Archive for the ‘Family myths’ Category

A long time ago my Dad had a nanny. She stayed with him until he and his siblings were all grown up, then she put up her own sewing business. She had her own house next to ours, and she would often drop by to baby sit or bring us food. When I was growing up she also made me countless party dresses with the kind of embroidery you would have to pay a fortune for now. Everyone said I was her favorite.

Sadly, she passed away many years ago. But one of the things I would never forget about her was her extreme conservatism. When I was twelve years old, I was walking on the street wearing regular shorts (which were waaaaaaay longer than the shorts we see nowadays). She was so scandalized, she accosted me, saying, “Don’t wear shorts! All the men will be looking at your legs!”

Haha. It seems funny now, but for a hormonal twelve year-old that was an unforgettable “What the h***?!?” moment.

Now fast forward to twelve years after her death. My daughter is an old soul who has taken it upon herself to monitor the length of my skirts. One day I tell this nine year-old that I would take her to buy shorts, because it was getting too hot and it would be better for her to wear shorts to school.

She replies, with all the passion of righteous indignation, “No, Mama! The boys will see my legs and they will all stare at me!”

Yeah? Someone please enlighten me.


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My siblings and I grew up at the foot of a mountain, the kind of place where people would run after a jeep if one passes as it would take a long time for the next one to come. Early in the morning we would see fog on the hillside; at night, the stars. The roads were either lined with trees or sugarcane. By 80’s standards it was pretty rural. (Now, not anymore.)

Our Dad would regale us with tales of the kapre, a giant, hairy man (in my mind he always wore a loincloth; I wonder why) who lived in old trees, smoked cigars, and appeared only to those he chooses. Of course we believed him. Right now, I am not even sure if I stopped believing.

In the house where we grew up, we had an old indian mango tree. Our dad built a treehouse on it, where we would play in the afternoons (this is also where I learned how to climb a tree–hurray!!!!). At night, one of the workers would sleep in the tree house. I guess in those days it also served as a look-out, as it was right beside our gate.

The workers would often say that at night they would see a man sitting on the higher branches, smoking a cigar and looking down at them. It made for good urban legend, but it was something we always took for granted, like stories of the aswang our friends meet on the road and the bagat near the river  behind our house.

Then, many years later, our little niece (who is now no longer so little) told us one morning that she had a seen a man outside the window of our second floor bedroom. When asked what he looked like, she said that he was on the tree, hairy “like a monkey,” and had one eye. That managed to freak us out for years.

We left that house (due to other reasons) after the “monkey man” incident, but I can’t help thinking about that house (and its unusual occupants) many, many times. It was a good house that kept us safe throughout those turbulent 80’s and the uncertain 90’s, and part of me always believed it was because there were creatures there that protected us.

Even though we left that house almost ten years ago, the kapre is still present in our family. It is in HB’s farm, where workers see an incredibly tall man walk past the farm house’s fence at night. It’s in HB’s family home, where the tree across his bedroom window sometimes emits a red glow, as if someone was smoking a cigar on the branches.

Last month, our tree (more like a really large bush) in the backyard cracked for no apparent reason. HB fixed it by sawing off most of the branches in the cracked part and fixing the trunk with some duct tape and a screw.¬† I took pictures before and during the “emergency operation,” but for some reason I cannot find the pictures.

The tree survived the crack, but now it looks like a giant, leafy chair.

So I guess this won’t be the last of our kapre stories after all.

Question: Can a kapre travel by plane?

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