Incessantly SuperstitiousBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
TRUTH be told, I’m not exactly a superstitious person. I try not to believe in stuff out of the extraordinary or in the “too good to be true” category. That’s not my style.
But beliefs could change very quickly.
After my third cousin’s funeral, I happened to leave the funeral banner, the banner which allows you to participate in vehicular processions, on the windshield. I was too lazy to take it off.
The night after the funeral, my observant girlfriend, Debi, told me to take off the banner for it might bring bad luck.
In fact, everything associated with a funeral, particularly the deceased person, must be disavowed immediately before that luck runs astray.
These include leaflets given during the mass about the deceased, pictures of the deceased and signs.
Of course, I didn’t listen.
Learning about things in the Philippines, you realize how awash we are in strange and superstitious beliefs.
Just ask most of the older folk. They would be happy to tell you.
In a bit of obvious over-confidence in myself, I didn’t remove the sign from the windshield and left it on until the next day.
The next day came and nothing happened… at least at the onset.
I was in the room working on something when all of a sudden, “Philip. Your car. Your car!”
Debi’s uncle was calling me from the hallway. His eyes were filled with a sense of urgency.
I walked gingerly toward the front, blatantly unaware of the seriousness of the situation.
There was a car attached to the rear of my vehicle, with an unconscious driver still seated inside.
At the time, there was a bit of confusion from us and the observers who witnessed the accident about what to do.
Soon, a fleet of police and emergency vehicles arrived at the scene, blocking off the busy Hayward intersection.
Apparently, a lady in a maroon Pontiac Grand Am didn’t realize the red light at the corner of Winton and Stonewall, a very busy intersection for its proximity to Southland Mall.
In the process of running the red light at incredible speed, she rear ended a green five-series BMW, crushing its trunk and sending it into the middle of the intersection.
Losing control of her own vehicle, the Grand Am coasted right toward the residential neighborhood, ending up in our driveway where my car was parked.
I could fret all I want about the damage brought onto my own car but I didn‘t suffer any physical injuries, salamat naman.
The family in the BMW, also Filipino, seemed particularly stunned, their sedan turned into a hatchback instantly.
The mother was sent off in an ambulance in a neck brace, perhaps suffering from whiplash. I hope they are okay.
The woman who caused the mess had to be slapped into consciousness, her face firmly planted onto the steering wheel. Bruised and bleeding, her removal was a delicate operation.
As they wheeled off the wreck from the end of my car, I wondered if there was truth behind their assertion that leaving funeral emblems would cause bad luck.
Debi and her family were to take no chances.
Debi berated me about leaving the funeral sign at the windshield.
Soon, Debi’s parents informed me also of their belief that immediately after a funeral, one must wash their car to remove all the bad luck.
With sponge and hose in hand, Debi and I washed the car thoroughly, making sure no bad luck remained.
Never have I been so conscious about such superstitions till that day. I mean, I’ve heard many of them before but took none of it seriously.
My Aunt Norma was the first to explain to me about the all-famous turn-your-plate-when-a-visitor-is-leaving-the-table theory.
The idea is to basically turn your plate 180 degrees when a visitor leaves to ensure good luck.
Then there is the don’t-eat-an-egg-on-the-day-of-your-exam theory from my Grandma Uding. She believes that if you do so, that day, you would get a zero on your exam.
Asking why the idea of eating eggs is bad on examination days, I learned that it’s because the egg resembled a zero.
Then I began wondering if the superstition would be lost if you scrambled it.
Then there’s the ultimate superstition from my Grandpa. When it comes to planting vegetables, he always tills on days with no “R” on it.
The idea is that the days with “R” in them are bad luck, at least for planting the seedlings. For him, those days would be Thursday and Saturday.
Of course, confusion starts when you realize that the days without “R” should really be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The correction comes once you realize that he is not basing this on “English” days. Nor on “Spanish.”
And it doesn’t end there. Seedlings also shouldn’t be planted on days where the last number of that day is not pointing up when you end writing it.
Those numbers which end going up include three, five, eight and nine.
Ergo, if it’s a Tuesday, a day considered a good day to plant because walang “R,” but the date is on a 7th then my Grandpa would not be willing to plant the seedlings. They would have to wait until the next day.
Remember that the superstition that it’s okay to plant because the number is now going up, “8”.
Now these are only three of the hundreds of superstitions that either exist in the islands or are imported from mainland Asia and are integrated into our vast warehouse of spooks.
Strange and at times ridiculously funny when practiced, many people still remain steadfast in following these old-time superstitions.
I never considered the validity of such anomalies in life.
Growing up in a society such as America all my life, eerie superstitions from the past enter the science of mystery and disbelief most of the time.
You’d only need to watch television on a regular basis to realize that any strange phenomenon on the boob tube usually are the works of genius graphic artist and not of supernatural beings.
Either that or the phenomenons or coincidences that were ages ago believed to be the works of mysterious life forms now have been scientifically or mathematically explained.
Therefore, actual belief in such strange fiascos is down to a temporary minimum. But thanks to one lady and her interesting way of driving, my whole idea about superstitions has gotten a new facelift. And it looks scarier than ever before.
My Auntie Norma was ready to go home to good old England as I was eating some fish. As she was ready to leave, I politely turned my plate at her insistence for good luck. “I am going now, balong,” she said with a good-bye kiss. Then, she, unaware of my previous actions, revolved my plate another 180 degrees.
The bangus now faced the same direction. “Auntie,” I exclaimed, “You moved the fish again.” She froze then revolved the plate again. The bangus went for a total of 540 degrees.
Who knows if we’re still lucky. All I know is the fish must be dizzy.