Diplomat Hotel

The Diplomat Hotel is an abandoned structure atop Dominican Hill, Baguio, Philippines. The local government rehabilitation initiative, which was started in April 2022, through 15 million Philippine pesos grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.[2] The whole property on which it stands has been renamed as the Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park. A panoramic view of the city unfolds from its vantage point, the stone crucifix on the outdoor patio of the hotel's second floor.

Diplomat Hotel
Diplomat Hotel - front (Dominican Hill, Baguio, Benguet)(2018-11-27).JPG
Alternative namesDiplomat Hotel
General information
StatusCompleted
CountryPhilippines
Construction started1913[1]
Construction stoppedMay 1915[1]
OwnerDiplomat Hotels, Inc.(1973-1987)
City Government of Baguio (since 2005)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Roque Ruaño
One of the corridors at the west wing of the Dominican Hill Retreat House. One of the former hotel's two fountains can be seen in the far left.

HistoryEdit

Dominican vacation houseEdit

In 1911, American friars of the Order of Preachers (commonly known as "Dominican Order") along with a few Spanish members made plans for the construction of a vacation house for them and the nuns of their order in Baguio. One of the members of the order, Fr. Roque Ruaño, O.P., the same architect of the main building of the current campus of the University of Santo Tomas, designed the building. A 17-hectare hill property was acquired from Americans who reside in Baguio and construction is said to have started in 1913 and was supervised by Ruano himself. It was then inaugurated in May 1915. To take advantage of tax exemptions, the order set up a seminary named Colegio del Santissimo Rosario[3] in June 1915 but due to the very small enrollment, the school closed two years later and the building was reverted to its original use. The hill where the building stands was christened as "Dominican Hill".

During World War II, the people fleeing from the Japanese sought refuge within its walls. Japanese forces invaded the property and turned it into their headquarters, making it as the last bastion and garrison of the Japanese Imperial Army. Their secret police known as the Kempeitai, committed barbaric acts[4] in the place such as torturing, raping, and decapitating priests, nuns, as well as refugees. During the liberation of the Philippines in April 1945, the American forces bombed the place and partially hit the right wing of the building while Japanese forces committed suicide. Between 1945 and 1947, the building underwent restoration.

As a hotelEdit

 
The inner garden at the east wing of the building. One of the hotel's two fountains can be seen at the bottom.

Diplomat Hotels, Inc. acquired ownership of the property in 1973 and remodeled thoroughly the interior into a 33-bedroom hotel[5] but still retaining the unique features which was earlier established by the Dominican friars. The hotel was managed by Antonio Agapito "Tony" Agpaoa, a Baguio-based entrepreneur and faith healer famous for psychic surgery. Agpaoa suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with brain hemorrhage in the 1980s. He died in 1987 of the ailments. Since his death, the hotel ceased operations and was abandoned.[6] Following its abandonment, the place was looted and sacked. The building also sustained significant damage during the 1990 Luzon earthquake.

Recent useEdit

 
NHCP Marker of the Diplomat Hotel

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, formerly known as the Ministry of Human Settlements, took over the ownership of the hotel which soon became an asset for the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).

The property was then conveyed to the City Government of Baguio through TCT No. T-85948 on 5 April 2005 and it was renamed as the Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park. The deed of conveyance set by the Presidential Management Staff and city resolutions would obligate the city of Baguio in the rehabilitation and the development of the property.[7] The property is now under the maintenance of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO).

In May 2012, Baguio inaugurated two new function halls in the hotel as part of the development of the property as a preserved heritage site and to promote tourism.[7] The halls could be rented for P200 an hour or P2,000 a day for weddings, trainings and workshops among others.

The entire property was declared as a historical site through City Resolution No. 168, series of 2013. It gained its National Historical Site status from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in September 2014.[8]

The city used the property as an art center for the launching of the Entacool Festival following Baguio's conferment as a Creative City by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2017. Entacool is a fusion of the Cordilleran word "entaku" which means "let's all go" and the word "cool" to signify Baguio's cool climate. The former hotel hosted numerous art exhibits such as paintings, bamboo installations, sculptures, and a photo exhibit during the run of the festival.[9][10][11] It would serve the same function for the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Baguio Creative City Festival now named as the Ibagiw Festival. Ibagiw was derived from the word bagiw which is a moss that commonly grows around the city.[12][13]

In 2019, the city government announced that the area will serve as a haven for the city's artists and artisans as a way to sustain its Creative City designation.[14]

The place is a favorite spot for photography, airsoft tournaments, film making, wedding receptions and photography, cosplay photoshoots and many more.

In popular cultureEdit

The hotel is considered by paranormal believers to be haunted due to its brutal World War II history[15][16] and is considered by these believers as a "ghost magnet"[6] It was featured on television programs: Magandang Gabi, Bayan's 2004 Halloween Special, AHA! and Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho's 2016 Halloween Special.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Diplomat Hotel development sought". SUNSTAR. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  2. ^ Comanda, Rizaldy C. (1 April 2022). "Historic Diplomat Hotel gets P15-M grant for conservation". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  3. ^ "Haunted and creepy places in the Philippines to visit this spooky szn". POP!. 5 October 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  4. ^ Monzon, Alden (30 October 2020). "Tales of WWII-era Japanese ghosts persist in Philippines". ABS CBN News. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  5. ^ Reyes, Jovelyn (December 17, 2002). "Baguio To Build Prayer Mountain For Rp Peace". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b Cimatu, Frank (November 19, 2006). "Baguio To Pattern Burnham Park After New York Central Park". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b Dar, Lito (May 27, 2012). "City official inaugurate new function halls at Heritage Hill". Baguio Midland Courier. PIA. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  8. ^ Dumlao, Artemio (September 8, 2014). "Dominican retreat house now a heritage site". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  9. ^ Moran, Kathy (December 1, 2018). "Baguio: A city of arts, culture and all things cool". Philstar. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  10. ^ de Guzman, Nickky Faustine (December 5, 2018). "Focusing on the art of Baguio". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  11. ^ "City Launches Creative Festival". The City Government of Baguio Official Website.
  12. ^ "Baguio Creative City Festival 2019 set Nov". The City Government of Baguio Official Website.
  13. ^ Tibaldo, Art (October 19, 2020). "Tibaldo: The 2020 Ibagiw Creative Festival". Sunstar Baguio. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  14. ^ See, Dexter (December 7, 2019). "Dominican Hill in Baguio to serve as haven for artists". Baguio Herald Express. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  15. ^ Palma, Renzelle Ann (23 October 2013). "Top 5 Baguio Haunted Spots". Choose Philippines. Find. Discover. Share. ABS-CBN Corporation. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  16. ^ Vince (23 October 2014). "Five Haunted Places In Baguio City". LakbayBaguio. Retrieved 6 June 2018.