These University Ghost Stories Will Make You Glad You're Home for Halloween
The pandemic has taken even our campus lives away from us. Now, we live vicariously through the stories we hear from the rumor mill, whether that’s plain old gossip or terrifying paranormal tales. For Halloween this year, we can’t help but wonder about the places we left abandoned on campus, from the old buildings to the empty hallways. We talked to three people from UP Diliman and the University of Asia & the Pacific about their heart-racing—not in a good way—experiences. Be warned, though: you may get goosebumps.
The Ladies of UP Diliman
Thirdy has always known about the horror stories and cautionary tales that haunt the UP Diliman campus–he lived through one once. In 2019, when he was a newly-minted member of the local pep squad, they were practicing in Aldaba Recital Hall just beside the University Theater. He found it peculiar that they were never allowed to practice after dark, and that the guard lurked around to keep watch, making sure that the kids keep their word. The seniors in the team echoed this sentiment, telling them to go in pairs when using the restroom so as to avoid being caught alone. But caught by what exactly? It was at around 4 P.M. during practice when Thirdy had his first unwelcome encounter on campus, near the very restroom they were warned about. As he made his way to the bathroom, he found something waiting for him: a woman in her thirties, in a uniform reminiscent of the ’60s to ’70s. Only her feet weren’t touching the ground.
But her presence demanded to be felt as there was a strong, nauseating smell he tried hard to ignore. The last thing he wanted to do was give in to that feeling, so Thirdy ignored her, but the next time they had practice, she was still there, sensing that someone felt her presence.
After the UAAP Cheerdance Competition, the team was waiting near a motor pool before going inside the building. A teammate noticed that there seemed to be someone on the third floor, walking around, but his teammates brushed it off. Sure enough, when they arrived at the classroom, she was back. The woman was sitting right in front, stopping Thirdy in his tracks. She seemed other, a tinge of red in her hair. Frozen in place, he chose to shrug it off, not wanting to scare anyone, including himself. “This one had a really bad aura like she’s angry over something, and she kept staring at me,” said Thirdy.
After the encounter, he went home with a fever, whether from the fright or from something else. When he got home, one look at his face told his mother all she needed to know. She performed something called “pag-lalana,” where oil was applied to his forehead, lips, and stomach area to restore his energy.
He explained a Bisaya concept, “Dungan,” similar to a spiritual power that fights bad spirits but leaves you weak if the entity is stronger than you. It’s apparently different from exorcism, which usually happens in stressful or chaotic environments, and with a particularly vulnerable person as prey. He recalls a rumor that UP had once been a cemetery, the urban legend that most schools conform to, but told us that believe it or not, cemeteries are not hotspots for bad energy because people often go there to light candles and pray over the dead–which apparently does work, but only one on condition. “You have to finish the prayer for it to work,” said Thirdy. “They taunt you so you won’t be able to.”
His advice? “Always say, 'tabi tabi po,' when you’re in a new place. You never know who you’re disturbing.”
The first time the boy showed himself to Densha, 22, was in Grade 8, at school in Tagaytay. She recalls being frozen in place, tears in her eyes, and her friends having to help her move. After, she prayed the Our Father. When she transferred to another school for her senior high school years, she saw him again. This time, he was playful and often wandered around this Catholic school, even near the church. She recalls that he looked clean, almost foreign. He wore nice clothes: a polo, suspenders, and shorts. If she had to estimate, the boy looked about five years old. From afar, he seemed like a regular kid, only from an affluent family by the looks of it. But a closer look showed her something traumatizing: his eyes were hollow and pitch-black. Whenever he was around, she could never tell if he was looking directly at her.
When Densha transferred to UP Diliman for college, she worried about seeing the boy again, knowing that he would follow. So when she had to stay at a dorm on campus, the Sampaguita Hall, she performed rituals before settling in, lighting a candle in the room, fearing that the child followed her. She recalled not wanting to be alone, so she asked some blockmates to apply for a room with her. For a moment, she felt relieved and at peace. But it was short-lived. After class one day, she returned to the dorm and found him there, waiting.
“There’s this girl that I know, a friend of a friend who I’ve never really spoken much to. Before I could greet her, I went cold because I saw the boy clinging to her back. I couldn’t speak, but she was staring at me like she was waiting for me to say something. I couldn’t move anything, let alone tell her about the boy, so she walked away looking like I accosted her. When you see a ghost, there’s also this feeling of numbness in your head. You can’t even close your eyes; it’s like they’re demanding to be seen. She must’ve thought I was rude for staring,” Densha shares. Her suspicions were confirmed–he had followed her to UP. It was only when the girl finally passed by her that she was able to move again. She closed her eyes and prayed, going back to her room. From then on, whenever she felt restless, she would go to the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice on campus and pray, asking for peace of mind while lighting a candle.
One weekend, when her roommates were away, she stayed alone in their room. She had a strict rule: she will not turn the lights off under any circumstances. It didn’t help that their room was at the end of the hallway where a mirror was situated. She always avoided staring at it in fear of someone staring back.
After working on her laptop for the entire afternoon, she crawled back to bed and fell asleep. When she woke, she felt chilly despite the hot weather, and the room was pitch black despite leaving the lights on. Her legs felt like ice, and when she looked down, there was a hand on her leg. When her eyes followed the hand to the person it belonged to, her eyes locked on the little boy staring intently back at her with his strange, hollow eyes.
“I fought hard to close my eyes. But when I opened them again, he was standing nearer to my face. I didn’t know why I couldn’t speak, but I pleaded with him. I told him to go,” she shares. When the boy went away, she opened all the lights in her room and stayed in their dorm’s common area for the rest of the night until the sun went up. After that, she stopped staying on campus during the weekend and opted to go home to Tagaytay in fear of another encounter.
Densha still saw the boy occasionally, sometimes inside Palma Hall, in Pavillion I. The building is already known for the ghost of Marisa in the Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theater, among others, so she suspects that the boy stayed on the campus because he was seeking something close to an actual home where others can see and entertain him. There are stories about Sampaguita Hall’s hallways at night being a place for unseen children to run around. She said that she refrains from trying to find out who the boy could be, and for a while, they lived in semi-peace.
When asked why she thinks it’s only the ghost of the boy she sees, she answered, “I must have done something to trigger him, or maybe it happens when the ghost is attracted to your energy so they follow you. I was a bit noisy in high school, so I might have disturbed him. If he was lost and looking for a home, I think he found it in UP Diliman. I never saw him again, especially since the pandemic.”
Densha believes that the boy still roams around campus and fears a reunion.
The Mysterious Children of the 6th Floor
The tales of the APEC Communications Building—fondly called ACB for short—could be akin to the mythological legends of old, depending on who you would ask. To some, the stories were bordering on the fictional side, while others believed that they were just as real as the passed-on warnings and legends of famed terror professors. Some of the ominous accounts took the form of oral tradition, much like the tale of the sixth-floor children from several years ago.
The narrative starts as the clock’s hands head towards the dreaded midnight mark. The sixth floor of ACB, which housed the School of Economics office, overlooked the dark Pasig sky. It was not surprising that the structure’s winding corridors were empty at this ungodly hour, but Sir John* still had some papers that needed to be taken care of at that moment. As one could conclude, the concept of a curfew was not something that had much emphasis back then all those years ago.
That’s what left the teacher alone one night in the office. As he continued with his work, Sir John heard two children running along the halls inside the office. He decided not to pay too much attention to them. Was it such an odd occurrence? Possibly. Was it anything that was leagues out of the ordinary? Maybe only by a little bit. n his mind, he deduced that they were likely one of the kids of his fellow teachers.
When he finally finished up with his work and began to exit the school, he stopped by the guard to strike up a conversation. The teacher wanted to know who else was left in the building as he recalled the children whom he had heard playing along the corridors of the office. It was only natural for Sir John to ask him about his concern, for only one with a position as the guard’s would know the comings and goings of anyone on the campus. The guard replied that Sir John was, in fact, the last person to leave—there was no one else.
The guard continued on, explaining the shock-inducing thought that the kids have been roaming around the area for a while now. He advised Sir John to not mind them. According to the guard, it was rather normal for them to play in the office during those bleak hours. Not much else was—and is—known about them despite the fact that it was supposedly a regular occurrence. Still, the haunting tale of the two kids is one that’s been spread around among members of the faculty even years after.
Legend or Truth?
Whether founded fact or fictional folklore, there is but one sure idea that remains— stories, to this day, are passed down from generation to generation. Much like how each culture and country has its own legends, so it is with universities. These stories are exchanged sometimes in a way perceived to be pervasive, but always with a sense of community. One may ask, is a place defined by its legends? Or is a culture born from its shared experiences and stories? Perhaps, much like the stories above, the answer remains a mystery—although probably not as spine-chilling.
*Not his real name.