Text and Images by Sara Grace C. Fojas
If you’re looking for a good scare with your friends this Halloween, Intramuros is the perfect place. The Walled City built by the Spaniards in the 16th century is the oldest district of the city of Manila that covers 64 hectares of land, surrounded by eight-meter-thick stones and high walls that rise 22 meters. For hundreds of years, it was home to several thousands of Spanish and their Filipino servants. The Japanese who occupied the city during the 1940s invaded it and tortured and killed many civilians and Filipinos soldiers. During World War II, much of it was damaged by the Japanese and American bombings. Intramuros was in ruins and the only structure that survived was the San Agustin Church. The place may have withstood wars, natural disasters, and colonial invaders, but something remained: the spirits of the war victims, the soldiers who were told to never leave their posts, and many other ghosts and elementals lurking in trees, in tunnels, over the wall, or maybe just beside you.
With the aid of Jade Martin of the Intramuros Ghost Tour and the Ford EcoSport, we had a night tour around Intramuros and found its hauntingly creepiest spots. Let the haunting begin!
Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao
Built to protect the Spaniards from the Chinese living in the parian (ghetto outside Intramuros where the Chinese were required to live) outside the city, the area was once filled with canyons pointing to the parian in case they try to revolt against the Spaniards. Psychics and some tourists claim that they experienced a mirage there and saw hundreds of blooded cadavers in the whole area. According to history, the place became a dumpsite of the dead bodies of men, women, and even babies that the Japanese killed during their stay in Intramuros.
Lyceum of the Philippines University
The university was formerly known as the Lyceum Institute of Technology and was founded by the third president of the Republic of the Philippines, Jose P. Laurel. Before it became an educational institution, the school located on Muralla Street was the San Juan de Dios Hospital. Most of the war victims—the soldiers and innocent civilians—were brought to this hospital. According to some staff of the university, they would sometimes encounter apparitions of Japanese soldiers in the campus. Some also claim to have encountered medical people running around carrying medicines and injections for their patients.
Walled City Dormitory
Although this is not an old building in Intamuros, some students who lived in the dormitory have seen different entities during their stay—a black lady, a white lady, and a child running around the area. According to paranormal investigator Jade Martin, a white lady is a representation of the tragedies that might have happened in a certain place while a black lady represents sorrow. As for the child, Jade says that these aren’t ghosts but demons disguising themselves as kids to appear harmless.
Baluarte de San Gabriel
Baluarte de San Gabriel is the Spaniard’s defense against the parian located on the north of Intramuros. Rampart canons facing Binondo were installed around the area to guard the river against the enemies. If you’re a clairvoyant and you go up there, you will see Japanese soldiers conducting a drill, as if preparing for the war. Some even claim to have heard gunshots so real they almost broke to a run.
Abandoned building in front of Letran University
This building has been abandoned for a long time. Ghosts love staying in dark places, away from human activities. The stairs just behind the building are said to be guarded by the ghost of a girl. If she likes you, she will show herself in the form of a beautiful lady but if you’re causing noise and disturbing the area, she’s likely to show you her fierce side, all the horror coming out of her eyes like pinpoints of fire in the darkness.
Over the years, the dungeons in the walls of Intramuros have become small eateries catering to students. But the prisoners of the past have remained prisoners longing to be free and so they haunt the place, particularly the dungeon that is now Jury’s Grill. Some staff and students have experienced poltergeist activities. Utensils would just fly in the air while they’re eating, so the owners decided to close it down and leave.
One of the most haunted places in Intramuros is the Aduana building, formerly the Intendencia or Custom House. The building has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. It became the Central Bank of the Philippines and the Commission on Elections office. But nobody seems to last long enough in the building because of “stranger things.” Jade said that they found out in their investigation that a portal to the other side could be found inside the building. Headless priests, hunchbacks, and children with horns run around the place. A lot of accidents also happen around the area. Some believe that the whole place itself takes lives. Few tourists who joined the ghost tour have seen children playing on the second floor of the building. What they didn’t know was the building doesn’t have a second floor anymore.
In this small park near Ilog Pasig is where reapers would often come by. Reapers are said to be white-hooded figures that capture the lost souls of the dead and bring them to their rightful place. The park is also the territory of doppelgangers, or creatures that can make an exact copy of a certain person. Sometimes they copy the statue of Adolfo Lopez Mateos, the president of Mexico who visited the Philippines during the Spanish time. Sometimes it’s some of the guards of the area that show up one moment and vanish the next.
Our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal was detained at Fort Santiago while waiting for his execution. During World War II, it became a torture chamber. Even at daytime, some say they see soldiers in old uniforms patroling the area. At night, guards hear the screams and squeals of the tortured. Others even claim to have heard footsteps from Jose Rizal’s prison cell.
Cuartel de Santa Lucia
The area used to be a barracks for soldiers. This is also where Rizal had his trials. After the war, it was turned into a park. The big tree in the park is said to be the home of a tikbalang (a mythical creature with the head of a horse and the body of a man). There’s also a white lady who shows up every now, or else her screams and moans are heard. Some also claim to have encountered an American soldier, who interacts with people. There’s a tunnel at the back of the barracks where the apparition of a nun appears. It is one of the creepiest spots in Intramuros.
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation
The office of our 116-year-old publication was once the Church of the Recollects. Some staffers claim that when they’re alone at night working in the office, they would hear sounds of someone typing on the keyboard even though no one is there. Some also claim that they see a child running through the walls in the office.
The ghost tour was made possible by the Intramuros Ghost Walk group and Ford.
The trendy Ford EcoSport offers agility, affordability, and fuel-efficiency to its driver and passengers because of its flexibility and spaciousness. It can pass rugged roads effortlessly and allows you to overcome small parking spaces, maneuver in heavy traffic, and making tight turns. It comes in seven different colors: Panther Black, Lunar Sky, Ingot Silver, Winning Blue, Candy Red, Mars Red, and Frozen White.