Monday, September 26, 2016

Baguio | Old Diplomat Hotel, Shadows and Shades Lurking

BAGUIO | Diplomat Hotel, Shadows And Shades Lurking
Haunted Photographic Haven

Joey, my travel companion just stepped out for a few minutes, says that he feels the place to be a bit confining. Just so for me, I found a good subject standing just outside the door.

I didn't come here to model for a photo shoot, but as a photographer I can't help it if I find a particular spot that has good ambient light. As always, my tendency is to ask friends who are with me to be my on the spot model or at times I would teach them the basic mechanics of my camera and ask them to take my portrait. In this set, I taught my friend how to take a good jump shot without using the burst mode and still follow rule of thirds. In return, I was taught what to do in a jump.

My signature jump shot is forming a cross leg.

 My photographer is a dancer himself, so he taught me a jump shot pose that should show movement and action while making it look effortless.

 The red brick wall was given character with molds splattered all over it.

Deciding To Finally Set Foot In Diplomat Hotel

Curiosity killed the cat or should I say it got the best of me. Contrary to most blog post about the Old Diplomat Hotel in the Dominican Hill Baguio, it’s not always on the list of the must visit when you are in Baguio. For a good measure of reasons, but mostly its because Baguio City is already chock full of Parks and places, and things to do or what-not that for a short time visitor, a quick tour of Diplomat Hotel is just not a very good idea. I’m a frequent visitor of Baguio, it’s my quick getaway when I have no plans and have time in my hands. I can just grab a few clothes and toiletries and be off in the bus terminal on my merry way to Baguio City. It’s my quick fix weekend getaway.

I had never mustered the will to visit the Old Diplomat Hotel in Baguio in my previous visits; its either I’d rather relax in a coffee shop watching passers by or just try a new restaurant in the joint. Perhaps it’s because this old dilapidated structure is famed to be haunted by many ghost. I’m no scaredy cat to ghost stories but as my mother’s son, I got some of her gift of discernment that is we don’t see but we can feel a presence be it benevolent or good. 

With my visiting friends, we didn’t have any itineraries to follow but just a list of places that we all agreed and want to try. Thankfully I was traveling with a very talented photographer whose opinion about the Diplomat Hotel is that it could be a great structure to photograph setting aside thoughts about it being haunted or it being a setting for a lot of paranormal activity.

This blog post is all about photographs taken from outside and inside the Old Diplomat Hotel. The time of my visit was not exactly ideal at noontime; we just got off an enjoyable tour of Maryknoll and just not feeling the urge for lunch as of yet so we took a cab to bring us to Diplomat Hotel. Once inside the building; the shadows and light splayed the circular courtyard within, the vandalized walls, the creaky stairs, molding wooden floorboards and windows that lay bare to the overlooking view of Metropolitan Baguio. You can really feel the amalgamation of old and new, knowing that this place is a witness to the history of Baguio City starting with the American Colonization of the Philippines to the World War II until at the time when this place was renovated to become a popular Hotel. From this point hereon, I will let my photographs tell you more. 

To be noted, when you are exploring Baguio without any hired transport for the entire trip, you have to make sure to find a return ride after a quick visit in Diplomat Hotel. You wouldn’t wanna be stuck walking the long uphill or downhill stretch of the road to the top of the Dominican Hill.

This circular staircase leads to the 2nd floor that apparently has newer structure than the rest, complete with red brick walls, wooden floorboards that I can only assume to be pine wood and the clear glass windows giving an open view of the natural landscape outside.

Arched windows leading to the courtyard, the place seems to be clean and actually maintained.

The upper structures leading to where the big cross, the denoting feature of Diplomat Hotel.

My Final Note

At some point, engrossed in my taking photos in the corridors alone, the visitors come and go. They don't really stay that much because there's not much to do in here. I just personally like places like this one, it awakens the poet and artist in me. But I got spooked in one of the rooms, I wanted to explore every nooks and had been taking photographs while trying to look for that sweet spot where ambient light is great. I just can't shake the feeling that someone is breathing over me at my back that I can't really concentrate on the work I want to do. It would have been okay for me because its given that this place is haunted, but I heard a crying child at the back corridors and this is when I realized that I was away from where the other visitors are. That was it for me, I can say I ran past the corridors just so I can go outside of the structure. It's a maze of a structure that its actually easy to get lost. I wouldn't dare be left alone in this place at night. I'm just thankful I've gotten a bit of photographs. I do wish to visit again though, perhaps on a late afternoon when ambient light is much more bearable and I can photograph the entire structure without worrying about the photos being washed out and the shadows a little milder.

The Old Diplomat Hotel is rich in history, most likely the reason why the Baguio City Government maintains it. There is no entrance fee,but perhaps any professional photo or film shoot will require permit. Thankfully, Baguio City doesn't seem to limit any visual art endeavors in here. The rustic feel and charm of old Baguio is for everyone to experience in Diplomat Hotel.

That cross at the front facade of the building is the identifying feature of The Old Diplomat Hotel.

How To Get There

From anywhere in Baguio City, its easier to just hire a cab to bring you to the top of the Dominican Hill where Diplomat Hotel is located. An added note here; try to ask the cab driver if can pick you up once you are done with the tour. Its challenging to walk downhill just to get to the main road and hail another cab, and hailing a new one is but another challenge since cabs dont usually wander in Dominican Hill.

If you are traveling along though and think getting a cab is not worth it, you can commute by jeepney ride going to Dominican Hill Route, ask the driver to drop you off the intersection at the foot of teh Dominican Hill. Be ready for an uphill walk.

Francis Balgos has declared himself a champion of weekend travel warriors, of young professionals who have less time for themselves, he feels everyone of you who has desires to be at two places at the same time, to see the world in their own eyes, to live fully at the best of their years. ...

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