The witch is bad of the earth.
When I was twelve years old, I used to go to Libas, about nine kilometers from the town, to visit my favorite uncle, Tio Sabelo, the head teacher of the barrio school there. I like going to Libas because of the many things to eat at my uncle’s house: cane sugar syrup, candied meat of young coconut, corn and rice cakes, ripe jackfruit, guavas from trees growing wild on a hill not far from Tio Sabelo’s
house. It was through these visits that I heard many strange stories about Minggay Awok. Awok is the word for witch in southern Leyte. Minggay was known as a witch even beyond Libas, in five outlying sitios, and considering that not uncommonly a man’s nearest neighbor was two or three hills away, her notoriety was wide. Minggay lived in a small, low hut as the back of the creek separating the barrios of Libas and Sinit-an. It squatted like a soaked hen on a steep incline and below it, six or seven meters away, two trails forked, one going to Libas and the other to Mahangin, a mountain sitio. The hut leaned dangerously to the side where the creek water ate away large chunks of earth during the rainy season. It had two small openings, a small door through which Minggay probably had to stoop to pass, and a window about two feet square facing the creek. The window was screened by a frayed jute sacking which fluttered eerily even in the daytime.
What she had in the hut nobody seemed to know definitely. One daring fellow who boasted of having gone inside it when Minggay was out in her clearing on a hill nearby said he had seen dirty stoppered bottles hanging from the bamboo slats of the cogon thatch. Some of the bottles contained scorpions, centipedes, beetles, bumble bees, and other insects; others were filled with ash-colored powder and dark liquids. These bottles contained the paraphernalia of her witchcraft. Two or three small bottles she always had with her hanging on her waistband with a bunch of iron keys, whether she went to her clearing or to the creek to catch shrimps or gather fresh-water shells, or even when she slept.