Contributed by Girl Chasing Sunshine
As we opened our van’s windows to take a peek into the abandoned, locked property in front of us—the former site of the infamous Hyatt Hotel that was devastated in the 1990 earthquake—we knew it was not just the famed cold Baguio City weather that made the hairs on our skin go up and our spines chill a little. It was something else—something inexplicably and eerily ominous. After all, this was no ordinary stroll around the summer capital of the Philippines.
Baguio City in Benguet province is a four-hour drive going up north from the capital city of Manila. Aside from Baguio’s cool weather, culinary discoveries, and prominent tourist spots, the city’s strange tales, urban legends, and spooky destinations also draw interest from curious travellers, thrill-seekers, and paranormal enthusiasts.
Our group that afternoon was no different. All seven of us went to Baguio City as part of a bigger assembly for our division’s team building. On that particular afternoon, we went on separate groups: one went to the usual Baguio City Tour, the other traced the movie That Thing Called Tadhana’s shooting locations, while we—the adventurous and crazy ones—decided to deviate from the typical Baguio City itinerary and signed up for a 3-hour ghost tour, courtesy of Pine City Fright Tours.
That’s where the former Hyatt Hotel in Baguio City used to be.
The hazy fog and the icy wind, brought about by the incessant pouring of the rain that afternoon, provided a creepy backdrop to the quest we were about to embark. While inside our van, we were even joking that our group—along with the weather and the setting—was the classic makings of a Pinoy horror film. You know, those that involve a whole barkada (group of friends) going on a road trip, only to get derailed by strange and unnatural occurrences along the way.
We met up with ex-film editor and freelance videographer Anton Villa-Abrille, the founder of the tour and its sole guide (the only licensed ghost tour guide in Baguio City, I must add), along with the other people who have signed up for the tour. To add to the bizarreness of that afternoon’s events, the other group on the tour was a family who had with them their two toddlers! What? Parents would bring their kids to a ghost tour?! The ironic part was that the kids would go into a sinister laughing fit, as if on cue, every time we were at the perplexing parts of the tour: like that time we stopped by the location of the former Hyatt Hotel as I have described at the start of this post.
Heavy rain dampened our ghost tour.
Unable to go down because of the heavy rains, we cramped inside our van as we looked from afar while Anton recounted the haunted tales of the cursed land where Hyatt Hotel used to be. Everyone has heard how strange apparitions started right after the tragic 1990 earthquake that took the lives of vacationers, tourists, and hotel staff. It is believed that the spirits of the victims, unable to move on, continue to live on the Hyatt Hotel site up to this day. However, few people are aware that long before the earthquake happened, the land has already been ill-fated. Why? You must hear Anton tell the story himself as he shows spine-chilling photos and news clippings.
Would you dare stay for a night in Teacher’s Camp?
Our subsequent stop was the notorious Teacher’s Camp along Leonard Wood, which is a popular location for company conferences, seminars, and retreats. There are countless ghost stories surrounding Teacher’s Camp as it used to be a battlefield for native warriors and tent-city during the American occupation. It was still raining when we drove by Teacher’s Camp so we just stopped in a street fronting the large oval. But it didn’t make the situation any less frightening because the street where we were is also the same one where the ghost of a raging, violent woman—believed to have been raped and killed in Teacher’s Camp—is rumoured to appear every now and then.
Picture the spirit of a violent woman here.
Finally, we were off to the last stop and the highlight of our Baguio City ghost tour: #14 Laperal. The Laperal Mansion or the Laperal White House along Leonard Wood is probably one of the imposing structures you will encounter in Baguio City.
Its Victorian-style architecture has withstood fire, war, earthquake, and a damned family history. Built in 1920, the mansion was the home of the family of Don Roberto and Dona Victorina Laperal, one of the deep-rooted clans in Baguio City. Boasting of premium narra and yakal, the house was witness to various terrors and horrors—from the mysterious deaths of each member of the Laperal Family to the deaths and devastation caused by World War II.
Today, business tycoon Lucio Tan is the proud owner of the mansion that has been transformed into a bamboo gallery. Despite the renovations and restorations, people still believe that spirits and the supernatural continue to live in the house.
The Ghost Hunters of Baguio City. This photo gave us the creeps. Can you tell why?
The moon was almost creeping when Anton led us inside the mansion. While I was caught impressed by the interiors, elegant furniture, and bamboo displays upon entering Laperal Mansion, it was quickly overshadowed by a dark, strong, and hostile presence that welcomed us.
The dining area of the Laperal Mansion. Anton told us that the caretaker would usually find the chairs out of its places every morning.
The interiors of the mansion.
I am no clairvoyant but it was as if watchful eyes were glued on us as we roamed around the house. Goosebumps sprouted all over my skin and the rest of the group couldn’t be separated from their arm locks and hand grips with one another.
The group was holding on to one another all throughout the tour.
And yes, the tour did have some hair-raising moments—the babies crying as we went up the narrow staircase; one of our companions getting locked up inside and coming out spooked from a small cabinet where the Laperal’s eldest son allegedly committed suicide; going inside the rooms while Anton recounted each cryptic death that fell on all the members of the original Laperal Family; peeking into the attic where Japanese soldiers died.
The brave soul who volunteered to be locked up.
The stories were a mix of disturbing and historical. Anton certainly ramped up suspense with his expert knowledge and narration of the folklore, stories, and horror tales surrounding the Laperal Mansion, coupled with photos and first-hand witnesses (the mansion’s long-time caretaker was there to share his story). Best of all, Anton still managed to inject some humour into the tour despite the fright we were all engulfed into.
The caretaker of the Laperal Mansion.
Overall, it was a tour that we needed to take to fully understand the myths and mist surrounding Baguio City’s horror history. If you want a thought-provoking detour from the usual Baguio City tour, there’s no way to go but to the Pine City Fright Tour.
Pine City Fright Tour
Contact Number: 0998 548 030
Address: 11 Petunia Amparo Heights, Baguio City, PH
Have you been on a ghost tour? What are some of your spooky experiences while travelling?