[COLUMN] The curious case of Stephen C. Davis: Ghost story

(Continued from last week …)

Half a lifetime later and half a world away, I have forgotten much about the murdered American soldier. Buried in the mists of time, his story would have remained shelved, tucked away in my memory banks and promptly forgotten until I came across an account of that incident long ago on the internet.

Written by Virgilio Lacaba, I read a long, detailed article, perhaps a reprint, on “Strange Occurrences at the UP” and like a flood, everything came rushing back as though it happened yesterday.  Weeks after the session, I remember being interviewed for an article in a then popular weekly magazine, Mr. & Ms., by Neni Santa Romana Cruz, a well-known Filipino writer who also happened to be the elder sister of a good friend from St. Scholastica’s College, the kind and gentle Chona Santa Romana, who incidentally and sadly, I learned much later, was herself a tragic victim of murder and domestic foul play, sometime in the late eighties. I had left the country for America by then and lost touch.

I do remember that during the interview for the article I have had to be careful in how the story is presented because I was living, working and studying in an academic environment, which by default should place reason and scientific explanation on everything that happens in the world. Paranormal phenomenon is an entirely different ball of wax that supposedly rational beings do not normally subscribe to, something that would raise skeptical brows.

Yet I have found that life is not entirely rational, a lot of things don’t make sense and we have only begun to chip away at the great mysteries of life that lay before us. I am thus convinced that quite possibly, I am just one of the multitudes the world over who believe that there are things in the universe that are far beyond the scope of reason and known science to explain and things that are far beyond human intelligence to comprehend fully.

Quite plainly, there are things in this world that cannot be defined, completely understood and pegged in a nice, neat box. The curious case of this murdered American soldier reaching out from the grave is probably one of them.

As a postcript decades later, Lacaba updated the account by verifying the information about Stephen Davies with the American Battle Monuments Commission (http: //www.abmc.gov/search/detailwwnew.php). Something may have been lost in the spelling and translation during the sessions, for there were two entries for Stephen Davis (there was no e though in the Davis) — one was Stephen E. Davis, a US Air Force officer who was killed in Hawaii and whose remains were never recovered and a Stephen C. Davis.  The latter was listed as Seaman, First Class, U.S. Navy, with Service # 3759920 and that he had entered the service in California. The approximate date of death was December 15, 1945 in Manila, Philippines.

Davis earned a Purple Heart Award posthumously. Just like the other Davis in Hawaii, there were no remains recovered. The name of Stephen C. Davis is inscribed in one of the hemicycles on the west side in the American Cemetery near Forbes Park and what used to be Fort Bonifacio, a military camp sold to private real estate developers during the nineteen nineties and now known as The Fort in Global City.

There is absolutely no way to verify every minute detail of this cold murder case unless one is a tenacious private investigator with the mixed pedigree of a bloodhound and a bulldog. One thing that comes across clearly, at least to me, is that the ghost of Stephen C. Davis, whether real or conjured by hypnotic suggestion, didn’t seem to be obsessed with vengeance or justice although he did seem knowledgeable about his killer’s whereabouts. Underneath the bone-chilling poltergeist tactics his restless soul employed to reach out from beyond the grave, he was no more than a lonely soul whose young life was cut down so suddenly and so tragically one dark moonless night. Stuck in a nebulous, nether world between the living and the world beyond, nothing seemed to be as important to this murdered American soldier as being remembered. It didn’t matter even if the remembrance is by a motley crew of curious, total strangers.

With a sigh of relief over the realization that the spirit was neither malevolent nor malicious, Stephen C. Davis would probably have to deal with an incensed group of total strangers who would gladly take turns putting their hands around his poltergeist neck and choking him, if they could, for scaring them half to death while using the rest rooms.

The ghost simply wanted to call attention to his plight, to being stuck in limbo or trapped in a dimension that defies time and space. Scaring mortals was one heck of a way to do it.

If you remember the movie “Ghost” there was one such paranormal being who was practically forced into mentoring Patrick Swayze’s character in the ways of poltergeists. The movie character is a disembodied soul trapped in one dimension. He inhabited a New York subway because he was pushed on the path of a train and died. He was stuck and could not cross over to the other side because his time had not yet come. So he spends his time morosely bent on mischief scaring the living daylights out of subway commuters.

Because his approximate death anniversary is supposedly December 15, Stephen C. Davis is again reaching out from the grave one more time from another century, so that he may be remembered and included in prayers just once more until he reaches final closure and eternal rest. Do pray for him if you can.

If Stephen Davis’s story holds up, it is clear that to be forgotten as though one’s life didn’t matter is indeed tragic.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications,  Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.


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