A walk along Balete Drive

In the metropolis of Manila, and in the Philippines as a whole, no street has been the stuff of so much legend and mystery than that (in)famous stretch of road in the district of New Manila in Quezon City known as Balete Drive.

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It is said that back in the old days, the main landmark in the area where the street is now stands was a massive balete tree, In Philippine folklore, the balete tree just happens to serve as dwelling for supernatural creatures like the kapre and tikbalang. It can be surmised that the tree was eventually cut down to give way to the road.

accident prone area

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According to folklore, any act that would violate the homes of these supernatural creatures would bring harm to the person/s who committed the act. While there have been some alleged stories of hauntings by supernatural creatures that may have been brought about by the destruction of their home, it is another unrelated, yet still creepy tale that has made Balete Drive a subject of fear and fascination.

The tale was first heard in the 1950s, at a time when the New Manila area was experiencing a residential boom as many upper and middle class families were relocating there after the war.The story goes that a ghastly lady dressed in white (the “white lady” as popularly called) who “terrorizes” those driving across the wretched stretch of Balete Drive, particularly the cab drivers, by suddenly appearing in the passenger’s seat of the vehicle whenever they pass by.

Beyond that though, the rest of the story’s details are a subject of debate and confusion like the identity of the white lady for instance. Some say she was a woman abused and killed by a taxi driver who then ditched her body somewhere along the street. Others say she was killed in one of the houses along the street. But then I recently came across this interesting post on Facebook by my friend who happens to be well-versed in Batangas history. You can read it up here.

There are also those who say this was a hoax in the first place, perpetuated by the media over the years. Whatever the truth is, thanks to the media, the legend of the White Lady of Balete Drive has grown, perhaps a bit more embellished but far from forgotten over the years as many urban legends go. And thanks to this legend, Balete Drive has grown to be one of the most popular streets in the metropolis, something that has affected this street in both the positive and negative aspect.

Nevertheless, a trip along this street of urban legends does not betray the tales of horror that purportedly haunts this place. In fact, the street itself is a quietly bustling neighborhood mostly of middle to upper class residences who have seemed to thrive quietly well despite its ghastly reputation. It is more of a typical New Manila neighborhood that has managed to keep its quiet charm in the midst of urbanization that is going on around the area.

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While it is mostly a residential neighborhood, here are some commercial establishments found in this area too. One of them is an antique shop which bears bears a curious name called “Bahay Sentenaryo.” *(Centennial House) Some say it is the oldest house in Balete Drive as it has been there for over 200 years. Without much proof that the Urban Roamer has been able to find so far to support this claim, not to mention the fact that the house currently does not look to be as old as it claimed to be, I will have to be a skeptic on this one.

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Another notable institution found along Balete Drive, though technically it’s at Balete Drive Extension off E. Rodriguez Avenue, is one of the most respected media institutions in the country. Here one can find the head offices of the business newspaper founded by Raul Locsin, First begain in 1967 as BusinessDay, it has made its mark to be the first business newspaper not only in the Philippines but also in Southeast Asia.

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© The Urban Roamer

3 thoughts on “A walk along Balete Drive

  1. naglakad ako dyan sa balete drive.mga 5pm.ako lang mag-isa.nilakad ko mula dulo, wala naman akong nakita o naranasang kakaiba naman.

    • Sir/Mam,
      Good day.
      I would just like to make correct in the notion about the Bahay Sentinaryo located in the heart of Balete Drive that its a 200 hundred year old family heritage house. I know because we used to own the property where it stands now. There stands for more than a decade a small store named Juvic Variety Store, named after me by my parents.I grew up in Balete Drive since I was 1 year old until i turned 27 when i have to leave Balete because i was married to my wife and is now living in Cavite. Im now 39 years old. I cant remember the exact date when it was sold to the Gupit Clan but the rest was history then. As far as i know it was just named Bahay Sentinaryo because its just an antique shop to catch attention to passers by.
      I hope that this will correct the notion that Bahay Sentinaryo is a 200 year old house in Balete Drive.
      Thank you for your time.

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