|Baguio City here we come!|
|With my two best friends|
Baguio City is known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. The weather is cool and refreshing. Also known the City of Pines I remember back when I was in high school during the 70’s when upon entering Baguio City, the strong scent of Pine trees would fill the air and big the roads are lined with big sunflower plants in full bloom. It is 1,500m above sea level in the mountainous region of Cordillera. The high altitude has given Baguio the title of “City in the Clouds” and was then replaced as the “City of Flowers” and “Honeymoon Center of the Philippines”. Baguio is a popular weekend getaway for locals and tourists alike. It is easily accessible by road from Manila.
|With my bff's family|
Baguio City was first called “Kafagway” and was occupied by the Kankaney and Ibaloi tribes of the Cordilleras. Folks say that the city got its name from “Bag-iw”, a mossy flowering plant that grew in these parts. The Americans would pronounce it as “Bag-i-yo” that later became Baguio.
|Bell Church Temple|
The lure of gold prompted the Spaniards to explore Baguio. The early explorers Juan Salcedo(1572) and Don Q.M. Quirante(1664) attempted to conquer Baguio all failed until Commandante de Galvey finally succeeded in 1864 to establish a garrison at La Trinidad, Benguet named after his wife. They introduced coffee of the Arabica variety and is still grown in this area known as Benguet coffee. The Spanish colonizers started dividing the land into local units called “commandancias” and later into “rancherias”.
|Mines View Park|
So when the Americans frist came to Baguio in 1900 the place was not yet a town but was a rancheria owned by Mateo Cariño, the wealthiest man in Benguet Province. The Americans Gov. William Howard Taft and other officials found Baguio an ideal site for future city and summer capital of the Philippines. The project to construct the first road to connect Manila with the mountain region was started in 1901 and Maj.L. Kennon was designated to supervise. The access road was completed three years later and renamed Kennon Road in honor of him. It was in June 1, 1903 that Baguio was officially named the summer capital of the Philippines and to prepare Baguio as the residence of all officers and employees of the Insular Government. This residencial place was later known as Camp John hay.
|PMA aircrafts field|
In 1919, the people of Baguio witnessed the first aircraft that landed at Baguio Airport. And by the time World War broke out Baguio was a fully working and thriving city. The Japanese conquered the city forcing the American forces and the Filipinos to flee from the Japanese in 1945. The war destroyed the city and residents losing their homes and having to seek cover in the cathedral. September 3, 1945, the Japanese leader of Baguio General Yamashita signed an unconditional surrender at the home of the US Ambassador. And Baguio slowly rose again from the ashes of war to what it is now.
|At the Groto|
|Inside Botanical garden|
The earthquake of 1990 brought major destruction to the city’s buildings and infrastructure. The city has recovered and increasing numbers of hotels, modern villages and other developments have sprung up since. And with the development also came my sadness and concern. Many of the historical or national heritage suffered and was neglected. The once crystal cave awesome and majestic with its stalactites, the clear and transparent fish that abounds in the stream inside the cave and the mummies are gone. It was brutally vandalized. The beautiful flowers with its unusually big rose flowers, the big and abundant sunflower along the roads, the pine trees, everlasting flowers are gone. The original Baguio arts and crafts were replaced by bazaars that sell produce from Manila’s Divisoria. Even Burham park is not anymore appealing as it used to. The sweet smiles of the natives were replaced by arrogant staffs that managing the paid toilets and rest rooms around these places. There are no free restrooms in the city. I miss those days when you are sweetly welcomed by the hospitable and respectable Igorots selling their own arts and crafts. I am angered by my some of my fellowmen who grabbed our brother Igorots of their Heritage and culture. Technology and modern advancement should respect and preserve our national Heritage, our environment…what a pity these beautiful heritages will not be seen by our children, and children’s children. You cannot put back the vandalized crystal caves, the waterfalls and the mountains that were destroyed due to massive explosion and clearing to make a new building or subdivisions.