The Haunting at Old Diplomat Hotel | Baguio


Standing outside the fog-covered ruins of the Old Diplomat Hotel, I find the eerie vibe hard to ignore, as I picture a cinematic vision of a sequel to The Haunting of Hill House and of Bly Manor. For all its paranormal tales of housing wandering spirits, the history of this rundown charming architectural remains, provides a fascinating backdrop to any 8-episode horror series.

Ayi Del Rosario

First constructed in 1915 on a 17-hectare expanse of land on top of a hill, the original building was designed by Fr. Roque Ruaño—the architect who designed the main building of the University of Santo Tomas—and first opened as a retreat house of the American friars of the Dominican Order. Taking advantage of tax exemptions, it was briefly converted into a seminary called Colegio del Santissimo Rosario.

A Witness to the Horrors of World War II

If you think ghosts of dead priests walking the hallways is good enough horror tale fodder, wait till you learn about what transpired inside the walls of the former Dominican Hill Retreat House during the height of World War II. With Baguio being the site of one of the most hard-fought theaters of war in Luzon—next to Manila, Bataan and Corregidor—the property wasn't spared from the invading Japanese who tuned it into a garrison.

Armi Valdez

It was here where the secret police of the Japanese Imperial Army called the Kempeitai imprisoned Filipino prisoners of war and detained and interrogated suspected Guerilla members. Doing so, the Kempeitai was believed to have committed many violent acts through torture and even raping and murdering civilian refugees.

Bim Mauricio

During the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, as the American forces inches closer, a batallion of Japanese soldiers committed hara-kiri in the building's right wing.

The ghost tally of the Dominican Hill Retreat House just increased hundred-folds after the war.

The Diplomat Hotel Years

After decades of neglect, the local government of Baguio converted it to become the Diplomat Hotel. After undergoing remodeling phase that constructed a total of 33 bedrooms, but still retaining the original architectural features, Diplomat Hotel operated from 1973 until 1987.

Celine Murillo, Gretchen Filart, Levy Amosin

During those time, unconfirmed stories of several mysterious deaths of hotel guests added to the horror lore of the property.

Muffet Sta Maria

If the rumors of hotel guests’ demises are to be believed, then the Dominican Hill Retreat House turned Diplomat Hotel has again increased its ghost tally in the 1980’s.

A Charming and Creepy Ruin

Today, the Old Diploma Hotel still evokes much of its original architecture elements while earning a newfound appeal attracting artists, tourists and paranormal junkies alike. Declared a National Historical Site after the city government of Baguio acquired ownership of the property in 2005, it is now used for certain events and functions as well as an artist haven. If one is not busy ghost-hunting inside, one can easily spot some interesting mural arts on the walls of the building.

Lavoisier Capuno

During our visit, a bus load of young students—probably on a field trip—were also visiting the abandoned hotel. Despite a lot of people on site that day, I still found myself entering bare rooms by myself. Inside, I saw traces of the old hotel interior through a decrepit bathtub and touches of the former Dominican Retreat House through its olden walls and mossy-covered courtyards.

Sara Abdollahi

By embracing its haunting atmosphere straight out of a Stephen King novel, the Old Diplomat Hotel is one of the most stimulating places to visit in the City of Pines. History, check. Good architecture, check. Heritage, check. Ghost? Uhm, I’d rather not find out myself.