by mimi illenberger mapa
In Panay island, some Ilonggos still believe that in primitive times – farther back to the conquest of the Philippines by the Shri Visayan and Madjapahit Empire from Malaysia- the country was populated by two types of people called the mowas (the dwarfs) and the kapres (the giants).
The mowas were stunted, misshapen men with coarse, shaggy hair covering almost their entire body. They had long spidery arms and fingers , short muscular legs and exceptionally large genitals. These ugly creatures looked like a cross between a monkey and the hobgoblins of the white men’s myth and legends.
The dwarf- like men were said to live in caves and subterranean passages. They were by nature predatory but were known to be friendly towards human females. They were highly sexed creatures who copulated with almost any female mammal.
There is no record of anybody seeing a female mowa – like there seems to be no record of anybody seeing a female dwarf or for that matter, a female kapre.. Once in a while, however, a healthy, well-endowed barrio lass consented to mate with the ugly creatures in exchange for great wealth. She was brought inside the mowa cave and fed with specially prepared meat seasoned with herbs, spices and honey. This prepared her for the non-stop copulation with the little men who took turns mating with her.Very few women managed to survive this physical ordeal, and those who did , usually died giving birth to monster babies who were ready to be born after five short months. The mowa offspring was immediately whisked away by the group.
The kapres were giants who lived in big forests of the unexplored mountains. They were generally harmless unless provoked into defensive hostility. Both mowa and kapre were like chameleons who blended with their immediate surroundings and therefore hard to spot. Both species were endowed with long lives.
The legends about these creatures are still prevalent in the remote farm districts of the Visayan Islands. Stories about them can be pried from oldsters who frequented the market places every adlaw sang tienda ( market day). One such fellow was Lolo Kalaw , a garrulous octogenarian who was obviously respected by his peers . The old man insisted sightings of these creatures continued up to modern times by people who happened to stray into their habitats. From Lolo Kalaw comes this strange, erotic tale:
Two days before his 27th birthday, the father of Jose Dela Cuesta, or simply Doc Joe to his friends, died in his sleep. The aging patriarch of the respected Fil-Hispanic clan, Don Augusto dela Cuesta, had spent his last days celebrating with the farm folks of Hacienda La Granja Maria. He was the ever benevolent father figure of the people living under his care and on his land. And now they mourned him.
When the family physician accompanied by some town officials came to check on the body, they were sadly told by the small crowd that had gathered in front of the Dela Cuesta mansion that perhaps it was fatigue and going to bed with a full stomach that had brought about his untimely passing. An old man speaking softly and almost in tears told the family doctor that Don Augusto had actively participated in the fiesta games the young people had organized and in the early evening had happily partaken of the lavish Ilonggo dishes and delicacies generously laid out on long make shift dining tables in front of the hacienda chapel. It was the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of La Granja Maria and everybody was invited to join the celebration. The neighbors who had been with him surmised that perhaps it was the deadly combination of tuba (coconut liquor), lechon (roasted pig) and fresh talaba (oysters) that had brought about the deadly malady locally known as bangungot. (sleeping sickness)
Meanwhile in Manila Doc Joe and his best friend Doc Arnel Jimenez, had just been sworn in as Doctors of Medicine. They both opted to join an old , highly respected surgeon and university professor in his humble clinic in Gagalangin, Tondo. On his side, Doctor Ignacio de Moratinos was also delighted to have two of his best students join him. He needed dedicated young surgeons with a social conscience to continue with his advocacies when he retired.
They were in the middle of a medical mission to the families living around the old Manila harbor when the summons arrived for Doc Joe to immediately go home. The young doctor was clearly devastated with the news. He had promised to spend some time with his father after graduation but simply failed to do so. Now in grief, he recalled how Don Augusto had been a widower for more than two decades. His mom, Dona Cristina Soledad, died after giving birth to a stillborn – grotesque looking fetus – when he was just a boy. Don Augusto never looked at another woman again and simply devoted all his time and energy raising his orphaned son and taking care of the hacienda.
At thirteen years old, however, Don Augusto felt the boy needed the refinements and education fit for his status in life and so he took him to live with a childless sister in Malate, Manila and placed the boy’s education under the care and supervision of his younger brother, Padre Diego , a Dominican priest. The kindly priest promptly enrolled Joe as an interno (intern or boarder) at the country’s oldest catholic university. And there the youth stayed until he finished medical school. It was only on rare occasions that the young man saw his father.
When the mourning period for the old don was over, Doc Joe took his time inspecting La Granja Maria – the vast, fertile hacienda of the Dela Cuestas. The natural boundary between the hacienda and the next town was a thickly forested hilly range. As he inspected the site, he saw from a distance this ghostly, quaint looking white cottage , half hidden by wild vegetation and trees. With his binoculars he saw that the ghostly looking house was only a couple of meters away from the foot of a hilly mound and looked as though limestone blocks had been used to build it. He wondered how his dad could have forgotten to mention this lovely little house in his letters!
Before sunrise the following day, Doc Joe returned to the site with Tiyo Luis, his father’s trusted old hacienda caretaker and a couple of farm hands. They had to hack their way through wild thorn bushes, thick prickly wines and saplings that abundantly thrived in the area. Even a part of the house had been partially overtaken by ivy creepers which the men had to slowly remove.
Upon entering the house, Doc Joe knew at once this had been a private retreat for his father, a fact excitedly affirmed by Tiyo Luis. He told Doc Joe how his father used to bring him here as a little boy together with the beautiful Dona Cristina. His parents called the place their CasitaFeliz ( happy little house). But after his mom’s shocking death, the distraught Don never returned to Casita Feliz.
Doc Joe decided, on the spot, to reopen CasitaFeliz and make it his private retreat too. Thereupon, Tiyo Luis was instructed to scout around for a well recommended and reputable construction group to rehabilitate the place as soon as possible.
To the surprise of everybody, after the forested area was cleared of unwanted trees and vegetation, what looked like an ordinary hill was in fact a huge limestone mound. And so, capitalizing on the natural sheen and beauty of the chalky white slope, a patio large enough to accommodate at least a hundred seated guests was built right below it. A cavernous fireplace and lined by red bricks was also constructed right on the slope. It was made to resemble a medieval oven and was big enough to roast a fatten calf.
For three months, the construction went on without hitches. But quite suddenly one late afternoon, a fierce thunderstorm unexpectedly rocked the darkening sky and this was followed by the shaking of the ground. It was an earthquake of high intensity; sending terrified laborers screaming and scampering for safety. When they returned the following day, they found the fireplace had cracked, a split that started at the center of the hill facing CasitaFeliz and which became wider as it continued downward towards the brick lined fireplace. The frustrated engineer clearly had other priorities in mind because he simply told his men to temporarily hide the ugly crack by putting a large, potted, prickly bougainvillea bush beside the fireplace.
When the renovations on the house was finished, the beautification of its immediate surroundings followed. A certain Senor Enrique Casals, the famous horticulturist from Madrid was hired to turn the surrounding area of Casita Feliz into a something fit for aristocracy. Senor Casals was a friend of the Dominican priests and had been cited for his beautiful architectural landscapes all over Europe. Since both Doc Joe and Padre Diego were lovers of beautiful, European landscapes, they decided the expense of bringing the horticulturist over to the Philippines was worth it.
With scientific care, the once forlorn area was turned into a scented, woodland wonderland. By having large, full grown flowering trees and shrubs transplanted from forested areas of Hacienda La Granja Maria and other places in Asia, Senor Casal had successfully created a breath taking “ perfect hideaway” in a record span of two short years. Even rare birds and butterflies were let loose in the garden so they may breed and multiply in the hacienda.
On the month it was completed, a lavish celebration was scheduled and friends of the family in the Philippines and abroad were invited. Members of the church hierarchy and town officials were likewise given invitations. The Provincial Governor himself had announced, to the delight of everybody, that CasitaFeliz was now the official residence of the province’s most elusive bachelor. Doctors Pedro Cabral and Arnel Jimenez also arrived with their wives in tow. Padre Diego came all the way from Manila to bless his brothers place.
The transformation of the environs around CasitaFeliz was the topic of conversation among the guests that evening. The beauty of its immediate surroundings had inspired even the most humble home to grow and maintain a garden so neatly kept, it had turned this part of the hacienda into a picture postcard sight. Jaded guests from Manila and other urbanized areas were astonished at the “instant” and magical transformation too. But everyone unanimously agreed that such a feat could only be possible if you had the wealth, the flair and taste for cosmopolitan living, fertile soil, good irrigation and the talent and skill of a world class horticulturist.
Unknown to the guests was the fact that behind this picture perfect façade, the wonderland had disturbing problems. Just a few days before the house blessing, the fatten calf ready for roasting had disappeared without a trace from its secured corral, a couple of imported chicken bought and kept for this occasion because of its tasty black meat were stolen and even the old family dog went missing. Joe was greatly disturbed but he issued stern instructions for his staff to carry on as normally as possible. He wanted everybody to have a great time and strictly warned his people to keep everything under wraps. They would wait until the last guest had gone home before they discussed the worrisome thievery.
Just three days after the last guest returned to Manila, the newly hired maid packed up and left without waiting for her wages. She was crying and refused to wait for Doc Joe for fear he might prevail on her to stay. She told her fellow servants how she had been molested by a “maligno” ( a generic term for a supernatural creature) while she slept. She thought it was a nightmare until she saw the scratches on her breasts and her private parts swollen and bloody.
This alarming report prompted Doc Joe to have a perimeter fence immediately constructed around the property and to deploy three large watch dogs to guard the area. All female servants were also sent back to the mansion, leaving only Lolo Luis, who acted as gardener and majordomo, and four robust youths as companions. The servants quarters was also declared off limits to any outside visitor.
It did not take long, however, for the unfortunate incident to be forgotten as life slowly returned to normal. The house remained pristine and peaceful and no one outside his domestics knew of the problem. And to the fifty or more families living in the vicinity, who had always been contented and happy working for the Dela Cuestas , life continued to be pleasant and uneventful.
1901 was an exceptionally good year for the hacienda community. For the past 18 months, they had enjoyed bumper crops of kalamansi, lanzones, papaya and langka. Their granary was packed to the rafters with premium rice and corn awaiting better prices in the market. Now, two hundred mango trees heavy with fruits were awaiting harvest. Everybody was happy and excited. Doc Joe just like his father before him was a benevolent and generous employer and his people knew fat envelopes would be distributed again this Christmas. The Dela Cuestas had always appreciated and encouraged hard work and integrity among their people.
But without anyone noticing it, a dark cloud had slowly gathered in the horizon. Thievery was on the rise again. Pigs, fowls, goats and even suckling bovines would disappear without a trace. Dogs that used to be docile and friendly towards strangers were now nervous and boisterous at night; some were downright aggressive and would attach passersby without provocation.
The community was puzzled and worried. Doc Joe ventured an explanation – that it could be the presence of too many pangayaws (strangers) in the hacienda. These strangers were mostly out of town friends and relatives of the community who had been hired as extra hands to help in the harvest. Quite a number of these pangayaos were young people in festive moods. Doc Joe advised everybody to be watchful but must also maintain little restraint in their sadya-sadya (exhuberance) and to please, avoid wandering off alone at night. He also cautioned the young men who wanted to go serenading to at least take along a friend or two. Doc Joe knew he was starting to be paranoid on what was going on. But his instincts told him the real problem in the hacienda was something dark and sinister.
And then the unthinkable happened. A lady visitor of Tiyo Ramon, the old timer in charge of Joe’s bakahan ( cattle ranch ) failed to show up for breakfast. For a while the family thought she had just gone to the nearby bubon ( well) to fetch water for her morning bath. But midway his first cup of steaming salabat (ginger tea) Tiyo Ramon heard the horrified shouts. People were running towards the direction of the forested area.
Not too far away from CasitaFeliz, they found her lying naked , spread-eagled; arms and legs stretched to the fullest and securely tied to four wooden pegs. A dirty piece of rug was stuffed in her mouth to muffle her screams. She had been gang raped and judging from her terrible wounds, the rapists certainly had abnormally large genitalia. She was hemorrhaging and there was fecal matter all over her legs and abdomen. The doctor had rushed to her aid but despite his efforts to save her, the woman died minutes later.
The horrible story made its rounds in the community . A pall of gloom descended upon the once happy people. There was distrust and fear everywhere. A day later, a large group of angry, shouting men led by Mang Ramon himself were on the streets armed with bolos, pick-forks and bamboo lances. They went around inspecting every suspicious look place. No house was spared from search – every nook, cranny or cave was torched. Even CasitaFeliz was thoroughly searched. It was a scary sight but what Joe found really disturbing was their chilling chant. ”Kill the incubus of La Granja.” What did that mean?
Despite all efforts by the local police, barrio officials and the reward money posted by Joe, there had been no arrests. The months and years dragged by and as is usually the case with communities living in relative prosperity and with no repeat incidents, the whole episode receded into memory. After three years the case was archived to the “Unsolved Crimes” section of the local police.
Joe was now in his late thirties when he decided to return to Manila and rejoin his former classmate and best friend Doctor Arnel Jimenez in his medical practice. It took months of brain storming with his trusted hacienda staff and the old families of La Granja Maria who had been with the Dela Cuestas through thick and thin.
In the end, Joe decided to hire three people: an agriculture graduate with modern ideas, a seasoned accountant and a trusted young engineer to take charge of operations. His Tito Pons , a maternal uncle who had been the family treasurer for more than two decades was asked to take his place as President of La Granja Maria. Doc Joe remained the Chairman of the Board of the family corporation.
On his third year as Operations Manager, Cesar, the young engineer, announced his plans to get married. Doc Joe was very pleased with the news. He generously told Cesar he may use CasitaFeliz as the venue for his reception. He also donated a fatten calf for roasting and several bottles of good wine from his father’s wine cellar in the La Granja Mansion. In addition, Joe was given a two week stay in the house with a blanket authority to use everything he needed for a worry free honeymoon.
The new bride took an instant liking for the beautiful CasitaFeliz. She particularly loved the magnificent view from the balcony of the master’s bedroom and the creaking, hypnotic sounds of the bamboo trees as they swayed to the gentle evening breeze. But as she went around the house curiously looking- over the place, she noticed a wide crack that had almost destroyed the cavernous brick oven in the patio. It was not visible from cursory inspection because of the thick scarlet blooms of the lush bougainvillea shrub growing beside it. As Margarita peered into the darkness beyond, she thought she heard movements and faint voices. This frightened her and she ran back to the house, securely bolting the door behind her.
On the couple’s first night in the cottage, Margarita had the strange feeling they were being watched. In the darkness, as her husband undressed her , she was overcome by this feeling there was another person in the room watching them. That night, after her husband had rolled off her, she had this incredible nightmare that someone invisible in the darkness had taken over her husband’s place and was wantonly playing with her private parts. To her dismay, she found herself responding to the stimulation which he kept on until she climaxed and fell into a dreamless sleep.
On the last few days of their stay at CasitaFeliz , Cesar suddenly announced he had to go to town office for an emergency meeting and may have to stay there over night. Margarita wanted to tag along but Cesar demurred . He was in a hurry.
It had been a long, boring day for the new bride. And so, to while away the time, Margarita spent the whole afternoon helping the maids rake leaves, sweep the yard and burn the piles of garbage intended to ferret out mosquitos and bugs in the area. She was so beat that straight from a hot bath, she went direct to bed without supper and with her hair still dripping wet. She fell asleep instantly.
There was a full moon that night and the master’s bedroom was bathe in silvery light. Something had awakened her. And then she saw him…. a stunted, misshapen man with long thin arms covered with coarse hair seated beside her with a lewd grin on his face. Her legs had been spread out and long boney fingers were inside her exploring ..probing…stimulating. Margarita screamed and screamed but no voice came out of her mouth. She could not move either.
She smelled his fetid breath as he began to lick her bottom with his rough tongue. She saw him briefly play with this huge, black thing that jutted out of his belly. And then with horrified fascination, she watched him position it between her legs. When he plunged inside her, she screamed in agony. But as he drove into her repeatedly, she became conscious only of gorgeous, exquisite pain.Whimpering with pleasure, she clung to him until she felt his warmth spill inside her in savage, jerking motions.
Margarita woke up trembling , there had been no sign of any unnatural activity on the bed. What can she tell her husband? That she was repeatedly ravished by a monster ? Will he believe her? She was all packed and ready to leave that early morning when word reached her that Cesar would be delayed. He would come to pick her up later that afternoon.
She had taken a light lunch and was about to doze off when she espied this revolting creature who looked like a shriveled chimpanzee watching her from behind the curtains. He was again playing with this black thing on his belly. She immediately remembered with horror the stories from the countryside – “ a deformed face and abnormally large genitalia distinguishes a mowa from the ordinary dwarf. Be careful for they are evil.” Margarita shuddered, this was no longer a dream! But she remained glued to her bed, unable to move or shout.
In one swift, painful thrust , she found herself impaled to him. There she remained squirming and pulling like a helpless bitch. She was terrified of him but a raw and primitive need to copulate had over-powered her. Nothing seemed to matter except the sexual pleasure she got from this powerful, pumping thing inside her. And then in one split, agonizing second she was pried loose. With a loud pop the creature had completely detached himself. She fell into a swoon.
Cesar was beside her with a concerned frown on his face when she woke up the following day. As soon as they were back home, he had a doctor come to see his wife who was by now delirious with fever. After examining her, the doctor declared her pregnant.
Margarita had a horribly difficult pregnancy with cravings for fruits that were out of season and for raw sea food. She particularly like presca nga isda nga ginkinilaw sa gata (raw fish marinated in coconut milk) and beef cooked medium rare. Her stomach ballooned so fast, in 16 weeks she went into unexpected and scary labor pains. The baby was kicking furiously in her womb and it looked as though it was going to rip open her stomach. Margarita was screaming non-stop in agony. But it took the doctor three hours to arrive because of the pouring rain. When he saw how pale and weak she was, he immediately decided to perform an episiotomy.
With the help of the elderly midwife who had come to assist, they were able to get the now unmoving fetus out of her body. It was dead, strangled by its own umbilicus. Margarita was unconscious.
Cesar was aghast with what he saw. It was a baby monster with an ugly, distorted face , a deformed body covered with coarse hair, long thin, spidery arms and an oversized genitalia. It was the most horrid looking creator he had ever seen. He had the body wrapped in blanket and blessed. It was later cremated in a huge bonfire by the pangpang sang suba (river bank) and its ashes thrown into the raging waters brought about by the bad weather.
Margarita died three days later without regaining consciousness. She was buried in the parish campo santo ( cemetery). The midwife had spread the word around that the incubus was back in Hacienda La Granja Maria. With this fear taking a grip of every family, people slowly began to leave the hacienda. And thirty years later, the once happy place had deteriorated to what it was during Lolo Kalaw’s time – an ordinary barrio peopled by mostly unschooled, superstitious folks.