Haunted houses, heritage parks and sites

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ARCHITECT FELINO A. PALAFOX, JR.

IT is said that ghosts of certain places replay their life’s stories, struggle, and suffering by projecting it to an unwilling listener. Many places which are said to have ghost sightings are usually places of history and heritage. Some of these places are quite famous in Baguio, as well as in other area that were rummaged during the Spanish conquest, Filipino-American War, and the second world war. Whether these sightings are true or not, it certainly draws attention for tourism.

Haunted hotels and cafés
Most preserved heritage homes are curated according to the life’s story of an owner along with his or her family’s portraits, collection and everyday items.

In Europe, many castles are well-known haunted hotels, especially castles in Ireland, Scotland and England. The Tulloch Castle in the town of Dingwall in Scotland is said to have apparitions of a young girl and a lady in green. Other known haunted castles are Lumley Castle in County Durnham, England, and Ackergill Tower in Caithness, Scotland, among others.

In short many abandoned famous haunted places in the Philippines may want to consider converting these places into a café, hotel, museum, and viewing deck. Here are two examples of haunted places that can be converted into places of interest:


1) Clark Air Base Hospital, Angeles Pampanga. Now abandoned, it was hospital that was used during the war. It was even featured in documentaries and newspaper stories. It is said that the spirits of the place are unwelcoming to visitors.

Because of structural integrity, I believe portions of the hospital can be converted into a museum café, reliving its storied Filipino-American past. It can be added as one of the sights to visit in Pampanga. Since there has already been intrusion by trespassers and ghost haunters, for the sake of safety, developing the place may not be a bad idea at all.

2) Balete Drive, Quezon City. This street must be one of the most famous Filipino urban legends. According to the stories, the famous white lady is a spirit of a woman who met with an untimely and brutal death. To add extra lighting and security to the place, putting up a café and shops may draw extra eyes and tourism to the neighborhood.

The future of memorial parks
Memorial parks are places where we celebrate humanity. They should not only be places for remembering our loved ones who have passed on, but places where we celebrate life and living. After all, whenever we visit memorial parks, we attempt to relive the life and memory of the person we are visiting.

With this mindset, we can begin envisioning what our memorial parks could become. They will not only be isolated places of grief and pain, but places where life and death can be respectfully celebrated. New sources of income can also be developed so that parks can be maintained to be more conducive, contemplative places to visit.

Memorial parks, after all, are in the industry of memories, celebration, and tradition.

As cities in the Philippines become more urbanized, the need for parks has sadly become less of a priority. There is a lack of parks and open spaces. These memorial parks, especially public memorial parks, are spaces that can be developed to accommodate other activities that only have minimal noise. The challenge in cities like Metro Manila is mounting, in the sense that the availability of open green spaces and walking spaces is becoming scarcer. Some of the places that we can develop or redevelop are our existing private and public memorial parks.

Memorial parks as active spaces
At all times, contemplation and serenity should be maintained throughout the area. But certain activities can complement a serene environment. There have been many ideas around the world on how to make memorial parks more appealing, rejecting the idea that they are places of dread and horror. They can become places for walking, jogging, biking, praying, reading, and putting up art installations. On the boundaries of the park, food spaces, convenience stores and restaurants can be put up. These can help the memorial park fund its operations, especially public memorial parks in the Philippines that look rundown.

Picnic groves and picnic areas may also be put up because it is already part of Filipino culture to eat at the park during All Souls’ Day, and to visit their departed loved ones during important family gatherings. Some places in the Philippines have festival-like celebrations around this time in November.

The value of stories
Memories and stories significantly contribute to the beauty and value of a place. A place becomes a heritage site precisely because of its storied past, not just because of its aesthetic value. And this is why a community can always identify itself with a preserved heritage locale because it has a deep intrinsic relationship to the families of the neighborhood.

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