Short Story : Transform

The day the remains of Padre Pio passed through the little town of Majilud was the day Nang Idang transformed into a manananggal. No one thought they would see it happen since the last report of one was 30 years ago when superstition was still strong and a civilized system weak. Now, manananggals mostly kept to themselves save for a limited few who still roamed at night, sucking on chickens and getting stuck on TV antennas.

They said a lot of things about Nang Idang that day. But prior to that, she kept mostly to herself, managing her own fishery and then selling it on the market.

Nang Eukring says, ‘Bantug ra himsog kaayo na iyang mga isda. Iya kaha nang gipakaon ug atay ug tina-i’.

But that’s getting ahead of the story. On that day, Nang Idang was in a hurry to get to town, hearing of the news that Padre Pio’s blessed remains would be in the church for public viewing the whole morning. It was a busy day. She had woken up at dawn to collect some fishes from the pond and was doubly hurrying to sell it to the market so she can line up to kiss and pray over the Saint’s remains.

She skipped breakfast and went on to sell all her fishes. By the time she was finished, it was already 10:30. The closing time was 12:00. After which, the remains would be transferred to the next town 3 hours away. This was her only chance. When she saw the line which reached the outside of the church, Nang Idang did not make the sign of the cross and directly took her place at the back of the line. Slowly, the queue ebbed and it was finally her turn. When she prayed over the metal box, her skin was already a little pale and her eyes seeing slightly blurry outlines. Many of her once-friends note she seemed a little withdrawn from the prayers.

After which, she went directly home via a tricycle which was so fully packed, it was difficult to breath. Witnesses then continue the story on her account. She had barely reached her house when the rest of the passengers caught her jumping out, the vehicle still moving. Her eyes were flickering from side to side involuntarily. Her head moving in full rotation as if in a trance. Her hair was scattered all over and from her throat, a loud gibberish language they had never heard of.

The witnesses were dumbfounded. The morning after, Nang Idang was not in her usual stall at the marketplace. By that time, everyone had already heard of the news.

‘I tell you, she had the ghastliest eyes. I saw it turn red and look at us straight as if she was the devil himself….and…’ said Norma to Nang Jinky.

‘…And she was saying some kind of ritual. It’s probably the prayer they use to help disguise themselves. But of course by that time, it was too late. We had already seen…’, adds Nang Jinky to Esther

‘…seen her start to run and hide under her house. But Nang Jinky saw a stump in her back. It was the start of wings growing. There were black spikes on her blouse…’ Esther said to Noy Tope

‘…blouse started to break open. And they saw her half run, half fly…feet barely touching the ground because she was in such a hurry. Esther saw her black wings flap themselves. And get this, they also saw her going through her things and drinking some kind of potion…’ Noy Tope said to the carrot vendor.

‘…drinking some kind of potion, no doubt to heal herself because by then, she must’ve been burned by the sunlight. And they saw her writhing on her floor like a snake…’, the carrot vendor said to the tricycle drivers.

‘…transformed herself into a snake because as you know, mananggals are excellent shape shifters. Then she went into her room and was never seen again that day…better be careful when she’s around.’ , the tricycle drivers said to every passenger they drove.

And that’s how Nang Idang transformed into a mananggal.

Kids were no longer allowed to look in her eyes for fear they might be transferred with the ‘curse’. The Sisters of Mary no longer sat beside her in church and lowered their veils when she was around. Tricycle drivers said they were going in the opposite direction every time she’d take a ride. And buyers, aside from the out-of-towners, made sure never to buy from her again. Thank Padre Pio for revealing her evil ways.

Of course, some people say Nang Idang was just diabetic and had only suffered a hypoglycemic attack that day. But you didn’t hear it here.

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