Spotted: Upscale restaurant to resurrect Baguio’s Laperal White House

December 9, 2022 - 12:48 PM
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Laperal White House
Entrance of the Laperal White House in this photo from the Joseph's restaurant Facebook page on Dec. 6, 2022 (Facebook/Joseph's)

The historic Laperal White House, often dubbed a “haunted house,” in Baguio City will soon reopen its doors to the public.

A vacation home rental owner shared a picture of a tarpaulin spotted near the Victorian-style house, which bore the words “PLATING SOON.”

The tarp was also identified to be owned by Joseph’s, an upscale restaurant in the Summer Capital of the Philippines established just this year.

“Is the famous [Laperal] Mansion (‘haunted’ house) of Baguio about to become a restaurant?” Joel Pimentel said in a Facebook post on December 2.

A freelance writer also uploaded a Facebook Reel showing the vicinity and the tarpaulin teaser.

A look at Joseph’s social media accounts and its website indicated that it will be establishing a restaurant in the famed ancestral house to cater to locals and tourists alike.

The establishment of the restaurant on the famous site is an adaptive reuse project. Adaptive reuse is the renovation or reuse of preexisting structures for new purposes.

The restaurant’s cover photo on Facebook features the door entrance of the Laperal White House. It can be noticed that the house has been given a facelift and is no longer all-white.

“The Joseph’s dining experience takes place in the century-old white house of the Laperal family, recently acquired by business tycoon Lucio Tan. [Its] interiors boast of the original solid wood ceilings and walls, with a modern elegance brought about by custom dining tables and seats and contemporary furnishings,” its website reads.

In an Instagram post, the reservation-only restaurant also said that it will serve continental and contemporary French cuisine.

It said that its menu is crafted “by a young French chef who has been in the industry for 15 years and a decade at a Michelin-star restaurant.”

“Together with a talented home cook [and] seasoned restaurateur, they are responsible for training the kitchen brigade and ensuring the quality and standards of the food that we serve our guests,” Joseph’s said.

“The kitchen utilizes native produce plated in harmony with premium meat and seafood selections obtained both locally and internationally to give you the best and most memorable dining experience,” it added.

Some of the restaurant’s offerings include Roleaux de Ratatouille (zucchini and eggplant rolls with candied tomatoes on a bell pepper coulis), Filet de Saumon (grilled salmon fillet with zucchini and sauce Béarnaise) and Filet Mignon Rossini (pan-seared tenderloin on crouton with foie gras and shallot-truffle sauce), among others.

History 

The Laperal White House was said to be built on a four-hectare property in the pre-war 1930s. It was owned by Don Roberto and Doña Victorina Laperal.

Some accounts said the house was built in the 1920s and served as a summer getaway house for the family.

During the Second World War, the Japanese forces took over the imposing house.

Lito Calvo, who became its gardener for years and was familiar with stories by a longtime caretaker employed by the patriarch, said that the rooms and sections of the houses had witnessed the cruelty of the Japanese soldiers before.

“This is the place where so many killings happened when Japanese soldiers lived here, that’s why it has always been believed that the ghosts of the past still haunt this house,” he said in a 2013 interview.

Calvo said the stories are from “Ate Lina,” the helper employed by Roberto before.

Alma Ramos, who became a caretaker for years, also claimed that visitors — presumably with a third eye — have told her restless spirits lived in the house.

“The women were raped in the bedrooms, Filipino men who were accused of spying for the Americans were interrogated in the sala, then they were tortured and killed. There was even a house help who committed suicide here,” she said before.

Tycoon Lucio Tan acquired the property in 2007.

His Tan Yan Kee Foundation transformed it into a gallery that featured Ifugao bamboo carving.

The business magnate remained the house’s owner as of 2020.

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