Thursday, October 22, 2020

HGB Ep. 357 - Old Diplomat Hotel and Haunted Baguio

Moment in Oddity (Suggested by Scott Booker) - Boanthropy

Clinical zoanthropy is a form of mental illness in which the sufferer believes they are either becoming an animal or already have transformed into an animal. Lycanthropy is one form of this that involves a person believing that they are a wolf and they might run around howling or barking. Another really bizarre form is Boanthropy and a person suffering from this believes they are a cow or an ox. The person will go out into the fields and join a herd of cows, crawling around on all fours, mooing and eating grass. The earliest story of a case of Boanthrophy is found in the Bible in the book of Daniel and the sufferer is King Nebuchadnezzar. The text says he “was driven from men and did eat grass as oxen.” He eventually seemed to be cured from the disorder and went back to living a normal life. Researchers are not sure what brings on the disorder, but they hypothesize that it is caused by some kind of hypnotism, hallucination or dream state or more probably is an aspect of Schizophrenia. Non-scientists claim that it is due to some kind of black magic or curse. While we don't know what causes Boanthropy, we do know that it certainly is odd!

This Month in History - British Airship R101 Crashes

In the month of October, on the 5th, in 1930, British Airship R101 crashed in France killing 48 people. Although this disaster cost more lives than the Hindenburg crash, which wouldn't happen for another seven years, most people are unfamiliar with it. This was the airship's maiden voyage and at the time it was the largest airship ever made. The airship measured an amazing 731 feet long. There were 54 people on board the dirigible and the fire that ignited quickly took out nearly everybody. There would be other deadly airship crashes in Europe because they filled them with highly flammable Hydrogen gas, rather than Helium. The reason they went with the more dangerous gas was because America had a monopoly on Helium at the time. Helium is a very hard gas to get a hold of because it is found in very few places and there is a limited, finite supply. There were many mistakes made with this airship. Design flaws were not fixed, the weather was ill-suited for the trip, which was to end in India, and the R101 was overloaded with cargo and fuel. The fabric at the nose was damaged by wind and rain and gas bags in the bow broke open, releasing the lifting gas. The crash was relatively light but shortly after crashing, the gas ignited and it was over in a matter of minutes.

Old Diplomat Hotel and Haunted Baguio (Suggested by: Maria Domingo)

Atop a hill in the Filipino city of Pines sits an abandoned and dilapidated building that not only has a brutal history, it is considered the most haunted place in the Philippines. This is the Old Diplomat Hotel, which was originally a retreat for friars of the Dominican Order that later became a place of sanctuary and then eventually a place of death. But this is not the only creepy location with a haunted reputation in Baguio. The city is dotted with haunted locations like the Laperal White House. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Old Diplomat Hotel and haunted Baguio. 

Baguio (Bag-yo) City is home to the Old Diplomat Hotel. Baguio was the only hill station that was owned by the United States in Asia. The station was established in 1900 on the former Ibaloi (Ee bah luh o ee) village of Kafagway. The Ibaloi are an indigineous group of hill dwellers. The Spanish were early colonizers and they established a mission nearby in the 1700s. Kafagway was one of their rancherias. The Philippine Revolution in 1899 liberated the area of the Spaniards. After the Spanish-American War, the United States occupied the Philippines. The hill station established here became the summer capital of the Philippine Islands. In 1913, the Dominican Order built a retreat for themselves on a hilltop of 17 hectares, giving them a panoramic view of the city. They called this the Dominican Hill Retreat House and the hill would keep that Dominican Hill name. It was designed by a member of the order, Fr. Roque RuaƱo. He had also designed the main building of the University of Santo Tomas. Construction was completed in 1915. 

The building was two-stories tall and had a cross at the top, which is still there today. The friars decided that it would be advantageous to get some tax breaks by opening a school. They started a seminary called Colegio del Santissimo Rosario, but it only was open for a couple of years because there were not enough seminary students enrolling. The priests and nuns continued to use the house as a place for relaxation and this continued until the 1940s. Their peace was broken with the outbreak of World War II. The Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941. They initially landed on Batan Island and the Filipino and American forces tried to keep them back, but eventually were forced to surrender the Philippines to the Japanese. As the Japanese pressed in further, refugees needed a place of sanctuary and they turned to the Dominican Hill Retreat House. That would turn out to be a bad idea.

The Japanese forces took over the house and decided to make it their headquarters and rather than run off the refugees and the priests and nuns, they decided to torture, rape and kill them. This was done by the Japanese secret police known as Kenpeitai. They formed out of the Japanese Imperial Army in 1881. They were brutal and enforced loyalty within Japan and during the war, they punished their enemies and recruited locals to join them. The Kenpeitai turned the front of the building into the scene of numerous hangings. Priests and nuns were decapitated. In April of 1945, American forces liberated the Philippines, including Dominican Hill, and a bomb damaged the right wing of the building. The Japanese forces inside committed suicide.   

After the war, the house was restored and the Dominicans continued to use it as their retreat house again. In 1973, they sold the property to Diplomat Hotels, Inc. and they remodeled the interior completely, creating a thirty-three room hotel called the Diplomat Hotel. A man named Antonio Agapito "Tony" Agpaoa became the manager. Agpaoa was from Baguio and was not only an entrepreneur, but he fashioned himself a faith healer. He claimed that he could do psychic surgery. Agpaoa himself was not a healthy man and he had heart issues for years, along with a brain hemorrhage. He died in 1987 and the hotel was shut down and abandoned. Vandals came through and wrecked the place and stole much of the interior. The 1990 Luzon earthquake damaged parts of the building too.

Eventually the Philippines' Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council took over the ownership of the hotel. The City Government of Baguio took over later and named the property Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park and it was declared a National Historical Site. The building has been under renovation, but it is still in pretty sorry shape. This hasn't stopped it from being used as a tourist spot and a place for workshops, photo shoots and weddings. Ghost tours are hosted in the former hotel. 

Tales of paranormal activity started shortly after the hotel was shut down in the 1980s. Neighbors would claim to hear many sounds coming from the empty building. This included the clattering of dishes, doors and windows banging open and disembodied screams. There are many spirits here ranging from victims of the Japanese to the victims of Tony Agpaoa. Some of the creepier claims about the Diplomat are the presence of faceless or headless apparitions. The faceless description reminds of us the ghosts on Netflix's Haunting of Bly Manor. One of the common descriptions is of a headless priest that people have taken to calling The Black Priest. This is a dark figure that has been seen on both the first and second floors. This is not the only priest apparition seen and there are spirits of nuns seen as well. The fountain areas, there are two of them, have a lot of activity probably due to the fact that the Japanese drowned victims in the water, including children. And that might be why people hear the voices of disembodied children. There was a fire on the property in the 1980s and the morgue, which was a separate out building was heavily damaged. Not much of that morgue is left. Many people claim to see a nun out by the morgue.

Amy's Crypt is one of our favorite "go-tos" when it comes to investigations of international locations and she had the opportunity to investigate the Diplomat. She interviewed one of the tour guides and he told her that he was conducting a ghost tour in 2018 and he had about 30 people in front of the building when something supernatural occurred. He was saying goodbye to everyone with his back to the building when the attendees started gasping and pointing to an upper floor. There was a figure in a window looking down at everybody. People took pictures and managed to capture it looking down and even waving before it disappeared. Multiple cameras captured this. 

This same guide also told a bizarre story about Tony Agpaoa and the night he died of a heart attack in the building. He was locked inside a room and people could see he was convulsing and they couldn't get in the room. Finally, the door unlocked and they ran in to resuscitate him, but it was too late. An autopsy was conducted and the coroner found that the heart looked like it had been crushed by something. This room has a fireplace and many times security guards have entered the room and seen a figure standing by the fireplace. Amy conducted a spirit box session and was not getting much, we're thinking partly because she was speaking English. But something that didn't have a language barrier gave us chills. Amy was sitting on the ledge of one of the fountains and you could hear the audible cry of a baby. There were rustling and scratching noises several times and a loud bang.

Maria wrote, "Mo is our little 7 year old history enthusiast, that looks forward to new episodes.  Our most recent experience and expedition we had before the shutdown was our trip to the Philippines. We visited the Diplomat Hotel.  Mo during our walk through reached over to me and my husband and said he saw a woman standing at the arched window looking down and waving at him while we were in the courtyard.  I don’t doubt that some energy appeared to him considering the history of the Diplomat."

Laperal White House

The Laperal White House suffered a similar fate as the hotel during World War II under Japanese occupation and this has led to hauntings. The house was built in the 1930s by a prominent family named Laperal who were early settlers here. The family was headed by Don Roberto Laperal and his wife Dona Victorina. The architecture style is American colonial reflecting that at the time, the Philippines was under American rule. World War II would end the family's peace here at their vacation home. A Japanese garrison took the house over and used it as a place to interrogate spies and torture, rape and kill people. Some of those killed were said to be members of the Laperal family, although Don Roberto survived the war. When he died the house passed out of family ownership and not much is known about the years between that and 2007. It sat abandoned for a great deal of time.

Lucio Tan who is a Chinese Filipino billionaire purchased the property in 2007. He poured money into renovating it, although he did not do that so he could move in, but rather so that it could be used as a tourist attraction. In 2013, under a joint partnership of Lucio's Tan Yan Kee Foundation and the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, the house was open to the public and hosts the Ifugao Bamboo Carving Gallery. The gallery in on the first floor, but the entire house is open to the public, so people can explore on their own and there are many people who seek out the ghosts that are said to haunt the place.

One member of the Laperal family who tragically died was their three and a half-year-old daughter. Her nanny had gone outside and did not realize that the little girl had followed her outside and the child wandered into the street, a la Pet Sematary. A car struck her and this tragedy seems to have left her spirit on the property. People have seen the full-bodied apparition of the little girl, particularly on the front steps of the house. There have been photos that have captured her too. The story about this gets even worse. The nanny is said to have committed suicide because of her grief and guilt. She did this in the attic and her spirit haunts that area of the house. People claim to see her ghost peering out of the windows. Other paranormal claims are that disembodied angry voices are heard coming from the house when it is empty. People get an eerie feeling of being watched when inside.

Security guards are reluctant to enter the house at night or alone. And one guard had a weird experience. He was asked by the caretaker to cut down a fortune plant that was on the side of the house. The guard did that, but soon fell very ill and he was unable to walk for a few days before he was well again. Another guard had an experience that got him in hot water with his wife. He was making his rounds of the house and decided to call his wife. After a few minutes, she angrily asked him who the woman was that was with him. He was very confused as he was all alone. His wife told him that she kept hearing a female voice in the background. 

A woman who was a clairvoyant was once eating at a restaurant across the street from the house named PNKY. There was a large mirror in the restaurant and she looked into it and was stunned to see the house in the reflection behind her, along with a female figure drenched in blood. Apparently, this sighting of a woman drenched in blood is seen so often by diners and staff that the restaurant has taken measures to block the view of the Laperal White House. 

In 2012, Vince Tabor shared a personal experience he had at the house on the website, "Way back in 1996 when i was in High School the Fourth Years would have their recollection, ours was done at Teacher’s Camp, this is an overnight event however for those who did not pay for the accommodations and those who does not have their parents with them must go home. Since we live far from the City I asked my classmate if i could stay at their place at Jungle Town, which is near Leonard Wood Road. As the time for us to go home around nine in the evening my classmate asked if we can just walk going to their place, having that sense of adventure we walked from teachers’ camp to Jungle Town, walking to their house means walking along the road where the Laperal White House was located. We finally reached the Laperal White Houses’ front gate when my classmate told me to look at the house, we saw a white figure (could be fog) that is coming down from what seems to be the attic down to the front entrance, suddenly my friend started running so i followed, i thought we were being chased by dogs or something. We ran until we reached the road going to Jungle Town, when i asked him why he said he saw a woman coming towards us."

Teacher's Camp

The Teacher's Camp in Baguio is just that, a training facility for teachers. The location was established in 1907 as a training site for teachers from America. There were no buildings at first. Tents were used for classrooms and dining. The first building was constructed in 1911 and cottages followed the next year. Other buildings that were added include Tavera Hall, Teacher's Hall, White Hall, Ladies Hall, Benitez Hall and General Luna Hall. The Philippine Military Academy was here for a time before the outbreak of World War II and during Japanese occupation, the Japanese army used the camp as a hospital. The camp was reopened to the public in 1947 after repairs were made. Today, Teacher's camp hosts teachers, religious retreats and other gatherings. Tourists can also stay overnight.

There are numerous claims that the old camp is haunted. Pinpointing why is hard. Obviously, if this was a hospital during World War II, some people died here more than likely. The land was originally home to the Igorot tribe. Igorot means mountaineer in the Tagalog language. Perhaps their connection to the land has left and so these were the mountain people. They left for some reason. Was there a reason why? Did they leave something behind that has left spiritual residue? One of the more widely seen spirits is our Lady in White. She is seen all over the camp, both outside and inside cottages. No one knows who she is and we wish there was a better description of, particularly what race.

Vince Tabor shared another story on his website that pertains to the camp. A group of people were staying in a cottage. They decided to go out one night and left the cottage. One of the group members had forgot something and ran to fetch whatever it was and was shocked to see that in the short time between the group leaving and their return, the interior was in a complete disarray. It's possible this was a prank, but then where did the pranksters disappear so quickly? There is a ghost nicknamed the Love Sick Igorot who likes to hang out in the cottages and got that nickname because he likes to follow the females and watch them sleep. Perhaps he had been in the cabin and was angry they left?

Another spirit said to be here is a headless priest and following what we already know from this podcast, it was probably someone executed by the Japanese. Another spirit that probably is a remnant from the war is a bloody female spirit that has appeared to several people when they have awakened in the middle of the night, usually around 3 am.

Emile See Less wrote on the Facebook group True Pinoy Ghost Stories, "Ghosts are definitely not real. Those were my words said before we started our trip up to the mountains of Baguio city. A group of delegates from our grade school department were going to a leadership seminar in one of the most haunted places in the Philippines, Teachers camp. Plenty of ghosts stories come from that dreaded place where we were about to stay for six days. It was known for it's old age and the rumors that it was built on top of a war-related area. People see ghosts of war veterans and enemy soldiers kidnapping women. I thought I could never experience something like that, But I was wrong. First day of the trip was fun, as I remember. We went biking around the park there and hung out in the hotel room of one of the delegates parents. I didn't even think about the place we were really supposed to stay, until of course I saw our hall in Teachers Camp. The camp was enormous, plenty of halls we could've stayed in. But of all of the halls we were assigned to, we were assigned to White hall, the oldest and the one in the worst condition. The floor would creak with every step and because of an opening between the ceiling and wall you could hear anything from chattering teachers to the bags of others dragged on the floor. Our toilets didn't even work well. So everyday I dreaded coming back to that hall at night.

The long awaited first night in our room finally came and as usual I didn't sleep well. I always have difficulty sleeping whether at home or a creepy camp. Room 109 was our assigned quarters, four other girls stayed in the room with me and they were comfortable with the place, just a bit disgusted at the counterproductive toilet. Anyway, As I was saying I didn't sleep well at all. I was awake until the hours of eleven desperately trying to sleep, of course I left the lights on fearing something might go bump that night. Finally, I fell asleep for around four hours and woke up again at 3:00 am. "Screw sleep." I thought. Luckily, I brought an interesting book from my sister. I read undisturbed yet still a bit paranoid for a few minutes. Until I heard something.

Footsteps. Faint yet coming closer. I stopped reading and waited to see if they'd actually get louder. They did. Before anything got any louder I actually peeked outside of my room, finding nothing, but the footsteps kept coming. Stronger and closer as it headed down from the stairs across the room. I went back to my bed and just stayed there, sitting upright, my ears eagerly taking in the footsteps. I was nervous, I tried to calm myself saying that there were late guests coming in. But then the footsteps reached the entrance of the room, so roughly that I felt the bed move whenever it sounded. I freaked and hid my head under the blanket. Hurriedly, reciting my prayers, while my friends slept soundly. I feared I'd see something that I'd remember for the rest of my life. The footsteps felt as if it was coming towards my bed. Then it stopped. I lifted enough courage to look up from my blanket. I saw a white shady figure with a somewhat bloodied face. It was only for a few seconds, until I finally got the urge to hide myself from it. I hid under the blanket again. The footsteps ensued but this time grew fainter and fainter until it was gone, like the figure. I was so scared I could barely get sleep. For the passing days, in room 109, nothing else happened."

Loakan Road

Loakan Road is also known as Route 231 and runs for nearly four miles from Loakan Airport to the main part of Baguio. There are two legends about this road. The first is about a tree that once stood at the middle of the road. It was decided that it needed to be removed, but anybody who tried to cut it down would fall ill and be unable to finish. Finally, someone did cut the tree down, but he died several months later. The other legend is about a hitchhiking ghost. There is a cemetery along the road and cab drivers claim to have been hailed by a woman wearing white outside of this cemetery, but when they stop to pick her up, she disappears. There are those who believe she was a murder victim.

There are also stories of screams and other strange sounds coming from a lot that used to be the site of the Hyatt Hotel here in Baguio. The grand hotel was brought down by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit here in 1990. Many people were trapped and killed in the collapse. Baguio does indeed seem to be a very haunted city. Are these locations that we shared haunted? That is for you to decide!

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