Kabayan Mummies Burial Cave – Philippines

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

The Kabayan Mummies, also known as the Fire Mummies, of the Philippines can be found in the caves of Kabayan.  The corpses in the caves are probably one of the most unique in the antiquity of Earth’s civilization.  The process of mummification began before death, where a person would ingest a salty liquid.  Immediately after death, the corpse was washed and placed over a file, drying out all of the fluids.  Tobacco smoke was also blown into the mouth to dry out the internal organs.  Herbs were then the final step and rubbed all over the dehydrated corpse as a means of preservation.  The corpse was then placed into a pinewood coffin, transported to the burial cave, and laid to rest within the cave’s natural niches.  The entire burial process is estimated to take several weeks to months to finish.

The mummies are believed to have been first created between 1200 by the Ibaloi tribe.  This mummification process slowly died out in the 1500 AD after Spain colonization of the Philippines.

Over time, the burial caves have become an endangered location because up until the 21st century, the caves were left unprotected.  Vandals and grave robbers were the main culprits to the mummies’ desecration.  There are only about 50-80 mummies left within the caves, and their whereabouts have not been disclosed to prevent further vandalization.  Several of the mummies are on display at the Kabayan museum.

An obscure place to visit, for sure.  However, the care and love that went into the mummification process is simply beautiful.

I was not able to find any creative commons photos to post nor a video that had a good enough quality.  So please search for “Kabayan Mummies” or “Fire Mummies of Kabayan” and look at the search result photos.  The mummies are absolutely breathtaking – in a good way.

 Like this post?  Click here to see other “Before I die… Bucket List for the Macabre” posts.


Centralia, Pennsylvania

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

This week’s “Before I Die…” post excites me as it is a location that I have actually visited.  Centralia, Pennsylvania is a modern-day ghost town and real life Silent Hill.  Yep, you heard me right, a real life Silent Hill.  Walking through town, knowing the world burns beneath your feet, you are on edge.  If you have seen the Silent Hill movies or played the video games, you can’t help to feel a panic in your chest, waiting for that air siren to sound.

In 1962, a fire started in an interconnected coal vein underneath the town and it has been burning ever since.  The fire is expected to continue burning for the next 1,000 years.  Before the fire started, the town had a population that was over 1100.  In the 1980s, the town had been almost completely evacuated.  Only about 11 residents remain – refusing to leave.  The buildings that are left, are uninhabited and are slowly falling into decay.

Centralia feels like it is not a part of this world.  Smoke and steam rise from gaping cracks in the Earth.  Heat radiates from the ground.  Your eyes and nose burn from the toxins in the air.  Silence eerily commands the air.  It truly feels like you are on the cusp of stepping into Hell.

I went through several videos, and found this one that resonated best with my experience visiting Centralia.  If you ever find yourself near Centralia, Pennsylvania, I highly recommend visiting the area.  However, a word of caution, the area is hazardous.  Steam escaping from the cracks in the Earth can be laced with toxins, which can be extremely dangerous if breathed in.  Also, the ground is in subsidence.  There is always a chance that the ground could give way beneath your feet.  Under no circumstances should you visit this area alone.


Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

I hate to admit that today’s location is still on my “Before I Die…” macabre bucket list.  Eastern State Penitentiary is only 45 minutes from my doorstep and I still have yet to step foot within the walls.  Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eastern State has a 142-year history that is absolutely full of murder, torture, disease, insanity, and suicide.  The most sorrowful portion of the prison was the area used for solitary confinement.  Known as  “the Hole”, Eastern State’s version of solitary confinement was to be used as a means of rehabilitation.  Inmates transported to or from “the Hole” were garbed in a black hood, restricting visual contact.  “The Hole” was comprised of underground cells that were without with light, human contact, and toilets.  However, inmates were granted a minimal amount of food and air.  It is no wonder why so many inmates who were locked away in “the Hole” were driven to madness.

Sadly, prisoners outside of “the Hole” did not fare much better.  Torture and inmate abuse was rampant within Eastern State.  There are records of inmates being dunked in water baths and then put outside in frigid cold temperatures until ice formed on their skin.  Some were tied into a chair so tight that circulation was cut off to extremities, which later lead to amputations.  And then there were those inmates who had their arms and legs strapped from behind and an iron gag placed in their mouth.  Any movement caused the iron gag to cut and tear an inmates tongue.

It is no wonder that Eastern State Penitentiary is ranked as one of the most haunted places on the planet.  Violence and torture was in excess causing the prison itself to be filled such pain, agony, and sorrow.

If you should ever find yourself wandering around the cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary, be sure to check out these “haunted”  locations:

Cellblock 12 – known for echoing disembodied voices

Cellblock 6 – known for a shadowy figure that darts across the alls

Cellblock 4 – known for disembodied, ghostly faces

However, if you cannot access these locations on a tour, don’t worry, the rest of the penitentiary will not disappoint.  All across the entire prison and grounds there have been sightings of guards in unmanned towers, echoing footsteps, wails, whispers, and ghostly touching.

St. Patrick’s Purgatory

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

I hate to admit it, but I failed to produce on today’s “Before I Die…”.  And I am especially upset with myself because today wraps up the “Gateway to Hell” series.  I didn’t have a post written ahead of time, and my experience over these last few days has left me a little fried in the realm of writing.  Since last Wednesday, I have driven over 800 miles, wrote 42,000 words for my 1st novel, and started outlining the second.  Needless to say, I am surprised I can form coherent sentences at this point.

However, I will leave you with a link to Wikipedia to the location that I was going to talk about today.  I specifically saved this one for last because out of the entire “Gateway to Hell” series, I should hopefully be visiting this place within the next 2-3 years!

St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Lough Derg, County Donegal, Ireland

I hope that you have enjoyed the “Gateway to Hell” series on “Before I Die…” Mondays.  Sorry the series ended in such a sucky way.  I am extremely excited about the topic I have for next week.  Won’t be giving any spoilers except that it may be the most haunting place we discuss on Before I Die.

Now I am off to curl up with King’s Pet Semetary and veg out for the rest of the day.

P.S.:  If you have commented on any of my posts last week and I had not yet replied, I will be getting back to you later this week.  I saw some exciting comments about the monster posts and am looking forward to replying.


Cape Matapan and Diros Cave

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

Cape Matapan (also known as Cape Tainaron) is a small mass of land located at the end of the Manai Peninsula in Greece.  Diros cave, located on the very tip of the cape, is believed to be the front door to Hades’ abode, his classic Underworld of Greek mythology.

To the Spartans, this area was a place of worship where human sacrifices were slain and dedicated to the Sea-God, Poseidon, whose realm merges with the entrance to Hades’ Underworld.  Vast temples to the Gods were erected on the cape.  One specifically dedicated to Poseidon was built directly above the gateway to the underworld.  The temple may have served as a place to encourage protection by the Sea-God to keep watch over the God of the Underworld’s front door.  To ensure the door stays closed, keeping the dead contained within the Underworld.

According to mythology, Diros cave is where Hercules passed into the underworld on one of his adventures.  Also, Orpheus entered through this cave to search for his lost lover, Euridice.  The cave may also be the most epic “doggie-door” in existence.  In the 2nd Century A.D., Greek geographer Pausanias described the site as:

In the bend of the seaboard one comes, first, to a headland that projects into the sea, Taenarum, with its temple of Poseidon situated in a grove; and secondly, near by, to the cavern through which, according to the myth-writers, Cerberus was brought up from Hades by Herakles.

Needless to say, the pictures of Diros cave are quite breathtaking and have a surreal sense of something sinister hiding in the vast, dark shadows.  I am sure secrets are abound within the earthen walls.  The cave has only been superficially explored.  A path could exist, hidden deep within the bowels of the cave, that leads into the Underworld.

Check out the beautiful pictures of Diros cave on TripAdvisor.


On Wednesday, I am unplugging from everything (e.g., work, blogs, TSM, Twitter, FaceBook, etc.) and escaping to Vermont for a few days to focus on my novel.  There will be no post on Thursday (October 23rd) or Saturday (October 25th).  However, I will not leave you completely bored.  I have a video queued to post on Thursday.
Have a great week and see you next Monday!!