Circa 2010

“Are we there yet??!” That was the 4th time my kids asked if we’ve reached the hotel. “Yes”, I replied as I handed the cab fare to the smiling driver. I never checked into this hotel before. But since I can’t leave the kids nor the nanny home while I walk the streets of Ermita and Malate, I decided to book a room here so I can be with them in case something happens.

I was to meet my friend, Mark that afternoon for a photo walk of the area. The nanny carried one of the overnight bags as I checked into the hotel. The lobby was outdated, not much guests, but the receptionist was accommodating. I asked for a corner room facing Manila Bay, even if the US embassy is there. There was a faint smell, which wasn’t there when I came in. I could feel eyes looking at me from my left. “here we go again’, I muttered under my breath. I followed the room attendant for us to get to our room. I lowered my eyes on the floor as we rode the elevator to the 7th floor. The hallway made me feel uneasy… it was eerily quiet, and i can still smell something was burning.

I thanked the attendant and made sure the kids were settled before I left . After giving the nanny instructions for dinner and made sure she had load to contact me in case of any emergency concerning the kids, I left the hotel room.

I could still feel that someone was watching me, following me. The burnt smell was getting stronger, and I could feel myself walk faster to get to the elevator. I kept pressing the “down” button of the lift, my eyes on the floor. Next thing I knew there were a pair of dirty feet beside me. Those feet shifted to face me, blood trickling down. The elevator doors opened and I immediately went inside without raising my eyes. As the door closed, the filthy and bloody pair of feet stood still as the door closed. My heart was beating so fast, when a small hand held my left wrist. I stood frozen. “water”, she asked. I pretended I didn’t hear. One more floor, I told myself. When the elevator floor opened, I dashed out colliding with a family of four. I apologized profusely, and they probably saw I was white as paper that I only received disapproving looks from the mother. I called up the nanny and told her not to open the door for anyone, I have my own key to the room.

“Why the hell do you look like that?” asked Mark as I met him outside the hotel. I lit a cigarette before I could speak. Told him about the encounter inside the hotel. Mark knew about my little “gift”, and asked if I was still in the mood to accompany him around the area for the photo walk. I said yes, anything to shrug off the unpleasant haunting.

A couple of hours later, we decided to go for a round of beer and got some dinner to bring back to the hotel. He offered to accompany me back to my room so we could check on the shots we took as well. “I don’t think I can sleep well later in the hotel room, I’m gonna read up about the hotel later.” Mark agreed. “yeah, at least you’re kids won’t be alone with just the nanny. I won’t stay long either, I need to get back home after I accompany you back to your room, so I could be home before Mitch does, it’s our movie night.”

After purchasing dinner and some chips we headed back to the hotel. I got myself ready in case I see anything again. Mark kept talking about his trip with girlfriend a week ago as we entered the elevator. I kept my eyes on the floor. I nodded as he continued talking. When the doors opened, I smelled the burnt scent again, stronger this time. As we passed the hallway, I could see 4 burnt figures on my left side, the other side of the hallway. By the railings where I could see the 5th floor, there were 3 more burnt figures looking up as I walk. Mark continued his story, while I pretended not to see anything as we walk towards my room. There were 5 more at the end of the hallway, the one in-front had a big gash on her right side. I knew I was trying to keep myself from panicking when I opened the door, and I couldn’t help but scramble in a bit. After checking his shots earlier, he bid goodbye- did hi-fives with my two boys and told me to keep the lights open and holler if I need help.

“Little piggy, hey! stop jumping on the bed!” My toddler kid was jumping on the bed facing the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth. “Hi!” squealed my little boy. I smiled at him as I brushed my teeth. “mama, not you! Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!” I saw my older kid hiding under the covers as he turned pale, I rinsed my mouth and asked, “who are you saying hi to?!” He pointed behind me then said “her!” The nanny carried my kid and tucked him beside his brother dismissing his claims. I slowly looked behind me and a saw a woman about 5 feet tall, left arm decapitated, half the back of her head blown up. I resisted the urge to scream, I turned my back and left the bathroom and went to bed.

I left the lights open as the nanny and the kids sleep. Charred figures were standing in the corner, one of them was the decapitated woman. They come and go, as if trying to get my attention. I could hear someone ask for water… but I don’t know where the voice was coming from. It seems like the voice was coming from different directions. I tried sleeping, and I felt weight on my bed as if someone lay next to me. I kept my eyes closed, I knew a face was staring in-front of me in case I opened my eyes again, and I didn’t really want to scream and scare my kids at the same time. Out of sheer terror, I fell asleep.

The next day, I woke up around 7:30 am. There was no smell, no charred figures, nothing. My kids and the nanny were still sleeping. No trace of anything from yesterday nor last night. I reached for my phone, just in time as the nanny woke up. I texted a friend to check on the history of the hotel for me. After sending the text message, I decided to brush my teeth and check out- just bring my kids and the nanny somewhere for breakfast and go home.

As we head for the lobby to check out, I once again saw them, standing at the other side of the railings. Just looking. The burnt smell and blood was there again. And I still pretended not to see them as we leave. At the lobby, the receptionist was all smiles until her eyes gazed my hands. She frowned and asked what happened. I followed her eyes, and saw a bruise. The bruise was the shape of a little hand wrapped around my wrist.

In the cab, I received a reply for my question. The hotel was torched during WWII together with the women raped and killed in it.