Baguio, Spooky Baguio
A Collection of Baguio Ghost Stories
The Summer Capital of the Philippines becomes so overpopulated during the dreaded Manila heat wave season that it is believed the locals conjured up horrific myths and spine-tingling urban legends in the hopes of discouraging more lowlanders from joining the exodus in invading their otherwise tranquil yet provocative little city. Naguilian Road (the long and winding one), Kennon Road (the one where the Lion changes colors every so often) and Marcos Hi-way (the one where the edifice to the late dictator was recently blown up) line with numerous vehicles carrying would be Cardigan donning pilgrims escaping the hot sun—which makes their journey ironic because Baguio City’s 5,000 foot elevation from sea level actually brings it closer to the sun.
Yet year after year, they come and go in April and May and many of them return to their air conditioned residences or places of work armed with new tales of the bizarre or macabre nature of the City of Pines. They hear about the killer quake of 1990, the Pines Hotel fire, the odd goings-on at Loakan Road and a whole lot more to fuel the insatiable desire of the common Filipino to scare one’s self and pass on the goose-bumps to another who would continue the tradition.
Baguio natives, your initial salvo just back-fired…
There are a lot of ghost stories about old houses in old places. But Baguio is not an old city. Neither would one find any old Spanish type houses, like what they call “bahay na bato,” up there. The oldest houses there would not even be a hundred years old. It was only after the turn of the century when the Americans became our overlords was Baguio established. It was the Americans who designed and carved a city out of the mountains.
But if the Americans are credited for building Baguio, they were also the ones who destroyed it. Sometime towards the end of World War II, barely forty years after its establishment, waves upon waves of heavy bombers dropped thousands of explosives into the city, as part of what was termed as their “carpet bombing” battle tactics.
Churches, Nuns & Priests
Stories abound about the ghastly deaths of many foreign missionaries who believed that the omnipotent power of prayer could save them and thus stayed behind and refused to evacuate the city. Most of them were killed while saying their prayers.
It is said that persons who die suddenly are most likely to appear as ghosts because they neither realize nor accept that they are already dead. This is why most of the early stories about ghosts in Baguio involved priests and nuns.
They say that when everything is quiet—like in the wee hours of the morning—one doesn’t hear the usual deafening silence while inside the Baguio Cathedral but the faint gasps and moans of the suffering and the dying nuns. This would gradually become louder and louder only to be silenced if a sound is made—but in a few seconds the gasps and moans would start again.
One anecdote goes something like this: To atone for what he considered a very grievous sin, a cousin of mine had made a promise to go to the first mass every day for nine mornings at the St. Vincent’s Church in Campo Filipino. After a few days, he had gotten the habit of waking at an early hour so he did not need an alarm clock anymore. He would dress up and walk to church in the early darkness and would always be on time for the start of the mass. He continued with the habit even after completing the nine masses he promised himself.
One cold morning, he woke up and perfunctorily wrapped himself with warm clothes and set off for church. It was a foggy morning and he did not notice that the lights and the door to the church were still closed. But he became aware of several Belgian nuns in the misty haze who seemed to be slowly walking to the church from their dormitory building. One of the nuns broke off from the line, approached him and said in a soft and muffled voice, “You better go home first, my son. The church is still closed.”
My cousin answered, “Thank you, Mother,” and was about to leave when he got curious. Why was the voice of the nun sound so muffled? He turned around to look closely at the nun and saw why. Her twisted, grotesque face had wads of cotton sticking out from her mouth and nostrils!
It is also said that traveling spirits usually borrow uninhabited houses for their abodes. They love undisturbed places, or rather, places that are not usually disturbed.
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