Yup, you read it right.
A Tours offers far more interesting things than weekend trips to Vigan, it seems. I jumped on a chance to join their Paranormal Tour of Intramuros (which happened to be free at the time), one of the oldest and most historical cities in Manila. Being intuitive myself, I thought it would be cool to see what myself and other people could pick up during the 3-hour walk. I have never really been to Intramuros at night, and the old fort looked like a shadow of its former self in the moonlight.
The Tour Guide
Our tour guide, Clyde Tasipit, is an odd kind of fellow who keeps to himself mostly until he’d find the need to talk. I figured he was saving his energy for the walk, and his aloofness would keep people from bugging him with questions about ghosts and ghouls and the like. He briefed us before the tour started, and it was pretty simple: No flash photography, don’t try to challenge spirits to show themselves, and for the love of Christ, don’t start screaming if you feel excited, afraid or nervous, because nobody wants an asshole on the tour.
The tour was about the paranormal, so things that were not normal, and didn’t necessarily mean they had much to do with ghosts – although a good chunk of the tour would be dealing with people who have passed on but have refused to move on.
Outside the Walled City
We started our tour outside one of the eight gates, or puertas, and walked around the side streets while Clyde would discreetly point to certain buildings around the area where reports of people getting fatally sick and so factories had to close and the people who squatted there ended up dying, starting rumors about how the building was haunted. This one was built in the 1950s and was turned into dorm buildings, but the students would get very sick, and it eventually became abandoned and as the rumor goes, haunted. As it turns out, this paranormal “haunting” was merely a case of high EMF requencies being emitted from two nearby towers, tripping up the people’s electromagnetic field of energy, making them sick until they decide to leave. So no ghosts here.
The Lady at the Gate
We passed by one of the houses along a side-street before circling back to the gate and heading inside Intramuros. There have been reports of people seeing a lady in white by the gate, just standing and waiting for someone. I didn’t really feel anything harmful in the area, so it may just be an old imprint – a shadow of someone who would always wait at the gate. Creepy? Yes. Harmful? No.
Doors of San Agustin
The doors to the San Augustin Church is beautiful – heavy wood sculted with images of saints, flowers, and filigree. But if you’re clairtangent like Clyde, the National Historical Landmark, you’ll see so much more after touching it – the old friars that walked the halls (and their indiscretions), the desecration and ransacking of its walls, fire, earthquakes, bombings, and even the execution of prisoners during the Battle of Manila. A heavy door holding heavy stuff.
While Intramuros is known for its many garden venues which make for ideal wedding receptions, there is one place there that no couple would want to visit, and that is Breakup Park. Known for being exactly that (a place where people go to break up), the cursed park is also home to a lady that haunts the area who can be seen crying. Always crying. This place genuinely gives me the heebie-jeebies and looks almost dangerous when the sun goes down.
We stayed the longest at the bartolina or prison. a gated tunnel with a small door at the end, it doesn’t look like much, but then again, what you can’t see won’t gross you out. The group took turns trying to see what was inside the empty space – people who were raring for a good scare pressing their faces against the cold bars, trying their best to peer into the darkness to perhaps catch a shadow of something that once was. What they didn’t see were the faces of emaciated solders staring back at them, their own thin faces pressed up against the bars while others were slumped by the tunnel walls, moaning and groaning for food and water, forever damned in that hell hole.
Of Priests, Satanists & Angels
We walked around some more and Clyde pointed at a clergy house and told us a story of how the priests in that specific priory have been known to have an altar set up for Satan, and that a janitor who told on them was found dead a week after. I’m not quite sure I believe that, but clergy houses and nunneries give me the creeps anyway, so I took that as a grain of salt. Clyde also pointed to a building where Jose Rizal was said to have been held before his execution, and the oddity of the prevalent Catholic country having sacred geometry intertwined with the Spanish colonial design – one could see Metatron’s Cube along the portholes. That isn’t necessarily bad or good, just weird.
The Crying Lady
We walked around a bit more and checked out a tiyanak tree – a place where they say a lot of aborted babies were buried. All I got were a bunch of tree faeries pissed off at the people using flash photography to try and “catch” a photo of a tiyanak. What gave me goosebumps was a street that Clyde claims a lady in black usually lurks, again, crying. I don’t know what is is with crying women at night that just freaks me out, but imagine bumping into one in the middle of the night?
The Mysterious Case of Gil Pérez
After checking out a few more ghostly landmarks, we found ourselves in front of the Palacio del Gobernador, where another case of the paranormal happened… in 1593.
Gil Pérez was a Spanish soldier of the Filipino Guardia Civil who allegedly suddenly appeared in the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City (more than 9,000 nautical miles from Manila, across the Pacific) on October 24, 1593. He was wearing the uniform of the guards of Palacio Del Gobernador in the Philippines, and claimed he had no idea how he had arrived in Mexico.
The Aduana Building
Also known as Custom House, this building in its neoclassical style looks similar to the abandoned Diplomat Hotel in Baguio, and was built to attract merchants to stay within its walls. Now in various states of decay and ruin, this is known as the most demonic part of Intramuros because of what presumably resides on the second floor.
Straight up the stairs to the left is supposedly a portal to a demonic plane. “We have received a lot of reports about this building. This falls under demonic entities. Upon investigation, we found an active portal that’s still open until today. That is where a demonic entity passes to get to another dimension. As to where that portal leads, we still don’t know because we haven’t seen it yet,” Clyde said.
I don’t know if the rumor is true (Clyde said he’s seen it and tried to close it but failed), but there is something sinister about the place that just rubs you the wrong way. This is something straight out of Insidious, where the portal is “The Further” and scary-looking shit just comes out to visit every now and then. I saw Clyde take someone form the group aside to for a quick cleansing and protection ritual, as the guy was trying to goad an evil spirit to show himself, resulting in said spirit wanting to go home with him.
Overeall, I had an interesting time walking around parts of Intramuros and learning about its darker history. A Tours and Clyde did a wonderful job regaling us with stories of weird occurrences and things that go bump in the night, and for the most part, keeping us safe. Most of the places we visited were pretty harmless, as the more malicious spirits and vengeful entities resided in Fort Santiago, where José Rizal spent his remaining days and where other prisoners were taken to be tortured and executed.
So why should we coexist wit these spirits to begin with? Clyde answers it best: “They have lived here even before us, so we just need to respect them. They have built and fought for this place, so we can’t ask them to leave. They have loved this place and offered their blood and sweat for this place so they have the right to be here. We, on the other hand, are just tourists.”