Picture of a Mother and her child of the Past taken in the Present

Someone seems to be at the end of the walkway [Randy Topacio]

by Randy Topacio | SouthofMetro.com |

My first story about an experience I had in Intramuros titled “A picture of the Past taken in the Present” which I posted on FB accidentally went VIRAL. Little did I suspect that this single photo would capture the eyes of Netizens worldwide. I guess photography is more fun in the Philippines. But seriously, I never expected this to happen. At any rate, this caught the attention of the producers of AHA! (a program in GMA 7 that airs every Sunday at 8am.) AHA! Is an edutainment program which deals with various topics of interests.

An AHA! Staff got in touch with me and wanted to feature my story and the photo I took in Intramuros. As a Christian, my wife was bothered by this. However, AHA! Segment producer explained that segment will be relating my 16th Century photo was going to be part of the segment in presenting the History of Intramuros.

Anyway, the EP/Segment producer invited me for an interview. I agreed on the condition that we focus on History and not on the ghosts. They agreed. So the date was set and on that day, they had a van pick me up to take me to Intramuros for the interview. When we got there, we waited for the crew to meet up with us. It took them a few minutes to arrive. In the meantime, while waiting, my wife and I decided to grab a bite in a nearby coffee shop where I took the shot. While she waited for our order, I went out to check out the place I took the photo again. It was about 5:30 pm and there were a lot of students walking out from the schools nearby. The street was pretty busy on a weekday compared to a weekend.

When I got to the ramp and went back atop the wall, it did not look like the ambiance I saw from where I took the VIRAL photo. It did not have that feel that I had before. I explored the other side of the wall and saw a lot of canons and a big courtyard. I was not able to see this in my previous visit since it was really dark. This could be the place where the Spanish soldiers stored their ammunition. The cannon balls must have been stock piled somewhere close to the canons in this area.

As darkness covered the sky, I went down to check on the crew who were setting up across the street. As soon as I approached them, they immediately hooked me up with a wireless lapel mike and told me that we will start right away. They explained that they were just given a few hours by the administration to shoot in the area. I had no time to text my wife. But she was able to follow soon after.

We went to the other side of the street which was beside the wall. They asked me to recount my experience at the time I took the photo. And so I did. (Read my post on southofmetro/HIStorya – “A Picture of the Past taken in the Present” (http://www.southofmetro.com/a-picture-of-the-past-taken-in-the-present) Ready! Rolling!… then I narrated my experience.

After sharing my experience on what had happened, they ask me to take them to the places where I saw the Spanish Soldier, Nuns and Katipuneros in the photo. I told them that this is the first time I will be walking to that area of Intramuros. The truth is, I have not seen this part of Intramuros at all. As I was showing them the photo and base on the positions of the characters, I was calculating their positions based on the street light posts. We walked closer to where the Spanish Soldier is seen. He was about a few meters away from the 2nd post on the right.

Upon my approach to the site, I noticed that there was a ramp that lead down to what seems to be prison cells. I asked the people in the food stall and they said, “mga kulungan dati ito.” (Translated in English: “These were prison cells before.”) I was right. These were indeed prison cells. The rooms measured around 1.5meters (Depth) X 3 meters wide. What used to be prison cells are now kiosks or food stalls for rent. Not all of the cells were occupied. There was one cell that was empty. I positioned my smartphone through small opening which had bars of the wooden door. As I was about to take a shot, this small ball of light suddenly dashed out from that small opening on the door. Whoa! What was that? I was not able to catch it on cam. But this is how the cell looked inside. I could not see the inside as it was already dark so I had the flash of my smartphone cam on. CLICK! (the sound of the shutter speed on my phone)


This was how it looked from my shot. I could not capture the whole room since it was really small. It was once used probably as a food stall with its shelf still intact and an AC outlet on the wall.

So I turned around and walked towards were we started. It was eerie sight. It had the look of the old days. Similar feeling I had when I took the VIRAL photo from above the wall.

As we (the cameraman, researchers and the writers of AHA!) walked back, I started taking a few shots myself of the scene. One thing is for sure, the crew made sure that no one was in front of us to obstruct the view from their camera.

CLICK…. Ooops… I had the flash on from my previous shot, so I turned it off.


Then I took another photo of the place. CLICK… But somehow it was out-of-focus.  This was just a few seconds apart.


I tapped on the screen to adjust the focus and took another shot.

CLICK… then my phone went dead. This happened immediately after I heard the camera shutter speed sound effect on my phone go… CLICK.

At this time, I was having goosebumps. I told the production crew what was happening to my phone and even showed it to them. Someone from the team with us said, “this usually happens when there is a presence in the area.”

I suddenly remembered that they were recording my voice and every move. My walk-through this part of Intramuros was documented. I guess they were recording all the time while we were walking. I asked them to check the video and tell me if they find anything interesting. After this incident, I felt uncomfortable with place and we decided to head back to where we started. The place felt really sad and burdensome.

While on the way back, I was still trying to get my phone to work but to no avail. It was totally DEAD (the battery). Prior to the shot, I know I had more than 60% battery power at that time because I made sure I had enough power before taking pictures. I even had to adjust to a higher resolution of the camera.

As we were about to leave the place, and had gone back to the van, I asked the driver if I could charge my phone on his charger. “Opo Sir!” he exclaimed. Probably excited to see what I had captured on cam. He readily handed me the charger cable.

When I plugged the charger cable to my phone, suddenly my battery level jumped back to life! It showed a 43% Batt level. The truth is, I did not have to charge it after all.

So I proceeded to inspect the photos I took of the place. I only had four (4) pictures of the place. From the first shot to the last shot before the battery went dead batt.

Upon reviewing the last photo… I did not notice anything strange at first.

However, comparing this shot with the other clear photo taken, I saw that there was something different to it.

No it’s not the cars on the right.


I noticed something on the far end of the walkway. There was something up ahead in front of us. This time I know I can zoom in without much pixilation and distortion.

I made sure that my settings on the smartphone where high (12M resolution size).

As I enlarged the area of the photo. I am beginning to feel the goosebumps again.


At this scale, I see a silhouette of a lady in an awkward stance. I do not know about the other figure on the right. Could it be one of them? That I am not sure of.

Anyway, I focused my eyes on the lady. As I enlarged the picture a little bit more, it was still clear.


At this scale, I see a Filipina in her “saya” outfit carrying something on her shoulder. This could not be any other pedestrian since most of the students walking here stay on the right side of the road where the schools are located. And the crew made sure that no one was in front of us.

A close up of the photo had revealed a Filipina in her “saya” dress, carrying a baby.

Upon examining the position of the mother with her child, several questions had popped up into my mind.

So I asked myself these questions:

QUESTION 1: How can she carry the baby with her arms down?

QUESTION 2: Why is her stance awkward looking? Is she moving away from us or moving towards us?

QUESTION 3: Where is she going? Has she gone to visit her husband in jail?

QUESTION 4: Is there a relationship between my first photo of “A Picture of the Past, taken in the Present” to this photo?

QUESTION 5: What ERA is she from? Spanish, Japanese or American?

Can you help me answer these questions? Write your comments for Q1, Q2 to Q5.

Maybe you have an answer you wish to share… Like what I have mentioned in my previous post, “A Picture of the Past, taken in the Present” and the “Follow Up Story: A Picture of the Past…“, the Spanish Soldier together with the Nuns must have emerged from the ramp after the Nuns visited the prisoners who were inside their cell. The Nuns must have prayed for the prisoners or have even shared the Gospel of the Lord to them.

As early as the 16th Century, the Priests and Nuns mission was to convert the locals to Catholics, Christians perhaps. Obeying God’s Word by spreading the Gospel. This was probably why the walled city had as much as 28 Churches. Today, only 7 Churches remain. La Cathedral de Manila, Iglesia de San Francisco, Inglesia de Santo Domingo,  Iglesia de San Agustin, Iglesia de San Nicolas de Tolentino, Templo de La Nuestra Senora de Lourdes, Iglesia de San Ignacio. They were missionaries in their own time.

Is this for real or not? You decide.

The WORD tells us in:

Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV


6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

God is listening to his children. We just need to call on Him. And like a father to a child, and HE promised in Deut 31:6, HE will never leave you (us) nor forsake you (us). Believe and trust in the Lord always.

Let us pray for these people who have suffered during the wars, catastrophes and other natural disasters of their time. Innocent victims… casualties of war… just a few of the thousands or even millions who have lost their lives in tragic events.

So the next time this happens, PRAY. Pray for them for they need our prayers.