BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – When I was young, I was easily frightened by ghosts, or rather by stories about ghosts – that was, until I studied in Manila. Someone told me that Baguio must be the scariest place in the country.
I stopped getting scared. I have since written a lot about ghosts in Baguio. I even attended the first Spirit Questor covenant at the Hyatt lot after the 1990 earthquake.
You know what scares me now? The ghosts outside of Baguio, but still inside Cordillera. They are supposedly in these places:
This Episcopalian resort town looked like Baguio 30 years ago – that time when Baguio was more or less innocent. And innocence means a clueless girl lost in the jungle while menacing eyes hover from the trees.
Personally, I had a fright in Sagada only recently. I was with two other NGO friends Chi and Paolo. We arrived in Sagada late and couldn’t find a place to stay. The inn was full, but they told us there was a cabin in front.
There were two beds, but they could set up another for the night. There was a fireplace, but we did not bother to use it. We were so tired, we just slept. Then I got one nightmare after another. It was so stifling, I thought someone was really strangling me.
In the next bed, I didn’t know that Chi couldn’t sleep. She said later that she felt like someone was looking at her. She just covered herself with her blanket and waited for the morning.
What woke us up was Paolo making a sound in the shower. Chi looked at her phone and learned that it was only 12 midnight. Chi told Paolo that it was only 12 and Paolo was surprised – he honestly thought it was already 5:30! We should be laughing, but we were a bit terrified over our shared experience.
In the morning, there was a road cut. A beer delivery truck hit the soft shoulder and literally went down with the road. The road crew built a temporary bridge made of logs on the road for us to cross by foot. We didn’t know if we were literally stepping on the felled truck (with the bodies) but it seemed that way.
Other people I talked to felt a presence in the same inn while others mentioned a nearby school as being haunted. Another said a cave gave him the shivers, having met an old woman inside.
Then I saw on YouTube one ghostly figure almost floating in the Echo Valley. Another YouTube post insists there was a ghost outside while they were drinking around a fireplace.
Kabayan and Nabalicong Cave in Buguias, Benguet
I came upon this ghost story which was engrossing except for a few inaccuracies. There was no Ifugao mummy. Apparently, the mummy was that of Apo Anno, a legendary hunter in Buguias, whose mummy was stolen and eventually given to the Philippine Museum.
It was brought back to a cave in Nabalicong a few years ago. Meanwhile, the mummy caves in Kabayan were frightening enough with the bones displayed neatly. Also, there was the case of the curse of the mummies which cost the life of a museum curator there and the leg of a National Museum worker.
A friend who was born in this vegetable farming town told me about hearing what seemed to be a platoon of soldiers passing there on many a moonless night. She thought it was the Army passing there until she was told there was no Philippine Army, but a phantom Japanese army retreating at the end of the ghostly war.
There were so many casualties on both sides during the retreat of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita on this route from Benguet to Ifugao at the end of World War II that the story seemed legit.
Kennon and Naguilian roads, Halsema Highway
There were stories I heard in Kennon and sometimes in Halsema Highway and Naguilian about old women or young girls suddenly showing themselves at the side of the road to flag busses. Sometimes it turned out that the spot was where a bus fell decades ago, killing a number of passengers.
Sometimes the bus would wait for the women to enter but they would sometimes disappear in the fog. Sometimes the failure to stop would mean danger in the next turn. So now, do you still think being a bus driver in Cordillera is boring?
Casamata Hill in Abra
Two friends organized a theater workshop there recently for high school students. As it turned out, 6 of the girls were naluganan or taken over by spirits. The spirits were persistent and kept on returning. They were talking of girls attacked there by Japanese and then by politicians. They were murdered and wanted justice. No wonder “Casamata” meant House of Death. The two teachers were so stressed out, acting as exorcists to their literally dramatic students. Needless to say, come performance night, they were superb – like they were possessed. – Rappler.com
Images of skulls and Baguio City from Shutterstock.
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