[Letters] Reader shares his real-life brush with the supernatural

In response to "Something Wicked This Way Comes", U.K. reader Mario A.G. Lopez writes:

Hi! I notice many Fil-Ams have been sending me copies of your publication. They forward it because they are happy at reading it and some are positively delighted.

This latest todos los santos edition is something i like because it resonates with my own childhood experiences. I not only grew up with the stories - meant to both entertain and scare me to sleep, but because i am told, believe it or not, that my first yaya from the time i was three months old until the fifth month was an aswang [We ilonggos do not distinguish between aswang and mangkukulam]. Her name was Tisay, obviously a derivative of her real name - the word tisay to indicate a female mestiza had not yet entered local vocabulary in 1947. 

It seems like I got sick soon of some ailment none of the doctors could diagnose soon after she became my yaya. It was by accident that my father's elder sister, to whom I would become a favorite nephew, chanced upon her in one of those moments when she was keening, spastic and gyrating in some dark corner of our farm with hair disheveled. 

This auntie managed to get some of Tisay's hair brush and used it for what we Ilonggos call a "to-ob", smoking the place using the hair as part of gatong. Anyway, this caused Tisay to experience intense stomach pains and breathing difficulties. My auntie and my Lola on my Tatay's side then had a priest sprinkle holy water throughout the house and its surrounding which got Tisay all nervy and edgy.

It all came to a head when she had another of those keening, spastic and gyrating spells and my aunt, Mama Edith, confronted her, .45 cal. and some gunpowder in hand (seems like ilonggo witches weaken at the smell of gunpowder), pointed at Tisay's head. Mama Edith got her to confess and ordered her out of the house and out of our lives.

The rest of the story is hazy for me and I will have to ask my uncle about the specifics but the family had consulted an herbolario who said that someone must collect the soil she steps upon and throw it at her should she look back and this would cause her to die. They also got itenms of her used clothing and more hair which they would burn over several days after she left.

Anyway, she never returned and her I am, not at all scared of maligno, aswangs, kapfre, tikbalang, etc. But i think i developed asthma as a result of all that smoking the house out of evil spirits.