It was 1995 and the water in Metro Manila is scarce—the effect of El Niño. Midnight is the only time when the water supply is relatively good. Although, you to sacrifice a little—waiting for the large basin to be filled and then transfer the content—by pail—to the large water container at the side of our house. It has been the routine for almost three to six months.
I have no belief in ghosts, although I love to watch horror movies and creepy stories when I was younger. It is just part of the fun. But that night, there were no scary movies for me; neither there was a freaky story. It is just me, my tabo, my pail and the big basin that is waiting to be filled by water passing through the hose, directly connected to the mainline. There is nothing to be scared about since the whole place is well-lighted.
I know that it is already a few minutes past midnight since the water coming from the hose is becoming relatively stronger. My mom was snoring inside for she’s resting for a while. In a few minutes, she’d replace me and will finish all the work, since I have classes tomorrow. I was an elementary student then, scientifically minded and a consistent honor student, with no belief in ghosts, in aswangs, with those creepy creatures cradled by the shadows of the night.
I know that my eyes are not fooling me. I think I saw our neighbor, Mrs. Pacita, peeping, hiding behind unseen portion of my Grade 5 teacher’s (Mrs. Sevilla) gate .
“Aling Pacita’s still awake? I thought that they had already their containers all filled up?” I said to myself.
I just pushed the thoughts away and focused on what I am doing. I looked again in that place, where I thought I saw Aling Pacita’s peeping to me. And there was nothing. “Perhaps, it’s just a fruit of my wild imagination?
After a few minutes, all is quiet again and all I can hear is the flow of the water filling my basin and the “tog-tog” of my tabo as it goes against the bottom of the basin and to the rim of my two black pails.
I thought I saw, Aling Pacita’s playfully running towards their backdoor. But why there is no sound of footsteps? I just dismissed the thought of seeing our neighbor, playfully running towards their backdoor, which is not visible from where I am sitting.
My mind is in what I am doing. I want to finish filling the 20-gallon drum (or maybe more) at the side of our house. I am sleepy and need to sleep even just for a while and have that strength to attend the classes, to recite, and to bag again the First Honors.
“Tog-tog!” my tabo said.
“Splash-splash!” says the water as it is being transferred from my basin to my pail.
There is no other vision in my mind but the water, the basin and the tabo. My head is filled with nothing, but the desire to fill the drum at the side of our house. No other thing in my mind, until there was a woman, in a purple, flowery dress, standing in-front of me. And she is not Aling Pacita. She has no face…