The Heritage of the Haunted: Manila Film Center
Strange sounds, doorbells, and levitating items are paranormal activities that make our spines chill when we dare to enter so-called haunted places. We have tales of spirits returning from the dead to haunt places that they left behind. We have it heavily feature in the folklore of many cultures around the world from ancient times. Although the architectural style of these haunted buildings is not inherently frightful, and the stories boost the architectural style as scary and haunted throughout the year.
We associate preserved heritage buildings as curated around the life story of the owner and the place. We can saw family photos, collections, and everyday belongings displayed as space became museums. Due to our associations with the history of the buildings, we are most fond of the stories that give us thrills down our spine. We have several castles in Europe that we classify as haunted hotels.
The Philippines is rich with these stories. It is due to the brutality witnessed in the Philippines during the Second World War. The history of places like Baguio and Corregidor is a common cause of dormancy due to stories of Japanese troops and other war victims haunting the place. Many buildings in the Philippines have become well known for spine-topping stories, from the Spanish mansions to ancient hotels. While we are clueless about the reality of these stories, we can't deny that these stories pave the longevity and popularity of the buildings. Regardless of whether we think of the trueness of horror stories or not, we can't argue that it is our history.
Having these stories alive helps to preserve these buildings, and our love of Halloween enables us to commemorate them every year. Most of these stories involve culturally relevant buildings like the Diplomat Hotel in Baguio and the Manila Film Center in Pasay. These are not just horror destinations but historical haunts and architectural heritage. Many of these buildings are now abandoned and empty. Despite it, it floats in society from time to time due to the famous stories of hauntings.
Manila Film Center
It started with Imelda Marco's dream of becoming the cultural capital of the East. She was then the first lady of the Philippines who desire to make a place that can compete with France and its Cannes Film Festival.
The center had a grandiose plan but eventually changed to an auditorium, a film lab, and film archives. National Artist Leandro Locsin created the Folk Arts Theater at an incredible pace of 77 days. They rushed the construction to meet the scheduled opening. It was like a ticking time bomb that a disaster waiting to happen. Due to rush and long hours results in the devasting event, scaffolding on the fourth story fell that traps workers in the quick-drying cement on November 17, 1981. Workers trapped in quick-drying cement to death.
Nine hours after the tragedy that responders granted entry to the scene, at least 168 workers died inside the hardened blocks of cement. There was a media blackout to prevent a scandal from blowing up. People saw a terrible sight of bodies protruding from the pavement. They continue the job by either tapering and covering exposed sections, according to the stipulation that they had to meet the deadline without making any excuses. That incident will then surrounds the theater with spooky stories.
Several rumors are surrounding the center. Whether or not these rumors are true or not, they performed every attempt to purify it through exorcism rites, pagan rites, Catholic rites, and Chinese rites to ward off any unrest spirits so that they cross over to the afterlife. There are pigs and poultry offerings that are required to consume them. Despite their efforts, stories of unexpected encounters with the deceased workers linger throughout the center. Some claim to have seen the dead workers. These horrific stories continue to reverberate within the center's walls to this day. Some eerie and paranormal phenomena happen within the theater, according to the actors.
We can still hear these stories, especially during Halloween and in documentaries. The Manila Film Center, which resides at the southwest end of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex in Pasay, Philippines, is still a source of inspiration for horror writers and a popular site for ghost hunters and thrill-seekers. It is not just an icon of Brutalist architecture but for theater and films. It was a beautiful memory of the golden era of Filipino films. Some saw it as a symbol of the tyranny of Ferdinand Marcos. Maybe, it is why we always associate Brutalist architecture as dark, cold, and harsh due to the tyranny and spooky stories surrounding some of it. However, the ghost of Manila Film Center continues to haunt, literally and metaphorically.
The Value of Stories in Architecture
Memories and stories add a lot to the beauty and value of architecture. Whether it is good or bad publicity, it is still publicity that boosts its value. A heritage site became popular to the people due to its storied past and its aesthetic value. The haunted buildings are one of the best places that personify them. We can always identify with a conserved heritage due to our deep intrinsic relationship through horror stories.
People love good stories about the place. While storytelling and narrative are interchangeable, architecture defines the two terms differently. Storytelling centers around the problem and solution creatively, while "narrative" requires context and a link of emotion. Whether we define it differently, an architecture that tells a story will always popular than that of aesthetic only.
Again, the architectural style of these haunted buildings is not inherently frightful, and the stories boost the architectural style as scary and haunted throughout the year. The heritage of an architectural masterpiece not only features aesthetics but always tells a good story. When I say good story, I mean stories that make the place remembered. It can be spooky at some times.