Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Laperal White House, Baguio City: Ifugao Bamboo Carving Gallery

Memories of drunkenness and youth flowed like a stream.
"Ma'm, hindi ho kayo pwede pumasok (Ma'm you're not allowed to enter)", a man stepped out of the shadows and warned my aunt. "No trespassing ho."

My aunt snickered. Everyone else snickered. We snickered our way back to an old house across the street which our family rented for a weekend vacay (it was to become PNKY Home Bed and Breakfast) and sat around the bonfire where that dare was born.

The Laperal White House has been known to be haunted. And my aunt, who chose consequence over truth in a spin-the-bottle-game, was challenged to enter the premises. Our whole crew accompanied her to see if she was determined/crazy/inebriated enough to do it. Turned out she was so into the dare that she even attempted to climb over the fence. That was when the house's caretaker shooed us away...

The Laperal clan's haunted house.

Number 14, Leonard Wood Road.

This scene that I played in my head happened about a decade prior. 

Bloody History

Two weeks ago, I found myself standing on the same spot where I watched my aunt try to pull off a tipsy hurdling stunt. At past ten in the morning, under a clear sky, the structure's aura was nowhere near eerie. I looked up at each window, and saw none of them ghosts that some claim to have seen. This house, named after the family who once owned it, served as a garrison during World War II. And stories say that the Japanese who occupied the house murdered people here including its inhabitants.

I entered the gate. My travel buddies Melo of Out Of town Blog and Julius of Lakwatserong Tsinelas were already inside for some exploring.

We were told that just before our arrival, a child's arm was 'grabbed' by an invisible hand while climbing this staircase.

The master's bedroom.

Ifugao Bamboo Carving Gallery

I fished out fifty pesos from my pocket, handed it to a lady manning the makeshift ticket counter and jotted my name on a logbook. Business tycoon Lucio Tan now owns the Laperal White House, and the Ifugao Bamboo Carvings Exhibit held on the first floor is a partnership project of the Philippine Bamboo Foundation and the Tan Yan Kee Foundation of the Lucio Tan Group of Companies.

Being the only visitors at the time, Philippine Bamboo Foundation President Edgardo Manda himself gave us a guided tour. I was in total awe of what we've stumbled upon that I forgot we were in a famed haunted house.

Visitors be like... "Whoa!"

"The bamboo art fell accidentally on my lap.", Edgardo Manda, Philippine Bamboo Foundation President

Accidentally In Love... With Bamboo

Mr. Manda was appointed General Manager of NAIA from 2001 to 2004 under the Arroyo administration. "After my airport stint I was moved to Laguna Lake Development Authority, an attached agency of DENR from 2005-2010, where I acquired my interest on bamboo because of the watershed surrounding Metro Manila and its environs causing flash floods..."

"The bamboo art fell accidentally on my lap when Baguio was hit by a typhoon about three years ago which resulted in the collapse of a dumpsite in Irisan near the wood carving village of Asin Road in Baguio City. My team went to the area to assess and do an ocular so we can introduce bamboo for hillside erosion control. We found out that it was a thriving wood carving village for many decades. However, they lost their livelihood because of scarcity or lack of wood."

He wondered if the Asin carvers could work with bamboo.

Local art conceived from a competition

Artworks are sold for thousands of pesos. A gargantuan aid to the artist and the local community. 
He did a house to house visit and offered each carver P2,500 to engage them into bamboo carving. His suggestion was met with much skepticism. "Showing no interest, I promised carvers that I will do a bamboo carving competition with a top prize of P25,000. And the early bird entries will get P2,500 each entry. The rest is history."

Bamboo Advocacy And Philippine Bamboo Foundation's Future Plans

"The exhibit is conducted by way of showing bamboo carving... Which is now our teaching aid. Through this medium we are able to segue our small talk to climate change, where bamboo is a solution to to carbon dioxide sequestration, erosion and landslide control specially in the Cordilleras.

The future plans of PBF is to improve its information and education campaign modules by complying with the regulations of TESDA. Dovetailing our IEC into skills training to provide more people, specially farmers, a better understanding of bamboo as a commodity. PBF will also provide technical assistance to investors on how to incubate the program into a commercial bamboo plantation."

On the way to becoming awesome.

Sitting on the cheapest buy in the room. P4,000 I believe.

There was a spark in Mr. Manda's eyes all throughout his talk. And that visual of passion stayed with me for days. After the tour he let us off and we roamed freely upstairs.

In case you're wondering, nope, we didn't encounter any hostile spirits. Just Baguio's hostile cold that crept in the rooms (temperature dipped to 8.1℃ later in the evening) which haunted me in the form of a high fever a day after the trip.

Julius, Melo, Mr. Edgardo Manda, and moi at the Laperal White House's main entrance.
Ifugao Bamboo Carving Gallery
The Laperal White House
14 Leonard Wood Road
Baguio City 



killerfiller said...
February 4, 2014 at 3:40 PM

We went here last Saturday, our guide was AJ (an 8 year old kid) told us the haunting stories of the Laperal and their maid who apparently committed suicide.

Francis Balgos said...
February 4, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Amazing artwork! the House looks Amazing too! :)

Rovie said...
February 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM

Ang galing naman! Nag tuturo din ba sila ng bamboo carving?

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 5, 2014 at 12:55 AM

They don't conduct such classes :( That would be interesting though.

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 5, 2014 at 12:55 AM

Indeed, that's one beautiful colonial house.

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 5, 2014 at 12:55 AM


ian | going places said...
February 5, 2014 at 1:13 AM

Sabi ko na nga ba eh yung haunted house sa Baguio sa photo pa lang... Pero ang ganda pala ng loob para na syang museum. I like the bamboo artworks too.

TheSoulExplorer said...
February 5, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Hmm, haunted house? That's really interesting! haha

mark julius Estur said...
February 6, 2014 at 12:03 AM

I thought a lady will appear or at least grab my feet while we explore the attic. Haha

Stella S., Cebu Beaches said...
February 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM

A haunted house cum gallery! The Laperal White House is tops on my cool scale. The pieces you featured here are exquisite. They're a testament to Pinoy creativity. Would you know if the Philippine Bamboo Foundation is launching initiatives in the Visayas?

Sky Summer said...
February 16, 2014 at 1:33 AM

Gusto ko to, sana may guided tour for Ghost stories tapos tapat pa ng gabi...

Nice work of art!

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 16, 2014 at 3:03 PM

That would be exciting! But I believe they close the museum at 6 or 7pm :(

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 16, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Will ask the PBF President. And yes, such testament to Pinoy creativity!

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 16, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Kung meron yun, ako yun! Hahaha!

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
February 16, 2014 at 3:05 PM

It's a really beautiful house! Am kinda confident the Tans will preserve this looker :)

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