Saturday, July 16, 2011

CAMP KOKOKAHI - PART 1

S.K.I. REPORT #20090828-02
CAMP KOKOKAHI - PART 1

AS EXPERIENCED BY: Wesley
LOCATION: Camp Kokokahi / Kāne‘ohe / O‘ahu / Hawai‘i
DATE: 1973


While I was a high school student back in the 1970’s, I was a part of the Concert Wind Assembly (CWA). Every year without fail, the CWA would visit one of the neighboring islands for a retreat, an end-of-the-year reward for us students. During my senior year, we must not have deserved it because instead of going to Maui or the Big Island, we spent three nights on the other side of the Ko‘olau Mountains, at Camp Kokokahi.

When the students complained, our band director, Mr. Elton Chong, reassured us that it was a great place. He said that Kokokahi was founded during a time when most people only associated with other members of their own ethnicity, and it was supposed to be a place of diversity where people would gather in harmony and share their culture and heritage and crap like that. It was only when Elton mentioned that Camp Kokokahi had the longest wooden pier in the state, neary three hundred yards long, did the place suddenly seem appealing. I envisioned us sneaking off to “explore” the pier after lights out and having some fun.

Camp Kokokahi Pier
Photo courtesy of the Crick Family.








And that’s exactly what happened our first night there. A handful of us, armed with smokes and bottles of wine, set out by the light of the moon to traverse the long wooden pier. Even though the moon seemed brighter on this side of the island, it was still pretty damn dark. And there were missing planks here and there, making the journey much more perilous than we had expected.

By the time we reached the end of the pier, we were all thirsty and ready to party. We settled down, opened a couple bottles of wine and lit up some homemade cigarettes to help us relax. I took a long drag on a cigarette my friend passed me and watched the moon’s reflection gently bouncing off the rolling waves of Kāne‘ohe Bay. The cool breeze, carrying the distinct scent of salty seawater, was refreshing and welcome.

“What now?” Manuel Bautista asked.

“Truth or dare!” Karen Harrison, a boisterous haole girl suggested.

“Nah,” I said, looking up at the twinkling stars above, “that’s old.”

“I know,” said my friend, Dason Takaki, who was sitting next to me. “Let’s tell ghost stories.”

I thought that was a great idea, and so did everyone else. I mean, here we were, a bunch of teenagers sitting in the dark, in the middle of Kāne‘ohe Bay, on a creepy wooden pier. There couldn’t be a better setting.

“So who first?” I asked.

Before anyone could volunteer, Karen said, “To make it interesting, the story has to be from your own ethnicity.”

I’d told ghost stories before, but none of them really had to do with my own Japanese ancestry. Very interesting.

Manuel took a swig from one of the wine bottles and burped loudly. “I’ll go first,” he said, standing up. The wooden pier beneath him creaked and everyone laughed.

“Careful,” I said. If that guy fell in, I knew I didn’t want to jump in after him.

“Anyone heard of the Aswang?” asked Manuel, rubbing his palms together.

We all looked at each other and shrugged.

“It’s the Filipino vampire,” Manuel explained. When someone snickered he quickly turned to face them. “It’s not funny,” he said. “The Aswang is the most terrifying creature in the Philippines.”

“Yeah? Why?” I asked, as someone handed me a nearly empty bottle of wine. I finished it off.

“Because,” Manuel said, “by day it looks like a normal person. But at night, it transforms into an evil creature with an insatiable appetite. They're known to perch in those giant, twisted banyan trees. From its mouth comes a long, tubular tongue that's shaped like a banyan root, so when its unsuspecting prey walks beneath it, the poor sucker has no idea .”

I shuddered and couldn't help picturing a large, bat-like creature with red, glowing eyes, blue sinewy skin, lurking in a tree, patiently awaiting its next meal.

“Picture this,” Manuel continued, encouraged by the uneasy looks of his classmates, “you’re walking home late one night, minding your own business. You pass beneath the same banyan tree you always pass. Then, without warning, you feel the Aswang’s long, pointy tongue, wrapping around your body. Tighter and tighter, like an anaconda squeezing the life out of you. When you open your mouth to scream, you’ve done exactly what the Aswang wanted. It plunges its tongue into down your throat, slithering its way through your body until it finds your bowels.”

"Aswang"
By Gabriel Del Aragon

“Gross, stop!” cried Karen, who obviously couldn’t handle her liquor or scary stories. She hid her face in her jacket.

“Keep going,” I urged.

“Once the Aswang finds your bowels, you’re screwed,” said Manuel, getting more and more worked up. “Because then it starts sucking through its tongue harder and harder until your insides are on the outside and you’re dead.”

Everyone was silent, trying hard not to picture such a horrific image. What a way to go.

“Is there any way you can tell if a person is actually an Aswang?” asked one girl.

Manuel shrugged. “My lolo told me the when they’re in human form, Aswang usually have blood-shot eyes. ‘Cause they stay up all night hunting for prey.”

I laughed. “So maybe half the stoners at our school aren’t really smoking out, they’re Filipino vampires.” I uncorked a new bottle of wine and handed it to Manuel. “Great story, man.”

Manuel took a bow and sat down with the newly opened bottle of wine.

“Who’s next?”

We all looked at David Kamaka. David looked uncomfortable. “Why me?” he asked.

“Because,” slurred Dason, “you Hawaiian. You must get good ghost stories.”

David hesitated. “Nah, not really.”

Manuel passed the bottle of wine to David. “Come on, you scared or what?”

David shook his head. "No."

"So what then?" I asked. I handed him a cigarette.

David stared at the bottle of wine in one hand and the cigarette in the other. "My tutu said that. . ."

"Her grandson is a wuss?" finished Dason, punching David in the arm.

David didn't even flinch. "No, she said that when you talk about bad things, you invite them into your life."

"So you are scared," teased Karen. "You're worried your little story will evoke bad spirits."

Everyone laughed. Then we started to chant, "David! David!"

David took one last drag on the cigarette and extinguished it on the wooden plank, staring off into the distance. He stood up slowly, and proceeded to drink the entire bottle of wine without taking a breath. David roughly tossed the bottle to Dason.

“Fine,” he said. “I got a story.”

"Yeah!" Everyone cheered.

"This is a true story. It happened way before I was born, when my mom was just a keiki. One day, my mom was taking a nap. My tutu was in the living room watching television when she heard a scream. It wasn’t the normal cry from a baby who was hungry or needed a diaper change. My tutu said it was the most terrifying scream she'd ever heard.”

To be continued. . .


WRITTEN BY: Courtney Kunimura
for Spooky Kine Investigations
SKI.ckunimura@gmail.com

ARTWORK BY: Gabriel Del Aragon
for Spooky Kine Investigations
SKI.gdelaragon@gmail.com

WORKS CITED

1) "Aswang." Wikipedia. N.p., 02 Jun 2011. Web. 16 Jun 2011. .

2) "Kokokahi History." YWCA. YWCA of O‘ahu, 2008. Web. 13 Jun 2011.    .

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