Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009

4 wards at RP consulate in Jeddah 'possessed'
01/01/2009 06:56 PM

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - What’s with the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah that the Filipinas staying at the shelter for distressed workers keep being supposedly “possessed" by evil spirits?

Members of the Filipino community in Jeddah are asking the question once again after four of the wards of the so-called Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) acted like they were under demonic spell two days before New Year’s Eve.

Welfare officer Nini Lanto said it was about 9 p.m. last Monday when the four women identified as Jocelyn Zeromines, Farhana Umba, Fatima Jimlan, and Usman Gloria started getting agitated and hysterical.

The shelter being maintained by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) serves as a temporary refuge for Filipino women, mostly domestic helpers, who escape from their employers either because of they are abused or are not being paid their salaries.

“Nagulat talaga ako sa nakita ko ibang-iba ang kanilang mga itsura at nakita ko ang takot sa lahat ng mga nandoroon (I was shocked when I saw how they looked like; I saw fear in the faces of everyone who witnessed it)," Lanto told GMANews.TV.

In a separate interview, Zeromines said trouble started on Monday morning when one of their companions got angry upon finding her SIM card missing.“Sa bigla pong pagkawala ng kanyang SIM card ay may isa po kaming kasama ang nagsabi na may nakita syang babae na nanalamin bandang alas-tres ng madaling araw ng sya ay pumunta sa palikuran," (When she started looking for her SIM card, one of the wards claimed to have seen a woman looking at herself in the mirror at about 3 a.m. as she was about to go to the bathroom)," Zeromines said.

She said the description that the person by the mirror looked like one of their companions who was actually fast asleep caused an argument among the wards.

Jennebel Cuaresma, another ward, said that she got angry at the ruckus brought about by the argument, prompting her to say something that she never thought would happen.“Narinig ko kasi ‘yung isa na nagsabi na bakit daw nagpapaniwala do’n kaya sinabihan ko talaga sila na kung hindi kayo maniwala sige tingnan nyo mamaya may sasaniban para mapatunayan kaya nagulat talaga ako na nangyari nga (I heard one of them complaining why the others couldn’t believe her story so I told them that if they don’t want to believe it, someone might get possessed, and I was surprised that it really happened)," Cuaresma said.

Zeromines said that when Umba looked like she was being “possessed," she got goose bumps, so she returned to her room. However, she said she suddenly felt her brain being squished while her stomach and chest began to hurt.After that, she said that all she remembers was asking help from her companions to help pray for her.

Lanto said that when she saw the women being possessed one by one, she immediately asked help from some “Born Again" Christians to help pray over them.“Malakas daw ang nakatira doon sabi ng mga nag pray over (According to those who prayed over them, the spirits residing there were pretty strong)," he said.

Moreover, most of those affected apparently lost consciousness during the time they were “possessed."“Ang pagkakatanda ko nang nanunumbalik na ang malay ko ay don na ako nagsusuka. Hindi po talaga ako naniniwala sa mga sapi sapi nay an pero sa nangyari sa akin ngayon ang masasabi ko lang ay tutuo pala talaga iyon (I remember that when I regained consciousness, I threw up. I really do not believe in being possessed but when it happened to me, I can now honestly say that that kind of stuff really does happen)," said Zeromines.

Not the first timeSimilar incidents were reported by a Jeddah-based news daily in 2007.In its report titled “OFWs at Consulate in Jeddah ‘Possessed’ for 4th Straight Night" on Nov. 25, 2007, Arab News said:“Believe it or not, the welfare office of the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah is facing a strange problem that doctors said they are not capable of treating: Distressed women workers ‘possessed by the devil.’

“Last night, Arab News and reporters of two Philippine TV networks were asked to come to the shelter for distressed women workers at the consulate and witness the phenomenon.“Five women, all runaways, were sporadically doing weird and scary things, such as crying or screaming in voices not theirs. One would plead for mercy, another would answer in a strange voice, and still another kept laughing like the crazy woman often portrayed in ghost movies.“The apparently possessed women would start running helter-skelter and would need to be restrained by welfare officers and other wards who were not affected.“Witnesses said one of the women at one point ran outside and climbed a balete tree behind the shelter while calling on someone unseen, ‘sasama ako, huwag mo akong iwan (I’m coming with you, don’t leave me).

"The report quoted Labor Attaché Adam Musa saying those “possessed" for each night were different victims, both Christians and Muslims.He said the victims during the first night were brought to a hospital but the doctors could not find anything wrong with them and Saudi government doctors who came to the shelter to investigate recommended that an exorcist may be needed.Musa himself was reported describing the weird happenings as a “paranormal" occurrence.

A report by Arab News the next day said welfare officers tapped Born Again Christians to pray over the wards and the balete tree at the back of the shelter, but the weird happenings continued in the next few nights and later stopped.

As in the Philippines, balete (scientific name: Ficus indica) or banyan is believed by Saudis to be the home of “evil and vengeful spirits."Now normalOn New Year’s Eve, welfare officer Lanto said that everything has finally gone back to normal at the shelter.

She said that they have also reminded those staying at the shelter to not be intimidated by whatever unseen beings they may see. She reminded them that it was important to have strong faith in God.There are currently 70 runaways, mostly domestic helpers in the shelter, Lanto said. - GMANews.TV

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