WHEN I was a small boy (born on October 12, 1948 at Lourdes Hospital, P. Sanchez St., near Bacood and Santa Mesa, Manila, with a live weight of 12 ¾ lbs.), I heard of the White Lady in a particular context.
The eastern side of the block bounded by Aurora Blvd., Balete Drive near N. Domingo and Pacific/Doña Magdalena Hemady, was occupied by Pepsi Cola.
The western side was vacant. The latter is where Robinson’s Magnolia Mall and Condominiums are located.
Facing Aurora Blvd., the Pepsi Cola soft drinks plant had a wide grass lawn in front of a big picture window revealing the bottling process to the public.
During the Holiday Season there was a Christmas display. During summer months, they showed movies to the public.
The audience attracted vendors. After the shows, the revelers and tourists would go up and down searching for the White Lady,
I was too young to go out into the street but from our open, veranda style, dining room, we could hear the tumult.
We had a big Balete Tree beside our house in front of our main gate. In our garden, we had big and small, Balete, Rubber and Mango (including a big and old ‘Pahutan’, where the ‘Kapre’ with a big cigar resides) trees.
My mother believed in the White Lady. Therefore, I also believed.
She knew an Army Colonel and doctor who had given the lady a ride in his jeep and then she disappeared.
She had also talked to a young man who had given a lady a ride to our rear gate. She went through our steel gate without bothering to open it.
Our neighbors (# 26 Ilang Ilang St., Rosario Heights, New Manila, Q. C.) and my parents’ best friends Eng. Candelario Verzosa and Dra. Purificacion ‘Puring’ Lahoz Verzosa, had a role in putting the White Lady to rest.
Dra. Verzosa talked to and convinced nuns to talk to the White Lady’s parents. Leny was in possession of class funds when she died.
The nuns explained the situation to the parents. Presumably, they understood, returned the funds and the White Lady was able to move on and rest in peace.
Movie and television productions as well as advertising companies have been shooting scenes at our home for more than fifty years up to 2015.
Quite a number of them were ghost and horror movies and shows. Radio and TV News and Public Affairs shows have also used our house as a background for Chinese August month and ‘Undas’ shows and programs.
Among them, GMA TV’s ‘I Juander!’ did some research, including interviewing me. They were able to complete the names of the White Lady’s family.
They interviewed relatives of the Garchitorena y Rectos. While Senator Raffy Recto denied his relation to the White Lady, Louie Ysmael y Recto admitted.
Former Batangas Vice-Governor Ricky Recto also admitted to me that he was related to Leny. However, he did not specify that they were as close as first cousins.
Many people believed that our ‘haunted looking’ house and garden was the residence of the White Lady.
I always tried to explain that the White Lady only came to our home for radio and TV interviews and press conferences.
I was proud and happy to be able to host our neighbor, Leny, the White Lady.
I have always been interested in our neighborhood, our community, our barangay, therefore, anything about Leny.
Thus, I was extremely thrilled to read my old friend, Buddy Gomez’s article about his kababayan who knew and was together with Leny during their tragic ride home:
“All of a sudden, I remembered and realized that ‘the lady in white of Balete Drive’ had a hometown connection. My hometown. Calbayog, believe you me …
“One evening 72 years ago, there was a vehicular accident which resulted in the death of a comely teen age schoolgirl.
‘She was rushed to a hospital where she died the following day,’ I was told. The sad mishap was in the vicinity of a Quezon City street that was lined with these mature Balete trees.
“A week after,” this friend recalls, “there were newspaper reports of sightings of a young lady dressed in white who hails a cab or private cars on Balete Drive, take the back seat and would mysteriously disappear.”
“Many people believed this, including a Captain Babao of the QCPD, who was suspended for cowardice for refusing to patrol Balete Drive,” my friend reminisces.
“The ghost is a teenage girl who was run over and killed by a taxi driver at night, then buried around a Balete tree in Balete Drive or a lady residing in one of the old mansions along Balete Drive was killed by her own family and now, she flags every car to seek for help”.
Some say she was a real person killed in a hit-and-run case along Balete Drive, a student from the University of Philippines who was molested and murdered by a cab driver on her way home and her body thrown by the Balete tree.”
“A famous white lady called “Babae sa Balete Drive;” ….. “appears and haunts motorists starting at midnight…sometimes appears in the rearview mirror or sitting at the backseat of one’s car.”
“Who, indeed, was this mysterious lady? (To be continued)