CALAPAN CITY, Philippines—Classes in a public high school here have been disrupted since August 8 after about 25 students were “possessed” by evil spirits, a school official said Wednesday.
The allegedly haunted students of Pedro Panaligan Memorial National High School experienced "seizures", shortness of breath and were shouting in pain, which generated hysteria in the campus, said school principal Henry Tungol.
Located in the village of Communal, about 50 meters away from the highway, the school has a population of 692 students and has graduates who became scholars and honor students in college, according to school officials.
In past years, there were one or two cases of "seizure" reported but in the last week of July, as many as 25 students were reported having "seizures," Tungol said.
From August 8 until August 19, classes were disrupted because of the disturbances, and other students were joining in the hysteria, he added.
School officials even invited local healers, who "offered" two black pigs to drive away the bad spirits, to no avail.
Affected students have pointed to evil spirits angered by the cutting of a 30- to 40-year-old tree at the backyard of the campus building.
"But that was three or four years ago," said Tungol, now on his sixth year as school head.
A Mass was also conducted in the campus by Fr. Ed Fabella, president of the Divine Word College of Calapan, upon request of some students.
"Periodical exams were postponed on August 14 to 15 and students don't obey our advice to stay home until things return to normal," said Tungol.
One girl told her guardian that it was boring in the house and she was observed pensive with a blank stare and had seizure attacks in the house, he said.
"I even saw a student with patches of pieces of ... intermediate paper on the head and drops of candle wax on the feet after treatment by the faith healer," said the principal.
Tungol said the cases seemed all the more puzzling for the school community as the priest and local faith healers did not seem able to deal with the "spirits."
Due to the worsening cases of "seizure" the school administration is appealing for help from experts.
Asked if they had plans to seek help from the Department of Health or other medical practitioners regarding the case of the children, Tungol said they have yet to do so.
"We're open to whatever will be effective and will heal the students. We want our classes to return to normal as soon as possible," said Tungol.
He asked the cooperation of parents and guardians to be part of the solution and talk with their children.
He also cautioned the public against sensationalizing the issue.