The fountains in the inner courtyard must have been a
thing of beauty in the days of their prime. All corridors
had these windows to permit a view of the water casca-
ding through four levels.
This used to be a winding staircase with heavy pine
wood bannisters. It landed on the ground floor where a
100-bulb Victorian chandelier used to hang on the
ceiling, not too far from the fireplace in back..
There used to be ornate iron grilles in each of these five-
foot windows. They were a priceless collection of fine
metal art that would be invaluable to any art curator
today. But instead, they were yanked by looters and
sold cheaply as scrap iron.
A Korean ministry has offered to acquire this property to
turn it into a pilgrimage site or "prayer mountain." But
offers to buy Dominican Hill are stymied by unsettled
issues of which government agency actually holds title
over this land. Some public opinion is against a Korean
buyout simply because they have acquired many more
properties all around Baguio--some say too much.
In the afternoon haze of Baguio's legendary fog, you get
a sense that this place stis on the clouds. A few local
tourists take obligatory sourvenir shots at the black St.
Martin de Porres prayer garden, reputed to be a small
old cemetery before it was transformed into an outdoor
venue for priestly sacraments. This is the main drive-
way leading up to the front of the seminary building.
A glint of Baguio sunset silhouettes the main seminary
building, momentarily concealing its derelict state.
Someday, this place will be revived as a world-class
bible college. God didn't seem to approve its use as a
hotel nor as a host to a high-stakes casino.
The narrow one-lane road leading up to Dominican Hill
looked before like a "highway to heaven" because the
seminary was the only man-made structure atop this
hill. Over the last few years, a telecom antenna farm
has sprouted near its main gate, adding a quaint coun-
terpoint to the traditional "temple-like" atmosphere
of the old Dominican Hill.
By most reckoning, it's stil a very beautiful place, espe-
cially for less mundane pursuits like prayerful meditation.
In fact, from a distance, if you defocus your eyes a little,
you would forget that all you are seeing now is just the
empty shell of a once-stately and historic monastery.