“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” This is the description of the Old Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City, by MJ (check her Instagram account, @thebabaenggala), who tagged us with this photo. That’s one way of looking at this storied structure. There is, however, other versions of the story.
Construction of the structure, originally intended as a vacation and retreat house of the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers), started around 1913. The Dominican Order, which runs the University of Sto. Tomas, tried to establish a seminary in the premises but the school didn’t last long and was closed.
The structure is perched on a hill, since then known as the Dominican Hill. Residents wouldn’t recommend that you linger here at night. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
During World War II, the property was transformed by the invading Japanese forces as garrison and headquarters. Many buildings throughout the Philippines were converted by the Japanese into garrisons, where torture, rape, decapitation, and other atrocities of war were committed. With the liberation of the Philippines and defeat of the Japanese army in 1945, Japanese forces committed suicide inside the garrison/headquarters.
In 1973, the property was acquired and remodeled by Diplomat Hotels, Inc. The hotel, known as Diplomat Hotel, ceased operations in late 1980s, after the manager, faith healer and psychic surgeon Antonio Agapito “Tony” Agpaoa, died. While the hotel was still running, it also served as home for the “patients” of Mr. Agpaoa, who himself died inside the hotel.
The abandoned hotel fell into disrepair, looted and ransacked, then damaged by the big Baguio earthquake of 1990.
The City of Baguio acquired the property in 2005 and renamed it Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park, now a National Historical Site. It has since been renovated and may be rented for various functions and festivities. After the noise dies down, however, people say they still hear strange sounds and witness ghostly sights at the property. The Old Diplomat Hotel is known as a haunted place. For that story, and because Halloween is fast approaching, we invite you to watch this video from Jessica Soho:
Go invite your friends and linger at the Old Diplomat Hotel after the sun goes down. You might just get a very interesting photo, who knows.