A few years back, when Diplomat Hotel in Baguio was not yet opened to the public, I and 7 of my friends, sneaked past security to go spook ourselves out and seek things that go bump in the night. It was almost midnight on October 30, 2003, a day before All Hollow's Eve.
The time, the damp, chilly weather and the fact that we were all sneaking past the guards added to each and everyone's excitement. We took a path on the side of a building near the Diplomat Hotel's main entrance. This was shown to us by one of my friends who had been here previously. Then we had to traverse a steep ravine and climb a barb wired fence. Once in, we all took long breaths of relief because we were able to get past the guards without being seen. Nothing out of the extraordinary happened once we entered the premises, however, tension and fear was felt in the air.
We decided to enter through the hotel's main door leading to the fountain to offer prayers to appease the spirits. As we walked past the big arched windows towards the door, we noticed that another group was also inside doing the same thing and looking for the same adrenaline rush that we were after. We paid no heed and went our own way.
As we reached the old fountain, that's when things started getting weird. I stayed behind as my group headed towards the fountain to offer their prayers. I was a little bit skeptical about all this so I didn't join them in prayer. As soon as they began praying and offering candles, I felt a chill run down my spine as something cold touched my nape. I had goose bumps all over and felt a sudden heaviness on my shoulders. This heavy feeling, something that felt like carrying a backpack full of school books and then some, was felt by me all throughout the whole evening. I felt nauseous and my head suddenly felt prickling pain as well. At this moment, I ran to join my group as they were about to finish their prayers. I didn't tell them anything because I thought it was just the weather that was getting to me. Boy, was I wrong!
The group decided to cover the first floor first and ascend to the other floors once we checked out all the rooms. As we moved past doors, rooms and hallways, we made our way to the staircase to go up the second floor. There, beside the staircase, was an arch where a door was once. A friend pointed out that a shadow of a big man was reflecting on the walls in front of the arch. No one dared to look where the shadow was coming from. The girls from the group started shrieking and taunting us not to go on with the "tour". However, afraid of being called losers or chickens, some of the males in the group urged us to go on.
Two male friends and I, of course, decided to check out where the source of the said shadow was coming from as the group made their way upstairs to wait on the landing. As we walked under the arch, a cold swoosh of air welcomed us. This time, my friends also felt the same heavy feeling I had felt. Then, a mysterious, eerie, voice of a man that sounded like a cross between a bad radio signal and a drunken man's slur was heard by us. It was like he was warning us not to go on. We took this warning and didn't go on searching for the shadow's source. As brave as we were, sometimes when battling the unknown, it is best to leave and retreat. Honestly, yes, we were scared out of our wits by then.
As we joined the other members of our group, Niqui, a female from the group, was heard crying on the last stair before reaching the landing on the second floor. A human's natural instinct is to comfort the sad. The females, being females, huddled around her to comfort her. The reason why she cried was unknown because she remained silent for the remaining hours we were there. She later told us that she saw a priest staring at her and then vanished into thin air. She was so scared and didn't know how to react that's why she just cried it out.
By now, accounts of what happened to us downstairs were known but we remained brave to finish the tour we started. We finished going in and out of the different rooms until we reached the top were a huge crucifix was. The wind was slightly blowing and the moon above illuminated the crucifix in a way that we only saw in horror films. These made everyone decide to go back downstairs and stroll around the surrounding garden.
As we made our way out and reached the hotel's backyard, I noticed that I lost my cell phone (Nokia 7650 to be exact) and its leather holster (the kind that has holes at the back where you loop the holster to your belt to secure it before buckling your belt into place). My phone was secured to my belt via a leather belt holster with magnetic flaps. During the whole time, I didn't bother checking messages nor removed the holster from my belt because we were too preoccupied. I started freaking out because there is no way I could go home without my phone! My parents would have killed me. Also, I was baffled as to how my phone fell off it, holster and all, without me removing it from my belt!
I decided to go back and search the entire hotel for it. Jeff and Raymund, 2 of my closest friends, decided to go with me while the rest of the group sat on the benches at the back of the hotel leading to the garden. Jeff, Raymund and I retraced our steps to retrieve my lost cell phone. We searched high and low but couldn't find it. We scoured the whole place for almost 15 minutes. I gave up because it was getting late and that our friends were waiting for us.
We continued the tour by entering a path going to the farthest side of the hotel's lot. There, we found a wall bordering the residential area behind the hotel. As we circled around it, there was a shrill sound coming from a ringing phone. We tried to look for the source of the sound but to no avail. We reached a huge pine tree where RM, another friend, pointed out that there was a silhouette of a huge man (perhaps the same man from the arch inside the hotel?) hovering the base of the tree. As we looked, we saw the shadow vanished. It seemed like it ran past us because we felt a sudden breeze blowing past us. We decided to check out the tree (huge trees in Philippine folklore means that it might be a dwelling place of spirits). When we reached the tree, another sound from a phone filled the air. We trained our eyes as well to a sudden light emitting from one of the tree's gnarly roots. There, before our eyes was my missing phone! As to how it got there, we didn't know. However, what we know for sure was that no one from our group went out of the hotel building and wandered off to this part of the Diplomat Hotel grounds, let alone snatching it from my belt without me feeling a thing.
As I breathed out a sigh of relief, Claire mentioned that the other group we met on our way in was nowhere to be seen. As we pondered upon this, we realized that we didn't bump into them the whole time we were in the building again, aside from that moment we met them as we went in. This left us spooked so we decided to call it a night and leave the hotel premises immediately.
We took the same steep path going out and as the last group member stepped into view, one of the security guards saw us and shone his flashlight at me. Once the blinding light hit me, the guard took a step back and let out a gasp in surprise. If you had seen him, he looked like he saw a ghost. Pale face, genuine look of terror, and that he almost looked like he was ready to pass out. Then, as soon as this happened, there came a boisterous sound of laughter coming from inside the hotel grounds. We all looked towards the building and thought that the other group was indeed still inside. Once the security guard got hold of himself for composure, we took the liberty to apologize for sneaking in and scaring him as we stepped out of the ravine's landing. He said that it was okay and that a lot of people do it. He also mentioned that he saw us inside while doing his rounds and didn't want to bother us with our ghost hunting. We were stunned but asked him why he got so scared. He mentioned that when he shone the flashlight at me, he saw a shadow getting off my shoulders and running back into the darkness. That's when it hit me and the group members as well. The heavy feeling that I felt since we went in was (maybe) from the shadow the guard had seen jump of my back piggy back riding on me. Imagine a spirit riding on my shoulders the whole time! This got us all spooked out.
We were ready to all move out once and for all. To get away from this haunted place was all we could think of. Without thinking, I jokingly warned the guard not to get spooked again if he saw another group come out. I mentioned that we passed by another group inside on the way in. This gave him another jolt of surprise. Imagine the shock that we all got when he said, "Kagagaling ko din po nagronda sa loob. Sabi ko nga nakita ko po grupo nyo. Pero wala na pong ibang tao sa loob simula kanina nung nakita ko kayo sa may fountain. (I just did my rounds inside. As I told you, I saw your group inside. However, no other people were inside since I saw your group near the fountain.) "
So, where did the group of people we saw go? Had they sneaked out as well without the guard seeing them? Maybe the guard didn't see them because they went out while he was doing his rounds? Where did the laughter we heard come from? Maybe from a party on one of the houses near the premises? Or maybe something else? Well, we will never know. Come to think of it. After what happened, who would want to know anyway?