“Well,” he began, “ I know you do not fear the tulisanes (bandits) or the highwaymen. But the binangunan, tikbalang, matandas, and kapres, these are something else. With them your ‘repober’ won’t be of any use.”
“But sir, those are rubbish that even one who is not that well educated no longer believes in.”
“Yes, those who wear the vest, the Panama hat, and silver watch and other stuff… To hell with the educated ones!”
And he was so disconcerted at the young man’s vehemence that the latter became a little frightened and sort of regretted his flippance.
“That’s a joke, sir, you can’t imagine how much I enjoy knowing the history of those whom you are sure would fill me with terror and on whom my ‘repober’ wouldn’t be any good. And I shall not leave until you have told me those wonderful tales reserved for your special friends. Will you tell them to me?
“Yes, of course, my son.”
And so the old man began to narrate the exploits and prowess of his heroes. Our young man was all ears, for even if he did not believe them, he considered them enchanting for peasants tell their tales with that indescribable charm, free from circumlocution and twists. And he thought that they were the most delightful and enjoyable stories that he had ever heard until then.
This is what the old man related to him:
“When I was a boy, my mother told me that there were very beautiful maidens, with their bodies bare and their hair in disarray who lived in places hardly, if ever, frequented by man. Whoever, passed there, man or woman, worse if he was a man, was never spared by them. They never let go of him, overwhelmed him with caresses, kissed him and left him dead without his being able to fulfill his intentions if he had them at all; for, they kissed him in such a way that they sucked his blood, and immediately the man dies. Thus, they were named binangunan (suckers, a species of vampires).
“What I’m about to tell you, I experienced myself not more than twenty one years ago,” he continued. “I was going to a nearby place. And to go there, there was only one pathway between shrubs. how could anyone get lost there? But listen, I went on my way and on and on but never reached my destination. Damn it! I told myself it must have been some naughty tianak playing tricks on me. And no matter how much and how well I looked, I saw no one, I walked on. Damn it! I had scarcely taken three steps when I began to hear boisterous laughter. That enraged me and I looked and looked with these sharp eyes to see if I could find him and at a distance, I saw a small child about a handbreadth’s height who laughed with all its might.
“After locating him, I felt sure I’d be able to trap him, but I only got hold of a piece of charcoal as big as a cucumber and farther away, the same child kept on laughing at me.
“Trying to figure what to do, I decided to remove my shirt and put it on again but inside out. As soon as I did this, I got to the place right away.”
Epifanio C. de los Santos
February 10, 1923
Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño