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 1920s 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 Filipino 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 occurences have been reported in these places. Real or not, haunted places ar hot topics for local bloggers and Baguio visitors.
Try Pine City Fright Tours' premium package, which takes guests through five locations: the Laperal House, Diplomat Hotel, Japanese tunnel at the Botanical Gardens, Teacher's Camp, and Baguio Hyatt Ruins. The package is at P750 (US$16) for adults and P500 for kids, inclusive of tour fees, hotel pick-up, and transportation within the city. Tours are now at 10 per cent off, valid during the halloween month, from October 1 to 31.
Rooms at Casa Vallejo start from P1,350 a night.
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 duwendes (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 harbingers 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.
Air Asia, Cebu Pacific Air, and Philippine Airlines fly to Kalibo daily. From Kalibo airport, there are regular Ceres buses and shuttle vans bound for Antique. For inquiries, contact the Antique local government.
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 are not unheard of in some parts of Iloilo like Dumangas. Tik-tiks are described as giant prowling bats or birds that suck blood from women with long proboscises. Other sources describe tik-tiks as creatures that land on rooftops at night and are able to extend their tongue and pierce thatched roofs and ceilings to get to the stomach of a sleeping pregnant woman and eat the baby in the womb. 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 trampling through a dark forest.
Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines fly to Iloilo daily. For Iloilo tours, Smallville Travel & Tours is accredited by the association of Iloilo Travel and Tour Operators. Smallville 21 Hotel is a boutique hotel wih modern rooms, and is located in 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 the Kinabuhayan area.
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 is 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 in Makati to Lucena Station. Travel time is about four hours. Try Nature Villa for a tour of the pilgrimage sites at the foot of Mt. Banahaw.
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 malevelont 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, insect bites, and other ills.
Visit the Anthropology Museum of Siliman 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.
Accomodation is easy to find and resorts such as Casa de la Playa in Larena will make even the most fruitless witch-hunts completely bearable. Rooms are from P1,100. For island tours, contact the Coco Grove Beach Resort.
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 via Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines. Contact the Siquijor local government for more information.
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 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. It was alleged that the bodies were ordered to be paved over to meet the construction deadline of the precious building and impress foreign guests. This had not been proven.
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 Maganday Gabi Bayan (MGB) TV crew encountered the ghost of a worker on the site who told them that 139 people were buried in the building.
These days, the building, regarded by most Filipinos as cursed, houses the “Amazing Philippine Theater,” which stages transvestite Las Vegas acts. The theater is run by a Korean-owned company and attracts Korean honeymooners.
The Manila Film Center is located at the CCP Complex, in the reclamation area off Roxas Boulevard.
Filipinas Stamps 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. For tours in Manila and Intramuros, try Walk this Way, operated by performance artist Carlos Celdran, or Old Manila Walks, run by tour expert Ivan Man Dy.
Capiz: Home of aswangs or bloodsuckers
The province of Capiz, now known as Roxas City, has 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 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.
Roxas City, Capiz is also known for a handful of attractions such as caves, the Panay River, and the Olotoyan Island, also known as White Island.
Capiz Tour Operators Association (CTOA) offers various tour packages from pilgrimage tours to adventure tours. Call Tickets N More Travel Agency to book or inquire. Visit the Capiz government website for more information on Capiz.
Corregidor: Ghosts of World War II
It should come as no surprise that Corregidor Island, basically untouched since its retaking 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. 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 the 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 Tours at P2,350 per person on weekdays and P2,549 on weekends, plus P200 for a tour of the Malinta tunnel. The tour includes round trip ferry tickets and lunch. Sun Cruises can also arrange a stay at the Corregidor Inn, which charges P1,500 per night for a single 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 heart 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. For package tours in Surigao city, contact JF Travel and Tours. Book a flight from Manila to Davao via AirAsia, Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines. From Davao City, take a Bachelor Express bus to Surigao. Philippine Airlines also offers direct flights from Manila to Surigao.
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 old beliefs, harbours 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 is that of a lady wearing 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 to Nicanor Domingo Street.
More spooky tours
Experience Asia is hosting a haunted road trip from October 30 to November 1. The trip will take you to different haunted houses "kept secretly from the public", accompanied by professionals from the supernatural field. In the tradition of the agency's signature random road trips, the trip has no set itinerary and destinations and stops are kept secret and revealed only at departure, or as the trip progresses. The fee is P3,200, inclusive of transport, accommodation, and food. Only 16 slots are open for the trip. Payments must be made before October 16. Visit Experience Asia for more details, or call +63917/ 572 7527 or +63915 853 3256.
The Center for Paranormal Studies (CPS) also hosts ghost hunting tours once a month. The tour for October is scheduled on the 17th, with the destination yet to be announced. Trips cover famous haunted spots in the Philippines such as those mentioned above, as well as areas that are known for ghost sightings and paranormal presence, such as the Marikina Riverwalk. Tours are organized and led by tarot reader and CPS founder Jade Martin. For updates on tours, visit the Center for Paranormal Studies page, or call Martin at +63998 851 4516.
About Frank Regis
Paranormal expert Josef Frank Regis is author of the book “Healing of a Soul – the Ghost Manual”, published by InterSelf foundation in 1996. He has appeared on the TV Show Magandang Gabi Bayan as a paranormal investigator. A leadership training consultant, Regis is also generally accepted in the Philippines as a medium and paranormal expert, many believing in his innate sensitivity to reach out to other-worldly beings and another dimension.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller October to November 2012. Updated October 2015