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The Tikbalang Up the Acacia Tree!

by Francis Villapando

This story happened in 1991 inside the school grounds, just before our high school graduation.

I was a CAT officer then; and it was the student officers’ corps’ tradition to hold an overnight “training” or binyag to initiate upcoming CAT officers. During this overnight “training” we kind of did some weird stuff to our junior officers so that they would remember us for years to come.

One of my favorite activities was the “hide and seek” game. The junior officers would be given some head start to hide themselves and then we would go in pursuit of them. If they got caught, “bugbugan” followed – in all honestly, just mild physical punishment. Not to mention that anyone who got caught was required to remove a piece of clothing.

Before the game started, we had the junior officers line up in formation at the end of the football field close to the fence that separated the school grounds from the squatters’ area at the time. It was around 9:45 at night.

We briefed the junior officers about the rules of the game and grouped them into pairs. Soon afterwards, we gave them a 5-minute head start to hide themselves. After the junior officers dispersed we, senior officers, underwent briefing ourselves. We reviewed the dos and don’ts so as to avoid accidents and possible injuries to the junior officers.

We formed ourselves into a big circle so that we can hear clearly what the others were saying. It was this time when I raised my head to watch the junior officers run when I saw a very huge figure moving among the top of branches of an acacia tree. The acacia tree was the one located behind the wall of the handball court beside the grandstand of the outdoor sports complex.

Because it was night-time, the fluorescent light at the grandstand was already lit; and I could see the creature’s colossal figure. I could say that from our position – about 100 metres from the acacia tree – that it was about 8 to 10 feet tall. It was very visible from where we were standing. It had pointed ears, very long limbs and hands with very sharp claws. The creature was in a squatting position.

I did not mind it first. I thought to myself that I was probably just hallucinating. But I confirmed that I was seeing the creature when my co-senior officer standing to my right side asked me, “Mate, nakikita mo ba yung nagalaw sa puno?”

And I was, “Huh? Nakita mo rin?”

Then, another mate who was standing to my left said, “Mate, nakita ko rin? Ang laki! Kapre ba ‘yun o tikbalang?”

All of us had goosebumps all over our bodies. No one else saw the creature except for the three of us. And to appease our minds, we even walked underneath the very branch where we saw the creature just a few moments before.

It had gone before we reached the acacia tree. That was the first time I experienced something supernatural and it still haunts me until this day.

(The author is a High School 1991 graduate of De La Salle Lipa. He currently works with the BSE Preferred Banking Segment of the Batangas City Main Office of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. This is the very first story submitted by a reader on Life So Mundane.)