Every Philippine travel story will always have a paranormal element that could give us that uneasy feeling. We get a different set of these thrilling and creepy stories as each destination has its own to share that gives a trip that extra dimension. The stories shared and, sometimes, the creepy feeling from… “something” give us the goosebumps and scare us out of our wits.
I have had my fair share of scare stories that creeped me out while exploring. Although I am not usually scared of such paranormal narratives, there have been a couple of experiences that did get through to me. One did haunt me sick while on a solo travel (the only time that I was creeped out to actually have a plan in case of an aswang attack) while, most of it, were brushed aside with a confident and uneasy smirk.
Hamtic Cemetery, Hamtic, Antique
This was one solo travel that had me creeped out for quite a bit. I was on a solo travel in Antique and part of my itinerary was to visit the Hamtic Cemetery Church. The cemetery is home to one of the well-preserved Spanish-period cemetery churches in the region with its baroque design. Its design with its two adjacent belfries was a real beauty to admire.
But its beauty goes beyond its Spanish design and origin. It had its own stories that fused colonial and pre-colonial beliefs. It is said that locals often would surround the burial plot of the newly interred with salt and garlic to prevent “aswangs” from eating the corpse. The story stuck through during the trip and the rustic ambiance of Tibiao, that was like a set of a horror movie, had me thinking of the existence of aswangs in Antique as evening came through. I was so creeped out that I even scolded myself for forgetting to buy salt and garlic when I was at the market.
It never fails to make me laugh whenever I remember that trip. I really feel stupid for letting my thoughts run wildly. It was a perfect mix of rustic ambiance and wild imagination fusing together on a trip. It creeped me out for nothing but made the trip memorable and funny.
You can read about my Antique travel experience here.
San Joaquin Spanish Cemetery Church, San Joaquin, Iloilo
While most of us would be amazed at the well-preserved colonial churches and mansions, there are a few well preserved colonial structures in our cemeteries. The classical-designed octagonal camposanto of the San Joaquin Spanish Cemetery was built in 1892 and is one of the well-preserved heritage structures in the country. It stands as a reminder of Spanish religious influence on how we mourn and celebrate the life of the dead.
The old Spanish Cemetery is a peaceful sanctuary along the highway, facing the sea. This was my first impression during my first visit to the place. It was serene and all you can hear is the rustling of the leaves with the wind. Then I heard the sound of “something” moving. I heard footsteps and I froze to make out the sound better but it also stopped. After a few seconds, I quickly gathered mu stuff to leave. when the caretaker steps out on the other side of the octagonal camposanto.
Both of us had that surprised look on our faces. Apparently, he heard my movements while he was working behind the camposanto at the same time that I heard his. His impulse was to gather his stuff and leave which was the same as mine. Our sheepish smiles came out after realizing that there was nothing paranormal about the experience. It was creepy and funny at the same time.
You can read about my San Joaquin travel experience here.
The Dungeons of Fort Santiago
The walls of Intramuros is a mute witness to the country’s rich history. Its walls are a repository of stories that span centuries of celebrations and horrors. Its special place in history make it a subject for paranormal stories where imprints were said to have been left by its previous occupants.
Fort Santiago is one of the defense forts of Intramuros. Completed in 1593, the fort served as a garrison for prisoners where many met their painful demise. Its dungeons was the site where almost 600 bodies of Filipinos were found when Fort Santiago was liberated by the Americans in WW2. The state at which these bodies were found showed that they all met a harrowing death. A memorial now stands to honor these nameless Filipinos.
The dungeons of Fort Santiago had an eerie vibe when I took a peek within its walls. Access to the area was not allowed at the time of my recent visit so I had to use my action camera to get a view of its interiors. I hurriedly left the entrance because it was already giving me goosebumps which was my signal to leave. Interestingly, the video that I captured lagged throughout the time that it was inside the dungeon.
You can read about my Intramuros travel experience here.
San Agustin Crypts, Intramuros
The San Agustin Church in Intramuros is the oldest stone church in the country. Completed in 1607, the church survived natural calamities and the devastation of Intramuros in World War 2. The church is considered a National Historical Landmark and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective title of “Baroque Churches of the Philippines”.
The San Agustin Convent and Museum holds one of the unique cemeteries in the country. The San Agustin Church Crypts is the final resting place of Agustinians and prominent families in the country. The remains of Juan Luna and Pedro Paterno are interred here.
The San Agustin Church Crypts can be quite an eerie sight for first time visitors. The towering crypts surrounding guests and its damp vibe can give you goosebumps. The thought that the mortal remains and their spirits lingering around the area can be quite uncomfortable and exciting.
You can read about my Intramuros travel experience here.
Teacher’s Camp, Baguio City
Local ghost hauntings and stories are not complete without the mentioning Baguio City. From the Lady of Loakan to the spirits of Diplomat Hotel, this city has its own paranormal stories to share. The city’s colorful and tragic past and its cool climate make it an ideal set-up for these stories to proliferate.
Teacher’s Camp is one of the city attractions that has been a melting pot of paranormal stories. The camp was established in 1907 and was once used by the Japanese as a hospital facility in World War 2. It’s 100-years of existence paved the way for stories of hauntings and phantom sightings within the halls of the camp. Some of these paranormal experiences were said to have been caught on cam or on audio recording.
Despite me being a resident of Baguio, it was only recently that I managed to visit and explore Teacher’s Camp. I took the time to walk around the camp and, eventually, ended up entering a museum. The museum outlines the early beginnings of the camp to its present development. The museum though was empty and I had a weird creepy feeling like someone was watching me as I walked around. The weird feeling did not stop me though from
reading through its history.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Dark tourism is a different level of exploration that everyone would be interested but only a few would probably be brave enough to try out. The stories that go with it, mixed with our perceptions of the paranormal, is enough to give anyone the scare even before the actual exploration. Like they say, it is not for weak.
I am not a person who would get scared about paranormal activities. I actually find it interesting that I try to find out more details about its stories. It forms part of the destination’s local culture and history. That is why we have century-old balete trees, stories about deities of rivers, and old mansions and ruins as tourist spots. These “dark tourist destinations” add a different spectrum to our travel explorations that makes it more exciting.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.