There is another side to Baguio, one that may have escaped the radar of most tourists especially those from far away provinces of Visayas and Mindanao, that side is dark, eerie and creepy. It’s a world’s apart from the normal expectation of wonderful sites and enjoyable highland temperature. This side attracts a different kind of tourists and explorers too, appealing more to those who are brave and those who think themselves brave for wanting to face the unknown, the spirits of the other world. Those who tempt fate by searching for Not Like Ours, for souls trap in this world.
Baguio is a mountain city steep in history but the stories are not all about flowers in bloom like during Panagbenga, or triumphs of its people in rising over adversities. There are stories too about battles and devastations and ruins left for waste. Thus, the passing of decades gave rise to another tourist trail – Baguio’s Ruins and Ghost Hunting Places. One such ‘haunted’ place that is poised to become more famous is the Diplomat Hotel ruins at the end of the Dominican Hill.
I got acquainted with this spooky ‘haunted’ side of Baguio as I was doing some readings to prepare for our do it yourself cheap Baguio Tour. One of the Philippine Travel Bloggers I follow Joven of TravexTravels wrote a post with an arresting picture of a huge cross. That sure got my attention. It was also the start of our conversation about ghost hunting grounds in Baguio and the places which are becoming popular from the Laperal White House in Leonard Wood, Teacher’s Camp which I’ve stayed in before and which I have a personal ‘weird ‘experience, and the ruins of the Diplomat Hotel Baguio in Dominican Hill. This one he says is a whole lot scarier as someone he knows had a first hand experience with the ghost and spirits of the place.
Baguio Ghost Hunting Tour
We made plans to go for ghost hunting walking tour starting in Leonard Wood with the end goal of reaching the ground of the Teacher’s Camp. We met up at past 8 pm at one of the local diner, had a quick meal while waiting for our ghost hunting tour guide.Prior to leaving our hotel in Baguio, I was preparing the flashlight I brought for this very purpose; I took it out of my bag, ready for use for the plan night tour. Later on I found out I have left it behind. At that point, I wasn’t feeling 100% sure that I want to push through with the tour, the left-behind flashlight maybe a sign that pushing through will be a bad decision.
Still we waited, after close to an hour, with me shivering from the chilly temperature of Baguio, a realization dawned on me. Even if I will survive the ghost hunting tour per se, my downfall will be the cold and the continuing blast of chilly winds. Walking at night in dark unfamiliar road, without any light, freezing from cold – the whole thing is really becoming not a good idea, so I requested Joven to reach out to his contact; we are cancelling the plan night ghost hunting tour in Baguio.
Before our trio part for the night, we agreed to meet the following day for our affordable tour of Baguio, we are still going on a ghost hunting but in broad daylight. I feel better about it.
I probably just chickened out. Lol.
Day 2: Do It Yourself Cheap Baguio Tour
One of the famous ruins of Baguio is the Diplomat Hotel which is located in Dominican Hill. On our second day in Baguio, we have a DIY city tour starting with the Lourdes Grotto. From Lourdes Grotto we walked all the way to reach the hotel ruin. Yes, we walked, lol. Please read this post if you want to know the direction to get there as well as tips on how to commute. There is no entrance fee to explore this ruins.
This hotel must have been beautiful and luxurious at its heydays. There were fountains in the yard and huge windows all around. The door arches has elaborate details on it. You can also see a fireplace at the end of the main lobby. But I wonder how the guests then felt staying in the Diplomat knowing that there is a huge cross on top of the building? Weren’t they disturbed by it?
A Little Bit Of History
The early years of 20th century saw the rise of the building on top of the Dominican Hill which overlooks Baguio City. The place was a retreat and summer rest house of the Dominican Order in the Philippines, then later became a seminary, Collegio del Santissimo Rosario. This building was for the religious people, which explains why there is a huge cross on top of the building. This cross survives to this day, a looming presence you can’t help but gaze at the moment you enter the ruin’s ground.
During World War II, the building also served as a hospital and refugee center for those who want to escape the bombing of Baguio City by the Japanese Imperial Forces. But the place was not spared from bombing; the story also goes that religious leaders like nuns and priests and those who seek sanctuary were beheaded at the site. The building became a scene of gory killings. Whether true or not, this is the source and inspiration of stories of haunting experiences in Dominican Hill that some claims persist until today.
We chatted a bit with the guard on duty, before we can ask him if he himself experienced creepy things while guarding the ruins, he surprised us by saying ‘mam, don’t let me share stories of spooky experiences”. But he added as an afterthought, ‘sometimes you can hear construction crew at full work during the night but nobody else is here except me and my partner guard. He also keeps pointing to the cross, a lot of tourists and explorers says they feel eerie looking at the cross.
Back to the history of this place, a few years after the war ended, the building became a private property and the owner turned the building to become the Diplomat Hotel. From 1973 to 1987 this place was a fully operational hotel in Baguio City. In 1987, the building was abandoned, reason not known. Ownership passed on to the government, and today this place is being restored. The name has also been changed perhaps in an attempt to leave its ghosts in the past.
“Baguio City shall rehabilitate the old building; develop the property into a Nature Park with appropriate amenities and facilities for tourism, spiritual, environmental and Historical purpose.”
Baguio Heritage Hill and Prayer Mountain
The sign that will greet you when you get to the gate of this complex indicates that you are entering “Baguio Heritage Hill and Prayer Mountain”. Only time will tell if locals will get used to calling this complex as heritage hill and Prayer Mountain or if locals and tourist will continue to think of this place as a spooky ghost hunting ground in Baguio.
On the right side of the gate, your eyes will probably be drawn to the small building with a giant The Ten Commandment Tablets wall. This is a place for worship and called The Ten Commandments Building.
Around the complex are gardens and flowering plants and of course, pine trees. All these gives a refreshing, positive vibe to the area.
Will the stories of ghosts and spirits end when the renovation is complete? My guess is no, but the changes happening now with the Diplomat Hotel Ruin is certainly a welcome development. It will be another place for Baguio residents and visitors to explore.
The hard-core ghost hunters may not share my feelings though.
Inside the Ruins of Diplomat Hotel in Baguio
We were really lucky when we visited this place. No, I did not see any ghost or feel any eerie vibes. It was a bright day, the sky so blue and clear. We arrived on site on perfect timing.
Since the building is undergoing renovation, the management does not allow people to climb to the top floors, especially not to the Diplomat’s huge cross. Understandable since the place is still in ruins, with missing windows and stair railings, not to mention broken doors, rusty grills. BUT as I have said our visit was serendipitous, at that time, the local government has visitors from other Sandigan Bayan and they were exploring all nooks and crannies. They were allowed up so we figured they should allow us to go up too.
We were almost not allowed to climb up but since I can be pretty insistent, the tour guide of this visiting VIPs ask the guard on duty to let us climb too for a quick see when he saw I won’t budge and I was prepared to argue our case. The guard let us up kasi sagot kami ng mga taga Sandigan Bayan. Good thing though nothing untoward happened when we climbed up since I did not want to put another frown to their tour guide’s face. Peace Sir! ^_^
We rushed up, was surprised the cross is really huge! Gigantic in fact! No, I did not attempt to climb beside the cross, there was no time and I promised to behave. During the years when planking was in vogue, lots of thrill seekers will visit the ruin and plank on one of the terrace rails. It’s scary and spooky, a lethal combination for some people.
The Diplomat hotel building is also one of the places you can get a good 360 degrees view of Baguio City. I never realized Baguio is so populated now and houses and buildings are claiming almost every inch of the mountain slopes. The view blows my mind!
DIPLOMAT HOTEL: The Movie
A more recent development is that this famous haunted place in Baguio will soon become the location and subject of a local indie movie with a horror theme. The working title is “Diplomat Hotel” which will star Gretchen Baretto. The story is reported to revolve around a reporter who is trying to uncover the mysteries of the ruins and will come face to face with the spirits trap on its wall. With this movie, the ruins will become more popular, it might even help propel the site to become mainstream as a must see tourist spots in Baguio.
There had also been movies that shoot some scenes in this ruins in the past, the most recent one is One More Try which starred Angel Locsin and Dingdong Dantes.
Naki – feeling artista haha 😆
One of the already renovated area
Are you going to Baguio soon like this summer 2013 or the upcoming long holiday? Why not list the Diplomat Hotel ruins in Dominican Hill as part of your itinerary in the highlands. Visiting this place will make for great travel stories to tell to friends and families. =)
Your experience will lean on the light or dark side, as a haunted place or as a prayer mountain. As for me, I did not experience the dark side. Thank goodness!
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