Words by Ruffie Cruz
From secluded white sand beaches to historical places, the Philippines certainly boasts of several hidden jewels. While perfect for people searching for a quick and relaxing getaway, the question is: what happens when evening falls? Would you still be brave enough to explore?
Scattered among these beautiful attractions are supposedly haunted buildings, hospitals and more that your average Juan would never venture into. But would you? If yes, then brace yourself for strange temperature drops, unexplainable noises, and mysterious shadows. Here are the top 10 most haunted places in the Philippines:
1. Diplomat Hotel, Baguio
In 1911, the Diplomat Hotel was initially a seminary that was founded by the Dominicans. It was then transformed into a school before finally becoming a hotel operated. According to rumors, during nuns and priests took in fleeing refugees during World War II – but were all beheaded or killed once the Japanese occupied Baguio. This is why several locals and visitors claim to hear screaming and to see headless apparitions. This is also where Tony Agpaoa, the man who managed the hotel, passed away presumably due to a heart attack.
2. Fort Santiago, Intramuros
Fort Santiago was home to both the American and Spanish colonial government before the Philippines was liberated. While it’s old walls still stand tall and mighty during daytime, they give off a dark and domineering feeling at night. Nowadays, many of the Fort’s residents say that they still hear screams from the dungeon and have seen apparitions of Filipino soldiers of the past. This isn’t much of a surprise though as this was also, unfortunately, where many Filipino soldiers and guerillas were tortured and killed by the Japanese during World War II.
In fact, when the Americans had finally taken over after the Japanese occupation – they found a small room under the fort where you could only enter by crawling in on your stomach. There, water from the surrounding area would rush in and drown the trapped prisoners – 20 bodies were presumably uncovered.
3. Manila Film Center
In 1981, former First Lady Imelda Marcos commissioned the building of a Parthenon-inspired film center that was to be the highlight of the 1st Manila International Film Festival in January 1982. According to reports, 4,000 workers were contracted to work around the clock in order to fast-track its construction. On November 17, 1981, the ceiling of the film center collapsed at around 3:00 a.m., burying scores of worker under its debris. Per footage shot by GMA news, there was one worker who was buried in cement from the waist down. After several hours of trying to rescue him, he was finally freed but had already passed away.
There are little to no reports about the incident itself – not from the film center, the Pasay City police or even in newspapers. There are, however, many stories about the building being haunted by the souls of workers who were left to die in the debris as construction continued so that the Film Center could be revealed on time. According to one survivor, several men were left behind and buried in wet cement. While project contractor Eliodoro Ponio says that they were able to dig up the bodies of each and every victim.
4. Laperal Mansion, Baguio
Known as the “White House”, the Laperal Mansion has been standing tall since Roberto Laperal built it in the 1930s. During World War II, it was used by the Japanese as a venue for unspeakable cruelty. According to stories passed down by the house’s caretakers, Filipinas were raped in the bedrooms, Filipino spies were interrogated and tortured in the living room and a helper had apparently committed suicide there, as well.
This is why the property’s caretakers and security guards are vigilant of their surroundings. They’ve claimed to see apparitions more than once – in fact, the sightings of such is apparently reason enough for taxi drivers to refuse driving down Laperal Mansion’s road at night. It is currently open to the public who can pay a fee to tour the house.
5. Bahay na Pula
Although demolished, there is a field in Bulacan where the “Ilusorio House” or “Bahay na Pula” once stood. The house, then brooding and dark, was a symbol of the savagery of Japanese troops during World War II. In November 1944, the Japanese took over Barrio Mapanique, Pampanga – burning the village and killing the men. The soldiers then forced the women to carry the loot all the way to the Ilusorio House which was then used as a barracks.
There, several women from Bulacan and Pampanga were used as sex slaves by both the Japanese soldiers and their officers. If a woman refused, she was either tortured or killed with bayonets. Nowadays, the number of “comfort women” who’ve survived the ordeal are dwindling in number – but their stories and that of the infamous Bahay na Pula will live forever.
6. University of Santo Tomas
Founded in February 1611, the university is undeniably the country’s oldest university – and is one of the biggest Catholic universities in Asia. The institution has withstood wars, bombings and natural calamities. As old as it is, it isn’t much of a surprise that there are several ghost stories attached to it. Case in point, there’s one story that tells of dead patients riding in the school’s hospital elevators. Another of no one wanting to move a piano in the Albertus Magnus Building, out of fear of angering a ghostly child and several of young ladies hanging themselves in the washrooms.