my research. On Mrs. Sandra’s story, the taxi driver died after he saw the headless lady and hit the concrete electric post. She only heard that story from a night guard who saw the incident.

12:16 at SM North, I took a heavy lunch while reviewing the stories and rumours that I’ve got since last week. After I packed my gears and satisfy myself; I immediately grabbed Tatang and pushed on to Balete Drive.

It’s already 13:45 when I reached Balete Drive. The weather is not too hot or too cold. I can feel the strong wind passing through my shirt and destroying my hairstyle. Surprisingly, Balete Drive is not as I expected it from the stories I’ve heard. At first, I confirmed it to some locals there if it is the Balete Drive. I got the positive answer. It is really the Balete Drive I’m looking for.

No abandoned house, no creepy looking people, no Balete trees and no ghosts. It’s as lively as any other streets in Quezon City. There’re taxis everywhere, under construction buildings, establishments are earning, street lights in every corner, and if there’s something present in every house; that would be their high wall fences.

It’s as high as their house. They stand in different designs and colours. These concrete wall-fences made the Balete Drive looked like a giant Mouse Maze; An outstanding proof of Wealthy and safety behind those walls.

There are also trees here. Acacia tree, but no Balete tree. Acacia trees grow abundantly in this road. I think it outnumbered the houses there. In the stories I’ve heard, Balete Drive is called that because of those Balete trees lined up beside the road. Balete trees are giant trees with tentacle like roots hanging all over it making them look very scary and often used as an element of horror in Filipino urban myths.

 I’m not a taxi driver and the fact that Tatang has no back seat; the rumour about a lady in white sitting on the passenger seat will not take effect on me (Although I consider it more like hitch-hiking because that lady in white is not paying the fare at all). Asking taxi drivers is the only way if that story were true. For now, the rumour that I will prove is the playfulness of Balete Drive where they say that the road goes infinite. Not a disadvantage for me. Only horror movies make the car hard to start or drain its gas in escape attempt. Bikes are convenient in this investigation.

My starting line would be N. Domingo Avenue corner Balete Drive. And my finish line (if I could get to the other end) is E. Rodriguez Avenue corner Balete Drive. As I looked at it, I should reach the other end of Balete Drive within ten minutes. If after ten minutes E. Rodriguez is still nowhere to be found, the curse of Balete drive affected me and I would really have to wear my shirt inside out.

Exactly 13:50 when I started to drive and dare the playful habit of Balete Drive. While driving, I keep on noticing the street sign Slow down accident prone area sign maybe every a hundred of meters from each other even the road has no sharp curve, no falling rocks, no bulky road or crossing children. Maybe Manila traffic authorities also believe in the curse of Balete Drive.

Within ten minutes, I reached N. Domingo – Balete Drive. I did a smooth ride and everything looks normal. It seems that the curse of the endless road is untrue or maybe it doesn’t affect bikes at all. The playful habit of Balete Drive that gives drivers free hours tour might only be a product of fear and imagination of a driver. Like a student waiting for the bell to ring, Scared drivers already wanted to reach the other end of Balete Drive even though they’ve just driving there for less than a minute. If you’re scared, ten seconds feels like ten minutes.

I sat beside an acacia tree beside Balete Drive to take a rest. The Side walk is surprisingly clean. Street sweepers must’ve been doing their best to erase the scary face of Balete Drive. While analyzing the other stories I’ve heard, I decided to find the old big and classic house in Mrs. Sandra’s story.

After a fifteen-minute break, I packed up my gears to search the old abandoned house. Back when I was driving I’m sure there’s no old and big abandoned house so I tried to find it on some streets connected to Balete Drive. On my search, I saw two old houses. One is located at Campanilla Street and the other is in Mangga Street. The old house at Campanilla Street is old and its high fence is covered with flowery bushes. It’s hard to see what’s inside. It is very old and full of trees at the yard but not abandoned. I saw someone goes out of the gate to throw the garbage outside and talked to neighbours. She doesn’t look like a ghost either so I guess this is not the house that Mrs. Sandra is talking about.

The 2nd old house on Mangga Street is also the 2nd most suspicious house in Balete Drive. It is built with wood and classic steel bars for window. But like the other house, it is also not abandoned. It is air-conditioned and there’s door bell on the gate. Although I don’t know if that door bell is functional. I suppose all of the houses there have door bells. Maybe the old abandoned house in Mrs. Sandra’s story has been brought down or maybe it really never existed.

As I stroll at the side walk in the same road, I stumbled in front of a Centenary house. It is an old classic Filipino style house with statues of angels above its door preserved and guarded.

I continue walking and found a security guard taking a break on a bakery. His name is Rowell Bautista. He’s in service for three years and working there for five months. I asked him if he heard some stories about Balete Drive. He explained everything to the best he could. As I understand, the real point of what he said was; “there’re no ghosts here”. He also mentioned that he’s also biking to get home at E. Rodriguez Avenue every night and there’s nothing strange happening.

In an instant, all of the ghost apparitions I’ve heard including the shackled dog and endless road turned unreal. If I’m a ghost hunter, I’ll just go home not to avoid wasting another minute. But I’m not a ghost hunter, I’m looking for an answer why these fear and superstitions lived only outside but not in Balete Drive itself.

17:09. I’m still not satisfied with my findings so looked for a taxi driver willing to entertain my hungry mind.  As I turned right to Campanilla Street, I saw a taxi driver preparing to take a good nap inside his car. I rushed beside his taxi and knocked his window. I apologized for disturbing him and asked if he could share an experience in Balete Drive. He smiled and agreed but he requested not to put his name on my investigation. He goes out and sat on the front of his car. The Taxi driver started to talk,

“The story of Balete Drive is a type of successful urban folklore made by the seniors who lived here years ago to prevent their children from playing late outside and leaving at night. It’s a huge success because those poor children really believed on that story until they finally grew up. They told it to their kids and those kids to other kids and so on. Then those kids will grow and rides to us taxi drivers. And the story telling continues. That’s somehow the story reached me.”

Like me, that taxi driver is a bit picky in listening to ghost stories. Sometimes, he’s just listening to them so avoid boredom in driving. “pakulo lang ng mga matatanda yan para matakot tayo” he added. After listening to his story, there are only five words in my mind; “my work here is done”.

That’s it. This place is not haunted or whatsoever. What are haunted are the minds of the people who pass this road. The ghosts in their heads that manifest on their eyes each time they strongly believe in it because of fear and results to accidents. The long road of Balete Drive which is only minutes to drive becomes hourly because they already want to reach the end of the road. The shackled dog that could be a pet of someone living here, escaped from his owner and the darkness of the poorly lit Balete Drive gives its scary appearance that which made them look like a zombie dog to a scared person’s eyes. The old lady who has been judged by her appearance is not actually a ghost but might be someone who came from a cathedral to praise. The headless lady in white that disappears might be a product of lights of other vehicles and reflection from the mirror.

It’s already 18:11. Tatang has neither headlights nor backlight. I don’t want to get hit by a scared driver. This Street must rather be called “Road of Imaginations” than “Haunted Road”. Maybe that’s the reason why I didn’t see any paranormal thing; simply because my parents didn’t talk about Balete Drive when I was a kid. I didn’t believe in Balete Drives curse like the ones who lived and drive there.

I Saw Something Case 2

Special Thanks to:
  • Mr. Rowell Bautista
  • Mrs. Sandra Soulcross
  • to the Taxi Driver

Gadgets and gears by Asilianna de Montesquieu

Photos taken and story written by Snow de Montesquieu (The Stray Russian Blue)

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