10 Haunted Places
From World War II ruins to the ghostly Manila Film Center, paranormal expert Frank Regis lists macabre places to spook you this Halloween
Interview by Chip Childers
Additional Reporting by Cielo Flores
October-November 2012 Issue
Baguio: The Ghost of Laperal House
Every place has its haunted stories and Baguio City, known for its cool climate, pine trees and green lung has its fair share.
The city’s Laperal White House, located on Leonard Wood Road in Baguio, is a popular stopover point for the curious. The substantial house was built in the 1920’s by one of Baguio’s oldest clans, the Laperal family. At the height of World War II, the Japanese took over the house, using it as accommodation for its soldiers. It is said the owners of the house died in the hands of the Japanese. One of the last Laperals to live in the house was Roberto Laperal, said to have died in the house after slipping and hitting his head. There are media accounts saying the old man can still be heard walking around the house. Another story tells of an unidentified young girl sometimes spotted on the steps of the White House. The house’s infamy didn’t dissuade tycoon Lucio Tan from buying the house in 2007 and refurbishing it, but strangely enough, upon completion, the house remained unoccupied.
Other places reputed to be haunted in Baguio include the Diplomat Hotel in Dominican Hill, White Hall at Teacher’s Camp, and Casa Vallejo on Upper Session Road. Ghostly occurrences have been reported in these places. Real or not, haunted places are hot topics for local bloggers and Baguio visitors.
Try the Pine Mountain Tours’ Baguio Haunted Tour which takes you on a tour of the Diplomat Hotel, old cemeteries, old pre-war house, Baguio General Hospital, Baguio Botanical Garden’s tunnel and more eerie stops in the city. The package also includes a paranormal consultation and three questers. The package, which costs P1,500 (about US $35) per person for a minimum of six, includes accommodation for one night, and tour transportation. Call +63949/ 616 4808, +63923/ 426 8591 and +63927/ 351 5885, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
A stay at Casa Vallejo costs P2,700 to P4,500 per night. To book, call +074/ 424 3397, +63906/ 202 8655.
Victory Liner’s deluxe buses operate daily services to Baguio from its Pasay City Terminal. For car or van hire, call John Dionisio at +63923/ 701 8383 or +63928/ 502 0751. Baguio Country Club offers adventure package tours from October to May. Call +6374/ 619 2050-64.
Antique: Vampires and Elementals at Mt. Madja-as
The province of Antique in Western Visayas has developed somewhat isolated from its bustling neighbors Aklan and Iloilo, and many of its folk traditions have remained intact well into the modern age. It is not difficult to find first-hand accounts of witches, spells and ‘elementals’, aswangs (bloodsuckers) or non- human entities, recounted with conviction. Tales of duwende (elves or dwarves) living in forests and guarding trees under threat from loggers are often heard. Sometimes described as gray little old men with one-eye, a big nose, and only one nostril, duwendes are generally considered a harbinger of good fortune to humans, unless the human has bad intentions or energies about them. Kapres, or giants, are also frequently mentioned, and even now, construction workers are loathe to cut down balete or old acacia trees for fear of angering the kapres and bringing curses upon themselves. While existing in a parallel dimension certainly makes these assorted elementals pretty hard to find at will, the foothills around Mt. Madja-as are rife with reported sightings and stories told with chilling detail and dead serious poker faces.
Tribal Adventures offers a three-day adventure tour package in Antique.
SEAIR flies from Manila to kalibo, Aklan. From kalibo airport, there are regular buses (Ceres Liner) and shuttle vans bound for Antique. For inquiries, contact Antique Tourism Officer ronald Gayatin at +63915/ 804 4662.
Iloilo: Aswangs, Sigbens, and Tik-tiks
Like neighboring Antique and Capiz in Panay Island, Iloilo province has its share of aswang stories. Dueñas in Iloilo is reputed as the home of aswangs and its variants, the sigbens (similar to Mexico’s chupacabra, with spotty fur and large fangs) and tik-tiks (giant prowling bats or birds that suck blood from pregnant women with long proboscises. Other sources describe it as creatures that land on rooftops at night and are able to extend their tongue and pierce thatched roofs and ceiling to get to the stomach of a sleeping pregnant woman and eat the baby in the womb) are not unheard of in some parts of Iloilo like Dumangas. A chilling trademark of the tik-tik, named for the distinctive sound it makes when it is on the prowl, is its ability to project a loud sound when it is far away and a faint one when it is close at hand. Worried? Holy water and agimats (amulets) are easily found if you ask around, and good old dependable garlic is a basic aswang repellent, and can be eaten when you’re done tramping through dark forest.
SEAIR has daily flights from Manila to Iloilo. For Iloilo tours, Smallville Travel & Tours located at the Smallville Complex in Iloilo City, is accredited by the Association of Iloilo Travel and Tour Operators. Smallville 21 Hotel is a boutique hotel with modern rooms, and is located at Iloilo City’s trendy hub.
Mt. Banahaw and Mt. San Cristobal: Malevolent Spirits
Mt. Banahaw, located in the periphery of Laguna and Quezon provinces, has long been venerated by local residents and pilgrims alike as sacred, with ties to revered spirits, deities and a plethora of worshipped and honored holy sites which include waterfalls, rocks and caves. Banahaw is an energized magnet of healing, mysticism and peaceful congregation between humans and entities of all stripes, including discarnates, elementals, with only a few isolated incidents of ‘naughty pranks’ by some denizens, often provoked by irreverent visitors. The focal point for Mount Banahaw’s aesthetic worshippers and mystic puestos (objects with particular and significant spiritual energy) lie in the caves, creeks and rock gardens in the forests surrounding Kinabuhayan.
In contrast, Mt. San Cristobal, or Devil’s Mountain, two thirds up on Banahaw’s western slopes, is where the bad boys hang out, and the malevolent spirits run amok. Regis says, “There’s a lot of not nice things happening there.” Banahaw is renowned for its healing powers, and aesthetics come from near and far to give tribute to the mountain, where the air and drinking water are believed to cure a battery of illness. “The negative entities can’t exist in the high frequencies of Banahaw, so they head to the low frequencies of Cristobal,” adds Regis. Many of the mountaineers who have climbed both mountains tell of stories that corroborate that analysis.
Both mountains are charged with energies, but, as Regis explains, “Cristobal is the antithesis of Banahaw. It’s like comparing a ghetto to a Buddhist temple.”
Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal straddle the border between Quezon and Laguna Provinces, about two to three hours by overland transport from Manila to San Pablo City, where jeeps take you to Dolores and kinabuhayan. JAC Liner has daily trips from LrT Buendia Station to Lucena Station. Travel time is about four hours.
For Mt. Banahaw tours, call Jhoel Herbolario at +63939/ 194 0928. The tour takes you on a two- day trek and camping for about P2,500 per person.
Siquijor: “Secret” Black Magic Festival
The Island of Siquijor is the mystical Mecca of the Visayas, a ‘Black Magic Island’ known for the voodoo-esque traditions of its witches. Locals will not readily tell you their secrets, but it is widely known that some residents follow hundreds of years of traditional folk medicine, while others, known to be witches, allegedly practice barang or hexing. Hexing involves the use of black magic and malevolent spells to cause its victim harm.
There are the so-called mananambal, or folk healers, who use their powers for good. They use herbs, mantras and concoctions to sort out mental disorders, harmful spells, broken relationships and insect bites and other ills.
Visit the Anthropology Museum of Silliman University in Dumaguete for documents and evidence of the mananambal tradition. The Siquijor Folk Medicine Collection has artifacts used for sorcery, such as miniature wooden dolls and a miniature black coffin. Better still, visit Siquijor during the Holy Week, in time to witness the ‘Lenten Festival of Preparation’ attended by mambabarangs (black magic practitioners) from around the country who meet up to swap information and head into the forests around San Antonio town to look for talismans and crucial ingredients for potions. In a series of private ceremonies, potions are prepared in a mish-mash of Christian and indigenous rituals.
Siquijor is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago.
To reach Siquijor, easiest access is through Dumaguete, negros, from where you can take a 45-minute fastcraft ride via Delta Fast Ferry. There are daily flights from Manila to Dumaguete. Contact Siquijor Provincial Tourism Office at +6335/ 344 2088.
The Manila Film Center: Tales of Human Remains Underneath the Concrete
The Manila Film Center in a far corner of the Cultural Center complex on Roxas Boulevard, Manila, is often the subject of sensationalist TV shows in search of Blair Witch-type video footage. The Parthenon-inspired infamous building was a project of then Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, wife of the martial law regime dictator Ferdinand. On November 17, 1981, the film palace’s upper floor collapsed, sending an unknown number of workers — anywhere from 12 to 200 — crashing down a fresh cement pit and upright steel bars. The story goes that it was hours before some of the bodies were retrieved. The unproven story was that the bodies were ordered paved over to meet the construction deadline of the precious building and impress foreign guests.
Regis describes the catacombs beneath the main building as a “veritable hell house, a giant mausoleum of wretched souls and entities.” According to Regis, his MGB TV crew encountered the ghost of a worker on the site who told them 139 people were buried in the building.
These days, the building, regarded by most Filipinos as cursed, houses the “Amazing Philippine Theatre”, which stages transvestite Las Vegas acts. The theatre is run by a Korean-owned company and attracts Korean honeymooners.
For more information on the Manila Film Center, call +632/ 834 8870. The Manila Film Center is located at the CCP Complex, in the reclamation area off roxas Boulevard.
Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club (FSCC) offers free Postal Heritage and Metropolitan Theater Tours every third Sunday of the month. Tour stops include the Philippine Postal Corporation office and Metropolitan Theater (MeT), both known to be haunted. There’s also a Malacanang tour that costs P1,200 per person. For tours in Manila and Intramuros, try walk This way operated by performance artist Carlos Celdran (+632/ 484 4945, +63920/ 909 2021, celdrantours@ hotmail.com), or Old Manila Walks run by tour expert Ivan Man Dy (+632/ 711 3823).
Capiz: Home of “Aswangs” or Bloodsuckers
The province of Capiz, now known as Roxas City, has a love/hate relationship with its reputation as a home to the aswangs, a kind of hard-to-define vampire/shapeshifter combo that haunt the nights. Aswangs are ordinary mortals who inherit the bloodline that enables them to transfigure into bats or a scary black dog. They also take many different forms, such as the manananggal, which reportedly splits into two, its top half flying off into the darkness to suck the blood of a human prey, and its bottom half, ready and waiting for the return of its mobile half.
Natives born in so-called aswang provinces such as Antique and Capiz rely on old remedies such as garlic and secret religious mantras prayed in silence in the presence of an aswang to protect them from harm. Children are told never to show fear and never to gaze into the eyes of a suspected aswang. Smacks of the old Dracula tales? There is a little twist. If you do encounter a temporarily dismembered aswang bottom half, sprinkle the stump with salt to kill off your aswang. From 2004 to 2006, Capiz inaugurated the Aswang Festival in late October, poking fun at the province’s reputation as a hotbed of aswang activity. The Church and some government officials did not see humor in it, putting an end to the festival in July 2007. Recently a Canadian film crew travelled to Capiz to film a docu-movie called ‘Aswang: A Journey into Myth’, which shows that aswangs are still a hot topic.
Roxas City, Capiz is also known for a handful of attractions such as caves, the Panay River, and the Olotayan Island, also known as White Island.
Capiz Tour Operators Association (CTOA) offers various tour packages from pilgrimage tour to adventure tours. Call Tickets n More Travel Agency at +6336/ 621 9519, 643 1507, and +63908/ 885 2278, or email at email@example.com.
SEAIR flies daily to kalibo from Manila and Clark. It takes an hour-and-a-half drive from kalibo to roxas City via a commuter bus or van.
Corregidor: Ghosts of World War II
It should come as no surprise that Corregidor Island, basically untouched since its re- taking by the Americans in the last months of World War II, has been described as a “city of the walking dead”. With several waves of war and conquest, at least 3,000 Americans and Filipinos, and 8,000 Japanese lost their lives in Corregidor, known as “The Rock”, a small nine-square-kilometer island that strategically guards the mouth of Manila Bay. It is said the souls of those who died in the extensive caves, underground hospitals, barracks and bunkers still haunt the island, particularly the Malinta Tunnel, which was built from 1922 to 1932. During the World War II, this place, said to be a bomb proof headquarters, held the command communications and medical units. Today, the Malinta Tunnel is a tourist destination offering a Light and Sound Show called The Malinta Experience. Paranormal expert Frank Regis, having surveyed the area for Noli De Castro’s Magandang Gabi Bayan TV show, says that most of the spirits have ‘moved on’, but there are still many remaining. For those wanting a leisurely tour of the island, a nice break from the city, and perhaps a chance for a spooky encounter on the island, book a stay at Corregidor Island Hotel and Resort. For an interesting collection of stories on Corregidor, check out “Corregidor; Glory…Ghosts…and Gold”, by Milly Wood Kennedy (1971, New Underwood).
Corregidor lies about 50km off the city of Manila, and tours run regularly from the pier next to the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Sun Cruises offers Corregidor Day Tour at P2,300 per person, plus P150 for a tour of Malinta tunnel.
The tour includes round trip ferry ticket and lunch. Visit the Sun Cruises office at Terminal A to book or call ahead to book at +632/834 6857-58.. Sun Cruises can also arrange a stay at the Corregidor Inn, which charges P2,000 per night for a standard room.
Surigao: Demon Horses and Faith Healers
The Mountains and sprawling wilderness of Surigao, Eastern Mindanao, stretches in some parts from the seas up into towering mountains, and are said by locals to be alive with elementals. Mountain trekkers should keep an eye open for the tikbalang, a being with a horse’s head and feet, and a human’s body. It is known for causing travelers to lose their way in mountainous or forested areas. Thinking of swimming in that refreshing looking creek or lake? Just beware of the balonawa, a giant fish with a red tongue, shark-like teeth, and uh…wings, enabling it to fly. It’s Darwinism gone pear-shaped.
While the mysterious creatures don’t have regular visiting hours, explorers can ask locals in the villages and they’re guaranteed to hear first-hand accounts of close encounters with elementals.
Dinagat Island in Surigao is home to a mysterious group of faith healers called the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA), believed to be practicing old spiritual traditions. Others say it’s a cult. Led by Ruben Ecleo, Sr., followers of PBMA believed that Ecleo’s son Ruben Ecleo, Jr. was his successor, or
a reincarnation like that of Jesus Christ. According to a tourist guide in Surigao, Lenten Season, specifically Good Friday, is the best time to witness rituals and practices unique to the sect.
Dinagat Island is also known as a dive and surf spot. Other attractions in Surigao are its beautiful caves and rivers such as the Lake Bababu and Silop Cave.
Stay at Tavern Hotel, one of Surigao’s finest hotels. Call +6386/ 231 7300-01 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book. For package tours in Surigao City, contact JF Travel and Tours at +6386/ 826 8485, or Leonardo Go for guided tours +63906/ 696 6272.
Balete Drive: A Ghostly “White Lady”
Balete Drive is a street located in New Manila, Quezon City, Philippines. It is known for apparitions of a white lady and haunted houses built during the Spanish Era (1800s). New Manila has an abundance of balete trees, which, according to legend, is a favorite spot of wandering spirits and other paranormal beings. Paranormal experts believe that the white lady was raped by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, which differs from the movie Hiwaga sa Balete Drive (Mystery on Balete Drive). Those who claim to have seen the white lady advise motorists to avoid Balete street at night, especially if they are alone. If it is necessary to travel the route, they advise that the backseat of the car is fully occupied and that no one should look back or look in any mirrors. The apparition wears a night gown, has long hair but has no face or a face covered with blood.
Balete Drive is a street in Quezon City starting from one corner of Eugelio Rodriguez, and crosses Aurora Boulevard until it reaches near the end of Nicanor Domingo St. Passing through the drive in the wee hours, and turning off of the headlights, although not recommended, has always been a sure way to experience the eerie road.