Halloween does not really exist in the Philippines but thanks to effective media, Filipinos have come to love this sinister-themed pre-Christmas occasion. It has become an adopted part of modern Filipino culture. More and more people, especially children, dress up and go trick-or-treating on the last night of October. Malls have taken to displaying the goriest and tackiest masks and costumes in stalls and store-fronts.
But even without Halloween, this time of the year still triggers goose bumps among Filipinos. The end of October or the first days of November have everything to do with the supernatural for most Filipinos. As a Catholic country, the Philippines celebrates All Saints’ Day on November 1st, followed by All Souls’ Day. During this period, most Filipinos flock to cemeteries to pay tribute to their deceased family members while others go tombstone hopping or ghost-hunting.
If you’re interested in the latter, here are some of the scariest places in the Philippines that you can explore:
Manila Film Center
In the early 1980s, then First Lady Imelda Marcos envisioned staging the first Manila International Film Festival and decided that the best venue for the grandiose occasion should be a building patterned after the iconic Parthenon. Construction was hastened to meet the deadline and on November 18, 1981, a bizarre accident involving a fallen scaffolding and bodies buried in wet cement occurred. To make things worse, the person in charge allegedly ordered to “pour the cement” over the dead bodies and their living family members who were trying to retrieve the corpses.
The rush to finish the building and the 169 deaths thereafter made the Manila Film Center one of the creepiest and scariest places in the Philippines. At some point, the center became the stage for the Amazing Philippine Theater. It is still standing to this day in the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex although it was severely damaged by a fire in 2013.
Laperal White House
White Victorian-inspired houses are hard to come by in the Philippines and when they do, they’re most likely to be haunted. Take one of Baguio City’s most famous buildings as an example. The Laperal White House, as it’s called, has a notorious reputation among visitors and believers of the paranormal world. Some say the mystery lies in what really happened to the Laperal family who owned the house while others attribute the creepy factor to the fact that the building was used by the Japanese to rape women and torture/murder alleged spies during WWII. The mystery of the house lures hundreds of curious individuals, including media men and film producers capitalizing on its reputation.
Many hair-raising stories have been heard of the Laperal White House, from the most common “white lady” peering out of dark windows and invisible babies crying in the middle of the night to more sinister banging and noises that suggest that there is a poltergeist, maybe? A documentary by GMA news a few years back even recorded an eerie voice articulating “nandito kami” (“we are here”).
The Laperal White House is open to the public as a museum. If you ever find yourself in misty Baguio City, make sure you drop by to say Hi to the ghosts.
As if the Laperal White House and the mist are enough, Baguio City is also home to the Diplomat Hotel, also famous for being one of the scariest places in the Philippines. The building, constructed in the early 1900s, sits atop Dominican Hill and is almost always enveloped in mist. The building was once used as a seminary and rest house for nuns and the clergy before it was turned into a hotel.
The priests and nuns were said to have been beheaded during the war which resulted to appearances of headless ghosts carrying their heads on a platter in the hotel’s corridors. There have also been reports of banging and agonized screams coming from Dominican Hills up to this day. The ruins of the Diplomat Hotel are off-limits to the public but this has only served to spike more interest among paranormal believers. Recently, a film under Cinemalaya was produced entitled The Diplomat Hotel told the story of documentary team meeting the evil that lurks in the famous haunted building.
If you’re traveling in Quezon City between 12 midnight and 3AM on a cab, the driver will most probably try his best to avoid Balete Drive if you’ll have to pass this road. Why? It’s because they want to steer clear of a possible encounter with a bloody white lady who suddenly appears in front of vehicles and often causes an accident.
Balete Drive is known for the huge trees after which it was named and the centuries-old Spanish homes that dot its sidewalks. Even if you’re not on a cab, you’ll be scared to your wit’s end walking along Balete Drive; you’d fear that something supernatural will suddenly jump at you from among the trees. If you don’t already know, Balete trees are said to be dwellings of the creature called “kapre”.
UP Los Banos
They say that each school has its own ghost story and this cannot be any truer than the University of the Philippines Los Banos campus. The huge campus is sprawled over a vast property in the foothills of Mt. Makiling, an equally creepy mountain said to be home to mystical creatures of Filipino legends.
UPLB has witnessed and survived WWII which means it was at one point occupied by the Japanese soldiers and used for their own brand of torture and other crimes. Baker Hall, a former war camp, is said to be haunted by soldiers who were executed via garrote. And if restless ghosts are not enough, UPLB has bridges that take you forever to cross and Balete trees that play host to a kapre.
If you believe in the supernatural, visiting one or two of the scariest places in the Philippines might be your thing. Some of these places might leave you hiding under the covers for a few nights so visit at your own risk. See you around!