Brief History of Baguio City, Philippines
beautiful City of Baguio, also known as the Summer Capital
of the Philippines, was just one of the 31 tiny settlements,
or rancherias, established at around 1846 by the
early Spanish colonizers in the pine-covered highlands of
the Benguet province. Back then, the rancheria
that would eventually become Baguio City was called Kafagway,
a village inhabited by the Kankana-ey and Ibaloi
tribes of the Cordilleras. Rising around 5,000 feet or
1,524 meters above sea level, Kafagway and the rest
of the Benguet province was perfect for growing arabica
coffee, as the Spanish settlers discovered. The coffee
trees, however, would outlast the Spanish colonizers for
elsewhere in the world, something else was brewing that
would change the destiny of Kafagway.
the international arena, the United States of America won
the war against Spain, and Spain sold the Philippines to the
Americans for $20 million. By the early 1900s,
the cool climate of the highlands as well as its rich gold
ore deposits quickly attracted the Americans. The new
colonizers began the construction of Kennon Road that would
link the highlands to Pangasinan, to La Union and to the
other lowland provinces.
after, the highlands were developed as mining camps and as a
retreat for the U.S. Armed Forces. In 1903, the
Americans built Camp John Hay as a rest and recreational
facility for US servicemen. At the same time,
Americans mined the mountains in Benguet for gold.
Kennon Road alone was lined with several mining camps.
The American architect and urban planner Daniel H. Burnham
designed the city. The city got its name, however,
from bag-iw meaning "moss" in Ibaloi
- the native tongue of the Benguet province. On
September 1, 1909, the Americans declared Baguio a chartered
city and the Summer Capital of the Philippines. During
the American Occupation, quite a few Baguio natives acquired
a taste for country songs, cowboy hats and boots. They
also gained a command of the English language. Baguio
City, in many ways, became westernized under American
rule, and even resembled an idyllic American town.
idyll, however, was shattered by war once again.
Baguio City fell into the hands of a foreign power for a
third time as the Philippines got drawn into the war between
the United States of America and Japan. Japan bombed
the city of Baguio on December 8, 1941 and invaded Camp John
Hay 19 days later, turning it into their command post.
During the early stages of the war, Japan successfully
conquered many territories in the Far East. The
Americans later recovered, however, and even gained the
upper hand. Soon the Japanese imperial army was on the
run. Japanese forces from all over Asia retreated to
Baguio for their final stand. It was rumored that the
retreating Japanese forces took with them the riches from
the many countries they plundered. Then, upon the
orders of Emperor Hirohito, on September 3, 1945, General
Yamashita formally surrendered to the Americans in Camp John
Hay. No treasure was ever recovered from the Japanese,
and an urban legend was born: the fabled Yamashita
Treasure. The legend has grown with the passing of
time, and so has the alleged treasure. Numerous
rumors of crates filled with gold bars and jewel-encrusted
golden buddhas buried here and there have kept hordes of
treasure hunters searching and digging all over Baguio and
Benguet. But it was something less incredible
and less dramatic than Yamashita's Treasure that began to
draw more people to Baguio.
after the war, Baguio reestablished itself as a favorite
tourist spot of the Philippines. War-damaged buildings
were repaired and more were constructed. Moreover,
with the improvement of roads and other infrastructures, the
city also established itself as the cultural and learning
center of the north. Baguio became a melting pot as
migrants from Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Abra and
Ifugao as well as from the lowlands were drawn by the rapid
urbanization of the city. It was this development
coupled with Baguio City's natural, cultural, historical and
scenic attractions that made Baguio a top travel destination
for honeymooners, families on vacation, executives on
business conventions and conferences and Philippine showbiz
the rich history of Baguio City when you stay in Hotel
Veniz. Hotel Veniz is right beside Burnham Park on one
side and, on the other, the preserved historic water trough
where the American pioneers used to give their horses water
to drink, right across the famous flower shops of Baguio.
It is located in the heart of the original city plan created
by the designer of the city, Daniel H. Burnham, and in
the central business district of Baguio City. It is
also a stone's throw away from Baguio City Hall and Session
Road. Hotel Veniz - a gem in the heart of Baguio City.
is interesting to note that the famous Zigzag of Kennon Road
was born of an engineering error! Engineers decided to
build Kennon Road more or less parallel to the mighty Bued
River. The Americans went to work quickly and began
building the road from both ends. Then, nearly five
years into the project, it became clear the ends won't meet
because of differences in elevation. The engineers
twisted and turned the road to compensate for early
miscalculations, producing the steep and winding ZIgzag.
Road nevertheless remains to be the most scenic route to
Baguio from the lowlands so take this route if possible.
In the Klondikes, visitors will get their first ceremonial
welcome or "baptism" from the cool mountain
streams gently trickling from the rocks high above onto the
road below. Further up, the Bridal Veil Falls is an
awesome sight to behold. The name says it all but you
just have to see it to believe. Don't miss the Lion's
Head and the Zigzag View that comes right after the gigantic
lion. Just remember to drive slowly and safely.
You'll often find yourself driving with a wall of rock on
one side and a ravine on the other. During or
immediately after heavy rains, take Marcos Highway or
Quirino Highway (formerly known as Naguilian Road) instead.
Being parallel to the Bued River, Kennon Road is prone to
road cuts and rockslides! Kennon Road best exemplifies
the Cordilleras: wild and beautiful.