Fright or flight: Seven people tell us about their real-life spooky encounters

Fright or flight: Seven people tell us about their real-life spooky encounters

We’re kicking off Halloween season with true campfire tales.

Art by Ivan Grasparin


For this month of spooky skeletons and creepy crawlies, we tracked down chilling tales of all sorts for your perusal. The eeriness ranges from unnervingly camp to disturbingly macabre. As much as collecting these paranormal stories from friends had me on edge, I hope you take delight in these recountings of real-life encounters with the otherworldly.

Rock-a-boo, Baby

One time, I came home late so I had to eat dinner alone. I absentmindedly stared outside to the veranda where I noticed a figure on the rocking chair. She was wearing a white dress and her silhouette looked a lot like my mom. The sight of her really weirded me out, even more so when her rocking started speeding up then slowing down. Just to be sure, I ran upstairs and found her in her room, wearing the same clothes as whoever was on the veranda. I couldn’t bring myself to head back down so I ran to my room and hid under the covers. I slept with the lights on and my door locked for a whole month. — JOSE, 20

Paranormal Tuko-vity 

I was at a writing workshop in Bacolod. Late at night, my co-fellows and I hung out on the balcony of this dormitory-style building we stayed in. Someone said “May tuko sa labas,” and we heard (the salamander) making its sounds in the distance. My co-fellows told me about the saying that if a tuko makes sounds nine times in a row, there’s a presence nearby. We were just chilling and chatting when we heard a tuko. A few minutes later, it did so five times. We brushed it off at first. Then six. We were getting so nervous at this point but it stopped for a while. Then it went to seven times! Each utterance was clear and crisp, making sounds eight times. We were all looking at each other in a cold sweat when it made its final call: Tuko! Tuko! Tuko! Tuko! Tuko! Tuko! Tuko! Tuko! …ko! I thought to myself, Oh God, please, no… Eight and a half times? My friends and I all went to bed right after that. — JAM, 26

Que Heritage Horror

I used to work at this heritage vacation site, which reconstructs Spanish eras of different locations, rebuilding them piece-by-piece. During one of my stays, a family sent an email to me and my boss detailing how, after a pleasant dinner at the room and a restful sleep, he would wake up to a grotesque, disfigured woman’s face hanging above him. For a house that cost an average of P10,000 a night to rent, this was quite disheartening. The next evening, and every subsequent night of his stay, the woman kept coming back. — JADE, 29

Subic Drift(ing Away)

When I was a kid, my family used to drive to Subic for a vacation. It was past midnight when we got to the winding road near the mountains, which was pitch black. My older brother, driving, spooked us all with scary stories. He quickly regretted it when we saw a tall, ghastly man standing next to a sickly kid, both dressed in white, around a hundred meters ahead of us. They disappeared when we got closer, only to reappear right around the corner for the next few turns. Our kuya advised all of us to shut up and close our eyes until we were in the clear on the highway. We stopped driving to Subic at night since then. — ROBEE, 19

Phantom of the Mini-Theatre

When my friend and I were working on the props for a school play, we finally encountered the famed “theater ghost,” which we had all jokingly offered food to in every production. We were sawing wood with a few other members a bit further away from us. I got distracted when I noticed a hand rested on my friend’s back. I was pretty tired so I didn’t mind it. I thought perhaps it was just one of our prodmates. Later on, he stood up and I saw a sickly hand on his shoulder. Whoever I thought was holding my friend was nowhere near him anymore, so I freaked out and ran towards him to check. I turned him around and found out that no one was with him all along. — YUMI, 17

Intercontinental Dinner

When my brother came home from Spain, he had a hard time sleeping. At first we all thought it was just because of jetlag, but the struggle went on for two weeks. He slept in our attic and he woke up every night at around 4 a.m. as if someone was softly nudging him. We called the spiritual person we’ve always contacted and, apparently, (the spirit of) an 18-year-old English girl followed my brother when he flew home. Given the time difference, we all supposed she was trying to wake him up for dinner every night until we drove her away. — JAN, 20

It’s The Inquisition

Back in college, I staffed for our school publication. The features section assigned me to interview this priest that taught theology. He also used to be a licensed exorcist. After emailing back and forth, he was quite adamant, insisting we shouldn’t talk of these “things.” He only agreed to the interview when we assured him our motives were for journalistic reasons. We met in his office and in the middle of the interview, the electricity short-circuited while he was lecturing us about the spiritual warfare between heaven and hell. Our priest was clearly shaken, looking at us quite sternly. He said, “See? I told you that these things are no laughing matter.” — KAY, 23


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