A school in Danao City, Cebu, has reported an outbreak of supposed demonic possession sparked by the sighting of a ghost.
At least 13 female high school students were reportedly “gripped by an evil spirit” yesterday (Thursday, July 12).
According to a report in the Cebu Daily News, provincial health officer Dr Rene Catan confirmed the report.
He said the students affected were in Grades 8 and 9, aged 15 to 16, at Ubaldo Iway Memorial National High School in Barangay Cambanay.
He added that the outbreak of mass hysteria started after the students claimed to see a “black figure” in the school grounds.
The outbreak was the second on the island this week, with the Philippine Star reporting that 14 high school students were possessed in Dalaguete Town on Monday.
The affected children were Grade 7 students, aged 13 to 14, of Dumalan National High School.
Teacher-in-charge Flor Orozco said classes were suspended and the possessed students were sent home following the outbreak between 9am and 11am.
She added that three of the students became violent, while the others reported abdominal pains and breathing difficulties.
Some of the youngsters claimed to have seen “paranormal beings” but could not remember what happened when they returned to their senses. While in the grip of possession, some of the students were reported to murmur about the planting of certain types of native trees.
While the teacher did not rule out the possibility of demonic possession, she said the incident could have been triggered by hunger. She described how some students had to get up for school at 4am before walking long distances on empty stomachs.
The local education authority has announced that an early-morning feeding programme will be introduced to tackle the issue.
As well as this, a pastor is being sent to the school to perform a blessing and morning prayers have been introduced.
Other recent outbreaks
Last month, we reported how two Cebu schools were forced to close after outbreaks of “mass hysteria” among pupils struck within hours of one another.
The phenomenon was first reported at Ronda National High School early on Friday, June 22, when 20 students became hysterical.
The Grade 9 and 10 students told teachers that they had seen the ghost of a child in the school.
Police officers were sent to the school and the affected children were taken to a local church.
Then, just hours later, 19 pupils of Colawin National High School in Argao town also succumbed to a similar outbreak.
The Argao Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office deployed a team to the school at 1pm to respond to the situation.
Some of the affected students were sent to Isidro Kintanar Memorial Hospital, while others were taken to a nearby church.
According to a report on dyAB TeleRadyo Cebu, school officials said the outbreak of hysterical behaviour was somehow related to a decision to “replace an axed mango tree”.
While unusual, such outbreaks of mass hysteria have been seen before in the Philippines.
In February we reported how a school in Palawan was forced to cancel lessons after 15 students were supposedly possessed by evil spirits.
According to a report on GMA News, the affected students were “rushed” to a Catholic church after the supernatural outbreak.
The school’s principal, Vicente Tamanyo, told the broadcaster that the incident occurred after two students claimed to see the spirit of a woman, covered in blood.
According to eyewitnesses, the possessed students were heard to speak a “strange language” and were said to display “freakish strength”.
The affected youngsters were taken to a nearby church for prayers before being sent home.
Belief in demonic possession
Belief in demonic possession remains widespread across the Philippines.
Father Ambrosio Nonato Legaspi made the claim on Novaliches’ Radio Veritas show Hello Father 911. A report on the show was carried on the news site of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
He said: “Listeners, be careful as the rosaries you might be using could actually be infested or cursed!”
The priest claimed that the rosaries were being given away by satanists, acting as part of a shadowy group called the Illuminati.
Then, shortly before Halloween, another Filipino exorcist warned that dressing up in spooky costumes could also lead to demonic possession.
Father Marius Roque, exorcist for the Archdiocese of San Fernando, said he had performed exorcism rites involving two young people who had dressed up for Halloween parties.
“One was the case of a teenage girl who wore a black lady costume for a Halloween party. After a few weeks, it became obvious she was possessed by evil spirits,” he said.
The priest claimed that when the girl was taken to see him, he found her mouth and belly button “emitting froth”.