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Buzzfeed Unsolved Shows Manila Film Center's 'Dark Horrors' Beyond Ghosts

Welcome to the country's most haunted place.
by Pia Regalado
May 1, 2022
Photo/s: COMPOSITE: The Kingmaker/Aria Inthavong

Buzzfeed's "Dark Horrors of the Philippines" has premiered with a look into the construction collapse at the Manila Film Center in the twilight of the Marcos years that allegedly trapped dozens of corpses so that the country could host an international festival as scheduled.

Now regarded as among the most haunted places in the country, the Manila Film Center has attracted many ghost-hunting expeditions and sits on reclaimed land on Manila Bay that houses the many buildings commissioned by then First Lady Imelda Marcos as a showcase for Filipino culture.

Mrs. Marcos son, and namesake of her late dictator husband, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., is the survey frontrunner in the May 9 presidential elections, seeking to restore the family in Malacanang.


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Hollywood celebrities who were partying at the newly-built Manila Film Center in January 1982 had no idea they were dancing on top of over 100 corpses, said Buzzfeed producerAria Inthavong.

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"What I'm here to explore is a lot more than just a ghost story because this building is also a chilling reminder of an incredibly dark period in the Philippines' past as well as potentially its future," said Inthavong as he introduced the 21-minute video, the first of three in his Solivagant series Philippine edition.

The Manila Film Center, inspired by the Parthenon of Athens, began construction just three months before the Manila International Film Center, Inthavong said. Thousands of laborers toiled in rotation, three shifts throughout the day, to meet the "insane" deadline, he said.

At 3 a.m. on Nov. 17, 1981, scaffolding collapsed onto laborers, trapping them in quick dry cement used to rush the construction. The cement switfly hardened, entombing the workers, he said.

"While the workers inside were desperately fighting for their lives, Imelda Marcos and her allies, they ordered a media blackout. This meant that the first responders were not allowed into the Manila Film Center to help these workers until nine hours after the accident," Inthavong said.

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"What did they do? They decided to just find those exposed body parts and have construction continue on top of that," Inthavong said, quoting the marketing head of the building.

Spiritual cleansing, exorcisms, and animal sacrifices were done at the site in an attempt to purge the building of spirits of those who were buried there, he said. In 1991, the building was condemned due to poor structural integrity, Inthavong said.

"That is the important thing to understand about beauty and how your attention is commandeered by spectacles. It disarms you and seduces you into believing that things are good," activist and artist Karl Castro said.


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The Manila Film Center is among grand structures used to convince Filipinos into believing the Marcos dictatorship was a "golden era", said Castro.

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"Elections in the Philippines are just days away from now and I kindly ask you to like, comment and share this video so we can help combat a lot of the misinformation being spread about martial law and the Marcos regime," said Inthavong.

Watch the 21-minute mini-docu here:

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