In this age of wireless everything, the concept of ghosts seems about as preposterous as a Donald Trump presidency. Come to think of it, with politicians like Trump and that babbling dude we have over here, who needs spooky apparitions to experience horror?
Well, Ford Philippines, in the spirit of the coming Halloween, thinks it can still scare the bejesus out of gullible journalists with the help of a spiritist who doubles as a “ghost walk” tour guide.
“Halloween is just around the corner, and the Ford EcoSport is inviting you to a spine-chilling adventure,” the invitation says. “Join us as we drive around the metro to check out some of Manila’s spookiest spots.”
With our government leaders getting creepier by the day, what have we got to lose?
Ford brings us to New World Manila to be briefed by a 42-year-old lady named Jade Martin, who introduces herself as a “paranormal investigator.” She’s part of the group that organizes that so-called “Intramuros Ghost Walk”—look them up on Facebook—and charges P250 per head for the supposedly hair-raising entertainment.
Martin, who claims to have grown up in a haunted house in Biñan, Laguna, asserts that she has had the ability to communicate with the dead since she was nine years old. She shows us a photo she took in Intramuros, with the image of a handsome man she says is a ghost. She reveals her discovery that the dashing phantom was her lover in a past life.
Before our group drives off to Intramuros to try and frighten ourselves—as though we haven’t got enough terrifying things in real life—we ask Martin ghost-related car questions.
First, can cars be haunted?
“That’s very rare,” she replies. “Because cars are constantly moving. Ghosts prefer abandoned and quiet places or houses, since they don’t want to be disturbed.”
What about those who die as a result of a car accident? Do they haunt the vehicle involved?
“It’s possible, especially if they’re not aware that they’re already dead. You just need to tell them that they’re already gone, and they’ll move on. Some dead people who were victims of a road accident may sometimes ride any random vehicle because they think they need to be taken to the hospital. They just need to know they’re dead.”
How do you know if a secondhand car you want to buy has been involved in a fatal accident, or if someone has died in it?
“A psychometrist will be able to tell the car’s history just by touching it,” Martin explains, adding that she has a colleague with this specific power.
What do you do if a car has had a death inside it?
“You just have it cleansed,” she offers. “It’s a spiritual process performed by qualified individuals. But even if a car has a scary history, it still depends on your frame of mind. If you’re a positive thinker, even a tragic accident in the past is nothing. Ghosts may manifest themselves, but they won’t hurt you. Now, if you have malevolent spirits, that’s another story, because these can physically harm you.”
In what particular place can one find malevolent spirits? We ask this so we’ll know which routes to avoid when driving alone.
“The province of Quezon has a lot of these spirits, because there are many people who practice witchcraft there. They may be present starting from Maharlika Highway.”
What about accident-prone cars? Is it possible they may have bad spirits messing things up?
“Most of the time, pag accident-prone, kasalanan na yun nung driver.”
Someone asks about Balete Drive. Is it really haunted?
“Not anymore. The ghost there has likely moved on. Ghosts move on, especially if there’s human activity in the area.”
Say a driver is traveling alone, and then he looks up and sees an image in the rear-view mirror, what should he do?
“First of all, relax. If you panic, you might do something dangerous and get into an accident. This—and not the ghost—could then kill you. So stay calm. If you can, talk to the ghost. Let him know that he should already move on, so he’ll leave you. The ghost won’t harm you. And more often than not, it will just manifest itself very briefly.”
We then proceed to our fleet of EcoSports and make our way to Intramuros. Once there, Martin brings us to certain spots she says are haunted. Most of the ghosts here, according to her, are those of priests and nuns killed during the Japanese occupation.
“If you don’t see a ghost during this tour, don’t worry,” she exhorts our group. “It doesn’t mean the walk is a failure. They’re there, trust me. I can see them.”
The paranormal expert then invites us to take photos. “Ghosts may be invisible to the human eye, but they can be captured by devices.”
The typical ghost walk, Martin points out, takes about three hours, so don’t plan on joining one if you’re out of shape. And because we’re spoiled members of the media, we get to ride the EcoSport after every few hundred paces. We park and get down at Martin’s designated stops—including a corner where a college student had reportedly hanged herself on a tree.
Everything makes for an amusing evening, to be honest. But your interest will very quickly fade once your curiosity is replaced by skepticism. One of us—we wonder who—elects to just stay inside the EcoSport to snooze. Good thing this car has excellent air-conditioning.
As we drive back to the world of the living, we realize ghosts may no longer be enough to petrify us these days. We don’t know if there’s anything more dreadful than a politician’s incoherent ramblings.