One of Baguio City’s famous landmarks, Diplomat Hotel, is known as an abandoned haunted structure.
But before the building became a hotel, it was originally a retreat house of the Dominican friars called the Dominican Hill and Retreat House.
The original retreat house was built in 1913 when the American colonial government began populating the mountain city by auctioning parcels of land. The Dominicans built the earthquake-resistant retreat house so they could escape the tropical heat of Manila during summer.
It was inaugurated in 1915 as a school named Colegio del Santissimo Rosario to evade colonial government taxes imposed on “grand houses.”
The school was shut down three years later and became a retreat house that was often visited by Spanish families of Iloilo, Cebu and Manila.
When Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941, Baguio City became the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army who turned the Dominican building into a prisoners-ofwar camp. The Dominican house did not survive the war, as portions of the building turned into rubble.
In 1974, the Dominicans sold the property and the retreat house was converted into the 33-room Diplomat Hotel. The hotel closed in the ’ 80s when one of its owners, faith healer Antonio Agpaoa, passed away.
According to reports, there were ghost stories of marching hooded friars, Japanese soldiers, and wailing babies during the last years of the hotel.
When the hotel closed, it was looted and cannibalized. The city government had been rebuilding the structure inch by inch, but at a pace slowed down due to meager finances.
It has since become a popular spot for ghost hunting or as the location shoot for horror films due to its chilling baroque façade.
On Sept. 1, 2014, the Dominican house was declared an important cultural property by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
The city government has then classified the property as a heritage hill and natural park, and had urged the public to suggest how it should be preserved.
LAPERAL WHITE HOUSE
Also located in Baguio City is the Laperal mansion, known as the “White House,” which has its share of tales of horror and cruelty.
The Laperal mansion is a Victorian house built in the ’30s on a 4-hectare property near Teachers’ Camp. It was owned by Roberto Laperal.
Caretakers and helpers of the house have passed on ghost stories about the mansion.
Lito Calvo, the house’s gardener for over a decade, previously said in a report that longtime caretaker “Ate Lina” had told him the house was taken by Japanese soldiers from the Laperal family during World War II.
The place served as the house of the Japanese and was also the site of many killings. The rooms and sections of the house were witnesses to the cruelty of the Japanese soldiers, he said.
Another longtime caretaker, Alma Ramos, said that women were raped in the bedrooms, while Filipino men who were accused of spying for the Americans were tortured and killed. A house help supposedly committed suicide in the mansion.
Visitors with a third eye claim that restless spirits lived in the house. Calvo and Ramos also recounted some spooky instances, such as strange footsteps in the basement, doors and windows being shuttered, images moving by the windows, and lights turning on and off.
But the others, who have been to the Laperal mansion, reportedly said it was just an art deco masterpiece, and not really that scary.