A Paranormal Experience
he girl looked 13 or 14, skinny as a rail,
and she said, 'You have to get permission from the
Holy Mother to take pictures; otherwise they won't
I've been to the Philippines several times and know that some pretty
spooky things can happen there, especially on some of the islands, of which
I'm told there are about 7,000.
On my last trip there I had an experience that I
definitely can't explain.
First, you should know that I'm fairly knowledgeable about
photography. I started very early working for daily newspapers back when
Speed Graphic cameras used 4X5 sheet film. (I took a large percentage of the photos on this site.)
Suffice to say, I know my equipment and I stopped making
muddle-minded goofs a long time ago. If a photo situation is questionable, I can
and I either compensate or pass it up.
one trip to an island in the Philippines I visited a well-known "Holy Mother," a
reputed spiritual person -- in this case a middle-aged woman. We'll call her
Mother R was well known for giving advice and she
supposedly had the power to heal assorted physical maladies.
(The ratio of trained doctors to the general population there is
more than 5,000 to one.)
When I got to her spiritual compound I noticed there
was an impossibly long line to see her. The day was bright
and sunny -- very hot with the high humidity typical of the Philippines.)
around a heavy Nikon camera with assorted lenses can get
tiring, so when I had to make long trips under such conditions
and didn't need special equipment,
I switched to a small, sophisticated automatic camera -- auto
exposure, auto focus, shock resistant and completely idiot
I wasn't about to stand in the hot sun for
hours to see this woman, so I just walked around taking
some pictures to document the location.
I had started a 36-exposure roll of film that day at another location.
On arriving at her compound I took a series of pictures -- probably
15 or so -- on the same roll, checking my camera as I went along. (A habit you develop
when your livelihood depends on results.)
At one point a young Filipina girl came up to me.
She looked 13 or 14, skinny as a rail, and said, "You are
supposed to get permission from the Holy Mother before you take
pictures, otherwise they won't come out."
I dismissed that; after all, conditions were perfect
and I had taken thousands of photos in my life which had "come
out" just fine. Plus, what did a simple little girl know about
By then it
was mid-day and there was still a two or three-hour line to see
Mother R. The young girl asked if I wanted her to stand
in line for me. That seemed like a good idea (being a native.
she seemed far better equipped for that than I was).
But I was concerned that Mother R wouldn't understand my English
and I didn't speak the local language.
The little girl said it didn't matter because the Holy Mother repeated what she heard in
her head -- which amounted to whatever language the person in front of her
About then I spotted a shade tree
with some soft drinks for sale. The little girl said she would stand in line
by and finally the young girl was near the front of the line.
She sent someone take me to the space she had been
When I sat down in front of Mother R, I asked a question. She seemed to have absolutely no idea what I was asking.
It appeared that this whole effort was coming to nothing.
Finally, Mother R awkwardly said some words in English, directly
addressing a major personal issue that was on my mind (that I
had shared with no one).
She gave me some advice that seemed totally irrelevant and
wrong. Disappointed that I had wasted most of the day, I left.
film was developed, I found that all of the photos before and
after the ones I shot in Mother R's compound were sharp, clear
and perfectly exposed, just like the hundreds, the other pictures I
had taken with that camera.
But the space for the dozen or so photos I shot at
the compound was almost completely black. All I could make out
were very dim and very blurry shadows. Bear in mind that
the sun was extremely bright that day, I shot everything outside,
and photos taken with a pin-hole camera would have come out.
When I got
back to the states I showed the negatives to a camera expert where
I had bought the camera. After he carefully examined them, he concluded that the camera was defective
and replaced it. (It was still under warranty,)
up trying to relate this story to people. They invariably come
up with all manner of explanations that I considered from day
one, checked on, and ruled out.
It was a year or two later that I was
forced to conclude that I definitely should have followed
advice -- but that's another story.
I often think of what that simple little
Filipina girl said, "You have to get permission from the Holy Mother to take pictures; otherwise they won't come out."
If you want a rational explanation for this, you won't find it here. I don't have one.
Although it may not be related, I'm told that photos taken
under ideal conditions within some crop circles can
come out blank.
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