Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The familiar indications of nearby ghosts or spirits — or whatever anybody calls them — haunts not just the avid ghost hunter. Even the non-believer or the unsuspecting passer-by walking on a dimly-lit street in the middle of the night can claim to have felt them at one point: A sensation of coldness. Goosebumps. Hair standing at the back of the neck. A thumping of the heart. Paranoia upon feeling that someone is watching or following you. Couple these indications with our rich folklore and superstitious nature, and you have a recipe for fear.
Ghosts are in every corner of the city but their indications are strongest in those parts that carry a dark history. Here, we’ve rounded up ten of the places with the most haunting presence of spirits, spread all throughout Manila. Let this map be a guide whether you’re hunting for the thrill and the goosebumps, or avoiding them.
Manila Film Center (Pasay)
Built during the Marcos era, the Manila Film Center’s construction claimed workers’ lives when the building’s floors collapsed on Nov. 17, 1981. Nevertheless, the film center saw the likes of international actors such as Brooke Shields and Jeremy Irons saunter its still-slightly-wet cement floors, as arrangements were made to rush the construction of this “other Parthenon” — even as hundreds were reported to have been still buried in the rubble — all in the name of the prestige promised by the 1982 Manila Film Festival. The film fest subsequently struggled through budgetary constraints and had to screen soft porn films. People have claimed to hear the wails of the workers and see their blood drip from the walls.
Fort Santiago (Intramuros)
A visit to Intramuros, Manila’s famous walled city, requires a pitstop by Fort Santiago, where many civilians and soldiers were tortured and killed during World War II. The fort originally served as a prison, and is neighbor to the Rizal Shrine, where the national hero was executed. Observant visitors should notice metal footsteps from the fort leading to the monument, which are said to be Rizal’s last footsteps before he was shot. Ghosts of soldiers, wearing blue uniforms, are said to roam the area at night.
Star Mall Alabang (Muntinlupa)
A cruise through the Skyway or a short trip through SLEX will take you to Star Mall Alabang, which also houses buses coming in from farther provinces from the south. Previously known as Metropolis Star, Star Mall Alabang is built on what was previously the Alabang Cemetery. Ghosts are said to dwell in the theatres and blend in with the audience, unbeknownst to the people that watch with them. A story goes that a couple, laughing with a perceived large audience, stood up at the end of the film only to find out they were alone.
Balete Drive (Quezon City)
Balete Drive is nestled in New Manila, Quezon City, and stretches across E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave. to cross Aurora Blvd., before reaching N. Domingo St. in Cubao. It is also the titular street of Peque Gallaga’s film, “Hiwaga sa Balete Drive,” and has been the template for feminine ghosts since the 1950s, when its myths supposedly started circulating. Claims of a white lady wandering the street at around midnight has been a staple of Filipino urban legends, not to mention various appearances and reincarnations in Halloween T.V. specials. Motorists report glimpsing the lady next to a lamppost, then finding her reflected in the rearview mirror, seated in the backseat.
Manila City Hall (Ermita, Manila)
Constructed and inaugurated in 1941 under the guidance of architect Antonio Toledo, the present building of the Manila City Hall features a hexagonal clock tower, which is one of its distinguishing features today. The city hall was not spared from the ravages of the second World War and has undergone several reconstructions ever since. What makes the Manila City Hall the subject of mystery is that when viewed from above, the whole building looks like one giant casket (some would say the shape recalls the shield of the Knights Templar). Lost spirits are said to wander the halls past 6 p.m.
University of Sto. Tomas (España, Manila)
At almost 400 years old, the University of Sto. Tomas has its fair share of ghost stories. From headless nuns to prisoners who died there when the university was used as an internment camp in the 1940s, these stories have been passed on to all who have walked through its ancient walls. Some instances of unfortunate suicides have served as basis for stories of ghosts haunting the school buildings, including one who taps students’ foreheads while in the women’s restroom or another who sings (quite aptly) at the fifth floor of the Music Building.
De La Salle University (Malate, Manila)
The second World War did not only cause the destruction of most of Manila’s iconic buildings; it also bred a host of tales where the dead continue to haunt old Manila. DLSU has its share of these war stories. The Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament is where many La Sallian brothers and civilians were massacred by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Stories of the victims of said massacre and some unfortunate accidents within the university are routinely shared between those who have experienced these eerie paranormal sightings within school grounds.
Ateneo de Manila University (Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City)
The old building of the Communications Department is said to be the most haunted building in the Ateneo, with students and personnel reporting mysterious movements therein when alone or even during class. Nevertheless, the building, in contrast with all other buildings of the university, has a decidedly more homey feel, with its tiny classrooms and narrow, almost-flimsy corridors. (There’s even a cozy sala somewhere within the building.) Harboring whispers of the occult and supernatural, the building is the site of the first, and subsequent spirit quests by a group of spirit questors.
University of the Philippines-Diliman (Diliman, Quezon City)
The theater in UP Diliman’s Palma Hall is said to have its own resident spirit. Her origins are said to be of a young theater actress in her prime choosing to end her life because she was overshadowed by a newcomer. Her spirit is said to play around with the current cast of actors and actresses during their respective performances. Students of the university also claim to feel a strong presence in the shabby bathrooms of Palma Hall, where purported spirit sightings abound and become ghost stories that add to the immense roster of UP Diliman’s legends and myths.
Fifth floor of the Philippine National Bank (Roxas Boulevard, Pasay)
On Feb. 13, 1985, an eight-hour fire destroyed the second and third floors of the Regent of Manila hotel, the fourth hotel fire in a spate of fires occurring in Manila during that period. The number of those killed ranged from 16 to 25, with reports saying firefighters were still trying to quell the fire two days after it ran the hotel ablaze. The story goes that the fifth floor of the Philippine National Bank was used as a morgue for the fire’s casualties. Previous tenants would have exorcisms performed on said floor regularly due to the frequency of the hauntings.