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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From The Top Of Dominican Hill (The Diplomat Hotel Experience)

off to see Diplomat for the first time

It may not be Halloween but a quick look around the place last weekend reminded me of all the stories and mystery that surround Baguio's Diplomat Hotel.

For about 6 years of my life, I worked as a radio DJ in a radio station at the top of Dominican Hill ( a stone's throw from the alleged haunted structure) here in Baguio City. All the time I worked there, it never entered my mind to enter the ruins of Diplomat's pre-war structure despite all the stories told.
no matter how bright the morning sun was
this place still gave me the creeps

Built in 1913 and inaugurated in 1915 as a vacation house/sanitarium for the Province of the Dominican Order, the 17 hectare property initially housed a school known as the Collegio de Santissimo Rosario. Due to the small enrollment, the school closed in 1917 and the building was reverted once more to it's original use.
would have had more pics to post
had I actually attempted to take any

During WWII, the building was used to house refugees, until the Japanese Army decided to bomb them out. I'm totally unsure of the casualties but read somewhere that five direct hits to the building left it badly damaged and unused for quite sometime. Reconstruction came about around 1947 and it's completion and restoration, the year after.
I could imagine a 100 different ways on how to shoot
a goth  music video in here.  On a side note: The front desk on the right
gave me chills every time I passed by it. Weird.

In 1973, it was acquired by Diplomat Hotels Inc. and made into a 33-room hotel filled with the modern conveniences then. However, upon the death of one of it's main stockholder, Baguio's very own faith healer and spiritual leader Tony Agpaoa, the hotel ceased it's operations. 
MAX loving the greenhouse out back

To date, plans to convert it into a prayer mountain/spiritual center, a mining museum and a government agency's vacation house have been discussed, but a definite decision is yet to be made.
one of Phil's test shots during the photography workshop

Taking advantage of the awesome 360 degree view of Baguio City, as well as the drama invoked from the ruins, Diplomat has a growing number of tourists and  photographers holding  pictorials and workshops (like Allan Manalac's Shiver, which Phil happily attended) in the area. Don't be surprised to see a woman in  a white dress, walking around in broad daylight, as it is used mostly by wedding photographers holding pre-nuptial photoshoots. 
a glimpse of Marcos Highway and Mt. Sto Thomas

Speaking of women in white, much has been said about the appeal of Diplomat Hotel to both the living and non living. Probably drawing inspiration from it's previous occupants and all the shenanigans that have occurred in the place, eye-witness accounts have suggested the presence of beings from the beyond. A headless priest, a white lady, shadows moving about and various unexplainable sounds have been heard. The radio station that I used to work for has had it's share of amateur ghost hunters who have shared their tales and we have seen a couple of pictures taken in the area that have included orbs and strange images.
poor neglected fountain in what seems to be a courtyard
inside the hotel. 

The freaky part may also be my old workplace's close proximity to Diplomat and it's ghostly inhabitants. I've had a colleague (who worked the 9-12 mn shift) see a transparent woman in white go through the then locked gates of the hotel. Or how about that fellow DJ and our other colleague who  probably saw that same lady in white, take a ride in their backseat on Hallow's Eve (seen on the car's mirror) to lead them on the scariest ride of their lives ( I am so writing a Halloween special this year and will give you a detailed account of this). 
the place may have some rubbish here and there, but I gotta say
the plants in the place are well taken care of


My personal experience as far as the Diplomat spooks go was limited to this one time: It was a rainy Saturday   afternoon and I had just given my introductory spiel of my show for that hour. After giving the time check, I remember playing Mandy Moore and Jon Foreman's song "Someday We'll Know" when I heard the floor  creaking, akin to the sound that someone makes while walking on loose floorboards. Thinking that after all the time I've worked here, the rain was somehow affecting the floorboards of the radio booth (denial at it's finest) causing it to creak, I went on to get my next cd (right beside the console as we weren't computerized back then)  when I heard the "footsteps" get closer and closer. I slowly turned around, really scared now, to see if maybe, just maybe, one of the technicians or the guard had come in. 

To my horror/relief, I saw no one but heard a deep loud moan of what sounded like eternal suffering (for real! It wasn't the hot and sexy moan one would wish to hear!). It sounded audible enough for me to think that the source was near, but somehow gave me the impression of coming from the bottom of a well . The moan sounded male.

I would've bolted and would have seriously settled for dead air to that of the spirit of a dead man, but could not have done that, as the sound came from near the guest mic which was frustratingly beside the door. The whole time that song was playing, I was frantically and blindly pressing numbers on the phone, trying to call whoever. I ended up calling  the number of an ad executive at another radio station (who happens to be an acquaintance) and started babbling to her about what had just happened. I stayed on the phone up until my next talk spot 5 minutes later. After which, I hung up and ran outside to look for the technician, the janitor and the security guard, who were the ONLY people, aside from me, present in the radio station on that Saturday.

Even scarier was the fact that they were all at the generator house, which is a structure in front and separate from the main building. I was all alone in the booth at that time and in no way was there anyone in the building who could've made that noise. The walls and doors of the booth had huge glass panels so seeing people from the admin floor and main entrance should not have been a problem. Breaking into a cold sweat and shaking even half an hour later was the other thing I remember from that afternoon, a decade ago.

It's no wonder Ghost tours are now being offered to those who would want to see Diplomat at night. (website here.)
Baguio's Guinness Book of World Records entry

Ironically, despite all the so-called hauntings, a part of the property has recently been developed and now houses a 12.19 meter high prayer building painted like stone tablets to contain the biblical Ten commandments. The building has also earned a Guinness World Record for being the biggest of it's kind. 

Perhaps it's a good thing that something spiritual and holy was put amidst the ruins of Diplomat to keep out the bad.
To all those intrepid folks out there who would want to try and see a glimpse of the unknown, or to those who would just really want to see the breathtaking view of the city and do some spiritual recharging, do check out the top of Dominican and visit Diplomat Hotel and the Spiritual Center.
parking's clearly not a problem

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

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