In the U.S., the use of the terms “shopping mall” and “ghost” in a sentence usually refers to the fact that most of them today are vacant, with only the ghosts of once thronging masses of shoppers now inhabiting them. That’s not the case in the Philippines, where the malls are bustling, despite the fact that a number of them seem to be haunted by the ghost of a baby or toddler who leaves eerie single footprints in them … footprints that often mysteriously reappear after the floor is cleaned.
“And it’s just one footprint with no pair. The prints are sometimes muddy, greasy, and even bloody. The left footprint appears in the shopping mall and at a different store each night.”
That’s a recent tweet by @kyuriiie, who says these mysterious solo prints have been showing up for years in the Galeria Victoria Mall, Ocampo’s Ali Mall, Central Plaza Mall and Vista Mall in Balanga, the capital city of the province of Bataan. @kyuriiie says there’s sometimes an adult footprint next to the child’s and warns that wiping up a left footprint will often cause a right one to appear. Non-believers can see photographs of recent ghost prints on the Facebook page of Leslie Dacion (or here).
“There was one story where a customer exclaimed ‘What are you doing?’ at an empty chair. According to him, a child was sitting beside his legs and his knees were bent in an awkward position. Creepy.”
@ryanx2fer told @kyuriiie of his sister’s account. For those who think it’s obviously a toddler with dirty feet, @kyuriiie says Philippine malls are like American ones – children don’t go shopping with dirty feet and if they tried to get in, security guards would stop them. While finding one of these footprints is creepy (occasionally, it has six toes), Pop Inquirer reports that some store owners think it’s a sign of good luck. Sounds like an opportunity to sell some windows signs reading “Footprint Ghost Shops Here!”
What kind of ghost might be leaving these footprints? The Philippines, like most countries in Southeast Asia, has a long tradition of myths and folklore involving ghosts. The one most resembling the “Mall Footprint Ghost” is the tiyanak (also patianak or muntianak), a ghost child of a woman who died at birth. It’s usually found in remote fields (which could explain the dirty footprint) and appears as a helpless, crying child to lure a person into picking it up, whereupon it turns into a demon or a vampire – scratching the victim drinking their blood and possibly killing them. In Malaysia, it’s the ghost of the mother. Perhaps they’ve begun pairing up due to mall closures restricting the number of places to haunt?
It’s always a good idea to avoid screaming crying children in any mall. Seems like it’s worse in Balanga. Sounds like a good opportunity for Amazon to expand. Then again, what happens if your package arrives with a single toddler’s dirty footprint on it?