When a large group of students starts acting strangely, some collapsing and others convulsing, most school administrators would call a doctor or at least check to see if the students hadn’t studied for a surprise quiz. At a school in the Philippines last week, they took the children to an exorcist.
Officials at Toong Integrated School in a village near Cebu City say 35 students from various grades began collapsing and convulsing in their classrooms at around 3pm. Two sisters claimed to be possessed by spirits which their mother believed was linked to two mango trees being cut down to build the school.
That was enough to convince teachers to call the nearby Mary Help of Christians Parish which sent Reverend Nicolas Ramos, a deacon trained in exorcisms. He sprinkled the children with holy salts and holy water and some of them reacted violently. Those 14 students were then taken to the Mary's Little Children Community in Talisay City where Msgr. Frederick Kriekenbeek, the official exorcist of the Archdiocese of Cebu, performed exorcisms on them.
Was a mass exorcism really necessary? Dave Tumulak, chairperson of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, says it was probably mass hysteria.
In my personal assessment after going to the site, this is mass hysteria. One student claimed to have seen a little child, panicked and fainted. Those who helped said they saw the same and likewise fainted … until it became mass hysteria.
Tumulak went to the school later to talk to teachers and officials about mass hysteria and how to deal with the situation. Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said that the incident will be investigated but would not admit to mass hysteria.
Let us just wait and see if the possessions continue to hound the students.
The next time these teachers notice their students acting strange, who do you think they’re going to call?