A team of priests were rushed to a school on Siquijor Island after reports that pupils were showing signs of demonic possession.
At least two priests from the Diocese of Dumaguete are today (Wednesday, October 17) ministering to the affected youngsters.
Father Ronnie Ablong, parish priest of Larena town, said he he was assisting Father Gerry Flores of San Juan town in saying the necessary prayers and performing other religious rites on the students.
However, he said they still could not conclude whether the incident was a result of demonic attacks or merely psychological in nature.
“This will have to go through a process of evaluation so we won’t conclude yet although there are guidelines to follow to determine if this is, indeed, the work of the devil,” the 49-year old priest said.
Reports that first emerged on Monday said more than 10 students of a school on Siquijor Island showed signs of being “perturbed”, appeared to be in a trance and displayed other unusual behaviour associated with demonic attacks.
According to Fr. Ablong, he still has to determine what could have triggered the incident, such as perhaps engaging in occult practices like the “Spirit of the Glass”.
“Once people are engaged in the occult, there are now opening that would make them vulnerable to demonic attacks,” he explained.
Other triggering events include a person “living a sinful life and the absence of prayer in their lives”, he added.
Siquijor Island has long been associated with folklore and witchcraft, a connection that tourist chiefs have been keen to promote in recent years.
Not only on Siquijor
However, belief in demonic possession remains widespread across the Philippines.
In July, we reported how two schools on Cebu Island were closed due to outbreaks of demonic possession within days of each other. The hysteria that hit the schools in Danao City and Dalaguete Town were prompted after pupils claimed to have seen a mysterious “black figure”.
Previously, in June, we reported how two other 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 when 20 students became hysterical after seeing “the ghost of a child”.
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 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”.
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.
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