The exorcism of Clarita Villanueva by Pastor Lester Sumrall at the Bilibid prison: The first documented demonic possession in the Philippines
Clarita Villanueva was an orphan from Bacolod. Her mother made money out of witchcraft and fortune-telling until she died when she was still young. Clarita felt unloved and decided to work in Manila as a maid in 1950. She eloped with a man who turned out to be married. She left him and became a club dancer.
Clarita decided to watch a late-night movie and walk home alone; police saw and arrested her for prostitution. At 17 years old, she was jailed for vagrancy at the 300-years old Bilibid prison.
On May 9, 1953, Clarita and the other inmates were disturbed by pebbles pelted in the carcel. When she was about to sleep, ‘the thing’ perched on a beam, then jumped and sat on top of Clarita. She screeched as small invisible creatures started biting her. Bite marks began to appear.
She described one entity as a 10-foot tall, dark man with curly hair all over his body and a big mustache. Interestingly, the creature had an angelic face.
Mayor Arsenio Lacson
Clarita was summoned to the Mayor’s office. She was calm and sat beside the Mayor. Suddenly, she laughed as if being tickled by someone and then screeched in terror. She said “things” were taking turns biting her. According to testimonies, the bite marks on her neck and hand were still moist with saliva.
The Mayor himself restrained her hands, yet she insisted someone was biting her finger. When she was told to draw their faces, her pencil flew away. They called on the chaplain, Father Benito Vargas, but he only agreed to be an observer.
Doctors at the ‘Old Bilibid Hospital’ also helped, but they, too, were at a loss.
The news quickly spread after the Manila Police Department’s medical examiner, Dr. Mariano Lara, appealed for help through the newspaper. Villanueva’s story went viral, but only an “espiritista” came to help.
Clarita’s death curse
Dr. Manuel Ramos
Dr. Ramos came to the prison to interview Clarita. He was a skeptic and accused her of acting to get attention. When he confronted her, Clarita gazed at him and slowly said, “you will die…” The next day, the Doctor’s heart stopped at the same hour, and he died.
After the deliverance of Clarita, the Pastor warned the rest of the inmates to pray as well. The devils could attack them as well. However, a woman beside her cell made fun of the deliverance. As the demons came out from Clarita, she began to scream and became unconscious. Teeth marks appeared on her body.
Captain Antonio Ganibi
Chief prison officer Captain Ganibi was Clarita’s custodian. Annoyed, he kicked Clarita. The day after Dr. Ramos died, she asked the captain for the small crucifix she often wore. The captain didn’t know where the cross was.
Clarita said, “It’s in your pocket.” The captain was stunned to find it and handed it back to her. Clarita cursed him to die. A few weeks later, the captain lost weight and died like a wilted plant four days later.
The Catholic Rosary: Clarita always wore a rosary. She would kiss and caress it each time Pastor Sumrall prayed over her. Sumrall realized that the crucifix was associated with evil spirits and removed it. Although the crucifix is a symbol of Christianity, it also depicts a crucified Christ who has risen. The Bible says we must not adore an image, even if likened to heaven. (Exodus 20:4)
God sends a Pastor
Protestant missionary Pastor Dr. Lester Sumrall was building the Manila Bethel Temple (known today as the Cathedral of Praise). He heard the news on DZFM radio, and the Holy Spirit pressed on his heart to help Clarita.
Pastor Sumrall couldn’t sleep for three days. He begged God to send someone else. “It was a very sad moment for me,” said Pastor Sumrall, yet he knew he had no choice but to obey God.
The first day: The stubborn devils
Clarita was brought to the room where Lester Sumrall was. Suddenly, she screamed violently and said: “I hate you.” Clarita only spoke Filipino, yet she hurled insults at Dr. Sumrall in English. The first day for deliverance seemed to have failed.
That evening, a newspaper said, “The Thing Defies Pastor.” Dr. Sumrall felt he needed to pray more and fast this time.
“Clarita, I have come to deliver you from the power of these devils in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” said Dr. Sumrall. Suddenly, Clarita became so angry and screamed, “No! No! They will kill me!” Then she fainted.
Afterward, the demons using Clarita began to curse the Pastor in the vilest possible way. They said they would never leave her. Later, Clarita became quiet. Everyone was tired and in tears; they thought it was over.
Clarita only spoke Filipino, but she hurled insults at Dr. Sumrall in English.
The second day: The deliverance
After spending time in prayer and fasting, Lester Sumrall and other Christians began the day by breaking the bread and singing. As the battle resumed, they felt a sense of peace.
Dr. Sumrall declared, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I bind every power of the devil and command you to be free from this moment, in Jesus’ name!” Almost immediately, Clarita said, the demons left through the windows.
The devils returned
Everyone thought it was over when suddenly, the devils returned. Clarita screeched, and Pastor Sumrall asked, “Why have you returned? You know you must go and not return.” They said through Clarita, “But, she is unclean, and we have a right to live with her.“
Dr. Sumrall refuted them and said, “Mary Magdalene was unclean with seven like you, and Jesus came into her life, and she became clean by His mighty power. Therefore, I demand you now to depart, and Jesus will make her clean.” They left again.
The third day deliverance
When they were about to leave, the demonic entities returned but went for the third time. Carlita was worried, for she was sure the demons would return once the Christian team left.
Pastor Sumrall taught Carlita what she should do. She can command them to leave through the blood of Jesus. “You must say, ‘Go, in Jesus’ name,’ and they will obey,” he said.
The Final Battle
That night, Clarita gave a blood-curdling scream, “Help, they are back to get me! They are standing behind you!” she said to the jail guard. He was scared and hid at his desk. Clarita cried to the guard and asked if he remembered what the Pastor said she should say.
The guard said in Tagalog, “Say, Oh God, deliver me in Jesus’ name and Jesus’ blood.” Then she went into a deep coma.
Coarse black hair
Authorities laid her on the table. They tried to open her clutched hands, and behold. She appeared to have grabbed a few strands of coarse black hair. Dr. Lara took the sample and used a microscope. He realized it wasn’t from a human. It remains an unsolved phenomenon to this date.
What happened to Clarita after her exorcism
After Clarita was delivered, news reporters counted around 15 demons that left her body. Later, Clarita described the demonic beings as having long fangs with buck teeth in front.
She was transferred to a welfare facility and was soon released. Clarita returned to the province, got married, and had a family. The demons never returned.
Mayor Lacson and Dr. Sumrall became good friends. He supported the Pastor’s desire to preach in public and build a church. As the news of deliverance spread, Pastor Sumrall shared the story of healing in radio stations and churches. Hundreds of thousands of people came to know Christ and got saved.
The authority of Jesus
Pastor Sumrall did NOT use holy water, salt, or a crucifix but depended on Christ alone. A genuine Christian can rebuke a foul spirit in Jesus’ name.
Those who are “truly in Christ” cannot be possessed: Sickness, depression, and fear do not come from God but from the enemy. However, certain spirits cannot come out by anything except prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)