Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lumang Simbahan

Mama used to tell me bedtime stories when I was a child. I learned the story of Nativity even before I went to school. One story I could not forget was that of an old haunted church in one of the coastal barrios in Luzon. If one has a copy of a book called Pamana ng Lahi, this story was found there.

Mama called this Lumang Simbahan.

There was an old church, visibly deteriorated through time. No one remembered when the last mass was said. No one frequented this place even to pray. Rumors said that moans and dragging chains were heard when the clock struck six in the evening. Light apparitions were observed at midnight. Parents kept on reminding their children not to gallivant around the churchyard.

So the church stood at the center of the barrio, shunned by the people.

But one day, two lovers entered the church. They knelt in front of the altar and prayed. Their love was forbidden for the young man was a farmer’s son and the young woman was the daughter of an haciendero.

Each bore a dagger for they plan to kill themselves and were hoping to be reunited in the afterlife. When they were about to do the deed, the young man remembered that their bodies would still be separated for they would be buried at different cemeteries, befitting their social status.

So the man dug up a grave for the both of them. And lo! He found a chest, full of gold and silver jewels and even priceless silk. The lovers stared at each other, awed by the discovered treasures. They decided to keep and use them to convince the young woman’s father that the young man is capable of giving her the lifestyle she is accustomed to.

Long story short, the father granted them permission. They were married at the old church – newly renovated paid by the young man. That was one wedding the whole barrio will never forget for the celebration lasted for a week.

Now who owned the treasures before they were discovered? Stories evolved that the chest was hidden by  pirates. To prevent the people from discovering it, they made the old church appear haunted.

I know. I can imagine how shallow such explanation could be but to a five-year-old child, that was one fairy tale, made in the Philippines.


*haciendero – an owner of large acre of land which has been passed on from generation to generation


  1. I remember "Pamana ng Lahi." My elementary school library had several copies of this book, enough for an entire class of 50. Teachers, who apparently are ill-prepared (or maybe not!), would pull out this book for the class to read the whole period. It fascinates me now that I can't recall any of the stories from that book...perhaps, because it is written in Filipino.

    I offer a few end-of-the-story questions, if this were a textbook. "OK, class, answer the 'Questions to Ponder.' Assignment will be due on Monday..."

    1. What brought these lovers to the abandoned church?
    2. How do people in those days celebrate for a week?
    3. How would have the story ended if the lovers succeeded in killing themselves?

    LOL :-)

    1. Ahm, Hess. If the teacher would assign a homework in Pamana ng Lahi, shouldn't it be in Filipino?

      At that time, I wasn't introduced yet to Nancy Drew so the characters in Pamana ng Lahi were my companions. They were kept inside a cabinet when Nancy and the Hardy Boys came. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    2. Hess, if the teacher came with enough books for a class of 50, then she came prepared. :-D#

  2. What a lovely anecdote, P're. I don't think I've ever heard of this story though, but I honestly didn't pay too much attention during Filipino anyway. :-D#

    1. Thanks, P're. I actually heard this from Mama first. Then when I learned how to read Filipino, she stopped telling me stories and gave me the book instead. :)

      The story was immortalized in a kundiman. You can look it up on Youtube. Here's the link: :)