Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Don Ramon Ilusorio Mansion AKA Bahay Na Pula

is an old house in the town of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, which is rife with meanings and regarded as haunted. The “Comfort Women” of Mapaniki,Candaba, Pampanga have their narratives that recount their own harrowing experiences in this mansion during the Second World War.

To punish the village of Mapaniki for supporting guerillas, the invading Japanese soldiers killed its male inhabitants and brought several of its female inhabitants to Bahay na Pula, then a Japanese army garrison. The females served as comfort women for the soldiers in the house.

It is said that many of the women have been abused and killed in the vicinity of this house, mostly Bulakenyas and Nueva Ecijanons. Locals claim that at night they would hear screams of women crying for help. Others would say that they would hear men talking at night in an unknown language (most probably japanese). The house is now considered a heritage site.

Situated in the boarders of San Ildefonso and San Miguel in the northern part of Bulacan province, its grandeur has become a permanent stature in the area beaming with elegance and a stylish ‘espanyol’ look that amazes everybody that pass by this house. Yet with its elegant facade also equals the eerie feeling that haunts those who know its dark history.

The house serves a multiplicity of purposes as heritage. It could either remind of the good old colonial days of the Bulacan elite; of the sufferings of Mapaniki women; of the need for an alternative treatment of women; of the brutality of war; of the helplessness of Filipinos; or of the shame of Imperial Japan. Aside from representing the past, the Bahay na Pula structure is the stage where the past is reenacted and experienced.

There were so much pain that could be felt in the house. The greatest pain was coming from the comfort room upstairs where the compass reading clearly showed that there were manifestations in the area. Some of the members cried after scanning that place for some unexplained reason. One of the the victims, a beautiful girl was drowned in that bathtub before being raped.

The particular girl was a favorite of the Japanese soldiers and sexually abused her for about 20 to 30 times a day, until she could take no more. On the last day of her life, the girl detested of being abused and ran towards the bathroom. She was overpowered and was drowned in the bathtub, before being used again for the last time. Other comfort women could only cry in silence as they're taken one by one to be abused, but the said girl suffered the most.

The creepiest area was upstairs in the terrace where an entity was peeking from outside. We could have buffered the ghosts so that they will no longer manifest but it was never our objective since they don't do harm to any of the people. They are just there watching the house, reliving their life all over again. As if, they are placed in limbo, because of their regrets, because of anger, because of pain, they try to change things but end up repeating them.

The window, bathtub, and terrace of the mansion structure the presentations of vignettes of the past. Not only is the 1940s realized in the visual and auditory spheres, but is also resurrected with strong, permeating emotions. Pain and suffering is communicated through the bathtub, which also generates the feelings of pity, sorrow, and fear, much like the window and terrace.

The house has been recently renovated, in an attempt to stop it from decaying and further damage due to its' age, but the events that transpired in it will always be a haunting reminder of its' dark past, with or without ghostly presence.

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