Urban legends and mythical creatures have long been a part of Philippine folklore. Stories about aswang, tikbalang, duwende, and other terrifying creatures have scared the wit out of a lot of Pinoys in their childhood. Ghosts, especially white ladies, were never out of the picture.
It is said that it is the ghost of a long-haired woman in a white dress, who according to legend, died in a car accident while driving along Balete Drive. Most stories about her were told by taxi drivers doing the graveyard shift, such as the one where a taxi crosses Balete Drive, and a very beautiful woman is asking for a ride. The cabbie looks behind and sees the woman’s face was full of blood and bruises, causing him to abandon his taxi in horror. In other instances, it is said that when solitary people drive on that street in the early morning, they briefly see the face of a white-clad woman in the rear-view mirror before she quickly disappears. Some accidents on this road are blamed on apparitions of the White Lady.
Many sources have said this legend was actually manufactured by a reporter in the 1950s, and also a possible combination of multiple stories from the area. Balete Drive is a two-lane undivided street and main thoroughfare in the New Manila District, in Quezon City, in Metro Manila, Philippines. The road is an undivided carriageway, that is, a road without median. The road is a major route of jeepneys and cabs, serving the New Manila area, connecting Eulogio Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard and Nicanor Domingo Streets in Quezon City.
The road is famous for the antique and century old Spanish houses and Balete Trees that line the road. The road is also notable for the haunting legends that it had. Balete Drive was named after a gargantuan balete tree that used to stand in the middle of the road. The road, although the exact construction date is unknown, had been cemented and asphalted and became a main thoroughfare during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos in the early 1970s. There are several Spanish houses in the area, including the famous 200-year-old “Centennial House”, which supports the claim that Balete Drive has been in use since the late Spanish era towards the end of the 19th century.
In Pinoy culture, balete trees (Ficus benjamina) are regarded as home for spirits and mysterious creatures. This notion makes Balete Drive all the more frightening. Elders used to warn children against playing near a balete tree due to certain beliefs such as:
Fairies and engkantadas live inside the balete tree. They invite children inside their kingdom, and if a child eats something from there, she will remain trapped inside the tree for the rest of her life.
If you point your finger or laugh at a balete tree, the fairies will get insulted and will curse you.
If you cut a balete tree, the engkantos living in the tree will punish you with death.
The White Lady of Balete Drive has many variation of stories from its origination to its appearances to drivers. The reason is the legend is quite old and very famous. So its impossible for the original story to be maintained and not altered. You can say that tale-tellers added something or excluded some details just to make it interesting and much scary.
First version of origination:
According to some people, a woman was raped at the same spot at Balete Drive by Japanese soldiers in the time of World War II. Being not justified till now, the woman’s ghost remain to avenge her death.
Second version of origination:
According to legend, she was driving in Balete Drive when she crashed her car resulting to her death.
Third version of origination :
The White Lady whos appearing at midnight between Bougainvilla and Mabolo Sts. was a student of the University of the Philippines. While on her way to Balete Drive from her school, she was raped by a cab driver and her body dumped in this area. She appears to most cab drivers because she allegedly wanted to seek revenge.
- One night a taxi driver is halted by a woman wearing a white, flowing dress (I’m not sure if she was white herself or what). The curious driver picks her up and she directed him to a lonely, dark, tree-lined road in New Manila called Balete Drive. They stopped in front of a house. When the driver turned around to see her get off, she had disappeared. Shocked and bewildered, the driver knocks at the entrance of the house, but the occupants tell the driver that the woman was actually dead, and that it was not the first time that this had happened.
- In other instances it is said that when solitary people drive by Balete Drive in the wee hours of the morning, they tend to see the face of a woman in white in the rear view mirror for a split second before the apparition disappears. Some accidents on this road are blamed on the White Lady.
- Another story tells about a taxi crossing the dreaded Balete Drive and a very beautiful woman was asking for a ride. The taxi driver looks behind and the woman looks like her face was full of blood and bruises. The taxi driver escaped from the taxi from fear.
- Some taxi drivers said a pretty teenage girl in white used to ride in their cabs, asking them to take her near Morato Avenue. She would then tell the cab drivers about her sad love story while traveling along Balete Drive. The drivers said that whenever they ask the girl where the guy was, her image would disappear from their rear view mirror. And when they looked at the back seat, the girl would no longer be there
There was a street named Balete Drive (the name has changed) which connected downtown Manila and the next city north from there, Quezon City. A major street (named Gilmore at the time) crossed this street at an intersection closer to downtown Quezon City. Not too far from this intersection was a well-known school and college for girls. I’m not sure now whether the school was north or south of this intersection, but anyway it was in that area. This was the place where the sightings had been reported.
A cab driver picked up a woman passenger at around 8:00 in the evening near the said school. She was young, pretty, wearing a white party dress and perfume. On closing the door, the driver of course waited for direction as he started driving. He got direction and everything would have been just like any other night, but he noticed something strange. The woman’s voice he heard seem not to have come from the passenger but from inside his ears. Weird, but then he doubted himself, may be he was wrong, who else could have spoken? So he continued driving. It didn’t take long and the driver glanced at his rear view mirror just as any cab driver would do especially when the passenger is pretty, beautiful, gorgeous and what not. There was no passenger within view of the mirror. He turned his head to look at the passenger. The passenger seat was empty. The common argument when this rumor appeared was the woman probably jumped out the window. You be the judge.
The school in the area I earlier mentioned was and still is to this day a private school and college for girls and young women who belonged among the wealthy, prestigious families in the country. They have come and gone into all sorts of destiny, from successful politicians and prominent professionals and business entrepreneurs down to prostitutes and the mentally ill. Some are now dead, by natural death, accidents and some by fatal crime. The last one probably brought about the haunts on taxi and bus drivers.
The preceding is a fictional, but possible idea of what happened at the Balete Drive.
Criminal activities are not frequent, but not impossible in places such as this. Formal or wild parties are one of the excitements which propel the energies of some of the young women at school – needless to say. What happens before or after the culmination of these excitements is what pushes this young women into any kind of fatal crime possible. Kidnap, rape and homicide are the typical crimes. Before or after the party at around 8:00 pm, an unfortunate young, pretty, high school or college woman in white party dress and perfume could end up dead from this type of crime, probably committed by a sex maniac driving a taxi. She would be missing and the news about her would invade the local news and even TV and radio for a while, then nothing. Isn’t this very common? What would be left for this unfortunate victim who probably had young, ardent ambitions, dreams and plans for her life and her future? Something supernatural and/or paranormal would be all that is left so she can send a message about her unexpected, unfortunate death and may be even equally punish the criminal. Hence the hauntings. The hauntings ended towards the latter part of the 50’s perhaps after whoever the criminal was (may be a cab driver and beyond) had met awesome punishment(s) from the reality beyond fantasy where the young, pretty woman wearing a party dress and perfume would materialize and appear at the Balete Drive under a specific occasion.