"Kafagway" - "Bigyiw"
Baguio City, Philippines
"Siak ket "Igorot"... My name is Basho Fat Sumo. I have lived in California since 1972, San Diego is now my hometown and I currently work in Long Beach with an Aerospace Company supporting the USAF Tanker Program, a job I held since 1982. I came to the United States in 1967 to serve time in the U.S. military.
Thank you for visiting this page. This is all about Baguio City, which is used to be known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines or the City of Pines. I hoped reading through this site you will learn something about this beautiful city and the people who call Baguio their “home”. It was also home to some of our elders in our family clan before settling here in the states.
You probably want to know why I decided to add this article to this homepage. There is really no other special reason except that I spent time in this City, and I like the people who live there and I can certainly trace my roots, since; I still have three sisters and a brother that still lives there, including nephews and nieces. My wife Connie is also from Baguio. My parents and my fourth younger brother as well as my mother-in-law, the late Emerita L. O. who have gone in their resting place are all buried there. My father-in-law "Akong" Ciriaco O. who is gracefully enjoying leisure life still lives there too.
Basho Fat Sumo 1999
Although I was born in another place, it was in Baguio City where I stayed the longest during my entire residence in the Philippines ... a total of 25 years. I have met many friends, warm, hospitable and peaceful people in this city, as a matter of fact; some of them were my schoolmates. It is sad to note though that only a few of them are around. Some have moved out of Baguio and there are some of them who are gone now. Whenever I visit Baguio I now see new and unfamiliar faces ... but they are still friendly. It wasn't like before when I knew almost everyone I would encounter while walking up and down the main street of Session Road. The familiar faces of the City policemen, matter of fact one was an elementary classmate of mine that I used to see in the streets are nowhere now. The waiters in the coffee shops, taxi drivers, the bank tellers, vendors in the market, and the postal clerks are all new faces now, the City in time has changed.
In the early part of 1967 I left Baguio City with the thought that this city will progress and will not be a victim of decadent mismanagement. I had some pictures and other mementos of the City that I took with me and the other day, going through some of these old pictures, I came across one old post card. I have some new recent pictures of Session Road and I aligned it with the old post card and what a difference it was now compared then. Session road is the main thoroughfare in this previously small town of Baguio City. The below photo is of the area where at least three of the major streets converge, and it was literally the center of town. It was, and still is, where most of the commerce is located. The large building in the forefront looks like it was being used as a market place. The purpose to a large extent remains the same to this day, but a shopping mall is now in its place. I am sure some of the pioneering Uncles, Aunties “Manongs” and “Manangs” will have a better memory than I; they are veritable walking historians of Baguio City.
Aerial View of Baguio City
View of Baguio from the low land in the province of Pangasinan
Old picture of Session Road 1950
Baguio's Session Road is worth a day. The street is the heartbeat of Baguio's commercial life - with bazaars and cafes, bookshops and banks, department stores and movies theaters. The public market at the bottom of Session Road is among the city's most interesting places.
When I was growing up, Baguio City was just a small town where everyone knows who you are. Our parents operated a tailor dress shop where our Mom made dress to fit. Her customers would walked-in, get measured, pick the clothing material and had their dress or outfit made to fit. While the shop is open for business, my older brother and I roamed around the town, to the city market, to the park, to the town plaza, around the theaters and we couldn't get beyond a couple of blocks before someone who knew our parents spotted us and told us not to venture too far. This is unfathomable now, in this day and age, but as young as 10 or 7 years old, we used to roam the town.
The whole town was our playground, and our Mom had no worries because she knew someone was always watching us. The phrase "it takes a village to raise children". That was apt then, when we get on a jeepney, the driver would inevitably be one of our Dad's many friends and acquaintances. Instead of paying the fare, we end up getting a couple of cents for a snack. When we decide to suddenly drop in on someone's business shop or home, we were guaranteed at least a snack if not a full meal. Most of the time we also got a ride home or at the very least jeepney fare. Everyone was an Aunt or an Uncle, although not necessarily biological. We just called all of our parent's friends Auntie or Uncle, out of respect. Roaming the town during my time, I did not have any of the three “C’s” then that my children have today. A “car”, a “cellular phone” and a “computer” and yet my parents didn’t worry about my whereabouts and I was always home on time. The city operated the towering bullhorn that sent out a blasting sound at six o’clock PM and is heard all over the city, calling out everyone to stay in-placed to say a prayer, it was called “Angelus” a moment to pray. That was also the time; we come home from playing and to be on time for the family dinner. This towering bullhorn also sent signals during the rainy season, alerting everyone that a typhoon is fast approaching. Successive intermittent signals indicated the severity of the incoming storm; this was much like during World War II when the signal sound is sent out notifying everyone about an imminent attack to the city. Today this signal alert is no longer use.
A major earthquake devastated Baguio City on July 16, 1990. Many old and new buildings were leveled to the ground and numerous people died. All the three major access roads leading to the mountain resort were closed and many visitors and residents leaving or coming back to the city were stranded. All incoming and outgoing flights were limited only to aircraft involved in rendering aid and assistance to the residents. There were no commercial flights available and the city was left with no means of transportation for getting in or out of Baguio.
In the days that followed, the people of Baguio were running low on food, supplies, and their other basic necessities. There was no electricity and the supply of water was getting to be very scarce. Somehow the residents were determined to go on with their lives. There was continued fear among the residents when the earthquake aftershocks persisted. They comforted each other and they still had their high hopes for their safety and the future of their city. Throughout the difficult months that followed, the people worked hard to put their city back into what it was before ... if not even better.
(Cathedral *Burnham Park *City Hall *St. Louis University)
This is the city that I can remember as a beautiful mountain village surrounded by sun-kissed clouds and blessed with an abundance of raindrops in the light of the early afternoons. In my younger years, I used to climb up the mountain top near our home where I felt the refreshing coolness of the twilight dusk and while watching the glorious sunset slowly disappear from the mountain ranges of violet, orange-red and hazy gray rim was an awesome sight and the coastline of the lower provinces was very visible. Serene peace and quiet was this city as I remember where after enjoying the sunset; the night brings to you the sense of security that the next day the flowers will bloom and the scent of the pine trees permeate the solitude of the city in all its beauty and natural splendor.
I remember that this city was once the Mecca of tourist, where low-landers from the north and south come up to this city to escape the heat and enjoy the nice cool comforting weather during summer. I used to make money out from these tourists, selling wood carvings, crystals and pyrites from the mines, as a tour guide and as a photographer taking pictures as they posed in one of the many scenic spots of Burnham Park. (I demanded initial deposit from these tourists and yet my camera didn’t have any film, it was broken) Making money out of these tourists that flocks the city was easy for me, despite the fact that they are coming from all over the country, some are rich who owns summer homes in the city, some are visitors escaping their hot and humid weather to experience the cool summer breeze of the city and others are just there to see what it’s like to mingle and haggle prices with the locals. They look upon the locals as “igorots”, thinking it is easy to look down on us (locals) and thought we’re uneducated and basically can out smart us. I remember donning a “g-string” and walked around town only to have my picture taken by the tourist and I easily demanded money to have a picture taken of me with them. I remember a particular tourist; saying I had a picture taken with an “Igorot boy” wearing a “g-string”!!! Unbeknownst to this tourist, I understood his local dialect and even demanded money to him in plain English… I say naïve as they are, even coming from a metropolitan city.
My daughter and nieces donning traditional clothings during their first visit in 2005
Today the city is creeping into an ugly sough, the scent of the pine trees is gone and constantly creeping into the din and rush of passenger vehicles, honking and creating gridlocks in every corner where they can pick up passengers, jeeps, taxis and buses roaring stridently against the deterred and dilapidated buildings that simply rent their top level for atrocious billboards that shadows the gloom of the city streets into a back dark alleyways. I remember these city streets, where as a child I roamed familiar corners without fear is now populated with vendors and vagrants who simply just make the streets into a slum with graffiti splattered walls claiming territorial claims. This city is actually now a center of dubious cafes, basement night clubs catering to prostitution and streetwise children are out for crime thrills. It seems the public officials indeed vacated their support to the city, it seems like everything I can remember about this once beautiful city is gone!
With its cool weather, scenic mountain views, and pine-scented air, Baguio was to me the best place to live in. I have since then considered Baguio as my hometown and it will always remain this way. There is just nothing like it elsewhere in the country to work for a living and start a family of yours in this beautiful place.
Camp John Hay 13th US Air Force Base 1950
John Hay Air Station, more commonly known as Camp John Hay, was a major Hill Station located in Baguio City used for rest and recreation for personnel and dependents of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines as well as Department of Defense employees and their dependents. It was last run by the United Air Force. While officially designated a communications station, the facility was mainly used for rest and recreation. The facility housed The American Residence as well as Broadcasting facilities of the Voice of America.
John Hay Air Station was established on October 25, 1903 after President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order setting aside land in Benguet for a military reservation under the United States Army. The reservation was named after Roosevelt's Secretary of State, John Milton Hay. For a time, elements of the 1st Battalion of the Philippine Division’s 43rd Infantry Regiment were stationed here. Prior to World War II , a number of buildings had been constructed on base, including a U.S. Army Hospital and the summer residence of the Governor-General of the Philippines, later to be known as The American Residence, which is now used as the summer house of the United States Ambassador to the Philippines.
World War II
At the onset of World War II, the camp was used as an internment camp for Japanese civilians who were rounded up in Baguio and nearby provinces on the suspicion that they were spies.On the 8 December 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, eighteen Japanese planes, 17 of them in formation, came over Camp John Hay. This force dropped 128 bombs, many of which did not explode.The first Japanese bomb to be dropped on the Philippines hit the Main Gate and the succeeding bombs hit the Half Way House, the Mile High Club, the left wing of the Main Club and portions of the Scout Hill area, which housed the stockade and barracks of the Philippine Scouts.
The Japanese set up their first concentration camp in the Philippines at Camp John Hay. A group of more than 500 men, women and children was crowded into one building. The group consisted of missionaries, miners and two Army nurses. The missionaries had been evacuated from China the preceding year and had established a language school in the Philippines while awaiting the opportunity to return to China. The miners, some of whom were actually lumbermen, had been living and working near Baguio. The Army nurses were those first captured after their unsuccessful attempt to escape to Manila via the logging trail out of Baguio.
The building, which the Japanese selected for the prisoners, was an old barracks that had not been used by the Army for several years because it was declared unsafe for occupancy. Designed for 50 men, the building now housed the prisoners, making the only walking space a small aisle in the center. Bedding was on the floor and each bed was rolled into a bundle during the day to allow for more space. After a few weeks, because of the obvious need, an additional building was obtained for male internees.
The first project for the weary prisoners was to clean the building. Water had to be carried for one mile as the water main had been broken during the bombing. Drinking water was boiled as chemicals were not available. Lack of water, outside latrines, lack of screens for doors and windows, crowded buildings and the general lethargy of the prisoners contributed to poor sanitation. Due to poor sanitation, intestinal diseases soon developed. Dysentery became so prevalent among the children, and adults as well, that a small dispensary was set up in the barracks. Many of the original buildings, which were used as prisons still stand, such as the building now occupied by the Lonestar Steakhouse, the Base Chapel and the adjoining rows of cottages.
(During World War II, the cathedral served as an evacuation center. It withstood the carpet-bombing of Baguio City in 1940-44. The remains of thousands of bombing victims during the war are interred within the grounds of the cathedral.)
Did you know that the bells of the Baguio Cathedral had names? In 1924, when the twin towers of the Cathedral were built, four bells from Belgium were donated by Judge J. W. Haussermann and A. Walter Beam. The bells were consecrated in an impressive ceremony officiated by the late Rev. Fr. Florimund Carlu in 1932. They were named after St. John, St. Patrick, patron of Baguio City, and St. Walterius. The remaining bell was believed to have been brought elsewhere.
The Baguio Cathedral was established through the efforts of three members of a mission of the Congregacio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) who came up to Baguio on November 16, 1907: Rev. Fr. Oktaaf Vandelwalle, Fr. Serafin Devesse, and Fr. Henry Verbeck. They were welcomed into La Trinidad by a certain Mr. Petrelli, and their mission was to build a Catholic church on the house of a respected retired treasurer along Session Road. The first baptism recorded was held on the living room of this house which turned out to be a temporary chapel dedicated to St. Patrick. The said baptism was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Oktaaf Vandelwalle on a child named William Lewis on November 25, 1907.
Fr. Serafin Devesse stood as the first rector of the mission. In 1908, he remodeled the retired treasurer’s house into a chapel, a convent, and a school for boys. By 1911, more and more students came to this school for boys, which eventually grew to become Saint Louis University.
Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Baguio is also the patron saint of Ireland. His feast day is on March 17, which is also called Saint Paddy’s Day in those parts. Saint Patrick is also venerated by the Anglicans, the Orthodox Church, and the Lutherans. He was not formally canonized by a Pope, but he is declared a saint by various Christian churches. This was because in the early years of Christianity, canonizations were done on the diocesan or regional level. Soon after the death of people conceived to be holy, the local churches affirm that they could be liturgically celebrated as saints.
The site where the cathedral currently stands was a hill referred to as “Kampo” by the Ibaloi people. In 1907, a Catholic mission was established by Belgian missionaries from the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae, who named the site Mount Mary. Construction on the cathedral itself was begun in 1920, under the leadership of the then-parish priest, Fr. Florimono Carlu. The building was completed by 1936, and consecrated that year, dedicated to Our Lady of Atonement.
The cathedral has a distinct pink facade with a rose window and twin square bell towers with pyramidal roofs. Within its large courtyard is a view deck that overlooks Session Road and the downtown commercial district of Baguio City. The cathedral is accessible to pedestrians from Session Road through a 100-step stone staircase, or through the adjacent campus of Saint Louis University. Renovations beginning in 2006 have included the industrial-type canopy surrounding the entirety of the fragile historic structure, the covered stairway from Session Road that now obstructs the view of the Church from Session Road, a new Plaza in front of the Church complete with parachute on special days to block souvenir photographs, new shrine for candle offerings, repaved paid-parking areas, and relocated main gate. Some day, I would like to re-visit the Cathedral, it was here that my parents were married, it was also; the Church where I was Baptized and Confirmed a Roman Catholic.
The Baguio Cathedral is also distinct for probably being the only Cathedral in the world that owns and operates its own shopping center, called Porta Vaga, partially built from donations from church-goers, coyed into thinking they were building a supporting wall for the hillside that collapsed during the earthquake of 16 July 1990.
*Did you know that Wright Park, a Baguio landmark famous for its ponies for hire, was named after Governor General Luke Edward Wright of Tennessee who was inaugurated on February 1, 1904 to replace William Howard Taft? Following Taft’s departure, Wright prioritized the need for industrial railroads and transportation in the country. His avowed policy of “equal opportunities to all” was welcomed by everyone as this encouraged more concessions to business and foreign capital. It was evident that he inclined more towards industrial development than to the political training of the Filipinos or to public instruction. Succeeding Wright as Secretary of Commerce and the Police was William Cameron Forbes of Massachusetts, then a young man of thirty four. Forbes was an experienced businessman, having participated in the financial reorganization of electric roads and similar business in the United States. Forbes would later contribute immensely to the development of Baguio, contributing even his personal and family wealth to projects such as the Kennon Road and the establishment of the Baguio Country Club. Postscript: Congress by Act of Feb. 6, 1905, or the “Cooper Act,” changed the designation of the chief executive of the Philippines from Civil Governor to that of Governor-General.
Source: Adam Borja baguio2009.wordpress
Japanese Forces Surrendered
The surrender of Japanese Forces under General Tomoyuki Yamashita used the American Residence as his headquarters and official residence up until 03 September 1945. He surrendered to Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita used the American Residence as his headquarters and official residence. On April 26, 1945, Baguio City and Camp John Hay fell into American hands. Combined Filipino and American forces pursued the retreating Japanese into the forests of the Benguet Mountains. Finally, on September 03, 1945 Yamashita surrendered to General Jonathan Wainwright at the American Residence. British General Arthur Percival stood as witness. These two Generals, who were both defeated by Yamashita, especially flew up to Baguio to accept the surrender of Yamashita.
Just before the facility was turned over to the Philippines, it had 290 fully-furnished rooms in the different cottages, duplexes, apartments, and lodges, which are scattered about the complex. Some of these billeting units were equipped with color television sets, refrigerators, and cooking facilities.
The base's popular spots are the 19th Tee, Halfway House, Scout Hill baseball field, Main Club (also known as Officer's Building), and the well-known Mile-Hi Recreation Center. It was off-limits to the general public, except for some who had access due to connections or official business.
Camp John Hay was formally turned over to the Philippine government on July 1, 1991 and was initially administered by the Philippine Government and then turned over to the Bases conversion development authority.
The American Residence
The American Residence was constructed in 1940 and was envisioned to be the summer residence of the Governor-General of the Philippines. With the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines the American Residence became the summer residence of the United States High Commissioner to the Philippines and with the granting of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, became the summer residence of the United States Ambassador to the Philippines.
When the Americans turned over John Hay to the Philippines, the Philippine Government reportedly requested the U.S. Government to include The American Residence in the transfer; this request was denied by the Americans. During Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone's term, the U.S. State Department wanted to give up the residence because it was costing too much to maintain. The Ambassador was able to convince the State Department to keep it because of its historical value.
During the term of Ricciardone, the Philippines' National Historical Institute installed a marker on the residence, which reads:
There's also the Camp John Hay golf course; 18 holes in the mountain air. The camp used to be a recreation spot for U.S. troops. Or there's Burnham Lake; the man made body of water in the heart of town is a popular place to picnic or paddle around in a small boat.
Gone is Camp John Hay, the Brent School, gone is the locus of everyone’s dream and the focus of everyone’s mind about this once lovely city, it is currently in deterioration. Gone are the mountains where once spread and layered with pine trees where its beauty and natural splendors are now raped with illegally built shanty "squatter" houses. Gone is the beauty of Burnham Park, gone are the support of politicians or lack thereof in support or lack of definitive concept of what was wanted, lack of integrity of the ancillary services that are needed in the park administration like the permits and licenses, lack of unity among the council members, and most damaging of all – abundance of intrigues and stupidity, all these prevent the efficient implementation of some very good ideas of sincere volunteers. Gone are the catalyst people whose beloved support about the city in regards to everyone’s needs, cares for, lives for, abscond to favorable condition or perhaps reconstruction.
There are many fond and nostalgic memories of my stay in this city. It has been a very fruitful and memorable experience for me. I am most thankful that at one time I have had the opportunity to live in this city. This is the reason that I have taken it upon myself to add this on this homepage as a way of expressing an appreciation and gratefulness as well as for the young ones in our family clan who have not seen the place and can trace their roots from there.
(Basho Fat Sumo's visit in 1997)
View the different landmarks and scenic sites portrayed in this website and see what it is that makes Baguio City a favorite among foreign and local visitors alike. Don't miss to check out Baguio revisited in January-February 2004, when Connie (3rd from right) accompanied by her sister Celia with her husband Marcel; her brother Cesar with his wife Gloria visited the City on vacation. Portrayed are the latest photographs of the parks and gardens of Baguio, the different landmarks and scenic attractions, a glimpse of what is seen along Session Road, the Baguio Educational Center which was a flourishing business, the family clan run and at the Baguio Public Market. There are also other pictures that Connie has taken while visiting the outskirt of the city during her visit.
With its cool weather, friendly residents, clean environment, scenic mountain views, and pine-scented air, Baguio is not only one of the best places to visit when in the Philippines but also the most suitable city to be a resident of. A friend of mine, Raymond Inaba said, "Of all the places I visited in the Philippines, to me, Baguio City is the grandest of all. Maybe it is the Igorot ancestors of years gone by that supplies the evanescent glow one feels in this magical city. As a visitor, I cannot compare Baguio with any city I know in the USA. It is a city that is unique and one of its kind. I like Baguio and its godsend people.
The region around Baguio was first settled by the Cordilleranos, primarily the Kankane-y, Ibaloi, and Itogon tribes. In nearby La Trinidad, the Spaniards established a commandante or military garrison, although Kafagway, as Baguio was once known, was barely touched. On 1901, the Americans together with the engineering feat of John Kennon built the first road directly connecting Kafagway with the lowlands of Pangasinan-before this, the only road to Kafagway is the Naguilian Road, now known as the Quirino Highway. On September 1, 1909, due partly to the creation of Camp John Hay, Baguio was declared a chartered city. It was planned according to the American architect Burnham, but the latter's plan was used only to a little extent, primarily due to the hilly terrain of the city. The Americans declared Baguio the Summer Capital of the Philippines and The Mansion as the residence of the American governor-general during the summer to escape Manila's heat. The Americans further developed Baguio, building such parks and public structures like Wright Park, Burnham Park, Governor Pack Road, Session Road, Assumption Road, and other public structures.
The Geography of Baguio
Baguio City, the only city in the Province of Benguet, is 177 miles north of Metro Manila. It is located in the south central part of Benguet and nestled on a 4500-feet high plateau in the Cordillera mountain range of northern Luzon. The city, which has an area of 43 square miles of prime property, is highly urbanized. It has a rugged and sloping terrain dotted with pine trees.
Baguio's Cool Climate
The climate of Baguio City is cool and crisp and offers a fine respite from the dust, heat and bustle of the nearby lowland areas. It has only two seasons of about equal duration throughout the year - the wet and dry seasons. The dry season begins in November and ends in April and the wet season extends from May to October.
Its residents from November up to February feel the coldest months and during the wet season the rainfall is extra heavy. This varying climatic condition is attributed to its high elevation above sea level. It is in July and August when it gets to be very wet in Baguio. Records show that its rainfall is about twice as much as that occurring in Metro Manila. In July, 1992 the rainfall in the city measured 5-6 inches and this is one of the heaviest on record in the Philippines.
Baguio is about 10 degrees cooler on the average on any month than any place in the lower provinces. The average temperature is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. It seldom exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit at its warmest, and drops to as low as 59 degrees Fahrenheit in the colder months.
Lately, however, with recent residential, commercial and industrial
developments, many pine trees have been cut down that the City of Baguio
is no longer as cool as it used to be. A warm sweater is necessary during the cold months. During summer, light
casual clothing is recommended, with a jacket or sweater for late afternoons
and evenings when the air gets a little nippy. To keep cozy in the colder
months light woolen or warm clothing should be worn. During the rainy
season, raincoats, rubber boots, and sturdy umbrellas are important and
Under The Spanish Colonizers
It was sometime in the first half of the 19th century when Spanish colonizers started to explore the mountains of Northern Luzon. What they saw was a land of fertile valleys, pine-clad hills and mountains, lush vegetation, and an abundance of minerals such as copper, gold and ore. Stories about this new discovery spread fast in the capital that Spanish friars, soldiers, and even fortune hunters started trekking up to the mountains. They came to explore and conquer the region, convert the natives to Christianity, and exploit the rich natural resources available.
Grotto of Lourdes 1950
The Spanish colonial government did not find it easy to immediately establish their authority in the region. They realized that the proud mountain people were difficult to rule and subdue. In the beginning, they had numerous encounters and skirmishes with fierce mountain tribes. When the Spanish colonizers started dividing the land into local government units called"commandancias," the natives objected and refused to be a part of it. Instead, they moved higher and deeper into the mountains. Realizing this problem, the Spaniards decided to divide the land into "rancherias" and placed it under the responsibility of the landed aristocracy.
Mawmaw embraced Christianity and was baptized under the sponsorship of a Spanish comandante named Enrique Oraa. He was thus christened Pablo Carino. In the christening ceremony, Pablo Carino was with Dangvis, the most distinguished of Apulog Minse’s children. Dangvis received the name Enrique Ortega. From his marriage with Kabingkut, he became the father of Bayosa (also called Sa-but).
Pablo Carino’s eldest son, who was also present in the baptism ceremony, was christened as Juan Carino Oraa, elder brother of Mateo Carino.
Under Emilio Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government, he served as provincial Governor of Benguet. From 1916 to his death in 1923, he represented the Mountain Province (old name of the Cordillera Administrative Region) in Congress.
Mateo Carino would later marry Bayosa and be gifted with nine children; the eldest of whom was Sioco, born in 1877 and in whose honor is named present day Baguio’s Campo Sioco. Their fourth child, Dr. Jose Carino, would later become mayor of Baguio City.
The Arrival of the Americans
When the Americans first came to Baguio in 1900, it was not yet even a town. It was then only a farm ranch whose dominant feature was a large, low-lying area called Kafagway. There were only a few houses and there were no roads. Mateo Carino who was at that time the wealthiest man in Benguet Province owned the ranch. During the dry season it was a pasture for herds of cattle and horses, but much of the year, it was a marshland with a shallow lake where residents hunted for ducks and snipes. Kafagway roughly covered the same area as the present city.
You can also visit Mansion House, the former summer residence of the American governor-general of the Philippines. Today it is the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines.
The Americans found Baguio an ideal site for a future city and a summer retreat from the sweltering heat of the lowlands. The hills were grassy and studded with pine trees and above all it had a cool and pleasant climate. The Americans also found a good source of water to supply the needs of a city. Gov. William Howard Taft and other officials did not hesitate to propose that this be the location for the summer capital and health resort of the Philippines.
In November 1900, the Americans established the first civil government in Benguet. Kafagway was designated as the capital and was later renamed to Baguio. This new name was apparently derived from the native Ibaloi word"bigyiw," which is a moss-like green plant that grew around the area where Burnham Park is now located. Plans were immediately made to construct the first road to connect Manila with the mountain regions. This project was started in 1901 and Maj. L. Kennon was designated to supervise the construction of the Bued Canyon route, which was later called the Benguet Road. This access road was completed three years later and ultimately renamed as Kennon Road, in honor of its builder.
On June 1, 1903, a resolution was passed by the American colonial government, naming the town of Baguio as the summer capital of the Philippine Archipelago. The resolution also called for the construction of suitable buildings, the establishment of 19 townships, and the putting up of appropriate transportation. This was to prepare Baguio as the residence of all officers and employees of the Insular Government during the summer season when the climate in the lowlands was quite hot and very humid. A suitable site was selected for this purpose and which was later known as Camp John Hay.
On the way to Baguio via Kennon Road
The Years during the War
It is said that the war in the Philippines began and ended at Camp John Hay. During the early part of the 2nd World War, Baguio was the initial bombing target of the Japanese air forces and the city was in ruins. When the Japanese Imperial Army captured Baguio, they converted Camp John Hay into their garrison and a part of it was used as a concentration camp.
In 1944, when the American forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed in Leyte, Gen. Yamashita moved his headquarters to Baguio. The puppet Philippine government under Pres. Jose Laurel was also set up in the city. Finally in 1945, American and Filipino forces advanced toward Baguio to liberate it from the Japanese forces. In the process, Baguio suffered intensive artillery shelling and aerial bombardment.
The city was destroyed as the liberating forces were flushing out Gen. Yamashita and his army. Many of the residents of Baguio lost their homes and took shelter for about two months at the Baguio Cathedral. Since there was an acute food shortage, Yamashita eventually allowed thousands of Baguio residents to leave the city. The American forces advanced toward the city from the south by way of Kennon Road and also from the northwest through Naguilian Road. There was intense fighting along the way. When the Japanese defensive positions started to fall, Gen. Yamashita quickly retreated north from Baguio. However, he left a small delaying force to cover his withdrawal from the city.
Not aware of the withdrawal of the Japanese forces and still expecting a counterattack, the Americans waited several days before their final assault of Baguio. Somehow Gen. Yamashita and his 10,000-strong army made good their retreat from the city. It was about five months later that the Japanese lost the war in the Philippines. On September 3, 1945, Gen. Yamashita came back to Baguio to sign the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Army. This event took place at the residence of the U.S. ambassador at Camp John Hay.
The Years after the War
When the Philippines was granted independence in 1946, some Americans settled in the city, and English became the primary lingua franca. Ilocanos also joined the Cordilleranos in Baguio, and subsequently, the population of Americans, Dutch, Belgians, and Germans soared.
From the ruins of World War II, the City of Baguio steadily grew
into the commercial, educational and recreational center of the Cordilleras
and northern Luzon. Although Baguio ceased to be the official summer capital
in 1976, people still continued referring to it as the summer capital
of the Philippines. Quezon City has since then become the capital of the
country throughout the twelve months of the year.
Baguio Educational Center
Sometime around May of 2003, a petition to declare Baguio a heritage zone was spread throughout the Internet and various national print media, gaining the support of more than ten thousand signatures. The petition itself calls upon various concerned officials to create the Zone before the Baguio centennial on 2009. Initiated by one Dion Fernandez, the move has been partially approved in the first reading of a Special Heritage Bill submitted to the Baguio City Council on August 2005.
Philippines is hot in the summer at least most of it is. But there are a few spots where the summer traveler can enjoy moderate, perhaps even cool, weather and among those location ofsuch place such as this city.
Today, Baguio is once again a bustling and vibrant city. The residents have returned and the visitors and tourist have started to come back. The city is now a self-governing member of the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Baguio continues to remain as an important copper and gold-mining center. It still is an important focal point for commerce, trade, and education north of Metro Manila. The city prevailed once again it was quickly rebuilt. On the year 2004, the city was also afflicted by an epidemic of the meningococcemia disease, partly due to its seclusion (Baguio is surrounded by mountains) and its cold climate.
Baguio Cathedral Church 1950
Temperatures at night always fell below 65 degrees. Thirty-eight
of those days saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain.
A number of tribal ethnic groups from the surrounding mountains make Bagiuo an ideal location to observe tribal culture. The Ibalois are thought to city's original settlers, but there are also Bontocs, Kalingas, Ifugaos, and Kankanaeys.
The new City Market
The old City Market
If you're up to a short trip, the Asin Hot Springs is located about 10 miles outside of Baguio. The resort there includes a swimming pool surrounded by thermal hot springs. But in truth, the atmosphere alone is enough to draw people to Baguio City. People come to Baguio to do nothing, for a break from the heat of Manila. You can find things to do if you must. Or you can enjoy the slow pace of life, shop the tribal markets, and just sit around and not perspire...
The Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary is located at 25 North Santo Tomas Road, Campo Sioco, Baguio City. To go to the sanctuary you can take the BGH-Campo Sioco bound jeepneys, which are parked beside the Harrison Road, overpass stairway, take a taxi, or drive your own vehicle. From the downtown area, proceed to the rotunda across the Baguio General Hospital then take the road to the right towards the direction of Marcos Highway. After passing a store mart look out for the sign prompting you turn right and follow the road until you reach the Maryknoll gate.
For the Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippines, the devastation wrought by the July 1990 earthquake in Baguio City became a discerning force, which inspired a new educational role. In the light of a growing awareness of the earth's fragility, the Maryknoll Sisters were compelled to make a radical decision to dedicate their resources in Baguio to alternative environmental education. With this new mission defined, the rebuilding of Maryknoll commenced a year after the earthquake.
The "Cosmic Journey" became the major undertaking within the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary. It is describe as "a nature walk of play and discovery into the earth's deep interconnectedness." A total of fourteen different stations were created to portray "the magnificence of the unfolding of the cosmos." The 1st station is about the coming into being of the Universe. The 5th and 8th stations portray the arrival of the mammals and the coming forth of the primates, respectively. The last two stations portray the Earth's religious tradition and a Bio-shelter.
"A trek through a cosmic gate, into ancestral caves, and over a hanging bridge invites us to an inner journey. Reflecting on the profound spiritual meaning of interconnectedness of the cosmos can prepare us to make wise decisions in relation to the use of the earth's resources so that future generations inherit from us a beautiful planet capable of sustaining and inspiring life."
The Baguio Flower Festival is an annual pageantry showcasing the best of the Cordillera Administrative Region's cultural, historical and natural bounties. It was inspired by the city's flourishing tourism industry. Camp John Hay Development Corporation and Poro Point Development Corporation teamed up to nurture the seed of an idea that has grown into a huge income-generating tourism project. For the year 2002, the first day of the festival started on February 23 and it lasted for eight days all the way up to March 3.
A year after it all first began in 1995, the organizers headed by lawyer Damaso Bangaoet as chairman and backed up by the Department of Tourism, succeeded in exploiting the festival's full potential so that more sponsors joined the following year. On its second year, Baguio City launched a bigger and better festival that organizers chose to dub the event, "Panagbenga," a Kankanaey word meaning "a season for blossoming, a time for flowering." Since then, groups from various community sectors including the government, education, business, media and civic organizations have expressed strong commitment to hold the festival every year. Thus, the birth of a tradition in the City of Pines. Initially, Panagbenga featured only a few activities which included the search for the Festival Queen, a floral parade, a market encounter or an exhibit of Baguio's native products, and the barangay beautification contest. The celebration was kicked off by school children dancing in the streets and wearing a variety of flowers as headdress. Session Road, the city's main artery, was literally transformed into a sea of flowers swaying to the heightened beat of drums and trumpets.
American Mayors of Baguio City
During the early days when the Philippines was still a territory of the United States of America, the mayors of Baguio were American citizens who were appointed by the Governor- General. Before the first Filipino took over as mayor, there were 5 American mayors who served for a total of almost 28 years, starting from September, 1909 up to May, and 1937. These Americans were tasked to establish the city government and infrastructure. They were the early pioneers who were instrumental in creating the initial plans for the development of Baguio as the "Summer Capital of the Philippines." It was because of their vision and dedication that Baguio is what it is today. The following were the American mayors of Baguio and the corresponding periods they served as city executives:
It was Luis L. Lardizabal who became the first duly elected mayor of Baguio City. He served in three different periods (March 1, 1960 to December 31, 1963; January 1, 1968 to December 31, 1971; and January 1, 1972 to December 27, 1979). After Lardizabal's first term in office, Norberto De Guzman was elected mayor of Baguio and served from January 1, 1964 up to December 31, 1967. In December 27, 1979, Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos appointed Ernesto H. Bueno, a retired Philippine Air Force general as mayor of Baguio. In the election that followed, Bueno became a candidate for mayor and won the election. He served in office in January 30, 1980, he was succeeded by his vice mayor Francisco A. Paraan who served as mayor until January 31, 1988. Brig Gen. Ernesto H. Bueno died in March of 1997. Mauricio G. Domogan, the current mayor of Baguio, initially served as vice mayor of Baguio in May 11, 1992. He became the acting mayor on July 1, 1992. Domogan won in the last 2 mayoral elections of Baguio and have been quite popular with the local residents. The following Filipinos served as mayor of Baguio City:
Miss Fil-Am SanDiego Association BAGUIO CITY 1993 - ?
"Miss Baguio 1993-94" and still reigning - no one has replace her yet, the beauty is Queen for life!
Dad Basho Fat Sumo is very proud of you.
California Baguio City Association of San Diego
The noted “Family” site, including all attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain legally privileged and confidential information, so “Family” please safeguard or protect our site as necessary or deemed appropriately. All personal messages express solely my views and not those of any others unless otherwise contributed views by other family members. . "Basho Fat Sumo” – 2005