National Geographic’s new series “I Wouldn’t Go In There” explores the historical backgrounds of Asian locations that are reportedly haunted. Unlike many paranormal-themed reality programs, however, it has an analytical tone and a skeptic for a host.
Korean-American blogger and “urban explorer” Robert Joe, or RJ, visits sites considered haunted by locals. In an episode that featured the Clark Air Base Hospital in Pampanga, RJ interviewed witnesses of spectral activity, as well as history experts. The episode aired in the last week of August, while the rerun aired last Tuesday.
It showed reenactments of hauntings, and an interview with an aging former security guard. RJ’s research unearthed little-known facts about the base’s history. He later concluded that while he is unsure of the apparitions, the dark past of the place yielded disturbing wartime facts.
“The host brings a lot to the table, and is very different from the regular mold of National Geographic documentaries, which is usually just a voice over or a static host or presenter,” Fox International Channels’ territory director Jude Turcuato told the Inquirer.
The 10-episode series is also uniquely presented in terms of visuals, Turcuato added: “The way the program is produced and edited lends to a more entertaining viewing experience with fast cuts, a lot of motion.”
“I Wouldn’t Go In There” was launched in August, at the hospital site in Pampanga, attended by members of the press and bloggers. A volunteer group of clairvoyants and psychics, the Esoteric Society of the Philippines (ESP), accompanied the guests.
“We needed a group that had experience in dealing with haunted places to give perspective on the location,” said Turcuato. “It is a sensitive matter and we felt having them there might give everyone peace of mind as we explored the actual site. And they thought the episode was very well-researched and entertaining.”
In an e-mail interview, ESP co-founder Chiqui Martinez elaborated on the group’s participation during the event: “We were invited by the people of NatGeo to give a short talk about the spirit world and to facilitate the guests and staff to a protection exercise which is basically a visualization or visual imagery exercise.”
Martinez added that her group was no stranger to skepticism. “We have encountered lots of [skeptics] in the years that we have been psychic volunteers,” she said.
The group, however, appreciated the inquisitive nature of the show and its focus on different Asian locations. “We have so much to offer—Asian culture is very rich and there are a lot of mysteries that we can unravel,” Martinez said.
In other episodes, RJ investigates different eerie sites in the region, such as a school in Hong Kong, an air base in Japan, and a cave in Taiwan. The cable series is considered well-received in the Philippines.
“The premiere episode got solid ratings and the replays were able to sustain viewership so there was general acceptance,” Turcuato revealed. “I do think that the general analytical tone was not what the Philippine audience expected as the show was not meant to scare people but to find out more.”
(“I Wouldn’t Go In There” airs Fridays, 9 p.m. on National Geographic. Repeats air Fridays,
8 p.m.; Sundays, 11 p.m.; and Mondays, 10:20 a.m. )