Malaybalay City, Bukidnon – Travelers along the Sayre Highway going from Malaybalay to Valencia and vice versa have long been curious about this mysterious house at Barangay Cabangahan near Bancud, with its man and animal sculptures and baroque architecture.
According to Levi Ann Pacana Babas, contrary to popular belief, the house was actually built in the late 1950s and was originally called “Casa Alegre”, though it has long been known to residents as “Torre ni David”.
Lynlyn Alegada of Valencia City confirms that her grandfather Mateo Caluna was the master carpenter who supervised the construction of the sprawling, three-story residence built by David Valmorida as a simple residence and still shelters the descendants of the Valmorida and Pacana families.
Local folklore says David Valmorida built it a room at a time, adding a new segment every time a new child was born, thus the seemingly disjointed series of seven buildings which make it look so mysterious to the passing motorist and commuter along the nearby Sayre national highway.
Adding to its quaint look are the wooden carvings of eight men with the same faces and clothing seemingly carrying the four corners of the second and third floors of the house on their shoulders.
The house and its fixtures are slowly being restored by the family and a quick glimpse into its interior reveals that it looks almost exactly the way it did during the 60s and the 70s, from the old photographs hung on its walls to the long flights of narrow wooden stairs which link it to a not too distant past where many things unexplained seem to linger.
David’s daughter, Erlinda Valmorida-Pacana said in an earlier interview how even family members have unexplained experiences which they don’t bother too much about.
Their neighborhood is replete with tales of dwarves and mysterious ladies having a party outside their house although she hadn’t personally seen them.
Her son Douglas and granddaughter Patricia also personally has unexplained experiences
“We hear a lady crying every full moon,” said caretaker Teresita Nabaha. “But we only hear her and have never seen her. My younger sister, who cared for David’s wife, told me she hears footfalls of someone walking up and down the house at night.”
Nabaha claimed the mysterious footfalls could be heard walking among the house’s seven large rooms and originate from the third floor. She added that kapres also live among the large trees, which surround the house’s spacious yard.
Boy Valmorida, who like his father David is reported to have a third eye which enables him to see things not visible to ordinary persons, also claims to have seen and heard mysterious things.
Besides the playful duwendes or dwarves and elves who make the house their playground during the night, Valmorida claims to have seen a “floating lady” on occasion.
“Ako usahay makakita ko’g floating lady diha sa likod pero dili lang nako panumbalingon,” he said in the vernacular. “Mulutaw lang na siya’g mulakaw, mulutaw. Babaye ug taas giyu’g sinina. Tagsa ra man giyud siya motunga ug sa gabi-I ra.” (I sometimes see a floating lady at the back but I don’t pay any attention to her. She walks as if she’s floating and has a very long dress. But she appears very seldom and only during the night.)
Gardenia (not her real name) relates how her previous manager was driving along Sayre highway around 3AM in the vicinity of Cabangahan going to a Cagayan de Oro for a morning meeting when a woman dressed in white with hair down around her face suddenly appeared in the middle of the road.
He hit the brakes hard expecting an impact but there was nothing, and when he looked at his rear view there was nothing there too. He heaved a sigh of relief and resumed driving, when to his horror, he saw the woman was now riding in his back seat!
He closed his eyes and recited “The Lord’s Prayer” aloud with his heart seeming to jump out his chest. After praying, he sneaked a peek and was relieved to see there was no one there. He jumped on the gas and made Malaybalay in record time where he related his tale to an amazed restaurant crew, warning them to be respectful when passing through the area by saying “Tabi Apo” and always honking your horn when passing by that area.
A production team from a show of a national television network which featured mysteries and the unexplained visited the house in 2004 and slept overnight with video and audio recorders running, in an attempt to document the mysterious sounds and images.
Although they failed to get any video, they did manage to record a myriad of mysterious noises which sent the crew packing back to Manila the very next day. A tourism staff who accompanied them later related how apparently an unseen being accompanied them back Cagayan de Oro after their taping and played with the light switch in their hotel room all night!
David Valmorida’s descendants still keep family heirlooms from times past, such as the huge enigmatic heads (higantes) which were often featured during parades and festivals in the sixties and the seventies. Now they are kept in a bodega where they have lain silent for long years now, with their secrets sealed perhaps forever.
(Photos of Torre ni David courtesy of Fel Vin Matabalan Photography/ Viajero Series FB page posted 25 December 2020, Hans Brandeis and Bobby Timonera).