The heavens were threatening to cry. The skies were overcast. The large tree at the left of the church yard overshadowed the grand old place of prayer. Majestic and mystical just like every one I have visited, St. Joseph Parish Church is home to Las Pinas City’s Bamboo Organ.
A former nunnery sits adjacent to the church. Excited, I quickly took shots with my underwater camera while silently cursing myself for not bringing my DSLR. My mind was elsewhere earlier that day. It was traveling across valleys and plains and places in faraway lands. It did not occur to me that we were to visit a church, and an antique one for that matter.
The moment we stepped off our vehicle coming from friend Claire’s early birthday party, I immediately prayed that it will not rain. I got anxious to start our museum tour upon seeing those old structures! Old buildings are my weakness. My imagination goes wild as I picture the life of the past, of the patient builders who helped shaped the tale of this historical place.
The tour, though short, was very informative. Our guide, Gani, knew almost all the answers to our questions. There were times that I would detach myself from our little group to take stolen shots of that old chair, that old keyboard, that old painting, that fading photograph of old Las Pinas and virtually anything old inside that cool museum.
Yeah, I know what you must be thinking. What must have I seen to be so keenly interested in anything of this nature. Sometimes too I wonder. Was I born in the wrong era? I am an old soul I am sure, completely mesmerized by the wonders of the past. Its history and its magnificence continuously haunts me.
After rounding up our museum tour, it was time to head to the church loft where we will see the famed bamboo organ and listen to it played.
I was touching the thicker-than-my-room’s walls as we climbed up the rickety stairs. On the landing to the left, a short stair leads to the parochial and guest rooms and the right upward stairs leads to the church loft which I assume are used by the church choir during mass. I felt I was traveling back in time as I slowly passed through the arched ceiling, a princess, donning her best dress, parading her exquisite beauty, lost back in time.
Right on the landing, I felt this wall of force rushing past my face. It was neither warm nor cold. Nor was it moving. As I took a few steps, I felt that wall of force in the shady area. It did not move. It stayed there, invisible but not commanding. Impending but not demanding. I felt hot. My head got heavy. It was like carrying a load on top of my head and shoulders. I had to move and make myself comfortable. Without asking permission, I turned on that stand fan or else I think I might have fainted. I did not want to appear crazed in front of my just-met companions so I was trying very hard to hide what I was feeling but I guess I failed.
I immediately asked Gani our guide if there was anything not normal happening in the place and it was not surprising that he nodded his head in agreement. I was not imagining it. What I felt a few moments before was real. I felt it. It was surreal.
I moved on from that event since I did want to miss a moment of history. We listened to the bamboo organ being played. Soft sweet music echoed in the cavernous church, soothing my somewhat nervous heart. We did a few group shots and chatted for a while. The rest, excluding Rem, me and Gani, were left inside while the others went outside and took a short break. I earlier requested Gani if I can take a peek inside one of the rooms I mentioned earlier. He was hesitant since that area were private quarters. But then, perhaps intrigued by my curiosity, he agreed in the end, a silent pact created between us to keep to ourselves.
I was getting excited again as my mind filled with images of an old bed, a centenarian lamp and maybe an eccentric chair awaits me too. I did not really ask what was inside the room but I was compelled to take peek. It is not everyday I get to explore for free an old building right?
Gani was ahead of us by several steps. The corridor leading to the rooms was well lit but perhaps due to the age of the building and the after effect the yellow lights were giving, it felt like it was early in the evening rather than mid-afternoon.
Slowly and quietly he opened the door to the direction of himself. Instantly, a tremendous energy came rushing out of the room and almost forced me to my knees. It was commanding, demanding me to stay away. To go back where I came from and to not go any nearer. The force was thunderous and made my knees buckle. I am not describing it as synonymous to a meteorological happening but rather in a higher state of being. In a place where I was, for a split second, void of thought and was transported to another world not yet understood fully by my consciousness. On wobbly knees, I did a complete turn about and hurriedly went downstairs, keeping my hands on the handrail.
I actually wondered how I was able to go back down. My thoughts were in a puddle. In the middle of digesting what had just happened, of acceptance, of believing and finally, of acknowledging. This incident reminded me of my encounter with them when I visited a house in Iloilo City last year. Her silent scream ringing again in my ears.
The force within made me accept that we are not really alone anywhere we go. Sometimes, we just have to go and look beyond our senses to feel them.
For a precious moment, I was able to catch a glimpse of that eerie room. Comprehension I guess left me that same time as I felt the force knocked me from head to foot. My new-found friends felt it too but I do no know if it was as strong as my experience. I am left pondering now. Curiosity beckons me. I reckon it is not so long that I will be traveling to places many are skeptic about. It is not the sense of believing, but rather opening our eyes and accepting the mere fact that we are not alone in this world.
It is high time for me to remember to always pray.