SOME students of a public school in a mountain barangay in Cebu City were reportedly possessed by evil spirits.
The possession was reportedly prompted when some students of the Toong Integrated School were on an overnight activity in the school grounds last weekend.
It wasn’t until last Thursday that the alleged possession took place.
Church officials, however, said that further investigation should be done to determine if it was a genuine case of demonic possession.
Residents of the barangay claimed that around 3 p.m. last Thursday, 35 students from various grade levels suddenly collapsed and started convulsing while attending their classes.
Mary (not her real name) said that before she was possessed, a spirit who identified himself as "Jake" spoke to her.
Mary's sister, a fourth grader, was also possessed by a spirit named "Maria."
Their mother believed that the possession may have occurred after the school reportedly cut down two mango trees to make way for the construction of a two-storey building.
She added that this was not the first time that a possession occurred in the school.
The teachers immediately sought the help of barangay officials as the children started screaming and convulsing.
Toong officials then sought the help of the priests of the Mary Help of Christians Parish in Barangay Buhisan.
Reverend Nicolas Ramos, a deacon assigned in the parish, responded.
Ramos, who knows how to conduct the Roman Catholic rite of exorcism, ordered the barangay officials to bring some of the students to the Church where they would be prayed over.
In an interview yesterday, Ramos said that some of the students responded violently when he sprayed them with holy salt and water.
These students were brought to the Mary's Little Children Community in Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City.
A well-known exorcist, Msgr. Frederick Kriekenbeek, conducted the rite of deliverance on the children who were brought to his community in Tabunok.
Some students responded to prayer and were brought to their homes to rest, Ramos also said.
But while they thought that the possession was over, four more students started screaming and convulsing yesterday, just before a mass was to be celebrated on the school grounds.
When Sun.Star Cebu tried to get the side of the school, the teachers refused to be interviewed.
But some of the students who were reportedly possessed said that a group of spirits tried to take over their bodies.
Following the incident last Thursday, officials of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC) went to the area.
Councilor Dave Tumulak, also the CCDRRMC presiding officer, conducted a debriefing on the teachers and parents and also taught them what to do when mass hysteria occurs.
In a separate interview, Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said that the incident will be investigated.
Tan said that the Church is considering the possibility that the incident may just have been a case of mass hysteria.
"Let us just wait and see if the possessions continue to hound the students," Tan said.
He also praised the priests in Buhisan for referring the matter to Kriekenbeek.
Tan urged the parents to pray for their children.
"Prayer is the best remedy against the assaults of the enemy," Tan added.