Conjuring the horrific histories of Philippine haunted houses

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On the occasion of the release of “The Conjuring 2,” here are haunted houses in the Philippines that — with their blood-red walls, spooky stone statues, and large looming windows — can make the one featured in the film pale in comparison. Pictured is the Bahay na Pula in San Ildefonso, Bulacan. Photo by JUDGEFLORO/CC BY-SA 3.0

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Strange noises, rattling doorknobs, and levitating objects are all signs of paranormal activity that are guaranteed to send chills down the spine of whoever dares enter supposedly haunted spaces.

Owing mostly to the brutalities that the Philippines experienced during World War II, the country is rich with stories of this kind of activity. Stories of such places as Baguio and Corregidor being occupied to this day by the ghosts of Japanese soldiers and other war victims are common sources of bedtime fright.

Most of these stories involve large structures, like the Diplomat Hotel in Baguio and the Manila Film Center in Pasay. On a smaller scale, however, there’s nothing like the fear instilled by haunted houses. Knowing that people lived within the walls adds to the fear factor — the idea that you’re unsafe in your own home. In this way, the houses aren’t just horror destinations but historical haunts as well. Many of these are ancestral houses, now abandoned and empty, but there aren’t any famous stories of hauntings or possessions at the Emily Rose level.

For your dose of homegrown chills and thrills, here are some local houses that are infamous for the paranormal occurrences that reportedly go on inside their premises.

Laperal White House Japanese soldiers reportedly took over the Laperal White House and used it as a temporary garrison during World War II, where they tortured and killed Filipinos accused of being spies for the Americans. Photo by KISEKILACROIX/CC BY-SA 4.0  

Laperal White House

Built in the 1920s, the Victorian-style Laperal White House in Baguio was originally owned by the Laperal clan headed by Don Roberto and Doña Victorina. Japanese soldiers reportedly took over it and used it as a temporary garrison during World War II, where they tortured and killed Filipinos accused of being spies for the Americans. The house’s longtime caretakers have reported seeing apparitions coming to and from the house — specifically, of a woman in white and a little girl. Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), the house isn’t as creepy as it once was, since it is currently the venue for the Philippine Bamboo Foundation’s Ifugao Bamboo Carvings Exhibit.

Herrera Mansion Locals say that an elderly couple can be seen walking around the Herrera Mansion, while headless soldiers walk to and from the gates. Photo by NOLI DELA PAZ  

Herrera Mansion (Tiaong Stone House)

Designed by the renowned architect Tomás Mapúa in the late 1920s, the Herrera Mansion is the oldest house in Tiaong, Quezon. The stone structure was damaged during the war, and its imposing facade (complete with a statue of the “Noli Me Tangere” character Elias battling a crocodile) makes for the perfect opening shot for a horror movie. Locals say that an elderly couple can be seen walking around the property, while headless soldiers walk to and from the gates. Visitors have also reported hearing chains being dragged around the house.

Bahay na Pula close Bahay na Pula was used as a base for Japanese soldiers, who starved Filipino guerrillas before killing them in the area. Detail of photo by JUDGEFLORO/CC BY-SA 3.0  

Bahay na Pula

Painted an eerie shade of blood red, the Bahay na Pula in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, isn’t just creepy on the outside. Located in the middle of a vast property owned by the Ildefonso clan, it was used as a base for Japanese soldiers, who starved Filipino guerrillas before killing them in the area. It is said that Japanese soldiers took turns raping local women inside the house during World War II. Though it is currently abandoned, people who live near the area have reported hearing wailing and screams for help, and seeing a ghostly platoon of Japanese soldiers roaming around.

Malacañan Palace Several dead presidents are supposed to have been spotted lingering in the halls of Malacañan Palace. Photo courtesy of OFFICIAL GAZETTE OF THE PHILIPPINES  

Malacañan Palace

Dubbed “the country’s top haunted house,” the official residence of the president of the Philippines, Malacañan Palace, is known to be host to a number of supernatural beings due to its centuries of history. Several dead presidents are supposed to have been spotted lingering in its halls, with the most frequent being former President Manuel Quezon. There are so many stories that the palace’s official website has even released an article compiling all of them.