Right after the turmoil of WW2 and the reclamation of the
Indeed there was an influx of Missionaries, because many who had been attending College and Seminary during the war years and had missed out in service during the war felt an obligation to reach out with love and healing to those who had suffered so much in those years of turmoil.
The Maknamar’s were of such ilk who had decided to dedicate their lives to heal the wounds that war had inflicted on the innocent no matter what the cost. And to them the cost was very high. Both Dennis and Marian had been raised in pre-war suburban
They had suffered through the great depression.
Although times were tough it was not as bad for them as it had been for others. They had not lost anything in the crash of the stock market but the ramifications of the fall of 1929 echoed into the heartland where they grew up. To be truthful their lives were more severely impacted by the war rationing of WW2 than that of the Great Depression itself.
While in Seminary the common meal was greasy pan fried potatoes and onions. Meat was a commodity they neither could afford nor find. Instead it went to the troops who valiantly went forward to safeguard the earth from the Axis threat of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. They did not complain by doing without, they were grateful for those brave young men who served and gave their lives to secure a world free from such oppressive dictatorships. And in their deprivation of luxuries they felt camaraderie with the fighting men of the
So when they were able to serve they jumped at the chance. In their resolve to serve they chose most remote and hard hit locations they could find. When word came down from the headquarters of the Missionary council they were not disappointed, they were called to serve in the hard hit and impoverished town of
The Maknamar’s family had descended from mountain folk from
They knew how to survive in the tough times.
But nothing prepared them to face the experiences they would encounter while at the Missionary station in Buangong all those long years ago.
One of Dennis’s duties was to help out in the funeral rites when a local passed away. Although the indigenous Pastors were the ones who presided over the services Mr. Maknamar’s assistance in prayer and support was expected and greatly appreciated.
It was during the funeral of an elderly grandmother that he heard some of the family murmering about their fear for the body if it were to be buried on the hillside graveyard where the family had plots. There was something disturbing the graves, and parts of bodies were missing from those newly buried.
They were sure that an Aswang was at work. And they feared the body of the grandmother would be its next victim.
A bit confused and unfamiliar with the term he asked the family why the police could not stop the grave robbers.
With whispered voices they corrected the young Missionary that they were not talking about mere grave robbers. The Aswang was a demonic spirit who lived off the rotting bodies of the dead. It would feast on the newly buried in order to maintain its hold in the physical world. Later after it had finished its gory meal it would replace the body with sticks and leaves from the nearby forest. There would be literally nothing left of the corpse after it was consumed, there was no waste. The dead body would replenish the Aswang’s physical form until its unholy hunger began to once again make it ethereal.
It seems the local cemeteries had been plagued for years with the terror of at least one Aswang. Some were completely abandoned for new burials, but when the families went to other cemeteries after a while the graves were found disturbed as well and when disinterred they found the familiar twisted foliage that the demonic spirit would leave behind after a meal.
It had struck twice in the last month at the hillside cemetery in which the grandmother was suppose to be laid to rest. In fact the creature was sighted late one evening running into the thick underbrush carrying off a gruesome morsel to sustain itself.
To Mr. Maknamar this was all a bunch of superstitious nonsense. He had been in the church for years and had never seen anything supernatural. He even doubted the miraculous, for he was raised in a church that believed miracles and supernatural events in a life of faith died along with the last apostle thousands of years ago. This was a different era, one of reasoned faith not of superstitious beliefs and fairy tales.
Although he did not believe in the Aswang, Dennis Maknamar knew that someone or something must be behind the grave robberies and he felt it was his duty to break this bondage to superstition that held the indigenous people in fear.
So he volunteered to camp out at the graveyard at night for a week, to confront this ‘demon’.
The family was in awe of the fearlessness of the young Missionary for there had never been anyone who dared confront an Aswang before. The Filipino pastor’s of the area volunteered to help out by prayer and fasting as the headstrong American confronted the monster in its lair.
So Dennis Maknamar pitched a tent next to the grave of the old Filipino grandmother, and waited to see what awaited him as he preformed his morbid vigil in the still of darkness. He did not, however, come unprepared. He brought along a military issue pistol that his brother had gave to him as a gift after he had returned from the European theater just the year before.
The first two nights went by without incident.
But at around 2 in the morning on the third evening watch Mr. Maknamar was awoken from a light sleep by a strange noise.
It was a slobbering wet sound.
As if someone without teeth were trying to eat thickly sauced spare ribs.
Removing the pistol from under his pillow Dennis pulled the hammer back and pushed open the tent flap.
All he saw at first was nothing but darkness. And the sickening slobber in the night stopped.
Then he heard the rustling of the underbrush and saw the thing dash into a thicket. Although its full shape was hidden in shadows he saw a small hunched back creature that resembled a twisted naked body of an old man. Except the color was different, it was not the color of any flesh he had seen, for it was light and almost translucent. As the creature bent to duck under the thicket it looked back at the young Missionary and he saw a dull green glow reflecting in the eyes of the thing as if from some unseen fire. And it the creatures mouth there was a half eaten arm.
That was when he quickly raised his hand and fired the pistol straight into the creatures face. He saw the thing’s head real back from the impact and the arm fly out of its mouth.
Then it was gone.
A few of the praying pastors ran up the hillside from their post at the gravedigger’s house to see what had happened. But there was nothing to see but a disturbed grave and a shaking American man holding a freshly fired pistol at the dismembered arm of the recently buried Filipino grandmother.
It took Dennis a few days to truly regain his composure, and he was sure of what he saw. He had just taken a step into a larger Universe. He had no idea what to do about the Aswang, but he knew that whatever was to be done about the creature he was ill prepared to deal with this otherworldly abomination.
So eventually they called in a Catholic Priest from a neighboring
Things eventually returned back to normal, and after the decades rolled on few locals remembered the incidents that happened in graveyards of Buangong. But Dennis Maknamar would never forget what he encountered that dark evening. For from that time on he could never again dismiss the supernatural as mere folk tales and superstitions. And his world would never be the same.
Until Next Time,
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