Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 2, 2016

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In the old plantation camp of Pu'ukuli'i in Maui, there lived a Filipino woman named Katu Gasan. Not much is known about her except that she came from the Siquijor province of the central Visayas in the Philippines. Her real name was Mari Veloso, but there was a mix-up during the immigration process, and someone mistook her name for where she was from. So instead, the immigration officer gave her the name of her original home province.

That the Filipinos in Pu'ukuli'i feared Katu Gasan would be an understatement; they were terrified of her. Once, a woman in the plantation camp glanced fleetingly at Katu Gasan's husband while they shopped at the general store. As far as Katu Gasan was concerned, a fleeting glance was a minute longer than she cared to endure; enraged with jealousy, she spat in the woman's eyes and caused her to go blind on the spot.

On another occasion, two teenage boys from the nearby Japanese camp were attempting to steal a bunch of passion fruits from Katu Gasan's yard when they were caught by her husband. He tried to subdue the boys, but in their efforts to escape, they struck Katu Gasan's husband with a rock and ran off. The next day, both boys awoke with the left sides of their faces grotesquely swollen over in the same spot where they'd struck the Filipino woman's husband with a rock the day before.

Word began to spread throughout the other camps regarding the witch, but everyone put it off as rumors or silly superstitions. Most said that because there was not much to do at night, the people at Pu'ukuli'i plantation camp must have become bored and decided to create a fantastic story about a Filipino witch in their village solely to gain attention. They had no idea how very close they were to the truth. The native name for Siquijor is "Katugasan," Siquijor itself is also known as a place where witches come from.

The last straw came when a group of drunken Filipino bachelors mistook Katu Gasan's home for that of a beautiful young Filipino girl that they were trying to court. They yelled for the girl from the front gate of the house. One can only imagine their horror when they saw Katu Gasan walking down the steps of her home with a kerosene lantern as she headed toward them. The Filipino bachelors were too afraid to run; all they could do was apologize and beg for her forgiveness. However, the bachelors found the witch uncharacteristically kind and accommodating, even a bit flirtatious. She assured the young men they had no reason to be concerned; she could clearly see it was a misunderstanding. The bachelors were surprised to learn that even though they had come to the wrong house, the young girl they'd come to see was actually there spending the evening. She was Katu Gasan's niece, who happened to be having dinner with herself and her husband. She implored the bachelors to wait near the outhouse just across the yard where they could talk to her niece in private. Unfortunately, her husband was too overprotective, so she would distract him for a bit, so her niece could sneak out quickly to meet them.

The bachelors were excited and surprised by the witch's affability, but it was a chance they couldn't miss. They found the outhouse and waited eagerly for the young girl to join them. A few minutes passed before one of the young men noticed the full moon emerging from behind a huge cloud. Its luminescence hovered above them and shone its light on something substantial sitting on the roof of the outhouse.

It was an Aswang.

Its wingspan was enormous, and its head was the size of a Carabao, but its face was that of Katu Gasan! It let out such a horrible scream that the bachelors urinated in their pants before running off into the night. Three days later, the plantation boss and three catholic priests arrived at Katu Gasan's house and demanded to speak to her. They began to remonstrate and rebuke her for causing such unfounded and horrible rumors regarding her skills in sorcery and witchcraft. Katu Gasan calmly told her accusers that she was a witch and would prove it to them. She opened the back door of her house and then got out a bag of flour, which she poured in a direct line from the back door and up to the spot where her four visitors sat in her living room.

"I have already called the ghosts from the mountains to come and show themselves to you," the witch proclaimed.

Just as she had said, footprints appeared on the trail of flour, which went from the back door into the living room. The plantation boss and the three catholic priests sat there dumbfounded as the footprints stopped before them. All four were physically assaulted; the plantation boss was thrown from the chair he sat in, while the priests either had their hair pulled or their faces slapped. One was even choked with his own vestment. The assault stopped suddenly, and all four men fled for their lives.

No one ever bothered Katu Gasan after that day. No one knew what happened to her once the Pu'ukuli'i plantation camp was closed. There is no gravesite for her nor any trace of her home anymore. There are only these stories of Katu Gasan to be passed down to those who have forgotten them. The question is, are they true stories?

 Ask anyone from Siquijor.

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