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LIST: Abandoned places in the Philippines to explore this spooky season

By Catherine Kris Ciar Published Oct 10, 2022 5:32 pm

Combine your love for travel with a dash of horror this spooky season.

There's something about abandoned and haunted places that continues to fascinate people especially during this time of the year.

In case you don't have any Halloween plans just yet, here are just a few reportedly haunted places in the Philippines that horror aficionados would love to explore. 

Old Diplomat Hotel (Dominican Hill, Baguio)

In 1913, the Dominican order built the Dominican Hill Retreat house on a hill in Baguio. Initially built as a retreat house for the friars, the building soon lost its original purpose after the outbreak of World War 2. The building then served as a camp for refugees to escape the Japanese army; however, it was eventually invaded by the Japanese secret police, the Kempeitai, who were responsible for committing gruesome acts toward the inhabitants, priests, and nuns including acts include of torture, rape, and even decapitation.    

Later in the 1970s, the retreat house was given another life. The building was converted into a hotel, aka the Diplomat hotel. The business didn't last long as the owner permanently shut it down in the 80s.  

Today, Diplomat Hotel has become popular because of the various ghost stories surrounding it. According to Atlas Obscura: "this eerie abandoned building with a dark history is said to be one of the most haunted places in the Philippines." Some claim to have seen the ghost of the people who suffered under the Japanese police. Because of this, the old hotel is also frequently featured in TV shows dealing with the paranormal.  

The old building is just one of the historic tourist destinations you can visit in Baguio, and the site attracts tourists with its eerie yet beautiful structure. If you're fascinated with true crime and haunted spots, then this is the perfect place to visit. Visitors can stop by from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., if they dare.

Quonset Huts (Subic, Zambales)

The Quonset huts in Subic, Zambales are semi-circular buildings originally designed to shelter troops and house military surplus materials. The smaller Nissen huts used during World War I are said to have been inspired the design of American Quonset huts. These structures can be found in the Philippines at the former US Navy installation inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales. These Quonset huts here were originally used as dormitories for US Marines and have withstood several disasters, including Mt. Pinatubo's eruption in 1991. 

However, the huts were closed the following year after the country's Senate decided not to extend the lease on the facility. The American naval base was also abolished with the closure of the huts.  

Today, some of Quonset's huts have been turned into restaurants, buildings, and offices. However, a few of the unique structures still remain abandoned up to this day, providing an eerie look at the past to intrepid travelers.

Aduana Building (Intramuros, Manila) 

Designed by Spanish engineer Tomas Cortes, the Aduana, or Customs House, was established in Intramuros to entice merchants to remain within the walls rather than attract people outside. 

The structure was initially completed during the 1820s, but severe damage caused by an earthquake in 1863 forced its destruction in 1872. Soon after, a new edifice was built to house several departments of the Spanish colonial administration, including the Treasury, the Casa de Moneda (Mint), Customs, and the Intendencia General de Hacienda (Central Administration). The Customs offices were eventually relocated to the port area, allowing the Treasury and Intendencia to occupy the building. 

The structure was heavily damaged again during WWII and was shortly taken over by the Central Bank Building, followed by the National Treasury, and ultimately by the Commission on Elections. Aduana was destroyed by a massive fire in 1979 and has since been abandoned. In 1997, the National Archives acquired the two-story Neoclassical structure to serve as their future office.

While it has stood in ruins for the past few decades, as of October 2022, the Aduana Building is finally undergoing massive renovation and restoration.

Clark Air Base Hospital (Angeles, Pampanga)

The Clark Air Base Hospital, located within the Clark Freeport Zone, was originally used during WW2 and the Vietnam War. However, the whole area was affected during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, and the hospital was abandoned and left to be taken over by the elements.

According to Atlas Obscura, locals believe that this hospital is haunted because of the number of troops who perished there. The neglected infrastructure creates specific odd acoustics, which, combined with the interior rooms' darkness, might easily persuade one to believe in otherworldly occurrences.  

While some parts of the hospital have been taken over by informal settlers, some portions can still be visited. Take note that the hospital is one of the most infamous places in the country to go ghost hunting, as it's been featured in Ghost Hunters International and the National Geographic documentary series titled I Wouldn’t Go In There.

The Old Herrera Mansion (Tiaong, Quezon) 

Another building that experienced the ravages of war is the oldest residence in Tiaong; this massive stone mansion is called the 'Old Herrera Mansion.' The shattered windows and decaying rooms indicate that this structure has seen better days. It was built in the late 1920s for Isidro Herrera and designed by Tomas Mapua, a notable architect back in the day. 

The home survived WWII, but not without damage: its back section was bombed and rebuilt by an architect from Candelaria named C. Gonzales.  

The dilapidated estate now stands as a memorial to a bygone era, with an eye-catching garden sculpture of Elias defeating a crocodile as a harsh reminder of its colonial history. Many people claim that the old home is now haunted by ghosts ranging from headless Japanese troops to an elderly couple dressed in white. Would you dare enter?

Paco Train Station (Paco, Manila) 

According to Renacimiento Manila, the Paco Railway Station was built in 1914 as a grand neoclassical terminus of the Main South Line and the Cavite Line. Famed American architect William Parsons designed the Philippine National Railway Paco Station, patterned after New York City's Pennsylvania Station. It precedes the building other notable Manila structures, such as the Metropolitan Theater, the Manila Post Office, and the current Manila City Hall. 

During WWII, the Paco Railroad Station was the site of bloody combat; the station's seizure signaled the collapse of the city's last Japanese forces. In the 1990s, the structure was nearly destroyed to make room for a new mall. Fortunately, it was defeated, and supporters have since battled for its preservation. 

The Heritage Conservation Society (HCS), chaired by Ivan Anthony Henares, complimented the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in June 2015 for their initiative to rebuild the ancient Paco Train Station "as part of the overall rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) system." 

Unfortunately, the ruined station, which is now one of Manila's endangered landmarks, is now obscured by the skyway project. While some urban explorers have managed to sneak inside to document how it looks, others have been caught for trespassing. Based on footage, the interior walls are decorated with artwork inside, so the train station resembles a mini secret gallery. 

Water Fun (Sucat, Parañaque) 

The first Water Fun was constructed in Sta. Mesa in Manila during the 1990s. Its popularity spawned two other locations, one in Fairview and one in Sucat. The latter, called Water Fun Drive, included massive swimming pools, slides, and animal-themed exhibitions.  

However, Water Fun's slides resulted in countless accidents leading to its eventual shutdown. Residents petitioned for its closure since it affected the water supply in residential areas. The park collapsed in the 2000s owing to insolvency. 

Fantasy World (Lemery, Batangas) 

Fantasy World, a castle on a hill in Lemery, Batangas standing on 30 hectares of land, has been featured on several local shows. Once envisioned as the "Disneyland of the Philippines," the Medieval themed park never finished its planned attractions. While some rides were installed, they are not operational.

In 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the project was expected to cost P17 billion and was to be fully operational by 2005. Unfortunately, the project's financier faced financial difficulties before the completion of construction, causing him to abandon his plans. The once-bright facade of the castle is now deteriorating. Paint on the walls of its unfinished rooms are peeling while the rides remain ifeless and unused.

Although it never opened as intended, travelers can still enter (for a fee), stroll about, and take photographs, as it's under new management. Contrary to news that the place is abandoned, it's actualy been converted into a photo park with an entrance fee of P1,000 (good for 10 people), so you may still fulfill your princess-like dreams inside the castle.  

While traveling to these abandoned places, remember to be still respectful of their history and infrastructure. I'm sure you don't want an unwanted visitor following you home after your spooky trip.