Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Torre de Manila vicinity, a virtual ‘heritage zone’

Sightline of Rizal Monument in the Year 2010

Sightline of Rizal Monument in the Year 2012

Sightline of Rizal Monument in the Year 2015


Torre de Manila vicinity, a virtual ‘heritage zone’

High-rise is surrounded by several state-declared historical landmarks that the law says must be protected from ‘visual obstruction’ and structural ‘threats’ posed by ‘adjacent constructions’
Torre de Manila was cleared for construction by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and Manila City Hall despite being located in a virtual “heritage zone” and surrounded by several structures declared as national historical landmarks by government itself, for which, according to the NHCP’s own guidelines, they should be protected from “visual obstruction” and aesthetic “competition.”

Moreover, such landmarks, according to the NHCP guidelines, should be protected from such threats as “adjacent construction activities that may adversely affect historic sites/structures.”

The 49-story Torre de Manila is now the subject of a petition for demolition by the Knights of Rizal with the Supreme Court for allegedly destroying the view of the Rizal Monument.

But the skyscraper may likewise pose as a visual spoiler and structural “threat” to at least eight sites and structures in Ermita, Manila that were declared historic sites by the National Historical Institute and later, National Historical Commission, the predecessors of the NHCP.

These sites have been awarded markers by the NHCP and are considered “national historical landmarks and/or national historical sites” under Republic Act 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, and are therefore protected by law.

These are the St. Vincent de Paul Church, which received its historical marker in 1935; Colegio de Santa Isabel (1947), Philippine Normal University (PNU; 1952 and 2001), Central United Methodist Church (1985), Casino Español de Manila (1993), Technological University of the Philippines (TUP; 2001), Old Legislative Building, which is now the National Art Gallery of the National Museum (NM; 2001) and Adamson University (2007).

Oldest girls school

Located on Taft Avenue, Santa Isabel, which was founded in 1632 during the Spanish era, making it the oldest school for girls in the Philippines and one of the oldest in the world, stands right beside Torre de Manila, which dwarfs it.

Although the original Santa Isabel was in Intramuros and was destroyed during the Second World War, the Taft campus used to be Colegio de Santa Rita, another historically important institution. The Taft campus was purchased after the war by the Daughters of Charity, the congregation that now runs Santa Isabel.

Beside Santa Isabel is the PNU dormitory. Across the dormitory on Burgos Street is PNU itself, the first full teaching school in the country, which has no less than two historical markers put up by the NHCP.

Meanwhile Casino Español on Kalaw Street and Adamson and St. Vincent de Paul on San Marcelino Street are located just behind Torre.

Casino Español is the leisure club of the Spanish community starting from the late 19th century. The original building on Kalaw Street was designed by Juan Arellano but was destroyed during the Second World War. The building as it appears now was constructed in 1951 and was designed by National Artist for Architecture Jose Ma. Zaragoza.

Saint Vincent de Paul Church started as a chapel in the late 19th century during the Spanish era. The present church structure was built in 1912, making it more than 100 years old.

Adamson was established in 1937 originally as a private college offering industrial chemistry and engineering courses. It is now run by the Vincentian fathers.

Last year, Adamson, evincing heritage activism, asked for the remnant of Italian sculptor Francesco Monti’s monumnetal bas relief, “The Furies,” that used to adorn the Old Meralco building on San Marcelino Street, which had been ordered demolished amid heritage protests by Mayor Joseph Estrada.

The Vincentian university later used the remnant to reconstitute the relief and create a replica that now adorns the façade of one of the buildings on its 4-hectare campus.
TUP is the former Manila Trade School established in 1901.

Founded in 1899, the Methodist Church is now a cathedral and is the oldest Protestant church in the Philippines. The original structure was designed by Arellano.

Historic cluster

The cluster of historic sites, which may as well include the Rizal Monument and Luneta (known during the Spanish era as Bagumbayan), should mean that they form, according to R.A. 10066, a “heritage zone.”

The heritage law states that a heritage zone “shall refer to historical, anthropological, archaeological, artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally significant to the country, as declared by the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute” (now NHCP).

The law states that the NHCP and NM should declare heritage zones for the protection of the historical and cultural identity of a particular area in coordination with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.

The local government unit is tasked by law to maintain a heritage zone where that zone is located.
Under Section 13 of R.A. 10066, it is provided that the “appearance of streets, parks, monuments, buildings and natural bodies of water, canals, paths and barangays within a locality shall be maintained as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute.”

Heritage zone, or “historic center,” is separately defined by the NHCP Guidelines, Policies and Standards for the Conservation and Development of Historic Centers/Heritage Zones, as a “designated area with historical and other special significance, consisting of buildings or group of buildings and their environs that collectively contribute to the area’s importance and character.”


But even without the declaration of historic centers or heritage zones, the NHCP in its guidelines seeks to enforce protection of historic structures.

The guidelines for example note that one of the offenses against historic or heritage sites and structures is the “visual distraction or obstruction, including power and telecommunication poles and cables.”
Another offense is “competition,” which is defined as “a structure that competes with or subordinates a historic/heritage structure.”

The guidelines also identify a number of threats such as “conflicts with building, fire, electrical codes and local ordinances” and “adjacent construction activities that may adversely affect historic sites/structures.”

Major construction activities around important heritage sites are discouraged by conservation conventions and guidelines of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (Unesco) because they may weaken the structural intergrity of the cultural structures and lead to their collapse.

Protection of historical landmarks is part of the mandate of the NHCP. Republic Act 4368, the 1965 law creating the “National Historical Commission,” directs the NHCP to “maintain and care for” monuments and landmarks.


The NHCP Guidelines defines a prohibited building as “any structure or establishment that pollutes the environment, obstructs or does not conform to the historical character and/or cultural value of the historic center/heritage zone.”

All non-conforming buildings, the guidelines say, should follow the requirements.

The non-conforming buildings should “conform to or harmonize with the existing characteristics of the site, as to encourage a progressive urban growth anchored on a peaceful coexistence of various historical periods.”

The NHCP Guidelines likewise offers protection for monuments “honoring national heroes, illustrious Filipinos and other personages.”

One of the measures by which a monument’s dominance of the vista is maintained is to “keep vista points and visual corridors to monuments clear for unobstructed viewing appreciation and photographic opportunities.”

The setting of monuments, according to the NHCP Guidelines, “extends to surrounding areas.”
The NHCP Guidelines quotes Article 6 of the Venice Charter on Conservation: “The conservation of the monument implies preserving a setting, which is not out of scale. Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition, or modification, which would alter the relations of mass and color, must be allowed

Other historic structures

Other historically and architecturally significant structures in the vicinity of Torre de Manila are the American-era old Agriculture and Finance buildings on Agrifina Circle, which are now the National Museum of the Filipino People and the Department of Tourism. (The latter will become the soon-to-open Museum of Natural History, also under the National Museum.)
Last October, the Inquirer reported that the National Museum was considering declaring that part of Ermita as a heritage zone.

However, the proposed declaration is only limited to the neoclassic buildings from Pedro Gil Street to the Post Office building on the banks of the Pasig River.

As of press time, the declaration has not been done, said National Museum acting assistant Director and Cultural Properties Division chief Angel Bautista.


Despite its own guidelines protecting monuments and historic sites from “visual obstruction” and “competition, the NHCP did not oppose DMCI, the Torre’s developer, which in its original application said it was constructing a 40-story building.

NHCP also did not oppose the DMCI when it sought an exemption from the Manila city government so that it could add nine more floors.

Early last year, DMCI appealed to the Manila City Council for zoning exemption since it said it had obtained permits and passed all of the requirements. Its request was granted by the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

After the grant of exemption, Manila Councilor Ernesto Isip authored the resolution supporting the zoning exemption.

This resolution was passed, which paved the way for the construction of the 40-story high rise. It was signed by Councilor Joel Chua, the presiding officer.

In the resolution, no mention was made that City Hall had consulted with NHCP or any of the cultural agencies. No mention was also made of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.


Rule of law not followed in Torre de Manila permit – SC Justice Jardeleza

by Katerina Francisco

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In the 4th round of oral arguments on the controversial Torre de Manila condominium, a Supreme Court (SC) justice said on Tuesday, August 18, that the rule of law was not followed when the Manila city government granted permits for the construction of the 49-story building.
Citing excerpts from Ordinance No. 8119, or the Manila zoning ordinance, SC Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza said that 4 layers of protection were ignored when DMCI Homes, the condominium's developer, was given the permits to build the high-rise residential project:
  1. Buildings under the university cluster, where the Torre de Manila stands, impose a maximum floor-area ratio of 4. Torre de Manila's building plans show that it will have a floor-area ratio of 7.79.
  2. Section 22 of the ordinance prescribes building regulations in histo-cultural preservation zones.
  3. Section 23 states that the floor-area ratio requirement should be complied with "in all instances" and that the validity of this requirement will only be superseded by regulations specified for the zone.
  4. Section 47 requires a heritage impact statement to be submitted to the city planning and development office.
In his 3-hour interpellation of Manila city legal officer Jose Alberto Flaminiano, Jardeleza said that the rule of law was not followed despite the provisions in the ordinance.

Please read more at the below link :



Youtube videos 

Mayor Estrada lied to the media, says Alfredo Lim

Blame game in Torre De Manila continues in House probe

Cruz-Araneta: Lim allowed 20-storey Torre de Manila

Legal tussle brews over 'photo bomber' building in Manila   

DMCI Homes Torre de Manila | Condo near Roxas Blvd Manila For Sale

Torre De Manila ( DMCI-Homes )

Please read also the related postings:

Photos of Rizal Park / Luneta and Torre de Manila

Rule of law not followed in Torre de Manila permit – SC Justice Jardeleza

On the Rizal Monument and the Torre de ManilaAbout face, Rizal (Part 1)

On the Rizal Monument and the Torre de ManilaAbout Face, Rizal (Part 2)

On the Torre de Manila controversyAbout face, Rizal (Part 3)

Photos of Rizal Park / Luneta and Torre de Manila

Photo Journal of Fort Santiago - Intramuroshttp://jibraelangel2blog.blogspot.com/2010/10/blog-post.html
Intramuros – Puerta Real Gardens and Baluarte de San Diego

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bermuda Triangle and other Mysteries of the Seas

Bermuda Triangle
Famous incidents of disappearances

Over the past centuries, many ships and air planes have disappeared or met with fatal accidents in the triangular area on Atlantic Ocean known as Bermuda Triangle. In several cases, no trace of the ships and aircraft were found even after thorough search operations were carried out for hundreds and thousands of square miles in the ocean. Such incidents of disappearances have been known since 1499s  and have continued even in 21st century. While there are various explanations and theories behind such incidents, in many cases the incidents have remained unexplained.  

In a shocking incident of 1945, a whole bunch of five training flights that took off from Florida under the leadership of an experienced captain, never returned to the base. All are clueless as to what may have happened to it. In fact a Martin Mariner flying boat that was sent for the search operation, also went missing.

In another incident of 1918, a large well known cargo ship went missing in the Triangle area without a trace with over 300 crew members onboard. This was probably one of the largest loss of lives on Bermuda Triangle.

And there are many more such incidents. While theories such as methane gas blow out below the ocean causing ships to sink, electronic fog engulfing a flight or ship and then taking it to unknown zones, hurricanes destroying aircraft, and lot more of such theories have come up trying to explain such cases, but nobody has been able to pinpoint which incident of disappearance took place exactly for which cause. And strangely having made hardly any inroads to explain why such incidents took place in Bermuda Triangle area, the US Navy as well as the US Board of Geographic names ( the organization mainly responsible for identifying areas on maps) have decline to recognize Bermuda Triangle as any such physical area on the ocean which causes such deadly incidents of disappearance.

So, are these incidents actually caused by Bermuda Triangle phenomena? Or these are just mere accidents that also take place in other ocean areas as well, and are simply hyped up here by some theorist to draw unnecessary attention. Figure it out yourself. I have arranged them in chronological order so that you can see earlier ones to most recent incidents by year.

1492 - Christopher Columbus reported strange lights and strange compass readings.

1609 - The Sea Venture got wrecked near the eastern end of Bermuda Island. The commander of the fleet Sir George Somers and his crew came ashore and were the first to start human setlement in the islands.

1812 - Theodosia Burr Alston was the daughter of former United States Vice President Aaron Burr. Her disappearance her has been cited at least once in relation to the Triangle. She was a passenger on board the Patriot, which sailed form Charleston, South Carolina to New York City on December 30, 1812 and was never heard of again.

Please read the story on the below link :

1814 - The USS Epervier and her crew disappeared while carrying the peace treaty to end the war between America and the North African Barbary States.

Please read the story on the below link :

1855 - The schooner James B. Chester was found floating in the ocean. The crew was missing but there was no sign of struggle, and the lifeboats were still in place.

1872 - Mary Celeste: Known as one of the ghost ships of Bermuda Triangle, Mary Celeste had many misadventures even before her mystery voyage in 1872.

Please read the story on the below link :

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste

1881 - The Ellen Austin on its voyage in 1881 came across another ship that was sailing without a single soul on board. Ellen Austin transferred some of its crew onto the other ship and attempted to sail with it to New York. The other ship suddenly disappeared. Later it re-appeared, but again without a person on board. Then it again disappeared without trace. 

Please read the story on the below link :


1909 - S.V. Spray was a derelict fishing boat refitted as an ocean cruiser by Joshua Slocum and used by him to complete the first ever single-handed circumnavigation of the world, between 1895 and 1898. In 1909, Slocum set sail from Vineyard Haven bound for Venezuela. Neither he nor Spray were ever seen again. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1918 - USS Cyclops: This navy ship disappearance resulted in the single largest loss of life in the history of the US Navy. It went missing without a trace with a crew of 309, sometime after March 4th 1918 and after departing the island of Barbados. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1921 - Carrol A. Deering: This was a 5-masted commercial schooner built to carry cargo. On January 31, 1921 while returning home to Maine from Rio de Janeiro of Brazil, it was found wrecked at Diamond Shoals located off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. While the ship was quite intact, all crew members vanished and never heard of again. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1941 - The USS Proteus and the USS Nereus vanished, just as their sister ship the USS Cyclops previously did along the same route. 

Please read the story on the below link :


1945 - Flight 19:  They were training aircrafts of TBM Avenger bombers of US Navy that went missing on Dec 5, 1945 while flying over the Atlantic. They were scheduled to go due east from Florida Naval base for 120 miles, then north for 73 miles, and then get back over a final 120-mile route that would return them to the naval base. But strangely they never came back. Adding to the mystery, two rescue Martin Mariner aircraft with 13-man crew were sent to search for the missing flights. But one of the Martin Mariners itself did not return and was never traced again. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1945 - PBM Martin Mariner: Two Martin Mariner planes were sent on the 5th of December 1945 to search for the Flight-19. One did not return.

Please read the story on the below link :

1947 - The C-54 Aircraft: Apparently it would seem to be sudden thunderstorm that would have disintegrated the C-54 plane. But there was much more to the story. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1948 - Tudor Star Tiger: A Tudor Mark IV aircraft disappeared in Bermuda Triangle shortly before it was to land in Bermuda airport in January 1948. 

1948 - Flight DC-3: The flight Douglas DC-3 NC16002 disappeared in Bermuda Triangle when it was only 50 miles south of Florida and about to land in Miami on December 28, 1948. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1954 - Flight 441 Disappearance: The flight 441, a Super Constellation Naval Airliner, disappeared in Bermuda Triangle on October 30, 1954 

Please read the story on the below link :

1963 - Marine Sulphur Queen: This 524-foot carrier of molten sulphur started sail Feb 2, 1963 from Beaumont, Texas with 39 crew. It was reported lost in Florida Straits on Feb 4. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1967 - Witchcraft: A 23-foot cabin cruiser went missing for ever in Bermuda Triangle area on the night of December 22, 1967. The owner took it offshore only to watch the lights of Miami shoreline. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1968 - USS Scorpion: USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Nuclear powered submarine of United States Navy that disappeared in Bermuda Triangle in May 1968.    

Please read the story on the below link :

1971 - Sting-27, a USAF Phantom jet, vanished completely without a trace. Official reports indicated it may have suffered an impact, but the details were never revealed. 

Please read the story on the below link :

1976 - The Sylvia L. Ossa, a 590-foot ore carrier with a crew of 37 disappeared 140 miles from Bermuda.

Please read the story on the below link :

1980 - S.S. Poet -  On October 24, 1980 the S.S. Poet departed Delaware coast bound for Port Said, Egypt.  never to be seen again.

Please read the story on the below link :

1991 - The pilot of a Grumman Cougar jet made a routine radio request to increase altitude. While ascending, the aircraft gradually faded from radar and vanished. 

1999 - The cargo freighter Genesis sent a radio signal to a nearby vessel, indicating a problem with the bilge pump. Despite extensive searches by the Coast Guard, the ship and crew were never seen or heard from again.

2003 - A newly married couple Frank and Romina Leone went for fishing on their brand new 16-foot boat on June 18, 2003. They left from the Boynton beach inlet in Florida but never returned. The US Coast Guard eventually gave up the search & rescue operation after having combed a large part of the sea area for several days.

2005 & 2007 - On two separate incidents, two Piper-PA planes disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle area. One on June 20, 2005 between Treasure Cay island of Bahamas and Fort Pierce of Florida. There were three persons on board. The second incident took place  on April 10, 2007 near Berry Island. Only the pilot was on board and no passengers..

2008 - A Britten-Norman Islander (also known as 3-engine Trislander) took off from Santiago for New York on December 15, 2008 at around 3:30pm with 12 persons on board. After about 35 minutes from take off, the aircraft fell off the radar. A massive search operation was launched by US Coast Guards, but the aircraft was never traced again. Its last known location was about 4 miles west of West Caicos Island. No debris has been found until now. 

The above story of Bermuda Triangle was copied from below web link :


YouTube Videos of Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle Mystery National Geographic Documentary 

Bermuda Triangle Mystery

Bermuda Triangle - The True Story

Flight 19

World of Mysteries - Bermuda Triangle  

Bermuda Triangle in Depth Documentary

Other mysteries of the Sea

Flying Dutchman

The most famous of the phantom vessela supposedly seen in stormy weather off the Cape of Good Hope but now and then reported in other latitudes.

The term "Flying Dutchman refers to the captain, not his ship, Legend has it that this maniacal Dutch sea captain was struggling to round the Cape of Good Hope in the teeth of a terrible gale that threatened to sink his ship and all aboard. The sailors warned him to turn around, the passengers pleaded, but the captain, either mad or drunk, refused to change course. Instead he pressed on, singing loud and obscene songs, before going below to his cabin to drink beer and smoke his pipe. Monstrous waves pummeled the sides of the ship howling winds bent the mast and tore all the sails, but still the captain held his course, challenging the wrath of God Almighty by swearing a blasphemous oath.

Finally, there was a mutiny onboard; the crew and passengers attempted to take control of the ship, but the captain, roused from his drunken stupur, killed the leader of the rebellion and threw him overboard. The moment the body hit the water, the clouds parted, and a shadowy figure materialized on the quarterdeck.

    "You're a very stubborn man, " the shadow said, and the captain answered him  with an cussword.
    "I never asked for a a peaceful passage,"  the captain went on, "I never asked for anything, So             clear off before I shoot you, too."

But the figure didn't move. Drawing his pistol, the captain tried to fire, but the gun exploded in his hand. Now the figure spoke again, and told the captain he was accursed.

 "As a result of your actions you are condemned to sail the oceans for eternity with a ghostly crew of 
   dead men, bringing death to all who sight your spectral ship, and to never make port  or know a 
   moment's peace," the shadows said. "Furthermore, gall shall be your drink, and red hot iron your      meat." The captain, reckless  to the last, cried , "Amen to that"

And so, for centuries from then on, the Flying Dutchman was seen piloting his spectral vessel, it's canvass spread, its mast creaking in a fearful wind. Sometimes, it was said, he led other ships astray, onto rocky shoals and hidden reefs. Also he was said to be responsible for turning sailor's food supplies sour. Hi ship, looking innocent enough, would sometimes draw along side other vessels and send letters aboard. But if the letters were open and read, the ship would founder. Those who saw the captain himself claimed that he was bareheaded and repentant, clasping the wheel on the quarterdeck, pleading the heavens for mercy at last. In the rigging of his ship, some said, they could see a crew of skeletons, grinning miserably as they put on ever more sail.

The tale of the Flying Dutchman has been elaborated by many writers, but it is more than a piece of fiction. The phantom ship has been seen many time --- and there have been reports even in the 20th century, including the crew of a German submarine boat during World War II.

One of the first recorded sightings was by the captain and crew of a British ship in 1835. They recorded that they saw the phantom ship approaching in the blanket of a terrible storm. It came so close that the British crew feared the two ships might run into each other, but then the ghost ship suddenly vanished. 

On 11 July 1881, the Royal Navy ship HMS Bacchante was rounding the tip of Africa, when they sighted the Flying Dutchman. the midshipman a prince who later become King George V, recorded that the lookout man and the officer of the watch had seen the Flying Dutchman.

    "A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the mast, spars and        sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief."

It was a misfortune that the lookout saw the Flying Dutchman, for soon after on the same trip, he accidentally fell from a mast and died. Fortunately for the English royal family, the young midshipman survived the curse.

As recently as March 1939, the ghost ship was seen off the coast of South Africa by dozens of bathers who supplied detailed description of the ship, although most had probably never seen a 17th century merchant vessel. The British South Africa Annual of 1939 included the story, derived from newspaper reports:

    "With uncanny volition, the ship sailed steadily on as the Glencairn beach folk stood about keely 
      discussing the whys and wherefores of the vessel. Just as the excitement reached its climax, 
      however, the mystery ship vanished into thin air as strangely as it had come."

The last recorded sightings was in 1942 off the coast of Capetown. Four witnesses saw the Flying Dutchman sail into Table Bay .... and vanish.

Many authorities have argued that the story of the Flying Dutchman has its origin in a real event, though there is very little agreement about what the event was. Further confusion is brought into the matter by the fact that are many versions of the tale -- in which the ship skipper is variously named Vanderdecken, Van Demien, Van Straaten, Van der Decken, or Van something else. 

Another version of the legend that alledgely originated the whole affair is said to have happened in 1641, when a Dutch ship sank off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope. The story goes that, as the ship approached the tip of Africa, the captain thought that he should make a proposition to the Dutch East India Company (his employer) to start a settlement at the Cape on the tip of Africa, thereby providing a welcome repose to ships at sea. 

He was so deep in thought that he did not notice the dark clouds looming and only when he heard the lookout scream out in terror, did he realize that they had sailed straight into a fierce storm. The captain and his crew battled for hours to get out of the storm and at one stage it looked like they would make it. Then they heard a terrible crunch - the ship had crashed into treacherous rocks and started to sink. As the ship plunged downwards, Captain Van der Decken (or whatever) knew that death was approaching. He was not ready to die and screamed out a curse: "I WILL round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until doomsday! "

And, like in every version of the tale, this one also claims that even today whenever a storm brews off the Cape of Good Hope, if you look into the eye of the storm, you will be able to see the ship and its captain -- The Flying Dutchman. Don't look too carefully, for the old folk claim that whoever sights the ship will die a terrible death.

On yet another version, this one place in the year 1729 (others say 1680), the captain this time swears at the Devil, who then condemns him to sail the spectral seas forever. The Devil left him just one small hope: that only through the love of a woman could he be released from his curse.

So the unfortunate Dutch captain returns to land every seven years in a hopeless search for salvation, because the Flying Dutchman can only find eternal peace in the arms of a faithful woman. 

Wagner's opera "Der fligende Hollander" is loosely based on this version of the legend.

Copied from : 

Flying Dutchman

YouTube Videos of Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman Ghost Ship   

Sailor's Chorus - Richard Wagner, The Flying Dutchman

Washington National Opera presents The Flying Dutchman   


Death Ship: The Ourang Medan Mystery

Ominous tales of ghost ships like the Flying Dutchman and the Mary Celeste have been passed down from one generation of seafarer to the next for centuries, but as eerie as these haunted vessels are alleged to be there is another even more disturbing maritime phenomena that deals not with ships that have been abandoned, but those whose crew have mysteriously perished. Arguably the most disturbing of all these legends is the shocking case of the SS Ourang Medan.

According to widely circulated reports, in June of 1947 — or, according to alternate accounts, February of 1948 — multiple ships traversing the trade routes of the straits of Malacca, which is located between the sun drenched shores of Sumatra and Malaysia, claimed to have picked up a series of SOS distress signals. The unknown ship’s message was as simple as it was disturbing:
“All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.”  This communication was followed by a burst of indecipherable Morse code, then a final, grim message: “I die.” This cryptic proclamation was followed by tomb-like silence.


The chilling distress call was picked up by two American ships as well as British and Dutch listening posts. The men manning these posts managed to triangulate the source of these broadcasts and deduced that they were likely emanating from a Dutch freighter known as the SS Ourang Medan, which was navigating the straits of Malacca.

A conscripted American merchant ship called the Silver Star was closest to the presumed location of the Ourang Medan. Originally christened “Santa Cecilia” by the Grace Line (W. R. Grace & Co.), the vessel had been renamed the Silver Star when the United States Maritime Commission “drafted” it in 1946.

Noting the terrified urgency in the message that came over the airwaves, the Captain and crew of the Silver Star wasted no time in changing their course in an effort to assist the apparently incapacitated ship. Within hours, the Silver Star caught sight of the Ourang Medan rising and falling in the choppy waters of the Malacca Strait.

As the merchant craft neared the ill-omened vessel, the crew noticed that there was no sign of life on the deck. The Americans attempted to hail the Dutch crew to no avail. That’s when the Captain of the Silver Star decided to assemble a boarding party. As they left the safe haven of the Silver Star, these unfortunate souls had no idea that they were about to walk into a living nightmare.

As soon as they boarded the Ourang Medan, the men swiftly realized that the distress calls were not an exaggeration. The decks of the vessel were littered with the corpses of the Dutch crew; their eyes wide, their arms grasping at unseen assailants, their faces twisted into revolting visages of agony and horror. Even the ship’s dog was dead; it’s once intimidating snarl frozen into a ghastly grimace.
The boarding party found the Captain’s remains on the bridge, while his officers’ cadavers were strewn about the wheelhouse and chartroom. The communications officer was still at his post, as dead as the rest, his fingertips resting on the telegraph. All of the corpses, according to reports, bore the same terrified, wide-eyed expressions as the crew on deck.

Below deck, search party members found cadres of corpses in the boiler room, but almost as disturbing as this grim find was the fact that the American crew members claimed to have felt an extreme chill in the nadir of the hold, even though the temperature outside was a scorching 110°F. While the search team could see clear evidence that the crew of the Ourang Medan suffered profoundly at the moment of their deaths, they could find no overt evidence of injury or foul play on the swiftly decaying corpses. Nor could they spy any damage to the ship itself.

The Captain of the Silver Star decided that they would tether themselves to the Ourang Medan and tow it back to port, but as soon as the crew attached the tow line to the Dutch ship they noticed ominous billows of smoke pouring up from the lower decks, in specific the Number 4 hold.

The boarding party scarcely had a chance to cut the towline and make it back to the Silver Star before the Ourang Medan exploded with such tremendous force that it “lifted herself from the water and swiftly sank.

The crew watched the Dutch vessel disappear beneath the briny depths, no doubt breathing deep sighs of relief that the towline had not dragged them into the sea as well.

The watery grave that claimed the Ourang Medan effectively removed the freighter from the face of the Earth and forced it directly into the realm of myths and legends. This, of course, has made it one of the most enduring and intriguing maritime mysterious of the modern age, leaving us to ask the most basic question…


While rumors about the Silver Star’s grisly discovery circulated wildly along the trade routes of the East Indies, the first official account of the event would not be printed until May of 1952, in the form of the “Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council,” which was published by the United States Coast Guard. The testimony therein described the alarming state of the Dutch crewmen, even going so far as to state:

Please continue reading at the below web link :



YouTube Videos of SS Ourang Medan

S.S. Ourang Medan

Mystery - The Ourang Medan

El Misterio Del Barco SS Ourang Medan