by Julia Escaño
Between visiting departed loved ones and partying in your chosen costume, Halloween season is always full of festivities. But is this really what Halloween is about? Or is it about letting the spirits and elementals of the netherworlds roam freely for one night?
No matter your flavor of Halloween, there’s no denying that ghost hunting and horror stories are part of the holiday. Looking for a destination to get your hands on some hair-raising excitement? These top haunted places near Manila are sure to give you a taste of Halloween’s essence. So bring your brave buddies, strap on those running shoes (just in case), and get the ultimate Halloween experience!
St. Pancratius Chapel, La Loma Cemetery
Approximately 132 years ago the La Loma Cemetery, then known as the Cementerio de Binondo, opened its original wrought iron gate to the gentry of Manila. Since then, dozens of the country’s elite have been laid to rest in its grounds, lying beneath ornate tombs and magnificent mausoleums. It has also been years since the old St. Pancratius Chapel at the heart of the cemetery was put to use.
As creepiness goes, the abandoned chapel with its baroque design and skull and crossbones details is pretty hair-raising, especially when you visit it on a quiet afternoon. If you’re lucky enough to peek through an open window, the empty hall and debris on the floor are a haunting remembrance of decay. That said, actual horror stories at the St. Pancratius Chapel are pretty rare, so there should be low to no chance of sightings.
Corregidor Island is an integral part of our history. Most Filipino children grow up knowing of its role during the war. Thus it is no secret that hundreds of soldiers died brutal deaths in its soil. Thanks to countless features on horror TV shows, it’s also famous for the eerie things that happen to visitors. To this day, it’s certainly the #1 spot in top haunted places near manila.
If you’re looking to make your heart pound while learning more about our history, go on an overnight tour of the island with Sun Cruises. The package includes sunset visits to the lateral passageways of the Malinta Tunnel, where Japanese soldiers detonated themselves before they can be captured. You will also visit the skeleton of the old Corregidor Hospital, which was air-raided by the Japanese. Whether you experience anything or not, the knowledge of the gruesome events that happened here are enough to creep you out.
Clark Airbase Hospital
Deep in the trees of the former Clark Air Base is an abandoned hospital. It’s long been known to locals as a home of spirits and strange things. It became known to the rest of the world when it was featured in National Geographic Channel’s “I Wouldn’t Go In There.” Unlike Corregidor’s World War II hospital, this was used mainly during the US’s Vietnam War. It was where wounded soldiers were extracted and nursed back to health.
Since it was abandoned, the jungle around the hospital has taken free reign. Thus when you enter its long and overgrown driveway, it immediately feels like entering another world. However, based on personal experience as part of the event team that organized the Nat Geo show’s local media premiere, I would recommend you not to go in there either as whatever is in there is not to be messed with. (I certainly never would again!)
Laperal House, Baguio
Anyone who has been to Baguio has almost certainly passed by the Laperal White House at some point. It sits on Leonard Wood Road, one of the main thoroughfares of Baguio. It was built in the 20’s and served as a Japanese garrison during the war. Over the years, it gained a reputation for being a legitimately one of the top haunted places near Manila. Popular sightings in the Laperal House are of a little girl in the front steps and a lady looking out from a window.
Its security guards and caretakers also have a collection of personal stories for anyone willing to listen. These days, the Laperal House is open to the public thanks to a small museum of local artworks on the ground floor. But the fact that people come here in search of something else doesn’t escape the staff. Rooms in the second story are now fitted with strategically-placed mirrors and hidden dolls inside closets just to give guests a good jump.
Bahay na Pula, Bulacan
There are few things more horrific than real-life atrocities. The Bahay na Pula in San Ildefonso, Bulacan was a witness to this. During the war, it was used as a garrison by Japanese soldiers. It became the prison for their captives and comfort women, where torture and brutal crimes were committed. Tens, if not hundreds, of Filipino war-crime victims reportedly met their violent ends here in the span of a few years.
At present, only the skeleton of the Bahay na Pula remains, yet the dark cloud surrounding it still seems to linger. Dragging chains, loud pounding on doors, and sometimes even desperate pleas have been reported here. With or without these creepy experiences though, the memories within the house alone make it one of the top haunted places near Manila.
Unlike the ghosts and lost souls supposedly dwelling in the previous destination, the inhabitants of Mt. Makiling are said to be elementals or engkanto. There are countless stories of strange encounters from mountaineers where they get dazed, mysteriously lost, encounter strange beings, and sometimes even get possessed by mountain spirits.
The scariest part about experiencing all these in Mt. Makiling is, instead of being able to run away quickly, you are stuck in the middle of a jungle with nowhere to go. Casual ghost hunters are advised against simply going up the mountain’s trails, though. Reliable mountain guides or at least some experience in hiking is required not only to give yourself a shot at successfully exploring the mountain but also to enjoy yourself.