A conversation with Dr. Tess Perez: There are ghosts at the Manila Observatory

Yesterday, Dr. Tess Perez and I met at the Manila Observatory’s lobby.  Dr. Perez is with the Environmental Science Deparment which holds office at the MO’s basement.  We both talked in Ilonggo: she is from Iloilo; I am from Bacolod.

“Hi, Ma’m Tess,” I greeted her.  “You are still doing some research?”

“Yes,” she said. “I came here to check our set-up.  We are extracting oil from algae.”

“Really?” I asked.  “Does the algae die when you extract oil from them?”

“Yes, of course,” she said.

Her cellphone rang.  She tried not to answer it, but I asked her to answer it.

We were sitting on lobby benches in front of the porter’s cell.  She was sitting beside the door; I sat on the other bench perpendicular to hers.  Through the open door I can see MO’s garage, the trees with shrikes, the carless road, and the silent football field.  Ateneo is empty this Christmas.  It’s a ghost town.

“You know, Pope,” she said after closing her phone.  “My student and I were having an experiment December 31 of last year.  We were trying to monitor the ambient temperature.  Our set up is a flask with distilled water.  The flask is covered with a rubber stopper and the thermometer is inserted through it.  When we came back the next morning, the rubber stopper is gone and the thermometer was broken on the floor.  I cleaned up the Mercury spill.”

“How can rubber stopper pop?” she asked.

“A gas must have accumulated in the flask,” I said.

“I know,” she said.  “But I checked its properties: tasteless, odorless.  I know if it is another chemical.  I asked the staff if it is really distilled water that he gave.  He said yes.”

“This thing is giving me the creeps.  There are already many unexplained happenings here at the Observatory.  I have heard many stories from the staffs and the guards.  There was one time that we placed a book in front of us.  We are sure that it was in front of us.  And the next thing that we knew it was already on the shelf.  Are these the souls of Jesuit priests?  I must talk to Toni about this.”

“There are only two possibilities,” I replied.  “Fr. Jocis Syquia, an Exorcist of the Diocese of Manila, said that these may be either souls of the dead or demons.  If they are souls, they will not harm you; then they only need prayers and mass.  If they are demons, they will really harass and harm you.”

“So what do we do?” she asked.

“Maybe it is time to call an official ghostbuster, an exorcist,” I said.  “Fr. Syquia has a team.  Some of those in his team can sense spirits.”

“Maybe we really need to have the Observatory blessed.” she said.

“Blessing is not enough,” I said.  “There is a rite for exorcism of places.  Exorcised salt must be placed on the corners of the rooms.”

“I will not be surprised if there are ghosts or demons in the Observatory.” I said to her.  “The neighboring building is the Mass Communications Building.  I heard that a group of Spirit Questors opened a portal there.  Once a portal is opened, through it spirits come and go.”

This is only my theory.  A year ago, a Mass Comm teacher told me about some ghost stories in the Mass Comm building.  She mentioned something about a portal.  About three years ago, I also met a youth asking me one night where the Spirit Questors are.  I was walking near the Ateneo Blue Eagle gym then.  My guess is that it is the Spirit Questors who opened the portal.  According to Fr. Syquia, occult activities like trying to communicate with spirits leaves a mark on the place, which attracts demons.

A student came out of the Observatory’s basement and Dr. Tess called out to her.  Dr. Tess greeted each other a Happy New Year and we parted.  I went back to the Ionosphere building.  Some staff said there are ghosts, too, at the Ionosphere building, but I haven’t experienced any manifestations, even if I usually leave 8:00 to 9:00 p.m.  My guardian angel is taking care of me.

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Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia’s talk on Exorcism, Paranormal, and Occult at the Provident Plans International Corporation

Yesterday, 1 April 2009, upon the invitation of Bro. Miguel Madarang (after he stumbled on my blog), I was able to join the Spiritual Recollection of the employees of the Provident Plans International Corporation at the 2nd Floor Valer0 Plaza in Makati City.  I arrived at 7:00 a.m.  Miguel introduced himself.  He told me that Philip and others of the Defensores Fidei are coming.  Maybe he assumed that I am a member of this apologetics group.  I am not.  But I know one member: Mr. Rey Entila, my co-faculty in University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City years ago, who lent me many of his apologetics books, such as those of Scott Hahn and some collection of church documents for Dogmatic Theology.  Rey used to debate in Bacolod Public plaza.  I think he still has a radio program back there.  A hobbit thanks to Miguel and Rey.  May God bless you both for your kindness.

After some songs and a rosary, Fr. Francisco Syquia of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism gave the first part of his talk on “Word of God: Scourge of the Devil”.  I have made extensive notes.  I can reproduce his talk in this blog (it may take a while to decipher my scribbles), but I think most of it is available in his book, “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult.”  A second edition is sold for P300.  The book is smaller and the font is neater.  The first pages are devoted to the positive and warm reviews of the first edition.  The contents look the same as the old.  I wish there was a Preface to the Second Edition, so that I will know what were the changes.  I’ll review the new edition soon.  The review for the first edition is here.

The Trail of Light followed, which are meditations on the fourteen stations after the Christ’s reurrection:

  1. Jesus Rises from Death
  2. Peter and John at the Tomb
  3. The Risen Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene
  4. The Risen Christ Walks with the Disciples of Emmaus
  5. The Risen Christ Reveals Himself in the Breaking of the Bread
  6. The Risen Christ Appears to His Disciples
  7. The Risen Christ Gives His Disciples the Power to Forgive Sins
  8. The Risen Christ Appears to Thomas
  9. The Risen Christ Appears to His Disciples at the Lake of Tiberius
  10. The Risen Christ Entrusts the Care of the Church to Peter
  11. The Risen Christ Sends His Disciples to Evangelize the World
  12. The Risen Christ Ascends Into Heaven
  13. The Disciples Prepare to Receive the Holy Spirit
  14. The Risen Christ Sends the Holy Spirit

This is a new devotion proposed by Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB and Jess P. Balon, as a proper continuation to the Way of the Cross.

Lunch.  There is really such thing as a free lunch.

An hour-length documentary on exorcism was then showed.  The documentary talks about several things:

  1. Exorcism in the War of Catholics and Protestant Huguenots (1565)
  2. Codification of the Rituale Romanum (1614)
  3. Group Possession of Nuns: Satan’s Human Agent (1630)
  4. The Witch Hunts (1584)
  5. The Witches in the Puritan Village in Massachusetts (1632)
  6. The posession of a 13 year old boy boy in St. Louis Catholic Church (1949)
  7. The movie “Exorcist” (1973)
  8. Malachi Martin writes “Hostage to the Devil” (1980)
  9. Evangelical Ministry of Deliverance (1980)
  10. Exorcism of a woman (1994)
  11. Pope John Paul’s Exorcism (2000)
  12. The Movie “Exorcist” (2000)
  13. Vatican gives University Course on Exorcism (2005)

I heard that this documentary was given to Fr. Syquia by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Rome’s Chief Exorcist.

Fr. Syquia then continued the second part of his talk on Filipino folk religiosity:

  1. Mingling of Catholic practices with pagan anito worship.
  2. Types of demonic activity: possession, oppression, obsession, and infestation.
  3. Spells, Curses, and Charms
  4. Deliverance Prayer vs Exorcism
  5. Offensive weapons: sacramentals and devotions

Most of these can be found in his book.  This is an enlightening book.  Buy it.

The recollection ended with a mass presided by Fr. Syquia, with Bro. Miguel Madarang as altar server.

Book Review: “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult”

The Ateneo Catechetical Instruction League (ACIL) asked me to give a talk this afternoon on the paranormal and the occult. I have given the same talk last year when I was still a facilitator of ACIL-Escopa, about a week after Fr. Jose Francisco C. Syquia, Director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism, gave his talk at the Jesuit Loyola House of Studies, the only talk that made me trek down the hilly jungle to that secluded school of priests, nuns, and brothers from all over the Philippines. The Loyola House stands on the precipice of a fault overlooking the city of Marikina: all the kingdoms of the world laid bare before you, tempting you with wealth, power, and glory, as you try to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven beyond the clouds, beyond the stars, at the end of time.

I do not personally know Fr. Syquia, but I bought his book at Power Books at Megamall, on the Feast of All Hallows Eve 2006.  I have grown suspicious of any book on paranormal.  I have read Lobsang Rampa, Carlos Castaneda, and Jaime Licauco in my youth.  I have read them and found them wanting: they promise that anyone “can be like gods, knowing good and evil,” as the Serpent tempted Eve.   But I see only emptiness in the faces of the New Age practitioners.  No joy, no peace. By their fruits you shall know them.

But Fr. Syquia’s book is different. It is an account by an exorcist priest himself. No theological speculations, no make-believe stories, no fear. Only plain stories from his everyday encounters with demon-possessed persons and spirit-infested houses, against the backdrop of authentic Catholic Church Teaching and sayings of the saints.

The book’s structure is similar to a diptych. Most chapters consist of two parts: (1) Experience narrative and (2) church teaching. This is what journalists call as the broken-line method: narrative, explain, narrative, explain. I would have preferred a more systematic demonology: classification of demons, their powers, manifestations, and weaknesses. Maybe this is just my hangover from my close study of the Monster Manual in Dungeons and Dragons in my youth.  But Fr. Syquia’s narrative grounds you to the reality: the hairy kapre in a mango tree, the arrogant blasphemies of the possessed, the crisp cards of a fortune teller, the consecrated hands of the priests. This is the war of angels and demons fought in our very earth, in our very house, in our very soul. And Fr. Syquia tells us about this war in its gory details: the vomits, the salts, the ropes, the shrieks. This is the war whose ending we know: Satan bound by Christ our Lord; the Serpent’s head crushed by Our Lady’s heel. Satan knows his defeat and he wants to drag as many souls with him to Hell.

Here are the contents of Fr. Syquia’s book:

Foreword
Introduction

  1. The Church and the Devil
  2. The Parapsychological Dimension
  3. Catholicism and Philippine Folk Religiosity
  4. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 1
  5. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 2
  6. Foundations
  7. Ministering to Those under Extraordinary Demonic Assault
  8. Confrontation between God and the Devil
  9. The Catholic in the Midst of Love and War
  10. The Scars of Battle
  11. Defensive Armor and Offensive Weapons
  12. The Exorcist
  13. Haunted Houses: Notebook 1
  14. Haunted Houses: Notebook 2

Notes on Some of the Sources Used
Appendix A: More on Philippine Folk Religiosity
Appendix B: Personal Spiritual Warfare
Appendix C: A Concise Handbook on Exorcism and Deliverance
Appendix D: A Pastoral Approach to Infested Homes
Appendix E: Manual of Prayers
Endnotes
About the Author