During construction on November 17, 1981, tragedy struck. Nearly two hundred workers fell into wet cement when scaffolding collapsed, causing many to drown and be encased as it dried.
A Not Too Uncommon Tale
You have probably guessed what happens next – the stranger calls the mans family and recieved the shocking news that her husband had died, at that location, about a decade earlier.
This is apparently not a too uncommon event in and about the Manila Film Center.
Marcos liked to live an extravagant lifestyle, and wanted that lifestyle expressed in her works, her legacy, and the look of her country. Some would say Marcos was a little too ambitious, with the project giving not enough time for the structure to be built in order to host the film festival, but plans went ahead anyways.
The look of the building was inspired by the Parthenon, and was built on reclaimed land by the ocean, on the edge of Pasay City. This 'new land' was not quite solid enough for such a massive structure, so more than 900 'piles' (essentially support structures of steel and concrete) were laid through the ground, to rest on the bedrock below.
Construction was going ahead as planned, but Marcos made changes to the plans and layouts, causing delays and some say bypassing safety regulations. However, with money in hand, miracles can happen, and soon more and more workers were brought to the site. A barracks was set up, a place where workers (and in rare cases their families) could stay, in order to be on the sight at all times.
At the height of constructions, in order to meet such a tight deadline, over 4000 workers were employed in three shifts, working 24 hours a day. Parts of the building that were expected to take six weeks to build were being finished in just three days. Surely, with that many people on the one worksite being pushed to work that fast, something would have to give?
And give it did.
Typically, the immediate reaction would be to set out and rescue those who had fallen, call ambulances, and save as many as possible. Unfortunately that was not to be, as Imelda Marcos and her administration put a security blackout on the area – noone was to enter, no rescuers, no ambulances, noone.
This imposed no entry zone stood for nine hours until finally people were allowed to enter, in order to rescue those still living. Some of the workers were completely encased in the concrete, others partially submerged. Many had died as a result of the initial fall, and more as a result of rescuers not being able to access the area.
Other people tell how Marcos was afraid the building would not get finished in time, and that her 'Cannes of Asia' would have to be cancelled. Fearing this embarrassment, she ordered more concrete poured, in a attempt to hide evidence and prevent any ideas of further rescue taking place, that would further hold up construction – essentially, turning the building into a tomb. Even so, some of the bodies were still recovered, the ones who could be easily gotten too.
All of this is, of course hearsay, but you never know. It would not be the first time a government covered up the truth in regards to a tragedy involving loss of life, potentially at their hands...
Eliodoro Ponio, another contractor, was interviewed on a television show, and he did state that all the bodies were recovered, and that "not even a finger nail was left in there".. all the workers were given proper burials.
The construction of the Manila Film Center was completed in time for the film festival. Movies such as 'Body Heat', 'Gallipoli' and Indias '36 Chowringhee Lane' were played – Indias movie won best picture.
Many who visit the show are probably unaware of the buildings history, of the tragedy of loss of life, and the possibility that there maybe lost souls buried beneath their feet.
Strange encounters with the paranormal are not limited to just random people asking visitors to call their homes, to tell their families they are ok.
Are there still bodies buried in the concrete of the Manila Film Center?
Are the hauntings perpetrated by those who had safety and trust taken from them?