Interest in ghost hunting growing at Clark


    CLARK FREEPORT – Youths in this province seem to be taking greater interest not so much in the traditional family trek to cemeteries on All Saints’ Day as in “ghost hunting” or something they prefer to call “paranormal” in this historic former US military base.

    Their interest is borne out of persistent yarns of haunted areas at the 4,500-hectare Clark freeport, which had hosted Americans since the day the US cavalry set foot here in 1901 up to the time they left in 1991.

    Over such period, many Americans had died here, but most especially during World War II when, on Dec. 8, 1941, Japanese imperial air force planes bombed this former US base for three hours, destroying American aircraft, barracks and other buildings.

    It is said that many Americans who died unexpectedly during that attack have continued to appear as spirits in various parts of this former US base, their appearances ethereal, but definitely American in features.

    In the past, sites with reputation of being haunted here became destinations of groups of youths past their cemetery vigils with their families every Nov. 1.

    Most of the ghost hunters are particularly attracted to an abandoned five-story hospital a few meters from the Clark Expo theme park, where the wounded and the dead were brought during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

    Wordness Angeles, 27, recalled how, as head of a fraternity during his student days, he held initiation rites for neophytes at the hospital.

    “We would take the recruits to the hospital late into the night and ask them to go to the fourth floor by themselves. Many did not make it into the fraternity after failing the initiation rites. They made it only up to the second floor where they claimed to have seen American ghosts,” Angeles said.

    He said he himself would not venture into the hospital by himself after the first time he saw apparitions.

    “The hospital has a basement where you find skeletons,” he said, as he theorized that the basement must have been used as morgue during the time of the Americans.

    Computer hardware technician Bryan Salac, 24, also said he and his friends, including girls, used to ghost hunt at the hospital. “The girls often run out of the hospital hysterically screaming after seeing translucent apparitions there during the night,” he said, as he testified that he himself had seen ghosts in some sections of the abandoned hospital.

    Recently, however, Clark security officials declared the hospital totally off limits to anyone, not so much to drive away its purported ghosts as to keep it safe from thieves who, using drills, loot the steel framework within its concrete posts and walls.

    But apart from the hospital, local folk do not fail to cite a section of the highway towards the Mabalacat gate where three towering pine trees stand close to each other.
    Many motorists make the sign of the cross when approaching the site of the trees, often referred to as Tres Marias, purportedly to spare themselves from fatal accidents that frequently occurred in the area.
    A two-storey building at the corner of Aguinaldo and Quirino Sts. within the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) complex is also one of the most notorious of allegedly haunted places here.
    Retired Col. Efren Alamares, who rents a house just nearby, recalled one time he went jogging near the house at 4 a.m.
    “I ran around the parade grounds and every time I go near the house, I heard voices of Americans who seemed to be partying inside. The following day, the security guard stationed at the house said he never heard anything at the time I was jogging, and that the house is known to be haunted,” Alamares said. He never went near the house again while jogging.

    Yet another one-storey building near the house, located along Quirino St., is also allegedly haunted. The eastern section of the building is a cooperative canteen, while the western section is the CDC press center where journalists covering Pampanga stay to write their stories.

    Rendy Isip of the Clark International Airport Corp. said that there were times when invisible hands would seem to type on computer keyboards at the press center. At night, the light at a post outside the center would go out, but it would turn bright again while someone would head out from the office, as if to light his path until he reaches his parked car before the light goes out again.

    He recalled that two years ago, a van ditched into a canal near the press center. The van’s driver, a Philippine Air Force personnel, claimed that he lost control of the vehicle he was driving alone as he tried to avoid a woman in white gown crossing Quirino St. A security guard who witnessed the accident later insisted, however, that there was no one else in the vicinity during the accident except the driver himself and, alas, a woman in white in the passenger seat.

    Two years ago, a video which showed three moving ghosts in a supply room of an abandoned building here circulated among local folk. The video was later spread from one cell phone to another.

    The video, lasting over three minutes and compressed in 1.3 megabytes, can now be accessed at where it got a four-star rating from viewers.

    In other countries, folk in places known for haunted sites take advantage of their town’s ghostly reputation as a means to attract tourists. In European countries, some purported haunted houses and even castles are rented out to ghost hunters and other tourists wanting to experience something out of the ordinary.

    Officials of the CDC, which runs the Clark special economic zone, are, however, tight lipped on ghost issues here, afraid this would scare off investors.

    Others, however, think that there is enough supply of tourists who will spend for any ghostly experience.


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