Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
There’s this famous “haunted” hotel in the Philippines. It’s named “Diplomat Hotel.” I am not sure about it’s history since word-of-mouth information tend to distort real history. All I know is that it was an old seminary for Jesuit priests about a decade ago, just about when the city (Baguio City) was founded. It was abandoned for some reason (they said there was a fire back then). It turned into some sort of hospital during the second world war. The Philippines was greatly affected then. It was in this city where the Great General Yamashita officially surrendered. Many, of course, perished in the city, making it one of the most haunted cities in the country. After being used as a hospital, it was renovated into a hotel. I am pretty sure the hotel bit is true because the place had been obviously divided into small rooms like a hotel and each room had its own bathroom. The reception area, which was made of stone, still stands. As many know, the Philippines is a tropical country, making the most part of it hot and humid. The city of Baguio is located in the mountains, having cooler climate. It only made sense that they made that building a hotel for visitors from the low-lands during hot summers.
Back to the hotel. In 1990, there was a catastrophic earthquake that hit the city. Again, thousands perished. The hotel was not spared, but it still stands. Rumors say that during the earthquake, September 1990, there were plenty of visitors in the hotel. A stampede had broken out, people frantically running from the building. As still seen today, there are only three exits in the building, all of them small and narrow. You can well imagine the carnage of people stepping on people. This adds to the creepy-ness of the building.
It still stands today. Only a five-minute walk from our house.
As children, we were mischievous and playful. Me, my cousin, and two neighbors. Being near that place, we often went there during summer to have a picnic or to play hide-and-seek. The place isn’t that creepy in the morning. Yuji, our half-japanese neighbor, was the first in our group to have one of those camera phones from japan. We fooled around with it, recording each and one of us playing around, etc. Our other neighbor, John John, had the idea of recording at Diplomat Hotel to see if we can “catch” a ghost. Off we went.
We were around 8 or 9 back then and had heard plenty of scary stories and seen videos from the then slow Internet. We were spooked to go inside the hotel despite it being in the middle of the day. Somehow, the hotel that we treated as a playground had turned into what it was, a haunted hotel. Too freaked-out, we didn’t go inside, instead, we started recording outside, around the building (it had a very wide driveway going around). We went around, singing and goofing off. At the back of the building, the north-east corner, the phone had turned off. We blamed John John for probably pressing something accidentally, making the phone turn off, since he was the one holding the phone. We continued walking when there was suddenly a cold gush of wind rushing up my skirt. I felt icy cold fingers touch my ankles. I panicked and started to run. The boys followed. It was when were well out of the compound when we got the phone to start again. When we got home when we noticed a white fleeting figure crossing one of the tall narrow windows of the front of the hotel during the beginning of the video. At the end, the video just stopped, that’s when the phone had turned off. We showed the video to our families who were equally as spooked as we were. But none were really surprised. The place had a reputation.
Fast forward to pre-adolescence. I was in the 6th grade and it was nearly Halloween. The hype for scary stuff started again. My classmates from school knew I lived near Diplomat Hotel. They asked me to accompany them there. I had become a tour guide of the place. There were three of us, all girls and it was a school day, we were in uniform. Rose Mary brought with her one of those cameras with films. We had started taking pictures, all of us present in all photos. There was no one else present in the hotel. Somewhere in the lobby area of the building, near the fire place, the camera had started acting funny. It was turned on but didn’t click to take pictures. We started fumbling with it in a circle when it suddenly flashed in front of our faces.
The north-eastern corner of the building was used as a small chapel. At the end of the room, there was a table, probably used for ceremonies. There were long benches in two rows on each side of the table. We had started fooling around there. Rose Mary was the camera man. I pretended to be some sort of priest while Rochelle pretended to be my one and only follower. I took my place behind the table and Rochelle sat in front of the row. Rose Mary took only one photo in that room, since were saving up on film for the rest of the hotel.
The next day, at school, Rose Mary showed Rochelle and me the prints from the film. Everything seemed normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. She was even showed us the horrible photo of our faces looking down on the camera when it had started acting funny. The inside of our noses were illuminated and our eyes were diluted from the flash. The last photo was a blank. It was plain white. Rochelle asked how come the printing shop made Rose Mary pay for a blank photo. There was nothing in it. Rose Mary explained that the photo was not supposed to be blank, but the film refused to be printed. She brought out the negative that we used at the hotel. At the end of the film, the negative image showed the chapel on the north-east corner of the building. Rose Mary swore she only took one shot of the place and showed us the photo of us mimicking a ceremony. On the center of the negative, behind the table where had I stood, was an odd looking lady with long hair. She didn’t have a face. Her arms were out-stretched upward as if giving some sort of offering to a god. We could see what she wore. It was something light-colored. We didn’t know what color it was exactly because it was a negative. There was a dark sash that tied the robe around her waist. That didn’t look like the uniform we wore that day. Every other detail of the negative, like the tree branches outside, her fingers, the woman’s unruly hair, the scratches on the old table were all visible. But we could not see a face. Rose Mary said that the negative would always come out blank if they tried to print it. She still has the negative today.
High School, senior year. Another set of friends. The same hotel. They too were curious of the place. Michelle, Divina and Rachelle visited my home after school and wanted to see Diplomat Hotel. This time, no cameras since the intended visit was my home, not a spooky hotel. I was showing them around, telling them the usual scary stories I heard from other people who came to the place. I also told them of my own encounters. It was in the afternoon and sun was about to set. Nothing unusual was happening until Divina, who was lagging behind us, admiring the vintage-y walls, suddenly ran forward, passing me who was leading the group. We had just exited the chapel on the north-eastern corner of the building when Divina ran. The other girls, without explanation, ran with Divina to the main entrance. I followed them there. I asked Divina why she ran. She said something cold touched her ankle. I asked the others if they felt anything. They felt nothing, but ran because they got spooked by Divina getting spooked. We had a laugh, but deep inside, I began getting creeped out. Home we went.
School project: a music video for music class. My bestfriend, Micah was our talent. She sang for the project. The rest of us will be doing the video. Francis, Jeremy, Kate and I went to Diplomat Hotel. There were a few people in the hotel. It was a little noisy because of the tourists, but we didn’t mind since we were going to use the recording of the song for the music video. The song was about the best friend falling in love with his girlfriend. Francis was the friend. Jeremy the best friend. Kate the girl friend of Francis. We didn’t take a lot of videos inside because Kate felt shy shooting with a bunch of tourists around the place. So we decided to do most of the shooting outside where the hotel gardens were. This time, the gardens were at the north-western part compound. I was the camera man. It took us only an hour to shoot everything we needed. We still had time, so we shot some “bloopers” at the garden. When it was time to edit the videos, I felt curious about our shots. We must have caught something like before. I watched all the videos twice, one in normal speed, the other a little slower. Nothing. So I went on with the editing. I added the bloopers at the end of the video with its original audio. I reviewed my work with the volume turned up. I regret having put the bloopers and watching it on full volume. In the beginning of the first blooper we made, there was a deep grunting sound just before we laughed in the video. The second one also had grunting noises only it happened in between me and Jeremy talking in the video. The last was the creepiest. Just before another round of laughter, a child’s voice whispered “Help Me.” When I showed my family and friends the video, they told me that I was the one whispering. But I explained to them, how could I whisper that when immediately after it I was laughing with the rest of my group mates. They listened to the audio again and were convinced that I couldn’t have done that. Sadly, the file was corrupted and no longer retrievable.
There had been plenty of investigations conducted in that building, but none had really explained why would a child’s voice be whispering to me in English (mind you, we speak Tagalog or Ilocano in our area) when the building had been a priest’s seminary, a hospital and a hotel. Could she be the same spirit touching our ankles and lifting skirts when I was younger? Who was that woman in the negative? Why was she wearing a priestly-looking robe? There weren’t any female priests there. And what was that grunting noise?
The hotel now has been renovated into a multi-purpose hall by the government and, with special permits, people are allowed to camp inside the abandoned building so tourists would have scary stories of their own.
Admin Note – The Diplomat Hotel is a real place; if you found this author’s experiences intriguing, you may be interested in the following post from Travel in Boots:
30 Creepy But Lovely Photos of the Haunted Diplomat Hotel in Baguio