THE WINGED WOMAN OR BRUHA
During the Spanish regime when the Spanish eagle cast its darkening shadow across the entire archipelago, a story very shocking in its revelations spread in the town of Enrile that fear gripped the heart of every Enrileño. According to this tale, a winged woman or "bruha" with detachable wings and legs once roamed the town of Enrile. Just how the story came about, the old folks have this to say:
During the Spanish time, the Guardias Civil were sent to patrol the town. At that time, Enrile was still sparsely populated and dotted with thick forests. While patrolling the suburbs, the Spanish soldiers were benighted [Note: in British English, "benight" is to dazzle; from context, what the writer probably meant was that the soldiers were overtaken by nighttime.] As human beings, their first of action was to seek a nearby house to pass the night. At the foot of the mountain, they sighted a little house discernable in the dark by a flickering light. They approached the house and were welcomed by a beautiful woman. They were surprised to find such a lovely creature in an isolated and far-flung place. So, to satisfy their curiosity and nourish their over-inquiring minds, they decided to stay for a longer time in the house.
The following morning, while pretending not to mind the woman, they tried to observe every movement that she made. They found that there was something unusual in her actuations which contradicted her nature as a human being. Suspicion began to creep into their minds. They observed further that the woman did not like salt and ate little.
That night, they heard a loud noise as if produced by the swinging of big wings. They hurried to the windows and peeped to verify what they heard. They saw nothing. They looked for the woman, but she was nowhere to be found. Instead of the woman, they found a pair of legs cleverly hidden inside a locker. Human as they were, fear gripped them and they hurried out from
the house. The following morning, after they had regained their composure and set of mind, they returned to the house with the strong determination to investigate the seeming mysterious happening.
That night, they did not sleep. They watched carefully the woman's actions. Towards midnight, they were terrified when they saw the woman remove her two legs. After that, she got a pair of wings from the locker, put them on, and flew out through the window. The two soldiers immediately followed secretly. The winged woman headed for the town. She stopped on the roof of a house. Just what she did there, the soldiers had no way of knowing. However, after a few moments, there was a commotion in the house. Probably scared, the woman flew again and headed for the town cemetery. The two soldiers closely followed her. In the cemetery, she dug the fresh graves of the dead. According to the old people, she ate only the heart and sucked the blood of the human beings.
Contented with their astonishing discovery and fully convinced that the woman was a dangerous threat to the lives of people, the soldiers returned to the house. On the way home, they devised a way by which they could kill her. They remembered that she disliked salt. They then capitalized on this to carry out their mission. That night, the woman as usual left the house, leaving her two legs behind. The two soldiers got salt and sprayed the two legs with it. Towards dawn, when the woman came back to the house, she tried to put back on her two legs. But she could not. Everytime she tried to put them back, she writhed in pain. She cried out but the salt spelt doom to her career. Finally, she collapsed and died.
The two soldiers, feeling elated over their fate, hurried to the town to inform the people of the most horrifying story that had ever swept the town of Enrile. It did not take a long time for the story to spread, for the people had gathered and listened to the two soldiers. During the course of the
explanation by the two soldiers, many people interrupted, reporting similar incidents. One man related that, in the dead of the night, he heard something heavy that landed on the roof of the house. A few minutes later, his son was shouting. He hurried to the side of his son and saw a thread-like object being pulled up. His on later told him that the object tried to harm him. Another person also reported that he heard a big bird on the roof of his house. It made so loud a noise that he ran out to see, only to find an object with very long hair.
Another woman also interrupted and said that, while mending her husband's worn-out clothes one night, she seemed to see a thread hanging in front of her. At first, she thought that it was a hair falling from her head. So, she took it and tried to put it aside. But she could not remove it. She got the scissors and cut the intruding object. Instead of a strand of hair, a human's tongue fell on her lap. Old folks still say that, even today, that a "bruha" has a tongue which can be converted into a long thread to suck the blood of human beings.
But why is it that this creature is called "bruha?" Old folks, too, have a ready answer to this question. They say that during the days when the story about the creature was still rampant in the town, the most insignificant of all nocturnal noises would bring panic and commotion inside the house. One night, while a family was fast asleep, the wife was suddenly awakened by a noise. As a natural instince, she tried to wake up her husband. The husband's named happened to be Bruno or, in short, Bru. The husband, half-awake, answered "ha?" meaning what. It happened that their two sons heard the exchange of words between their parents. Fear rang clearly in their minds. Fright of the winged woman sent them running about the house shouting "bruha!" and waking up the whole neighborhood. This incident spread throughout the town and, from that time on, the most feared winged creature was called "bruha."
THE ORIGIN OF THE SACRISTAN MAYOR BROOK
About fifteen minutes' leisurely walk from the town proper of Enrile, along the way that leads to the barrios, will lead one to a fifteen meter wide brook which seems so quiet during summer but wild and dangerous as its mother, the Cagayan River, during the rainy days. This broo, the Sacristan Mayor, as called by the people of the town, has a very interesting story behind its origin. Old folks recall that it was during the Spanish regime that this brook got its name.
During those days, spiritual values formed a part and parcel of the lives of every Filipino. They used to beast [boost? boast?] their zeal and devotion as Catholics and no celebration of any sort was complete without pompous religious ceremonies. So, it would not be surprising to note insignificant occasions.
It was during a rainy season in the eighteenth century when a pompous celebration was being held in the barrio of Lanna. As usual, the priest was invited to attend the celebration and to say Mass. But the priest was very busy, and it was impossible for him to go to the barrio. However, the mass had to be said as planned so as not to incur the wrath of the people. So the priest delegated the work
After having been briefed on his task, the sacristan mayor proceeded to the barrio. It was already getting dark when he started. Besides, it had been raining, and the brook had already overflowed its banks.
When the sacristan mayor reached the brook, he was confronted with the problem of crossing it. There was not a boat or a raft to ferry him to the other side. So, he decided that he had no other alternative but to take the risk of swimming. He was at the mercy of the swelling brook. The raging torrents were too much for his amateur strokes. The strong currents carried him far-
ther and farther.
Meanwhile, the people of Lanna were becoming impatient. Their festive mood turned into anger and disappointment. They then sent a team of horse riders to the town to fetch the priest, but when they arrived at the convent, they were surprised to learn that the sacristan mayor had left for a long time already. Alarmed, the priest and the messengers set out in search of him. Many hours of painful search did not yield any result. A team of veteran swimmers was hired to search the swelling brook, only to find the poor sacristan mayor near the Cagayan River.
The following morning, the incident spread like wildfire throughout the town. Women and children alike talked about the sacristan mayor who drowned in the brook. The name Sacristan Mayor was then called for the brook up to the present.
THE ENCHANTED BALETE TREE
On the southeastern part of the town proper of Enrile, runs a narrow river which empties into the Cagayan River. This gift of nature is very important to the town's people not only because it serves as a refreshing resort for noon day pasturers, but it also serves as an ideal place for washing clothes. Many folktales are interwoven with this river. Among these is the story of the "sarangay." Near this river stands a big old balete tree, the old folks believe is enchanted. They claim that industry dwells an evil spirit which is locally referred to as "sarangay." This evil spirit usually goes around the town unnoticed and does harm to the people. Here is one of the stories of the old people:
Maria was a beautiful girl in the town. She was the apple of the eyes of the young men during her time. One day, surprise to note that she was acting very strangely. Sometimes, leave the house and go to the balete tree. She complained to her mother about a weird vision she had which could not be explained nor seen by anybody and which kept on annoying her. Her mother was worried about her. Young shooters were likewise worried.
A doctor was hurriedly fetched from the capital to cure the mysterious malady of the blooming lady. But, to the great disappointment of the people, Maria was not cured. Doctor after doctor failed, giving rise to the suspicion that Maria's unexplained malady was one of supernatural origin.
So, the best and most renowned of the town's "quack doctors" was summoned to try his skill on Maria. The quack doctor brought with him wild vines and cuttings of trees which he claimed had supernatural powers. He nodded his head, indicating that he had traced the origin and cause of Maria's malady. The people new very well the ways of a quack doctor
and they sighed in relief. The old man called the father of Maria and told him that the sarangay in the balete tree was in love with Maria. He also said that the refusal of Maria to accept his advances angered him. This accounted for the torments of Maria.
The quack doctor suggested that to appease the evil spirit, they should make offerings under the balete tree. A white pig was butchered and cooked, the best wine procured, and the best cakes were prepared. When everything was ready, the people trooped to the balete tree, chanting native hymns and muttering prayers imploring the "sarangay" to liberate their beloved Maria from her excruciating torments. After the long and solemn ceremony, switch lasted for some hours, the people dispersed and went home only to find that Maria was already well. Great was the rejoicing of the people that another festival of thanksgiving was offered to the evil spirit.
From that time on, the people of Enrile believed that the balete tree is the dwelling place of an evil spirit called "sarangay." Since then, people would not dare approach the enchanted tree.
THE REVENGEFUL SPIRIT
If we go into the deeper part of the Cavuan Brook which lies just on the southeastern tip of the town, we find the water very clear and surrounded by big mango trees. In spite of its inviting water, people are afraid to go to it because they believe that an evil spirit preys upon innocent people, especially those on the family way. Old folks say that in the olden days, this brook was once the refreshing center of the town. Women, children, and tired travelers used to stop at this brook to quench their thirst or to take a dip in its cool waters.
One day, a woman on the family way came to this brook to wash clothes. This woman was often sick with "tutukaram" or epileptic convulsions. Amidst the gaiety that characterized the day, the poor woman was suddenly attacked by her illness. She was drowned and went deep into the river, while the other people, unmindful of the bitter fate that had be fallen their companion, continued their work. Children dove while women, by the ecstasy of the freshwater, joined the caravan of bathing addicts. Towards noon, people gradually dispersed without knowing that, at the bottom of the brook, laid the mortal remains of their companion.
At first, everything went alright until the husband, worried by the late coming of his wife, went out in search of her. His wife was nowhere to be found. A general search was made, but it was to no avail. Inquiry after inquiry yielded no consoling results. After a few weeks, the incident seemed to have been forgotten.
One day, another pregnant woman went to the brook. As usual, after washing clothes and taking a bath, she went home. That same night, she had convulsions which caused the premature birth of her child. Her husband, fearing that she might die, consulted a quack doctor. The quack
doctor said that in the brook where she took a bath that day, she was harmed by the spirit of the woman who was drowned a week before. Through his advice, they brought cakes and wines to the place to appease the spirit. This was done and the woman became well. She related that the spirit of the woman who drowned in the brook still roamed the place. She also said that the spirit was angered by the failure of the people to locate her body and to bury it. So, from that time on, every pregnant woman going to the brook to wash clothes or to take a bath would surely fall victim to the wrath of the revengeful spirit. And what is worse is that all the victims are never recovered.
BELIEFS IN CONSTRUCTING A NEW HOUSE
CHOICE OF MATERIALS
SETTING UP THE FIRST POST
Great care is observed in locating the place for the first post. It must always be on the eastern side of the ground plan of the house so that the occupants will always be successful. When the site has been chosen, the following steps are religiously followed:
1. The post must be laid on the ground with the end towards the east, the other towards the west.
2. Before placing the post in the hole, an old man lights a candle and prays the "Apostles' Creed."
3. A glass of water, a glass of corn, a ten or twenty or fifty centavo piece or a piece of gold, a tooth of a pig, a pot of native rice, and a glass of wine are all placed in the hole.
4. The first post is put up from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. because it is expected that there are no rainbows at this time.
5. After the post has been put up, the old man sprinkles wine on it, and those who helped drink the remaining wine.
6. During the construction of a house, the carpenters must be careful that no one of them falls and dies so that the lives of the people in the new house will be long.
LOCATION OF THE STAIRS
from the rising sun.
OCCUPYING THE NEW HOUSE
After the house has been completed, the next thing to do is for the family to move into it. The first thing to be considered in the transfer is the selection of a good day, date, and hour. The book entitled "Oraculo" is consulted on this matter. Such dates as 7, 9, 11, 21, and 27 are believed lucky dates. As for the days, never move on Tuesdays or Fridays. As to hours, the best time is between 3:00 to 6:00 in the morning.
On the eve of the day chosen for moving to the new house, an old man who is not a widower sleeps in the house with a white rooster. The old man signifies that the family will live a ripe old age while the rooster, when it crows in the morning, means good luck. During the night, the old man builds a fire and must always keep the fire burning the whole night. This signifies that the evil spirits that are around are being driven away.
When the rooster crows early in the morning, the old man wakes up and prepares to receive the family. The first thing that the family carries to the house is the picture of a saint, a pot of uncooked rice, the family's box containing some money. Such things signify abundance.