Monday, October 30, 2006


Located within the San Agustin Church complex, the crypt, formerly called the De Profundis Hall, was where the friars recited the psalm for their fellow brothers and the benefactors of the Community as they left the Refectory. It is also here in which the remains of Juan Luna, Pedro Paterno, Pedro de Tavera, and many others are interred. During the British occupation of Manila (1762-1764), all gravesites like this one — and most especially those of the Spanish conquistadors — were desecrated by the invading forces and ransacked of valuables.

The crypt was also used as prison and execution grounds during the Battle of Manila in 1945. The monument at the center marks the tomb of 141 prisoners of war who were executed by the Japanese in the last few days of the occupation of Manila during World War II.

The crypt was one of the historical places included in the itinerary of Carlos Celdran’s walking tour of Intramuros. However, I was disappointed when throughout the entire tour of this historical complex that dates back many centuries, there was no mention of even a single ghost story. But on his other walking tour — Philippine Cultural Center — Carlos dispelled the rumors of ghosts that haunt the cultural complex on account of several workers having lost their lives during an accident caused by its frenetic construction schedule.

I am not one of those prone to witness ghostly apparitions — I guess there is a rule of conduct in the spirit world that forbids making one’s presence tangible to those gravely petrified of it. I could, however, sense an eerie presence; last experience I had of which happened in an uncle’s leased house inside the old naval base in Subic. A couple of minutes after I had turned off the light in the bedroom, I began to sense another presence inside the room besides myself. I don’t remember how long it took me to finally fall asleep, but I never spent another night in that house.

The same experience I had in my cousin’s leased house inside the old naval base. But in this instance, the caretaker did admit the following morning that there are indeed ghost sightings inside that house. There was even one that would occur in the middle of the day — a naked young boy of about three would come giggling and running inside the house, and just as suddenly disappear inside. It used to startle her in the beginning but she eventually got used to it and just ignores its reoccurrences.

There is a common belief here in the Philippines that houses rarely used or has not been resided in a long time tend to be inhabited by spirits, which is just as common an occurrence with the living — professional squatters who will occupy and build shanties in vacant lots.

Anyway, come Halloween and All Soul’s Day, ghost stories will abound at nightfall. And most certainly, everyone has a scary story to share with anyone dying to hear it.

posted by Señor Enrique at 4:15 PM


Blogger wernicke said...

Hi Señor!

The security guards of San Agustin would surely know or would have personal experiences re ghost stories about the Crypt.

Seems like you've joined all of Carlos Celdran and Ivan Man Dy's walking tours. Which would you highly recommend?


October 31, 2006 10:13 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

there might not have been ghost stories while in the san agustin crypt on carlos celdran's tour, but i definitely heard the airplanes, anti-aircraft weapons booming and the screams of the dying... well at least i imagined it. :-) that's the part of the tour that had the most impact on me, too.

October 31, 2006 11:41 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when I was a kid my grand parents used to leave food on the kitchen table overnight supposedly for the visiting souls to partake. Imagine the trauma this brought to the kids. I used to be scared shit with the thought of dead people feasting on the kitchen table. Frankly, I think it's time to get rid of these nasty superstitions! They do nothing but scare the poor children.

October 31, 2006 12:16 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't witnessed any ghostly apparitions either. Maybe you are right about that rule of conduct among the spirits. I might have a heart attack if I do see one. I am terrified whenever I have to go downstairs alone in the middle of the night and I would always pray that please dear lord, don't let me see a ghost. Or, I love you my dear papa but I don't want to see your ghost. Silly, eh?

October 31, 2006 12:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Eric! Back from a long vacation! I've gone to San Agustin Church and saw the crypt and it really creeped me out. I just felt a cold breeze passed by though I didn't see anything. The scary part is in the church balcony, where there is a big organ. Brrr... shiver, shiver...

October 31, 2006 11:01 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

When I googled looking for info on a phenomenon (santilmo) in cemeteries, which we experienced as kids, this is what I found on the site below. In school, it was explained away as caused by evaporation of phosphorus from dead human bodies ignited by some spark (maybe paranormal).

In Bohol, they have a different way of explaining it.

Has anybody else experienced it?

October 31, 2006 11:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really interesting. I should really re-visit that place one of these days.

I used to love ghost stories but the media nowadays only shows variations of the same thing with the same explanations about them.

I guess the ghost stories behind historical sights add a bit value of interest to them. Like icing on a cake. hehe.

November 01, 2006 9:28 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Each one has a unique way of presentation, Warnicke, which I both appreciate. Also, Carlos' tours are quite different from Ivan's so it is more a matter of which area one would like to visit and know about.

I have taken a few of Carlos' and same with Ivan and will continue to do so from both. However, Ivan's differs greatly from Carlos only because most of Ivan's tours are based on his growing up Chinoy. And as you know, the Chinese influence in both our history and culture is quite immense and therefore, worth learning about.

That's quite some experience, Carla -- reliving history itself as you visit those places. Awesome!

You're right, BW. However, despite the fact that I get scared s#@tless about ghost stories when I was a kid, I remained fascinated and couldn't wait to hear more of them. Crazy!

Oh, Irene! You and me both! Last night I was so hungry, but I somehow scared myself when I stepped out of the bedroom. I went right back to bed hungry and all.

And no, you're not being silly! :)

Hi JV!

I can imagine you going through that experience. It is really a creepy place yet I was drawn to explore it. I guess it was only because I was with a group of people. But alone? Hmmm... hehehe.

Fascinating piece of information, Amadeo. Just this morning, Discovery Channel had a program that tried to scientifically explain some of what may seem as ghostly apparitions. James Randy was in it, too. Too bad I caught only the tail end of it.

Yes, Ferdz, that surely adds excitement to a historical site, and I'm sure Corregidor would be another place to visit with such attraction.

November 01, 2006 3:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting place to visit and I have seen pictures of San Agustin Church and it really is magnificent.

Well, yes, we cannot dismiss the fact that spirits do exist because we cannot see them. It is best to believe that they do exist just that we cannot see them with our naked eyes. I do agree with you that some houses that are abandoned or have not been resided for a long time have spirits. 'Cause I felt that way before too.

November 01, 2006 7:10 PM  

Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

I saw your comment Niceheart about ghosts being pleasant enough to leave you alone out of concern for your emotional well being. That's funny! I have had two very powerful experiences with the unknown. I felt creeped out by it, but I never felt fear. In fact, it was exciting. The first time I saw what appeared to be a man standing at the end of my bed, probably the ghost of my wife's dead boyfriend , and then when I was a teenager I felt and saw a presence, much as what you described Senor E. Click on the links above if you'd like to read the specific details of what happened both times.

November 02, 2006 11:51 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You have to visit san Agustin Church when you come over to Manila, Kyels ... and do take Carlos Celdran's tour. You will surely enjoy it :)

November 02, 2006 12:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! That was is some ghostly apparition, Phil! Like Niceheart, I probably woud have suferred from a heart attack right there and then.

As I suspected, spirits must know who to make themselves visible to; otherwise, too many people would be dying from sheer fright.

I wonder what Fortunato wanted -- prayers? Was there something he wanted to let your wife know? But why appear to you and your daughter instead of to her directly?

Wow! Thanks for sharing, Phil.

I've already read your other "presence" story which gave me goosebumps as I was reading it.

November 02, 2006 12:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your feelings were correct. I myself, once saw a priest entering the crypt, I thought it was normal thing then again I just recalled that the priest was wearing those old stollas fashionable during Rizal's times! It's a good thing only a few of my classmates saw the same thing. If it had been the whole class, it would've been mayhem! LOL

November 03, 2006 10:52 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! You're gifted to see dead people, Jhay!

That would have been sheer mayhem, indeed :)

November 03, 2006 11:21 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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