SPOOKTACULAR OCTOBER: A Quick Compilation of Urban Legends in PH

By Bea Santina Maranan and Jude Aldrich Allaga

Undas is right around the corner. Remembrance of the dead lies deep in the spirit of Filipinos. 

Spooky stories in this cold breeze will make you feel the thrill of visiting these creepy locations. Come and join us as we recall these stories in the days leading to Halloween.

Photo courtesy of PhilstarLife/Wikipedia/Esquire Philippines/Corregidor.org

Ang Babae sa Balete

The lady in Balete Drive remains one of the most famous urban legends in Filipino folklore, being retold for 73 years in a row.

The story is about the mystery behind the woman's death in Balete. Many versions of the story have been retold. However, it all boils down to the legend–the spirit of a woman that roams around Balete Drive in Quezon City haunts motorists.

The young woman is allegedly named “Leni.” According to the victim's friend Leni is the ghost roaming around Balete. She died in a car accident at the said location in 1949.

Leni was a hit-and-run victim, and the taxi driver buried her body under the balete tree in the street named Balete Drive. 

In another story, a young woman was a passenger in a taxi who was raped and killed by the driver. Another variation tells that the ghost is seeking revenge because her family killed her. Ultimately, the spirit is a woman who roams around the street seeking justice and hunting motorists. The road leads to E. Rodriguez Avenue with a giant Balete tree, home to spirits and other elements.

Horror at Manila Film Center

Located in Pasay City, the story of the Manila Film Center remains one of the most devastating and gruesome events in Philippine history. Away from the busy array of Sofitel Hotel, Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), and Folk Arts Theater and Cultural Center of the Philippines. The infrastructure stands rigid with an eerie feel as you roam around its premises. 

The pleas and cries of people seemingly trapped inside the structure could be heard from afar, according to the reports of workers and strollers around the area. It is said that workers were buried underneath its foundation, and the scaffolding of the building collapsed in 1981, planting the workers in a cement bed 40 years ago.

Despite the accident, building construction continued, and the film center was opened in 1982. 

La Loma Catholic Cemetery

It is the oldest cemetery in Caloocan, and it opened in 1984. It is a significant part of history, the last laying ground for honorary figures in the city's history. It was formerly known as Campo Santo De La Loma. The cemetery stretches around Caloocan and Manila. 

Despite not being a paranormal story, a senior high school student named Kian Loyd Delos Santos rests in the cemetery. He was a victim of injustice during the past administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs.

Intramuros Tunnels

Inside the heart of modern Manila rests an ominous remainder of centuries of war. Walled with concrete, “Intramuros,” formerly known as “Fort Santiago,” used to be a holding camp for prisoners of war captured by the Spanish and then the Japanese.

Detained on October 6, 1896, our national hero Jose Rizal was deported from Spain back to Fort Santiago to be imprisoned and later executed on December 30th that year. During the Battle of Manila, 95% of Intramuros’ structures were demolished from onslaughts of bombing, ending the lives of over 100,000 Filipinos in one month, peaking at 500,000 after the Manila Massacre.

While the Intramuros tunnels are now open to tourists, haunting life-sized mannequins mimic the inhumane tortures that occurred decades back. While no objective evidence exists, some Guardia Civil watching over the former torture site claim that it is most unsettling at night, not knowing if certain sounds and shadows still belong to the living.

Malinta Tunnel

“Malinta” derived from the Filipino phrase “maraming linta” or “many leeches,” is a tunnel within the forests of Corregidor island. 

Acting as the Pacific’s last line of defense in World War 2, the Filipinos were able to stall enough time in Corregidor to flip the table to their advantage. American troops, landing in the mostly Japanese-concentrated area, hid in the tunnel complex used as barracks and later a hospital. Even with the massive influx of soldiers, there was only one toilet unit to accommodate all of them. Not to mention the constant threat of being bombed by the Japanese, making their conditions on the idyllic island much less pleasant.

Today, Malinta Tunnel holds a lights-and-sound show that allows tourists to walk through the tunnel while listening to recorded tapes and films relating to the Pacific World War. Lifesized mannequins are likewise exhibited to portray each scene. 

The real thrill, however, is at night, when tourists are allowed to visit the tunnel with guided tourists. While tourists only visit the central part of the tunnel during the day, it stretches and branches out inwards into pitch-black corridors where flashlights shine on no end. In these caves, extensions are remaining hospital beds and artifacts left by the soldiers. Only one could imagine the feeling of a soldier rushing through these damp and dark halls just one bomb away from being discovered.

Horror is inseparable from Filipino culture. From simple folk legends to historical nods and even to recent controversies, we realize that perhaps the things that scare us likewise make us.
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