Manila is the capital of the Philippines and there are so many places to see. Manila is Philippines’ financial, publishing, and business center.
One of the most infamous places in Manila is the Manila Film Center, which is known for a tragic construction accident. A total of 169 workers were allegedly buried alive because the clock was ticking and they wanted the building to be done before January of 1982.
The Manila Film Center today. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manila_Film_Center)
The History Of Manila Film Center
Manila Film Center is a national building located in Pasay, Philippines. It served as the main theater of the first Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) back in January 18-29, 1982. Before it was used as the main theater for the festival, a tragic accident took place two months before.
Former first lady Imelda Marcos, the wife of the former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, was the one who headed the construction of the Manila Film Center because the Philippines did not have an official national film archive. It was a very ambitious building because it was envisioned to have a 360-degree theater to show the past and present historical and tourism scenes for the country, a Film Financing or Loan Program, Film Archiving using Digital Storage, viewing rooms for the Board of Censors, and more. Imelda wanted the Manila Film Center to be the Cannes of Asia. However, not all of the projects for the Manila Film Center were done and only two pushed through.
Froilan Hong, the architect of the Manila Film Center, said that the deadline for the Manila Film Center was tight so they had to hire 4,000 workers. They worked three shifts across 24 hours. It was completed in 1982 despite the tragic accident in 1981.
The Details Of The Tragic Accident At The Manila Film Center
The accident took place last November 17, 1981. At round 3 A.M., the scaffolding at the Manila Film Center collapsed. One hundred and sixty nine workers fell and were buried under quick-drying cement. The Marcoses reportedly did not allow rescuers or ambulances to try and rescue some of those buried. They were only allowed after nine hours from when the accident took place. Some were half-buried while others were completely buried.
A photo from a video that emerged years after the collapse of the Manila Film Center showing one of the workers buried. (Link: http://rogue.ph/enduring-nightmare-manila-film-center/)
It is believed that the workers died because they were rushing to complete the Manila Film Center in time for the first ever MIFF. Nena Benigno, former Public Relations Officer for The Experimental Cinema of the Philippines and the Manila International Film Festival shared, “What I understood was the fourth floor, they had put quick dry cement on each floor, and you’re supposed to put that layer by layer until it dries, then you put another layer. Because of the rush, they poured over too much cement and it fell over the night shift … the workers. That was the fourth floor. From a distance I could see people in stretchers being carried out, frozen in cement. When I got there, they were still digging out people; it [the cement] was not completely hard. And there was a guy that they were trying [to] keep from going into shock. Half of his body was buried. He was alive, but half buried. I don’t know what it was, but to keep him awake, alert, not to go into a coma or shock, they kept him singing Christmas songs. I was watching this.”
Some of the bodies could no longer be dug up. Mila Llorin, the marketing head of the MIFF, said that she heard the half-buried bodies were cut up so the construction could push through. Eliodor Ponio, a contractor, claimed that all the bodies were recovered and they were all given proper burials.
A cadaver carried out of the site were the tragic accident occurred. (Link: http://rogue.ph/enduring-nightmare-manila-film-center/)
Before And During The Week Of The MIFF
Benigno said they had all sorts of rites like exorcism rites, pagan rites, Catholic rites, and Chinese rites. The daughter of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, Imee, reportedly did not want to go inside the Manila Film Center without all the rites being done.
Benigno added that on the inauguration day of the Manila Film Center, they did an exorcism at 5 A.M. the exorcism rites were done by the Igorots, a group of people from the northern part of the Philippines. She continued to share that the Igorots were able to talk to the spirits and that the spirits told them they were still there because it happened so fast. The spirits allegedly agreed to go away but they never did.
A photo showing the front page of a newspaper featuring the story of the Manila Film Center accident. (Link: https://moonspenders.com/2018/10/22/the-mysterious-multo-parlorista-unsolved-trans-murder-in-manila/)
An usherette for the MIFF named Marianne, which is not her real name, claimed that on the week of the first MIFF in the Philippines, they felt some presence back stage. She shared that rumors during that time was that there were still people who were alive but they were not rescued because the Manila Film Center had to be done. There wasn’t really a lot of details regarding those who were rescued and those who died since it was Martial Law and there was a news blackout.
Imelda Marcos photographed during the MIFF inauguration. (Link: http://rogue.ph/enduring-nightmare-manila-film-center/)
On the week of the MIFF, Marianne noted that they could smell something when they were backstage. The lights were out backstage and they felt an unexplainable presence there.
One Spooky Encounter
The Manila Film Center was abandoned in the mid 90s and a man claims he was walking around the area when a man approached him. The man gave him a calling card and that man told the other man he should call his family. The man instructed the other man to tell his family that he will be free soon and that he is alright. The man then called the family and was shocked to know that the man who told him to call his family died in the tragic 1981 accident.
Other Ghost Stories At The Manila Film Center
The Manila Film Center was abandoned in 1990 after the earthquake. However, in 2001, it was used as a performance theatre for the all transgender ‘Amazing Show’ by the Amazing Philippines Theatre. Some have claimed they have heard wails and moans coming from the foundation of the structure. Some alleged they saw apparitions of people seemingly partially sunk. Those who rehearsed at the Manila Film Center or those who cleaned the theater late at night claimed they felt a crushing sense of claustrophobia.