There are so many old places in the Philippines that are rich in history.
For example, the “World’s Oldest Chinatown” in Binondo, and, of course, one of the most famous haunted places in Baguio City: the Dominican Hill Retreat House — more commonly known as the Diplomat Hotel.
Many people believe that the Diplomat Hotel, which sits atop Dominical Hill in Baguio City, a province located north of Philippines’ main capital, Manila, is haunted by ghosts of the past.
Tales of ghostly sightings, paranormal encounters, and other chilling stories have been passed down from one generation to the next.
Some people claimed seeing headless apparitions inside the Diplomat Hotel during the night. Guests and employees of the establishment would often hear strange sounds echoing through the walls of the building — noises like crying kids and babies.
I went there last week to check the place out and see for myself if it’s truly haunted.
After knowing the history of the Diplomat Hotel, one can’t possibly blame people from thinking that this place is a nest for ghosts and other paranormal entities.
The Diplomat Hotel, which was referred to then as the Dominican vacation house, was first constructed by the American friars of the Order of Preachers (commonly known as the Dominican Order) from 1913 to 1915.
The project was headed by Fr. Roque Ruaño, one of the members of the order. He was also the same architect who designed the main building of University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, one of the oldest private Roman Catholic universities in the Philippines.
After its construction, the place was turned into a seminary called “Colegio del Santissimo Rosario” in June 1915, but due to low enrollments, the Dominican Order had reverted the place back to its original purpose two years later.
The Dominican Hill Retreat House’s grim history began during World War II, when the Japanese Imperial Army, led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, turned the building into a prisoners-of-war camp. The priests and nuns who occupied the building were forced to serve as helpers for the soldiers.
The Japanese Imperial Army, particularly its secret military police known as the Kenpeitai, committed barbaric acts during their occupation of the retreat house, such as rape, torture, and the decapitation of priests, nuns, and refugees staying within its walls.
Some claimed that they also allegedly massacred numerous children on the two fountains located on two sides of the building.
Then in 1973, Diplomat Hotels, Inc. acquired the ownership of the 17-hectare (170,000 square meters) property. They remodeled the interior of the place and turned it into a 33-bedroom hotel. Despite the changes, the company retained the unique architecture that can be seen outside of the establishment.
The hotel was managed by Baguio-based entrepreneur and faith healer famous for psychic surgery, Antonio Agapito “Tony” Agpaoa. Its operation, unfortunately, ceased after his death in 1987.
The experience was definitely unforgettable. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by a fairly large, creepy gate and an old castle building beside it that made it even more terrifying.
You will see lots of tourists visiting the Diplomat Hotel.
Walking forward, you’ll see a very large stone wall on the right side by the entrance where the 10 Commandments were written.
Also see near the entrance you’ll see the new name of the establishment, Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park, which was given by the local Baguio government after they acquired the property in April 2005.
The outer walls and the entrance of building are no doubt hair-raising.
However, you’ll find the true beauty — or eeriness — of Diplomat Hotel inside, all thanks to the old-looking walls of the building.
Here are the two fountains where the numerous children and babies were allegedly slaughtered.
Even the stairs inside the Diplomat Hotel look really scary.
Here are a couple of shots taken from the second floor of the hotel.
This one almost gave me a mini heart attack!
Check out this room with a creepy bathtub.
Or this fairly large room with a fireplace that looks either a suite-type hotel room or a library/hangout place for the guests of the hotel.
Here’s a shot looking through the window from the third floor, which is also the rooftop of the hotel.
The plants inside and outside also help make the place look a bit more aesthetically pleasing, despite its macabre interior, exterior design, and history.
I didn’t encounter anything scary during my visit there — aside from the mild heart attack I had after seeing the priest and nun cutout for the tourists.
I find it somehow unfair to label the place “haunted.” Yes, aesthetically speaking, the Diplomat Hotel looks pretty frightening, but people should also look past that and into the building’s rich and amazing history, especially how it lasted during WWII and the horrible 1990 Baguio City Earthquake where more than 1,000 people died.
Make sure the Diplomat Hotel is on your list of places to visit in the Philippines!
All images © Nextshark