Monday, October 19, 2009

The Smell of Orchids, A Ghost Story

It's almost Halloween, er, almost All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2) , and Nanay (mother in Filipino language), visited me. Oh, I guess not only her, but my aunt as well. You see, it's my Auntie Charing's birthday yesterday. Nanay and she always had that love/hate relationship but last night they were united in scaring, er, visiting me. They are finally together, in heaven and literally inside the tomb. Their bodies or bones are together. That's the beauty of above ground tomb here in the Philippines (just like the cemetery in New Orleans ( where our thoughtful tour guide took us. She thought above ground tombs were something unique to include in the tour, until I told her I am a Filipina. "Oh, you have the same type of cemetery," she admitted. You see, in that kind of cemetery, you could squeeze 10,000 bodies in a tomb, as long as you do it in interval of five years. Five years because you have to wait 'till the bodies are no longer bodies but bones only. Nanay had a perfect timing, as Auntie Charing died and was burried in 2000. Auntie Charing has a big space for Nanay. So I should tell our sick relative, "wait for five years or more if you want to lie with Nanay and Auntie Charing."

Seriously... Here is a question for you -- how can you bury more than one family member in each vault? How can a tomb hold all of those coffins? According to a local ordinance, as long as the previously deceased family member has been dead for at least two years, the remains of that person is moved to a specially made burial bag and put to the side or back of the vault. That coffin is then destroyed and the vault is now ready for the newly deceased family member. What happens if a family member dies within that two year time restriction? Generally, local cemeteries are equipped with temporary holding vaults and the newly deceased family member is moved into their final resting place when the time restriction is met.

Usually though, with rich folks, there's no such thing as tomb-sharing. Each one has a privacy of her tomb, or even a mausoleum.

At right is your typical American or western cemetery. We have that here too at our American-Philippine Cemetery, but this is not the typical Philippine cemetery. At left is the most famous mausoleum of the country.

This is our typical cemetery, just like the cemeteries in Mexico, Spain and that cemetery in New Orleans. This is also the typical Catholic cemetery.

Back to my ghost story, I smelled orchids for about 30 minutes. I had this conversation with myself....."hmmmn, this is a lovely smell of jasmines at the poolside, just luv it.....jasmines..... no, they're orchids......" I kept surfing the internet...then again something was not quite alright......orchids? There are no orchids here. Ayayayyy, Nanay must be here......then the smell of orchids was gone. That's how ghosts visit, I was told. Once you are aware of them they disappear. Of course I heard other ghost stories where the ghost float around in white dress or have all your things flying around you, then you puke green gooey stuff, or sometimes ghosts eat all your goodies inside your ref......but Nanay, and Auntie Charing love me (I hope) so no such things happened. So why the visit? It's a Philippine culture thing to offer mass, or light a candle, pray for the dead, especially so during the All Souls Day. That's why it's holiday here on those days. You could also have a family reunion in the cemetery as everyone visits the tomb of the loved ones, bringing food, sometimes music - complete with loud speakers. And yes, bring flowers for the dead too, they could not eat your food but I think they could smell the flowers. Nanay and Auntie Charing both loved orchids. At Nanay's wake, my sister, Maritz, persuaded us of covering Nanay's casket with flowers, mostly orchids. Sure, I said, what is extra thousand or two for Nanay's happiness. Nanay was a fragile woman, in sickness and in death, having been bedridden for one year before she passed away. But when she was in her prime, we exercised together doing the shoulder stand and bicycle-on-air, we baked goodies together, we rolled in laughter for shared jokes and insults. She is the most beautiful mother in the world for me. Honestly, she was also the most beautiful corpse I've ever seen. The make-up artist did a good job in doing her makeup and hairstyle. No picture here, as we did not take picture of her in the casket. We know that Nanay would like to be remembered when she was young and in the peak of her beauty. You see the reason why we three sisters are vain is Nanay taught us the importance of making a good impression by being well-groomed and just ........being beautiful.
Oy, don't laugh that hard...........My sisters are so pretty, not joking here.

Carpe Diem, I had to speak to Nanay, I told myself, so I did. "'Nay, help me become a millionaire, give me the right numbers for lotto." Then I remembered, two nights ago I also had a dream about her. In my dream she was with our "prodigal" brother in the hospital, he was tending to her, seated beside her bed and keeping vigil. You see, our brother was not able to visit her in hospital nor was he able to come to her interment. He lives in another planet, namely Bacolod, that's in the south -- 45 minutes away in airplane ride or 18 hours away in ferry ride. He has his reasons, who am I to judge.........."Edwin, abaw gid ah!!!" (Edwin, you're something else).

To end in a happy note, here are ghost jokes for everyone:

  • Q: Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
    A: Dayscare centers.
  • Q: What kind of mistakes do spooks make?
    A: Boo boos.
  • Q: What does a ghost eat for lunch?
    A: A BOO-logna sandwich.
  • Q: Where do ghosts go on vacation?
    A: The Eerie canal, Lake Eerie ! or Mali-Boo
  • Q: What's a ghosts favorite ride at the carnival?
    A: The roller ghoster.
  • Q: Where do ghosts buy their food?
    A: At the ghost-ery store.
  • Q: Where do ghosts mail their letters?
    A: At the ghost office
  • Q: What kind of street does a ghost like best ?
    A: A dead end !
  • Q: What did the baby ghost eat for dinner ?
    A: A boo-loney sandwich !
  • Q: What do you call a ghost's mother and father ?
    A: Transparents !
  • Q: How did the ghost song and dance act make a living ?
    A: By appearing in television spooktaculars !
  • Q: Why are ghosts bad at telling lies ?
    A: Because you can see right through them !
  • Q: What did the ghost teacher say to her class ?
    A: Watch the board and I'll go through it again !
  • Q: What is a ghost's favourite day of the week ?
    A: Frightday !
  • Q: Where do ghosts get an education ?
    A: High sghoul !
  • Q: What did the polite ghost say to her son ?
    A: Don't spook until your spooken to !
  • Q: What do you call a prehistoric ghost ?
    A: A terror-dactyl !
  • Q: Who speaks at the ghosts' press conference ?
    A: The spooksperson !
  • Q: What should you say when you meet a ghost?
    A: Howdo you boo, sir?
  • Q: What kind of mistakes do ghosts make?
    A: Boo boo's!
  • Q: Why did the ghost go to the amusement park?
    A: He wanted to go on a rollerghoster !
  • Q: When does a ghost have breakfast?
    A: In the moaning.
  • Q: What's a ghost's favorite breakfast?
    A: Ghost toasties with booberries, Scream of Wheat or Dreaded wheat !
  • Q: What do ghosts drink at breakfast?
    A: Coffee with scream and sugar.
  • Q: What is a ghost's favourite dessert ?
    A: Boo-Berry pie with I-scream !
  • Q: What do ghosts dance to ?
    A: Soul music !
  • Q: Where do ghosts live ?
    A: In a terrortory !
  • Q: What color are ghosts?
    A: BOOOO!
  • Q: When do ghosts usually appear ?
    A: Just before someone screams !
  • Q: What's a ghost's favorite ride?
    A: A roller ghoster!
  • Q: What kind of ghost has the best hearing ?
    A: The eeriest !
  • Q: What does a ghost swim in?
    A: The Dead sea!
  • Q: Who did the ghost invite to his party?
    A: Anyone he could dig up!
  • Q: Who was the famous ghost detective?
    A: Sherlock Moans.
  • Q: What vehicle does a kid ghost like to ride?
    A: A boocycle.
  • Q: Why did the ghost go to the doctor?
    A: To get a Booster shot.
  • Q: What do ghosts eat for breakfast
    A: Dreaded wheat.
  • Q: What is a ghost's favorite bird?
    A: scare crow!
  • Q: What does a ghost put on his cereal in the morning?
    A: Boonanas and Booberries.
  • Q: What kind of cars do ghosts drive?
    A: Boo--icks.
  • Q: What's a ghosts favorite Broadway play?
    A: phantom of the opera!
  • Q: What did one ghost say to another?
    A: Do you believe in people?
  • Q: What did one ghost say to another?
    A: Do you believe in people?
  • Q: What do ghosts eat for dinner?
    A: Spook-ghetti.
  • Q: What is a ghost favorite article of clothing?
    A: Boojeans.
  • Q: Where does a ghost go on Saturday night?
    A: Anywhere where he can boo-gie.
  • Q: What time is it when a ghost haunts your house?
    A: Time to move to a new house!
  • Q: What tops off a ghost's ice cream sundae?
    A: Whipped scream.
  • Q: What did the mother ghost say to the baby ghost ?
    A: Put your boos and shocks on !
  • Q: Why are ghosts cowards ?
    A: Because they've got no guts !
  • Q: What story do little ghosts like to hear at bedtime?
    A: Ghoul delocks & the 3 scares.
  • Q: What is a ghost's favorite party game?
    A: Hide-and-go-shriek.
  • Q: What do you get if you cross a cocker spaniel, poodle, & a ghost?
    A: A cocker-poodle-boo!
  • Q: What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog?
    A: He is mist.
  • Q: Who protects the shores where spirits live?
    A: The Ghost Guard!
  • Q: What did the boy ghost say to the girl ghost?
    A: You look boo-tiful tonight.
  • Q: Why do girl ghosts go on diets?
    A: So they can keep their ghoulish figures.
  • Q: Why did the game warden arrest the ghost?
    A: He didn't have a haunting license.
  • Q: What did one ghost say to the other when they fell down?
    A: I got a booo booo.
  • Q: What kind of tie does a ghost wear to a formal party?
    A: A boo-tie.
  • Q: What kind of makeup do ghosts wear?
    A: mas-scare-
  • Q: Who did the ghost go with to the Halloween party?
    A: With No-Body!
  • Q: What do baby ghosts wear on their feet?
    A: Boo-ties!
  • Q: What did the little ghost have in his rock collection?
    A: Tombstones
  • Q: What do ghosts mail home while on vacation?
    A: Ghostcards.
  • Q: What do ghosts do when they're in hospital ?
    A: They talk about their apparitions !
  • Q: What's the 1st thing ghosts do when they get in a car?
    A: They boo-kle their seatbelts

Are you researching about ghosts? This could be the book for you!

his review is from: Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (Hardcover)
Ghosts: True Encounters With the World Beyond by Hans Holzer is a comprehensive volume of the author's extensive research into the world of ghosts, spirits, and poltergists performed over the past 30 or more years. Whether one believes in these phenomenon or not, the book makes interesting reading. While many of the stories have appeared in other books, Holzer adds interesting updates and background information which give them a new perspective. Of particular interest to me was the historical research done with respect to the life and times surrounding some of the occurrences. The author discusses the American Revolution and Civil War and some of the events of early European history as well as some of the central figures of these events. Where he is able, he also adds information about the history the specific houses and other buildings he inspected. He gives advice to the would be ghost hunter, and describes some of the mediums with whom he worked. It sounds as though Dr. Holzer had a fun and exciting career that has taken him all over the world.


  1. thanks, madscribbler. To celebrate the Diwali, not only did I wear new clothes and treat my family to dinner, I also decided that this is the start of opening my heart to everyone. I will always speak the truth too.

  2. Our reunion in our house lingers, when I had the excitement of meeting Juling and you guys. Now, an informative revelation on my beloved cousins. Thanks Malou for opening your world to us!
    Love you all...

  3. Thanks din po, love you too. We had a grand time in your house, thanks a lot. I used to just know you as the rich uncle who loves growing orchids :) Love of orchids runs in the family.....

  4. i like your blog malou. very unique, very you. please continue writing. you express yourself very well and one can't help notice that everything comes from the heart...stay well.

  5. Wow, coming from you, I am so flattered, thanks, Ms. Rosie :)

  6. what a great post! Just in time for halloween!!! thank you for such a genuine post!

  7. Malou, I know you miss your Nanay and Auntie but you had a unique way of making a joke out of the experience of losing your loved ones. Wish you have a bootiful picture of your Nanay in her casket. My sisters warned me not to take picture of my Papa in his casket, but I did anyway, so that my youngest sister (who was not issued a to attend his funeral), would see it. I've gotten bold taking such pictures for my friends, who want a souvenir of their loved ones. Lovely! keep writing and blogging. I know you've contemplated of doing this one year ago.

  8. Yol, I quite regret not taking picture of her in the casket, pero we know she would not like to be remembered as such eh. I remember taking her picture about 20years ago, the last Ive taken. She was not happy about it. After that, she refused being photographed. But even Dave said, she looked very pretty lying there, grabe.

  9. hi Malou...i wish Nanay will give you the winning lotto numbers:) seriously, 2 weeks after nanay was buried I smelled her massage oil three times and always at 10PM, the time when Alma was giving her a massage then, surprisingly, i wasn't scared, (was tellig Nanay when she's alive to appear in my dreams but not when I'm awake)...I said "Hi 'Nay, please have your beauty rest and enjoy your time with Tatay" ...the smell lasted for 10 minutes then gone:)

  10. Maritz, now and then I smell the orchids that remind me of Nanay. It's so infrequent, though. She rests in peace now.


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