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The Haunted Manila Film Center

By Chris Capps    4/3/12

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Film_Center_1.jpg
Pasay City in the Philippines has its fair share of haunted locations, though none are nearly as famous as the disturbing and controversial Manila Film Center and the accident that turned to a tragedy that still haunts the location in November of 1981.  The story of how the film center became a haunted location is as tragic as it is disturbing.  Several of the workers who operated on the project were allegedly buried alive leaving them and others who were killed during an accident to haunt the grounds.  Just as the building was about to be completed, tragedy struck.

The project, which had been plagued by setbacks and unexpected occurrences finally nearly fell through altogether when a roof on the building collapsed, trapping several of the workers below.  The stakes were high with the project deadline looming, and first lady Imelda Marcos knew it.  But what started as a revolutionary center for culture would end up as rumored tomb for many of the builders who would become trapped inside.

The project would be massive.  Of the dozens of proposals for features to be built within the center only an auditorium and an archive would be completed.  Some 4,000 workers would have to hastily fashion the building over a very short period of time.  Hours were long, and according to some - corners were cut.  According to eyewitnesses who worked on the project, one of the corners cut may have contributed to the disaster that would eventually befall the project.

To give an idea of the scale and speed of the project, the lobby which would ordinarily have taken over six weeks to build was fashioned in seventy two hours with seconds to spare on the deadline.  But it's what happened next that would seal this building's fate and make it a troubled hotspot for poltergeist activity for years to come.

On November 17, 1981 the scaffolding the builders were using collapsed, sending 169 workers tumbling into the wet cement below.  Ambulances were blocked from entering for nine hours until an official statement could be prepared.  Legends surrounding the tragedy even suggested that many of the workers were entombed alive within the cement to quite literally cover up some of the tragedy.  In the end, however, it was eventually proven that this was nothing more than an urban legend.  What has not been dismissed quite so easily are the stories of ghosts haunting the building - ghosts of the workers that did not survive.

Workers at the building as well as visitors have reported discovering things moved out of place, piled up in different locations, and some have even said that they can see and hear workers still attempting to get the place up and running.  With the tragedy and first festival long behind them, controversy still follows the Film Center.

As for the film center itself, after the accident then president Cesar Virata dropped the project's $5 million grant.  The project was in the end funded by a combination of efforts.  When the doors swung out on opening night, the first film ever shown in the troubled structure was the 1982 film Gandhi.

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