(Photo grabbed from web)
CLARK FREEPORT – The haunted reputation of this former US military base has spread beyond Philippine shores.
As usual, this All Saint’s Day, certain areas here will again be a destination for local folk wanting to fill in their curiosity with the paranormal.
Nagging reports of unusual hauntings here, however, have always attracted foreigners. On Feb. 11, 2009, the US-based Ghost Hunters International (GHI) was here to probe reports of “babies crying and women screaming” in the abandoned hospital used by the Americans for years until the US military abandoned Clark in the face of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991.
The GHI was established in January 2008 and has since visited the most haunted places in the US, South America, Western and Eastern Europe, including the purported castle of Dracula in Transylvania in Romania.
In Asia, Clark is so far the only place the GHI has visited for its documentary aired on a US television station.
GHI’s video on its sortie to the hospital could be viewed on youtube.com, with its probers led by Barry Fitzgerald, interviewing local witnesses to ghost sightings at the abandoned hospital whose morgue in the basement often filled up in the 1960’s with bodies of US soldiers who died during the Vietnam War.
But there are reports that other parts of Clark are similarly haunted. A video of purported translucent ghosts, apparently Americans, was taken by cellphone in one local building which has since been demolished. The video can also be accessed on youtube.com by searching “Clark ghost video” which has been viewed by tens of thousands worldwide.
Retired Col. Efren Alamares, who used to rent a house here, never fails to recount to guests how, at 4 a.m. while jogging at the wide parade grounds at the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) complex, he heard Americans apparently partying in a small two-story building at a street corner.
“I learned later from the security guard the building had been unused and remained locked up for quite sometime. Since then, I would take another route when jogging that early in the morning,” he said.
The building was recently renovated to serve as the CDC’s tourism department office.
CDC tourism personnel said they would not mind ghost hunters boosting tourism at Clark. “Anything that will develop tourism here is fine with me,” said one employee who asked not to be named for lack of authority to decide on the issue in behalf of her group.
Another site reportedly haunted is another portion of the parade grounds, not far from the tourism office. At one time, an airman from the Philippine Air Force ditched his van into a canal in the area allegedly to avoid hitting a woman in white crossing the street. A security guard who was nearby insisted the woman he saw was in the passenger side of the van, not in the street as claimed by the soldier.
Fr. Sol Gabriel, former parish priest of Barangay Lourdes East in nearby Angeles City, warned ghost hunters against delving into the realm of the spirits.
“While we acknowledge the supernatural nature of God, there are things beyond our capacity to fathom and these should be left alone,” he said in an interview.
Saying that he himself has never seen a ghost, Gabriel warned ghost hunters against the possibility of evil spirits in sites reputed to be haunted.
“There can be violent spirits that might just affect one,” he said.
Apart from sites with reputation of being haunted, there are other areas that can be of interest to tourists at Clark on All Saints’ Day.
There is the newly renovated K-9 cemetery founded by the Americans near the Expo Pilipino theme park. On All Saints’ Day, it is the only cemetery rarely visited, as it hosts the remains of dogs beloved by their former American owners.
Rather interesting at the pet cemetery are names on the small tombstones marking the graves: Restus, Rom, Pig, Silver, Raxann, Stash. Beyond these names, nothing is known about the buried animals, except some of them were dog-heroes who fought with American soldiers in foreign wars. The names also push visitors to a guessing game on what dog breed are buried in every tomb.
The Clark cemetery near this freeport’s main gate in Balibago, Angeles City. The cemetery is the only site where the American flag still flutters alongside the Philippine flag at Clark.
The cemetery hosts the remains of some 2,030 people, mostly Americans and at least 638 Filipino members of the Philippine Scouts from the pre-World War II era. It was established between 1947 and 1950 when tombstones and remains were transferred there from at least four other US military cemeteries in Manila and other parts of Luzon.