Before the sun finally gave way to the veil of darkness which slowly wrapped up the mountain, the villagers gathered at the side of the road. It was where Manong Isko would soon pass by in his way home towards the mountain top.
Cries of infants and toddlers alike were heard as they, perhaps, didn't understand why they were still out in the road when the night had already fallen.i Mother's lullabyes hushed them out as they were danced into the music, lulling them to sleep. They were quite a number, it seemed that the whole village were out there and no one was left in their houses.
As the night slowly crept away, the men's boastful talks about how they would corner the witch ignited as they brought along with them their farm's produce of coconut wine. Some coconut farmers in the Philippines use coconuts not only for making copra or dried coconuts, but also for making coconut wine. Tuba, or lambanog in Luzon, is a drink made from the pure sap, resulting in an almost colorless or milky white liquid sometimes referred to as coconut vodka.
As the men's exchanges in their conversation went illogical due to alcohol intoxication, the elderlies loudly uttered their prayers and litanies for protection. The younger women joined as well, making those drunk men sober up in respect. They gathered here as one with one objective, to appeal before the witch. They were willing to do some bargaining just to make her stop casting curses to them. They would appeal first through Manong Isko, who had become one of the witch's disciples since the day he left the village. They thought that if they would succeed in reconciling with him, he might agree to intercede in their behalf.
They already knew that he lived up there in Mount Maria's top, but one of the villagers had seen him winding up the road to the mountain with a white pickup car. It only proved his discipleship, otherwise he wouldn't have the luxury of having an expensive property. Since then, they jpsecretly monitored the usual time he would pass by the road and at this moment, they were all gathered ahead in order to catch him up.
The lives of their forefathers had been abundant under the provision of the goddess, just because they treated her with utmost respect. And now they could only wish they could have her favor again. Their decision to gather out tonight was due to another malady which caused another havoc in the village. It all started when few of the villagers complained of abdominal bloating and pain, few days after the witch showed herself at the clinic in human form. The news of the nurse spread like a storm, scaring all the villagers to the core. They already expected that few days after that, a new disease would break out in their community.
Just as they expected, a couple of villagers presented themselves at the clinic of Dr. Michael with complaints of abdominal enlargement and bloatedness. A burning sensation in the flank area and at the lower back, added to the pile of their discomforts. They always felt nauseated and as the days went by, they noticed the yellowing of their sclerae which rapidly spread to the whole body. No matter how blinded they were to blame it to the witch, they couldn't do anything to the fact that they now looked more horrible than the witch herself.
At around eight in the evening, the sound of a coming car was heard. Finally, their most awaited moment had come. Though their confidence surfaced and motivated them a while ago, the roaring sound of the engine popped out their professed bravery and pushed their tails down altogether. They knew that all their strength combined would no way match the power of the witch.
"Let's go! It's not time to wag our tails down in surrender. We want our health and happiness back, aren't we?"
"Right! Let's face him together. If misfortune awaits us then let's die together." One of the drunk men dared himself as the alcohol lent him a momentary courage and bravery.
"As much as possible, let's do this amicably and peacefully!"
Just as the car made itself visible to most of them, the villagers rushed together forward in the middle of the road, blocking Manong Isko's way completely. Bewildered at seeing the mob and scared for his life, Manong Isko got no choice but to stop.
"Isko, we gather with our children tonight to ask for your forgiveness over what happened many years ago. It is not our intention to just watch and ignore your family back then but as you knew, we were also victims ourselves." One of the oldest folks spoke to him the moment he rolled down the window.
The crowd was hushed into a complete silence as the voice of one of their elderlies was heard. It was too silent that a dropping coin to the ground could perhaps be clearly heared. The kids who were still awake were surprisingly shutting their mouths off, perhaps curious to this unusual event. They may had also sensed that something not good was about to happen.
"What's the bottom line of this?" Manong Isko asked with a sharpened gaze, wondering what made them gather as a throng against one.
"We are already hurt so much by the plagues the beautiful witch throw at us. We appeal for our forgiveness through you, praying that you will intercede in our behalf..."
Manong Isko then realized what they meant at the mention of the beautiful witch. It twas the topic they discussed last week together with the delivery men.
"And what does that have to do with me?"
"The lady witch perhaps will forgive us if you will talk to her in our behalf." Their spokesman went on, hoping he could succeed in talking this out to him.
Manong Isko chuckled out of his amusement over their false or rather foolish presumption.
"How can I see the witch?" He asked in an amused tone which to most of them, it sounded more like of a mockery.