by Alex G. Paman
Ghost stories are commonplace in traditional Filipino culture, with virtually every family having their own personal accounts of encounters with the supernatural. Passed on from generation to generation, these tales act as a bridge to the past, to a time lost or nearly forgotten.
Full of ghostly encounters with all manner of things eerie and terrifying in the Philippines, Filipino Ghost Stories is a collection of creepy tales that have been told in the author's family for generations. The book delivers terrific entertainment—and some good chills—for those interested in the Philippines and aficionados of the supernatural alike.
Expectations: Some proper creepy ghost stories that only deep-rooted superstition and religious devotion can foster. When you listen or read ghost stories that purport to be true, I think most people nowadays have a healthy dose of skepticism, and try to pick apart the story and find out if there are other explanations. A really good ghost story in my opinion appears to have all possible logical explanations explored and rejected. I don't really believe in ghosts but I am open to the possibility of something out there.
This slim volume has very short stories divided up into three categories - Provincial Scares, Blackout Tales from the City, and Hauntings on American Soil. The Provincial Scares were all rather similar, and the Tales from the City section was probably the most interesting and varied but with how short the stories were, there was very little building of suspense or character backstory and the stories were mostly perfunctory and a little disappointing in the lack of convincing details that any of it could be true. Many of the stories I would put down to various logical reasons or hysterical imaginings of already nervous individuals. The author does say in the preface that (some of?) these stories were told to him by family members and they might have been told as a "warning, [or] teaching tool" so maybe many were just plain made up. Having read a few Filipino folk tales about witches and vampires, I found these ghost stories a little tame. Perhaps a little more embellishment would have made the stories more exciting. I did appreciate the pictures of Filipino sites, and the appendix of Tagalog supernatural terms in the back. The book is more of an interesting, if cursory, look at Filipino folklore than a book of "spine-tingling" tales.