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papa osmubal
oscar balajadia THERE IS this popular superstition that scares Filipinos to death: if while walking one happens to see a black cat crossing their path (which is thought to mean bad luck or to foretell a disaster, usually engendering death), they should not proceed and must at once head back home and say a prayer at the altar till their fear ebbs.

Its origins are not known, but there is this little story from memory (told by my late grandfather) that would at least help clarify things a bit.

The story goes thus:

One gloomy evening Tagumpay Diwa (meaning "triumph[al] soul"), a native farmer christened and renamed Santiago Reyes (meaning "Saint James" and "Kings"), was walking by the cathedral when he suddenly saw a black cat passing in front of him before it jumped into one of the cathedral's windows. Braving his fear, he tried to see where the creature went and, by sheer chance, saw the governor general ("El Señor Governadorcillo," as what the locals would call him) and the cura paroco ("parish priest") clandestinely counting coins and adornments made of gold and silver. He heard them saying they would raise taxes to buy and breed more black cats to be released in the town, especially in the vicinities of the town hall and the cathedral.

Caught by the guardias civiles ("civil guards"), Tagumpay was thrown behind bars and was executed on the following day by a firing squad in public view. The verdict: he attempted to rape the governor general's defenseless wife who lapsed into a deep trauma.

Tagumpay's remains were not blessed by the parish priest nor were they admitted into the public cemetery. "He deserved to be in hell," proclaimed the cura paroco. "He was Satan incarnate. We are glad he is dead now."

Hours after the burial of Tagumpay the parish priest ordered the people that, starting that very day, they had to be at home after six in the evening, or appropriately at and after Oracion ("regular evening prayer" or "vesper"), because the restless ghost of the sinful Tagumpay would surely roam about to get as many souls as it could for its companions in going to hell. The parish priest advised the parishioners to shut and bolt their doors and windows and not to be bothered by the moans and cries that they might hear from outside, for it would just be the hell-bound Tagumpay trying to scare them. Or the noise could only be the usual black cats in their regular rituals of summoning the bad spirits, amongst them now belonged that of Tagumpay's.

The people's fear, anger and disgust toward the vindictive ghost of Tagumpay (and, obviously, all those of his kind in the abysmal corner of the spirit world) intensified when every morning thereafter they discovered a young woman lying naked, raped and left for dead in a farm, in a street, in a garden, in the town patio. In dire sadness they asked the parish priest to pray for the safety of their village, and the latter solemnly nodded in compliance.

Meanwhile the population of black cats in town grew in considerable number.

[About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang (Well, don't get fooled by that name), now a Macau resident (Sorry, where?) and married to a Chinese local (How? How come? Why?). He has been a Catholic seminarian (OK, he once opened a book at an exam in Latin and Romance Languages---but who in frigging hell did not?), a Catholic missionary (Oh, the rosary is the answer to our country's economic problems and to your alcoholism and addiction to nicotine!), a bookstore staffer (Yes, sir, listen here, we know it is urgent, so your book is on its way from Guangzhou and will be here in 8 months!), a librarian (Oh, it's Friday the 13th and I am not putting 666 as Dewey call number on this bloody book!), and a teaching assistant (OK, pal, I know you prepared for the exams so I will check and mark them!). He is currently a teacher (yawn) and has an M.A. in English Studies (yawn even more, nod off, and then snore) from the University of Macau (sorry again, where?).]

-Posted: 8:22 PM 6/1/09 | More of this author on eK!

Cecile S Yumul (of Mabalacat, Pampanga) writes...

Mengapangurus ku!

Oba't eta na man pisabi ikua dang miagpang ding laman isip ta. Mengatabili na la mu naman ding tatalnan a biblia ampo rosario ne?

Nung pituki dalang basan reting misulat. pati mulala at alang kamulatan, anti tamong pepayisip nung ninu ing makigaua karing melapastangan a puri manibat niang apate de ing "Tagumpay Diwa"

anti mu na mong pepamasala,"he who is severely persecuted and accused of the most abominable sins, often is the most innocent with the accuser pointing back 3 fingers to himself."

Lakuas na keng panaun ta ngeni, ali mo?

Ing pakibat: Meauunnng, Ngiauunng!

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-06-05 22:20:25 PDT

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