My List of the Ten Allegedly Haunted Places in the Philippines

Here’s a list of ten of the scariest places I have visited in the country. One is located in La Union (Pindangan Church Ruins), two in Baguio City (Hyatt Terraces Hotel and SM City Baguio) in Benguet, one in Pampanga (Clark Air Base), one in Mountain Province (Sagada), one off Cavite (Corregidor Island) and the rest in Metro Manila. Though I haven’t really experienced any paranormal activity in these sites, probably because I don’t have a third eye, many others have.

  • My wife Grace and I stayed in the 12-storey, 303 -room HYATT TERRACES HOTEL for three days in April 1986.   Located on a pine tree-clad hill along South Drive, near Camp John Hay, the Hyatt Terraces Hotel was said to be the grandest hotel outside Metro Manila. At 4:26 PM, on July 16, 1990, a little over 4 years after our stay, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Luzon, killing 1,621 people.  Again, I happened to be in the city, with my family and some relatives, on the day of the devastating 1990 Luzon Earthquake but were lucky enough to have left the city before lunch. In Baguio City, 28 buildings collapsed during the earthquake.  One of the most prominent buildings destroyed was the Hyatt Terraces Hotel when the central wing’s terraced front collapsed, like an accordion, onto the hotel lobby, killing 98 employees and guests. In the aftermath of that tragic earthquake, many of those listed as “missing” were never found and many say that there are still bodies in the debris of the hotel site and the spirits of these victims have never moved on. Its tragic history has surely contributed to its terrifying reputation.

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Hyatt Terraces Hotel circa 1986

Today, its old fountain and a gated fence are all that remains of the still undeveloped site of the Hyatt Terraces. Now said to be haunted, strange lights and ghostly apparitions are said to have been seen around the empty lot.  There was once a bus stop in front of the gate and motorists, driving along South Drive, have told stories of strange apparitions of the spirits of dead employees there. Some passersby in the area at night have also heard cries for help and seen figures against the spotlight that illuminates the area. In fact, for those driving along South Drive, the directed procedure is to honk your horn when passing beside the former Hyatt location, lest they run over a spirit crossing the street. Aromatic smells, coming out of nowhere, are also consistently reported.

  • SM CITY BAGUIO (a favorite shopping venue of mine while in the city), opened in 2003, was erected on the site where the former 4-storey, wood-framed, 423-room Pines Hotel used to overlook Session Road. On October 23, 1984, at about 11:30 PM, a 6-hour blaze gutted this government-owned hotel. To escape the thick smoke and flames, most of the dead (17 were killed, including 4 Americans) and 46 injured leaped from windows of this American Colonial-style, hillside hotel while others were seen slipping from rescue ropes.

Check out “SM City Baguio

SM City Baguio

Today, mall visitors have reportedly seen faces in bathroom mirrors that would not be there a second later. One patron, in the ladies’ room, gave a photographic description of a bloodied fireman (The Baguio City Fire Department lost four firefighters in the blaze).

  • The MANILA FILM CENTER had its beginnings in 1981 when then First Lady Imelda R. Marcos started the Manila International Film Festival (MIFF). Slated to start on January 18, 1982, 4,000 laborers working, round the clock, in 3 shifts in the rush to complete the project  in time for the MIFF. Tragedy struck, on November 17, 1981, shortly before 3 AM, when scaffolding and wooden support for part of the second basement collapsed, causing at least 169 graveyard shift workers to fall to the orchestra below and be buried or trapped under wet, quick-drying cement.

Check out “The Urban Legend That is the Manila Film Center

Manila Film Center

Rather than halt construction to rescue survivors and retrieve the bodies of dead workmen, cement ordered to be poured into the orchestra, entombing the fallen workmen, some of them still alive. The MIFF was to last another year but, instead of quality films, pornographic films were shown in an effort to gain a larger audience and, perhaps, to make up for the first festival’s financial losses. Later, in 1984, I would watch the premiere of Tikoy Aguiluz’ startling, controversial but highly-acclaimed first full-length film “Boatman” (Ang Bangkero), in its uncut version, at this very venue. Today, it is the venue of the Amazing Show, a Las Vegas-like song and dance extravaganza  where all the performers are transgenders.

The place, said to be haunted as well as cursed, is incredibly spooky. Various ghostly manifestations were reported within the building on the site, including poltergeist activity, apparitions; mysterious hearing of cries and moans; bleeding walls; and hands sticking out from under doors. The ghosts of those who died are said to roam the area, looking for live bodies to possess and take over as their own.

  • The UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES Diliman Campus , where my wife  and I graduated (with a degree of B.S. Architecture) has had a long history of alleged haunting, with a lot of paranormal hot spots. The Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater, at the second floor of Palma Hall, is the residence of a  ghost named “Marisa,”  said to be a famous star of the university’s theater productions back in the 1970s who was eventually overshadowed by younger, more talented newcomers. Overwhelmed by grief and jealousy, she killed herself, in the most dramatic way possible, by hanging herself onstage, in costume. She’s known for making her presence felt by haunting the stage, the rest room and her old dressing room, joining the chorus during performances and, sometimes, showing up onstage.

Benitez Hall

Benitez Hall, home to the College of Education and one of the oldest buildings on campus and, naturally, has gained the reputation as one of the most haunted. A ghost, with blood red eyes, is said to wanders the halls. Kalayaan Hall, a residence hall exclusively for freshmen, has a ghost of a woman who supposedly shows up in the mirror facing the stairs to the second floor of the girls’ wing.  Abelardo Hall, home of the College of Music, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a girl vocalizing, or playing the piano or the gamelan in the middle of the night.

Melchor Hall

The lights on the top floor of Melchor Hall, the College of Engineering Building, where our college was then housed (the college now has its own building), was, for some reason, never turned off, the reason being that, sometimes, the lights there inexplicably turn to red. Many of my classmates have also seen a “Lady in White” come in and out of the corridor walls

  • The PINDANGAN CHURCH RUINS, the picturesque, roofless remains of a small vine-covered brick and coral church (the first in City of San Fernando, La Union) which I visited way back in 2004, is located 500 m. off the National Highway, near Camp Oscar Florendo. The nuns of the Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Family are the caretakers of these church ruins.

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Pindangan Church Ruins

It is said to be the home of the sole ghost of a headless stabbed priest who prowls the night, either carrying his severed head or searching for his head. Some have also reported hearing his head calling out for his body to find it. The wind here is known to whisper strange malediction to those that disrespect the location.  My picture of the site was featured in an episode of “Ang Pinaka: Scary Places in the Philippines,” aired during the 6:30 PM GMA News TV last October 22, Sunday.

  • The University of Santo Tomas, where my daughter Cheska graduated (with a degree of B.S. Medical Technology), served as an internment camp during the World War II.  Many prisoners died here of starvation and illness, and is reported by believers to be haunted. An alleged mass grave is located near the UST Museum.  One of the restroom cubicles in the Main Building is also haunted by a female student who hung herself.

Main Building of the University of Sto. Tomas

Other paranormal hot spots are the UST Hospital (haunted by a ghost wearing a red tag, which only corpses in the morgue section wear), St. Raymund’s Building (the comfort rooms on the first floor are haunted by the ghost of a girl was said to have committed suicide because she was bullied for her physical appearance), the Albertus Magnus Building (the Conservatory of Music where the piano is heard playing by itself) and Benavides Park (a.k.a. Lover’s Lane) where, at past midnight, students are greeted by a man wearing a Dominican habit who would later disappear (Sometimes, unfortunate couples hanging out in the park’s benches at night, have also heard a disembodied voice singing mass songs).

  • CLARK AIR BASE, being an American military installation, experienced major bombing from the Japanese during World War II. There are a number of reminders of that bloody past that still exist today and these locations are some of the most haunted in the Philippines.

Clark Museum

The area around the abandoned Clark Air Base Hospital has been rendered off limits to everyone as inhabitants have witnessed apparitions of violent spirits and heard mysterious voices.

Clark Cemetery

Early morning joggers have also reported hearing party music and excited talk coming from inside the obviously empty Home Plate canteen.  At the Clark Museum, the ghost of a serviceman who committed suicide by hanging himself still haunts the place.

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  • SAGADA, in Mountain Province, has an authentic culture dealing with death, free of Western influence. The caves of the town, in particular, are rumored to be site of ghostly mischief. According to the locals, whispery voices are heard and wayward shadows or apparitions are seen among the Hanging Coffins as well as graves up in the Echo Valley.

Hanging Coffins

The Igorots, however, generally say that if you show some respect and leave the coffins alone, you’ll make it out of the valley unscathed. At Sumaguing Cave, locals believe that the cave is haunted by the spirits of their ancestors.  I have explored this cave twice and, each time, I always felt an otherworldly feeling as I entered.

Check out “Back to Sumaging Cave

  • Historic CORREGIOR ISLAND, an island of history and heroism at the entrance of Manila Bay, has played a major role during World War II. Many Filipino and American soldiers died in its defense. During the liberation, the Japanese defenders here committed suicide via harakiri, jumping into the sea or blowing themselves up instead of capture or surrender. The ghosts of Corregidor’s World War II dead were also joined by Muslim soldiers who, in 1968,  were training in Corregidor for a  planned invasion of Sabah in Malaysia but were exterminated during the infamous March 18, 1968 Jabidah Massacre.

Hospital Ruins

At the Hospital Ruins, tourists who passed by have heard footsteps, rumblings of normal hospital activities, and wails of people.

One of the laterals of Malinta Tunnel. Notice the orbs?

Around the bunker area inside the Malinta Tunnel, shouts of people grimacing in pain can also be heard. Witnesses have also reported hearing eerie sounds and seeing a spirit near by. Manifestations would also appear in photos and videos. 

Check out “Ghost Hunting in Corregidor

  • In INTRAMUROS,  where the historical and the supernatural intersect, the possibility of ghost sightings in the oldest part of Manila is real. It attracts ghosts and ghost hunters in search of kapres, white ladies, demonic spirits, and other entities. In the dying days of World War II, Japanese soldiers reportedly massacred men, women and children in Baluarte de Dilao.

Baluarte de San Diego

Baluarte de San Diego, known as the break-up park for being the site where many a relationship met their demise, is where a crying White Lady often makes appearances.

Manila Cathedral

The Aduana (Customs House) Building, which housed several government offices, is the most haunted building in Intramuros. Many people believe its demonic entities takes lives.  At Plaza Mexico, there have been sightings of reapers, or hooded figures who chase after wandering spirits. Many of the retail and commercial spaces along the wall of Puerta de Sta. Isabel have now been abandoned, supposedly because of numerous reports of hauntings. An ordinary-looking tree, along Arzobispo Street, has earned the gruesome nickname the Suicide Tree after a student, supposedly from Mapua Institute of Technology, killed herself by hanging.  Headless priests supposedly make regular appearances at the Manila Cathedral.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago, where National Hero Jose Rizal was jailed, was used by the Japanese as a prison and torture chamber during World War II.  It is imprinted with the agony and sufferings of its many prisoners and is now also extremely haunted with ghosts of prisoners who drowned in its underground dungeons.

Check out “RevisitingFort Santiago

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City, U.S.A.)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Our third, and final, mass in the U.S. was held at the decorated  Gothic Revival-style Cathedral of St. Patrick (commonly called St. Patrick’s Cathedral), the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York (created in 1808 and made into an archdiocese by Pope Pius IX on July 19, 1850). Held on the first Friday of July, this was our second visit to the cathedral (the first was 13 days ago) and we attended this mass to pray for a safe journey back to Manila, our flight back being just 8 hours away.

The cathedral is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan. Directly across the street is the Rockefeller Center and it specifically faces the Atlas statue. A prominent landmark of New York City, the land on which the present cathedral sits was purchased in 1810 and it was designed by James Renwick, Jr.  In 1976, the cathedral and its associated buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark.

Here’s some interesting trivia regarding St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

The 100.6 m. high spire

St. Patrick’s Cathedral currently has two pipe organs, both built by the firm of George Kilgen & Son of St. Louis, Missouri. They consist of more than 9,000 pipes, 206 stops, 150 ranks and 10 divisions.

The cathedral interior

The Gallery Organ,  located in the Choir Gallery below the Rose Window over the Fifth Avenue entrance and in the Triforium, near the South Transept, was edicated on February 11, 1930. It took 3 years to build at a cost of US$250,000. Designed by Robert J. Reiley, consulting architect of the Cathedral, it has one of the nation’s most glorious wood facades and is adorned with angels and Latin inscriptions. Containing 7,855 pipes, ranging in length from 32 ft. to 1/2 inch, its longest pipes run horizontally across the North and South Triforia.

The pulpit

The Chancell Organ,  located in the North Ambulatory next to the Chapel of St. Joseph, was dedicated on January 30, 1928. It has 1,480 pipes; located on the opposite side of the Ambulatory, diagonally across from the console, and is encased in a carved oak screen ornamented with Gothic elements of design and symbolism.

Stained glass windows

Here is a timeline of the cathedral’s construction:

  • On August 15, 1858, the cornerstone was laid, just south of the diocese’s orphanage.
  • Work began that same year, was halted during the Civil War,and resumed in 1865.
  • In 1878, the cathedral was completed and was dedicated on May 25, 1879.
  • In 1879, the cathedral’s first organ, composed of 4 manuals with 51 stops and 56 ranks, was built by George Jardine & Son, one of New York’s most distinguished organ builders, and installed.
  • In 1880, the archbishop’s house and rectory were, both by James Renwick, Jr.
  • In 1880, an organ by J.H. & C.S. Odell (then also from New York City), composed of 2 manuals with 20 stops and 23 ranks, was installed in the chancel.
  • An adjacent school, no longer in existence, was opened in 1882.
  • The spires were added in 1888, and at 329 feet and 6 inches (100.4 meters) were the tallest structures in New York City and the second highest in the United States.
  • From 1901 to 1906, an addition on the east, including a Lady chapel (designed by Charles T. Matthews), was constructed.
  • Between 1912 and 1930, the Lady Chapel’s stained-glass windows were made by English stained glass artist and designer Paul Vincent Woodroffe.
  • In 1927 and 1931, the cathedral was renovated, the sanctuary was enlarged and two great organs were installed.
  • In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the cathedral’s main altar area was renovated under the guidance of Archbishop (and later cardinal) Francis Spellman. The previous high altar and reredoswere removed (now located in the University Church of Fordham University). New items include the sanctuary bronze baldachin and the rose stained glass window.
  • In the 1940s and 1950s tonal changes were made on the two organs.
  • In the 1970s and 1980s, additional renovations were made on the organs by Jack Steinkampf of Yonkers, New York, particularly in the revoicing of flutes and reeds, and the addition of the Trumpette en Chamade.
  • In the 1980s, the altar was further renovated, under the direction of Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor. To be more visible to the congregation, a stone altar was built from sections of the side altars and added to the middle of the sanctuary. However, in 2013, this altar was removed.
  • In 1993, the organs underwent major restoration. new consoles for both the Gallery and Chancel Organs to replace the original ones (which had deteriorated beyond repair) were acquired. Robert Turner (of Hacienda Heights, California) constructed twin, 5-manual consoles while Solid State Logic, Ltd. of England designed and engineered the combination action. Fiber-optic wiring were used to enable both consoles to control the Gallery, Chancel and Nave Organs at the same time. In 1993, the Gallery console was finished and installed in time for Christmas Midnight Mass. In early 1994, the Chancel console was installed. In 1995, the entire Chancel Organ was restored
  • On September 15, 2007, the 10th anniversary of the organ’s renovation, the organs were blessed. The Bicentennial Concert Series was also inaugurated with a performance James E. Goettsche, the Vatican Organist.
  • In 2012, an extensive US$177 million restoration of the cathedral was begun and lasted 3 years. The exterior marble was cleaned, the stained glass windows were repaired and the ceiling was painted, among many restorations. On September 17, 2015, the restoration was completed before Pope Francis visited the cathedral on September 24 and 25, 2015.

The cathedral ceiling

Beneath the high altar is a crypt in which the nine past deceased Archbishops of New York as well as notable Catholic figures that served the Archdiocese are entombed. They include:

Plaque commemorating Pope Paul VI’s October 4. 1965 visit

The galeros of Cardinals McCloskey, Farley, Hayes and Spellman (also worn by Pope Pius XII, as Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, until the latter’s election to the papacy at the 1939 Papal conclave) are located high above the crypt at the back of the sanctuary. In 1965, the ceremony of the consistory was revised by Pope Paul VI and therefore no galero was presented to Cardinal Cooke or any of his successors.

Plaque commemorating Pope John Paul II’s second Papal visit

Requiem Masses were said at the cathedral for the following notable people:

Special memorial Masses were also held at the cathedral for the following:

The cathedral or parts of it were featured in a number of movies, TV shows, songs and literary works:

  • The climax of Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), where Taylor destroyed Earth with the AlphaOmega bomb, were set in the cathedral’s underground ruins. Centuries earlier, mutant humans surviving a nuclear holocaust founded a religion on the bomb (later depicted in Battle for the Planet of the Apes). They reconsecrated the cathedral to their new religion and installed the bomb in front of the organ pipes in place of the crucifix.
  • The TV show Futurama, Fry, Leela, et al. are visiting the sewer mutants beneath the ruins of Old New York and Fry sticks his head in the cathedral, sees the bomb, and says, “So you guys worship an unexploded atomic bomb?” A mutant replies, “Not really, it’s mostly a Christmas and Easter thing.”
  • Nelson DeMille‘s 1981 novel, Cathedral, concerning a fictional seizure and threatened destruction of the cathedral by members of the Irish Republican Army on St. Patrick’s Day, is mostly set in and around the cathedral and details of the cathedral’s structure contribute important elements to the plot.
  • The cathedral is also featured in the 1990 film Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
  • In Giannina Braschi‘s novel, Empire of Dreams (1994), the ringing of the church bells at the cathedral marks a pastoral revolution in New York City.
  • The cathedral was referenced in the song Not A Love Story by musical-theatre songwriters Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk. 

The author and son Jandy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Catheral: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

The historic, 12,000 sq. m. (3 acre) Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the second (and largest) cemetery in Boston (second only to the King’s Chapel Burying Ground founded in 1630), was founded on February 20, 1659. Originally named “North Burying Ground,” it is situated on land (where a wind-powered grinding mill once stood) on Copp’s Hill (named after early settler and local cobbler William Copp whose children were buried here in the 1660s) bought by the town from John Baker and Daniel Turell.

Now named “Copp’s Hill Burying Ground” (although often referred to as “Copp’s Hill Burial Ground”), it is the final resting place of over 10,000 people (buried between 1660 and 1968) and contains more than 2,200 marked graves (60% of which date to before the American Revolution), including the remains of various notable Bostonians (29 Boston Tea Party participants and 43 Revolutionary War veterans) from the Colonial Era into the 1850s.

On January 7, 1708, the cemetery was extended when the town bought additional land from Judge Samuel Sewall and his wife Hannah (part of a  pasture which she inherited from her father, John Hull, master of the mint).  On June 17, 1775, because of its height and panoramic vista, the British used this vantage point on the southwest side to establish earthworks and train their North Battery cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill. Legend has it that British troops used gravestones for target practice (many have interpreted the round scars of the Capt. Daniel Malcolm grave marker to be the result of musket balls being shot at close range).

On December 18, 1809, it was further extended when the town bought, for US$10,000, additional land from Benjamin Weld and his wife Nabby after they had bought it from Jonathan Merry, who had used it as pasture.  Ten years later, Charles Wells (later mayor of Boston) bought a small parcel of land from John Bishop of Medford which he used as a cemetery. Later, this was merged with the adjacent North Burying Ground. It is no longer possible to discern the original boundaries of the cemetery because of this complicated history.

Along the Snow Hill Street side, in a potter’s field, are many unmarked graves of more than 1,000 free  African Americans who lived in the questionably named “New Guinea” community at the foot of the hill. In addition, there are 227 tombs, most of which bear inscriptions that are still legible. In addition, the grave markers and their epitaphs of thousands of artisans and tradesmen buried here reflect the nature of the 17th and 18th century economy of the North End.

Prince Hall Memorial

Reputedly, the oldest grave stone is that of Grace Berry, wife of Thomas Berry, who according to the inscription, died May 17, 1625 (5 years before Boston was settled). The well preserved stone is of old Welsh slate with quite distinct carving; the edges are ornamented with curves and at the top are carved two cherubs and the angel of death.

Grace Berry Tomb

The tomb erected by Isaac Dupee, perhaps the most ornate monument in the ground, bears a beautifully carved coat-of-arms, together with a tribute in verse.

Isaac Dupee Tomb

The town continued to maintain the site intermittently but, by 1840, the cemetery had fallen into near disuse and, by 1878, it was badly neglected. When the Freedom Trail  created in 1951, the cemetery was not an official stop but it has since been added and is now much-frequented by tourists and photographers. In 1974, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Now owned by the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, it is part of the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative.

Michael Malcom Grave stone

Notable persons buried here include:

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground: 21 Hull St. cor. Snowhill St., Boston, 02113 Massachusetts, U.S.A. Tel: 617-635-4505.  Open daily. 10 AM  – 5 PM.

King’s Chapel (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

King’s Chapel

The King’s Chapel, proudly one of the 16 historic sites (the fifth stop) on Boston’s Freedom Trail, is housed in what was formerly called the “Stone Chapel,” an 18th-century structure. The chapel, an independent Christian unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the first Anglican church in colonial New England and overwhelmingly Puritan Boston, was founded on June 15, 1686 by Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros  during the reign of King James II. Notable members and attendees included George Washington, Paul Revere, Thomas Hutchinson, Charles Sumner, Charles Bulfinch, Oliver Wendell Holmes  and many more

The exterior columns of chapel colonnade

The chapel was originally a wooden church built in 1688. The present larger stone (made with Quincy granite) chapel building, started in 1749 (its cornerstone was laid on August 11) and completed in 1754, was built around the wooden church.

One of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison (dubbed as “America’s first architect”) of Newport, when the stone church was completed, the wooden church was disassembled, removed through the windows of the new church and the  wood shipped to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia where it was used to construct St. John’s Anglican Church.

National Historic Landmark Plaque

During the American Revolution, the chapel sat vacant or a few short months as Loyalist families left for Nova Scotia and England, but reopened, following the loss of its minister (the Rev. Henry Caner), for the funeral of Gen. Joseph Warren who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775). In 1782, those who remained reopened the church. In 1960, the chapel was designated a National Historic Landmark  for its architectural significance. On Halloween night of 2001, the church was destroyed by fire but has since been rebuilt.

The chapel’s magnificent interior

The chapel bell, cast in England and hung in 1772, cracked in 1814 and was recast by Paul Revere (the largest bell cast by the Revere foundry and the last one cast by Paul Revere himself) and rehung. Ever since, it has been rung during Sunday morning services.

Plaque commemorating congregation members who died during the American Civil War

The exterior columns of the colonnade (completed after the American Revolution), which appear to be stone, are, in fact, wood painted in a cost-saving trompe-l’oeil.

Plaque commemorating congregation members who died during World War I and World War II

The magnificent interior, considered the finest example of Georgian church architecture in North America, features wooden columns which have Corinthian capitals hand-carved, in 1758, by William Burbeck and his apprentices.

The wooden columns with hand-carved Corinthian capitals

The current uniform appearance of the seating, in box pews, dates from the 1920s. The pews were mostly originally owned by the member families who paid pew rent and decorated the pews according to their personal tastes.

The box pews

The chapel first organ was acquired in 1723. The present organ, the chapel’s sixth, was built by C.B. Fisk in in 1964. Decorated with miters and carvings from the Bridge organ of 1756, it is slightly below average in size compared with most mid-1900s European chapel organs.

Within the King’s Chapel is a monument to London merchant Samuel Vassall, brother of the colonist William Vassall (who frequently clashed with John Winthrop, and eventually removed himself to Scituate, Massachusetts), a patentee of the Massachusetts Bay Company (also named a member of the company in its 1629 Royal Charter), an early deputy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a Member of Parliament (1640–1641) representing London.

Monument to London merchant Samuel Vassall

Kings Chapel: 58 Tremont Street cor. School Street, Boston, Massachusetts, MA 02108,  U.S.A. Open daily, 10 AM – 4:30 PM.  Tours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Mondays through Saturdays; and 1:30 PM to 5 PM on Sundays. Tel:+1 617-523-1749. Website: www.kings-chapel.org.

Park Street Church (Boston, Massachusetts)

Park Street Church

The Park Street Church, an active, thriving missionary-centered Conservative Congregational church with 2,000 in Sunday attendance and around 1,000 members, is a historical stop on the Freedom Trail located next to the historic Granary Burying Ground.

Its cornerstone was laid on May 1, 1809 and its construction, under the guidance of architect Peter Banner (his design is reminiscent of St. Bride’s Church in London by famous British architect Christopher Wren), chief mason Benajah Young  and woodcarver Solomon Willard, was completed by the end of the year. On January 10, 1810, it had its first worship service.

The church became known as “Brimstone Corner,” in part because of the fervent missionary character of its preaching and, in part, because of the gunpowder stored in its crypt (which gave off a ferocious smell of sulfur) during the War of 1812.

The church’s beautiful white steeple, a landmark visible from several Boston neighborhoods, rises to 66 m. (217 ft.), making the church the tallest building in the United States from 1810 to 1828. The red brick façade has white accents.  There is a little museum on the first floor.

The church is the site of a number of historical events:

Park Street Church: 1 Park St. cor. Tremont St.Boston, Massachusetts 02108. Tel: (617) 523-3383.  Website: www.parkstreet.org. Open Wednesdays – Fridays, 9:30 AM -3 PM. Worship services: Sundays 8:30 AM, 11 AM and 4 PM. Admission is free.

How to Get There: The church located right across from the Park Street subway stop (Red Line) at the edge of Boston Common.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine

This historical American coastal pentagonal bastion fort is best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from the September 13–14, 1814 attack by the British navy from Chesapeake Bay. The fort, a prominent tourist destination, is visited each year by thousands of visitors who come to see the “Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner.”

Entrance to Fort McHenry

It’s also a popular spot for Baltimoreans to run, walk their dogs, enjoy a picnic or just sit by the waters of Chesapeake Bay  and enjoy the breeze and views of the city.

View of Baltimore Harbor as seen from the fort

Listed are some interesting trivia regarding the fort:

  • This was named after early American statesman James McHenry (November 16, 1753 – May 3, 1816), a Scots-Irish immigrant and surgeon-soldier who was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland and a signer of the United States Constitution. Afterwards, he was appointed United States Secretary of War (1796–1800), serving under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.
  • Fort McHenry was built on the site of the former Fort Whetstone which stood on Whetstone Point (today’s residential and industrial area of Locust Point) peninsula, which juts into the opening of Baltimore Harbor between the Basin (today’s Inner Harbor) and Northwest branch on the north side and the Middle and Ferry (now Southern) branches of the Patapsco River on the south side. The fort defended Baltimore from 1776 to 1797.
  • The new fort, built to improve the defenses of the increasingly important Port of Baltimore from future enemy attacks, is a bastioned pentagon, surrounded by a dry moat (a deep, broad trench) that served as a shelter from which infantry might defend the fort from a land attack. In case of such an attack on this first line of defense, each point, or bastion could provide a crossfire of cannon and small arms fire.
  • During the War of 1812, the 5.2 m. × 7.6 m. (17 ft. by 25 ft.) storm flag flown over Fort McHenry during the bombardment was replaced early on the morning of September 14, 1814 with a larger 9.1 m. × 12.8 m. (30 ft. by 42 ft.) garrison flag, sewn by Mary Pickersgill for $405.90, which signaled American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore. Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who had come to Baltimore to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war, witnessed the bombardment from a nearby truce ship. The sight of the ensign inspired him  to write the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” The poem was later set to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven” and become known as the “Star Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.
  • It has become national tradition that when a new flag is designed, it first flies over Fort McHenry. The first official 49- and 50-star American flags were flown over the fort. The flags are still located on the premises.
  • In the event of a national emergency, the United States Codecurrently authorizes Fort McHenry’s closure to the public for use by the military for the duration of such an emergency.
  • Every September, the City of Baltimore commemorates Defenders Day in honor of the Battle of Baltimore. It is the biggest celebration of the year at the fort, it is accompanied by a weekend of programs, events and fireworks.
  • In 2013, under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine was honored with its own quarter.

The barracks

Here is a timeline of the fort’s history:

  • Designed by Frenchman Jean Foncin in 1798, the fort was built between 1798 and 1800.
  • During World War I, in order to convert the entire facility into an enormous U.S. Army hospital for the treatment of troops returning from the European conflict, an additional one hundred odd buildings (only a few of them remain) were built on the land surrounding the fort.
  • On September 13, 1814, beginning at 6 AM, British warships, under the command of Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane, continuously bombarded Fort McHenry, under the command of Major George Armistead (April 10, 1780 – April 25, 1818) of the 3rd Regiment of U. S. Artillery, for 25 hours. The British ships were unable to pass Fort McHenry and penetrate Baltimore Harbor because of its defenses which included a chain of 22 sunken ships and the American’s 8, 11 and 16 kg. (18, 24 and 32-pounder) cannons.  The British guns had a range of 3 kms. (2 miles) and their rockets had a 2.8 km. (1.75-mile) range, neither of which, fired at maximum range, were accurate. At one point during the bombardment, a bomb crashed through the fort’s powder magazine but,  fortunately for the Americans, either the rain extinguished the fuse or the bomb was a dud.
  • On the morning of September 14, the British, having depleted their ammunition, ceased their attack. Only one British warship, a bomb vessel, received a direct hit from the fort’s return fire, which wounded one crewman. The Americans lost four killed (including Private William Williamsan African-American soldier, and a woman who was cut in half by a bomb as she carried supplies to the troops) and 24 wounded.
  • During the American Civil War, Fort McHenry served as a military prison, confining  Confederate soldiers as well as a large number of Maryland political figures (including newly elected Baltimore Mayor George William Brown, the city council, the new police commissioner, George P. Kane; members of the Maryland General Assembly; several newspaper editors and owners; John Eager Howard,(local hero of the Revolutionary War; and Francis Scott Key‘s grandson, Francis Key Howard) who were suspected of being Confederate At this time, Fort McHenry also served to train artillery (hence the Rodman guns presently located and displayed at the fort).
  • During World War II, Fort McHenry was leased to the Coast Guard for port security work and as a fire training station aboard ships for nearly 28,000 U.S. Coast Guardsmen.
  • In 1925, the fort was made a national park
  • In 1931, the fort was finally deactivated and transferred to the National Park Service .
  • On August 11, 1939, it was redesignated a “National Monument and Historic Shrine, the only such doubly designated place in the United States.
  • On October 15, 1966, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • On September 10–16, 2014, the Star Spangled Spectacular was held at Fort McHenry to celebrate the bicentennial of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The event included a parade of tall ships, a large fireworks show and the US Navy’s Blue Angels.

The Visitor Center

The kid-friendly Visitor Center has a Park Ranger-staffed information desk, book and souvenir store, a large museum, restrooms and a meeting place for Ranger programs.

The Park Ranger-staffed information desk

The kid-friendly Visitor Center has a Park Ranger-staffed information desk, book and souvenir store, a large museum, restrooms and a meeting place for Ranger programs.

Francis Scott Key and the Birth of the Star Spangled Banner. At right is the original draft of the song

The museum is divided into three main areas of interest. The first section, “Francis Scott Key and the Birth of the Star Spangled Banner,” is devoted to Francis Scott Key, the Star Spangled Banner, and the flag. An interactive touch-screen presentation details Key’s schedule leading up to his writing of the poem.

The Star Spangled Banner and the War of 1812.  At the right is a uniform, 2 muskets (one with bayonet), powder horn and personal items of a soldier

The second area of the museum, where I spent about an hour, focused on the War of 1812. Its interactive touch-screen presentation, a key exhibit, allowed me to read about every battle in the war. Also on exhibit are military memorabilia such as uniforms and a cannon as well as personal items used by soldiers.

A cannon

A second section of the museum covers the Battle of Baltimore, with its centerpiece being a 10-minute film about the Battle of Baltimore, a combination of live action and CGI animated battle maps, and ends with an inspirational rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” with the audience standing and singing along, as the curtain rises to reveal the flag at Fort McHenry outside.

L-R: Kyle, Cheska and Grace.  Behind is a copy of the original storm flag of the garrison

Film showings occur at the top of every hour and every half hour and its movie screen is part of the overall museum.  During the showing,  the lights were turned down, rendering the rest of the museum essentially shut down during this time. Only the exhibits that are backlit, such as the interactive touch-screens, can be seen.

Jandy at the entrance of the fort

The actual wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly fort is just a short walk from the Visitor Center.  Outside the fort were re-enacters such as women hand washing the service men’s clothes, sewing a flag and learning how to write on slate boards. Inside were probably a dozen servicemen in full dress and carrying muskets.

Women re-enacters

Servicemen in uniform

Within the fort are exhibits on a variety of topics relating to the fort and its history such as the restored Commander’s Quarters, Junior Officers’ Quarters, Guard House and the Enlisted Men’s Quarters, all mainly devoted to garrison life during its most famous period of the War of 1812; the Gunpowder Magazine  as well as the restored flag pole.  The flag flown here is not the size of the fabled Star-Spangled Banner, but is a garrison flag that is four sizes smaller. 

George Armistead

Junior Officers’ Quarters

Outside the fort proper is a reconstruction of the Upper Battery which, during the 1814 attack, was largely manned by volunteer militia artillerymen and merchant seamen (from ships within blockaded Baltimore Harbor) and armed with large-caliber smooth bore guns mounted on naval trucks or garrison carriages. They had wooden trucks with iron wheels and, to prevent their excessive recoil when fired, were attached to the wall by rope cables. 

Upper Battery

The fort also boasts a fine collection of mid-nineteenth century artillery pieces. The Lower Battery, with brick-reinforced earthen rampart (replacing the earth-and-wooden one of the War of 1812), have circa 1875 15-inch Rodman smoothbore guns of Civil War vintage that were sleeved with rifled inserts.

The author with the Rodman cannons in the background

Adjacent to Fort McHenry lies a monument of Orpheus that is dedicated to the soldiers of the fort and Francis Scott Key.

Monument of Orpheus by Charles Niehaus

Statue of Col. George Armistead

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine: 2400 East Fort Ave, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, USA. Tel: +1-410-962-4290. Open daily, 9 AM – 6 PM (5 PM in the winter), closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission: adults (US$10), children 15 years old and younger (free).

How to Get There: The fort is easily accessible by water taxi from the popular Baltimore Inner Harbor. However, to prevent abuse of the parking lots at the Fort, the National Park Service does not permit passengers to take the water taxi back to the Inner Harbor unless they have previously used it to arrive at the monument.

30th Street Station (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)

30th Street Station

The 52,000 m² (562,000 ft²) 30th Street Station, the main railroad station in Philadelphia and one of the seven stations in Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority‘s (SEPTA) Center City fare zone, sits across from the former United States Post Office-Main Branch. A major stop on Amtrak‘s (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) Northeast and Keystone Corridors, it is Amtrak’s 3rd-busiest station and the busiest of the 24 stations served in Pennsylvania. On an average day in 2013, about 11,300 people boarded or left trains in Philadelphia, nearly twice as many as in the rest of the Pennsylvania stations combined. This was to be our entry point to Philadelphia (from New York City) and exit point from Philadelphia to Baltimore (Maryland).

The main concourse

Originally known as the Pennsylvania Station–30th Street (in accord with the naming style of other Pennsylvania Stations), the enormous, steel-framed structure was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White (the successor to D.H. Burnham & Company). Construction began in 1927 and the station opened in 1933, starting with two platform tracks.

The author and son Jandy at the waiting area

From 1988-1991, the building was restored and renovated, at a cost of US$75 million,  by Dan Peter Kopple & Associates, with updated retail amenities added including several shops, a large food court, car rental facilities, Saxby’s CoffeeDunkin’ Donuts, both in the South Arcade and South Concourse, and others.

Dunkin’ Donut outlet

Above the passenger areas, 280,000 sq. ft. of office space was modernized to house approximately 1,100 Amtrak employees.  The former mail handling facility was converted into an underground parking garage. The 30th Street Station is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Train Schedule Display Board

The building’s architecturally interesting exterior, an adaptation and transformation of Neo-Classical elements into a more modern, streamlined Art Deco architectural style, has a pair of soaring, columned porte-cocheres on the west and east façade, its best known features.

Waiting Area

The cavernous, 290 by 135 ft. main passenger concourse, notable for its stylistic and functional elements, has ornate Art Deco décor, with a vast waiting room faced with travertine and a soaring  coffered ceiling, painted gold, red and cream, with beautiful chandeliers.

Ticket offices

Works of art are located throughout the building. Prominently displayed within the waiting area is the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial, sculpted in 1950 by Walker Hancock. Honoring 1,307 Pennsylvania Railroad employees (listed in alphabetical order on the four sides of the base of that sculpture) killed in World War II (out of the more than 54,000 who served), it consists of a bronze statue of the archangel Michael lifting the body of a dead soldier out of the flames of war.

Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial

The Spirit of Transportation, a bas relief sculpture of Karl Bitter, was executed in 1895 and originally placed in the waiting room of Broad Street Station, Philadelphia. On January, 1955, it was moved to current site in the North Waiting Room. The Spirit of Transportation is represented in triumphal procession of progress. It features a central female figure sitting in a horse-drawn carriage, while children cradle models of a steamship, steam locomotive and dirigible, a prophetic vision of a mode of transportation to come.

Spirit of Transportation bas-relief sculpture

The station was featured in the 1981 film Blow Out, the 1983 film Trading Places, the 1985 film Witness, the 2000 film Unbreakable, the 2010 video game Heavy RainAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 7, and the 2015 film The Visit. It is within walking distance of various attractions in West Philadelphia, notably the University of PennsylvaniaDrexel University, and the University City Science Center, all in University City. 

Kyle, Grace, Cheska and Jandy waiting for our train to Baltimore at the train platform

30th Street Station: 2955 Market Street, PhiladelphiaPennsylvaniaUnited States

Mactan Shrine (Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu)

Mactan Shrine.  On the left is the small building housing two plaques while on the right is the Magellan Monument

Part 4 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

This shrine is dedicated in honor of Lapu-Lapu (the Philippines’ first National Hero) and the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and was erected on the supposed spot where the Battle of Mactan (April 27, 1521) took place. The shrine has three prominent monuments

Lapu-Lapu Monument

The 20-ft. high Lapu-Lapu Monument, beside the shore, features a bronze statue, on a pedestal, of Datu Lapu-Lapu, sculpted with great realism, holding a kampilan (curved sword) on his right hand and a shield on the left.  The Magellan Marker, shaped like a large headstone, allegedly marks the spot where Magellan fell dead in the hands of Lapu-Lapu’s men.

Magellan Monument

A little farther away is the 30-ft. high Magellan Monument, on a base of several levels and surrounded by a low fence. It consists of plain, coralstone obelisk, on whose apex rests a sphere, mounted on a tall plinth that rests on a tripartite structure – an octagonal base, on which rests a tall quadrilateral structure, divided into a lower part, decorated with high relieves of vases, and an upper part pierced by narrow arches.

Relief of a vase

The monument is inscribed with texts. On one side is A Hernando de Magallanes, Ferdinand Magellan’s name written in the original Portuguese language.

Inscription with Magellan’s name

On a second side is the phrase Glorias Españolas (“Glory to Spain”),  on the third is the phrase Siendo Gobernaor Don Miguel Creus (the Spanish governor of the Philippines at the time) and on the fourth side is the phrase 1866 Reinando Ysabel II (the Spanish monarch at that time).

Inscription with Gov. Miguel Creus’s name

The monument was said to have been built in 1866 during the administration of Augustinian Fr. Simon Aguirre, who was cura (parish priest), from 1857 to 1871, of Opon (the old name of Lapu-Lapu City).

The plinth with two plaques

Between the Lapu-Lapu and Magellan monuments stands the Philippine flag.  East of the Magellan Monument is a small building housing a plinth flanked by plaques.

The Lapu-Lapu plaque

The plaque about Lapu-Lapu (installed by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1951) reads:

Lapulapu

Here on 27 April 1521, Lapulapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader Ferdinand Magellan thus Lapu Lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.

The plaque about Magellan’s death

The other plaque about Ferdinand Magellan (installed by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1941) reads:

Ferdinand Magellan’s Death

On this spot Ferdinand Magellan died on April 27, 1521 wounded in an encounter with the soldiers of Lapu Lapu, Chief of Mactan Islands. One of Magellan’s ships, The Victoria, under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, sailed from Cebu on May 1, 1521 and anchored at San Lucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522 thus completing the first circumnavigation of the earth.

The huge mural painting

Behind the plinth is a huge mural painting depicting the battle. The Battle of Mactan is reenacted along the shores near the shrine during the 27 April Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival.

The Kadaugan sa Mactan re-enactment site

Mactan Shrine: Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Bonifacio Trial Museum (Maragondon, Cavite)

This two-storey bahay-na-bato (stone house) was the site where Andres and Procopio Bonifacio were court martialed by a military court presided by Gen. Mariano Noriel from May 5 to 6, 1897. The court  found the two accused guilty of treason and recommended execution.

Bonifacio Trial Museum

Built by Teodorico Reyes in 1889, this house was formerly known as the Roderico Reyes House (which was the name of the former owner). The house now belongs to Mr. Jose Angeles.  In 1999, it was fully restored and declared as a National Heritage Site. Today, this stone, brick and wood ancestral house has been converted into a museum called the Museo ng Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio or Bonifacio Trial Museum. It was formally inaugurated on November 28, 2014.

The house has capiz sliding windows, ventanillas and calado woodwork on the eaves

The museum has five galleries.  Gallery 1 (Maypagasa) provides a short background on Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan; Gallery 2 (Pagsalubong) focuses on the conflict between the two Katipunan factions in Cavite, the Magdalo and Magdiwang; Gallery 3 (Pagdakip) narrates the events leading to Bonifacio’s arrest; Gallery 4 (Ang Paglilitis) re-enacts the Bonifacio brothers’ court martial through a light and sound presentation; and Gallery 5 (Kadakilaan) recounts the anguish of Bonifacio’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus, in learning of her husband’s death.

National Historical Institute (NHI) Plaque

The museum also has an audio-visual corner offering a brief documentary about the trial and death of Andres Bonifacio and an e-learning room for online lessons on the history of the Philippines. The shrine is administered and managed the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly the National Historical Institute).

Philippine Historical Committee (PHC) Plaque

Bonifacio Trial Museum: Col. Crisostomo Riel St., Brgy. Poblacion 1-A, Maragondon, Cavite. Mobile number: (0917) 553-7375 (Mr. Melanio Guevarra – museum curator). E-mail: bonifaciotrialmuseum@gmail.com. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 8 AM – 5 PM. Admission is free.

Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Naic, Cavite)

Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was first constructed in the 1800s with wood and cogon grass. Six years after its initial construction, a kopa, a pair of cruets and ornamentation was added. In 1835, the construction of a new stone church was started by Don Pedro Florentino. Its bell tower was completed in 1892.

The church convent

After the Tejeros Convention of March 22, 1897, the the church convent was used as the headquarters of Andres Bonifacio and the Naic Conference was held there. In this conference, the old Tagalog letter of the flag was replaced by the “Sun of Liberty,” with two eyes, a nose and a mouth and its symbolic eight rays.

The church interior

Before World War II, the church was one of the tallest (about 5 storeys high) and the longest (almost 10 blocks long) churches in Cavite. In width, it was second to the Imus Cathedral. On November 17, 1996, it was made into a Diocesan Shrine.

The church’s Neo-Gothic facade

Author’s notes:

The church’s three-level Neo-Gothic façade, the only one of its kind in Cavite, has a pointed, lancet-like arched main entrance flanked by square pilasters and similarly pointed arched windows.

The 4-storey bell tower

The second level has three pointed arched windows while the triangular pediment, with inverted traceries below the eaves, has a circular window at the tympanum.  The central pilasters rise up to the pediment and end up in pinnacles, dividing the façade into 3 vertical sections. The sides of the church are reinforced by thick buttresses.

The thick buttresses

The 4-storey, square bell tower, on the church’s left, has alternating circular and pointed arched windows and is topped by a pyramidal roof.

The main altar

Its interior has 3 major and 2 minor Gothic-style altars with the Very Venerated Image of the Immaculate Concepcion, Patron Lady of Naic, in the main altar.

Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Capt. Ciriaco Nazareno St., Poblacion, Naic 4110, Cavite. Tel: (046) 412-0456. Feast of the Immaculate Conception: December 8.

How to Get There: Naic is located 47 kms. from Manila, 13.3 kms. from Trece Martires City, 12.9 kms. from Maragondon and 12.8 kms. from Tanza.